Most marketers may think they’re doing a great job with their landing pages simply because it converts and contributes to business growth. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
“Being fat and happy hides a multitude of costly sins,” explains Tim Ash, President & CEO of SiteTuners, in our recent landing page design webinar. “What we should be focused on, instead, is the lost opportunity cost and the waste.”
Every marketer experiences lost opportunity — often times, more than once. That’s why our SiteTuners webinar diagnoses the most common landing page problems: the Seven Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design:
The webinar recap
3 Key takeaways from the SiteTuners webinar
1) Keep your promises
The landing page experience must deliver on the expectations of your ad set, otherwise known as message match. When you match the message from ad to landing page, you ensure the ad directly relates to the landing page so the prospect knows they’ve arrived at the correct place.
Message matching is achieved through:
- Body copy
- CTA buttons
- Color schemes
- The main offer
Here is an example that lacks message match. A Google search for “best digital camera” displayed this search ad:
If you’re familiar with Consumer Reports, you know they’re a subscription-based consumer service that offers unbiased reviews on countless subjects. So after seeing, “Get expert reviews of top digital cameras from Consumer Reports,” any search user would expect that clicking the ad should take them to a page to read reviews on the best digital cameras.
What they see does not match their expectations:
Although it starts off encouraging with “Top-Rated Digital Cameras” and “Over 56 digital camera models tested”, it doesn’t fulfill the ad’s promise.
Instead of seeing any expert reviews on this page, the only option visitors have is to pay for a subscription (“Join today”). That’s a huge disconnect between the ad and landing page, which may leave visitors frustrated and with a negative impression of your brand.
As a marketer, you’re not only responsible for creating visually aesthetic landing pages. You must also ensure that page matches the entire upstream experience and keeps the promise previously made by:
- Matching ad and page headlines
- Repeating ad text/keywords on the landing page
- Providing clear access to the ad’s offer
Translation: the post-click experience matters a lot and it can make or break your chance of conversion.
How they could improve the post-click experience
One obvious way to improve the Consumer Reports example would be to add sample reviews to the landing page so they stay true to the ad promise without requiring people to subscribe.
Another way is to update the ad copy, “Get expert reviews of top digital cameras with your subscription.” This sets the expectation that once people click, they should expect to pay for access. It would also save Consumer Reports money because prospects expecting free content wouldn’t click anymore.
2) Reduce text and visual distractions
Visitors should never land on your page and wonder, “Where am I supposed to look?” There should always be intentional visual hierarchy, so you can draw your visitors’ eyes to marketing messages that are central to driving conversions (your value proposition, product or service benefits, CTA, etc.).
Part of creating great visual hierarchy means lightening visitors’ cognitive load by reducing unnecessary text and visual distractions. This allows them to look where you want them to, instead of being distracted.
Example of excessive text
In addition to all the links in the margins which are already overwhelming, there’s entirely too much text in the center as well. People’s attention spans are incredibly short — they don’t want to (and won’t) spend their time reading your site.
Instead of huge blocks of text, provide skimmable copy with:
- Section headings
- Small chunks of text
- Bold font
- Surrounding white space
- Relevant images
That said, eliminate any visual distractions from your page, including:
Too many images
Especially if they’re generic stock photos, or images that are unrelated to your offer. This example is definitely image-overload:
Giant, in-your-face text doesn’t make a great first impression. In this case, it’s also somewhat hard to read because of the vibrant colors and business in the background image:
This includes chat pop-ups, like this one that’s immediate, huge, and extremely difficult to exit:
First, most people don’t need help before they’ve even had a chance to explore the page. Second, when they try to close the chat, they can’t because the chat pop up appears on the right side of the page, and then back to the left again, several times. What’s more, is that there’s another chat option in the bottom left corner of the page, so if people needed assistance, they could click the window.
That’s not to say all chat features should be avoided — some can certainly provide value — but they should be triggered by user actions, such as scrolling, hovering, or exiting.
Motion acts as a hand grenade because it takes attention away from important content. With motion, graphics won’t get looked at, and text won’t get read. So be careful with it — only use animations if you absolutely need it (for example, using a visual cue to direct attention to a CTA button).
3) Build trust with trust indicators
If prospects don’t trust your company, they won’t complete forms and provide you with their information. To reduce anxiety and doubt in your visitors, you must understand what’s causing it, and address it. This can be done with trust indicators.
Social proof is one of the most powerful landing page persuasion techniques. It’s like positive peer pressure for conversion. Forms of social proof include:
- A customer count
- Customer brand logos
- Persona-based testimonials
When prospects are considering buying a product or service online, they want to ensure that their financial data won’t land in the wrong hands. Trust seals, like Norton or McAfee, provide them with this assurance, so they can feel comfortable sharing their information and completing a transaction.
2 Great questions & answers
Q: What can you tell us about the mobile landing page gospel?
A: People don’t like filling out forms online so keep it short or get creative.
About half of all traffic today is driven by mobile, so there’s no question that mobile landing page optimization is critical. If you make it easy to convert, the higher the chance they will.
One main component of this is making your form easy to complete, of which there are three factors to consider:
- Stretch the fields horizontally as much as possible, and avoid putting the CTA button on the same line:
- Only include necessary form fields. The number of fields should be based on the marketing funnel stage of your offer. The further down the funnel your prospect is, the more information you can request of visitors. This also depends on what type of form you’re creating:
- Set the label position to outside if your page has more than 2 form fields. This makes it easier for visitors to know what information is needed from line to line, instead of trying to remember what to input:
Q: How would you recommend building trust in a highly regulated industry?
A: Having one or two testimonials per industry is one of the more important ways to build trust, even over having many generic ones.
Don’t underestimate the power of the testimonial — especially with someone’s headshot, personal information, and industry attached.
Go out of your way to make each vertical industry welcome and have a special page for each one. Include one or two testimonials per sector because this is more effective than having many generic ones. Businesses want to know that you understand their specific industry.
Tim Ash, President & CEO, SiteTuners:
Nobody reads on the web. We all have the attention span of a lit match, so writing in complete paragraphs is not the way to write for the web. You should have skimmable text, links, section headings.
Get 35 landing page design techniques
The webinar covers some of the most common mistakes and optimizations you can make to improve conversions. There are many more proven techniques to landing page optimization, however. We’ve compiled them all into a single asset that covers everything you should know: headlines, copy, forms, CTA, endorsements, and more.
Download the free guide to 35 landing page techniques to discover what other mistakes you could be making and how you can improve your designs and conversion results.