In this article, I’m going to give you a glimpse into the secret life of a conversion rate optimizer. I’m going to share with you how to tear apart any page like a conversion optimization ninja. This is your complete guide to a landing page analysis.
What I do as a CRO might sound very violent — ninja, tearing stuff apart, dragon stars, flaming fireballs …
It’s really not that bad. Looking at a landing page is often cold, impassioned, calculated and highly analytical.
My goal in this article is, first, to introduce you to some of the principles of conversion rate optimization in practice. Theory is great. But unless you know how to apply theory, it’s useless.
Second, my goal is to help you look at your own website and landing page with conversion optimization skills.
This is easier said than done. The process that I describe below isn’t that hard. But detaching yourself from your landing pages is quite challenging.
The CRO’s greatest advantage is not that he knows lots of stuff about conversion, although that helps. The CRO’s greatest advantage is that he is totally unattached from the landing pages that he is analyzing.
- He doesn’t see them every day. They’re unfamiliar. He can look at them with fresh eyes.
- He didn’t design them. He’s invested nothing personally into creating them.
- He doesn’t care who worked on them. He doesn’t have any hard feelings toward the creators, and wouldn’t care if they had hard feelings toward him.
- He doesn’t care how much they cost to assemble. His only interest is in making sure that your business becomes more profitable going forward.
Those are major advantages. You have to get in the right mindset if you want to tear apart your page like a conversion optimization ninja.
You have to take a step back mentally and emotionally from your landing pages. Only then are you ready to launch into an all-out nunchuk-swinging, tanto-wielding ninjutsu-fest.
A Two-Step Tear-Down Process
Analyzing a landing page for its conversion potential is a process, and I will describe it for you.
There are two simple steps:
- The gut analysis
- The detailed analysis.
It’s not going to seem all that scientific, especially at first. However, as I explain it to you, I think you’ll start to understand why and how this is the best process for approaching a landing page.
During this process, you must be taking notes. You won’t remember everything in your stream-of-consciousness as you look at and respond to a landing page.
Your first impressions of a landing page are the most important. And you only get one opportunity to have a first impression of a landing page.
Before you begin, take out legal pad or open up a new document in Google Drive or elsewhere. For your ease, I have created a Google Drive template that you can use to record your thoughts.
What do I feel as the page loads?
This is the split-second, gut-reaction phase. You’re looking for sensations here. Open up your mind, and just take note of your feelings. Nothing heavy.
Jot down what you feel. Busy? Noisy? Cluttered? Clean? Exciting? Outdated? Scary?
Remember, you only have one opportunity to analyze the page like this. It’s your first impression.
When I checked out the page for Tire Kingdom, I was looking for an oil change. (Query: “Oil change service.”)
My immediate reaction was, “Waaaay too much going on!” That’s all. No analysis. No objective consideration of CTAs. Just, “Wow. Wha- What? Guys, help!”
What do I see?
Now that your initial getting-acquainted period has ended, what are the most noticeable things on the page? What stands out to you?
Take note of where your eyes are moving on the page. You don’t need any eye-tracking software. You just need to be aware.
As I opened up this landing page for TruGreen, I found my eyes scanning the headline and catching the vivid green of the color scheme. Then, immediately, my eyes were drawn to the orange circles. This, in turn, drew my eyes to the custom quote and easy conversion.
What do I read?
Don’t transcribe what you read, but rather note what is most noticeable. Do you understand it? Does it grab your attention? How does it make you feel? Jot down some of these feelings and observations.
Remember, what you read is affected by what you feel and see. In my analysis of the landing page below, I see the picture before I read the headline. The first thing I’m thinking is, “Why is this dude not wearing any clothes? What’s he doing, anyway? Why the smirk? What does this have to do with identity protection?”
It’s not until I read the text that I realize, “Oh, he must be at the beach, not having a care in the world, because he’s using LifeLock! And I’m sure he’s wearing clothes. I’m positive.”
As to the text itself, LifeLock’s landing page starts things off with a nice, strong headline with a good follow-up second deck (in and Always-Connected World).
I find myself skipping through the boring lead copy. It has long words (“comprehensive,” “identity,” “protection”) and boring words (“identity,” “safeguard,” “finances,” “credit”), and hyphenated words (“always-connected”). Plus, with an awkward and complex sentence structure, I’m nonplussed as to what they’re trying to say.
The CTA, though. That’s strong. I like.
What do I do?
What is the next action that you perform or want to perform? Do you want to leave the page? Do you scroll downward? Do you click on a button? Do you click on a form? Jot down your most obvious response and any obstacles that you felt.
I’ll use LifeLock as an example again, because I think their landing page has a pretty typical setup. There are two potential actions (three if you count the phone number). I can either “get protected” or scroll down. This is a strategic approach, because a user will either convert immediately or discover more, based on their position in the conversion funnel.
2. The Detailed Analysis
Once you’ve gone through a gut-feeling overview, you’re in a good position to do a more detailed analysis.
Many times, I find myself lurching uncontrollably into detailed analysis, even while I’m in the gut-phase of the process. This is okay. As long as I’m able to keep myself aware of the process, and not get carried away with detailed analysis, I’m able to both conduct the gut-analysis and the detailed analysis sufficiently.
Knowledge: Do I have enough knowledge to compel me to stay?
First off, you want to slay the bounce dragons. What you don’t want is for people to leave the page without scrolling, looking, reading and clicking.
The headline and images are the most important ingredients for compelling people to stay on the page.
Here are the questions to ask:
- Is there a headline? If there is a headline (and there should be), then you’re looking for two more important features of that headline.
○ Visual: Is it large and obvious? Headlines and images are the two most important attention-grabbing elements on the page. More than anything else, these two ingredients will cause the landing page to either be successful or to fail. If a landing page doesn’t have a compelling headline and imagery, it fails, regardless of how good it does in the rest of the analysis.
○ Information: Does the headline explain what the product or service is? Does it help the user understand how the product or service is used? Does it describe the benefits or features of the landing page? The headline doesn’t need to answer all the questions, but it should answer some.
- Are there images? Do they back up the product or service? Keep in mind that images serve a purpose. They are not there simply to pretty-up the page, although that is a factor. They are there to reinforce your message. All images should be attention-grabbing and relevant. Images are a crucial component to knowledge. The cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” suggests that a picture is a source of knowledge.
- Is there a sub-headline? Is it clear and focused? Once you’ve hooked users with your headline and imagery, they will read the sub-headline. This line or two of text should serve to advance your cause — making them interested and making them stay.
In this stage, you’re looking for knowledge. No one converts in ignorance. They are looking for knowledge that will advance them to a new level of engagement.
Persuasion: Does this copy affect me?
The second main objective of a landing page is to persuade the user. The first section, knowledge, is all about making the user stay. This second section is all about winning the user to your viewpoint.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
- Is there sufficient copy to answer all my questions and concerns? The landing page can be long-form or it can be short. It just needs to be appropriate for both the user and the product or service.
- Does the copy identify my need correctly? Landing pages should match the user’s intent. If you create an entire landing page, but it’s disconnected from the user’s intent, then it’s useless.
- Does the copy describe the benefits of the product or service? Customers are more interested in benefits then they are in needs. Most of the time, the customer already knows their needs and how your product will meet those needs. What they will be sold on is benefits, not needs.
- Does the copy answer my questions? Invariably, a user will have questions. The landing page needs to be smart enough to intuit those questions, and effective enough to answer those questions.
- Does the copy deal with my objections? What objections might the user have to the product or service? Are the benefits strong enough to overcome those objections? Does the persuasion handle those objections?
- Does the copy make me feel pain, and offer a resolution? The most effective landing pages will help the user feel some sense of pain, even if it’s just a little bit. If there is pain, there should also be resolution.
Action: Can I convert easily?
Finally, it’s time to analyze the conversion elements. This is crucial stuff. This is where the user will or won’t convert.
- Is there a conversion action? First of all, make sure that there is a conversion available. Believe it or not, I’ve seen people create landing pages with no conversion action or CTA. That’s kind of making a car without an engine. It’s useless.
- Is the conversion action appropriate? What does the landing page ask for? Email address? Learn more? Buy now? Sign up for a free trial? The conversion action should correspond with the product or service and the user intent.
- Is it obvious? The CTA should be in your face. Give some attention to color psychology here. Every CTA should be differentiated by color, size, position, shape, texture and whatever other design magic you choose to pull out. Most CTAs will be a button.
Conclusion: After you tear it down, build it up.
The whole point of this article is not to engage in wanton destruction of a landing page. You tear down so you can build up.
The notes that you take on your landing page analysis will form the building plan for a new landing page. If the landing page tear down left you with very broken pieces, then it may be a pretty strong landing page. Go ahead and do some A/B testing to find those little spots of improvement.
If your teardown has left you with a heap of rubble, then it may be best to build things from the ground up.
What are some of your techniques for a landing page analysis?