What I Learned from Winning the 5-Second Showdown on CROday

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When Unbounce's Oli Gardner invited me to compete in a 5-second showdown for CROday, I thought it'd be fun. But I was up against friends and competitors, who are among the top CRO experts:

  • Joanna Weibe
  • Ton Wesseling
  • Michael Aagaard
  • Both Conversion Scientists
  • and more

My Facebook post on what I thought my chances of winning were:

Facebook post about CROday 5-Second Showdown

Just hoping not to embarrass myself


The 5-Second Showdown

Oli built a landing page for a bogus product in Unbounce. He asked random people 3 questions about it, using Usability Hub's 5-Second Test. Using grading criteria explained below, he came up with a baseline score for how well people understood various aspects of the page.

10 of us CRO pros and 10 CROday registrants could change anything above the fold to improve the clarity of the value proposition.

We were given 2 chances: Oli ran our first versions through a 5-second test and gave us the results compared to his baseline. We made changes, then he ran another test on our 2nd versions.


Test Questions and Correct Answers

Q1. What product do you think this company sells?

Answer: It’s a gizmo that extracts wax from your ear, and then lets you apply it to your moustache. They must respond with both aspects - extract from ear and apply to stache to get full points.

Q2. What would you get if you filled out the form?

Answer: You would get a list of the wax donors you can contact if you don’t have enough of your own ear wax.

Q3. How much does it cost?

Answer: $54 if they pay in 3 installments, or a one-time payment of $40. Half point for each price mentioned.

The questions were weighted: 3(Q1) + 2(Q2) + 1(Q3) / 6%

So in order of importance:

  1. Understanding the value proposition
  2. What the form does
  3. Price


Baseline Results to Beat

Question 1: 10%

Question 2: 0%

Question 3: 8%


Oli's Original Landing Page

CROday 5-Second Showdown original landing page

So gross! A tool that takes wax from your ear, to put on your mustache.

My Initial Thoughts on the Original Page

  • Ewww, gross! I'm so glad I don't actually have to sell this!
  • After throwing up in my mouth a little, I got to work. Since I could get the most points by getting more people to understand WHAT the product is, I put the most effort into improving the headline and adding an image of the product
  • The page was too cluttered. Since I was getting judged on 3 things, and only 3 things, I needed to remove the unnecessary text all over the page, and especially in the places where I was going to be judged:
    • Headline
    • Form
    • Price
  • No need for navigation
  • The guy shouldn't be looking right at me; I should find a picture of a guy looking at the headline, form, or product picture to draw attention there

This was my first attempt:

My CROday 5-Second Showdown landing page

It's not pretty, but the value proposition is clear


5-Second Showdown Results - Round 1

CROday results round 1

Total improvement over baseline: 308%


I was disappointed in those results. I mean, come on: only 34% of the people understood what the product was? How could I get any clearer than "A New Tool to Extract Your Ear Wax and Put It On Your Mustache"?!

But a note from Oli was encouraging: "p.s. you are f**ing slaying right now. That's all I'll say. You're beating the baseline by 308%"

Pouring through the responses, I came up with these conclusions:

  • Although the handsome hipster was looking in the right direction, he was still attracting too much attention. I should remove him and make the product the hero shot
  • The form needed to stand out more
  • The two prices needed to be bigger

This was my 2nd attempt:

CROday landing page version 2

Removed more clutter, for an even simpler page


5-Second Showdown - Final Results

CROday final leaderboard

First place, baby - BOOYA!


Biggest Takeaway from the 5-Second Showdown

Know what you're optimizing for! If the goal would've been to see who actually sold the most of these disgusting products, both of my pages would have failed. Miserably. There was nowhere on my pages to even buy it. And my designs were hideous. But that's not what I was being judged on, so I didn't try to make it pretty or get sales. Marketers need to keep this in mind for every piece of content they release:

  • What are my goals?
  • How am I measuring those goals?
  • How do I optimize for those goals?
  • What do I need to remove, that distracts from those goals?


Watch this video for more takeaways from other contestants:

CROday Showdown Discussion


Since I was just hoping not to embarrass myself in front of my peers, I'll take "f**ing slaying it".


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Theresa Baiocco-Farr

Conversion Strategist at Conversion Max
Theresa Baiocco-Farr specializes in helping mid-sized businesses increase their online revenues with conversion optimization. She's a top-rated conference speaker with a Master’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado and a Master Certification in Conversion Optimization from Market Motive. She’s a dog-lover, wife & mom, and a recovering travel-junkie.