How Not to Suck at Landing Page Optimization

How Not to Suck at Landing Page Optimization

You’ve seen them used to promote webinars. You’ve visited them to download free guides and ebooks. And you’ve probably used them to sign up to be notified about a product launch or two.

Landing pages are a popular tool for companies looking to grow their reach and find new leads. These simple web pages, separate from your main site, typically have a single use and are created with conversion in mind.

According to Omniture, “online advertising that uses landing pages typically sees a conversion rate improvement of at least 25%.” But the good news doesn’t stop there -- they also found that testing can make that figure go as high as 50%.

In that spirit of constant improvement, here are seven sucky landing page practices, and seven ways to make it right.

Sucky Practice #1: Making it All About You

Unless your target audience is your mom, no one wants to come to your landing page and hear you talk about yourself.

Yes, it’s true that you need to clearly explain the value of your product or service in order to convince people to sign up or click through to the sale -- but the magic is all in how you frame it.

When someone signs up for a webinar on lead generation, they are signing up for a healthier bottom line. When someone downloads your ebook on list building, they are looking for a bigger audience to share their message with. And when someone adds their name to a waitlist for a new fitness tracker, they’re signing up for a better quality of life.

You get the picture.

People aren’t interested in your product, they’re interested in the solution you’re offering, and a great landing page is one that puts the user’s needs front and centre. Take for example the landing page for Lewis Howes’ upcoming webinar on How to Build a Growth Engine. On the page, Howes clearly lists six things that participants will learn, five of which directly mention the ultimate benefit to participants. Here’s an example:

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Who doesn’t want to start generating huge profits in a week?

When you’re developing your landing page, write your copy and create your design with your customer’s needs top of mind -- not your sales figures. If you nail the first element, the second will flow naturally

Sucky Practice #2: Being Greedy with Input Fields

Let’s be honest: the thought of collecting all sorts of demographic information about your users is very appealing.

It starts with first name and email. And then you think to yourself “might as well ask for last name, too.” While you’re at it, you decide to add a field for company. And then a field for position. And then a field for Twitter handle. Before you know it, you’ve got a dozen input fields and a growing bounce rate to contend with.

Reducing the number of input fields on your landing page can have a dramatic effect on your conversion rates. ImageScape, a dev shop, increased their conversion rate by 120% and their form completion rate by 160% when they reduced the number of fields on their contact page from 11 to four.

So when you’re drafting your next form, ask yourself this: am I willing to lose a potential lead over this additional piece of information? I didn’t think so.

Sucky Practice #3: Not Showing Your Work

If you visit the page for Paper, FiftyThree’s sketching app for iPad, you are greeted with this beautiful image of the tool in use:

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That, ladies and gentlemen, is called a hero shot, and it is a great way to create visual interest and grab the attention of visitors to your landing page.

As Oli Gardner explains on the Unbounce blog, “the hero shot is the visual representation of your offer and can help people to gain a better understanding of what it is or what it looks like. For maximum effect it should show context of use.” According to Gardner, the hero shot is designed “to get your customers to empathize and place themselves in a scenario where they are using it.”

Sucky Practice #4: Thinking a Video is a Video is a Video

A landing page is meant to be easily digestible -- brief, to the point, and easy-to-read. Studies have shown that human beings have a laughable attention span of 8 seconds, and for that reason, the quick shot of information that an explainer video offers can really help boost conversions on your landing page. In fact, when Dropbox replaced their homepage with an explainer video a couple of years ago, they saw a 10% increase in conversions.

But while explainer videos can make a very real impact on your conversion rates, it’s important to remember that they aren’t a simple magic bullet in-and-of themselves and that not all videos are created equal

A video’s ability to positively impact your conversion rates depends on factors like length, quality, and content. As our friends at KISSmetrics explain, successful explainer videos are short, professional, and well-scripted. More specifically, they suggest including four key elements in your video:

- The problem

- The solution

- How it works

- A call to action

If you do choose to incorporate a video into your landing page, don’t make the mistake of relying solely on the video to tell your whole story. Some visitors will only watch a portion of it, and others may not watch it at all; for that reason, your copy needs to be able to stand alone.

Bonus tip: Advertising your video’s brevity with copy like ‘watch our 60-second video’ is a great way to make watching your video even more compelling to your page’s visitors

Sucky Practice #5: Bland Button Copy

Despite the fact that a solid call to action is arguably the foundation of any good landing page, too many copywriters opt for the easy route on their button copy, choosing bland CTAs like:

  • Sign up

  • Register

  • Subscribe

  • Get updates

Taking your button copy game to the next level is a quick and easy way to optimize your existing landing page. Here are a few examples of captivating button copy that makes clicking through oh-so tempting:

1 - The Personal Touch

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On the landing page for his latest webinar, Lewis Howes does two brilliant things with his button copy: he makes it personal for the individual reading it (claim your spot) and creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity by implying that spots need to be claimed quickly, before the session fills up.

2 - Immediate Results

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Shopify, the international e-commerce innovator, uses the promise of immediate results to encourage potential users to sign up. Don’t underestimate the power of instant gratification!

3 - Free Stuff

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It’s no surprise that conversion guru Derek Halpern’s landing page would have some killer button copy. This is a great example of how you can incorporate the benefit that you are providing directly into the button copy in order to make it almost impossible for visitors to say no.

Bonus tip: As you’ve seen from those examples, yellow is a popular color for buttons. That might be because it conveys optimism and is useful for grabbing attention. Another great way to optimize your landing page is to tweak your buttons using the psychology of color.

Sucky Practice #6: Waiting Until It’s Perfect

When it comes to landing page optimization, this might just be the suckiest practice of all.

While the first iteration of your landing page may not yield the level of conversions that you were hoping for, it’s better than the zero conversions you’d have if the page never went live at all.

If you’re doing your job right, you will constantly be finding ways to edit and optimize -- so you might as well get started as soon as possible. No landing page is perfect when it goes live (check out Unbounce’s critique of our very-own landing page here), but that’s part of what makes landing pages so valuable: the ongoing process of optimizing them is an opportunity to get to know your customers.

By using tools like CrazyEgg or conducting basic A/B testing, you can capture valuable data that will help you better understand what your customers want (and don’t want) and provide them with an ever-improving experience.

Now get out there and collect some email addresses!

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