You’ve probably heard of HIPPO. Avinash talks a lot about how you can combat the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion with analytics, analysis and testing. Here’s one of his blog posts from waaay back in 2006 where he mentions the HIPPO problem: 7 steps to creating a data-driven decision making culture.

Testing helps a tremendous amount when faced with a HIPPO who weighs in on your landing pages: “Let’s test it” can be your response. No more fighting, no more backstabbing, no more office politics. That’s one of the things I love about real-time A/B and multivariate testing. You can actually see what works best, based on what’s actually converting (can you tell I am a do-er, not a talker?).

Aside from the HIPPO, there is another office enemy lurking around your landing page strategies that may be harder to spot. You might even be part of the problem. It’s the dreaded Groupthink, and it can harm even the most well-intentioned teams:

Groupthink essentially refers to a process of flawed decision making that occurs as a result of strong pressures among group members to reach agreement. That is, one or more of several…conditions induce concurrence-seeking tendencies that override effective decision making…*

The conditions that can lead to Groupthink include tight groups, directive leadership and insulation from outsiders.

I see Groupthink every day, and I bet you do too. One person comes up with a landing page concept, and runs it by another person who adds some perspective to help make the idea even better. Then before you know it, you have a group of people huddled around a table talking about the landing page concept for days. Not getting anywhere. Stalled. Going round and round. All the while thinking they have stumbled on the best landing page idea ever. I’ve been there a handful of times.

How can you spot Groupthink? It’s pretty easy. Here are a few symptoms:

  • When you come up for air from the group and explain the concept to someone outside the group, you get radio silence. A blank stare back at you as the person you are talking to tries to connect the dots between the excitement in your voice and the dud of an idea you just pitched him.
  • Within the group you’ve been debating the same points over and over again and you aren’t getting anywhere.
  • Or worse, you all agree on the points, but you can’t seem to wrap up the discussion and move on to execution.
  • You’re stuck and you don’t know why. Stuck on one concept. Stuck on a bump in the road. Stuck on the one use case that isn’t accomodated. Just stuck.

Yes, Groupthink is real. And it may be getting in the way of you making and testing some fantastic landing pages. Personally, I think there are a few cures when you find Groupthink has leeched its way into your quest for higher conversions:

  • Get away from it. Take a couple of days off of this particular landing page project and come back to it fresh.
  • Talk to someone outside of the group. Preferably someone far away from your world of landing pages and conversion optimization. Just pick a nice colleague from your office and run your ideas by them. See how it feels to talk about your concept to someone out of the ‘group’.
  • Get rid of the group—stop talking and just start doing. Get an idea or two executed so you can stop talking about the theory and you can actually get launched.
  • Test a variety of ideas (just make sure you use effective test planning), so you get rid of the artificial pressure to reach consensus.

Be on the lookout for the Groupthink monster and squash it before it gets in the way of your high conversions!

*Quote from Applied Social Psychology, Schneider, Gruman, Coutts. Copyright 2005, Page 250