So, you’ve created an amazing marketing campaign, all your ads are set up, equipped with great keywords and great copy. You’ve built a landing page, automated follow up emails, and your analytics are all set.
You’re ready to go!
So you launch your first ad campaign and slowly, your ad budget is being sacrificed to the Google gods. First $10, $20 and $50, but still no sales. Weird. Nothing to see yet but you’re still confident.
After all, there’s not enough data yet and you know patience is key for ad ROI.
Then you hit $75, then your first $100. You’re starting to get shivers. This is not looking that hopeful anymore.
$130 then passes by. You’re feeling uncomfortable now. Maybe it’s time to consider pausing the campaign?
$150, then $170. The waiting game is making you pretty anxious now.
$200, $250, Okay – it’s time to pause the ad and find the courage to to tell your boss what happened.
Does this sound familiar? Not sure what went wrong here?
Maybe the Google gods simply weren’t generous today?
You’re always hearing about how AdWords can increase your sales but you’re thinking that perhaps it’s just not meant for your business.
I can say this definitively: if you had clicks on your ads then the issue was most likely your landing page.
And here’s where this article comes in: I’m launching a series where I’ll be critiquing ads and their associated landing pages as thoroughly as possible.
My goal is to make sure that you avoid that awkward conversation with your boss after dumping hundreds of dollars down the advertising drain. Instead, you’ll be able to flaunt your ad knowledge and show some serious ROI!
Before we jump into the landing page reviews, I’m going to give you a bit of background on what I’ll be critiquing.
First let’s start with the ad. It’s the first interaction the web user has with your campaign.
Since Google AdWords is the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) option, we’ll focus on best practices for using their ad platform (for now).
Google is the largest search engine out there and can provide tons of traffic and can convert very well if used correctly.
Your ad should be very clear about what you’re offering on your landing page. Tell the people reading your ad exactly what they will get if they click-through to your landing page.
One of the most important things to remember when creating an AdWords campaign is that the search terms match the keywords you’ve used in your ad’s headline, which matches your landing page’s headline.
This will significantly increase your click-through rate, reduce your bounce rate and therefore increase your conversions.
Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about:
Okay, but why?
Here are three substantial reasons:
- If the user’s search terms match your ad’s headline, the search terms they use will be bolded in your ad. This shows the user the relevancy of your ad to their search terms.
- If the ad and landing page headlines don’t match, visitors will get scared they have clicked on an irrelevant link and bounce from your landing page.
- Google will give your ad campaign a better Quality Score – which is what Google uses to determine whether or not your ad, keywords and landing page are relevant enough to get a good ad positioning. Relevant ads get higher Quality Scores.
So, what is a landing page, anyway?
First thing, first – landing pages are not homepages. Please never use a homepage as a landing page.
A landing page is a distinct page on your website where visitors traffic to. Unlike blog or product pages, a landing page’s main source of traffic is ads. Landing pages are optimized for a single, prominent conversion.
There are two types of landing pages:
- Click-through landing pages
- Lead generation landing pages
Lead generation landing pages have a prominent form, as the main goal is to get useful information out of visitors. This form often contains several fields and a call-to-action button.
Click-through landing pages warm visitors up for a sale. For example, a page that has a “learn more” or “contact us” button.
Great, so what can I promote on my landing page?
Landing pages can be used for a variety of offers, such as:
- A limited-time coupon
- A webinar registration
- An event registration
- An ebook download
- A free course
- A consultation service
- An email newsletter signup
- A pre-launch signup
…and many more.
Now that you have a few ideas of what you can promote on your landing page, let’s go through 7 landing page terms you need to know:
- A/B Testing: A/B testing is the basis for optimization in online marketing. It involves testing one version of a landing page against another: there’s a control (‘A’) and a variable (‘B’). We test variables to see which produce the best results (ROI) for your landing page.
- Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of your visitors that navigate away (aka ‘bounce’) from your landing page.
- Conversion: The conversion is the action your visitor takes on your landing page to becomes a lead.
- Conversion rate: The percentage of visitors that convert on your landing page.
- Lead: Leads are consumers interested in your product/service/offer. They are obtained when they convert on the call-to-action of a landing page.
- KPIs: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the specific metrics you use to track and measure your campaign objectives. For example: number of leads, number of visitors to site, pages visited, etc.
- ROI: This is how we measure the profit from our marketing efforts. To calculate it, we take the revenue obtained from advertisement minus the cost of goods sold divided by the cost of goods sold.
Now we’ll go through what makes a landing page effective.
9 essential elements of an effective landing page:
- A Headline. The headline is the first thing visitors will read on your landing page. It should describe your offer in its best light (often with a USP) and as succinctly as possible.
- A Subheadline (aka subhead, subheader). The subheadline is the copy below your headline and should add to and support your headline’s statement.
- A Visual. This is usually a photo, image or video. Your landing page needs to include visual elements of some sort to capture the attention of visitors. Images engage your visitors and often allow them to connect with your offer on a personal level if executed correctly.
- Social Proof. This is an important aspect of your page as it tells visitors that their
peers endorse your offer (or business). Social proof can come in many forms, such as a customer review, client logos, celebrity endorsement, video testimonials, number of clients, etc.
- A Directional Cue. Directional cues guide your visitors attention towards an aspect of your page (usually the CTA). Direction cues can be subtle or obvious: such as an image of a person looking towards your landing page’s form or just an arrow pointing from your benefit list to your CTA button.
- The Call-to-action (CTA). A call-to-action is the action you want your visitors to make on your page (also known as the “ask”). Calls-to-action usually come in the form of buttons and include short phrases such as, “Try it out for free,” or “Download the guide now.”
- A Benefit List. A benefit list tells your visitors what they will get from converting on your offer. What makes your offer so great visitors can’t pass it up? Benefits tell users what the features of an offer will give them. Your landing page should include anywhere from 3-5 bullet points.
- A Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What makes your offer different from the next? You need to communicate why landing page visitors should convert. This should be included in your headline or subheadline.
- Mobile Optimization. There are a lot of convincing statistics to convince you as to why you should have your landing pages optimized for mobile. It’s been said that mobile will dominate digital ad spend within 3 years. Not to mention that 51% of the time spent in the US on digital media is on mobile devices.
Let’s take a look at where these nine elements can appear on a landing page:
So now you know if you include all nine of those effective landing page elements you’re on your way to having an effective landing page. But that’s not all, there’s still more for you to learn (hence this series).
Lastly, let’s go through some common best practices for landing pages. They’re based on the above essential elements of an effective landing page.
18 landing page best practices:
- Keep it simple. Everything, really. Nothing is worse than a cluttered and confusing landing page. Don’t include any elements that aren’t beneficial to the conversion goal.
- Only feature one offer on your page. This is extremely important! Your landing page needs to have a singular conversion focus.
- Use images to feature your offer. When you use a photo to show your offer, it helps visitors visualize themselves with the offer, which can help them convert.
- Use an explainer video. Offering a product or service? Explainer videos are great for highlighting the benefits. Learn more about explainer videos here
- Don’t use obvious stock photos. It has been said that visitors ignore stock photos when they see them. Therefore, there is no point to even having cheesy stock photos at all.
- Use whitespace to bring attention to important aspects of your landing page. Whitespace (leaving parts of the page untouched) helps draw attention to focal points of your landing page (such as your CTA).
- Use descriptive copy on your CTA button. This is to ensure that leads know what they’re signing up for. Descriptive copy has been known to increase conversion rates.
- Don’t be afraid to make your CTA button slightly obnoxious. You want your CTA button to contrast with the rest of your landing page. Also, try making the CTA button bigger.
- Make your landing page copy as short as possible. No paragraphs and no unnecessary information. Make it easy to skim.
- Think about your CTA’s positioning. Experimenting with where your call-to-action (CTA) appears on your page can increase conversions. This is a good thing to test on your landing page.
- Encapsulate your form. If you have a lead generation landing page, you likely have a form. Make sure that it’s easy to find. This can be achieved with a simple border around your
form and some form of contrast.
- Keep your form fields to a minimum. Only ask for a mandatory phone number if it’s necessary for your offer, such as a sales call or a service request. You don’t want to intimidate your visitors and have them bounce because your form has 10 fields. Try to keep it down to 5 or less.
- Use auto-focused form fields to highlight your form. Auto-focused form fields are a feature on a lot of landing page builders. This is where a cursor will appear in the first field of a form without having the visitor click anywhere. Magic!
- Focus on the benefits, not the features. As I mentioned in the essential elements of an effective page, benefits usually outshine features on landing pages. Take 5 minutes to think of what the benefits of your offer are.
- Don’t use a navigation bar! This is a common error I see on landing pages all of the time. You don’t want your visitors browsing your website, you want them converting. So don’t give them the option to get lost and bounce from your site. Give them a clear path to conversion.
- Use a countdown timer for a limited-time offer. Countdown timers help relay the urgency of your offer, and often entice visitors to convert now as opposed to later (or never).
- Make sure your landing page reflects your ad. I’ve said this a few times already, but it is extremely important for decreasing your bounce rate.
Bottom line: test everything. These are best practices for other landing pages, and sometimes a/b tests can really surprise you.
I hope you enjoy my landing page critiques!
Note: I don’t actually click on the ads referenced in this article series. Instead, I copy the ad’s link address and extract the landing page URL from the code. There’s no need to charge a business for an ad I’m not going to convert on.
Remember to bookmark this page! You can check back anytime to find all of my landing page critique articles here (I update this page regularly):
- Landing Pages Reviewed #1: Plumber Examples
- Landing Pages Reviewed #2: Real Estate Examples
- Landing Pages Reviewed #3: Photographer Examples
- Landing Pages Reviewed #4: Personal Trainer Examples
- Landing Pages Reviewed #5: AdWords Agencies
- Landing Pages Reviewed #6: Car Dealerships
- 6 Advanced Tricks to Optimize Landing Page Conversions
- How to Create Landing Page/Google AdWord Combos That Convert
- 30 Landing Page Terms You Need to Know
- The Data-Driven Guide to Landing Page Design
- 25 Tips to Optimize Your Landing Page Conversions