Landing Page Optimization Best Practices 2018: Bumpy Landing Sucks!

by Shashank S

Paid Advertising sucks…
It will not work…

You are wasting marketing dollars on PPC and social media ads.

landing page optimization best practices 2018 omnidigit

Did I just say that?

What does that have to do with this post-
landing page optimization best practices 2018?

Before you deem me insane, hear me out.

The aforementioned statements hold true IF
your landing pages suck;
when your aim is lead generation.

PPC and Paid social for brand awareness is a different game.

Although, in that case as well,
landing page optimization is no less important.

I’d even go to an extreme and make a bold statement,
and suggest that you should not even launch ads on Adwords
if you have not done your homework.

Hint! Hint! Optimizing your Landing pages.

Assume you are traveling from Tampa to Austin via Atlanta,
and you enjoy the most amazing in-flight service.

Then when it is time to arrive at Atlanta,
you have a have a rather bumpy landing that had your heart skip a beat.

And to top it off,
the plane arrives at a completely different terminal,
making you rush to catch your next flight.

Would you travel the same airlines again?

While this is an extreme (but rather probable) situation,
I am sure you (the smart reader) would get an idea.

Landing pages are the destination of most paid ads.

No matter how beautiful are your ads,
users will not convert if your landing pages are not optimized.

What’s the best way to increase the landing page conversion rates?

What are the biggest landing page mistakes?

In this simple landing page optimization best practices guide,
I will walk you through the most important aspects of landing pages
to get the most ROI of your search and social ads.

I fail to understand why people think
it is difficult to optimize landing pages.

SaaS products such as InstaPage, LeadPages, and UnBounce
allow you to design a high converting landing page from scratch
without a single line of code.

Remember, I said simple, not easy.

Let us start with the most annoying thing I recently encountered.

Oh, almost forgot.

Recently, I penned down a comprehensive guide
on conversion rate optimization best practices.

Check that out to have more info on your side
to kill it at landing page optimization.

Landing at a Different Airport

If I am flying from Los Angeles to Denver, the pilot should not take me to New York.

Right?

Well, it looks like some of the PPC “experts” are doing that.

A real example:

I searched for “portable hard drive” on Google.

Look at the second result “Seagate Backup….. $25.55”.

landing page optimization omnidigit

Given the price, I had to click on that ad.

And guess where it took me?

landing page optimization

Really?

Should I be seeing a kitchen item
when I clicked on a portable hard drive ad?

This, perhaps, is one of the worst things
one can do to destroy their PPC efforts.

The landing page is an extension of your post or ad.

Please make sure it is relevant.

Let’s see another example.

Upon searching for “Savings account”,
I get the following paid result:

landing page optimization best practices 2018 omnidigit

Take a look at the LP of American Express

For starters, the CTA color is nice to look at:

landing page optimization best practices 2018 omnidigit

Amex has also provided some features on the right (1.75%).

Simple and optimized landing page.

Let’s look at Chase and Well Fargo’s landing pages
from their organic SERPs:

google search results for saving account

Chase has done a good job by offering the “$350 on us incentive”.

Again, the green CTA is good.

landing page optimization

The bank has also mentioned their different types of savings account,
and has even put a compare accounts feature on the bottom.

In short, the landing page focuses on a single message,
that is relevant to the organic search result.

Wells Fargo needs to take their CRO seriously.

They have done a poor job at landing page optimization.

See for yourself.

landing page optimization

Too much info on this landing page
makes me want to exit immediately.

Secondly, the CTA button size and placement are not optimal for conversions.

The button color is not strong enough to attract me.
And it is too close to the text; it does not stand out.

Before we ride the best practices for optimizing landing pages train,
how about we list the most essential elements of a landing page?

I call it the FIVER:

  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • Hero Shot (image or video)
  • Benefits
  • Social proof
  • Call-To-Action (CTA)

These can be further subdivided into other elements.

For example, the USP can have a heading, sub-heading,
reinforcement statement, and a closing argument.

Let’s hop on to the core of this blog post-
landing page optimization best practices.

Consistent Messaging on Ad and LP

I cannot emphasize how important this is for conversions.

I see several companies having confusing landing pages.

I searched for “refrigerator” on Google and this is what I got:

landing page optimization best practices 2018 omnidigit

As you can see, the first PPC ad is of Sears.

Nice ad!

It takes me to this landing page:

landing page optimization

I like how this LP is organized.

It allows the user to search by category and color.

What’s missing on this page is “reiteration” of the July 4th sale.

BestBuy and HomeDepot have done that well.

landing page optimization best practices

The “4th of July Sale” banner is that incentive
on the landing page that would make the user browse items on that page.

Landing Page is NOT the same as Home Page

Why did I even bother to mention such an obvious thing?

Because, believe it or not,
many companies suck at understanding and implementing this basic thing.

Landing PageHome Page
GoalOffer requested contentDirect to relevant content
User IntentSpecificBroad
Traffic SourceSpecific campaignVaried
Navigation ElementsMinimal or NoneLinks to all important pages
The desired ActionClick a single CTA or one well-defined actionNurture user deeper into the website

How about an example?

Sendgrid is a popular email marketing platform.

Here is one of their landing pages.

landing page optimization example

Observe the minimal navigation and single-focused CTA.

In contrast, here is their home page:

landing page optimization best practices 2018 omnidigit

See how things changed?

Here, we have multiple navigation items and links.

There are multiple CTAs as well.

Let us also understand the two main types of Landing pages:

Click-through landing pages:
This aims at encouraging visitors to click through to another page.

Mostly seen on ecommerce websites,
these generally offer product details
before taking them to the checkout pages.

Obvious, isn’t it?

Lead generation or landing pages aka squeeze page:
As the name signifies,
these pages are focused on capturing leads via a form.

If you have read one of the articles
on this website about Law Firm Digital Marketing,
you will see a lead magnet at the end of the article:

landing page optimization best practices 2018 omnidigit

When you click on this,
you will land on a page with a form (a clipped version below):

landing page optimization best practices 2018 omnidigit

That is what we were talking about- lead generation landing pages.

Size and Position of CTA

These two can have a significant effect on conversions.

I have talked about these areas in detail in another post.

There is much confusion about
above and below the fold placement of CTA buttons.

As a general rule,
if the landing page is short and does not have much information,
putting CTA above the fold makes more sense.

On the other hand,
for longer landing pages containing a wealth of information,
you might want to put the CTA below the fold as well.

However, in this case,
ensure that you use directional cues to guide
the user to the call-to-action button.

We missed out an important factor here-
landing pages on mobile devices.

Now, I am sure you know the behavior of users
on the desktop and mobile devices are not the same.

Given the smaller real estate on Smartphones and tablets,
it makes more sense to keep the CTAs above the fold on those devices.

Scrolling is not a preferred action for mobile users.

CTA on the left or right?

Well, as per the Z-shaped pattern,
putting CTA on the right is more productive.

It is important that you know
how to design a call to action that will motivate your visitors
to take the actions you want them to take.

Landing Page Optimization Best Practices 2018: Congruence

One of the most important factors in designing a landing page
from a CRO perspective is the central idea or goal of the page.

What does the LP aim at achieving?

Having a clear goal and the corresponding KPIs
would give you a definitive direction in designing
a high-converting landing page.

Simply put, every element of the landing page
should be relevant to the subject and goal of that page.

Let me elaborate.

Often, when I have attended meetings
to design a landing page, stakeholders talk about
what they want on the page.

Everyone brings their ingenious idea, which is great.

However, they all lack a simple (yet most powerful) element.

Any guesses?

Well, who is the consumer of the landing page?

The consumer, isn‘t it?

Shouldn’t the page be designed around
the voice of the consumer?

How to assess if a landing page is congruent?

The No-Emotion Approach

Time to dissect.
(Hint: This will involve using the boring excel sheet)

Step1: Make three columns in an excel sheet-
LP element, LP Content, and Score.

Step2: List all the elements of the LP-
the headline, subheading, copy, media, form, and CTA.
Kill me if I am missing a thing here.

Step3: Grade the element based on its congruence with the campaign goal-
0 for no congruence, 1 for ok congruence,
and 2 for perfect alignment with the goal.

Alright, I get it.
You want me to give an example.

I searched for “waterproof hiking shoes mens
(Google actually suggested that when I typed in waterproof hiking shoes)

landing page optimization best practices 2018 omnidigit

Now, I was inclined to click on the ad
for Columbia given its price advantage.

Here is the landing page:

landing page optimization

The landing page is actually longer than the one shown above.

I have omitted the bottom portion that contained reviews.

But for the sake of this example, this will suffice.

LP ElementLP ContentScore (0,1,2)
HeadingColumbia Lakeview II Low Men’s Hiking Shoes1
Hero ShotPhoto of the shoe from different angle1
Product DetailsMaintain comfort on the trails when you wear these men’s Columbia Lakeview II Low Men’s Hiking Shoes1
CTAAdd To Bag1
CTA LinksAdd to Registry, Add to List, Find in Store1
Total5/10

We could add more elements from the LP.

But for this example, I just used five of them.

Let us analyze this again.

What were the keywords I used on Google?

waterproof hiking shoes mens

Since the heading does NOT contain the term “waterproof”,
it is not fully congruent to the google ad.
Hence it gets a 1 and not 2.

Similarly, the hero shots do not
show water-resistant feature, thus earning one point.

The same applies to product details.

I have given 1 for CTA and CTA links because
it is rather generic and does not encourage me to click on those.

For these reasons, on the congruence test,
this landing page had a 50% score.

You can apply the same principle to dissect any landing page
and understand how to improve individual elements.

Here I have laid down three essential questions to ask yourself to stay congruent:

  • What motivates my target audience?
  • How can my copy encourage them to take action?
  • Where would the user click when browsing through the landing page content?

These might sound simple, but hey,
we often ignore the simplest of things!

Landing Page Optimization: Segmentation

If you are sending your PPC, email,
and social media traffic to the same landing page,
you might want to revisit your strategy.

Each channel has a different tone.

Therefore, it is practical to send traffic from
different digital marketing channels to different landing pages.

This will help you measure the performance of
the channel(s) individually,
and thus help you calculate your ROI without any hassle.

It is also important to segment by user type.

You might not want to offer a men’s health supplement
to ladies after all!

Landing Page Optimization Best Practices 2018: Video

Most of us would rather watch a video than read a long page.

Correct?

Well, if we go by stats,
adding a video on a landing page
can improve conversion by up to 80%.

One of the best landing page examples in this context
is Dollar Shave Club.

OutBrain has done a good job of using video on their landing page.

landing page optimization

I particularly like the headline “Drive Quality Traffic To Your Site”.

Right on point there.

Authority badges such as TIME, Wired, and CNN etc.
add to the trust factor.

If I were to tweak this LP,
I would make sure that the logo is not clickable.

Why allow the user to exit?

In addition, the CTA color should not be the same as that of other buttons.

In this case, the “Create your campaign” CTA is orange.

So is the color of several other content elements on the page.

Conclusion

CRO is a science and an art.

It is not possible to cover conversion rate optimization in its entirety in a single blog post.

Hence, I will try my best to break it down into
simple-to-understand parts such as this post
on landing page optimization.

Many more to come. Stay tuned.

And do not forget to hit the comment button below
and share your experience with landing page optimization.

Bring it on marketers!

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