Oli Gardner

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Conversion-Centered Design

Principle #3 - Clarity

You’d think that the principle of Clarity is fairly self explanatory, but confusing landing page copy is everywhere. I look at thousands of pages, and many leave me scratching my head.

Clarity is so important for conversion, in part because we are such impatient internet animals. If we make our visitors strain and struggle to figure out what our offer is or why our business is unique, the back button will become the CTA, sending folks back to the next ad in the list.

UVP vs. UCP

There’s an important distinction to draw when thinking about dedicated campaign-specific landing pages vs. your website’s homepage. Your homepage’s primary job is to communicate your Unique Value Proposition, whereas your landing page’s job is to communicate the Unique Campaign Proposition (hat tip to Bryan Eisenberg for that term).

Your Unique Campaign Proposition is related just to the purpose or offer of your campaign, which might not be the same as the value proposition of your website/homepage. For instance, for a webinar, you want to talk about the topic and guest — not your product or service.

If you’re doing branded search PPC then the landing page may well have an identical UVP and UCP, but for other campaigns (for a sale, special offer, webinar invite, ebook download, etc.) the UCP is much more targeted on one specific task.

Information Hierarchy image

Information Hierarchy

Information Hierarchy is concerned with the order with which the copy on your page is presented, both in literal terms (which comes first) and in terms of the visual dominance (what stands out most).

Consider the page on the right from an unnamed email marketing solution.

Notice how the prominent, bold headline is vague and doesn’t even reference email marketing? It isn’t until you read the subhead that you understand what the page (and the service) are really about.

To drive this point home, I decided to run an experiment. I ran a five-second test at Usability Hub to see what happened when people answered the simple question: “What does the product do?”

Below is a word cloud showing the responses. Common words are emphasized with larger sized text:

We make it easy to grow your business

A staggering 6% of respondents answered the question correctly.

Would you be happy if this was your business? If people didn’t understand your value proposition in the first five seconds? I decided to flip the headline and subhead to see if the Clarity in the subhead improved the results.

It's easier than you think

The verdict? With the subhead and headline reversed, 20% of respondents answered the question correctly — a pretty dramatic increase in correct responses.

Five-second tests are a great way to uncover Clarity problems, and if you have both a headline and subhead communicating your UCP, consider trying the headline flip for a follow up test.

Now, I’m not recommending you simply flip it and forget it. But think about your Information Hierarchy, and make sure you are telling your story in the right order, and that your subhead is there to add Clarity, not be the sole holder of it.

Clear vs. clever example

Clear vs. clever

Another reason pages often lack Clarity is that marketers are often sucked into trying to be cute or clever in their communications. You can see from some recent changes in CISCO’s homepage headline on the right how distinct this difference can be when it comes to clearly communicating your UVP or UCP.

The headline “Digital means dollars” could stand in for any online business. It doesn’t speak to benefits or describe what the services actually does. It’s trying to be cute and doesn’t add any Clarity.

But the new headline, “IT is fast, again” speaks a little more to what makes CISCO unique. It could stand to be more specific, but it at least explains a little of the benefits involved.

Similarly, in the next example, the old version (left) is trying to ride the “unicorn” buzzword wave — a vague word that adds zero actual value. Conversely, the updated version (right) speaks directly to a startup company, with the subhead clarifying what there is on offer:

Clear vs. Clever example
Clear vs. Clever example

If you’re worried that you might be using wishy-washy, jargonistic terms on your pages, we’ve created a Chrome extension to help. Here’s how it works:

Clear vs. clever example

1. Download and install
Unbounce’s Dejargonator Chrome Extension.

2. Run it on any landing page or website — offending phrases will be highlighted in red. 
(You can test it on this extra sleazy page here.)

3. Hover over the red text and see what’s wrong.

4. Finally, update your page to be:

a. Less sleazy and superlative-y

b. More specific (and thereby more persuasive)

Simple enough? Download the extension below.


Are your landing pages 

cluttered with jargonistic copy?

Our FREE Chrome extension will help you eliminate meaningless marketing speak 
that makes your landing pages less persuasive.

Maximize Conversions Using the Principles of Conversion-Centered Design

In this step-by-step framework, Oli Gardner will show you how to leverage the seven principles of Conversion-Centered Design to create delightful, 
high-converting marketing campaigns.

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