It seems like everyone is talking about landing pages again. Having been in this business for a while, I notice these cyclical trends. As the summer months roll around, we often see talk turning to landing pages. Why? Well, my guess is that historically in most industries the summer is a slow time for conversions.
When conversions slow down, we start to look for the reasons. Seasonality is usually the last thing on the list of likely causes for conversion slippage; so another aspect of the campaign has to take the blame. Hence, the landing page blame game.
Look Before You Leap
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to look at your landing pages constantly, testing and tweaking to get that perfect combination of interesting information and eye-popping graphics. I’m just saying that before you go all wild with your Web designer, it might be a good idea to take a look at the other aspects of your campaign before you go creating a new landing page with 12 Ajax wizards, a Flash intro, and a picture of a scantily clad model hocking your product.
Last year around this time, I failed to recognize the summer trend of clients flocking to landing-page optimization and dutifully applauded as several clients tweaked their landing pages, some with disastrous effects. This year, I’m taking a different approach. Below is my step-by-step checklist that will effectively tell you if you need a landing page overhaul.
Checklist for Landing Page Overhaul
- Look at historical data if you have it. How well was your site converting this time last year? If your site had lower conversions during this period last year, whether you had the landing page in question or not is paramount to understanding whether the landing page has stopped performing or is merely performing the same in a lesser universe.
- Check your campaign. The change history in Google is an excellent way to see what changes were made the day your conversions died. If your site is slowly walking into the dwindling conversions sunset, then that’s one thing. If there was a big drop-off, that’s another and can usually be attributed to one of three things – a decline in interest in your product or service, an unfortunate bidding or creative tweak in the campaign, or a tweak in the landing page. Big drop-offs almost universally happen for a reason. Find that reason and correct it.
- If you are trending toward lower conversions, check the rest of your campaign. This is the time when a new landing page might make the most sense; but don’t launch a new page without first performing a simple A/B test to see if the new page will actually perform better than the old page. If you can run a multivariate testing program, even better.
- Make sure that it's not just the “I’m sick of this page” syndrome. We all fall victim to this. You get tired of looking at the same pages over and over again. But if a page is working, there is no sense in implementing a change for change's sake. If you want to change, build your new page and run a simple A/B test against the old page. See which one performs better.
- Check your Google quality score. If you have old landing pages that are “pathless” or without navigation, realize those pages are not going to receive a high Google quality score. Those pages do need to be replaced.
Follow these guidelines, and I’m sure you’ll be able to navigate through the minefield of landing page implementation.