Landing Pages Are Overrated. Here’s Why and What You Should Do Instead

Landing Pages Are Overrated. Here’s Why and What You Should Do Instead

I used to hate building landing pages.

I’ve certainly made mistakes and had to learn some things the hard way.

For a long time, my landing pages just didn’t work. They were weak and barely converted.

Landing pages are being praised as the magic answer to all of our conversion problems, but it’s not as easy as some people think.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can build a landing page and presto, your conversions will skyrocket.

The conversion rate from a landing page varies across industries, but the average is only 2.35%.

This means that for every 50 people you get to your landing page, only one will actually complete the action you’re trying to get them to do.

That’s a little depressing right?

I have good news for you though. I’ve learned from experience that most landing pages can do better.

The majority of landing pages aren’t really optimized to achieve conversions. They look “pretty,” but they’re not living up to expectations because they’re flawed.

I’m going to show you why landing pages are currently overrated and how to change your game to boost your conversions.

But first, let’s talk about what a landing page really is and what it’s meant to be for.

What is a landing page, really?

In the simplest sense, a landing page is a page you land on.

The problem with that answer is that it’s much too simple.

If someone clicks a link in one of your ads and it takes them to your home page, then by this definition your homepage is a landing page.

Some companies are making that mistake.

Let me show you an example.

I’m searching for “cleaning services seattle” in Google. I click on the paid ad:

cleaning services in seattle google search advertisement

That takes me to their homepage:

the cleaning pros homepage

Now, here’s an example of a landing page done right.

I click this search result:

maidpro seattle cleaning google search advertisement

And, here is a landing page tailored to my search preferences:

maidpro seattle landing page

Your homepage might be a good place to send people if you’re just trying to build general awareness, but it’s not where you’re going to have success with conversions.

A landing page is meant to have one singular goal: To convert.

That’s it. It shouldn’t do anything more than that.

Check out this definition from The Landing Page Course:

landing page takeaway

There are two key points here:

  1. They are individual pages with one, singular goal.
  2. They are meant for the single purpose of receiving “campaign traffic,” which means the click-throughs from your Ads and campaigns. This could be social media ads, PPCs or emails.

This means that first, you need to be running a successful ad campaign that is causing the right traffic to click through to your landing page.

After all, if no one is “landing” on your landing page, it’s going to be pretty useless, right?

Assuming that your ad campaign is successful and your CTR is good, then the landing page should have one of two possible purposes:

  1. Capture leads for further communications and to allow you to market to them in the future when they’re further down the sales funnel.
  2. Warm up your potential customers to get them ready and eager to purchase your product or service before sending them through to close the deal.

get customers grow customers sales funnel

Each of these purposes requires a different type of landing page.

Good landing pages can provide a number of benefits:

They help promote a positive first impression.

Ion Interactive says first impressions are formed in just 1/20th of a second. Landing pages can be customized and designed to help provide strong positive visual impressions quickly.

how quickly an impression is formed

They can take advantage of trust elements.

Landing pages with images, videos and graphics can not only help attract people, but they will help you make a lasting impression.

People only remember 20% of what they read, but they remember 80% of what they see.

our brain is made for visual processing

Landing pages promote customer focus.

It’s easier to capture conversions from a well-designed landing page than it is from a homepage or blog post because they have one singular goal. There is less noise to distract your audience.

All of this means that landing pages are the ideal place to get your audience to convert if they’re done right.

Conversion Rate Experts generated $1 million/ year for Moz simply by improving their landing page and doing some email promotion.

conversion rate experts case study

So why are landing pages overrated?

Well, it’s not because they can’t work. It’s just that too often people use a generic template or slap something together that just doesn’t get the job done.

Don’t worry if you’re one of those people. After all, when I started out my landing pages limped along too.

But now I’m going to share with you what I learned and what the most common mistakes are so that you can make sure your landing pages are doing their job.

1. Sync it with your ad campaign

Like I mentioned above, the very first step if to have an effective ad campaign.

You need to be targeting the right audience for your landing page, or nothing else matters.

After all, sending people ready to buy through to a lead generation page is not going to be very successful.

But syncing intent is not the only thing you need to focus on.

Your ad and your landing page need to have a consistent look and feel.

Here’s a great example of consistency:

You can see in this campaign from Highrise that the ad and landing page look very similar.

Here are some of the things they made sure to keep consistent:

  • The image of the woman is the same.
  • The theme is the same, including the background color, logo, font, and look of the CTA.
  • The testimonial is the same.

Now, check out this example:

zara consult ad landing page

The ad talks about the “lowest taxation in the EU,” then you click through to a page talking about Bulgaria. What?

After reading the fine print, you can see how they tie together but remember that first impressions happen in seconds.

My guess is a lot of people click that end, see a landing page that doesn’t seem to match and instantly hit their back button. I know I would.

2. Make it mobile-friendly

Mobile landing page optimization is vital now that Google has switched to a mobile-first index.

The number of mobile users increases every year. Last year 66% of the population had a mobile phone.

global digital snapshot January 2017

That’s up 5% from the year before. I’m sure when they come out with this year’s stats it will have increased again.

Mobile users are beginning to dominate web traffic.

As of last year, over half of all web traffic is mobile.

Not only that, look at the breakdown by time of day:

device platform use by hour

Mobile is dominating the hours when people are typically outside of work.

These are the times people are most likely to be using the web for something other than work, such as browsing the net or shopping.

Which means if you want to capture your audience, you need to plan for them being on a mobile device.

When it comes to mobile traffic, the two most critical aspects of your landing page are speed and simplicity.

Let’s talk about keeping it simple first.

Take a look at these two examples:

good vs bad mobile web design

It needs to cut out everything but the absolute necessities, and it needs to be designed for mobile.

Having a CTA that’s only partially visible is going to lower your results.

Making it too difficult to read on a small device is also going to hurt your conversions.

wells fargo mortgage mobile site

3. Check that your load speed is fast

Page load speed might not be something you first thing of when designing a landing page, but it’s critically important for mobile and desktop traffic.

In fact, Google announced in January that starting July 2018 pagespeed will become one of their ranking factors for mobile searches.

40% of your audience will leave your landing page if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

what happens when a landing page takes too long to load

It won’t matter if you get every other step right if no one ever hangs around long enough to actually view your page.

A lot of businesses are struggling with this, especially for mobile.

According to Google, the average time it takes to load a mobile landing page is getting better, but it stills takes an average of 15 seconds.

I just told you 40% of people will leave if it takes longer than three seconds.

When you isolate mobile traffic, that number actually increases to 53%.

So over half your audience will leave in three seconds or less and the average site takes 15 seconds…

Simply fixing your page speed could have a huge effect on your conversions without changing any other thing about your landing page.

Google also found that bounce rate continued to increase the longer page load took.

Here are their findings for mobile traffic:

mobile page load time bounces

How do you know if your page is too slow?

For desktops, you can test with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

pagespeed insights

For the mobile version of your site try Test My Site.

test your mobile speed

If your speeds are not where they should be, then make sure you take the right steps to boost them before worrying about anything else.

4. Make sure your headings work

Once your page loads, one of the first things your audience will notice is your heading and subheading.

When thinking about landing page design, always keep in mind that first impressions count.

Your headline is one of your first impressions. It needs to be clear, attention-grabbing and reflect the purpose of your page.

copywriting fixes for bad headlines

Check out this headline:

capture photos headline

It’s simple, straightforward and you know what they’re selling.

Their subheading reinforces the message and adds more information, without being too long or distracting.

Now take a look at this one:

we are product people headline

The title is catchy, but it doesn’t give you any idea what the product is.

The only thing that saves this is the subheading is perfect. It provides the context that they’re missing in the headline.

The subheading needs to complement and build on the main heading.

Its purpose is to give your readers a little more information while keeping them engaged and enticing them to continue down the page.

Check out Slack’s homepage:

slack where work happens

While this is actually a homepage, it captures the key aspects of headings that you should use on your landing pages.

5. Remove all the distractions

One of the key distinctions of landing pages is that they only serve one purpose.

Even though Slack’s homepage is pretty clean, it would fail as a landing page for a couple of different reasons.

The first is that, like any homepage, it has distractions.

slack website navigation bar

Your landing page shouldn’t have a navigation bar.

Why?

It’s been shown that removing the navigation menu on your landing page can increase your conversions by 100%.

But only 16% of landing pages don’t have navigation bars.

This is a simple fix that more people should be taking advantage of.

Another way you’re distracting your audience is with too many words.

There’s a direct correlation between lower word counts and higher conversions, especially in the health and travel industries.

number of words and conversion rates

Don’t put too much text on the page. Keep it as visual as possible with bullet points or infographics.

You need to include enough information to make it clear what problem you’re solving for your customer, but in as few words as possible.

word copywriting advice

I know it’s a bit of an art, which is why it’s crucial to test your landing pages (we’ll get to that later).

6. Use the right CTA

A landing page should have one call to action.

Over 68% of businesses have five or more CTAs and links on their landing page, yet stats show that having only one CTA boosts conversions.

CTAs boost conversions stats

Choose one specific goal and CTA for each landing page and stick to it.

landing pages with multiple offers

Make sure that your call to action is relevant and consistent with your offering.

Using something vague such as “click here,” “submit,” or “continue” will not convert as well.

landing page continue button

Your CTA is the whole reason for a landing page. It is the most important element.

You need to make it stand out.

Choose a bright color, make it a large button with a bigger font.

Draw attention to it, with arrows or other visuals. You want your audience’s’ eyes to be drawn to it naturally.

7. Limit what you ask for

Landing page abandonment can happen in the same way as cart abandonment.

One of the big triggers for abandonment is asking too many questions.

Most companies want to get as much data as possible. However, there are conflicting results when you reduce form fields.

You don’t necessarily have to limit form fields to some artificial number. But you should just focus on what’s important.

For example, asking your audience for their age immediately drops your conversion rate.

There’s often no point in collecting that data up-front!

Here’s a simple example from Optimizely:

optimizely test it out

You can also use interactive screens, like Oscar Health, to break up the questions.

oscar health step 1

oscar health step 2

This increases your chances of your audience interacting and completing the form fields without abandonment, since it breaks up the fields, making it seem like less.

Consider adding a progress bar so that your audience knows they’re getting close to the end and the screens don’t actually go on forever.

Also, keep in mind our fields need to be optimized for mobile. If it’s painful to do on a phone, people will flee.

8. Have the right visuals

First, I should be clear that visuals aren’t just images anymore.

I’ve seen video landing pages convert at 56%!

Here are just some of the benefits of putting a video on your landing page:

  • They increase audience retention. An engaging video keeps people hanging around longer, which allows your message to penetrate.
  • They also increase trust. Assuming your video includes a real person, it gives your product a life and voice. This will immediately increase your audience’s trust.
  • Your audience wants to watch videos. Unbounce found that people prefer to watch a video over reading an article, as long as the video is 5 minutes or less.

If you’re going to incorporate a video, make sure you embed your call to action within it (as well as elsewhere on your landing page).

Take a look at how Derek Halpern included his CTA:

derek halpern video CTA

Videos are also a great way to demonstrate your product.

If you have something that is difficult to assemble or use, videos are ideal.

For example, Long Tail Pro includes a video that walks you through exactly how to use their software.

long tail pro landing page

Don’t make it too long; keep your video short, to the point, and useful.

Any images on your landing page should be relevant to your product or service.

Try to choose pictures that meet the following criteria:

  • They should be large.
  • They need to be relevant to your product or service. Make sure that if you sell a product, there is an actual picture of it on your landing page.
  • Don’t ever use stock images.
  • All your images need to be high-quality.

Including an image of a person looking directly at your call to action is an easy way to boost conversions instantly.

Here’s an example:

jones smiles landing page

When we see someone looking at something, we’re naturally drawn to look at it as well.

It’s a simple yet effective way to direct the attention of your audience to where you want it.

9. Include reassurance and testimonials

Want to hear something controversial?

The best salesperson in your company isn’t actually the best in my experience.

Instead, the best salespeople are often your past customers.

People want to hear from other people’s experience.

That’s why always make sure to use clients’ testimonials on every single landing page I create.

Testimonials help to build trust in your personal brand. People trust other people more than they trust a company.

neil patel consulting testimonials

More than three out of four marketers don’t include social proof, yet it can boost your conversion rate by more than 1%.

social proof on landing pages stats

1% might not seem like a lot, but the average landing page conversion rate is only 2%.

If you’re new and don’t have many testimonials yet, there are other ways to reassure your customers.

Consider showing your trust indicators to reassure users that your site is safe.

trust symbols for websites

You can also build trust by sticking to the facts and using precise numbers whenever you state any statistics.

benefits of trust symbols on websites

Make sure you don’t overstate results.

landing page tips fixes

Saying something is the best without backing it up will make people think you’re trying to trick or scam them.

Avoid superlatives like “best,” “fastest,” “cheapest” unless you can prove it with research.

Another way to reassure customers is by offering a guarantee.

Free trials or money back guarantees help build trust and boost conversions since they’re low risk.

unbeatable guarantee copy

You can also increase customer confidence by providing contact info.

SImply giving people a way to reach you can help reassure them your site and product or service is trustworthy.

10. Add a little pressure or incentive

An additional incentive to encourage customers to click your CTA can help boost conversions, particularly if your landing page is for lead generation.

Offering a free e-book or guide can help increase sign-ups.

Just make sure the content you provide is valuable, or any future marketing efforts toward these people won’t work well.

Whatever free gift you choose should be seen as an investment toward later paid conversions.

subscribe to search engine journal

Remember the old saying about the carrot or the stick?

The gift is a carrot to entice conversions. You can also use a stick or “threat” to scare people into action.

Now, I don’t mean a real threat.

I mean use language such as “limited time offer,” “only 24 hours left” to increase your conversion rate.

11. Test, test, and retest

There is a science to landing page structure, but there is also an art to it.

To find the best landing page design for each of your campaigns you need to test them.

Many marketing blogs will rave about long-form landing pages. But guess what? Those don’t always convert the best.

The catch is that some companies, like Conversion Verve, have found that shorter pages actually converted better for them.

content verve landing page test

So even when you read about what works best on average, it doesn’t mean it will work best for you.

Sadly, barely half of companies actually test their pages today.

But testing has proven to boost conversion rates.

The companies whose conversion rates have improved year over year are executing 50% more tests on average.

A good way to test your pages is with heat maps.

A heat map gives you a simple visual of where your visitors are looking and clicking when on your landing page.

You can see what areas of your page people are paying attention to and what’s not working.

Of course, I’m a little biased, but my preferred heat map software is Crazy Egg.

All you do is enter the URL of your landing page, create an account, and check out your heat map.

Here’s an example of a scroll heat map:

scroll heat map

The areas in red are getting the most attention.

In this example, you can see that not a lot of people are making it down to the bottom.

If your CTA were at the bottom, this would be a problem.

You can use heat maps to see where people are clicking:

click heat map

Heat maps can quickly show you if your headlines, content, or CTAs aren’t getting enough attention.

Conclusion

Landing pages are often expected to convert people effortlessly, yet the average rate is around 2%.

Of course, the problem isn’t with landing pages exactly. It’s with how they’re being built and used.

A landing page needs to have one singular goal, and every part of it needs to be designed to move viewers toward that goal.

First, make sure your landing page is consistent with your campaign, then make sure it’s optimized to be fast and mobile-friendly.

Your headings need to be attention-grabbing, and all distractions, noise, and clutter need to disappear.

Use an effective CTA and limit the amount of information you ask customers to provide.

Make sure you use great visuals and provide social proof or guarantees to reassure people it’s low risk to convert.

Remember, you can always offer an incentive or a little pressure to encourage people to click the button.

Finally, always make sure to test your pages. Use A/B testing or heat maps to see what’s working and improve what isn’t.

What tips or tricks haven’t I mentioned that helped boost your landing page conversions?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

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