Why a Painted Door Test with Landing Pages is more than just an A/B Test


  • Beyond A/B Testing: Landing page tests enable comprehensive behavioural research.
  • Assessing Demand: Evaluate desirability, demand, and willingness to pay for new products/services.
  • Validating Ideas: Test innovative ideas and value propositions before committing resources.
  • Customer Journey Insights: Gather insights across the entire customer journey, not just a single interaction.

Discover why understanding the differences between landing page leverages for Painted Door Tests and using landing pages in A/B tests can save your business time, money, and resources while ensuring that you meet market demands with innovation.

What is a Landing Page?

A landing page is a standalone web page designed to capture visitors' attention and drive specific actions. These actions can range from signing up for a newsletter to registering for an event, adding a product to a cart, or simply learning more about the presented service or product. Landing pages are most commonly used for pre-sales and single-purpose marketing activities such as lead generation, online campaign sales, and event registrations.

Critical Components of a Landing Page

  • Compelling Headline: Grabs attention and succinctly conveys the main message.
  • Clear Value Proposition: Explains why the visitor should take the desired action.
  • Persuasive Copy: Provides detailed information and persuades visitors to act.
  • Visual Elements: Images, videos, or graphics that enhance understanding and engagement.
  • Prominent Call-to-Action (CTA): Guides the visitor on the next steps.

Which Insights can you gain from Landing Pages?

  • Desirability and Demand Assessment: Gauge interest and purchase intent.
  • Willingness to Pay (WTP) Analysis: Test different pricing points and offerings.
  • Brand & Value Proposition Validation: Ensure the brand identity and the messaging resonate with the target audience.
  • Customer Feedback and Insights: Collect qualitative data through surveys or feedback forms.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a dedicated experiment comparing two or more variations of a specific element, mainly within an existing service or software, to optimise for particular metrics (e.g. conversion rate). This could involve different headlines, CTAs, interface layouts, or feature variations commonly presented within an existing application (e.g. in case of feature variations) or via landing pages (e.g., different CTAs in e-commerce).

Purpose of A/B Testing

  • Optimisation of existing Infrastructure: Optimise for specific metrics such as clicks, sign-ups, or sales within products, services, and applications already in the market.
  • Quantitative Data: Gather quantitative data on user behaviour and preferences.
  • Measure and improve specific Metrics: Identify high-performing variants for particular metrics and user flows.

Insights Gained from A/B Testing

  • Identify high-performing variants for specific metrics and user flows
  • Optimise user experience and conversion rates for existing features or interfaces
  • Gather quantitative data on user behaviour and preferences within a defined scope.

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Unlock the Power of Landing Pages: Painted Door Tests

Painted Door Tests, also called Fake Door Tests, Smoke Tests, or Landing Page Tests, allow you to attract and engage potential customers with compelling value propositions, guide them through the awareness, consideration, and decision-making stages, and measure interest, engagement, and conversion at different touchpoints. They are a fast, comprehensive, and low-resource method for validating new product or service ideas and closing the Say-Do-Gap, a common issue in market research where consumer intentions don’t match their later actions in real-life shopping behaviour. See our dedicated article about the Say-Do Gap here. Painted Door Tests cover the entire customer journey for each variant included in your test, offering vast insight into consumer behaviour across a realistic online buying journey.

A/B testing, in contrast, focuses on optimising existing features. Painted Door Tests are designed to validate specific hypotheses about new products or services before development or going to market. This can lead to fewer failed product launches, higher success rates for new products or features, and, therefore, higher revenues for products or services coming out of your innovation funnel. See here how Hansgrohe integrates Painted Door Tests (with Horizon) into their innovation process.

Typical Use Cases of Painted Door Tests:

  • Testing Market Demand: Is there a genuine need and interest from the market, i.e. my target group, for any new product or service?
  • Understanding Purchase Intent: Would consumers actually buy a product or service?
  • Measuring Price Sensitivity: How much are consumers willing to pay for a product or service, and at which price point would I see a decline in the product-specific price-demand curve? Also, see our blog article on why Pricing is the key to leveraging operating profits and how Painted Door Tests can help you optimise that.
  • Uncovering lucrative Target Groups: Which market/region indicates the highest interest (e.g. measured via purchase intent) for a product or service?
  • Picking the right Feature, Value Proposition, or Branding for Go-to-Market: Which of the possible branding variants (for example) is the most demanded by consumers in real life?

What you need to run a Painted Door Test

Well-Crafted Landing Page Variants

You need distinct landing page variants for your Painted Door Test. Each variant should have compelling value propositions, persuasive copy, and clear CTAs. Most importantly, they must only differ in the variable you are testing. For example, in a price sensitivity test, the only difference between the (landing page) variants should be the price point indicated in the product detail section on the landing pages.

Traffic Acquisition Strategy

Unless in the case of a target group test scenario where you’d like to identify the market indicating the highest demand for your innovation, you need to define the target audience for your Painted Door Test. This target audience should ideally be acquired via social media or search engine ads. By acquiring traffic from real platforms, you drive real consumers to your test landing pages and make sure the audience represents a potentially less biased population regarding survey panels commonly used on traditional market research methods.

Communication Strategy

One of the critical advantages of Painted Door Tests is that the product or service you are testing doesn’t need to be ready to ship or is not even produced. Since this enables enormous time and cost savings, validating innovation early and fast with Painted Door Tests is the way to ensure that innovations are market-ready, financially viable, and aligned with consumer needs and expectations while also providing strategic benefits for the entire company regarding competitiveness and operating profits.

This superpower leaves a slight chance that potential customers engaging with the Painted Door Test’s customer journey might be disappointed that there is no genuine product yet. To address this, create a resolution page that potential customers are directed to after converting to the test landing page. This resolution page ensures transparency and honesty by informing potential customers about the current status of the product they expressed interest in, thus maintaining their trust and keeping them well-informed. Before collecting any email addresses or other personal data from consumers, it is essential to inform them about the product not being available at a specific point in your customer journey. For example, use a pop-up that appears after consumers click "add-to-cart" and before requesting any personal information, such as an email for your newsletter list, to notify them that the product is not currently available. Ensuring they are aware of this before submitting any personal data is crucial. For more guidance on communicating product availability to consumers, refer to our detailed explanation here.

What the popup that transparently communicates the state of the product could look like

Data Collection and Analysis

A data analytics infrastructure is required to leverage behavioural insights (e.g. for purchase intent) from your Painted Door Test. You need to be able to measure ad performance, the number of landing page visitors per variant, and, most importantly, interactions with Call-To-Actions across the customer journeys (e.g. “add-to-cart” button clicks). As a best practice, you can then set the number of acquired visitors and the acquisition costs related to the conversion rate on your Call-To-Action per variant to derive insights into your product’s business case and decision-making process. We have created a detailed guide on Making Informed Product Decisions to Analyse Painted Door Tests.

Cost per 'Consumer Selection' (e.g., from “add-to-cart” conversions in the test) should be discounted using first—or third-party data to create a more conservative customer acquisition cost forecast. The light green fields should be exchanged with actual data from your business case/unit economics.

What would a Painted Door Test look like?

Example Customer journey for a Painted Door Test - Assessing willingness to pay for three different price points:

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Key Distinctions of Painted Door Tests over A/B Tests

  • Comprehensive Insights: Painted Door Tests allow you to assess the entire customer journey and consumer behaviour beyond any single interaction or feature. For example, you can compare purchase intent by modelling conversion rates for add-to-cart button clicks across all test variants included in your business case.
  • Pre-Market Validation: Painted Door Tests enable innovators to validate consumer desirability, market demand, and willingness to pay before committing resources to development and going to market.
  • Dedicated Testing: With Painted Door Tests, you can decouple validation from your existing products without compromising existing offerings while still benefiting from testing with real consumers acquired from actual markets.

Embrace Painted Door Tests for Successful Innovation

Painted Door Tests offer a valuable solution for businesses looking to innovate and reduce the risk of failure for new products or services. By validating new ideas pre-market, innovation teams can not only optimise resources and reduce their team’s costs for innovation that is not meeting market demand. Leveraging the power of landing pages by conducting Painted Door Tests and integrating purchase intent data into their innovation funnel can increase the likelihood of success for new products or services.

Painted Door Test Glossary

  • Landing Page: A standalone web page designed to capture visitor attention and drive specific actions, such as signing up or purchasing a product.
  • Value Proposition: A concise statement of why the potential customers should take a desired action on the landing page, emphasising the benefit of the presented product or service.
  • Copy: All text on ads and landing pages - detailed information on the landing page that convinces visitors to act and elaborates on the offering.
  • Call-to-Action (CTA): A prominent button or link that directs the visitor on what to do next, such as "Sign Up", “Add to Cart” or "Buy Now."
  • A/B Testing (Split Testing): A controlled experiment that compares two or more variations of a specific element to optimise for particular metrics such as clicks or sign-ups.
  • Willingness to Pay (WTP): Are consumers willing to pay for a specific price point offered?
  • Resolution Page: This is a follow-up page that informs potential customers about the current status of the product they signed up for, ensuring transparency and honesty.
  • Traffic: Visitors of landing pages in your Painted Door Test.
  • Customer Journey: The stages a potential customer goes through, from awareness to consideration and decision-making, measured through different touch points across ads and landing pages.
  • Painted Door Test: A method for validating new product or service ideas by creating multiple landing pages representing distinct concepts to assess pre-market consumer demand and purchase intent. It is also known as the Fake Door Test, Smoke Test, Red Eye Test, Landing Page Test, and, in general, Prototyping.
  • Hypothesis: The assumption about new products or services you aim to validate through your Painted Door Test.

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Written by
Florian Haberler
Florian is a Research Manager at Horizon with a rich background in consulting, marketing, and advertising. In Horizon's service department, he spearheads strategic market analysis, leveraging clients' use of Horizon to predict the market success of their product decisions. With his expertise, Florian ensures that consumer insights are meticulously analysed, enabling clients to confidently make the right product decisions pre-market.
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