5 Landing Page Conversion Killers

By , January 27th, 2013 in Landing Pages | 36 comments
Conversion Killer Cat that Stalks Your Landing Pages
I’m watching you… (Image source)

You may not know it, but there are a few conversion killers that stalk your landing pages, hacking and slashing away at your leads and sales when you aren’t looking.

They’re quite insidious… you may not even know you’re making these mistakes. Fortunately, there are a variety of studies that can help us out in this regard.

Today we’re going to look at a few more research studies that can help you drastically improve the “leaks” your landing pages may have at this very moment.

Here are the 5 conversion killers you need to look out for…

1. Poor Typography & Whitespace

Designers are going to rejoice hearing this, but marketers need to play close attention as well.

All of that typography stuff that your design guy/gal warned you about?

They were right: according to this study on readability, small margins were good for one thing — making people read faster.

The problem was that they also drastically cut down reading comprehension, and everybody knows that an effective landing page is one that gets it’s message across clearly.

The devil really is in the details when it comes to certain elements of your landing page.

Fortunately, the incredibly talented Rafal Tomal has you covered — he’s cooked up a number of tasty graphics on his blog that can help you get your typography & margins straightened out.

This one in particular is a great showcase of what to do vs. what not to do:

As lead designer at Copyblogger Media, Rafal knows a thing or two about visuals & conversions.

He also recommends increasing the contrast from font to background on your site, because although the subtle colors may be all the rage for those folks drinking too much of the “start up Kool-Aid,” it’s extremely hard to read for your customers:

Makes sure your typography isn’t killing your conversions before prospective customers even get to process your copy.

2. A Slow Loading Landing Page

We get it, fast pages are essential for increasing conversions.

…but do you really know how badly a slow page can kill your sales?

Get ready to lose sleep at night: according to this report by Bing on O’Reilly Radar, a less than 2-second increase of delays in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%, increased lost revenue per user by 4.3%, and a reduced clicks by 4.3%.

What could a 4.3% drop in revenue do to your business?

I know it’s the exact reason I gladly pay for top of the line hosting for my site.

There’s a clear message to be drawn here — users absolutely hate waiting for things to load, and they become less satisfied with a reduced number of clicks if you even make them wait just a couple of seconds longer.

Worse yet, we now know that Google factors in site speed when creating its search engine rankings, so a slow landing page could be losing you business via lost customers who couldn’t find you via search.

You need to kill the clutter and unnecessary widgets/features on your site and only put the essentials. If you’re running our favorite blogging platform, be sure to speed up WordPress by knocking off some of the following:

  1. Use an effective caching plugin
  2. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  3. Optimize images (I like WP-SmushIt)
  4. Optimize your database by cleaning things up with WP-Optimize
  5. Disable hotlinking
  6. Add an expires header to static resources
  7. Replace PHP with static HTML

…and whatever else you can do to get those pages sped up!

3. Obsessing About “The Fold”

Can we please put this one to bed?

Some marketers are obsessed with cramming everything at the top of the page because they are convinced that all of the important stuff needs to be seen before scrolling down.

…but are longer pages really that bad?

That answer has been revealed time-and-time again: no, it’s okay (and even recommended) to have a longer landing page with plenty of copy.

In this report by Clicktale, a heat-mapping software, their results show that the length of the page has no influence in the likelihood that a user will scroll down the page:

It’s gets even better for those who love their long landing pages…

According to the results from this study, less content above the fold can actually encourage users to scroll farther down:

A solid case for not being a slave to “the fold,” no?

I can hear some of the objections now — “This is all high level stuff, show me a case study of this actually happening and I’ll listen…”

Sounds good to me!

Take a look at this case study that Neil Patel posted on QuickSprout:

Because of the data I decided to run an a/b test on the homepage. The current homepage has 1292 words, plus the form fields are way below the fold so I felt it maybe decreasing my conversion rate.

I created a new version of the homepage, as seen below, that only contained 488 words and form fields higher on the page.

Can you guess which one converted better?

The original converted 7.6% better than the new variation.

And it didn’t just end there, the leads from the long form version of the page were higher in quality in that they were more qualified than the leads that came from the new variation.

Point being: stop holding back your landing pages by following this trite and outright wrong opinion.

4. Weak-Ass Testimontials

You’ve gotten the reader past the opening headline, through the body copy, and now they’re really intrigued and getting near the bottom of your landing page… time to seal the deal with some awesome testimonials.

…the only problem is, you have things like this up on your site:

This product is super-duper! Wowie zowie!

— Some dude

That’s a shame, because:

  1. Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase. [source]
  2. Nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. [source]

And you’re going to leave one of your best forms of social proof generic and unmemorable?

The question is this: how exactly can you improve your social proof + testimonials while still being honest? (Fake testimonials will bite you in the ass sooner or later, so don’t be a jerk)

One easy way is to simply include a photo of the person giving the testimonial — recent research on “truthiness” discovered that a photo was found to increase trust among all participants, even if said photo was nonsensical (didn’t relate to the written content).

Thus, faces can easily be added to enhance credibility, like this example at KISSmetrics:

Or like the one we use on Help Scout:

Another great solution for enhancing social proof on your landing pages is to focus more on memorable stories over cookie-cutter praise.

According to psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons (authors of The Invisible Gorilla), stories stay lodged in our minds better than statistics because stories are memorable and data isn’t (in comparison).

“Our ancestors lacked access to huge data sets and experimental methods. By necessity, we learned from specific examples, not by compiling data from many people across a wide range of situations.”

This matches up with other research on storytelling which clearly shows that stories are influential because transportation leads to persuasion.

What that means is that stories are able to get in “under the radar” unlike a typical sales pitch or vague testimonial; we’re more likely to be swept up in the tale of the story since it’s engaging.

Here’s an example…

Webmasters who have experienced the hair-pulling frustration of their site going down during a big feature can relate to this story.

It’s much more effective than, “WPENGINE SO GOOD MANY FAST WEBSITE,” or any other form of generic praise that similar hosting providers could also rustle up.

Are your key landing pages utilizing testimonials the smart way?

5. Crushing Readers with a “Wall-O-Text”

While long landing pages that go beyond “the fold” are obviously recommended, you have to be very careful not to scare your readers away with a giant “wall-o-text.”

The truth is this: although many people on the web will (and like) reading long pieces of content, NONE of them are going to do so if it comes across as intimidating to read.

Worse yet, although longer landing pages can convert better, you’re walking an increasingly thin line the longer your page gets.

That’s according to this study which shows that as a page gets longer, less people are likely to finish it:

(That’s obvious, but remember a longer page can contain a more convincing argument and results in much more qualified leads)

How can you enhance how “approachable” your content is? According to the study:

Highlight keywords, use headings, write short paragraphs, and utilize lists.

Nothing out of the ordinary… but are your landing pages really making use of these techniques?

Our buddy Rafal offers yet another handy graphic to do a basic comparison of how your landing pages should look vs. what they should avoid:

You’ll notice that while they are essentially the same length, the one of the left makes far more use of headlines and better spacing… you essentially read it in “chunks” vs. one long essay.

This actually lines up with the research from the Eyetrack III study, which revealed that headlines are the most viewed thing on any content page, even more so than images!

Your Turn…

Here’s what to do next:

  1. Leave a comment telling me what you thought about these findings. Did any of them surprise you in particular?
  2. If you want more research-backed content, download my free report on 10 Ways to Convert More Customers (with Psychology), which was featured by Unbounce as one of the year’s best free marketing e-Books.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you in the comments!

– Gregory Ciotti


About The Author

Photo of Gregory Ciotti

Gregory Ciotti is the content strategist at Help Scout, the invisible help desk software that turns email support into a fast, personal, and pleasant experience for your customers. Get more research backed content on our blog.
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Comments

  1. This stuff is gold! I am working with advertorials and getting people to actually read the stuff is hard. By using Justin Cutronis script I’ve measured that around 80 % of all users scan.

    Long blocks of text doesn’t work – advice 1 and 5 are good tips I can back!

  2. Thanks for the great post. Tips were something I know already but the reasons behind them were very well explained.

  3. Tom Howlett says:

    Great read. I have seen too many websites that think about what they want to include on their landing pages and slap it all on the page with little consideration as to how it should be arrange.

    Thanks for the link to Rafal’s site as well, very useful.

  4. bludog70 says:

    Greg: I think graphics are so cool with all that text that ppl hates read. I mean, its very clear and we willl keep that way. But of course I will read the text now! .-)

    regards,

    (Im not a bot)

  5. I love the data tackling the fold! If your content is worth it and you don’t make any of the other mistakes you’ve highlighted fold becomes less important that many expect. In my experience landing speed, quality of content, and poor design tend to have the biggest impact.

    An image paired with testimonials tends to increase credibility!

  6. Cory says:

    This is amazing! love the articles you guys post :) gives me the power to convince stakeholders! keep it coming!

  7. Mohamed Alaa says:

    You forgot something Extremely important. Actually this should be the first thing.

    Contents Quality is the Best Landing Page Conversion Killer.

    You have to focus on your users and instead of talking bla bla bla about your self. just be direct and tell them why your product is good for them.

  8. A great read and very interesting. I am not too well versed in webdesign, but my wife and I designed our own. Would indeed like your feedback.
    Is it too wordy – etc.

  9. […] 5 Landing Page Conversion Killers, unbounce.com […]

  10. Hi Gregory – Good stuff (this is a topic near and dear to my heart – I recently had a webinar turned blog post (at http://blog.landerapp.com/lander-academy-your-landing-pages-wont-ever-be-the-same/) with very similar relevant info

    One thing I wanted to comment on was this –

    In #7 you say “Replace PHP with static HTML” but above that you recommend a couple plugins that assume a site uses WordPress (which I fully agree with and endorse- what a GREAT CMS)

    But with WordPress – can you reply for your readers on how to “Replace PHP with static HTML”

    Thanks man – keep doing good things!

  11. Rich Page says:

    Great post! I love killers 3 and 4 in particular…

    For anyone looking for other conversion killers, I have 10 different ones in my blog post on the same topic:
    http://rich-page.com/website-optimization/10-website-optimization-mistakes-that-kill-your-conversion-rates/

    Rich

  12. Laura says:

    Great read, thanks. There seems to be a lot of contention about the effect of longer landing pages, (many for, many against) and what an optimial length should be. To me it depends on your industry and subject matter, and it is essential to follow the above and make your content easy to read and not overpowering.

  13. Joe McVoy says:

    Thanks, great tips. Instead of conversion killers, how about something that helps? If you send out graphic/html emails, make the landing page match the email. I tried that and am now above 50% opt in conversion! See the actual email, the landing page and the stats at my blog at joemcvoy.com

    I’m excited because I never got above 10% opt in before:)

  14. Olumide says:

    Thanks Greg for the info. My pages have no landing forms (Didn’t know how to go about it). Now, I have more information on what to do at least to start-off. Really good.

  15. […] en conversie. Gregory Ciotti gaat op deze onderzoeken in en zet in zijn artikel de meest voorkomende conversiekillers op een rij. Te veel of te weinig witruimte; een verkeerd gekozen achtergrondkleur; een langzaam […]

  16. Great article – Agree with all these points, but the one point I didn’t see was length of the form. How many fields is TOO MANY?

  17. […] the example heat map below – from a recent post – that shows by placing less content above the fold, people are actually more likely to scroll […]

  18. […] 5 Landing Page Conversion Killers – well made points here. […]

  19. Ronan Quinn says:

    This is a brilliant piece of info, I’ve been researching static landing pages all night but this is the best 5 tips i have read all night. Thank You.
    Ronan

  20. david says:

    Hey Greg, great article; particularly like the mentions about how to lay out text and also above/below fold studies. Cheers

  21. Will says:

    I’m trying a few experiments with landing pages right now and this article is such a great complement to what I’m trying to accomplish.

    Thanks for the write up Gregory!

  22. Marc says:

    Wow… thinking of it I knew already many of the facts from other parts of human interactions. (Printed) newspapers are analyzed in the same way. And still – I didn’t connect my knowledge from one part of my brain to the other. Now I’ll have a closer look at my websites for sure! Thank you for kicking the gears in my head into the right positions!

  23. Jack says:

    The only issue I have with this, is that you make the implicit assumption that all websites are made with WordPress (see your plugin recommendations and other examples). This could not be further than the truth. It’s very frustrating to read someone’s blog who has the WordPress bubble around their head.

    There are around 66 million WordPress websites. According to Wikipedia, 55 million are personal blogs. That means, at most, there are 11 million business websites using WordPress.

    Now consider that worldwidewebsize.com suggests there are 50,000 million websites (50 billion).

    That puts WordPress business websites at 0.02% of all website types in the entire world.

    Now, wasn’t that a little silly and close-minded to just assume everyone would find your plugins useful? Do us all a favor and take the WordPress bubble off your head, please. WordPress is for amateurs.

  24. Great information and well laid out and explained. Many Thanks

  25. Nice post!

    ” 3. Obsessing About “The Fold” ” –> Agree, but i would still prioritize the high priority parts of the landing page and nicely make the visible without having to scroll.

  26. Jordan says:

    Love Unbounce! The money is in the details. A lot of these tips most folks don’t even consider. Get the little things right and conversions can sky rocket. That’s why I’ve enjoyed using your platform to test because it gives me a solid foundation to work with using PPC. Thanks for sharing, I’ve bookmarked several of your pages.

    Jordan.

  27. Great article overall. I liked the fact that most things are backed by data from scientific studies.

    Having said that, I have one thing to add. This is about testimonials. Adding a photo to testimonials as you suggested makes it look genuine. But I think we can do more. I suggest going ahead a step and add link that photo to author’s social profile.

    One can consider using a dedicated ‘testimonial management solution’ like http://www.wiwitness.com to get ‘verifiable testimonials.

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