Your prospects are seeing thousands of commercial messages every day. If you are effective in getting them to not just notice you but to respond to your messages and come to your website, you have to help as many as possible complete the action that you want them to do.
Whether they came to your website by clicking on an ad, social post, email link, or typing in your URL because of seeing a direct mail piece or print ad, unless you’re an ecommerce site you’ll often want them to register to download information (white papers, calculators, webinars) in exchange for their contact information. If at the same time you get their permission to continue to communicate with them you now are in an excellent position to nurture them to the point where they are a serious sales prospect. A landing page or marketing app are critical tools to improve conversion optimization in these cases.
Now you don’t always need to require someone to register to get your information. Sometimes you may want them to download an infographic for which you don’t make them provide any information because you’re looking for as wide a distribution as possible as a way of generating more awareness about your company. A general rule of thumb is to leave high-funnel, low-value content ungated, but to require people to provide some contact information for more valuable, lower-in-the funnel content.
Another form of conversion optimization is to pepper your website with elements that encourage all site visitors, not just those that were directed to your landing pages, to take an action such as to do a free trial, try a free download, or sign up for updates.
Conversion optimization can often increase conversions by 50-100 percent – or much more. If you have a major mistake, like going to your home page, or if you make a radically different and more effective offer, you can increase conversions by several hundred percent.
We’ll look at both landing pages and general site conversion optimization, as well as a terrific tool provided by many marketing automation programs called progressive profiling and marketing apps, an advanced conversion tool.
Landing page optimization
When a person clicks on an online promotion or offer of yours it may seem okay to have them come to your website home page, but in fact that is far from best practice. There are few home pages that make it easy for people to have a valuable interaction with the company. The general rule of thumb is that for every additional click you make a person do before getting to their goal you lose perhaps 50% of them. If they go to your homepage it may take 3 or 4 clicks to get to what you want them to – if they ever find it. That’s a big dropoff.
In fact, the conversion experience starts before the person even clicks on an ad. See how Apple uses Google AdWords extensions to provide the address and phone number of their nearest store.
When a person does click on your link or type in your offer URL, what you want to do is direct people to a landing page that fulfill the promise of your ad (10% off, free ebook, free shipping, etc.). In fact, if you’re running ads with Google AdWords, one of the factors in your Quality Score, which is one of the elements that determines the placement of your ad, is the quality of your landing page. All other things being equal, the better the landing page (it has valuable content and is consistent with the ad), the higher the ad placement.
Most commonly the advice you get for landing pages is that they should include:
- A strong headline that relates to the ad’s call to action
- A prominent form and/or phone number
- Short, engaging text
- Social validation such as “Join 20,000 other sales professionals who receive our insights” or a quote from an enthusiastic user.
Here’s an example that incorporates several of these elements — the landing page to download my ebook of interviews with 10 sales and marketing leaders:
This is a very effective landing page, with a conversion rate over 25%. The people coming to it are coming almost exclusively from social media links, including Tweets with a graphic similar to the one at the top of the landing page, not from AdWords.
If you look at the conversion experience of major companies you’ll find quite a range of landing pages.
For people who clicked on a Google AdWords ad for high uptime servers, here are the experiences that they encounter.
Amazon takes the person straight to the product page:
The PagerDuty landing page has one prominent offer, a free trial, and lots of social validation:
The up.time software page make three offers, one of which is highlighted in red. Sometimes making too many offers can lead to a lower conversion rate; it’s one of many things to test.
Codera makes at least two offers – “sign up today” and “learn more” – as well as that chat window that can slide out from the side.
These are radically different approaches. Which is good: radically different offers and page layouts can lead to radically superior results. But in all of these cases (except PagerDuty) they hopefully tested simpler, single-offer pages like mine to to see which performed better. And PagerDuty should test having the form on the page, rather than requiring the person to click on the button to start the trial.
On the other hand, the Tufts Medical Center Cancer Center uses this landing page which is rich with content and has just a subtle placement of its phone number. It’s probably more appropriate for a person with cancer, or a person with a loved one with cancer, who is looking for deep information and definitely doesn’t want any sales devices screaming at them:
Many ecommerce companies have learned that getting the person’s email address is the most important outcome they can get from a visit because then they can market to that person. This produces the highest customer lifetime value because otherwise most people come to their website don’t buy anything and they don’t get any information.
So the lesson from just this brief sample is to test. As with everything else in marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
And nothing is too big, or too small, to test. Try:
- Radically different offers
- Different wording
- Different images
- Different colors
- Even different call-to-action button colors, designs and text (for example, “Download” versus “Get your free ebook”)
You may be surprised at what can make a difference – digital marketers usually are!
What about mobile? Since the mobile screen is so much smaller, you have far fewer options. The first absolute rule is that you need a mobile-ready website, typically a responsive site. This is what the PagerDuty ad looks like on a smartphone
And this is what their form looks like on a phone:
This responsive HubSpot mobile form shows what you want your forms to look like:
Finally, I recommend asking people to provide an email address and then sending them the download link, rather than letting them download the materials after filling out the form. First, for you that guarantees that they’ll put in a valid email address, and they then have a link that they can use to download the materials to their desktop or mobile device – wherever it’s most convenient for them to view it. And they can even download it to multiple devices if they want to.
Figure out what your objectives are and then create and test the landing page experience to achieve them.
Website conversion experience
Most people who come to your site won’t be coming because they clicked on a promotion that promised a result and took them to a landing page. Most people will start on your home page, or a page that’s especially well optimized for search. In my experience, the most common entrance pages for a corporate site are the home page, product/service pages, and careers page.
So if someone has enough interest in you to come to your site and go to one of your product/service pages, it’s a good idea to give them a little nudge to get them to raise their hand and make themselves known.
Here are a few companies that demonstrate how.
Before you even get to the Conversion Scientist blog, you first have an offer to download 9 of their top articles. All they ask is your email address.
This isn’t a landing page: Yottaa offers multiple options on its Product pages:
Sokolove Law is a demand generation company for law firms nationwide. Its website has several conversion devices on the right side of pages:
Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is a bit subtler, with just one button. (Would including a phone number have hurt?)
Ion interactive is a “marketing apps” company with a particular expertise in conversion optimization. In addition to complex marketing apps their software can also be used for creating more standard landing pages. This is a one of their Solutions pages with both an offer and a “Let’s Talk” button:
And not one but two bright green buttons from Continuum:
Pop-up chat is another common form of conversion optimization:
While you wouldn’t use these devices on your press release or About Us pages, they can significantly increase business from people who have shown real interest in what you’re offering by going to your product and service pages.
Marketing apps are an advanced form of conversion optimization. The idea is that people may value an experience with your company that is more enjoyable and valuable than filling out a form; marketing apps make the experience fun and valuable in itself. Marketing apps can include quizzes, assessments, ROI calculators, games, and so on. Marketing apps brings a kind of gamified experience to marketing.
Here are a couple examples: Talk about a box within a box: this is a hot-or-not landing page evaluator game on the ion interactive site:
In a similar vein, Optimizely doesn’t kid around with its home page. It’s not capturing your personal information, yet, but it’s engaging you in a strong experience with its tool – accelerating getting you to Wow!
Before it gives you your test results, it does ask you to provide some information, but it’s not required.
Progressive profiling is a nifty technique that marketing automation programs provide. It’s a good solution to the question: How much information can I ask before I turn off the person? And how can I get more?
While you might test several different form field variations to see how much information people are willing to provide, with progressive profiling you can gather that information over several interactions. So on the first download you might just request first name, last name and email address. (Some B2B companies require the person to use a corporate email account, not a personal account like Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo.) Then each time they come back and request another asset just one more question is asked, such as Company Name, Title, City and State, etc. Over time, if the person is honest, a rich profile of the person is built, which also includes data the marketing automation system has gathered about the pages that they’re looking at and the assets that they’re downloading.
Thank You pages
Once the person has filled out a form and downloaded something you’re done with them for now, right? Wrong! You’ve got a really interested person in front of you. Offer them more.
The Thank You page is a great opportunity to say more than “Thank you, the webinar registration information has been emailed to you.” You now can give them more information, show a couple more offers, even provide a “Would you like to talk to a rep right now?” button.
And you also should include social sharing options: make it easy for people to tell their friends about the valuable content that they just got from you.
Wordstream’s free Landing Page Grader
Optimzely lets you run A/B tests on landing pages and other website elements
With Unbounce you can create and A/B test landing pages.
ion interactive provides tools for non-programmers to create marketing apps
SnapApp is another marketing apps company
Crazy Egg is a tool for creating heat maps of your site
Conversion Scientist blog (But you’ll have to accept or navigate past that offer first!)
The unbounce 12-step landing page rehab program (infographic)
Did you find this post useful? You’ll find dozens of actionable strategies and tactics in my interviews with 10 sales and marketing leaders.