Landing page optimization is paramount to a successful enterprise. However, most upper management teams within companies are blind to the fact that their landing pages aren't useful and actually prevent conversion. Is it not obvious that a better converting landing page means more money for the company and isn't that the point of doing business?
Landing pages are created for the customer to convert and need to be designed and implemented with the actions you want them to take in mind. All your traffic sources lead to your landing pages so it makes sense to optimize them to make it as easy or attractive as possible for them to take that action. CPA (Cost per acquisition) is your CPC (Cost Per Click)/CR (Conversion Rate) and who doesn't want a higher conversion rate?
The fact is that CPC ad spending is going up and more people are starting to invest in campaign optimization strategies. The only way to "fight" in this market is to optimize your landing pages. The problem is that these landing pages are not created with the right mindset. Put simply, companies are not creating bang for their buck.
One of the biggest issues plaguing organization's today is the "battle" on who makes the decision in regards to the website. A popular example of this corporate bureaucracy is the camel, often referred to as "a horse designed by a committee". When things are designed by committee's too many people end up having input which results in a monstrosity. If landing pages are created for the customer, then let the customer design them. You must learn to give up the element of control.
Tim Ash provided a few of rules of thumb to successful landing page optimisation: "never let the BPU (Business prevention unit) (IT) make the decisions" and "eliminate the HIPPO (Highest paid persons opinion)". When creating these pages you must follow this golden rule: "Do onto others as they want done to them".
It's nice in theory to let the customer design the page however it's not possible to think like them. The only way we can shed light into the customer's mindset is through landing page analysis and by analyzing that information you can properly optimize your landing pages. Don't let a lack your traffic numbers prevent you from optimizing your landing pages. Even a few visitors can show your 'sins' and you will be able 'repent'.
Now to the 7 deadly sins (which really ended up being 8)
An unclear call to action
When a visitor first looks at your landing page the last question he is supposed to ask himself is "Hmm.... What I am supposed to do?". The required action should be clear and call out to him. This means getting rid of distracting elements such as splash pages and portals is essential to increasing your conversion rate. You should follow the obvious standard "If it's not obvious it's not happening".
Too many choices
People were not created with a large short-term memory so do not overload your visitors with too many choices. These confuse people and that's the last thing you want happening to your site visitors. If you have a large amount of choices present them as categories. This will enable the visitor to follow down the clear path they intended when they entered the site.
Asking for too much information
Most forms visitors fill out require them to enter too much useless information (e.g if I am going to download a white paper why do I need to put in my name let alone my birthday?). Narrow the choices down to EXACTLY what you need and don't let the BPU (see above!) near this choice.
Too Much Text
Every time you place text onto your site be sure to ask yourself, "Do I really expect people to read this?" Too much text can distract people from converting. Negate this issue by employing the inverted pyramid writing style used by journalists. Again, a rule of thumb to decrease the size of your paragraphs is to remove adjectives and unsubstantiated claims. This will make your pages more visually appealing and visitors will be more likely to convert.
Not keeping your promises
When you bring someone to your site promising some information, provide it in a straightforward way. You must make the offer available in an easy to find location so users may come to the site and use your offer. Don't make them jump through any hoops to get what you promised.
When people enter your site they often have no idea what to look for or where. Don't pollute your page with visual distractions. It will draw your visitor's attention away from the goal and then they will not convert. When creating a page leave your creativity at the door and design your pages for the users. This does not mean that your pages should be unprofessional but creative distractive visual elements will draw users attention away from the goal, which will not improve your bottom line.
Lack of Trust
People automatically trust popular and established brands. Conversely, when people are presented with a new brand they naturally hesitate to trust it. Many newer brands augment their trust and credibility of their website site by using various logo's and certifications that increase their website's credibility. These certifications are familiar to the visitor and offer assurance about using the site. You must place these trust symbols in a prominent location so people will see them and your sites 'trust rank' will increase in their eyes.
The following tools can help you optimize your landing pages for better conversions.
This guest post was written by Levi Gross from Leon & Levy, a firm specializing in SEO consulting.
The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates available through Sept 12. Register today!