I Critiqued 37 Landing Pages: You Can Learn From Their Mistakes
I’ve recently been critiquing landing pages for any Tom, Dick and Larry who wanted one. It’s a huge time investment, but people get in-depth, actionable feedback, I get to flex my critical analysis skills AND connect with potential leads. Not too shabby.
Combined from social media and direct links (to groups and contacts), I received 37 feedback requests – and counting. After hours of tearing apart websites, you start to see patterns. In fact, I could probably have sent an automated eBook called “5 Landing Page Mistakes That Are Killing Your Conversions” or something along those lines and saved myself a bunch of time and effort. Oh well…hindsight is 20/20.
More usefully, I wanted to use this opportunity to explore these patterns and help you avoid the most common mistakes that keep your landing pages from being the kickass high-conversion machines you deserve.
Disclaimer: I use curse words and strange British slang sometimes. I’m Scottish. That pretty much explains it all.
Does your site take 4 seconds to load? You’ve lost 25% of your visitors. 10 Seconds? Say goodbye to another 35%. Online browsers are impatient. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. Brutal, right? If you’re scrambling in panic, relax.
Test your landing page speed here.
There are numerous ways to improve your site’s speed. I’m no techie, so I’m going to refer you to the more knowledgeable Kissmetrics. But this is one of the easiest way to lose prospects. Naturally, I have to include it as the first on this list.
You provide outstanding services and you’re passionate about your work? That’s just great, buddy. You do ‘marketing made simple’ or ‘revolutionise how companies do X’? Sure you do.
Look, writing headlines is difficult. But it’s damn important. You’ve probably heard the 80/20 rule by now. 80% of your visitors will read your headline, but only 20% will read further. When you’re against these odds, you better make your headline count!
- Vague – If I don’t know what you do OR what you can offer me after reading your headline, I probably won’t read further.
- Descriptive – What’s in it for me? Simple facts aren’t enough. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. How are you improving their lives?
- Cliched – You’re innovative? Think differently? Save it, please. Your customers are rolling their eyes. PROVE IT!
TRY to use…
- Benefits – How will your product/service make your reader a better version of themselves? Time and money are two universal factors in peoples’ lives.
- Numbers, Facts and Stats – Use these to build authority and believability. Just don’t go overboard!
- Specificity – How, specifically, will you improve their lives? Get into the nitty-gritty.
- Curiosity – Unusual or dramatic word choice (kill, death, destroy) and provocative questions are a great way to keep your readers reading. CrazyEgg’s guide to writing headlines has some good examples. Ghost-written by yours truly, by the way. Shh…
- Brevity – Don’t make your headline a paragraph. Keep it under 10 words. Your readers are an impatient bunch.
Ugly As Sin
Okay, okay, I’m a copywriter. And my own website is far from a work of art. But…according to the powers that be (Google), users form design opinions in 50 milliseconds. And 75% of people judge a business’s credibility based on design.
So many websites think ‘more is more’. They fill their landing pages with information, images, and options. But all they’re doing is destroying their credibility and leaving users feeling overwhelmed and put off.
Is your website badly-designed? Cluttered? It could be killing your conversions.
Get a designer. A good one. If you’re cheap, here are some tips:
- Contrast – A bland, monotone site isn’t just unattractive. It fails to draw attention to key elements – namely, headers and desirable call-to-actions.
- Minimal – Don’t overwhelm your users. Use white space and concise, spaced-out content to make the site readable and easy on the yes.
- Hierarchy – Content should have a visual order, as visitors read in a very specific order. Contrast, balance, alignment…they all have an important part to play. Read all about it here.
- Readability – Fonts, images and elements should all work harmoniously. Avoid unpleasant contrasts or hard-to-read text.
Images communicate far more quickly and effectively than words. Ah crap…I chose the wrong career. Anyway, the thing is that images are processed in milliseconds – and using them in the right way can communicate some powerful things for your landing pages.
- Stock images – Business people having a great old time, laughing, doing BUSINESS! What could go wrong? Everything, according to Intechnic. These are the worst kinds of images you could use.
- Low-quality – Crappy quality images are just…ugly. Invest a little more time and use high-quality, high-res images for your landing pages.
Use images of…
- Products – Whether you offer services or products, you can use high-quality images of these to develop trust and quickly explain what you offer.
- People – Images of people – especially people similar to your reader – create trust. Direct eye contact with the reader will increase engagement. Images of people using your products – that’s even better.
- Directional cues – Showing people where to look or click through shapes, arrows, or eye gaze direction is a powerful way to influence how your audience behaves.
Going For The Kiss Too Early
You barely met her, and you’re already babbling about future dates, family meetings…children! You’re just too keen. She was interested, but you’re starting to scare her. You have that mad, needy look in your eye. She backs away, slowly…and leaves your page, never to be seen again.
This is a common mistake – in romance and marketing. Asking for their money before they even know who you are is an easy way to lose a customer.
- Prove yourself first – How, specifically, will their lives be better with you in it? How can they trust you? Empathise with their problems, prove that you can help, and show how you’ve helped other people like them (testimonials, case studies).
- Provide options – Yes, this might go against the grain. But offering two call-to-action options is a good way to keep everyone happy. Typical options might include a hard CTA and soft CTA (e.g. ‘start free trial’ and ‘learn more’.
- Emails – Many visitors won’t be ready to convert. That’s why capturing their email is super effective. A well-written emailing sequence can turn a doubtful visitor into a customer.
‘Me, Myself & I’
You’re talking about your services, so your company must be the most important thing here, right? Wrong! It’s all about the customer. And talking about how your company is a special little snowflake is a sure-fire way to send your prospects running away from your landing pages.
- Change the language – Stop with the ‘we’ and ‘our’, and start with the ‘you’ and ‘your’. Talk directly to your readers and create a conversation. This isn’t your CV, after all.
- Put yourself in their shoes – Yes, you might have experience, you might be ‘innovative’, you might do x, y, and z. But why does all of this matter to your reader? Translate your ‘features / descriptions’ into tangible benefits that’ll improve their lives.
- Transform features to benefits – You do X and Y, but what’s the end result of X and Y for your reader? For example, ‘digital marketing made simple’ might turn into ‘Increase your online conversions by up to 217%’.
No Real Incentives
Why should I ‘subscribe’ or send you a message? What’s the direct benefit to me – and why is it important I do so right now? Many landing pages fail to create effective call-to-actions. In fact, some don’t have a call-to-action at all!
- Freebie – Offer something free. Kissmetrics and CrazyEgg – brainchildren of Neil Patel – both do this fantastically. Give them something, and they’ll be more likely to reciprocate in return.
- Create urgency – Creating a sense of urgency can seriously drive your conversions higher. This could be by a lack of supply (limited places available) or a lack of time (offer expires x date).
- Visibility – Your call-to-action can’t be desirable if no one notices it! Use contrasting colours and a larger font size to make yours stand out.
That’s it. Critiquing these websites is a lot of work, but I’ve learned from it. If you want a similar critique of your landing page, simply visit my website and fill in the form there. I’ll send you an annotated screenshot with feedback. If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to add them below.