Landing Page Optimization
What Is a Landing Page
A landing page is a page where a visitor first arrives on your website. This page is the first point of contact .
The visitors could be coming from anywhere of the following sources:
Organic : Search engines like Google, Bing etc.
Referral : Social networking sites like Facebook, blogs & other websites
Direct : The visitor types your URL on the browser address bar to land on your site.
Paid : Advertising campaigns like Google Adwords, Facebook ads etc.
I was once looking for an investment book. I couldn’t get that book any of the major shopping sites. Finally there was one site that was selling that book. I was quite happy to know it. However, when I tried to buy that book I couldn’t find the “buy now” button. I searched the entire page thoroughly but I couldn’t get it.
Then I searched the entire site, yet I couldn’t get the “buy now” button. I was very much disappointed. All this happened because the landing page of the site was not optimized.
When the landing page of the site is not optimized, the site fails to sell stuff even to the buy ready visitors, let alone the ones who need convincing.
Each page of your website has a goal. It may be to sell a product, collect an email or sign-up for a free trial.
The stuff you do on your landing page to make these goals easier for the visitor is called Landing Page Optimization.
You may be attracting a lot of visitors to your site but if your site is not optimized then most of the visitors will return just the way I returned.
It may be looking beautiful, but is it delivering the goals. If not then it ineffective.
All your efforts fails to deliver optimum results because of one weak link – Conversion
You take great pains to bring traffic to your site. You spend on media, PPC & SEO campaigns. But all this hard work does not yield the required results just because of one weak link – Conversion.
The visitors are not doing the stuff you want them to do on your landing page. If you want them to buy , they are not buying. If you want them to signup for free trial, they are not signing up & if you want them to give their emails , they are not doing that as well.
Why is this happening? It’s happening because you have made it difficult for the visitors to achieve the goals of the landing page.
There is so much confusion & distraction on the landing page, that the visitor is unable to understand what he needs to do and decides escape by clicking the “X” button. So, all this money, time and energy you spent on traffic acquisition has gone waste. Oh! such a waste.
So, what should you do now?
Well, you need to make it easier for the visitors to find things they are looking for and do things that you want them to do.
For that you’ll need to optimize your landing page. Optimizing is nothing but the successful integration of “visitor’s needs” & “landing page goals.”
Visitor’s need : Collect Information
Landing page goal : Collect email
Optimization work you need to do : Ask them to give you their email so that you can send the relevant information & make it damn easier.
For this you might have to work on the following areas:
- Copy (So that the offer looks attractive)
- Design (So that there is minimum distraction)
- Psychology, etc.
So, all the things yo do to make it easier for your visitors to do what you want them to do on the landing page is called landing page optimization.
You need to fix that weak link. That’s the only way you can beat the Goliaths of internet.
Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to your landing page who take a desired action . This desired action is in fact the goal of your landing page.
Conversion rate = No. of conversions *100 / Unique visitors
One thing is for sure that you will never get 100% conversion rate. That’s because there will be some people who will not buy (or take the desired action), no matter what you do. The purpose of their visit is entirely different from the goal of your landing page.
How To Approach Landing Page Optimization – Where to Start
The first step is finding the most important pages of your site. I will call these pages “Critical to Success ” Pages . If these pages are removed from your site, then your online business comes to a sudden stop. Yes, these are so critical that their absence will stop generating revenues for your site.
You will see that few pages could be termed as Critical to Success.
Generally the following are the Critical to Success pages:
- Home Page
- The pages that gets the highest organic traffic
- Category pages of e-commerce sites
- Product Information Pages
- Checkout Pages
- Sign-up Pages
Now that you know what are the Critical to Success pages, I think you should know what are not critical to success as well.
The following are not critical to success:
- Careers pages
- Investors relations , etc.
So we shall not be pay attention to them right now.
Depending upon the type of site you’re having, the conversion goals can vary.
- If you’re a tech news site like Mashable, then your conversion goal would be page views
- If it is B2B blog, then it could be lead generation & form-fill rates
- If it is a social networking site, then no. of new profiles created
- If it is an e-commerce site, then it could be product sales
The above are just a few examples. I am sure that there are many more conversion goals out there. Actually, you’re the only one who knows what your conversion goal is.
- If the visitor can’t find it easily, then you lose him
- If you emphasize too many items, all of them lose importance
- Any delay increases frustration
So, what can you do to get the attention of your visitor.
- Don’t shout on him . Create a Zen-like stillness
- Remove unnecessary choices
- Unclutter what remains
- Understand who the visitor is
- Understand what the visitor is trying to accomplish
- Clearly present the choices for visitors consideration
Whereas the attention and interest stages may have lasted only a few seconds, visitors in the desire stage may give you their full attention for minutes or even hours They are in research mode and are willing to take more time.
Have you even visited a site and been pushed to act before you even understood the context?
This kind of “greedy marketer syndrome” can be seen as premature and inappropriate.
- Make the visitor feel appreciated
- Make the visitor feel safe
- Understand that the visitor is in control
- Get out of the visitor’s way
- Make it easier for them to act – The conversion goal.
- Don’t surprise the visitor
Don’t force them to register before checkout.
Don’t ask unnecessary data during this time.
Remove the original navigation , you can’t unnecessary distraction during this time. Don’t bother about putting your logo there (this is a leak). Remove all kinds of links that can take the customer away from this page.
Don’t surprise the customer. The customer should be having a clear idea how much he is going to pay . So, make it clear to him in the first instance itself. Provide the following things:
- A recap or review of the information provided to complete the transaction (items ordered, personal information, billing, and price)
- Details of the fulfillment process (such as service levels, delivery dates, contact methods, and time frames)
- Terms and conditions (the fine print)
- Spelling out exactly what will happen when the action is taken
- Validation and risk reducers
The Seven Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design
What am I supposed to do on this page?
Your website visitor should be able to answer this question easily, yet is is often not so. Instead, your visitor must spend previous time deciding what to do, and then expend the mental energy required to do it. As a result, the visitor may get confused and frustrated, and leave your page in search of clearer experiences.
- The call-to-action should be clear and should draw the eye
- The placement of the call-to-action should be above the fold
- Competing visuals should be demphasized
Too Many Choices
What am I supposed to do first?
Most people are in a hurry. If visitors can’t find a way to easily get closer to their goal, they will simply leave.
You can imagine that while sitting in a company staff meeting, somebody approved the addition of all these items to the homepage. Each item may be useful to a subset of your audience and may be logical in its own right. But the cumulative effect of all this clutter is that you are squandering precious milliseconds of every visitor’s attention. They are forced to wade though a lot much to even understand if there is any relevant information for them on your page. Will they do this? Probably not. Many will simply throw up their hands in frustration and try another website.
- Don’t present detail too early in the process
- Group related choices into a smaller number of categories
- Use visual shortcuts to reduce reading
What am I supposed to look at ?
The purpose of your landing page must be clear. The visitor should be focused on taking a simple path that leads to the desired conversion action. This simple path should arise of the Zen-like stillness of your landing page.
Unfortunately, many landing pages are at the opposite end of the spectrum from this desired state. They scream and demand the visitor’s attention. They visually assault the visitor, forcing them to determine for themselves which of the many strikingly visual elements on the page is the important one.
The situation can be pretty chaotic. Many pages range from simply annoying to downright repulsive. Gratuitous graphics clutter the page and are unrelated to the product of service in question. Strong and contrasting colors dominate the scene, and text styles are outlandish and baroque. There is no clear separation between page content and the page shell (header, navigation, backgrounds).
- Remove all graphical elements that do not directly support the conversion action
- Remove colourful page elements and animation or motion (unless they test better)
- Replace generic stock photos with specific relevant images
Not Keeping Your Promises
Does your landing page deliver what I expected?
Your visitor did not just materialize out of thin air. They came from somewhere. This “somewhere” could have been another page on your site, a search engine result, an e-mail newsletter, a link in a blog post, or a banner ad. Regardless of the origin, some kind of expectation had undoubtedly been set. Does your landing page keep the promise that your upstream traffic sources make?
It is critical to match the visitor’s upstream expectation and intent on the landing page to maximize the conversion rate. The way to do this is to align your page with the messaging and promises made upstream, and create a clear information scent trail that makes visitors feel they are making progress toward their ultimate goal.
Creating a high degree of continuity and consistency with the upstream experience is critical. If you fail to do this, your visitor will feel lost, confused, and frustrated. This is especially the case where there is no actual access to information that had been previously promised, or an intentional “bait and switch” situation has occurred.
- Understand your important upstream traffic sources and their content
- Match landing page content to the traffic source messaging and content
- Provide clear access to promised information or functionality, without strings attached
Too Much Text
People don’t read online. They scan.
- Use a clear page title and headings
- Use an “inverted pyramid” writing style, putting the important stuff first
- Do not write in complete sentences – use short bullet lists whenever possible
- Ruthlessly edit and shorten your text
- Move long text to supporting pages or information popovers
Asking for Too Much Information
Why should I give you all this information?
You should only ask for information that you need right now – resist the temptation to ask for information that you may not need at all of that you can collect later in the process (after you have established your trust with the visitor).
- Ask only for information that is absolutely required
- Collect additional information at a later date as trust is established
- Shorten labels and unclutter form layout
Lack of Trust & Credibility
Why should I trust you?
Online trust must be developed without any face-to-face contact, and it must be created instantly in the few precious seconds it takes a website visitor to evaluate your value proposition.
So how can you build instant trust online?
Recent research indicates that people will form an initial impression of your landing page or website within 50 milliseconds. This is almost as fast as visual processing happens in the brain, and can be considered as an instantaneous and automatic response. In other words, we subliminally decide where the page falls on our “cheesy” to “professional” continuum. And this initial reaction extends to a more considered review of the page and will impact our likelihood of taking the desired conversion action.
Professional Design : Regardless of the intended audience or your business purpose, the visual design should be professionally executed. It should hang together and function as a single unified whole. Fonts, colors, and graphical elements must combine into a single visual “look”.
Sparseness & Neatness : Clutter can be your worst enemy, whether it is visual embellishments or dense, longwinded text. Less is more. Ruthlessly edit everything on the page until it is pared to its essence and has a natural and unforced feel. Give your page room to breathe.
Organization and Clarity : Too many choices of what to do on the page can be paralyzing. Similarly, a disorganized page increases the visitor’s “cognitive load” and forces them to spend time trying to figure out in what order they should digest the information you have presented.
Will we e spammed if we enter our e-mail in a form? Will the goods promised ever be delivered after we order from an online catalog? Will our very identity be stolen? Such questions are always in the background when we navigate around the web. Even if we have decided to act or transact on a webpage, chances are there are a lot of concerns still swirling around in our heads.
Transactional assurances are especially critical during this moment of decision. They are risk reducers that lower a visitor’s anxiety and help reassure the visitor that bad things are unlikely to happen.
Here are some common forms of transactional assurances along with their meaning to your visitor:
- Guarantees : It I don’t like it, I can get my money back
- Policies : The company has a no-hassle return policy
- Alternative Transaction Mechanism : I can also complete my transaction on phone, by mail, or in person.
- Trials and Introductory Offers : If I don’t like it, I can cancel before they charge my credit card
- Safe Shopping Symbols : My personal information will not be stolen
- Privacy Symbols : I will not be spammed by this company, and my e-mail won’t be sold to spammers.
Transactional assurances need to be seen before the checkout process or conversion step itself, and as prominently as possible. Otherwise, the visitor may not feel comfortable enough to proceed.
Relieve point-of-action anxieties before they arise.
Outside Experts & Media
Your visitors are not likely to have heard of you. Unless you represent a truly world-class consumer company, people are unlikely to know your brand promise. They do not know what you stand for.
Transactional assurances may lower a visitor’s anxiety levels, but you can also raise your visitor’s affinity level for your website or product with validation and credibility indicators.
In effect, transactional assurances make the visitor feel “less worse,” while evidence of third-party validation makes them feel “more better”. Both are based on transferring goodwill from other people or companies to yours.
No one wants to be the fool who fell for a ruse an had to deal with the consequences.
Third-party validation tells people that knowledgeable experts or reviews have concluded that you have a quality service or product. This serves as a shortcut to decision making for your visitors.
Here are some examples of third-party validation:
- Industry or media awards (such as an editor’s choice or fastest-growing company award)
- Media coverage (mentions in mainstream press, websites, or blogs)
- Inclusion in industry analyst reports
- Endorsements from trade organizations and associations
- Partnerships with other respected companies
- Studies and surveys (such as market share or customer satisfaction)
- Client lists and logos
Borrow trust from better-known brands.
There are several caveats to the use of the expert and media logos. They must appear “above the fold” and be seen at the same time as the call-to-action (not below it or after it) in order to provide the context for the content of the page.
On the other hand, they must be displayed subtly so they do not dominate the visual conversation. The logos are often well designed, distinctive, and instantly recognizable. So you may have to deemphasize their impact by reducing their size, decreasing their color saturation (possibly using grayscale), and decreasing the contrast with the background color closer to display the logos.
Also, the use of rotating or animated lists of logos should be avoided, because the motion will draw an inordinate amount of attention, and the length of time required to view the entire list may be too long.
Consensus of Peers
We often follow the lead of people like ourselves. If we see many friends driving a particular make of car, we are more apt to consider buying it. If our circle of acquaintances turns us on a new musical group, we are more likely to give the group a listen. Regardless of the actual cultural “tribes” that we belong to, our peers exert a strong influence on us.
When uncertain, people look outside of themselves to the actions of their peers under similar conditions.