SaaS landing pages have changed a lot over the last 10 years. Long gone are the days of blocky designs, cold informational copywriting, and generic stock photos that show suspiciously-attractive people shaking hands in what looks like a very important business meeting.
To get the best possible conversion rate in 2020, you need to explain the complexities of your software without boring the pants off your prospects. You need to use authentic visuals that show visitors they can really trust your brand. And you need to target your landing page so the right audience sees it at just the right moment of their customer journey.
It’s no easy task. But it is possible. And SaaS marketers are getting better at all of the above in 2020.
Just take a look at a landing page we used to advertise our trial of Unbounce back in our early years, compared to a landing page we’re using today…
And it’s not just us—you can do the same comparison with any SaaS brand that’s been in the landing page game for a long time. The design, copy, branding, tactics…they’ve all gotten better, like little Pokémon evolving into—uh—bigger, better-looking Pokémon, I guess. (OK, you got me. I’ve never actually played Pokémon.)
But while SaaS landing pages have come a long way, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. I recently went through and manually reviewed 200 real-world SaaS campaigns to see if I could learn what works (and what doesn’t) in 2020. (Full disclaimer: I know this is a relatively small sample size. But my goal was to look for high-level trends vs. data-driven insights.)
Keep reading to see what I learned in the process, some examples you can use for inspiration, and some tips on how to optimize your SaaS landing pages like a pro this year.
The Big Problem: SaaS Marketers Are Converting Less
For the upcoming 2020 Conversion Benchmark Report, our team of data scientists (yep, they have lab coats) have been using machine learning and a rigorous methodology to study more than 34,132 landing pages and 19.2 million conversions. (Get hyped—it’s coming soon to a marketing inbox near you. If you’re curious, you can take a look at the 2017 version in the meantime.)
One of the perks of working here is that I got an early look at some of their research. And I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, but one data point made me raise my eyebrows two-and-a-half inches higher than usual…
On average, SaaS landing pages convert 10.46% lower than the overall conversion rate baseline.
This means that SaaS pages are less likely to convert than the majority of other industry landing pages covered in their in-depth research—including ecommerce and education pages. (“Whaaaat?!”)
Now there could be a few reasons for this. For starters, software can be pretty intangible and boring-looking, making it harder to market. (Although, believe it or not, I have seen some super sexy bookkeeping platforms.) It can also be complicated to explain in simple terms what your software does, who it’s for, and what all the different features do that make it special. Plus, most SaaS businesses are targeting a very specific niche, in an industry that’s constantly changing—and there’s typically a longer sales cycle, too.
All of these challenges add up to make SaaS landing pages a particularly tough nut to crack. And Talia Wolf, the Founder and Chief Optimizer at GetUplift, says they often cause marketers to miss out on what’s really driving conversions on their landing pages…
Most SaaS marketers know what a great landing page looks like. They get the concept of focusing on a singular offer and leading visitors down the funnel. But there are other parts they miss out on ALL THE TIME. Strategy, emotion, persuasion, and most importantly—creating a customer-centric landing page. If you don’t go back and optimize for these things, then your page will never get the results you really need for your business.
Yikes! It might be a bias we have here at Unbounce, but we believe you should never “set it and forget it” with your landing pages. (Though, I totally get how easy that is to do with all you’ve got going on.) To score those above-average conversion rates, you need to optimize each page before and after you hit publish.
And by optimize, I don’t just mean tweaking your button colors. To shape up your landing pages the way the experts do, you’ve gotta make smart decisions based on data and research. Track who is visiting your page and understand what they’re looking for. Use tools to discover whether your copy is actually resonating. And record what happens after someone clicks your CTA.
Because it’s only if you keep iterating and optimizing over time that you’ll be able to uncover the true conversion potential of your landing pages.
SaaS Landing Page Trends in 2020 [A Qualitative Look]
I spent the last couple of weeks studying 200 randomly-selected SaaS landing pages built in Unbounce. The goal was to look for qualitative trends and commonalities between the pages, and get a sense of what a high-converting SaaS landing page looks like in 2020. (Inspiration credit to Ross Simmonds, who recently did some similar research on SaaS websites.)
My methodology was pretty straightforward. I’d open a SaaS landing page, check it for some of the different elements, then mark it off in a spreadsheet. I went with a smaller sample size (200) that was manageable enough for me to take a self-guided look and satisfy my own curiosity.
Before we dive into the data though, there is one other caveat. While I did my best to keep only the pages that looked, felt, and smelled like SaaS, some of the sampled companies might not sell their software on a purely subscription basis.
Sound cool? Then let’s get to the good stuff…
The most popular type of SaaS landing page I saw was the “Demo/Consultation Page.” Marketers are using these to get visitors to try a demo of their software or reach out for a free consultation to learn more. No surprises here—it’s that classic “try before you buy” approach that gets leads in the door.
“Sign-Up Pages” were the next-most popular at 24%, which skip the demo and ask visitors to get started right away with either a free trial or paid plan. These work well at the bottom of the funnel—but you’ve gotta make sure you target them properly so only the decision-ready people are clicking onto your landing page. Otherwise, you’ll just end up scaring folks away.
Coming in third place were “Lead Magnet Pages” at 21%. These are your webinar registration pages, your ebook download pages, and… well, that’s pretty much it, actually. Seems like those are still the two most popular ways to get top-of-funnel leads into your email database in 2020.
Here’s an interesting data point—the average H1 headline I saw on these SaaS landing pages was 44 characters long, which usually comes in at less than eight words. In general, this gives you just enough space to communicate the problem your software is going to solve for visitors. (E.g., “Rescue Customers When They Need Quick Support.”)
And while I know we tend to think the shorter, the better when it comes to headlines, that’s not always the case. As I went through these 200 pages, one thing I noticed was that the shortest headlines were usually just the names of the software or literal descriptions of what they did (e.g., “AI Dialer”). This is a classic mistake that SaaS marketers tend to make—making the landing page all about you and your software, and not enough about the problem you’re solving or the people who need it most. (Further proof? Words like “You” and “Your” only appeared in about 27% of the H1 headlines on the SaaS pages I sampled.)
Curious about what other problems are plaguing SaaS landing pages? CRO expert Talia Wolf has identified three other mistakes marketers make and put together step-by-step instructions on how to solve them in the epic new guide—How to Optimize Your SaaS Landing Pages.
When it comes to the images being featured at the top of SaaS landing pages, there were a few surprises. For starters, it seems like most marketers are still choosing to show off their software at the top of the page (40%), rather than a photograph of people (27%) or an illustration (8%). This is despite the fact that many SaaS brands have moved towards using illustrations on their websites in the last couple of years. Seems like marketers are choosing to go literal on their landing pages, instead.
Even more surprising? Almost one in four SaaS landing pages are choosing to use no images at all in their hero section. In my opinion, this isn’t a bad strategy—cutting down on the design elements of your page can help visitors focus on what’s important (like your headline and that big, beautiful CTA) and help your content load faster too.
Social proof is one of the most valuable things you can have on your landing page. Not only does it build trust with your visitors, it can also help to highlight key software benefits and features that you want prospects to know about.
And yet—only 54% of the SaaS landing pages I sampled featured a testimonial of some kind. (And that number gets even lower if you only count the testimonials that feature photos of the customer and their real, full names.)
But you don’t have to take my word on why you should use social proof—here’s a testimonial (omg, see what I did there?) from Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Orbit Media.
When you say it, it’s marketing. When your customer says it, it’s social proof. This is why testimonials are so powerful. The substance is better; it’s an objective, third-party perspective. The style is also better; it’s more authentic, less polished.
Here’s some good news! When it comes to keeping your landing page distraction-free, most SaaS marketers seem to be on board. 91% of the pages I sampled had no top navigation, and 73% of them had only one, singular CTA for visitors to click on. Keeping eyes on the prize—that’s the landing page advantage.
What Are the Most Popular CTA Buttons?
Your CTA has to do a lot of heavy lifting. Not only should it inspire action from your landing page visitors, but it should also make it clear exactly what will happen when someone clicks through.
The word cloud above shows which CTA buttons SaaS marketers are using most frequently on their landing pages. “Get Started” and “Get Free Demo” are two of the most popular phrases, with other classics like “Start Your Free Trial” and “Try Now” coming in close behind.
The majority (72%) of SaaS landing pages I sampled feature a form of some kind for visitors to fill out. This means rather than have visitors click-through to a sign-up flow or some other registration page, marketers are opting to collect lead info right on the landing page itself.
The forms I saw ranged in type and size. The largest had over 10 fields to fill out, including mandatory boxes asking for your “Type of Organization,” “Job Title,” and “Company Website.” (It also had a box at the end asking if you had any “Questions/Comments.” Which, I mean, of course you do. But this landing page form probably isn’t the best place to put them.)
The average number of form fields came in between four and five, with the shortest forms asking you to only fill out one thing: your email address.
Long and clunky forms can tank your landing page conversion rate—learn to make ‘em smarter with tips from CRO expert Talia Wolf. Download the free guide: How to Optimize Your SaaS Landing Pages.
Three Examples of Modern SaaS Landing Pages
Looking for some inspiration for your next campaign? Here are three SaaS landing pages built in Unbounce that impressed us with their smart, tailored approaches to copy and design.
The “Try a Free Demo” Page
So many SaaS landing pages have headlines that focus on the product. What I love about this example from Mixmax is that the copy makes it about the visitor and the problems they care about most. “De-clutter YOUR email. Prioritize YOUR focus. Automate YOUR day.” These are the benefits of the software, and the Mixmax team has framed them in a customer-centric way that really resonates with visitors.
The “Start Your Free Trial” Page
When you get to the bottom of the funnel, it’s important to layer on the social proof so visitors are ready to take the plunge into a free trial. This example from Peakon does a great job of showing that they’re the “world’s leading platform for measuring and improving employee engagement” by dropping in some big-name company logos right underneath.
Add in a simple and straightforward form that includes objection-handling microcopy (“Peakon is free to try for 30 days. No credit card required.”) and you can see why this page delivers the goods.
The “Lead Magnet” Page
This beautifully-designed lead magnet landing page from Shoelace is like a work of pop art. The on-brand illustrations and animations make downloading the deck seem like a downright fun proposition, and the copy highlights the problem before sliding in the downloadable deck as a solution.
Also, did you notice the “book a demo” secondary CTA in the top nav bar? Although it goes against one of the landing page best practices, this works nicely as a shortcut for more solution-aware visitors who are ready to take action.
Are You Ready to Start Optimizing?
Every year, SaaS landing pages keep getting better. More marketers in this industry are becoming optimization experts in their own right, which means they know how to target the right people with their campaigns, use copy that taps into visitor emotions, and drive more conversions.
To help you optimize like a bonafide expert, Unbounce has teamed up with Talia Wolf and ActiveCampaign to create an epic new guide. Inside, Talia has identified the four biggest problems on SaaS landing pages today (like having a UX that bleeds visitors) and is sharing the customer-centric checklist she uses to make sure her client campaigns are high-converting.