6 Actionable tips for a landing page that converts
What’s powerful, often single, and can guarantee conversions?
A well-designed landing page.
If you’ve got a killer landing page but it doesn’t convert, there are only two reasons I can think of: the page gets shitty traffic or no traffic at all.
Don’t get me wrong here.
I’m not talking about design that screams professional, has subtle typography, slick CTA buttons (though they have their place), and custom high-quality images. You don’t need that for a well-designed landing page. The best pages out there, professional looking or not share three distinct attributes. They’re purposeful, targeted, and focused.
That, in turn, elicits a singular action.
Most landing pages fall flat on their faces because they are designed according to guidelines from best-practice guides. The same holds true for landing page designs mimicking successful case studies.
What’s wrong with copying others?
It’s a common pitfall to think that what works for someone else will work for you in the same manner. In running that ill-fated experiment you lose money, time, and sleep AND gain nothing.
Once you get hold of the basic principles that govern the creation of effective landing pages, things actually take on a simple color. Execution becomes easy.
What I want to say is this: the formula doesn’t change, the application does.
Much of what’s been discussed in hundreds of optimization guides can give you several ideas, but if you feel the lack of a clear direction, this post is for you.
Your landing page’s purpose should be clear
Let’s face it.
You’re here because your landing page is broken.
Nothing to be ashamed of.
It just needs a little help.
Let me guide you. Once you know what makes a landing page tick, you wouldn’t have any trouble checking all the boxes when it comes to creating yours.
One thing should be clear before proceeding:
- The goal of the landing page, i.e. the action that you intend for the visitor to take. It can be a newsletter sign up, sign up to watch a demo, product purchase, webinar registration or account creation to cite some examples.
To that end, first find what your visitors actually do on your site and understand why they’re not taking the action you want them to.
It isn’t. All you need is some hemp, a dead witch’s bones and a bit of…
Heatmaps are visual representations of how users interact with your site. They outline areas users fixate upon through eye-tracking, mouse-movements, and scroll behavior.
Heatmap analysis makes it easy for you to understand which areas visitors to your site are most interested in. With this, you can also understand which design elements get the most attention.
Any change to those design elements when conducting an A/B test can result in instant wins/loses.
As the fixations increase, these specific regions turn hotter. They are mostly indicated in increasingly intense shades of red. The regions with fewer fixations are on the other hand blue in color to indicate the apparent lack of activity.
Various tools enable you to understand what your visitors actually do on your site. This gives incredible insight into the different elements that get clicked, different options that are accessed and so on.
Why is it important?
It lets you form a coherent picture of where clicks come from. Rather than place a CTA in an area that gets the least user attention, place it somewhere that gets most attention. Make a data-driven decision with heatmap-analysis.
There are three ways to achieve this:
- Tracking mouse movements
- Tracking clicks
- Scroll maps
Eye-tracking being expensive, most tools offer mouse tracking. Experts believe places where the mouse hovers provide a good approximation of where the visitor is looking at. Mouse movements let you discover how many visitors hover over particular page elements.
In this example, you can see mouse movements concentrated on the CTA elements and navigation bar.
On the other hand, click tracking gives you insights on which elements get the most clicks. If it isn’t your CTA then something’s wrong with the page.
Maybe the CTA link’s broken. Or there could be something far less conspicuous deterring clicks. Is the landing page copy enough to hold attention? Are the images relevant?
Click behavior offers insights that can help develop a hypothesis as to why a particular landing page isn’t converting.
Scroll maps offer insights into how far users scroll before giving up. If your CTA is located at the bottom of the landing page, it’s possible that users never see that.
According to a Nielsen report, “what appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will influence the user experience”.
What the wise guys are implying is that the content above the fold should be interesting enough for users to want to scroll down below.
Here a few tools for heatmap analysis:
- Survey Analytics
Now that we have that out of our way, let’s try to conjure a clearer picture regarding the kind of visitors who actually come to our sites. Once we understand what they think and what motivates that thinking we can market to them with a message that’s much more relevant, clear and on the dot.
How different stages of awareness help us target the right person with the right message
Fortunately, we have some help here.
According to Eugene Schwartz, people are in different stages of product/brand awareness. The stages are categorized as below:
- Not Aware
- Ready to buy or Most Aware
To target visitors from each awareness stage, use a different landing page. The first category of people don’t really visit landing pages, despite what Schwartz says.
They are aware that a particular problem exists but they aren’t sure of the solutions and educated about the options that exist.
Oli Gardner found that visitors to the site had no context of what Unbounce could do to help them to create beautiful landing pages.
Oli decided to make some alterations to the page to puts things in perspective for the visitors.
How was this achieved?
To gain insights into visitors that landed on Unbounce, Oli deployed a survey through Qualaroo to understand the mindset of the visitors and eventually alter the landing page.
These visitors who arrived without context wondered if the landing page templates could be used on Wordpress or they could be downloaded as standalone files.
Adding more context, the landing page made it clear that the templates could be used only on Unbounce itself and couldn’t be downloaded.
Additional context improved the conversion rate.
Conversions of the said page rose from 2.3% to 3%, generating an additional revenue of $1,016,640.
People in this stage are aware of the different solutions for their problem including yours. However, they are not sure if the solution you offer is the right fit.
SalesForce realizes this, and on their landing page, visitors are asked to sign up for a demo for their products.
A demo would show visitors on the edge how the CRM solution works and if it meets all the criteria that they are looking for.
Ready to Buy/Most Aware
People in this stage are ready to whip out their credit cards and make the purchase.
Let’s say a particular group of visitors have already watched the demo. Now, do you want to show them the landing page with the demo yet again?
Aren’t they primed for conversion already?
The landing page shown to them should reflect that and shouldn’t ask for their details to sign up for a demo. Doing that serves no purpose.
Now that we know who visits our site, how can we make them click the button? Through some kick-ass copy and killer images, right?
But what’s gonna work best: a long or short landing page?
What converts better: a long or short landing page?
That’s a question worth mulling upon.
The truth is… it depends.
I will share two case studies: one that shows a long form landing page in action and the other a very short page with barely any words.
Both pages beat their respective originals by a wide margin.
It’s perfectly alright to use shorter landing pages. You don’t actually need reams upon reams of pages to convince people.
The ideal length would depend on many factors including the awareness level of the visitors.
Ultimately what converts better is a matter of testing and discovering what works.
Both case studies discussed below are pretty good standalone examples. However, I wish to focus on something else: the length of the copy.
The first one is about SweatBlocks, an eCommerce site that offers a product for people suffering from excessive sweating. To increase conversions, they hired CopyHackers.
The winning iteration realized a 49% increase in conversions.
Here’s the winner.
For SweatBlock, there wasn’t much difference between the length of the control copy and the test copy.
Both pages were somewhat similar in length. It’s obvious that length didn’t impact conversions in a big way. The defining factor was that the copy in the latter example spoke more closely to the fears and worries of the users.
On the other hand, when team CopyHackers started optimizing Crazy Egg’s (a SaaS heatmap tool) landing page, they were faced with a challenger landing page that was really long. This was replaced by a much shorter landing page. The shorter variant resulted in a 13% lift.
Here’s how their variant stacked up to the page at that time.
If you see the page now, you will find it to be a shadow of the earliest iteration with more information hiding behind a link.
The visible copy only shows the bare essentials.
Experimentation is key.
As a general rule of thumb, people less aware of the solution need more hand-holding and coaxing before they convert.
The right words in the right ears have been convincing men to take action for centuries.
Longer landing pages give more information which might be essential when it comes to purchasing an expensive product.
I wouldn’t know. Test for yourself and see what works for you.
How to improve landing pages?
A landing page can be seen as the sum of its parts. The different elements that make up the whole can be tested and improved upon. Here are some tips:
- Optimize call to action
Using action words like Get, Get now, try for free can make a bigger impact on conversions than words like Submit or Register. This makes sense since people get a clear idea of what’s waiting for them on the other side or an affirmation of the same.
There are many different ways to phrase your CTA and each way can yield a different result.
My only advice will be to focus on the end-user-benefit. There’s no better way to get more conversions than by making visitors understand the obvious advantage associated with the action.
Register, Download, and Order are ok words and are so because they focus on an action that the user has to take. Instead, focus on what the user gets.
Never use this.
Using the word submit kills a perfectly good opportunity to make an impact.
- Work on landing page copy
I am going to share something with that will make getting people to take an action as easy as taking candy from a baby.
To convince people to take an action, write the copy they tell you to write.
Ditch needless work. Ditch the long hours waiting for inspiration to arrive. Ditch being in someone else’s shoes.
Simply ask your readers. Your readers can define what they want in better words than you can ever come up with.
Consider a related example. Keyword research is considered as a primer to writing an article. Almost everyone does it. The whole premise of keyword research is to understand how people phrase what they are looking for.
How about extending the same thinking to copywriting?
Isn’t that easier? More effective?
What better way is there than to simply lift phrases, words, and sentences from your prospects mouths for your copy? Your copy then reveals their frustrations, problems and wants. In turn, the solution becomes desirable.
That’s what experts do.
Here’s a slightly different example.
Talia from Getuplift explains, “While working with an Ecommerce site we sent out a survey including the question “Who is your role model?.” Over 90% of respondents said their role model was a family member, and the vast majority specified it was a parent. Thanks to this insight we crafted a new landing page strategy that included a more family oriented message. It included new testimonials about family values, different images portraying a community, new bullet points and a different color scheme. All these changes led to a 62% increase in sales for our client.”
- Get past color obsession, use contrast and great images
The fallacy that many amateur conversion rate optimizers fall for is getting way over their heads when it comes to choosing colors.
Let me break something to you.
It isn’t color that matters but contrast, according to Oli Gardner from Unbounce.
You better agree. That chap has been optimizing landing pages for 6 or 7 years now.
For the user to pay attention, the CTA has to stand out from the rest of the elements that surround it.
It would seem the ultimate purpose of myriad number case studies is to hook you with either the color green or red. The truth is, it doesn’t matter as long as the CTA is visible through contrast.
Let’s move to images.
I love Basecamp for doing this right every single time. The images they use check all boxes for what could be called a conversion optimized image.
Aesthetically pleasing, the messaging is often wrapped around a smiling woman who doesn’t look like a model. In fact, she could be your next-door neighbor Peggy who bakes you delightful apple pies.
Here’s what I am talking about.
Would you trust her?
Such imagery emanates a warmth that engenders trustworthiness.
If you have such an option at hand why would you go for stock photography?
A formula that works: PAS
Here is a landing page formula that you can use. It’s called the PAS formula:
To work the formula, begin by introducing a problem that you readers are aware of and probably suffer from.
Further down, the copy expounds the problem on several fronts, revealing its multiple-facets. For example, Sucuri, a WordPress security plugin protects sites from hackers and malicious code.
The sales copy proffers it as a solution for peace of mind.
For the prospective customer, Sucuri suddenly has become a solution for a good night’s sleep. Thanks to Sucuri, they can go scuba-diving to the Maldives, something that they have been putting off for years.
How dare you call that a mere plugin?
In a similar vein, when deploying PAS, readers are agitated by showing them how the problem affects them in a variety of situations. Lots of examples and imagery are used to make that point.
The story doesn’t end there.
Once sufficiently agitated, the reader is introduced to the solution.
Joanna Wiebe rewrote the copy of SweatBlock (discussed above) to focus more on the target audience’s pain points. You will find that the idea that sweating is an embarrassment echoes throughout the copy.
Finally, when the solution is introduced, visitors are barely able to sit straight having discovered the cure.
By that time, the product has acquired a golden halo.
See it yet?
The prospect is as excited as a rabid, frothing at the mouth Apple fan.
No wonder the variants resulted in:
- Variation B — a paid lift of 49%
- Variation C — a paid lift of 46%
Here are the control and the variants.
You need to figure out whether long copy or short copy would convert better.
You need to figure out which CTA would be the most successful through testing.
You need to test the copy, find how people relate to your product and what their actual problems are.
I know by saying all these things I just put the ball in your court.
I won’t mince words. You cannot beat your way around testing AND research. If you have set your goals to get more conversions, captivate and move your readers, you need to test and find what works.
You need to research your readers.
Great conversion optimizers test. They test to learn and eventually get to an iteration that beats the control. Case studies and guides are helpful. They point you in a direction. You have to walk the walk to find out if the direction takes you to where you want to go.
Originally published at Pete Boyle.