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How to improve landing pages' effectiveness

What are landing pages?

Starting from the very basic, landing pages are single webpages. They are positioned as the first page a visitor sees when approaching your website from any angle. They differ from normal pages because they are focussed on one goal. The whole page is dedicated to providing the information the user will need to know when buying. All leading to one call to action.

Landing page vs normal page difference

Having this focus will help direct the customer through your website without distracting them with unrelated information. This makes them more likely to convert… into whatever you are trying to convert them into. Visitors to buyers? Visitors to subscribers? Visitors to frog royalty? The last probably being the rarest of them all.

Sometimes it might not be the best option to use a landing page. If you offer a range of products and the visitor doesn’t know exactly what they are looking for, you might be better offering a normal page of products. But for visitors arriving from a search which indicates they know what they need you should definitely meet them with a landing page.

Having dedicated and targeted landing pages will cut the amount of steps a visitor has to go through before they reach the checkout. Far more chance of them getting through the checkout.

steps from landing page to checkout

As you can see the targeted landing page will direct a visitor from seeing the product they wanted straight to the checkout. The typical main landing page for a website is the home page and it is far from focussed. I’m not saying that you should change that, home pages need to be less focused to encourage visitors to explore.

One landing page does not fit all though. There are a few things you need to think about when deciding whether you need a new landing page:

- What expectations were set

- Who has the expectations

- When were the expectations set

- How to meet the expectations

I’ll go through these one by one in a little more detail.

What expectations were set?

What you want to find out here is where the visitor is coming from and what they are looking for. This could be something you can just work out from experience, or it might need a survey or some analytics data.

Using what you know, you could get a general idea of the expectations that were set. For example take a look at this mock up PPC ad. If your company has created any PPC ads you will know which page it links to and the search terms it would appear for, so you should know what expectations you are setting.

What would you expect to see when you click through to the page? For me I’d expect to see a coffee grinder with a description, some images and a way to buy it. And that is all you should include on the page this links to.

If you have any sort of analytics set up on your website you will be able to use its power to see where any and all of the traffic to your site comes from. That includes what people type into search engines when they find your site.

If you don’t have the resources to make landing pages for every search query, the best thing to do is to find the search terms with the highest clicks and focus on those; take the top 5 and see how that goes before taking on more.

But if you have the resources, invest them in landing pages! Money makes money after all.

If you have a search engine optimisation (SEO) expert at hand then you should ask them for advice on which landing pages need the most improvement. They will know what that means.

If you’re the best you’ve got and you have access to analytics I can lend you a quick..ish guide on how to get a better idea which pages need improvement.

If you want to read the guide just click the title below... it won't link you to another page :).

My quick..ish guide

Getting a better idea

Login to Google analytics and click on the reporting tab.

Then down the left hand side choose ‘Acquisition’ ‘All Traffic’ then ‘Channels’.

Then select ‘Other’ from the primary dimension row, from the drop down either type in ‘Keyword’, or click ‘Acquisition’ then ‘Keyword’.

When the page reloads select ‘Secondary dimension’, type in some of ‘Landing Page’ and click ‘Landing Page’ when it appears.

This should show you a list of the keywords people use and the landing page they arrive on after clicking on a link for that search. If you don’t see any useful keywords, try clicking the ‘Keyword’ column to sort by keyword.

Note: A landing page here is just the first page a visitor gets to, not necessarily a dedicated landing page we plan on creating.

This page shows us some useful information about your acquired users and their behaviour. I’ll go through each column to explain.

Underneath ‘Sessions’, ‘% New Sessions’, ‘New Users’, ‘Bounce Rate’, ‘Pages/Session’ and ‘Avg. Session Duration’ there should be shown a global average for that value calculated across your site.

The best way to view this average is by using the ‘Comparison’ view option.

Here it is…

Once you click this you should only see 4 columns. The last column is the one we wanted and here it is to greet us, how nice.

By default it is set to show sessions compared to the site average. We will do a quick check through all the options to make sure everything is alright.

So what you should see for the default sorting is that landing pages have a higher percentage than most pages.

Now we should check how many sessions begin on your landing pages. This is going to indicate if the adverts, social sharing and organic search results are working or not.

Oh by the way, I suggest that you make a list…

This list should start with pages you know are supposed to be landing pages.

Add pages which aren’t performing well and note which of the following categories they don’t perform well in. We can use that information in combination to work out which need the most improvement and. Just before I teach you how to improve.

Drop down: % New Sessions

You can see how well a page does at starting sessions for both new and existing users. Any pages with a very low percentage and a big red bar show us that the organic, paid and social links are not doing enough to bring in new sessions.

Drop down: New Users

If we go into the same drop down box and choose ‘New Users’ we will see where people arrive when first discovering our website. This is different from ‘% New Sessions’ because it only shows new sessions by people who have never had a session before.

Drop down: Bounce Rate

With ‘Bounce Rate’ selected we can see how often people enter this page as their first page and then leave without interacting. And, as with all of the options, it is compared to the site average so that you can see any pages which stick out like a sore thumb.

Comparison time

These are the only three statistics here we need to pay attention to.

% New Sessions & Bounce Rate

By comparing the % New Sessions to the Bounce Rate you will be able to clearly see which pages are not matching the expectations of the visitors. Pages with a high % New Sessions are attracting visitors, which is a good thing, but if the page also has a high bounce rate, those visitors are not seeing what they expected on the page and the expectations need realigning, which I’ll go through later.

New Users, % New Sessions & Bounce Rate

If you have many New Sessions starting from your landing pages and a high percentage of those are new users (compared to the rest of your site) then your adverts and links are working amazingly well, keep it up.

However, if you see any with a high Bounce Rate again this is telling us that visitors aren’t finding what they expected to find and so many of those New Users might have bought what they were expecting to see.

You should have a good idea about which landing pages need changing, or even need newly creating. Just bring that list with you to the next section and begin working out improvements.

Getting back to business

So do you have the list of landing pages you have set up in your website? Maybe you have added a few you didn’t know were often the first page people saw? You should have also marked any which aren’t performing well in one of the above categories.

Or maybe you skipped that section altogether?

Who has the expectations?

As well as knowing what expectations were set you will need to know who has the expectations. If you know this you will have a chance to repair your fishing net so to speak. Filling the gaps in the net so that you have a better chance of catching those fish that would usually slip right through.

To make it a bit clearer what I’m babbling about read my story example.

A man is in his kitchen making his morning coffee. He has never liked instant coffee. This means that he would have to spend 30 minutes of his morning to prepare his fresh coffee.

But he can’t stand to miss the feeling of calm as he sips his coffee in the comfort of his favourite chair.

“This is the only way I can imagine starting my day” he thinks to himself.

So every day he takes the mortar and pestle, places 10 coffee beans inside and begins grinding them down.

Once he has finished he adds the ground coffee and some water to a cafetiere, places it on the stove and waits in his chair.

One day, pouring his coffee he thinks to himself “I wonder if anyone has invented an automatic coffee grinder”.

Since it’s the 21st century, he opens his laptop and does a ‘something’ search for ‘automatic coffee grinder’ and clicks on the first result which, because of all your Pay Per Click (PPC) efforts, is your page.

If you haven’t thought about the people like this man who are coming from a very specific angle, you will have a page like this

It is still a very good landing page for most visitors; but this man would say “Hmm, I was looking for a coffee grinder not a coffee maker… I’ll look somewhere else”

But if you have thought of this…

“Wow” he thinks “not only does it grind the coffee but it brews it too!”

And you know he will save more than enough time to give his chair all the attention it needs.

There is so much about who the visitor is which could change how effective your landing page is to them personally. The key is thinking about the visitors as people with their own life and their own preferences. I know it sounds pretty straight forward, but most of the time one size does not fit all.

Some people are less familiar with your type of product than the average person and others are more familiar. But should both be met with a detailed description as to what your product does?

You should agree that the answer is no, though you don’t have to agree at all. You could have a very specific situation where both people should see the same landing page and would benefit from it.

People have different:

- Levels of knowledge

- Taste

- Buying routines

- Buying modalities

- Budgets

- Many many more…

And there is always the language gap. Not between different languages, but within a language itself. A word could mean one thing to one person and something entirely different to the next or maybe they don’t know what it means at all, or they have a close idea but nothing exactly correct.

How to meet the expectations

As you might have been told by multiple blogs over the past few years, a human’s attention span is said to be less than a goldfish’s. So that means you have around 8 seconds to throw as much important information at the visitor as possible to convince them it is worthwhile to hang around and read on or at least they go away remembering the key points.

A normal page will have too much going on to meet the expectations of the visitor within those 8 seconds.

Though personally I do think that those 8 seconds are going to vary hugely from person to person as well as from website to website and product to product etc… Basically don’t stick too strictly to the 8 seconds attention span.

Layout

Having the right layout is the first step you need to take in creating or improving your landing pages.

The typical landing page is like a refined product page, so if you don’t know where to start just look at your product page first. This should give you a rough list of what you will need to include in the landing page.

The required content will change from product to product but here is a generic checklist.

- Large, high quality images

- Header

- Sub-header

- Benefit 1 to X

- Call to action(s)

So you’ve got your checklist and now you can start gathering the content to fill this checklist.

Always remember that it needs to meet the expectations set where the visitor came from.

Modern landing pages look something like this…

average landing page layout 2015 template idea

Trust features

These can appear near any call to action to reassure visitors of your brand if they are not familiar with it. I placed them at the bottom of the page on my example because I would be hoping to guide the majority of people to the bottom of the page after at least glancing at my images and sifting through my lovely copy.

Call to action (CTA)

In the picture you’ll notice there are only two CTAs. Though I haven’t included much detail in the page overall most landing pages should not include very many CTAs. The fewer the better to be honest.

Decreasing the amount of CTAs you have on your page increases the focus. When considering adding more just consider if that CTA will dilute the page and distract visitors from clicking the main CTA or will it add to the value of the page.

Some CTAs that would add value are:

- Small CTAs for more details on features

- Small CTAs for accessories for the main product

- 1 or 2 CTAs for upselling options.

These all benefit the page overall.

Style

You don’t have to be too strict with the style as most people aren’t style analysts and will not notice small differences in style. It is important to match the style roughly though.

People will notice if you advertise in an informal friendly voice and then change to a formal distant voice. It, along with other factors, might even mean that visitors lose trust in the company they are spending money with.

Images

It is essential that you use high quality images of the product in action. Keeping in mind the whole meeting expectations thing I’ve mentioned once or twice, you could try to find out what people want to know about how your product can be used and show images of that use.

If you have an F.A.Q section on your website just use the top questions from there. You can answer their question and stimulate their imagination with just an image.

Copy/Text

This is arguably the most important part of the landing page.

You can have a bad layout and images but still convert visitors because of your amazing copy.

But you can’t have bad copy and still convert visitors because of your amazing images and layout.

It just won’t work, you have their attention because of the nice pictures but when they want more details you just don’t deliver. Or your layout guides them perfectly to your lacklustre copy.

Creating Lustre-ful copy takes a lot of thought and so I will go into much detail to try and ease the strain of thought by explaining some concepts used for copywriting.

4 Modalities of buying

When a person is looking to buy something they can be in one of the four modalities; Competitive, Spontaneous, Methodical and Humanistic. These four sections are split based on fast or slow decisions and logical or emotional decisions, you can’t have a slow fast decision or a logical emotional decision so there is only 4 outcomes. You can see them in the image below.

the buying modalities. buying moods

The goal is to tailor your copy so that it appeals to all 4.

So how do you do this?

To appeal to the Competitive – Quick and logical

- Give them the choice

Using upselling you could offer a better and worse option to give them the choice. It is also quite common to price all three in a way which makes a certain one seem far better value than the rest. But whether you do that or not is totally your choice, some people feel like they are being played if they figure this out. Be careful of offending your customers.

- What can your product do for them?

People in the competitive modality want reasons why they should buy your product right then. You could respond with your competitive advantages stating what makes yours the best.

- Ask questions (they seek answers)

Because of the speed at which the competitive modality makes decisions you will have to try and give them as much information as possible as quickly as possible. Questions will help keep them engaged with the content, increasing their chance to read more or let’s face it scan read some of the words.

- State your achievements and awards with badges and ribbon

Images are processed much faster than text, so when it comes to stuff like this why not use some nice imagery? Don’t go overboard with it though; just the most important ones should be shown.

To appeal to the Spontaneous – Quick and emotional

- Save them time

Like the Competitive, the Spontaneous makes decisions quickly. Make sure you tell them how much time they can save with your solution. They will love that… or strongly like.

- Reassure them with guarantees, returns and insurance information

With their history of quick decisions they have no doubt made a bad one where they wanted to return the item or get a refund. So now they will keep a look out for anything that tells them they won’t have trouble with this.

- Have a simple flow to the information

Judgements are made pretty quickly, so make sure you have a simple flow to your copy and page overall.

- Use three simple steps, easy as 1 2 3

Let them know early on that it will not take up very much of their precious time to sign up to your service or buy your product by simplifying the steps and displaying them as step 1, 2 and 3.

- Include timers for offers

If you have any offers shown on the page, including a expiry timer will often poke the spontaneous into purchase .e.g. purchase before 1pm for next day delivery. Though in some cases it might be more harmful to the slower buying modalities as they will likely work out that it is just a tactic to make them buy. Use with caution.

- Help them choose to save time

If you choose to include more than one main CTA you should add a little box saying “Most popular” to the most popular option.

Spontaneous “I’m in a hurry so I don’t have time to research which is the best option… hmm these people all chose this option, they have done the research for me.”

P.S it doesn’t have to be little or a box.

To appeal to the Methodical – Slow and logical

- Provide more details somewhere

All this simplifying to attract attention, keep attention and quickly get information across will not possibly be able to cover all that could be said about your product. Well, unless you make the world’s longest landing page, which would defeat the point.

Methodicals are the only modality to read everything and still seek more information. So make sure you provide it all somewhere. You could increase the information density the further down the page you scroll or the most common technique, link off to more information after each feature statement.

- Details need to be accurate

As well as reading all the information they can, methodicals will also scrutinise everything. If you make a claim, make sure you back it up with evidence somewhere.

To appeal to the Humanistic – Slow and emotional

- Advertise customer service and live chat

The humanistic take their time to decide but are looking for more emotional proof that your product is worth buying.

Clearly showing your customer service options will encourage the humanistic to continue to research your product.

- Include storytelling

If you have a feature you want to show off, why not use a situation where that feature can be used by someone. This will kick-start their imagination, and hopefully get them excited to use the product for themselves.

- Use testimonials

As the Humanistic modality searches for reasons to buy your product, you should meet them with testimonials. Reading about the experiences other people have had in their words will really impress and inspire the humanistic modality. Obviously you will have to gather the testimonials first, but how hard could that be? Your product is great… I’m assuming.

Overall

So combining them all you should have a simple flow which includes achievements, awards, returns, warrantee, customer service channels and amazing pictures. Then for the Methodical, ‘learn more’ buttons under sections which have more details to be explained.

Copywriting techniques

Writing compelling copy can be hard, but in order to create a great landing page it is essential.

Between these three copywriting techniques you will be able to write more condensed copy and display with a planned and structured flow.

All three are very similar; all that differs is the order at which you deliver each bit of information.

PAS

The Problem-Agitate-Solution technique starts with the:

Problem

Do you buy fresh coffee beans and have to grind them by hand?

Now Agitate the problem

On average, 40 days of a person’s life are spent grinding coffee beans.

Finally provide your Solution

Cut your coffee brewing time in half with the Coffeematic 4000. From fresh bean to hot brew.

BAB

The Before-After-Bridge technique starts with:

Life Before your solution

40 days of a person’s life are wasted on grinding coffee beans by hand.

A glimpse of life After your solution

Imagine if you could have freshly ground coffee and all that extra time.

Bridge the gap by showing them your solution

We are here to tell you that it is possible. The Coffeematic 4000 not only grinds the coffee beans for you, but brews the perfect cup every time.

4 P’s

The Promise-Paint-Proof-Push technique doesn’t sound good like that, stick with the 4 P’s. The first of the 4 P’s is to:

Promise them they can benefit

Did you know you could halve the time it takes to make your morning coffee and still make it from freshly ground beans?

Paint a picture of what that benefit will do for them

Just imagine what you could do with that time. Relax? Make a hot breakfast? Read the news? Watch the next episode of that series you are watching?

Provide Proof that your solution works

In fact, one of our customers spent her extra time gardening and now sells her plants to the local garden center.

Push the sale using references to the other P’s

Why don’t you free up your mornings with the Coffeematic 4000? It grinds fresh beans and brews your perfect coffee every time.

The End

Obviously this guide doesn’t cover all there is to know about landing pages. It was just all I could think was relevant at the time. I will revisit landing pages if I ever come across anything else that might help.

That aside I hope that this guide does help you capture those elusive web users.

Remember to find out where you need landing pages, then find out what expectations are set and meet them.

If you need any help with your landing pages, we would be happy to help… just call or send an email. Click here for details Contact us.

 

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