Landing Page Optimization

Landing Page Optimization

Written by Neil Patel & Sherice Jacob

Chapter Two

How to Read Your Audiences’ Minds

One of the most crucial facets to a successful landing page is the target customer. After all, if you aren’t getting the right people to come to your pages in the first place, all your efforts might as well go up in smoke.

Since we can’t yet (legally!) read people’s minds, marketers have come up with a shortcut — personas.

Personas are digital profiles of your best customers — the ideal visitor you want to have take a specific action on your site. Many personas are based around demographics — gender, age range, education, monthly disposable income, etc

But this kind of classification is far too restrictive – who’s to say that only women under 40 with young children and a master’s degree are all going to flock to your product? While you can tailor your marketing efforts toward a certain kind of persona, it’s short sighted to think that this is the only strategy you need to amplify your landing pages’ messages.

Instead, consider psychographics — segmenting your audience according to deeper, more meaningful points including:

  • Aspirations — what they hope to achieve or dream of doing
  • Attitudes — Their perspective and how they feel about specific ideas
  • Lifestyles — Their choices relating to health, wealth, family and work
  • Opinions — Their point of view on a potentially controversial matter

“But I’m just selling _____!” People don’t really have an opinion or an aspiration about things like that, do they? Whatever you’re selling — you can position it to where it makes a statement about a buyer’s attitude, lifestyle, opinion or aspiration.

Making Green by Going Green

Case in point — green energy. It’s a hot topic — environmentally, financially and politically. Supporting these initiatives, to the detriment of other traditional energy production efforts (fossil fuels) makes a statement about the person taking that action, no matter which classic demographic they fit into — for example:

Aspirations
“I dream of making the planet a cleaner, more energy-efficient place”

Attitudes
“I feel that clean energy will boost job prospects and benefit the economy”

Lifestyles
“I believe there’s money to be made in the green energy sector”

Opinions
“I think more people should be investing in greener solutions”

Notice how psychographics starts with more intangible points like “I dream, I think, I feel”. While it’s harder to pin down these emotions and beliefs into tangible, measurable things — you can see how Green Guide, one company promoting “green investments” did it with their page:

This is their original landing page, focused on investing in renewable energy solutions. It was tested against the page below:

Not surprisingly, the first landing page outperformed the second — by a whopping 91%. It’s simpler, to-the-point layout spoke precisely to the kind of person they wanted to attract: investors. These are people who want the truth — proven, tested strategies made by industry experts. They want to get started today

All of these buzzwords stick out in the copy — things that appeal to the persona of people Green Guide is trying to attract — “Fortunes stand to be made” “Get Involved”. “Put You Ahead of the Pack”.

Here’s another example of this practice at work:

Try to Beat My Score

Gamers are a class unto themselves, which is why GameGround — a social app that awards players with points as they progress through different games, wanted to test a radical landing page redesign — specifically they wanted to increase Facebook sign-ins.

Here was the first page they tested:

(Note, the Get Started/Sign In with Facebook buttons are actually one large button)

And here is the variation they tested it against:

Now, using personas and psychographics while looking at both of these landing pages, we can deduce that:

  • These people enjoy playing games and earning rewards for playing
  • They are social and use Facebook to connect/play with friends
  • They are competitive in nature and like a challenge

Between these two, the first landing page outperformed the second by an incredible 203% — and once you start optimizing landing pages, it’s easy to see why: The first page specifically targets Mahjongg players, shows the “missions” and the points they can earn, and lets them start connecting to Facebook right away. At this point, they probably don’t care about what other games (Facebook or otherwise) are supported — they just want to jump in and start playing!

Setting Conversion Goals

All this talk about landing page optimization won’t do you any good unless you can correctly analyze what actions your visitors are taking (and whether they’re taking any actions at all!). Setting conversion goals through your analytics program is one way to do that.

Since many people use Google Analytics starting out, it’s simplest to start there. There are tons of features in Google Analytics, ranging from events, to triggers to funnels and more — so it’s easy to see why so many people simply copy and paste the code on their website and never bother to log back in again to check their stats.

An example of conversion goals in Google Analytics

The good news is that you can set several conversion goals and see how many were completed, and how often. It doesn’t just have to be recording a click on the call-to-action button on your landing page.

You can measure:

  • Email newsletter subscriptions
  • Downloads of an ebook
  • Time spent on site or number of pages viewed
  • Shares on social media accounts
  • Live chat connections with staff
  • Successful form completions

There are four goal types in Google Analytics:

  • URL Destination
    Lets you set a “success URL” that counts as a conversion if the user reached a specific page (like a thank you or download page).

  • Visit Duration
    Lets you set a timeframe that the user spent on your site as an indicator of a successful conversion.

  • Page/Visit
    Is similar to the above, only it counts the number of pages per visit. This is particularly important for long forms such as when signing up for insurance or other information-heavy requests.

  • Event Tracking
    This is perhaps the most powerful, yet least understood options when it comes to conversion goals. Here, you can specify a certain event — like a “trigger” that, when it happens, denotes a successful conversion. For example, if someone downloaded or opened a PDF file, viewed your video or shared your page link on Facebook — those would all count as successful event-based conversions.

For the purpose of your landing page, you’ll likely either use URL destination, or the more advanced Event Tracking to measure your conversion goals.

But once you’ve set them up, you’re only half-way done. That’s because you can then measure these conversion goals against the search traffic you’re getting.

For instance, you could see:

  • Which referrer (other site URL) brings you the highest converting traffic
  • Which search engine brings you the highest converting traffic
  • Which keywords bring you the highest converting traffic

And remember, you can have multiple goals and sets within each goal — so if you wanted to split test two distinct landing pages to see which one resulted in more video views — you can simply create an event-based conversion goal for the video and split test both pages as a set.

We’ll get into split testing more in chapter five, but for now, you can start testing and tracking with steps that can be accurately measured, so you’ll know precisely what changes have the greatest impact.

How to Analyze Data to Determine What Should Be Tested

Having conversion goals is one thing — but knowing where visitors drop off on the landing page is even more important. In this case, it can be well worth it to add visual heat map tracking to your pages. This gives you a visual overview of where people’s attention (and thus, their clicks) are going:

An example of a CrazyEgg heatmap

In this heatmap overlay, advertising Colorado mountain vacations, the majority of attention is on condos and cabins, along with vacation packages. The higher the “heat” level, the more clicks and attention that particular segment of the page is getting.

This, in turn, gives you insight into what information people are looking for — in this case, a landing page devoted to condos and a call to action with a link to vacation packages would likely have good results. The only way to know for sure, however, is to test, track and see!

Landing Page Prioritization Chart

One of the best ways to determine which items on your landing page optimization list get the most attention first is to make a prioritization chart. Just assign each task a level from 0-10 and add up each row. The higher the priority score, the sooner you should test it:

Let’s take a closer look at each individual category:

  • Test Duration
    How long the test will last. Short tests should score higher than longer tests.

  • Ease of Execution
    Easy tests should score higher than more difficult or time-consuming tests.

  • Business Impact
    How much will this test affect the bottom line? Since your landing page directly ties in with your call-to-action, and thus getting leads or prospects into your sales funnel, the higher numbers have the greatest impact.

  • Cost of Advertising
    How much will it cost you to promote this landing page? If your landing page shows up in organic search engine rankings, your cost of advertising would be 0. If, however, you’re using pay-per-click, your cost goes up according to your approximate bid.

This chart is designed to help you immediately launch with ideas that will bring you the greatest returns, and stop settling for miniscule changes that would barely register as a blip on the radar in your visitors’ minds.

Anatomy of a Landing Page

No matter how you style it, all great landing pages have a few things in common. Let’s take a look at the highest converting elements and what they mean:

  • Consistent Message Between Ad Headline & Landing Page Headline

    For example, if someone searched for “blue widgets”, your landing page has a far better chance of converting if the headline mentions “blue widgets”.

  • The Secondary Headline Leads into the Content

    This section needs to compel the user to continue reading. Short, sweet and to-the-point, it should give a clear reason that speaks to the user’s fear, worry or question.

  • Perfect Grammar

    This is not the place to be sloppy – with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Not only does it make you look like an amateur, but it also gives the impression that your site isn’t trustworthy or credible.

  • Trust Signals

    Testimonials, security seals and other badges that show that the user will have a satisfactory shopping experience doing business. These all feed right back in to the impression they first generate on whether or not your company is worth doing business with.

  • Strong Call-to-Action

    Download, Free, Get, Create and other options have been shown to perform better than weaker words like “Try”. Stronger language and active verbs compel people to act.

  • Buttons that Stand Out

    The button needs to be able to catch the user’s eye, so make it distinctively different than the rest of the color scheme on your page, to make it stand out and be noticed.

  • A Lack of Links

    Keeping users on the landing page and moving them through the call-to-action should be your primary goal. Linking out to other sites or other pages of your own site that aren’t tied into the landing page can distract the user from taking the action you want them to take.

  • Images and Video Relate to Content

    Adding images and video that give customers a quick understanding of the product/service or explain the basics can all bolster the message.

  • Fit the Message within the First 1/3rd of Screen Space

    This is known as “above the fold” and greatly increases the chance that visitors will take action, since they don’t have to scroll.

Should My Landing Page Fit Into My Design?

It makes logical sense to consider that a landing page should fit in with your existing design — except with certain elements (such as navigation and other distractions) removed. But what if the landing page template is radically different from your design — will that help or hurt your conversion rate?

That’s what computer manufacturer Dell wanted to find out. In the following PPC landing page, Dell hoped to attract leads for professionals seeking information about medical device tablets. Most business to consumer companies will tell you that a distinctly design landing page similar to the drawing above will generate a greater response, but Dell’s target audience in this case was B2B consumers — where impressions matter and professionalism counts.

So which won ultimately won them over?

If you chose the second version, you’d be correct — as the standalone landing page design increased leads by an incredible 320%. This simply goes to show that simple, clear and concise pages win over bulky, text-heavy versions.

Types of Landing Pages

Contrary to the Anatomy of a Landing Page section above, there are actually several variations of landing pages — each one dependent on your product/service, your target audience and what you want them to accomplish as a result of visiting the page.

There are six main types of landing pages.
Let’s look at each one in greater detail and how they work:

Click-Through Landing Page

JCD Repair is an iPhone repair company targeting college-age students and young adults. They tested two variations of their landing page — one with humor, the other with facts. The first one asks “Did your iPhone have a rough night out?” while the second informs the user about iPhone 4/4S screen repair.

Users were to select either a mail-in option or schedule a local repair. Because humor doesn’t always work — even on younger audiences, the company was truly gambling with their headline. What’s more, search engine optimization practically dictates that you use your best keywords (like iPhone 4S repair) in your headline — so which one paid off for JCD repair?

In this case, the humor won out — with nearly 18% more clicks on the Schedule Repair option versus its more factual counterpart. This is a great example of a click-through landing page. There’s not a lot of fluff or filler — just the facts, and a button to go through to the next step.

These landing pages typically have just enough bullet points or benefits to convince the person to move to the next step — however, they are NOT lead generation landing pages — those come next.

Lead Gen Landing Page

A Place for Mom, a senior living search and information site used bullet points with carefully crafted copy to encourage people to find out more about its services. In this case, they’d type in their city, state or zip code, and then choose the type of housing they were looking for.

The first test advertised FREE guidance — with the idea that people would sign up for something free being the key motivator. The second variation moved away from the “free” option and instead emphasized a simple search with detailed community information.

The first page advertises free guidance & advice

The second test emphasizes simple search and insider community info

Perhaps most surprisingly for copywriters, the second version increased lead generation efforts by over 13%. This defies the typical marketing logic that “FREE” is always a winner. In cases of finding the appropriate senior care for mom or dad, people likely aren’t thinking of price so much as comfort and convenience.

This is also an excellent example of a lead generation page, where the idea is to get names and email addresses (or in this case, location information and housing type) to follow up with prospects in the near future.

Viral Landing Page

This is the kind of page that everyone can’t stop talking about or sharing (hence “going viral”). SMX, a huge search marketing conference, set about creating a “Who’s the Biggest Search Geek” contest using the following landing page:

If you decided to play, you’d have to answer 20 questions correctly as quickly as possible. Once you finished, you’d be taken to a 9-field lead generation form:

Of course, true search geeks love SMX and this was a great opportunity to prove their search-geek-worthiness. As you can see, a good landing page can be a hybrid of two different types — such as a lead gen page with a viral quiz-style quality.

Mobile Landing Page

A relative newcomer to the landing page herd, the mobile page is all about maximizing the message to fit into one extremely small screen space. As an example, the following email test from Philips Sonicare toothbrushes was sent out to mailing list subscribers. Since many of these users also viewed email from mobile devices, this case study won both an email testing and mobile testing award for its findings.

Which one of these pages would you be most likely to click on?

If you guessed the second one won — you’d be correct, but what you might not know is that the Change with the Seasons version increased clicks by a whopping 371% and sales by an astounding 1,617% (no, that’s not a typo!)

This mobile landing page illustrates that simple is better — and that a large, tappable call-to-action button (with a discount!) will outperform a more basic “newsletter style” email on mobile phones (and likely on desktops as well!) Keep this in mind when crafting your mobile landing pages — simple and direct is best!

Microsite Landing Page

A microsite is, as its name implies, a small, well-timed website that corresponds to a central marketing campaign or message. The Centre for Arts and Technology launched microsite landing pages featuring their programs in merchandising and fashion design, along with sleek, well-presented pages that encouraged prospective students to find out more.

A more concentrated version offering a reminder and a discount

In these cases, the images — with bold headlines incorporating Fashion, Inspired and Vision to Life communicate the very things that fashion designers crave — a way to bring their inspirations to life. Microsite landing pages aren’t typically limited to a single page, but have very few navigation options and all of them lead back to the central course of action (in this case, lead generation).

Product Detail Landing Page

The final landing page type is especially important to e-commerce companies. Oftentimes when searching for a particular product, customers will inadvertently end up on the product detail page. For e-commerce sites, these sites need to do double-duty, as they work not only in conjunction with the main site, but also as standalone pages designed to encourage the customer to “add to cart”.

Card retailer Hallmark discovered this by testing its landing pages for custom card interiors. It wanted to let customers input a personal message in the card.

Here was the original design:

The variation changed four major things (as opposed to typically changing one thing at a time to determine which aspect of the landing page has the most measurable impact). In the second version, the text explaining instructions was changed, as was the stylized arrow. The Start Now button was changed simply to “Start” and moved inside the message box:

This variation outperformed the original by increasing clicks to the personalization page by over 7% and overall sales conversions by 2%. That may not sound like a lot, but when you’re a major retailer like Hallmark, 2% can equal hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Which Landing Page Type Should I Choose?

There is no one right choice or wrong choice. The type of landing page you choose should be a reflection of your business goals and your testing priorities. You can even incorporate the best elements from several varieties to create your own unique style and test that! A product detail page that also happens to be viral and mobile-friendly — why not?

In the next chapter, we’ll be looking at how to drive qualified traffic to your landing pages — since once you have the ideal visitor in mind, it’s time to convince them that your page is worth their time. Landing pages wither on the vine if not for qualified traffic — so we’ll be looking at five of the best ways to bring that traffic in, and get it to convert!