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Brave Website Owner Gets $25K+ Worth of Tough Love From World’s Best Conversion Experts (…It gets a little uncomfortable)

Our panel of conversion rate optimization experts is back and better meaner than ever. 🙂
Ryan Ehler of Flex Fitness was the lucky winner of a landing page critique from the world’s highest paid conversion experts.  Seriously… the critiques below are worth well over $25K in consulting time from these experts.
But… because Ryan is a fitness expert he knows all too well…

No pain.  No gain.

And our panel of experts did, occasionally, bring the pain.
But Ryan was a good sport and he’s excited to put our panel’s suggestions to work on his landing page.
Let’s get into it.
Here’s our panel of experts…

  • Chris Goward – Founder of Wider Funnel, author of You Should Test That!
  • Tim Ash – Author of Landing Page Optimization, CEO of Site Tuners and Founder of Conversion Conference.
  • Justin Rondeau – Data Driven Marketing & CRO Trainer. Analyzed 2,500+ Tests Across Virtually Every Industry.
  • Brian Massey – Author of the The Customer Creation Equation and Founder of Conversion Sciences.
  • Peep Laja – Author of How to Build Websites That Sell and the Face of ConversionXL

Here’s what we asked our conversion experts to critique…

The Ad


The Landing Page

The Questions

  • What did you like on this landing page?
  • What would you test to boost conversions?

Here’s what five conversion experts had to say about what was done well and what could be improved on this landing page. (NOTE: We’d love to hear how you would improve this landing page. Give us your thoughts in the comments section.)

Brian Massey, Conversion Sciences LLC

The page does a pretty good job of keeping the promises made in the display ad. The image and design match the ad in large part. I also like that the picture of Ryan is gesturing toward the call to action. It draws the eye.
We have a Landing Page Checklist to size up any page. Download the Landing Page Checklist FREE from Conversion Sciences.
Here’s what the checklist tells me about what I like and what I would test:

Messaging and Value Proposition

I like the value proposition on this: “Personal Training for Busy Professionals.” It appears both in the ad and on the page.
The “Three Words” section seems a bit out of place. Is this designed to motivate me to take action? Is it adding an educational component? It seems to interrupt the value proposition.
And why do I want to catapult my results?? I want to keep them, don’t I?
TEST: Yank the “Three Words” section, or move it to the bottom.


The page makes good use of images, showing the trainer – I guess his name is Ryan from the testimonials – pictures of real customers, and pictures of the gym where the training may occur.
Finally, the issue of location is addressed with a map at the bottom of the page.
The images in the “Three Words” section don’t support the text in any way.
It was a bad “decision” to use these, showing no “commitment” to the images and will not result in “success.”
TEST: Test the business porn (the stock photos of two business men in a “busy” meeting) against no pictures and against images of the words “Decision”, “Commitment” and “Success” in their place.
Screenshot 2015-02-25 11.18.02


The raft of testimonials with star ratings provides quite a bit of social proof for the value proposition. Some of the images used in the testimonials don’s say, “I’m a busy professional!”
TEST: Add a title under the names of the testimoners. (Is that a word?)


The page chose before and after photos as proof of the effectiveness of the training. I’m not convinced that the images convey the point by themselves.
TEST: Add a caption to the before and after images laying out the point. Such as “Lost 25lbs”, “Added 3 inches to his chest.”
The page lacks some important credibility points for Ryan. How long has he done this? Does he have any training? How many customers has he served? Is the page suggesting he has a proprietary “Three Word” system?
TEST: Add a few details on Ryan’s credibility.

Offer and Form

The call to action at the top uses an exclusivity tactic, “See if you qualify.” This may work for this audience.
The copywriter doesn’t realize that unnecessary quotation marks make the words inside untrue. It’s the written equivalent of air quotes.
Besides that, the call to action is incomplete.
What am I becoming a “member” of? I am a busy professional looking for personal training. Is this an ad for a gym?
What would make me unqualified? Being too healthy? Do I not work enough hours to qualify as “busy?” Does Ryan not consider Taco Bell Manager a “professional?”
TEST: Alternative calls to action.

  • Join a free group tryout.
  • Schedule an interview with Ryan.
  • See if there is a timeslot for you.
  • “Busy” professionals click here. (Just kidding)

Now, I’ve got to get to the “gym” to do a “workout.”


Chris Goward, WiderFunnel


What I liked:

I see what he’s trying to do with the FUD statement in the ad. Using “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” can be used successfully to intrigue prospects. By saying “Do not hire a personal trainer”, he may be hoping to startle the target audience who are considering just that.
Using the FUD approach in an ad is risky, though. It only works well if you have strong copywriting on the landing page that can turn that emotional response into motivation.
Unfortunately, this landing page does not pay off the implied promise. There is no unique value proposition on the page.

What I would test:

As I explained in a previous page analysis, at WiderFunnel, we take a rigorous framework-thinking approach to analyzing landing pages and conversion paths. We’ll categorize the conversion barriers using the LIFT Model to keep our ideas focused on the user rather than the marketer.
I asked WiderFunnel’s Director of Client Strategy, Alhan Keser, to pitch in on this LIFT Analysis of this ad and page. Here are some of the most important things we agreed on:

LIFT Points:


  • CLARITY: I understand what you don’t want me to do, not sure what you want me to do.
  • VALUE PROPOSITION: Not seeing any value proposition messaging. Yes, I’m busy. How are you going to help me get in better shape?
  • RELEVANCE: Man in photo is wearing a dress shirt. It took me a while to realize this had something to do with fitness.
  • CLARITY: Eyeflow extremely disjointed for such a small ad – focal point at top right, then bottom left.
  • CLARITY: The two messages do not align: “Do Not Hire A Personal Trainer” vs “Need a Personal Trainer?” I thought you just said I shouldn’t hire one…
  • CLARITY: Image of man is looking me in the face and I will look back rather than the messaging.
  • CLARITY: Man appears to be pointing out something but the area he’s pointing to is blank.
  • URGENCY: Is there potential to add some urgency with an offer of some sort? Considering the fact that I’m a busy professional, how are you going to get me to act now?


  • CLARITY: We just went from an orange background in the ad to a blue background on the landing page. The lack of coherence in the branding causes me some concern as to the credibility of the company.
  • VALUE PROPOSITION: The “dated” look of the website and lack of attention to design and latest expectations causes me to lose some confidence about the reliability of this company.
  • VALUE PROPOSITION: The quote in the header is not attributed to anyone.
  • CLARITY: Why is everything in “quotes”?
  • CLARITY: There’s no clear eyeflow on the page. Where am I supposed to look? Up, left, right, down?
  • RELEVANCE: Yes, I’m busy. Get to the point. You keep saying I should not hire a trainer, and you’re not telling me what it is you do.
  • CLARITY: “What Our Community Is Saying…” disjointed from content below it.
  • CLARITY: What are the stars for?
  • CLARITY: Who is Ryan?
  • CLARITY: I see that I have to apply to qualify… what if I call?
  • RELEVANCE: The images below “Three Words…” have little to do with the content.
  • VALUE PROPOSITION: The photo of the gym makes it look like not that fun of a place. And doesn’t seem like a whole lot is getting done. And I don’t see the aforementioned Ryan in action.
  • CLARITY: There’s a lot of content around applying to be a member, but then class times are listed. What happened to being exclusive?
  • VALUE PROPOSITION: 2014 is copyright date at bottom of page.
  • VALUE PROPOSITION: A few spelling mistakes not helping with credibility:
    • “…have more energy, get atronger or just look better?”
    • “…why are clients acieve such amazing results.”
  • RELEVANCE: Overall, the page says little about how Flex Fitness solves the problem that it has set out to solve: get me in shape as a busy professional.
  • CLARITY: One of the testimonials says “Having a personal trainer is amazing…” – I thought I wasn’t supposed to hire a personal trainer…

These elements can be tested individually, or as a whole with a radical redesign test. I’d recommend prioritizing a test of a well-crafted long copy page; another variation with a different, more positive approach against this FUD tack; and also an in-depth personal story, testimonial approach. Once we’ve figured out the best overall message, we can dig into refining the proof points, design, imagery and nuance (which can also make a big difference.)
Note that the ad will need to be synchronized with the landing page. Monitoring CTR and conversions from the ad can give insights into the types of messages that might work best.
There’s an exciting opportunity to create dramatic improvements with this page!


Justin Rondeau, Should I Test That


What I liked:

There are a few things about this page that I like.
I think Flex Fitness does a great job at keeping the experience between the ad and the landing page consistent. I have no doubt that I am in the right place. He uses the same image of himself and highlights the same copy from ad to landing page.
Good work!

Though I have some comments about the page design, I think they made a valiant effort at guiding the eye, but other factors will definitely cause come eye flow confusion.

What I Would Test:

I would take the headline out of the top header. The headline looks disassociated with the content and is a bit confusing. Toss it into the hero shot – white space in this section is your friend.
I don’t really see a point in having the Google Map widget on this page; especially if you don’t accept walk-ins. Ask yourself – ‘What is the goal of this page?’ It looks like you are trying to qualify member leads, so keep your focus here. I’d remove the Google Maps Widget and the hours at the bottom of the page, they send a mixed message.
This page needs to test the hero shot; the top of the fold is a nightmare from a visual hierarchy perspective. I think a header radical redesign test would be a great idea. Here are some elements that should be changed in this radical redesign:

  • Font Color & Size – They switch between white ‘knock out’ text and black text. The more font types, colors, and styles you have – the more confusing your page becomes. Keep it simple. I would also recommend using an H1 font somewhere. That will make your headline look like an actual headline.
  • The button doesn’t really look like a button. It certainly stands out, but there is too much text and it just doesn’t look like a traditional button. People have been trained to identify buttons and click them; don’t confuse them with a new style!

  • The hero shot’s height. This just takes up too much space. If you want to continue to use the image of Ryan, I’d suggest using one where he is looking toward the button. Eyes are extremely persuasive, possibly more persuasive than the out stretched arm. If you have both the arm and eyes suggesting where to look next you won’t have as much eye confusion.
  • The blue, white, teal, and red (in the logo) create a color scheme that really doesn’t work. Generally content in the lightest areas will get the most attention, but the light hues create a ‘white wash’ effect.
  • Outside of the header I’d try some other tests, as well here is my top list:
    You are targeting busy professionals; I’d recommend putting job titles with your testimonials.
  • Focus more on what they get out of working with you rather than a section based on how they could possibly catapult results. What will they get from working with you? What will you teach them? These are the types of things that should be highlighted in the ‘Three Words That Can Catapult Your Results’.


  • I feel like the message above the fold isn’t consistent with the message below the fold. Don’t talk about your core tenants here; sell them on how you are a personal trainer for the people who don’t have time for personal trainers.

That bold drop shadow red on a black and white image just doesn’t work. However, you have a strong message with very little proof here. I counted three competing messages on this page:
1. Personal Training For Busy People
2. How To Get Better Results
3. Most Exclusive Club
Pick one message, and stay on target!
(If you want to utilize some of these ideas on your own page but you’re new to the game, I explain how to set up your first split test here.)


Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners and Chairperson of Conversion Conference


What I liked:

Not much….
There is some consistency in the ad and at the top of the page of the main visual (of the man standing against the crescent). But this information scent (learn more about scent here) is inexplicably diminished by the change in the background color from orange to blue.
There are testimonials with before and after pictures, and they are cheesy enough (poor quality photos) to look “real”. So I guess that is a form of “social proof”.
However, the page is very busy. The production quality is poor, and the variety of visual styles and backgrounds as you scroll down the page is bewildering.

What I would test:

Align the messaging:

  • There is a wide and contradictory scope to the messaging in the ad and on the page itself:
  • Need a personal trainer? (Visualization of their situation)
  • Do not hire a personal trainer (attention-getting surprise)
  • Personal training for busy professionals (functional description of the service)
  • See if you qualify to become a member (exclusivity)
  • Would you like to be our next successful member? (aspirational)

Key concepts are unclear from this mishmash:

  • If the focus is on exclusivity, then the low-quality nature of the page completely undermines this positioning
  • If the focus is on “busy” professionals, then the time-savings is not readily apparent
  • If the focus is on whether to hire a personal trainer, then the “do not hire” copy is very confusing
  • If the focus is on Ryan as the potential training, then there is not enough trust or background info on him in particular (and too much on the facility/club itself)

You have to pick one of these themes and carry them out consistently across the ad/landing-page experience.

Strengthen the call-to-action:

The man is pointing to the call-to-action area, but unfortunately this is undermined by the following: the odd pinching pose of his hand, that he is looking away, and also because the “button” does not really look like a clickable area on the page.

Remove the rah-rah aspirational stuff:

The tagline at the top of the page is ”Decide/Commit/Succeed”, yet in the gray-background area it is recast as “Decision/Commitment/Success”. What you are really buying is Ryan himself – and not some high-minded rhetoric.
The generic stock-photo pictures make this section look like a cheap version of motivational posters. It is basically a waste of space. I would completely eliminate this section.


Peep Laja, ConversionXL

View More: I liked:


What I would test:

The biggest problems with this landing page:

  • It does little to motivate me to become a member
  • It does nothing to establish credibility
  • It looks like my grandma designed it (with all due respect)
  • It states no unique advantage, no reason to choose this over alternative service providers
  • The testimonials are not verifiable – critical in an industry with rampant fake testimonials. How about embedded tweets from your members? Or publish email addresses of people who sent these quotes? How about video testimonials? One good story beats many crappy ones.


  • The guy on the photo is supposed to be the main attraction I think, but nothing is said about him.


  • Check out my annotated critique for more feedback!

Download Peep’s full critique HERE (It’s kind of harsh but he critiques with love)
What do you think of Ryan’s Flex Fitness landing page?
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Lindsay Marder

Lindsay Marder

Lindsay Marder is the Co-Founder of She works with businesses in a variety of industries, leveraging digital marketing strategies to help them achieve their goals. Formerly the Managing Editor of DigitalMarketer, Lindsay managed the Editorial Team and the DigitalMarketer blog, generating over 7 million unique sessions in 2017.

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