Landing Page Optimization

Landing Page Optimization

Written by Neil Patel & Sherice Jacob

Chapter Seven

Tools of The Trade

Many marketing professionals have the best of intentions when it comes to creating landing pages, but sometimes their aspirations fall flat for one simple reason:

They don’t know where to start.

It’s all too easy to get bogged down in analytics, sales funnel creation, keyword research, persona development…and forget about the core reason why you’re doing all those things.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a web designer, programmer or even have any HTML or programming knowledge to create your landing pages. There are also tools beyond Google analytics which can help you track and test your pages more efficiently.

Let’s take a closer look at each one and how they can help:

Landing Page Builders

These are typically websites or web-based services that let you build a landing page by using an HTML editor or drag-and-drop functionality. Some will give you a basic editor with different landing page templates to choose from.

Unbounce

Unbounce is one of the most well-known landing page builders simply because it was one of the first web-based services that allowed people to build and test landing pages without relying on the IT department. Pricing starts at $49/month for sites getting up to 5,000 visitors, but that’s where the features end for beginners. More advanced accounts allow multiple users/clients, and integration with full marketing platforms such as Salesforce or Hubspot.

On the bright side, you can test as many landing pages as you want, and Unbounce offers a variety of templates for web-based, email and social media landing pages.

Instapage

Instapage is a bit different than your typical landing page builder in that it does come with a variety of templates for different uses (lead generation, click-through and “coming soon” pages), but what sets it apart is that it learns based on the visitors that come to your landing pages. You can view real-time analytical data and easily determine the winners of your split tests, while tracking a variety of conversion types from button and link clicks, to thank you pages and shopping cart checkouts.

Instapage also integrates with a variety of marketing tools and platforms, including:

  • Google Analytics
  • Mouseflow
  • CrazyEgg
  • Mailchimp
  • Aweber
  • Constant Contact
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • Zoho
  • And more

A free option is available if you’d like to try it out, and a Starter package makes landing page creation and testing a bit easier on the wallet of startups and new entrepreneurs. Real features like the aforementioned integrations start kicking in with the Professional package at $79/month, but if you’d like to get landing pages up and running quickly, it’s hard to beat the stylish templates that Instapage provides.

Launchrock

Launchrock is not so much a landing page builder as it is a social and list-building placeholder. Combining “coming soon” pages with list building capabilities, Launchrock also includes some interesting social features that encourage users to share the page with others. For example, get X people to sign up, you’ll get Y. It also includes basic analytics and the ability to use your own domain name or a Launchrock branded subdomain (yoursite.launchrock.com). You can customize the page via the built-in HTML/CSS editor if you know how to code.

Launchrock is free and requires only an email address to get started.

Wordstream

Originally focused on pay-per-click, Wordstream just recently announced its own landing page builder which incorporates both landing page elements and a form builder for lead generation and list building. Its page creator lets you add content, choose different themes to split test and build your own form.

Although the basic setup is rather rudimentary for landing pages, sometimes simple is really what gets the job done. The form builder, however, is where Wordstream’s landing page builder really shines:

With it, you can customize all aspects of your form, using a basic drag and drop editor. The builder will walk you through the process of including a form header (or not), as well as defining a call-to-action button and a thank you page, and then making sure you have everything set up correctly so you can hit the ground running when you launch.

An example of a Wordstream form

Although the creation process is very straightforward, Wordstream also attempts to offer “helpful” advice, such as incorporating the email form with the suggestion that “our best practices suggest you should always include this field in your form.”

It can be a bit too beginner-friendly for those of you who are advanced landing page designers, but for those new to landing page creation without the development resources to hire a web designer or full-time staff — the landing page builder eliminates a lot of the frustration and obstacles that first-time optimizers face.

Helpful suggestions from the landing page builder

It should be noted that Wordstream’s landing page builder only works with pay-per-click campaigns, and doesn’t include all the bells and whistles of the other building and testing packages, but what it does, it does extremely well as Wordstream has become known for its PPC expertise over several years.

In order to use the landing page builder, you need to be a subscriber of Wordstream’s PPC Advisor. Prices for this service vary depending on your needs.

Landing Page Testers/Trackers

While many landing page builders also include testing and tracking, they usually do one or the other well, but not both. Of course, when you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to take advantage of free trials and see which service works best for your needs. Here are a few of the most popular ones available for testing and tracking your campaigns:

Optimizely

Optimizely is often touted as a good entry-level product for when you’re just starting out and working toward upgrading to something bigger and better as your business grows. But with prices starting at $17/month and a free 30 day trial period, it’s a powerful product in its own right.

There are some limitations with the lower level packages. For example, multivariate testing is not available at the Bronze or Silver levels. It only becomes a feature at the Gold level, which will set you back $359/month.

On the upside, Optimizely lets you conduct an unlimited number of tests and also allows for mobile testing and personalization. Although you do get an unlimited number of experiments, you can also edit these on-the-fly, but doing so will also cause you to lose count of which version of which page you were working on. It can also leave some things to be desired when it comes to integration with Google Analytics, for example, it’s not able to segment custom data (like PPC traffic) or advanced analytics segments.

You can also tell Optimizely what you consider as “goal” points on your website — ranging from email subscription to buying and checkout, and it will track those items independently. Overall, it does a great job with a simple and intuitive user interface and is ideal for those just starting to optimize their landing pages.

CrazyEgg

(Full Disclosure: CrazyEgg is owned by Neil Patel)

CrazyEgg is the definitive heat map and visualization service to help you better understand how your website visitors are interacting with your landing pages. Reports are available as “confetti” style, mouse clicks/movement tracking and scrolling heat maps. This gives you an all in one picture to see where your visitors are engaging with your pages (and where you could improve that engagement).

An example of a CrazyEgg click heatmap. Warmer colors indicate more activity

Although CrazyEgg doesn’t consider itself a landing page testing and tracking solution, it does take you beyond the core information that Google Analytics gives you to show you actual user behavior on your landing pages. Pricing starts at $9/month for up to 10,000 visitors with 10 active pages and daily reports available. A 30 day free trial is also available.

Hubspot

More than a tracking/testing service, Hubspot’s landing pages offer extremely customizable elements that let you tailor each page to precisely match your customers’ needs. This lets you devise alternative segments for each “persona” you’ve created — driving engagement and conversion rates even higher.

The packages are pricey ($200/month starting out) for first-time landing page optimizers, but larger companies and organizations will see the value built in to the platform. Beyond its smart segmenting, Hubspot also offers a drag and drop landing page builder and form builder. This is all in addition to its existing analytics, email marketing, SEO and other platforms.

Visual Website Optimizer

If you’d like a more creative, hands-on approach to your landing pages, along with fill in the blanks simplicity, Visual Website Optimizer is as good as it gets. Where this package really shines, however, is through its multivariate testing. It also offers behavioral targeting and usability testing along with heat maps, so you can see precisely how your visitors are interacting with your landing pages, and make changes accordingly.

You can also use the built-in WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to make changes to your landing pages without any prior knowledge of HTML, CSS or other types of coding. Results are reported in real-time and as with Hubspot, you can create landing pages for specific segments of customers.

Pricing for all of these features is in the middle of all of the contenders, with the lowest available package starting at $50/month. Still, it’s a good investment for an “all in one” service where you don’t need the advanced features or tracking that other products provide.

Ion Interactive

Ion Interactive’s landing page testing solution, could set you back several thousand per month, but it’s one of the most feature-packed options available, letting you create multi-page microsites, different touch-points of engagement, and completely scalable options with a variety of dynamic customizable options.

If you’d like to take the service for a test drive, you can have it “score” your page based on an in-house 13-point checklist. A free trial is also available, as is the opportunity to schedule a demo.

Of course, once you’ve decided on the best building, testing and tracking solution, there’s still work to be done. Before you formally launch your new landing pages, it’s a good idea to get feedback and first impressions — not just from your marketing or design team, but from real, actual people who will be using your site for the first time.

Here are a few tools that can help you do just that.

Usability Tools

Usability Tools are broken down into two sections — user interface tools and conversion tools. Both are invaluable for optimizing your landing pages. For example, through the user interface suite, you can engage visitors through click-tracking (see where their attention goes), try the Persona Creator, have them take a survey and more.

Through the conversion section, you can conduct a split test, test your forms, track clicks and even record visitors’ interactions with your web page.

A 14 day trial is available and pricing depends on whether you need one package or both. You can also choose to pay-as-you-go or buy a monthly or yearly package. Although it doesn’t have the same robust testing options as a standalone split testing system, Usability Tools is nevertheless a great way to get visitor feedback and insights before you launch.

Optimal Workshop

Optimal Workshop actually consists of three different tools. OptimalSort lets you see how users would sort your navigation and content, while Treejack lets you find areas that could lead to page abandonment when visitors can’t find what they’re looking for. Chalkmark lets you get first impressions from users when uploading wireframes, screenshots or other “under construction” images.

Through these services, you can assign tasks to users to determine where they would go in order to complete them. You can also get basic heat maps to see how many users followed a certain route to complete the task.

You can buy any of the three services individually, or purchase the whole suite for $1,990/year. A free plan with limited functionality and number of participants is also available if you’d like to try before you buy.

Usabilla

Usabilla allows you to immediately capture user feedback on any device, including smartphones and tablets – a feature that sets it apart from most testing services. Improvement is done via a simple feedback button which can be fully customized and encourages the customer to help you improve your site by reporting bugs, asking about features or just letting you know about the great shopping experience they had.

Usabilla also lets you conduct targeted surveys and exit surveys to determine why a customer may be leaving a page. They also offer a service called Usabilla survey which is similar to other “first impression” design testing services and lets visitors give you feedback on everything from company names to wireframes and screenshots.

Pricing starts at $49/month and a free trial is available.

Intuition HQ

Intuition HQ is a usability testing service that works with both computers and iPad, and provides confetti-style click heat maps along with specific tasks for users to complete. Users can choose where they would be most likely to click, or choose to skip the task if they cannot complete it.

An example of an Intuition HQ task and test

You can also see approximately how long it took the user to complete the aforementioned task. Share the test online to encourage participation, and save the results in a report to show your clients the importance of engagement and interactivity, as well as specific areas that could benefit from changes. Intuition HQ is a definite tool that belongs in the arsenal of any serious landing page designer.

A free account is available upon signup which lets you conduct a test with unlimited questions, 350 participants, and up to 10 live tests. You can also see your results via an iPad app (installed separately).

5 Second Test

Imagine you want visitors to determine the point of a certain page. What if they could only look at it for five seconds and then give you their opinion? Five second test makes this possible and it’s incredibly quick and easy to set up. Case in point — you can try a sample test to see what a typical user would see. In my case, I was asked my first impressions of an app named “WedSpot” and what I’d expect to find by using such an app. It’s simple questions like these that can actually give you some invaluable insights – and that for just five seconds of your users time.

It’s free to conduct and participate in user tests through Five Second test.

Other Helpful Tools

Beyond usability testing and user experience videos, there are a few other tools that your landing pages can benefit from:

Site Readability Test

Juicy Studio has released a readability test that uses three of the most common reading level algorithms to determine how easy or difficult it is to read the content on your site. You’ll need to match the reading level with your intended audience but these tests will give you some insight on simplifying your language and making your pages more reading-accessible to everyone.

You simply type in your URL and get your results in seconds. You can also compare your results to other typical readings including Mark Twain, TV Guide, the Bible and more.

Pingdom Website Speed Test

Page loading time is a huge factor in your website’s bounce rate and lack of conversions. Simply put, if your page loads too slowly, visitors won’t wait around for it to finish. They’ll simply leave and potentially go to your competition. Using Pingdom’s website speed test, you can see how fast (or slow) your website is loading.

Beyond the speed of your website itself, the service will also calculate your heaviest scripts, CSS, images, or other files that could be slowing down your pages. You should note that testing is conducted from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, so depending on how close or far your server is from there will also factor into the equation.

It’s free to test your site on Pingdom.

Browser Shots

Although this is the last entry in our series of helpful tools, it is by no means any less important. Testing your landing pages in a multitude of browsers on a variety of operating systems is crucial to your pages’ overall success. Fortunately, BrowserShots.org makes this process incredibly easy. You can test your pages on all current versions of the web’s most popular browsers, as well as older versions of those browsers.

It does take time for browser screenshots to be taken and uploaded for you to see the results. You can sign up for a paid account and see them faster, but for a free tool, it’s no problem to wait a little while and see just how accessible your page is to visitors on a variety of operating systems, browsers, and browser versions.

Summary

By now, you should have started, or be close to starting your landing page optimization tests. You’ve learned how to research keywords, craft compelling personas, write persuasive content, design and split test your pages. You’ve got a variety of tools to help, and you should now be able to launch, track and update pages with ease.

You learned the difference between creating landing pages, and doing normal search engine optimization. You discovered the different types of landing pages and when to use each one for optimal results. You found out all of the best ways to get traffic and how to create ads that magnetically target and “speak to” your ideal customers.

You learned how to do a landing page analysis and what facets to track should your landing page tests grow stagnant or fail to perform. You now know how to troubleshoot pages for the most common pitfalls that cause them to fail, and get your testing efforts back on the right foot again.

Remember that landing page optimization is not a once-and-done process — it’s a continuing cycle of refining, improving and growing as you find out what best serves your audience and builds your company while creating relationships with the very people you want to reach. Landing page optimization, at its core, is a continual path of growth and improvement, and is one of the few measurable website sciences that can deliver a true return on investment.

From here, we encourage you to sign up for a few free trials to get to know the systems and styles that work best for you and your business objectives. Put the tips and techniques in this guide to work and evaluate the results with confidence. Keep an eye on the big picture and try not to get bogged down in micro-conversion analysis paralysis.

The most important thing you can do is to take that all-important first step. Today.