Guidance for e-commerce, marketing and SaaS directors, managers, analysts and specialists.
Following someone’s “expert” tips and tricks will not optimize your landing page.
To optimize a landing page is to make it as good or effective as possible for the specific users it is meant for.
Landing page optimization is an ongoing process only undertaken after developing a solid UVP that targets a valid buyer persona.
Landing page optimization is a phrase almost all marketers will search at some point in time, regardless of their technical acumen. The plethora of data supporting this claim is overwhelming.
Landing page optimization is often referred to in our niche as a service, when in reality it’s a conversion optimization tactic that targets a specific page within a specific campaign.
As always, our quest is not only the “what” but the “why.” If the concept of landing page optimization is by our definition nebulous, why is there such a disconnect inherent in the search intent of seasoned marketers who know they are probably going to land on some site that offers tips and tricks? Tips and tricks, for that matter, that are baseless, often misleading ideas that almost always pertain to a very specific user segment and customer journey.
There may be a simple explanation as to why landing page optimization is often thought as of a service vs. a tactic.
Most of us who use the Internet seek free information and/or hope to get a quick-fix answer to a question that may actually be a very complex issue. In reality, the information we find typically provides a mere Band-Aid, even though our internal expectation is that we will find the magic bullet.
Sadly, there are few magic bullets in this life.
A Quick-and-Easy LPO Fix is No Fix
Whether you need quick answers to a current conversion problem you think stems from a landing page flaw or you are looking for an expert consultant whose only job is to get results and help you grow as a marketer, you are starting in the right place.
If you are here, you are at the top of your research funnel trying to look for the right consultant (not agency) to hire to fix an immediate problem or help implement a long-term proven approach to what you believe is a landing page optimization problem.
You’ll find that several conversion shops around the globe focus heavily on landing page optimization. There are several theories about that, one being that most marketers tend to believe that it’s the most important part of the conversion optimization process. From a logical standpoint, that argument might hold true. Let’s look at why:
- The landing page is the final stage before the last conversion piece on the site, the ultimate macro goal or call to action. Typically this means revenue. If, however, you are optimizing for leads, you could be turning on faucets of leads and getting them, but with few to no conversions resulting in revenue.
- You can get quick wins by focusing on one landing page versus the entire site. If you qualify that statement a bit and hone in on the PPC side of inbound, then you might get away with saying, yes, you should focus on this one page in a PPC campaign. But in reality, how many people hit one page of a given site and are ready to convert? That’s a tough sell in any market.
- Many marketers believe that landing page optimization is a result of A/B testing and you can’t have one without the other. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A/B testing is a process that is part of landing page optimization. Conducting A/B testing and using the “winning” iteration is not the be all and end all of landing page optimization.
Someone who knows a little about landing page optimization can jump right in, go down their checklist and make recommendations that will often create double-digit lifts immediately. Most will agree that having experience is one of the key factors in obtaining optimal results. However, being an “expert,” per se, is not necessarily knowing 100 percent of the time what to do but, more important, is being able to identify pitfalls before they happen. This saves a ton of time and money in the long run.
The Reality of Landing Page Optimization
You might run into a few dead ends if you look for a definition of “landing page optimization” online. You’re likely to find a decent definition of “landing page,” something like “a website page to which visitors arrive via paid or organic search or a direct link, and at which product or service descriptions and a direct solicitation urge the user to take some action,” i.e., convert. But the “optimization” part of the definition is typically implied with a list of bankable things a consultant can do for you instead of being spelled out.
The problem is thinking of LPO in terms of “optimization” as a noun, a thing to sell. Instead, let’s look at is a verb, an action to take. How shall we optimize your landing page?
Merriam-Webster tells us that to optimize is “to make (something) as good or as effective as possible.” Others tell us that, in the computer world, to optimize is to rearrange or rewrite (data, software, etc.) to improve efficiency of retrieval or processing.
If you’re the user of a landing page, would you prefer it to be as good or effective as possible, or that it is efficient in retrieval or processing? Probably both, all in all, but being as good or effective as possible serves a website user more directly.
Landing page optimization means to effect opportunities for conversions on a web page by fulfilling the needs of users/customers attracted to the page through paid or organic search, a link or another direct referral.
A potential customer who comes to your landing page should be able to quickly and easily:
- Recognize the subject of the page as what they were looking for,
- Comprehend the unique value proposition of the specific product(s) or service(s) described on the page, and
- Understand and complete a response to the page’s call to action.
The hitch is that we’ve boiled down eleventy-million user thoughts and actions (give or take) into those three bullet points.
Some concepts that contribute to landing page optimization, which are consistent throughout most conversion services sites that you will come across, are:
- Headline optimization
- Hero image optimization (visual representation of your product)
- Proof points in the copy
- Form optimization
- Third-party endorsements (trust elements).
The first three, you’ll notice, are about the page’s descriptive content. The bullet points refer to technique – big headlines with subheads; sharp, professionally produced images; case studies, academic studies and other copy to back up what you’re saying – but the content itself must all support and promote your unique value proposition, or UVP. If you do not have a well-defined UVP that is codified for the specific product or service that your landing page is about, you are shooting without a target.
And the UVP starts not with the product, but with the customer, or buyer persona. You must understand who it is you’re trying to reach and provide the value of your product to, who it is whose needs you will fulfill if only they will answer your CTA. Developing a valid and usable buyer persona requires understanding (i.e., researching) a variety of demographic and psychographic data about your customer base and validating it (i.e., testing).
Only then can your content, from headlines to body copy, bullet points, photos, CTA, forms, design, etc., be created so that your landing page targets your potential customers for this specific campaign and makes them understand how to make the conversion you are seeking, and why it is to their benefit to do so.
And this is why we say landing page optimization typically occurs late in the overall conversion optimization process. Of course, in many cases a consultant can help you by correcting any obvious missteps on your landing page, punching up your content and testing some alternatives to provide an immediate boost to your conversion rates. But a truly optimized landing page requires more than that.
Landing page optimization should also be an ongoing pursuit. Remember, it’s about the optimal user experience, which is as good or effective as possible. There’s always room for improvement.
For that matter, what works well in tests today may prove a failure when you test it tomorrow. Your customers change, as do their needs and desires. These can be driven by a myriad of economic or social influences. Sometimes technology changes, allowing us to do things online that we were unable to make happen before. Sometimes a new idea emerges, just something no one thought of before that makes perfect sense to everyone.
Regardless, if you are intent on optimizing your landing pages, never think of the word “done.” It’s a process to return to again and again, and then again.
A landing page optimization expert who tells you these X-number of changes, additions, tweaks, etc., are what you need to do to your landing page so you can start counting your added conversions and the money that flows in behind them is doing you a terrible disservice.
3 Common Landing Page Optimization Myths
Everyone has one or more landing pages, and everyone has ideas about what to do with them. Not everyone is right.
Myth: You can just change the colors on your landing page and watch conversions zoom.
Fact: There’s a famous study, which we’ve referred to just like so many others have, in which Hubspot changed a site’s buy button from green to red and conversions jumped by 20 percent. If you see a lot of red buy buttons, including yours maybe, that’s probably why. But prior to that study, Unbounce declared that the big orange button was the key to conversion Nirvana.
So, while color psychology is a valid science, neither a single color nor the right combination of colors on your landing page is a magic bullet. There are design rules to follow in terms of color appeal and avoiding clashes, but color is only one of many factors on a landing page that affect conversion and, as we said above, users and user preferences change. Changing colors is one of the easiest moves to make and test. Just don’t forget the second step – test your results.
Myth: A landing page has to be short or customers will get tired of it and bounce.
Fact: Well, obviously we don’t agree with this. Your landing page should be as long as is necessary to describe its subject matter well enough to inform the user as to the benefits of your product or service, ensure their trust, and instruct and allow them to proceed.
Your product may drive the amount of copy that’s required. A travel site, for example, requires a full, descriptive explanation of a destination’s attractions and amenities, and perhaps potential vacation itineraries. A SaaS landing page might only need a paragraph of description, three to five bullet points describing the benefits of a newsletter, and the call to action.
Another factor to consider is that Google, in one of its latest iterations, began to favor long-form content, concluding that length equals knowledge, which engenders trust. That should be enough to bust this myth once and for all but, again we say, write what’s necessary. Padded content is obvious, annoying and potentially damaging.
Myth: Your CTA must be above the “fold” or no one will ever see it, much less use it.
Fact: Several studies have debunked this myth, actually. But in our view, it relates to the short content/long content debate. The idea that leads to the proposition that a CTA below the fold (that a user has to scroll to see) will not be seen assumes that your content is too weak to hold users’ attention.
But here’s another way to look at it: how interested is someone in your service if they’re not even willing to read past the 200 to 250 words you have at the top of your description? We’re not saying you want to make them “work” for it, but the leads you collect through landing page conversions will be better-qualified leads if they are interested enough to have read what you have to say.
Keep in mind, too, that mobile users scroll and swipe as a matter of course. They’re not worried about a mythical “fold.”
How To Know When To Hire For Landing Page Optimization
The term “landing page optimization” is applicable to a tactic applied at the end of the conversion funnel. But it has become a bit of a misnomer in the way it is commonly used. A landing page optimization expert should be the most laser-focused person on your conversion team and have specific industry experience across many disciplines.
The best time to look for someone who is a savant when it comes to landing page optimization is when you need very specific analyses for creating an online behavioral profile that addresses intrinsic and extrinsic variables with regard to a user’s psychographic motivations (i.e., lifestyle, habits, values, etc.)
Some other areas of interest to you might be:
- Conversion Optimization: Tactics for conversion optimization must reach down to a funnel level or to individual pages to adequately focus on fulfilling your site users’ needs.
- Web Analytics: It’s foundational to conversion optimization, but too few understand how strongly gaining insight from web analytics depends on understanding statistical analysis as well as validation through qualitative analysis.
- A/B Testing: Proper testing can yield a lot of actionable information about your site’s users, but A/B testing is far more complex than the simple either-or proposition its name implies.