Ever since commercial websites came into being, maximizing revenue from the website has been the sole aim of marketers worldwide. The last two decades have seen many theories come and go; rise, evolve and evaporate. However, the one constant among all of this is the fact that irrespective of the route we take to achieve it conversion optimization is the end game for every website and the final destination of every digital marketer.
Optimizing a web design for conversions has gone from being a pure art to an art-science 50-50 affair, to distilled, drilled-down 100% science. Extensive studies of customer behavior, on-site usability studies, A/B tests, split tests, click tracking, purchase path analysis and more have given birth to a set of rules that most of us would be loath to break. So let’s examine here
- What separates a “landing page” from the rest of the website?
- Are there any specific rules to watch out for while creating landing pages?
- How are the big boys doing it and how are they faring against their peers?
The Difference between a Website & a Landing Page
While we have more leeway to experiment with our design, copy and page elements on a website, a landing page is an exact animal.
Websites fulfill many needs – they create a brand identity in users’ minds, they showcase your products or services to window shoppers, they offer an online store for serious shoppers, they provide after sales service and so on. Designers can experiment a little with colors, layouts, images or copy in the hope that if not one, then some other aspect of the site will entice the customer to make a purchase.
A landing page, on the other hand, is created with a clear purpose and its existence is futile if it does not fulfill the purpose it was created for. This is the page on which a customer lands after clicking on a search ad (paid or organic results), a display banner ad or even a text link ad. Its content is necessarily tied to the search initiated by the user and irrespective of types of content, the goal remains conversions. Period.
The Landing Page Lab Rules
The perfect landing page has some very clear rules – dos, don’ts and must haves. This infographic from KISSmetrics does a great job of deconstructing the perfect landing page, element by element.
So let us do three faceoffs here by pitting landing pages of sites in the same industry against each other, and see if they live up to the KISSmetrics benchmark!
1. Sprout Social vs. HootSuite
Both social media management tools, Sprout Social and HootSuite take diametrically opposite views on conversion techniques.
Sprout Social goes for a long descriptive page that gives the user a lot of information while HootSuite keeps it short and sweet. Both are equally valid routes to market.
While Sprout Social sticks to one clear Call to Action throughout the page, HootSuite prefers to mix it up with two CTA buttons in one single, short page. It goes on to have the first CTA in the same color as the page background while the other CTA is in a contrasting shade. Bad idea!
To make matters worse, the limited copy on the HootSuite landing page is spaced out awkwardly with legibility compromised in the headline. This is a cardinal mistake. Your headline is your town screamer. Badly done headline = Poor attention given to it by users.
The Verdict: Sprout Social wins it hands down for a more aesthetic, well thought out page that covers all the essentials of a good landing page.
2. IBM Analytics vs. Tailwind Pinterest Analytics
A David vs. Goliath situation where rookie Tailwind is pitted against the grand daddy of technology – IBM.
The specific search term for these two landing page results was “Web Analytics Software”. If you are a maker of web analytics tools your money shot to such a direct query would be to direct the user to a page where they can see how awesome your tool is and maybe sign up for it, right?
IBM seems to think otherwise. It gives you a page with a CTA so fuzzy that it makes you want to go back and double check the original search terms. The copy is extremely stale and does nothing to excite the user to take any real action whatsoever. They offer an analytics guide instead of selling their analytics package upfront. To download the guide, they make the user jump through endless hoops and information that is utterly irrelevant at that stage of customer interaction.
What a wasted bit of PPC budgets!
Tailwind on the other hand, is the nimble little software solution that gives the user exactly what they were looking for. This co-relation between the search term and the actual landing page is a huge factor when it comes to ultimate conversions.
After getting the objective spot on, Tailwind proceeds to check off a number of boxes
- It has a clear CTA, that stands out of the clutter unlike IBM Analytics
- It tells the customer the various reasons to purchase
- Offers social proof and testimonials
- Cites current and past customers to inspire confidence in the user
The Verdict: Hands down, it would have to be Tailwind. From a pure result oriented perspective; between these two landing pages, Tailwind stands a FAR HIGHER chance of getting a click and an eventual conversion than IBM Analytics.
3. The Art of Shaving vs. Dollar Shave Club
One site that targets the premium end of the razors and shaving market, while the other clearly pitches itself as a cost saver for the masses, The Art of Shaving and Dollar Shave Club have their brand identities very clearly defined.
While the Dollar Shave Club offers a casual masculine look and feel, in keeping with its brand personality, The Art of Shaving’s landing page sorely lacks the premium feel to it that its products so badly need.
The Art of Shaving’s landing page is essentially an e-commerce page that shows options of a very specific sub type of razors not relevant to the search term, page title or the ad copy. The header image mentions the ‘The 4 elements of a perfect shave’ and then proceeds to ignore the concept entirely. Not a very coherent or consistent experience for a user.
There is no clear call to action, no reasons to buy nor any type of urgency created through the copy.
The Dollar Shave Club’s landing page is a stark contrast to the Art of Shaving’s clueless landing page.
It gets the headline right on target. It sports some smart copy writing that entertains while it informs. Its call to action is un-missable and it offers its reasons to believe in clever uncomplicated fashion. The most striking bit about this landing page is the hyper-viral video featuring Mike Dubin giving you a hilarious but straight faced talk about why Dollar Shave Club knocks the socks off competition. This video does more for the landing page than all the other page elements put together. It is personal, it’s funny, it is 100% relevant to what the user searched for and most importantly, it’s not a feel good schmooze fest. It’s a great sales pitch, delivered to an audience that actually does not mind a pitch at all, if it is packaged so well.
The Verdict: After all that, need I say more? Dollar Shave Club wins hands down. And no, not by a close shave; by a gigantic margin!
Every landing page has one raison de etre – conversions, NOTHING else. If it fails in this basic task, no matter how well you designed it, no matter how creative it is, it will still count as a big waste of your ad spends.
So the next time you create a landing page, take a long hard look at the perfect landing page recipe I posted above, sneak a peek at some of these landing pages for inspiration, then go ahead and use some of the tricks used in the pages listed here to make your conversions come alive. Trust me, no one will mind. Imitation is after all the best form of flattery. And do let me know your plans in the comments!