Landing Page Conversion Rate: Ask these 5 Questions and Solve 80% of your Issues
Not satisfied with your landing page conversion rate? 5 critical questions you need to ask yourself.
We call this “Common Sense UX” (User Experience)…
Do you remember the last time when a friend or college recommended you this new restaurant in town? A place he was totally impressed with. Great sushi, fantastic atmosphere, a place “where you really enjoy your evening”.
Now, a week later, you are in the area in town and you decide to give it a try. You’re looking around in the street your friend indicated and…
there it is!
You might be wondering what this has to do with users’ online behaviour. I will provide you with the proof in a minute, but your experience will be almost identical to the one of a new visitor landing on your website.
Let’s get back to the basics, and you will see how this restaurant experience will be quite enlightening and can teach you a lot about how to significantly improve the landing page conversion rate on your website.
Most likely you will, consciously or more often subconsciously, ask yourself the same 5 fundamental questions people will be asking themselves when landing on a page of your site and the answers to these will determine how successful the experience is.
A restaurant has to put their new client’s mind at rest and make them feel at home, show them what’s on the menu and explain the specials, help them order and serve them flawlessly, and have their customers so at ease that they’ll even ask for the dessert menu.
The same applies to your landing page so here are 5 questions and if your page is providing a compelling answer (I’ll show you how to do it in this article) then you will address 80% of the issues your customers may encounter when arriving there AND anticipate customer frustration!
Before continuing, open a new tab in your browser with a landing page of your site, the one you use for your acquisition campaigns, and check how it measures up to to provide answers to these 5 questions.
Landing Page Conversion Rate: Ask these 5 Questions and Solve 80% of your Issues
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1. Where am I?
‘When you are looking for the recommended restaurant, you want to have no doubt that you found the right place. You don’t want to find yourself sitting inside and realising that it is the wrong place.”
On your website, visitors need to see immediately where they are and who you are.
Do the easy part first here. Make sure your name and logo are clearly visible and easy to find in the place your visitors expect it to be:
At the top left.
Also, as with your friend who was recommending and briefly describing this sushi restaurant, your visitors saw your text ads, banners, emails, or typed a search term in Google and then clicked (meaning that they are standing in front of the door).
Based on what they have seen in the ad or what they searched for, endeavor to trigger a sense of familiarity: show them on the landing page that will look familiar to them – with the same logo and colours, similar content and ideally the same headlines as in your ads.
That triggers a state of cognitive ease. Also, your users won’t even realize, but they’re experiencing the first stage of the “Mere-exposure effect” (a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them).
On your homepage, be 100% precise and clear what you are offering and what your business is about and create a sense of familiarity based on the traffic sources.
A few good examples of landing pages that immediately show where the visitor is:
2. Why am I here?
“You came to this restaurant because of your friend’s recommendation, i.e. you have certain expectations and you’re looking for clues to positively satisfy these expectations.”
Now, think about how the majority of new visitors are coming to your website for a moment.
It is probably:
- SERP traffic from your nice rankings on Google after having typed a search keyword
- PPC or ad traffic which you paid for, people clicked somewhere on a text, video or image ad from you
- Youtube or other social media traffic
- Referral traffic.
Put yourself in their shoes. They came to your place because “someone” “recommended” it or because they took some prior action. So they have certain expectations. And consequently they will most likely ask themselves…
3. Is this for me?
The first step is to reassure them:
If your friend presented the sushi restaurant as a “good value for money” place, you do not expect to see Porsches, Ferraris and Bentleys parking in front.
So tell them that they are at the right place.
If your target customer is the small business owner who looks for an invoicing solution, then you may say:
Accounting made for you, the non Accountant (Freshbooks)
If your target customers are people with a car looking to make a few hundred dollars on the side, then you may say:
Make up to 35$/hour driving your car (Lyft)
Once you have got their attention, because they realize: “This is for me”, then it is time to get a little bit further into your value proposition. And a good value proposition is unique, specific and relevant.
But for this, be aware that attention spans are extremely short (… and getting shorter):
Microsoft conducted an experiment monitoring online behavior. The results showed that ‘the average attention span of people while on the Internet decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to only 8 seconds in 2013, meaning 1 second less than a goldfish!’
A user who clicked on your ad will see your landing page and make an assumption in less than 8 seconds, that’s why he has to quickly understand the link between the ad and your page’s content to keep on reading.
Join 5 million people using Freshbooks to painlessly send invoices, track time and capture expenses
To the small business owner who is a non-accountant, this is
- specific (“painlessly”),
- relevant (I need to “send invoices, track time and capture expenses”), and somewhat
- unique (already 5 million people are using it, wow that’s social proof).
To come back to our restaurant:
Nobody wants to know you’re the best Japanese restaurant in town (they all say that). Use an element that makes you stand out of the crowd: “Our sushi is made by a native Japanese chef, who was trained by the great Masa Takayama in his Michelin-starred restaurant”.
How can you evaluate wether your Value Proposition is good, bad, or missing?
- A pure data check:
Look at your Bounce Rate in Google Analytics to have an estimate of how many users left as they most likely did not understand your core message, i.e. they didn’t see the connection between the ads and your website.
Providing a “typical” bounce rate is as if you wanted to provide a typical duration of how long a pope remains “in office”. For the pope, it depends on his age when he gets elected and his health condition in the years after. For the bounce rate it depends on the type of page where the visitor is landing, the traffic source, your industry and many others.
If you are nonetheless looking for averages, here they are.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a NEW visitor, look at your landing page (not more than 8 seconds) and ask yourself:
Why should a visitor take action (and why should he do it now)?
If your page does not provide a clear and compelling answer to this question, you’ve got a problem. In this case you might really want to work on your Value Proposition.
You may be asking:
How can I do it practically? Well, here are 3 guidelines for a better Value Proposition:
- Think about a maximum of 3 points that make you REALLY different from your competition
3 points are enough to explain to your visitors the reason why they should pick you over your competitors. If you need more than that, then you have a (big!) problem to convey your value proposition during the limited attention span of your visitor. Go and do your homework.
- Be wary of the ‘curse of knowledge’
“Once we are knowledgeable about something, it’s very difficult for us to imagine how it was when we did not have this knowledge”.
If a company’s playground is in the world of marketing (selling marketing services or tools), you would expect that those guys are capable to walk their talk and “market” their services compellingly.
But mostly it’s this what you see (an example of websites of exhibitors at a major marketing conference in Germany (DMExco)):
“Building the World’s Travel Graph”??? WTF is this…
Or read this and explain me in easy plain English what it means:
Ouch!!! These homepages put me in a state of Cognitive Strain, i.e. a stressful state of mind, (read more in Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize Winner).
This state is usually triggered when our brain feels uneasy, as if something is out of place and it is forced to start thinking hard to make sense of things.
When I read Landing Pages as those above, my brain feels almost like I were sitting on Larry Olivers’s dentist chair in Marathon Man.
So use terms anyone can understand and get straight to the point.
- Inspire action by using verbs.
Would you rather ‘start saving 50% off your monthly bill’ or see ‘cheap options for your monthly spending’?
Verbs will also help to invigorate your content and avoid the excessive use of ‘is’, ‘are’ and so on.
4. What should I do?
“You’re in but now you’re not sure if you should wait to be seated or just grab a table. Do you order at the bar or is it table service, and will the menu be on the table or should you just grab one?”
It’s just the same on your website: visitors are on your page, they know who you are , that they are at the right place and why they’re here.
So now you need to tell them what you want them to do. And don’t be shy, say it loud and clear:
- You want their details? ASK them to fill in a form
- Want them to call you? ASK them to call you, or book a call with you
- Want to show off your product? ASK them to watch a demo
The idea is simple: if you reduce the time a user spends thinking, you’ll reduce their Cognitive Strain. Just drive them down the right path.
5. Why should I do it?
“Once you look at the menu, you do not want to get doubts wether you should order something or not. The menu has to be appealing enough to make you actually order something.”
Think about it: It’s likely that you’re not the only company offering your products or services.
How many websites do you think users have visited before landing on yours?
Let’s look at travelers for instance: on average they visit 38 different websites before booking their vacation and 81% of online buyers do some research before actually buying.
So the objective is: make sure your user doesn’t go somewhere else and that they pick you over any of your competitors.
How to achieve this goal?
There are several distinct means; here are the top 4 incentives to make them act.
- Make sure your Value Proposition is compelling and convincing (see above). It’s the essence of why your visitor should act.
- Reassure them wherever you can:
Think about when you last left a webpage and went looking for a competitor’s offer. Why did you do it?
Most likely because you were not sure whether the offer you found was the best one.
☞ Maybe there were no testimonials from satisfied customers or no reviews and ratings (or they were not credible)
☞ Maybe there were no reassuring messages saying that this is the best deal on the web
☞ Maybe there were no guarantees (money back, free testing, ….).
So… anticipate and put this content on your webpage. Here are examples how the best converting websites do it:
- Use persuasive cognitive biases throughout your copy to influence your visitors’ decision.
Refer to the various scarcity & urgency messages in the above image. Here are up to 250 scientifically proven tactics, all of them based on cognitive biases, which you can use today on your website, without the need for a developer. And a lot are free to use :).
- This is an often overlooked one, despite the fact that its beginning is rooted in history. It’s about your copy:
It was a harsh winter in New York City. The year was 1904. The wind howled outside, and rattled the windows of the tiny bar on the street-level floor of one of Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers. A young man in a rumpled suit sat by himself, at a corner table, smoking a cigarette and drinking from a mug of cold coffee. John E. Kennedy was a neatly-dressed man, and his eyes were alert. He did not drink alcohol. He was in the bar for a different purpose. He kept glancing at the door, as if he were waiting for someone.
Over a half hour earlier, Kennedy, an unknown copywriter, had scribbled a note and sent it upstairs, into the corporate offices of the glittering tower above. He had sent the note to Albert Lasker, one of the most powerful men in the advertising world at that time. The note said, “I can tell you what advertising is. I know that you don’t know.”It was brash. A bold move. And a total bluff.
Kennedy was betting the note might intrigue Lasker. Kennedy thought he had come up with a unique angle on how to define advertising, an angle he had never heard from anyone before. He smiled and tapped his cigarette on the ashtray next to his coffee mug. The note really amounted to the most daring bit of copy he had ever written. It was short. It was simple.
It was copy about copywriting.
The front door of the bar swung open, and Kennedy looked up. When he saw the young man, the messenger he had paid to carry the note to Lasker’s office, Kennedy smiled. It had worked. He flicked his cigarette into the coffee that had grown cold as he waited, shrugged on his coat, and put on his hat.
He was about to meet with the world’s most influential ad man, Albert Lasker.
That meeting would change advertising forever. Kennedy had no idea that Lasker had been searching for a satisfactory answer to this very question for seven years. Lasker’s curiosity was sparked by the mysterious note from a total stranger, so he met with Kennedy.
In that historic meeting, Kennedy gave him a three-word definition of advertising: “Salesmanship in print.”
It seems obvious now. Not so much in 1904.
It was a keen insight from the brilliant young John E. Kennedy.
This meeting changed Kennedy’s future—within four years, he was making well over six figures as Lasker’s chief copywriter, at a time when that salary placed him squarely in the top 1% of all income-earners in the world.
Along with Kennedy’s future, the nature of advertising was also forever changed. Even today, in the internet age, our marketing and selling processes are still informed by Kennedy’s insight.
Advertising, and by extension copywriting (which is the writing of ads and webpages) is simply salesmanship in print.
In our case today, “print” can be extended to include not just paper and ink, but also web pages, videos, podcasts, social media updates, and more.
It is my proposal to you that copywriting is, in fact, one of the most pivotal and essential business skills you can learn.
Well, this story is based on Ray Edward’s book “How to write copy that sells”. Buy it. And use it. It’s one of the best $10 investments you can make.
ALWAYS be putting yourself in your (new) visitor’s shoes and be asking these questions:
- 1. Where am I?
- 2. Why am I here?
- 3. Is this for me?
- 4. What should I do?
- 5. Why should I do it?
If you provide a clear and precise answer on your page…
… you have resolved 80% of your conversion rate problems and avoid that your visitors get frustrated.
Thanks Marcello for the inspiration for this article :).