Landing Page Optimization For Beginners
The first thing you need to do is to create testing hypotheses instead of testing your landing page based on gut instinct. Ideally, you want to conduct your tests based on what is being shown by your website’s data.
For instance, if you notice from your eye-tracking heat maps that a lot of visitors leave the page before reaching the lead generation form located further down, it may be a good idea to move the form above the fold in the test to see if that increases engagement.
You can perform other tests like changing the headline, call to action, and other elements on the form. You can even change what the form offers in return for the visitor's name and email - that is, the lead magnet, to see how that affects conversions.
It's Not Just about Conversions
Many marketers who are ‘experts’ on conversion rate optimization talk only about increasing conversion rates. However, that should never be the only thing you’re focused on. Remember, what you truly want for your business are more sales.
You either want a higher order volume or greater revenue per sale – and these are the types of conversions you want to boost. Subscriptions and click-throughs can only take your business so far.
Before we get started with the landing page tests, it's important to note that there are some instances where testing might actually hurt your marketing efforts rather than help them.
When is Testing a Bad Idea?
One such situation is if your website is still being constructed.
This may seem obvious to some, but it's worth mentioning. Another situation where testing might fail before you are even out the gate is if your web host is planning an outage. Your testing data isn't going to give accurate results if only a portion of people can get through to your site successfully.
Also, if you have just recently launched the website, and you are still in the process of figuring out how to get consistent traffic, that may not be the best time to test the landing pages. It's best if you wait to get more traffic before you go ahead.
The main reason behind this is that the conversion optimization that comes with landing page optimization is all about probability and statistics. You need massive numbers to make informed decisions, otherwise, your efforts are all going to be cut short. So remember, work on traffic first, then optimization second.
Finally, rare cases of seasonal traffic can also skew results.
For instance, if you sell unique gifts for women on your website, you may find that you get a traffic spike around Mother's Day, which means you may have vastly different segments of users that come to your website in the days that lead up to the big day.
You may have the careful planners before Mother's Day - those people who take the time to ensure that they find the perfect, affordable gift that's nicely packaged.
On the day (and for a while afterward) you'll have those last-minute shoppers trying to find a good gift before the deadline, and this segment of people probably won't care as much as the first segment whether the product is affordably priced or neatly arranged. They will just want to get it there on time.
So, as you can see, these are two very different types of shoppers.
This places emphasis on two vastly different features at different times. If you owned such a store, the month of May wouldn't be the best time to try new marketing tactics or to make changes to your site design.
It's the biggest shopping season for your business and it's important that customers know that they are able to count on you, instead of being surprised by unexpected changes.
Having said that, if your website doesn't match any of the above, then it's probably safe to start optimizing the landing pages on your site so you can see noticeable improvements right away. So now, on to the next step:
Selecting the Landing Page to Test
Analyze the page itself first. Take note of things like the bounce rate, conversion rate, and so on to find the pages that are converting poorly. If you use Google analytics, can find your bounce rate by going to Content > Site Content > Landing Pages.
Click on one of the icons at the top of the page labeled ‘Comparison View’. You can then choose ‘Bounce Rate’ from the drop-down menu (which is compared to the website average).
Keep in mind that having a high bounce rate is not always a bad thing. For instance, if you've got a user manual on your website that deals with instructions for troubleshooting, someone might find the exact information they need, they may print it out, then leave the page.
However, if you've got a call to action but you're not getting a lot of people past that click, it may be time to look at your page’s bounce rate.
In addition to the bounce rate, there are also other points from analytics that you can consider, including the Average Visit Duration, which has to do with the length of time people stay on your page, and the % New Visits, which is how many brand-new visitors you're getting.
Now that you've discovered which of your pages are performing poorly, let's get them an overhaul.
Choosing the Right Area of Your Landing Page to Test
Most marketers are eager to test the entire page at a single time, but having too many changes so soon is going to give you a lot of mixed results and you won't be able to tell definitively what really worked.
Bearing this in mind, here are the most common areas to test on your landing page:
Landing Page Headline
As you well know, your headline does most of the heavy lifting when people first land on your page.
If you have a weak or uninspiring headline, you’ll have a hard time convincing users to give your page even just five seconds of their time.
This part of your landing page has to be simple, short, and very much to the point. There's no need for you to elaborate on the back story of your business, products, or any of the other things you do.
Keep in mind that the people who come to this page are looking for quick solutions or answers, and they likely don't have time (or the inclination) to sift through a massive block of content in search of the answers they want. If you don't immediately offer what the visitor is looking for in a clear and convincing way, you're going to lose them.
Call to Action
A strong CTA will propel visitors forward into the start of your sales funnel. On the other hand, if your call to action is tepid, it will result in them clicking ‘close’ and going elsewhere in search of what they need.
This involves more than just tweaking the button or background color. When testing your form, you need to take steps that are more extreme to help make your offer as visible as possible to prospects.
Your form fields may not change, but the design has to be immediately recognizable so that your customers know precisely what type of action they must take based on the page’s visual cues.
If you find that you're not getting the desired responses from your offer, you can try a different one. For instance, say you're giving away an e-book for free and you find that it’s not converting well, why not turn it into a video presentation using slides instead?
You need to remember that different offers are going to resonate with different individuals, and when you shake things up in the material you present and the way you present it, that could make a major difference in attracting and keeping your audience’s attention.
Also, it's worth noting that certain things such as videos and courses are perceived to have a higher value than generic branded e-books.
These are more than just security badges and buttons. They are designed to show customers at a glance that your website is safe for them to do business.
The right trust seals do their job within a split second. There are many areas where trust seals can make all the difference between customers completing certain actions or leaving the page.
For instance, it matters if:
Your business is accredited
You are a platinum-level seller
You have authentic testimonials or higher ratings
You accept specific types of payment
And so on...
This is something that is worth testing because different industries tend to show mixed results with regards to these seals.
This type of test is unique in that it isn't commonly included by marketers on their lists of the different elements to test on a landing page. But when it comes to successful landing page optimization, this is one aspect you cannot afford to ignore.
Directional cues simply refer to the points that incorporate arrows, a face, or any other embellishment which directs the visitor's attention toward either your landing page’s headline, body copy, call to action, or all three.
This element forces users to pay attention to specific areas on the page – usually the pricing area.
However, it's important to use this sparingly if you want it to be effective in directing your visitor’s attention to where you want them to go.
Our minds are wired to instinctively follow a person's gaze. Ever notice how, if someone is staring at you and you look at their shoes instead, they instinctively follow your gaze, stop staring at you and look at their shoes as well?
You can use this knowledge on new landing pages in the future. Instead of having a picture of someone staring straight ahead, you could try one where their gaze is focused on the headline and you're sure to experience an improvement in that page’s conversions.
This is yet another aspect of the landing page that can significantly increase conversions. But this only happens if you're able to staff the live chat during normal business hours.
If you show visitors that you are not available during regular hours, it'll only lead them to conclude that you’ll probably be unavailable for them if they need help, and so they won't proceed with the order.
If you're going to implement a live chat on your website, make sure that you are available for your customers during normal business hours.
Try Incorporating Video
This is yet another option that can boost your conversion rates if it's done right. Having a professionally shot video on your landing page will do a lot more to convince customers to take action than one that is shoddily shot at home using your cell phone.
A well-made explainer video will do a wonderful job of selling to prospective customers in ways that copy cannot.
How to Measure the Results
Depending on what you are testing as well as the amount of traffic you're getting, there are two ways you can go about measuring your results. The simplest and most common method is the A/B split test. The second, more complicated method is to use multivariate testing.
This is great if you have lots of website traffic because it can give you a lot more results in much less time.
I'm willing to bet that you’re already familiar with A/B split tests, and if you want to set up one on your landing page using free tools, simply use Google's Content Experiments. It's free and it provides accurate results for a wide variety of tests.
Google's Content Experiments can be found in the same area where you find your analytics when you log in to your Google account. So get started right now and test all the different elements of your landing pages to find ways of improving their performance so you can boost your conversions.
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Updated: Originally published May 21st 2019