Really good landing pages are designed to be simple: nothing more than a web page designed to get your web visitors to perform an action.
Landing pages can be used to:
- Sell a product
- Encourage visitors to subscribe to an email newsletter
- Promote a downloadable ebook or report
- Sign a petition
And with so many great products on the market these days, creating a landing page should be easier than ever. But in reality it’s harder that most marketers think, which can lead to poor sales.
A landing page isn’t going to do you any good if you can’t get it to convert.
So let’s look at some of the most common threats to poor landing page conversions.
1. Mismatching Text Ad Copy and Landing Page Headline
There are a number of reasons why you want your Google AdWords text ad and landing page headline to match.
First, from a user stand point, your text ad establishes a certain expectation. If your text ad copy says, “Discover 4 Ways to Improve Your Career as a Web Developer” and your landing page headline says, “The Truth about Professional Training Courses,” you are going to startle the reader when he clicks through. That one-second hesitation could result in abandonment.
Second, the quality of your landing page determines cost-per-click in Google AdWords. Meaning, you can improve the quality of your landing page, raise your quality score and lower your CPC when you match text ad copy with landing page headline.
When you meet reader expectations you also lower abandonment rates, which Google likes.
2. Confusing Headlines
This is an extension of the above danger. Your headline is the first thing your visitor will see. Does it attract attention? Does it make him or her want to keep reading?
Here are some examples of great landing page headlines:
Those headlines are from blog posts, but you could easily use them for a landing page. Just like a blog post, a landing page should present your visitors with useful, unique and ultra-specific information.
Note: when writing headlines for landing pages use the 80/20 rule: spend 80% of your time getting the most compelling headline you can. In fact, it’s almost worth paying a professional to write it. It’s that important.
3. Poor Grammar and Misspelled Words
Just because you can throw up a landing page quickly in 20 minutes doesn’t mean you should.
That approach will lead to too many mistakes—like bad spelling and poor grammar. Here’s the deal: every single visitor to your landing page is looking for an excuse not to buy from you.
So the moment he or she sees a misspelled word or poor sentence structure – they are going to start backing away. Enough mistakes and they are gone.
4. No Trust Signals
Trust is the oil that greases the sales gears on your landing page. If you don’t have any trust, you don’t have any sales.
So how do you build that trust into your landing page? Here are 7 idiot proof ways:
- Use social proof – Social proof is the concept that because your product/landing page is popular then it must be credible. You see social proof in action when you see subscriber counts, Twitter followers or number of product users.
- Supply Endorsements – When you partner with big brands who have an online presence, you adopt their recognition and reputation. People think “If Brand X is willing to work with them, then I guess they can be trusted.”
- Supply 3rd Party Certification – No e-commerce site should be without a certificate of security from organizations like VeriSign and the Better Business Bureau.
- Invest in Design – A poorly designed landing page will put visitors on their guard. Spend the money to make the landing page look impeccable.
- Share Press Mentions – Has a high-profile blog or magazine positively reviewed your product? Then share that mention.
- Minimize T & C – Never include the lawyer’s version of ‘Our Terms and Conditions.’ Instead, summarize on the landing page, then link to it for further reference.
- Use Testimonials – Sprinkle your landing page with positive reviews from users. Get permission to use these testimonials. And share full name and city if you can.
5. Hidden Call-to-Action Buttons
A landing page has one goal. And that goal can only be completed if you can get your visitor to perform an action. But you can’t force them to perform that action, whether it be buying, downloading or subscribing, if you hide the call-to-action from them.
Some people hide the call to action below the fold. Others keep it above the fold, but fail to create a button that stands out.
Eric Ries’ Lean Startup landing page keeps the call-to-action above the fold:
See, after you’ve gotten the visitor’s attention with your seductive headline, created interest with compelling copy and provoked desire with social proof, testimonials and endorsements—you need to push them to perform an action.
Tell them what you want them to do in the clearest, most concise and compelling language possible. And use a button!
6. Poor or No Call-to-Action
Speaking of call-to-actions, it doesn’t matter how visible your call-to-action button is if you fail to make it compelling. As a result, your conversion rates will suffer.
Here’s how to create a compelling call-to-action:
- Use Practical Language – Avoid jargon and speak to your visitors needs. What problem are you trying to solve? Speak to that in your call to action.
- Keep Design Consistent – More than likely you will repeat the call to action further down the page. Each time, both the design and language should remain the same.
- Use Active Verbs – A good call-to-action tells the reader what to do. For example, ‘Subscribe,’ ‘Buy’ or ‘Download.’
- Create a Sense of Moving Forward – With both your design and copy, the reader should feel like he is making progress. Tim Ferriss uses a starburst to demonstrate where a new visitor should begin.
- Use Numbers – Being specific adds credibility to your claim. Did your product help consumers make more money? How much and in how many days on average?
- Limit Character Count Between 90 to 150 – A great call-to-action is compelling in about five to seven words. Too small and it may not be clear what you want them to do. Make it too long and you will lose their attention.
7. Going Off Message with Links
Links are great on blog posts. They serve as a short hand way of defining or expanding on concepts you are writing about. But adding links to a landing page is like shooting yourself in the foot.
Repeat after me:
“I promise never to send my visitor off the page—unless he or she is going to an order page.”
8. Poor Quality Videos or Images
Want to hear an interesting statistic? A video on your landing page can boost conversion rates by 80%. Now that’s a pretty good boost.
But keep in mind that these videos are high-quality pieces. They weren’t thrown together in an afternoon. Time and sweat went into these videos. A poor video can lower conversion rates more than no video. If you don’t have the budget or time then skip the video.
However, it’s essential that you have a great image on the landing page – one that is on target to the landing page conversion goal.
Preferably you should use screenshots of how your product is used… (context of use) basically anything to help the visitor feel like they are holding or using the product. Here is one of the images Crazy Egg uses to show how short the setup is to get started with their product:
9. Crowded Landing Pages
Everything that the visitor should need should be above the fold. This includes the headline and call to action button. But this doesn’t mean EVERYTHING should be above the fold.
People do scroll, so it’s okay to keep lower priority information and activities below the fold.
The web is a place where attention spans are insanely short. So you also have to design in such a way that follows people’s natural eye movements. You have to keep it simple. Each frame of a long, scrolling landing page should suggest just one, clear goal and action.
10. Never Testing
You may be getting what you think are great conversion rates from a headline. In fact, that headline might be hitting your target.
But is it optimal? Could you squeeze even more conversions if you tested a different headline? Tried different messaging on the call-to-action buttons?
For example, the team behind Obama’s online campaign made a number of small – and some might argue insignificant – changes to the wording on his website. These changes amounted to an increased voter base, wider and more aggressive volunteerism and, more importantly, $60 million in donations.
What would have happened if they never tested and simply rolled out the campaign as is? They would have completely missed out!
What kinds of test should you run? There are two standard tests:
- A/B Test – This is the simplest of the two since you are basically testing two elements against each other, such as one headline against another or two different call-to-actions. Once you have a winner, you can test that one against another one to get even better results.
- Multivariate – This test allows you to evaluate different elements across the page. So you could test different headlines, call-to-action designs, images, videos and so on at the same time, helping you find the best combination.
Over to You:
What other threats should we include on this list? Can you share some of your landing page successes and failures?