Tips and Best Practices From Those In The Know
Landing pages are an important tool in the online marketer’s toolbox. Literally, the page where prospects land after clicking a link that may appear in a banner ad, a social media post or an email marketing message, the sole purpose of the page is to generate some desired action. Too often, though, for a variety of reasons, the landing page fails to do that. The most common misstep is failing to quickly deliver what was promised in the offer.
Deliver on the Customer Expectation
Keeping it simple is key when it comes to creating landing pages designed to generate results, says Sandy Sidhu with Sandy Sidhu Media. “When it comes to landing pages, it is imperative that you have a clear call-to-action and eliminate any other distractions for the prospect,” she says. This means, she stresses, that your prospect should only be faced with one choice: to opt-in (or not) to your offer. “They should not be presented other options such as the services you offer,” Sidhu says.
“For my business, using dedicated landing page tools that have been designed to drive conversions have helped increase opt-ins as well as showing social proof from people who have signed up in the past and received value out of the offering,” says Sidhu.
That’s the kind of measurable traction that you should be striving to generate.
Henry O’Loughlin, inbound marketing manager with Nectafy, agrees that a straightforward approach that cuts through the clutter to deliver the offer quickly and clearly is key. First, he recommends stripping away all navigation. “It’s important that you don’t have a website menu or anything that could take people away from filling out the form,” he says. “If you take out all links and direct people to filling out the form, you’ll definitely see more submissions.”
Tell It Like It Is
In addition, O’Loughlin recommends being up-front with visitors. “Address what most marketers won’t,” he advises. “Visitors appreciate honesty, but marketers are always scared to address what the visitor is thinking.” For example, O’Loughlin says his site offers a free assessment, and he knows that most visitors will be thinking they’re going to be faced with a sales pitch if they opt in, so they may be hesitant to do so. “That fear drives down conversions. We address it head-on with the ‘Here’s what you won’t get’ section.”
Finally, he says: keep it simple. “I’ve had really pretty landing pages designed with big header images. Yet, when I run tests, the simpler designs always work better. When the page is almost all white with simple text, I guarantee you it will outperform the one with a beautiful header image and design.”
Brandon Seymour with Beymour Consulting supports the idea of being straightforward with visitors to address any pain points as openly and thoroughly as possible. “Pain points vary depending on the business, but some of the most common are price, distance, commitment and perceived risk,” he says. “Most landing pages are optimized to generate as many leads as possible, but they aren’t doing much to pre-qualify these leads. If your prospects are usually on the fence about price, then why not include pricing on your landing page? If distance is an issue, then why not include a map that shows where you’re located?”
The bottom line, he says, is why generate leads that are unlikely to convert into customers? “Poor quality prospects don’t help your business in any way,” says Seymour. “They bog down your sales team and sometimes they can jeopardize your brand’s online reputation, if they feel your business’s landing pages were misleading.”
Test, Measure, Learn and Improve
The beauty of landing pages—like any other form of online marketing tool—is their ready measurability. There’s much to learn by carefully monitoring results, in terms not only of a final purchase or request, but also of the various elements on the page that can be measured through A/B tests.
“Performing A/B testing can help you compare different versions of your landing page,” says Cameron Loughlin, owner of Tempest Leather, a leather accessories business. “You can test multiple headlines, main images and -to-action buttons against each other to see which one is most effective,” he says. Applying the lessons learned from those tests to future landing pages can help to increase response.
Applying automation to the process can both help you gather information and provide value to your visitors and customers says Kylee Ellis with Virtual Marketing. For instance, she recommends that every landing page have a single form to avoid confusion for your audience and to populate a single database. That way, she says: “You can track everything everyone does in your CRM and send a unique series of autoresponders based on what forms someone has completed.”
Once a visitor completes the form, Ellis says, “Don’t redirect to a standard thank-you page, but direct to the next up-sell you have.” For instance, after a visitor registers for a free book, they land on a page where they can register for free video training.” And, she adds, don’t just have one autoresponder, but a series that directs to different landing pages. All of this, Ellis says, “can be fully automated so you don’t need to do anything other than funnel traffic into landing page one, and the rest of your business runs itself.” In addition, of course, you’ll have the data to indicate what works and what doesn’t.
“Always be testing” is an important rule of thumb, says Chris Castiglione, co-founder and head of content with One Month. What should you test? “First test the biggest things on the landing page,” he says—like the headline, the image and the button call-to-action. “I’ve increased sales 20 percent simply by removing additional text—below the fold—and changing the color of the action button from blue to green.” Castiglione recommends Optimizely as a good tool for A/B testing.
Beyond Landing Pages
Brian Carter, an author, speaker and consultant with The Carter Group, urges businesses to think beyond landing pages to something that can generate more traction—a squeeze page. “A landing page is anywhere you send someone,” he says. “A squeeze page is optimized to get them to take the action you want.” Squeeze page variations can be tested to increase conversion rate, Carter says. “You can sometimes double your conversion rate this way, which cuts your acquisition cost in half.” Services like ClickFunnels and LeadPages, he says, can make this a simple process. “They’re well worth the cost.”
Matt Dubnik is a “creative enthusiast” with Forum Communications. He says there are five keys to getting the results you’re hoping for:
1) Make sure that your offer corresponds 100% to the landing page. The worst thing that can happen is that someone responds to your social media post, your email or your offline marketing efforts, follows a link, and then arrives on a page that has nothing to do with the offer they just saw.
2) Make it easy for them to view the page. Don’t clutter the page, and don’t make their fingers hurt from scrolling and scrolling. Get to the point. Have a clean design. If you can’t convey your message in a short time frame, the user will leave your landing page.
3) A/B testing is critical. Think that all buttons are the same? Or, that all headlines dictate the same emotion? Or, that everyone reads between the lines? They don’t, so you have to constantly test, and then test some more. Try different headlines, colors and placement of call-to-action buttons, usage of photos that invoke action and even video (if applicable). Testing is key to success.
4) Make it easy for them to convert. If you’re trying to capture emails, then make the form quick and painless. If you want them to download something, have a call-to-action button that says something to the effect of “Download This App Now.” Asking for someone to fill out 99 form fields, or to create an account, can be a deterrent. Help the user move through the process, and then worry about capturing necessary information at a later time once you’ve built their trust.
5) Last, but certainly not least, is the ability for the page to pass the “Mom” test. We literally give our clients’ websites to our mothers and ask them to navigate to a certain place, download a certain item, or perform a desirable action. If it’s not easy enough for our mothers to perform the action, chances are, we haven’t simplified things enough.
Additional Best Practices
The following are some additional insights from experts in using landing (or squeeze) pages to boost conversions:
“Match the landing page headline, image, and text to the referring medium. For example, if a user clicks an ad that says ‘Get our free online marketing ebook’ with an image of that ebook, the landing page should have the same headline and image as the ad. Landing page builders like unbounce make this easy.”
– David Waring, Editor-in-Chief
“We always include relevant testimonials for social proof, FAQ for explaining potential objections, and clearly defined expectations for reducing friction on the client side.”
– Tom Bukevicius, CEO
“Leverage any positive 3rd party validation you have received by prominently displaying recognizable logos or quotes that praise your company. For example:
- Your company was cited as an expert source in any recognizablenews media outlet
- Any awards or accreditations your company may have received
- Any quotes or reviews from happy clients.”
– Jim Keough, Marketing Manager
“Without a doubt, including video on our company’s landing page has been an effective way to increase our conversion rates. It’s been proven that 75 percent of consumers are likely to purchase after watching videos explaining a product or service. By including a video on the landing page, viewers are consuming more compelling content in a shorter amount of time than it would take to read the same information. This year will belong to entrepreneurs who are ready to dive deeper into the power of video and adopt it as the prominent element of their marketing strategy. The results will be far-reaching, yield a positive return, and will fill a brand’s business development pipeline with the right leads to grow their business.”
– Derek Hubbard, Communications & Public Relations Manager
“Create a unique URL. Point your audience to a specific landing page based on which channel or method they’ve connected with you, and make the value proposition relevant to that audience. For example, an email offering a free report would have a different landing page from one linked from Google Adwords offering a free trial.”
– Ben Thompson, Founder
“Our team uses a checklist whenever we launch a landing page. The checklist contains most of what you’d expect—call-to-action above the page fold, reduced website navigability, directional cues, etc. Having a checklist handy really helps you increase project efficiency. But, our biggest difference maker for improving landing pages is observed user behavior. One of the most insightful user behaviors we pay attention to is form engagement. Using some advanced event tracking tools, we’re able to learn how users are interacting with a form. Most notably, we can find out which fields are contributing to abandonment—i.e. what field is causing users to stop filling out the form. Then, when you couple those form abandonment insights with heatmaps (i.e. average mouse movements), we’re able to discover what’s most attractive for landing page visitors and deliver more of it.”
– Brian Thackston, Director of Marketing
“Present a tailored, specific and relevant offer to your audience by utilizing segmentation whenever possible. Segment by traffic source, by user type, geography, by location in the funnel, or any other relevant demographic trait.
“If you’re advertising on mobile, be sure your landing page is mobile-friendly. This includes making your page load quickly on mobile, fit the screen, and take into account context of mobile needs. Highlight conversion actions that are native to phones like your phone number. Location and hours should also be put front and center if you have a brick-and-mortar business.”
– Jenny DeGraff, Director of Design Optimization
A landing page is a beautiful thing: one singular place where a consumer is faced with the decision to continue to engage with your brand, or to give up and continue on with their search.
To increase positive response within our landing pages, we employ a few ‘Landing Page Rules’ that govern our design and development work:
Landing pages must have:
1. Every piece of information a visitor needs to make a quick decision, and nothing more
2. Information presented in a graphically pleasing manner – which is seldom in copy-only form
3. A HUGE call-to-action button that is easy-to-understand and agreeable to the visitor (it’s more fulfilling to answer ‘Yes!’ than ‘No!’)
4. Responsive development – easy-to-use on every screen size
Don’t forget to close the loop with a lead-capture, like asking for an email or other information you can use for re-marketing!
– Peter Kozodoy, Chief Strategy Officer