Your bids are competitive, your ads are laser targeted, and you’ve tested and tweaked your landing page to get the highest possible conversion rate. Ever.
You feel like Leonardo DiCaprio stand-spooning Kate Winslet on the Titanic, breathing in that fresh scent of saltwater greenbacks while your sales and leads keep pouring in. You’re a marketing genius (and you’ve earned the right to call yourself that).
But then you wake up.
Realizing that your 1997 GeoCities hosted landing page hasn’t seen an improvement since, well, 1997. And your potential profits are like a leaking ship. Slowly. Dripping. Away.
While you’re staying profitable (for now), your competitors are figuring out ways to improve, enhance, and build trust and relationships with clients that could have been yours. All because their first impression was more impressive than yours.
But don’t worry. There’s still time to improve your landing page conversion rates.
First, let’s clear the air and separate fact from fiction.
FACT: Your biggest conversion rate gains won’t come from the new ad you create, they’ll come from the landing page you test.
FICTION: Landing page testing is difficult and expensive, not to mention time-consuming.
The goal of this post is to give you proven ideas to test and try on your own site to increase your landing page conversion rates and lower your cost per acquisition.
Let’s get to work!
Not only is the headline one of the first things a person sees when on your site, but did you know that on average, only 2 out of 10 people continue to read what’s after the headline?
Talk about do or die!
The goal of your headline should be for your visitor to feel compelled enough to read whatever’s next.
Here are some tips for landing page headline testing:
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Your job is to get creative and test them out, as every type of headline will yield different results.
And whether you’re writing headlines for PPC landing pages or trying to SEO your blog post, make sure you’re compelling, honest, and leave the reader wanting more.
Here’s another little trick: The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is a free tool that lets you test different variations of your headline, and then gives you a percentage score telling you whether your headline is more intellectual, empathetic, or spiritual and what emotional marketing value it has.
The higher the percentage, the more emotional marketing power there is in your headline.
For example, here are some of the headlines I tested with the EMVHA:
(Of course, you’ll still want to run your own A/B tests, since “emotion” is subjective, and your audience might not enjoy being manipulated emotionally.)
Much like your headline, your value proposition is something that is unique to your business, like your USP, and it’s very similar to what you’d want to communicate in your headline.
If you know the pain points and fears your potential customer is facing, this should help you write a headline and value proposition specifically tailored to them.
Positive endorsements give your visitors assurance that you’re legit – if they’re done right.
Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing there is, and client testimonials, reviews, and endorsements are your closest thing to social proof.
Many companies put up landing page testimonials that are way too generic and weak. They’re simply not believable. Stuff like:
“Great work!” – John A.
“Wow!” – Vicky H.
“We’re making so much more money now!” – Frank Q.
And my favorite…
“Thanks.” – Ricky B.
Not only are these testimonials insanely short, but they come off as fake.
Who is Vicky? And who the hell is Ricky?
You want to use testimonials that describe how your client has benefited from something you’ve helped with. The more detail there is, the more “human” they are. And the more human, the more believable.
Here’s a better example (not real):
“Not only did WordStream help me overcome my fear of marketing, but they showed me exactly where my advertising dollars were being wasted and which areas were more profitable than others. My business now has a 72% better ROI than before.” – James Van Der Beek, CEO of DawsonsCreekDVDs.com
Note that the full name and business are included, as well details about what kind of results they got with the product/service. Not only is this testimonial more convincing, but it can be used as a reference if your potential customer is still not convinced about doing business with you.
If you don’t think testimonials are important, take a look at our CrazyEgg heat map from a testimonial on the KlientBoost site:
We have a slider for our testimonials, and it’s obvious that the clicks are red hot. People do care about this stuff!
Do you have well-known clients that are higher up the brand food chain? Use them instead of your average mom n’ pop store. Those people are the people your new customers are aspiring to be!
But be careful. The easy, quick, and wrong way to do this is to write the testimonials yourself, or go on Fiverr and hire someone to do it. I’ve spotted a couple of companies with testimonials from the same person because of their picture. Ouch!
If you can, ask your clients for their LinkedIn picture, as they already have that online. That way they’re more likely to go with it and let you use their picture.
Your lead gen/capture form may be the quickest and easiest area for conversion rate improvement on your landing page.
Many studies have been conducted about landing page forms, and it’s a general consensus that the more information you ask for, the lower your conversion rate will be.
See, even if the visitor doesn’t actually start to fill out the form, they’ll still see it and may decide whether or not they want to start filling it out based on the number of fields. A high number of required fields will either scare them away, or they’ll abandon it half way through.
Do you ask for both first and last name? Why? Why not just “Name”?
Are you asking for their company name too? Why?! You can get that later!
What about different home phone, cell phone, work phone fields?
Here’s a test we ran for Cash4UsedCars.com, an online car selling service.
Their old form looked like this:
Here’s the new form (note that they wanted to keep the first and last name fields):
The result? A 77% increase in conversion rates and a decrease of 42% cost per lead.
While this was more of a radical redesign, we are still testing all the elements of the page to continually improve the conversion rates.
Here’s another example from one of our clients, Second Wave Recycling, an online cell phone donation charity. This one’s a bit more creative. Their old form:
And the new form:
The result of this landing page test was a 53% increase in donations. That’s with no change in advertising budget, no change in the ads, and no change in the bids.
We made it visually simpler and easier to distinguish between the two options. Either print a free pre-paid USPS label, or request a pre-paid envelope. We also made the copy easier to read, added some directional cues, and changed the color of the buttons.
But what if your form has a ton of required information and you’re not able to reduce the amount of fields?
Let me introduce you to the power of the progress bar.
The progress bar is a simple solution to break up your form into multiple steps so people aren’t overwhelmed with a form that’s as long as the dead sea scrolls. You can see a simple educational one in action right here.
One common theme you see with strong PPC landing pages is isolation.
The Cash4UsedCars landing page I showed you earlier is a great example of an isolated landing page that only has one purpose and no other links, besides some hidden away in the footer.
No header links and nothing else you can click on that might distract you from filling out the form.
This method of isolating the visitor is a great combatant of something called the Zeigarnik Effect. The Zeigarnik Effect occurs when your brain feels dissonance from uncompleted tasks. You’ll remember these unfinished tasks better than the ones you finished.
So with only one task on the site, it’s easier for visitors to focus on that and complete the conversion. Keep that in mind when you create your landing pages.
There’s a science behind Amazon’s, Apple’s, and Target’s rounded corner buttons. The color, shape, and size of the button is a huge part of conversion psychology.
The button on your site is the #1 most important item that you want clicked. So it’s vital to make sure it’s performing at peak condition, like Michael Phelps was during the 2008 Olympics (and not how he performed afterwards).
Here are some things to consider:
COLOR: Your button’s color should contrast from the rest of the site so it sticks out. Don’t make it the same colors as other elements on your site.
Take LegalZoom for example.
Orange is the opposite of blue, red the opposite of green, and purple the opposite of yellow. Use this color wheel to find your complementary and contrasting color for your button test.
What’s the best practice? It’s widely accepted that orange is a great “click color” because it creates the feeling of buying or selling, it’s energetic. Both Unbounce and SiteTuners use it on their sites – and they’re conversion rate optimization companies, so they should know!
Red, on the other hand, creates a sense of urgency and could work just as well, or even better than an orange button. Don’t make assumptions – your tests will determine which button color works best for you.
You’ll never find one color that makes everyone happy. But you’ll find one that makes the majority happy, and that’s the one that’s best for your landing page conversion rates.
SHAPE: Sometimes, buttons with sharp corners don’t convert as well as ones with rounded corners. Here’s why:
Consider, instead of a regular rectangle, square, oval, or round shape, using a combination of shapes. Amazon uses a combination of a circle and a rectangle:
The only way to figure out which one works best for you is, again, to test it out.
SIZE: Finally, your button size is also worthy of some easy testing. Increase or decrease its size to determine what gives you the highest conversion rates. (Hint: Bigger is usually better!)
Sometimes the call to action (CTA) on your button is more important than what the button looks like, and it’s also easier to test.
Take this test from Michael Aagaard at ContentVerve.com, for example.
By adding relevancy and value to the button’s CTA and also changing the form title, the landing page conversion rate increased by 31.54%.
The best approach is to focus on what the value and relevance is for the visitor. The vagueness of “Submit” doesn’t do much to tell the visitor what they’ll be getting.
Here’s an interesting video with some of Aagaard’s button call-to-action findings:
His suggestions for testing your button CTA include:
For potential customers, calling someone at your company could feel extremely threatening.
Right there on the other side of the phone is a salesman waiting like a cat about to attack.
He’s got his hair slicked, script ready, his objection blockers rehearsed, and he just finished his third 5-Hour Energy shot while taking a look at his ankle tattoo saying “A.B.C.” (Always. Be. Closing).
He’s gonna get you.
But it’s not just the salesman on the other end of the line that’s a problem. What about the expectation of the dreaded call answering machine? “Sorry, zero is an invalid function, please try again.”
So how do you calm a visitor who knows that by calling, you have their phone number, and by emailing, you have their email address?
Meet Olark. Olark is by far my favorite solution when it comes to website chat. It looks great and has some unique features that allow for in-depth data and customization:
But most importantly, it’s an easy way for your prospective clients to get answers without having to pick up the phone, and it’s a lot faster than email.
We don’t require your name, email, phone number, or social security before the chat starts. We let our visitors hit the ground running with no lead capture.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many of our new clients have started their relationship with us via Olark. (We call it Cupid!)
Directional cues are like finger pointers. They try to move your attention to wherever they’re pointing.
There are two types of directional cues: explicit and implicit.
Explicit directional cues are like arrows that are obviously trying to move your attention to the form or the button the site wants you to click on.
Here’s one from CrazyEgg’s pricing page:
Implicit directional cues are more subtle. They’re like that woman-drinking-a-green-juice-out-of-a-mason-jar-because-all-the-other-glasses-were-dirty type of look.
See how she’s looking in the direction of the form? (Even though it looks like she’s actually by-passing the form and eyeballing that ice cream truck in the distance?)
And here’s everyone’s favorite gecko.
(The red arrows are only there to show you the subtle directional cues. They weren’t there in the live image.)
And to prove how powerful directional cues can be, take a look at these eye tracking examples and see the difference based on directional cues or lack thereof. Red indicates laser-focused eyes.
The difference is clear.
You know those white board animated videos you see on websites that are around 1 to 3 minutes long? Those are explainer videos.
Explainer videos are, well, videos that explain what your business does. And if done right, these little animated masterpieces could increase your conversion rates by 30% (or more).
Why are they so effective? The answer has to do with our attention spans.
Our online attention spans have been steadily declining because of the speed of information we’re able to retrieve.
We don’t want to read books that have too many pages. We don’t even want to read a newspaper!
Explainer videos are easy to consume and understand because they’re visual and can arouse more emotions than reading.
But don’t just go all Steven Spielberg on me here. Explainer videos can be a bit tricky, so here are some tips:
Want to see some examples? Here’s a look at WordStream’s own explainer video they use for their PPC landing pages:
Even though creating an explainer video isn’t easy, it’s well worth the effort if done right. And if you’ve ever thought about it before, make sure you do your research and inquire about pricing, because some providers aren’t the cheapest.
An alternative to explainer videos would be image sliders that have proven to sometimes work better than explainer videos.
Visual Website Optimizer created a case study in which the image slider had a 35% higher conversion rate lift than the explainer video. (However, in this case, the explainer video was almost 5 minutes long and very technical.)
Either way, an image slider or explainer video (or both!) is a great test if you have the resources.
Trust badges are pretty commonplace these days. Like product listing ads, it’s a must-test if you’re running an e-commerce store.
Badges like these have been known to help increase landing page conversion rates
It’s obvious that people care about your level of trustworthiness when shopping with you. But did you know that people will actually click on the badges, look at your https:// connection, and investigate your reviews to make sure you’re legit before even considering doing business with you?
A fellow Dane by the name of Karsten Lund ran a 6-month long A/B test in which he added just one badge in the header for an e-commerce store. The result? 32% conversion rate increase.
Here are some quick ideas for badge and seal tests:
Do you have any corporate rewards or big media mentions? Include those on your site as well. And if possible, add the images as links going straight to the mentions. Make sure they open up in new tabs and don’t take the visitor away from your site.
Now when it comes to guarantees, KISSmetrics made some interesting findings.
Here are some different guarantees you can test out:
All poised to disrupt your conversion rates in some way. How much? That’s for you to find out.
You might think it’s necessary to provide a visitor with all the benefits and everything you can offer on your landing page.
Sometimes removing unnecessary paragraphs can improve the experience for the visitor and make it easier to understand, thereby increasing conversion rates.
Remember, attention spans have never been lower than they are today.
So take a look at your site, and say goodbye to that prized paragraph you’re so proud of.
It’s time to clean up.
As a wise person once said, “Don’t take yourself so seriously, no one else does.”
We’re living in an age of visual eye candy. Social sites like Pinterest and Instagram are not popular because people loved pinboards before they were digital or photography before there were filters. People love these sites because they can express themselves and be unique.
Don’t try to fit in. Try to stand out.
When people like something because “it’s different,” they tell their friends and their friends will tell their friends.
Before you know it, you’re not just a company, but a source of inspiration.
One great example is Groupon’s cat:
It has nothing to do with business, but it’s fun.
Here’s a fun Mad Libs style twist on the regular lead generation form that actually increased conversions by 40%.
Here are a few final things to consider before I let you go:
Check out our list of seven favorite landing page tools.
Johnathan Dane is the founder and leading captain of KlientBoost, a creative digital agency specializing in pay-per-click marketing with search and display networks. When he’s not working hard on increasing client success, you can find him playing pick-up basketball at the local gym with the elders.
See other posts by Johnathan Dane
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