Masterful Landing Page Optimization: Do It For the Beagles #SESNY

Posted in Landing Pages, SES New York

Welcome back to aimClear’s coverage of #SESNY 2012! The Landing Page. It’s one of the most important elements of your online marketing campaign. Why? Because it’s what a healthy bulk of your online marketing efforts– organic, paid, and social– point towards. So why are so many landing pages so sucky nope – sucky is the most accurate word to describe them.

Bryan Eisenberg, landing page optimizer extraordinaire, knows what sucky landing pages look like – and thankfully, knows how to make them rock. It’s not about testing the color of your FREE TRIAL button until you get the right shade of blue. Deep landing page optimization begins with a keen understanding of the anatomy of a landing page– its elements and sub-elements, rounds upon rounds of meaningful testing, followed thoughtful implementation based on test results.

The audience was hungry for actionable tactics, and Bryan was ready to share. From a simple yet powerful framework  for understanding the key elements of a landing page, to a three-step formula (the Conversion Trinity) for optimizing landing page elements for optimal success, even a lesson on why customers should be treated like beagles… there was a ton to take away from this solo presentation. aimClear live-tweeted this puppy via @beebow. Read on for the insider secrets.

Traffic vs. Conversions
Brian’s been helping people improve conversion rates since the mid-90s, and claims he’s been spouting the incredible significance of the landing page for as long as he can remember. Alas, a lot of folks still don’t get it. They think if their site is suffering in the sales department, it’s because not enough traffic is coming through the door. That’s simply not the case.

No matter how much traffic you get to your website, the average conversion rates still stands at a dismal 2%. In other words, most websites don’t have a traffic problem– but nearly every site has a conversion problem.

This year, $56.8 billion will be spent driving traffic to websites. But the conversion rate is still 2%. (Did you hear that? My heart is weeping.) Bryan hammers the point home, noting that companies typically spend $92 to bring customers to their sites… but only $1 worth converts. In case you hadn’t noticed, these are less than dazzling ratios.

4 Variables Most Strongly Correlated with Improved Overall Conversions

  1. Perceived control over conversion rate
  2. Structured approach to CRO (conversion rate optimization)
  3. Having someone directly responsible for CRO
  4. Incentivising staff based on conversion rates

Hard Work Pays Off
Methods currently used for improving conversion rates range from A/B testing to user testing and customer segmentation. “Hard work pays off,” Bryan noted. Studies show the companies that are most successful use more testing methods than companies who don’t . More specifically, they’re using 26% more methods to test than the less successful sites. And they’re serious about segmentation, too. Companies whose conversion rates have improved use an average of 50% more ways to segment visitors and customers upon arrival and throughout the conversion process.

Pro Tip: Check out WebsiteTestingTools.com - it’s Bryan’s homemade Mecca of testing tools for you to play around with (most are free).

Pucker Up, Buttercup
Keep in mind- you can optimize all you want, but at the end of the day if what you’re focusing on is the color of the GET IT NOW button, you’re just putting lipstick on a pig. You’re just dolling up a dysfunctional and ugly landing page. (Not to say that pigs are ugly and dysfunctional, but… you get the picture.)

Bryan also warns again “Slice & Dice Optimization.” There is an underlying and possibly template framework to your site, but your incoming customers require attentive customization.

The Magic Formula for Perfect Landing Page Optimization
Sub-hearer catch your eye, eh? Well, sorry, folks. The magic formula Brian devised for perfect LP optimziation factors in 1,100 individual variables.He talks fast, but there was no way we could tackle each variable in an hour-long session. For the sake of time, Bryan trimmed down the formula to 4 types of searchers, 10 landing page elements, and the CTR 3-pack– the Conversion Trinity.

4 Types of People Who Search, Defined by How They Search
Let’s say you run a website for movie rentals. Here’s what your 4 search personas might look like, based on how they navigate your site content:

  1. Spontaneous seek top sellers & new releases.
  2. Humanistsics care about reviews.
  3. Methodicals find by genre.
  4. Competitive search by actor, title, etc.

When testing, it’s essential to test for impact, not variations. Take a page from Amazon.com. The Amazon team tests for impact – they change a variable / element on their landing page and run tests to see if it impacted users.

The goal is to determine: Did that change move the needle, either positively or negatively?

If Amazon notices an impact, then the team tests variations on the variable. If the variable they tested was the position of a button and the impact was noteworthy (and, let’s say, positive), then they would move forward testing, perhaps, font on the button, color of the button, and other variations.

The Conversion Trinity
Answering these three almighty questions is a surefire approach to increasing conversions on your landing page. Ask them from the perspective of your incoming visitor:

  1. Are you relevant to my query?
  2. Do I know why you are the right solution for me?
  3. Is it obvious what I need to do next?

The Conversion Trinity = Relevance + Value + Call to Action (CTA)

Relevance is about providing the best user experience possible, and making sure users don’t lose interest or focus. Bryan encouraged attendees to think of your customers like beagles (bloodhounds hungry for a scent [literally the terms in which Google describes relevance]). Beagles are the smartest of the bloodhounds, but the hardest to train – because they have such an acute sense of smell. They can get distracted very easily because of all the smells and stimuli whirring about the world (wide web)… just like your customers.

That said, and perhaps contrary to the focus of this session, landing page optimization is NOT enough! You have to carry the experience all the way to the end – look at all customer journeys and processes, make sure what a customer sees in a banner ad threads through to the landing page and into every subsequent layer of the conversion funnel. Keep the scent alive!

Scent clues include:

  • trigger words
  • offers
  • graphics
  • color
  • shape
  • location

Message Consistency
Let us not forget message consistency. The consistency of a message is not to be forgotten. (See what I did there? :) ) Message consistency is key. Studies show that average conversion rate improves from 5-20% as a result of message consistency, even as high as 100%! Booyah!

The Value peg of the Conversion Trinity is all about you knowing why customers should do business with you, and then lovingly hitting them over the head with that message over and over again, throughout the entire user experience. This can be achieved, for example, by putting a message of your brand’s value in the header of every single page.

Completing the Conversion Trinity – Call to Action. Make your call to action easy and ridiculously apparent. Don’t leave customers to their own devices. Lead them by the nose to exactly what you want them to do and where they should be doing it.

Two Random Ad Writing Tips

  • Be specific about your value – avoid words like “clearance” in your ad copy, and instead, mention the specific #% discounts or $ off.
  • In B2B, CTA in ad is more important than on LP. Once they land on your page, you want them to already know what to do next.

The Anatomy of a Landing Page
Finally, we made it! Okay, so there are three basic types of landing pages:

  1. Ones that want you to take action
  2. Ones that want you to fill out a form
  3. Ones that feature links to more information

On each landing page, there are 9 main sections:

  1. Logo
  2. Headline
  3. Offer
  4. Copy
  5. Product / Service Presentation
  6. CTA
  7. Confidence building materials (like testimonials)
  8. Links to more information
  9. Template elements

(Author’s note: I’m freaking out a little bit because I could have sworn there were 10 sections, but I have no clue what I’m missing, or if I’m missing anything. Fairly certain it’s all there… Moving on…)

What You Should Do Today: Study your landing page. Break it down by section. Compare what you see to the list of 9 sections above. Is anything missing? What? Add it. Can sections be improved? How? Do it.

Next, rate each of the 9 sections across the following 5 dimensions:

  1. Relevance
  2. Quality
  3. Location
  4. Proximity
  5. Prominence

Wrapping up with another clever analogy… Bryan asked the audience to think of the sections of a site as ingredients, and the variables (button color, etc.) as spices. Your landing page is a meal. If its ingredients suck… spices won’t help.

Big thanks to Mr. Bryan Eisenberg, speediest-talker on the circuit, for a superb solo presentation brimming with actionable tactics and rockstar landing page optimization tips. Stay tuned in aimClear blog for more coverage, straight from the scene at #SESNY 2012!

photo credit: azuk
  • Niall Mackenzie

    Thanks for a great write up.

    Would point out though, that the traffic:conversion spend ratio that Bryan mentioned, actually goes like this – for every $92 companies are spending on traffic acquisition, they are spending on average just $1 attempting to convert it. Slight but important difference. Agree though, it’s a less than dazzling ratio.

    The ratio comes from an econsultancy article published last year – http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7657-92-1-marketings-dirty-little-statistic-5

    Thanks again!

  • Lauren

    @Niall – Thanks for the clarification! Appreciated :)

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