The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization
Chapter 6: Landing Page Optimization
Chances are, if there’s an under-optimized page on your site, your landing page is it. Yet many users’ first impressions are based predominantly on this page. When you first start reading up on CRO, you’ll find tons of “rules” about what makes a great landing page.
As we’ve already discussed, however, what worked wonders for someone else might not produce the same results for you.
In addition, much of the landing page advice you’ll find online relates specifically to pages that are created for the purpose of landing pages–pages tied to a paid advertising campaign to maximize conversion. Don’t forget, however, that people land on many different pages of your site.
With Google responsible for 25% of the traffic delivered to websites in the US , visitors are landing on product pages, contact us pages, blog posts and knowledge bases. When thinking about landing page optimization, it’s up to you to look at the top landing pages for your business and build a plan to optimize those pages for conversion.
The bottom line…
While it’s great to find inspiration from successful tests that others have run, don’t count on them to produce the same results with your audience. Create your own hypotheses and tests to find the winners for your business.
If you scan several successful landing pages, you’ll probably notice they several key elements in common—and for good reason, as these elements communicate critical information to users. For this reason they are excellent candidates for testing and optimization. Use KISSMetrics “Blueprint for a Perfectly Testable Landing Page,” cited below, as a jumping-off point for constructing your own winning landing page.
Landing Page Elements
In “How to Make a Landing Page that C.O.N.V.E.R.T.S.”, Beth Morgan offers a mnemonic for the landing page elements that lead to conversion. It is as follows:
A Mnemonic for Landing Pages
How to Make a Landing Page that CONVERTS
C = Clear Call to Action
O = Offer
N = Narrow Focus
V = VIA: Very Important Attributes
E = Effective Headline
R = Resolution-Savvy Layout
T = Tidy Visuals
S = Social Proof
You’ll notice that Morgan’s mnemonic and the blueprint that comes before it have a lot in common and rightly so—these landing page elements work because they satisfy distinct and universal user needs and desires.
Long-form vs. Short-form Landing Pages
Let’s discuss a bit of dogma regarding landing pages—something you’ve almost certainly read again and again—the debate over whether landing pages should be short and minimal, or long and rich.
In the minimalist camp you’ll often hear that “long form” landing pages don’t sell. This is a myth. Long form pages can be very effective. In the long form camp you’ll often hear the opposite–that minimal landing pages don’t give visitors enough information to make a decision, and therefore are poor performers. This is also a myth.
As a general rule, we’ve found that longer-form landing pages work for products that are more complicated in nature or that are newer to the market and need to build trust with the visitor. Shorter-form landing pages work for products that are very easy to understand or have strong existing brand awareness and trust with visitors.
Below, you’ll find a few more guidelines for optimizing your landing page.
Let’s start with landing page copy…
Now for the other elements of your landing page…
If this chapter could be summed up in three words, they’d be: only the essentials. Think back to the basic definition of conversion rate optimization from Chapter 1—finding why visitors aren’t converting and fixing it. Keep this definition in mind when optimizing your landing page. You’re simply figuring out why visitors aren’t converting (call to action is impossible to find? they aren’t convinced of your trustworthiness? they’re distracted by unnecessary images and links?) and fixing it.
Case Study: Highrisehq Landing Page Optimization
In May of 2011, the folks at 37signals decided to run some A/B testing on their landing page design for Highrisehq.com. Jamie of 37signals explains their reasoning, “Signups were going well, but we were worried that customers still couldn’t get the gist of what Highrise did and why they needed the product.” The used their original landing page as their baseline during testing.
Be sure to check out Signal vs. Noise for the fully story (part 1, part 2, part 3).
First, they drafted a long form version of their landing page and ran it through an A/B split test—presenting either the original or the long form version to over 42,000 visitors. The Long Form page had a 37.5% increase in net signups. Awesome! But they didn’t stop there.
Despite the success of the Long Form design over the original, they implemented yet another A/B split test—this time a far shorter Person Page, which had a 47% increase in paid signups over the Long Form design.
Next they added more information to the bottom of the Person Page. The resulting Long Form Person Design did in 22% worse than the original—despite the original user preference Long Form design!
Since the Person Page was the clear winner, they decided to swap out the featured person to see how different faces affected conversion rates. Testing indicated that a specific person wasn’t as important as a big photo of a smiling customer. Jamie points out, however, that they are still “tweaking and measuring behind the scenes.” Just because the Person Page is the winner for now, that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually come up with a design that’s even better.
The 37Signals Test Implementation
Noah describes their testing implementation as, “two services and some home grown glue.” It looks like this:
After the testing begins, their Campfire bot ‘tally’ takes center stage to help evaluate the test. They’ve set up tally to respond to a phrase like “tally abtest highrise landing page round 5” with the “conversion funnel” for each variation–what portion of visitors reached the plan selection page, reached the signup form, and completed signup.
Tally also provides the profile of each variation’s “cohort” that has completed signup, including the portion of signups for paying plans, the average price of those plans, and the net monthly value of any visitor to any landing page.
Anyone at 37signals can check on the results of any test that’s going on or recently finished anytime in just a few seconds via Campfire.
This is the anatomy of a great test—one bold change at a time,meticulous documentation,and full understanding of the cyclical nature of optimization.