Landing pages are a vital part of your online presence, converting casual surfers and general fact-finders into sales leads – or even customers. More than simply capturing a potential customer’s attention (briefly), landing pages are your opportunity to engage them too.
Ultimately, you want to connect with people and give them something to think about – particularly the benefits your product/service offers them, the real world problems you can solve. You then want them to act on that information, with a view to converting them into a customer at some point in the future – or at the bottom of the page.
Badly thought-out landing pages will not have that effect; indeed, they may even drive potential customers away – forever.
Whether you are catering to visitors from search engines, emails or social media links, your efforts could be in vain if you have made any of these nine landing page mistakes:
1. Failing to optimize keywords
Search engines remain the most important tool for capturing first-time visitors; one report found that 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search. This means that your landing page must rank well with Google, Bing, and any other search engine your target audience may use. People have to be able to actually find your site if they are ever going to hit your landing page.
At the most fundamental level, your landing page must make use of specific, keywords relevant to your product/service/offering – and the copy must be optimized to use each keyword effectively. This Search Engine Land guide gives some excellent examples of what an optimized post looks like.
2. Failing to use enough headlines
Headlines are a crucial part of your SEO optimization – but they also help to make reading the landing page easier. Internet users typically scan a web page looking for specific visual clues that help them decide whether reading the text is worth their time. Only after they have received that confirmation do they begin to read in depth.
Headlines are vital for communicating key messages. In the same way that a newspaper headline tells the whole story in a single sentence, yours needs to provide high-level information designed to draw the reader in, tempting to read the rest of the page – and to take action. Sub-headlines are also a great way to break up big blocks of text, improving the overall visual appeal of your page.
3. Failing to optimize page load speeds
Internet users are notoriously impatient, unwilling to wait for a badly designed loading page to finish downloading. In the age of high-speed broadband, customers will surf onto another page (probably one of your competitors’) rather than wait. Microsoft researchers found that people will visit a website less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds.
People will not give your site the benefit of the doubt. Pages need to be optimized for speed, or they will never convert – no matter how good the copy or SEO optimization is.
4. Failing to use colors correctly
It sounds crazy, but colors have an important part to play in driving conversions. More than just helping to improve the aesthetics of your page, colors can create a “flow” that guides the reader towards the ultimate goal – your call to action.
Even something as basic as highlighting text blocks so that they stand out from the background could help to improve conversion rates. Unbounce has written an excellent article about color theory and how it applies to page design here.
5. Failing to write well
Having someone click through to your landing page is just the first part of the conversion battle. You must still convince them to take action, to sign up to your email, request a demo, or to make a purchase.
This is where your choice of words comes into play. A good landing page engages the reader, and carefully outlines the benefits of doing business with you. A great landing page engages with the reader on an emotional level, creating an irresistible urge to take action.
It is also vitally important that spelling and grammar are checked carefully before publication. Your readers may use abbreviations and shorthand in their own messages, but they expect brands to adhere to spelling and grammar conventions. A study by Global Lingo found that 59% of people would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website or marketing material.
6. Failing to excite with images
Your designers already know the importance of great imagery for the rest of your website – so why would you use any old stock image on your landing page? All too often, businesses choose a stock photo that looks nice, rather than one which is neatly tied to the message they are trying to convey.
For the best results, testing suggests that your landing page should use custom imagery showing real people – preferably using your product. The difference is astonishing – a 35% increase in conversions for pages that replace generic stock images with custom artwork.
7. Failing to structure content
Headlines give your readers key details of your landing page at a glance. But your content needs even more structure if it’s going to convert. Again, newspapers can teach landing page designers a lot – it is here that the phrase “above the fold” was first coined.
Your landing page needs to communicate the most important benefits and details as soon as the page loads, on that first screen. If users have to scroll down to access key details, you give them an opportunity to not bother – and many won’t, reducing the effectiveness of your page.
Tell the story at the start, and add detail below the fold, drawing the readers down the page, or lose them – it’s that simple.
8. Failing to A/B test pages
Most landing pages are designed and built using intuition – “I think this idea will work” – before being published and left to run its course. So long as this intuition is derived from observing what has, and has not, worked in the past, the page should perform relatively well. But “relatively well” often falls well short of “optimally”, meaning that opportunities may be missed.
A successful landing page is treated as a constant work in progress. Designers and copywriters will monitor conversion rates, using data to make minor improvements to the text/design so that even more customers act. This ranges from rearranging the physical layout of the page, to changing a single word on the form submission button at the end of the page.
A/B testing provides a way to accurately assess which of these changes are most effective, allowing them to be applied to the overall design. The designer and writer then shift focus to another element and the testing begins again. This process of constant evolution helps to maximize conversion rates, helping to deliver value for a long time after initial publication.
9. Failing to issue a strong call to action
No matter how good your landing page body copy is, without a call to action readers will be unsure what to do next. A call to action (CTA) gives readers direction, it tells them what they must do with the information they have just read/watched.
The CTA could be almost anything – to sign up for your newsletter, to make a purchase, to download a white paper – but this is the point at which your landing page proves its worth. You must tell your reader exactly what they need to do now. Your copy literally pushes the buyer into action – even if that’s nothing more than clicking a button.
A weak CTA is ambiguous, or easily ignored, causing the page to fail. But if you can align design and copy to create a CTA that compels action, the page will be a success. And don’t forget – CTAs can go anywhere on your page, not just at the bottom.
Do these mistakes sound familiar? It’s never too late to improve. Start now by reading these 11 Tips for Creating Landing Pages That Convert.