What Eyebrows and Websites Have in Common


Have you ever wondered why you have a small patch of thick, delicate hair above each of your eyes? What purpose does it serve? Some could argue it fearlessly defends your eyes from the hostile invasion of forehead sweat, or that it was a way for ancient cavemen to defend a saber-tooth kill with one threatening scowl (oh, the power of nonverbal communication).

Whatever the actual purpose, one thing is clear: This comparatively small facial feature is very significant to our daily lives, even if we don’t consciously think about it. And, there can be dramatic ramifications if removed.

Have you ever visualized someone you know without eyebrows? Take for instance the lovely Anne Hathaway (the actress, not Shakespeare’s wife). She is strikingly beautiful with eyebrows, but what happens if you remove them?


Anne Hathaway with eyebrows:


Anne Hathaway without eyebrows:


Wow, what a difference. But, removing this small element does not have a huge impact for just Anne; this seemingly innocuous change severely impacts everyone’s appearance.

Take our Director of Editorial Content, Daniel Burstein. A rather handsome guy, but what happens if you remove his eyebrows?


Daniel with eyebrows:


Daniel without eyebrows:


At this point, if you are still reading, you are probably wondering, “Why am I reading about eyebrows on an Internet marketing blog?” Good question, but I have an answer.

Eyebrows are a very small feature of a person’s face, but they make a huge impact on a person’s appearance when removed. In our A/B testing lab, we’ve found the same thing occurs on your website and landing pages. Making a seemingly small change to copy, layout, color, etc. can have a significant impact on conversion.

We tested a very small change in button copy for the MarketingExperiments blog, and achieved a 34% lift in conversion. The goal was to get more readers to comment on blog articles. All we did was change the button copy from “Submit Comment” (pretty standard) to “Join the Conversation.” That’s it! Small change — i.e., eyebrows — equaled a big result.

I’m sure when you scroll through video results on Google or YouTube you often decide which video to play because of the freeze frame image you initially see. Well, this was our speculation for a Research Partner that had a video demonstration of a product on its homepage. We simply changed the initial video image from a person’s face (yes, he had eyebrows) to an action shot of the product. Small change, big result — a 19.6% increase in video plays.






Even changing a page’s tone can lead to dramatic results (raised eyebrows vs. slanted eyebrows). In a test we conducted with HubSpot at the MarketingExperiments / MarketingSherpa Optimization Summit 2012, we did NOT change layout, images, call-to-action, benefit copy or form fields. We simply added the words “Limited-time offer” and “2 days only” in a few key locations. We added urgency to the offer. In fact, the change was so small that our scientist had serious doubts before we launched the test about our ability to validate. Well, we did validate at a 97% level of confidence, and achieved 6.8% more lead form completions.



Click to enlarge



Click to enlarge


Impacting your bottom line doesn’t require wide, sweeping changes to your website. If well thought out and with a meaningful research question, the smallest of changes can provide huge results.

We all know a nose job will significantly change a person’s appearance, but changes to the eyebrows will too. While creating a test plan, it’s important to include radical redesigns (and probably earlier in the sequence), but don’t discount the power of small changes.


Related Resources:

Quick Win Clinic (Part I) – The 5 easiest changes to make to your landing pages right now (Web clinic replay)

Minor Changes, Major Lifts: How headline and call-to-action optimization increased conversion 45% (Web clinic replay)

Landing Page Optimization: Easy landing page changes that have improved results for your peers

Conversion Rate Optimization: Minor changes reduce cost per conversion 52.9%

FREE subscription to more than $10 million in marketing research

Celebrities Without Eyebrows

You might also like
  1. John Hyde says

    Thanks for this. Great tip about the video – people want to get on with fixing their car – not watch some talking head !

    Oh and I’m “starting the conversation”…

  2. Daniel Burstein says

    Great post Adam.

    But sleep with one eye open at B2B Summit 2012 in Orlando… 😉

  3. Matthew says

    Really thought provoking article – thanks for sharing. Love the eyebrows thing! M

  4. Tim Gray says

    I love how they used Daniel’s picture without eyebrows too. I could just imagine the laughter in the office before Daniel found out!

    Great example of how such minor things have such a big impact, I always try to tell clients how important minor changes are to their sites, and the never seen to understand the massive impact even a little work can have. I will use your above images to aid me in future. (and yes, Daniels too!)

    Thanks for a great post Adam!


  5. Mikael Rieck says

    Great post and great point.

    However, the last test with HubSpot… Isn’t that just lying? I know most people will never find out that it isn’t a limited 2-day offer, but it still isn’t true.

    Do you suggest we lie if the chance of being caught is very limited?

  6. Jacob says

    Great post!
    I have been struggling with conversions for quite some time.
    What can you do for my site http://www.MadisonArtShop.com?
    Sorry to ask, however, can we start with a freebie point of what you would change on item pages or my check-out cart?

  7. David Lomas says

    Good article, although anne Hathaway looks weird in both, in my opinion.

    Using the correct words in any communication makes a massive difference to us achieving results.

    Headlines in articles can be the most effective driver of traffic to your website.

    One of our publications, Property Aspects Magazine uses questions in headlines. This has the added benefit of creating response within social media forums like LinkedIn.

    Content marketing can give a massive boost to your web traffic.

    Regards to all!

    David Lomas
    Publisher of Property Aspects Magazine

  8. Adam Lapp says

    Hi Jacob,

    For e-commerce product pages, the name of the game is mimicking an in-store experience. If I was in a brick-and-mortar art store, I would be able to hold products in my hand and feel their quality. I would also be able to ask a sales person as many questions about the product’s value as I could think of. When I hand the clerk money, I simultaneously receive something in exchange (usually I’m already holding a shopping bag with the product in it before the transaction is complete. I also can look from left to right to prevent someone from writing down my credit card number or stealing my PIN. I also know that the art store will probably be there next week if I need to return or exchange my product, and I don’t have to worry about shipping if this were to happen.

    So how can we mimic this experience on your product page and checkout? Easy:

    – Guarantee satisfaction – overcomes quality issues because the customer knows they can return if the product is not what they wanted
    – Include ample product description and FAQs – substitutes for in-store questions
    – Say when item will arrive – relieves some anxiety of not being able to have the product right now
    – Confirm that you are secure and safe – so I don’t have to worry about identity theft
    – Good and easy to find return policy – makes me comfortable buying online because I feel like it’s just as easy to return as if the store were down the street (and free return shipping, prepaid label included in shipment helps too)

    Hope this helps,

  9. indu suthar says

    Thanks for sharing such a great post.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.