5 tips for producing killer landing pages

How many times have I seen posts titled along these lines in the last few months?

Too bloody many! All of them purport to offer the answer to the holy grail of advertising landing page design.

Most of the advice is re-regurgitated, old, unproven and bloody obvious if you have more than an ounce of common sense. What would be more useful would be a real guide to what has worked, why and how well.

The reality is that landing pages are very often the real “heavy lifters” on a web-site in terms of generating enquiries, sales, data and actions. That is a good thing as at least we know where to start when in comes to optimising performance as PART OF AN OVERALL STRATEGY.

Let’s not get bogged down in the fine detail of what to try, where and why as this does vary from site to site, person to person and market to market. Let’s start where we should do, at the beginning and from the visitor’s point of view.

1. The visitor arrives at the landing page after consciously clicking on a sponsored link. They want something, you know what they searched for. Give them what they want. If they search for a brand term then give brand options, if they search for a product then show a product, if they search for a place then give then location-based information.

Focussed landing pages have performed 150% better than generic landing pages. In real tests, with real visitors, this year.

2. Don’t make ’em wait, impatient or frustrated people don’t convert as well. That means a fast loading page (ever wondered why Google’s home page is just 16k in size?). Speed of loading is dependent on small pages, fast servers, good connectivity and few outside “includes”.

Frequent testing with our clients show a direct correlation between logical size of page and performance. A recent test saw a 25k page perform 50% better than a 100k page and 75% better than a bloaty 150k page. The pages were identical aside from logical size.

3. Visitors want to do something, such as buy, apply, find, request or contact. Make those options clear, visible, easy and fast to do.

Above the fold can make a difference but only if the page is uncluttered. A recent test on a cluttered page showed no difference in above and below the fold for a conversion point.

4. No clutter. Less is more. Reduce choices to keep the visitors decision process simple. No need for complex navigation (or any real navigation at all?). Big text, small words, white space, compelling reasons for an action and no bloody clutter. Everything on the landing page is there to drive the conversion, everything else is dead-weight that WILL hamper conversion rates.

Testing a series of landing pages recently saw a dramatic increase in on-page, in-session and intra-journey conversion when the navigation system was removed as the page was de-cluttered.

5. Everyone makes mistakes. Most of the time. And that includes your carefully crafted (call to action) form so make sure the error handling is world class. It’s a trick called “soft-erroring” and works by never actually producing a traditional error. When an error occurs the visitor is gently guided to a “thanks but” page which gently tells the visitor we need a little more information and the reasons why and maybe makes a suggestion or two. With testing you’ll produce better forms in the first place.

This IS a killer. You can easily see a doubling in first-time conversion if the information you require is difficult to acquire (telephone number, for example) or the question is complex.