I’ve been thinking a lot about landing page conversion lately, and read quite a bit about it. When I was a super affiliate (years gone by) maximizing conversions was always top of mind, and it sort of slipped from that vaulted position as I became more and more focused on specializing in SEM. It shouldn’t have, but it did.
BUT after years of experience, research and seeing how things work on numerous sites across multiple industries, as well as chatting with experts focused on core deliverables, this is a list of my ‘ultimate conversion tips’ with a short list of links to other fantastic, and more comprehensive, conversion tip posts, documents and articles.
Conversion Tips – Get Started People!
I’m going to make a few very basic assumptions:
- Traffic should be sent to relevant, quality, targeted pages,
- Design should avoid clutter and navigation on dedicated landing pages should be minimal,
- Content should get to the point with a relevant large headline <h1> with key content above the fold, even if the page is very long,
- Promissory enticements, and repeat calls to action are important, but histrionic copy may detract from authenticity and the perception of trustworthiness; things like ‘Today only!’, ‘You’ll regret it if you don’t buy it RIGHT NOW!’, and other dire declarations common to pushy sales-men.
- Testimonials, reviews and statements must all be true, but more importantly, verifiable
With those out of the way, I’ll head on into a countdown of the top 10 conversion tips I personally have found really make a difference throughout my experience.
10. Make your add-to-cart buttons exactly that – ‘add to cart’1. The button colour can also have an effect – depending on industry. In many cases I have found it is not a significant factor, but a charity site found that green definitely contributed to online donations2.
9. Understand your target market. Know what they like online. Even if you don’t have dedicated usability studies and access to paid research faculties, it’s actually pretty easy to check (give yourself a reasonably wide margin of error and narrow it with tests). Use Google Ad Planner (beta) to find sites that appeal to your target audience, and analyze them. Then to get an idea of their PPC spend, projected revenue and more, Adgooroo (or free similar products) can provide insights. Take that data and extrapolate out using your tailored SEO equation. It’s guestimates in some cases, but it does usually give you a pretty good idea of what is and isn’t working, what your audience likes and does not like in terms of design, content – and it’s always important to filter and sort by industry to get trends for relevant tactics and strategies for your own industry/site.
8. Your online (web) and offline (retail) competitors may well be different, but keeping track of what both are doing online is very important. If you can see they’re testing something, mark it down for a future test yourself. If it’s something you’ve done already you can make a note of their approach and any differences. Following up again with a similar test is not a bad idea to glean learning’s, unless your first test was a total bust – in which case you’re ahead of the curve – a nice place to be. Conduct a usability study of their page, take the learning’s and run with them. Learn from their victories and their mistakes.
7. Usability has already been mentioned a few times, so in essence if the term is new to you – it’s about how fast the essence and functionality of a page is communicated, and how quickly and effectively it is engaged. Show your page to folks outside of your department who fit into you general demographic (age/sex/geo-location) and give them 6-8 seconds maximum to tell you what they think the page:
- is about,
- if they like it,
- if they would leave it,
- what stands out,
- if they would bookmark it.
Like Family Fortunes – quick, fast and fun. Have competitions for a free lunch for the team who agree (or disagree) the most. If they take more than 8 seconds to tell you what the page is about – you got a problem. If they want to leave it – problem. If nothing stands out – being unmemorable is bad from a landing page perspective as far as return conversions are concerned – and while they’re not generally the target, your audience may be characterized by research-and-select based behaviour and you need them to remember your page one way or the other; tag-line, brand name, imagery, propensity to bookmark (you need to offer that functionality)… figure out what it is they use to remember you by testing. Be as usable and user-friendly to your users as possible without being a kid’s game site, unless that’s what you are…
6. Bear in mind email, DM, banner ad, TV ad, radio ad etc web landing pages are all different, or should be. Each target market demographic is different in some way; older/younger; attentive/inattentive; employed/stay-at-home; employed/retired; busy/bored and so forth.
If you can target your landing pages to convert the demographic you are specifically targeting, it’s all the better. That requires in-company communications and campaign scheduling. It also requires getting full details from your TV/radio/print(where-ever) folks to make sure you have a heads up to online-target the right folks with the best content and design, at the right time with effective use of your vanity URL. Clearly you’ll have vanity URL’s to effectively track activity, as well as a crack phone team/different call-in numbers.
This is about conversion. There are a lot of different sources you need to consider for inclusion as separate entities in your armament .
5. If your conversion page includes a form, keep the mandatory elements for completion to a minimum. Not ideal for market research sure, but ideal for conversion. Include auto fills wherever possible, make it as easy as you can. Tick email sign-ups and notifications ‘OFF’ and encourage click to subscribe with enticing content offers/future discounts – whatever your product/service and market may find of interest. Don’t leave it clicked as ‘Yes/Opt-in’ unless at the bottom of the form, and even then be careful. Encourage them to want to hear more from you. Experienced web writers can effectively manage that conundrum. I’ve seen it work. The objective is initial conversion – repeat conversion is a somewhat different animal. Focus on your core objective with your landing page.
4. A lot of folks find that the ability to print a pdf to refer to is of use. This is especially of interest when it comes to big purchase decisions. Make sure those pages have everything they need with a print option. If you can manage to include a print coupon or discount percentage on print only with clear legalese to that effect that’s even better for the end user when they are doing their comparisons. Stress your tech specs/reviews/price/capacity/capability/functionality/requirements/ whatever are your selling points. Make sure the pdf is usably designed, and always leave a clear link to the dedicated, targeted conversion page they first found in the copy that can both be easily typed into a browser, or clicked to via a pdf. It’s all about the conversion.
3. Make it easy for comparison shoppers. More and more people are using sites like pricegrabber/ebay/amazon/kijiji etc to search. Review and check pricing on products and services. You don’t have to be cheapest. You do need to be the most informative, authoritative and have a track record of delivery and performance – reviews are becoming more and more important. Even if you don’t have them on your site, enable them via your third party online vendors. Pay attention to what peeps are doing in terms of CTR and conversion, and also pay attention to your review commentary. Pass it to R&D and support. Conversion optimization is not a silo effect. You need to feed your learning’s on.
2. A/B test everything. The copy/size/colours/placement of your buttons; the functionality of your page; headlines; copy length/grammar/formality; image size/colour variation/placement/ type; text size and colour; page layout/design and navigation placement; the navigation itself; calls to action. Visual click heat-maps are great to gain an understanding of paths of interest as well as which areas of the page are underperforming, or which buttons/calls-to-action/links are underperforming. Moving, changing and testing can give you the best possible design, content, and conversion tactics if you do it consistently and with accurate, quality tools.
1. It’s a harsh truth, but a necessary one that many affiliates would agree with even if reluctantly; while you can master – and I mean guru status – 1 (maybe 2 specialties) in general; ‘a-jack-of-all-trades is master-of-none’. If you really want to make a difference in terms of landing page conversion, you need a specialist. If possible, you should have a team of specialists each contributing their own dedicated area of expertise to maximize your users landing page exposure and experience and thus your own conversions;
- hire an SEM for SEO and PPC,
- a social expert for SMM,
- an expert web copy writer for web writing,
- a proven web designer for landing page design,
- an experience designer for additional conversion tips and tricks, as well as
- a qualified web tester to handle your actual testing.
Of course not every business can afford a perfect ‘dream-team’, but if you know what you want to achieve, and give yourself time to achieve it that is realistic and dependant on your resourcing (people or time) limitations, there is no reason that a smaller team of dedicated pros willing to get down and dirty with research and testing can’t make a significant difference to your conversion rates. I speak from experience when I say it’s tough out there, and it’s getting tougher. As a man (or woman) alone, you’ll get there, but it will take you a lot longer, so use the net to gain from other’s experiences to simplify your own learning curve. Bigger businesses can afford dream teams, and those teams perform. Depending on what you’re selling online, it is imperative to your businesses or sites survival and continuance that you be able to compete at some level.
Happy conversions folks!
2 http://www.donordigital.com/projects/donordigital_donation_page_optimization_research.pdf – the bottom of this article includes links to an additional 2 research articles:
- Improving Conversion 50-60% by Applying Continuity and Congruence
- 7 rules for landing page optimization
- Unbounce.com ebook – 101 Landing page tips
- Seldomstatic.com – Top landing page tips from the pros
- eMarketing Testing – Conversion Papers