8 Tips for Optimizing your Landing Page Conversion Rates

This guest post is by Jonny Steel, Director of Business Development at ClickTale.

You wake up one morning and decide that you would like to double the amount of traffic to your website. Great idea! Your immediate instinct might be to dig deep and succeed to double your marketing budget. However, a much smarter first move (and much easier) is to maximize your landing page conversion rates without spending an extra penny. Often, a series of quick wins, together with some more thorough analysis and testing, can leave you with far better conversion rates.


Based on our experience at ClickTale working with some of the biggest brands in e-commerce, travel, entertainment and financial services, here are our top eight tips for landing page optimization:


Test, Test and Always be Testing
– Even the best designers and usability experts in the world cannot know for sure which message, image and call-to-action will convert best. Don’t ever let the “HIPPO” in the room dictate your decisions (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion, in case you didn’t know). A simple A/B test or a more sophisticated multivariate test will show you how real visitors actually respond to the different versions.

Visualize your Visitors
– You may have several elements on your landing page such as a sign-up form, key value proposition, image, testimonial, special offer and more. Web analytics will show you the click-through rate or conversion rate of the landing page, but you also need to know which elements your visitors actually looked at and what they ignored. ClickTale’s Visitor Recordings and Heatmap Suite show you exactly what your visitors do – where they hover, click, and scroll. You can watch recordings of individual visitors as if you’re sitting behind them or analyze hundreds of visitors on Heatmaps. This visualization of visitor behavior arms you with the knowledge of what content helps to boost conversions and what is just a distraction.

Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
– Always remind yourself that you were not the first person to drive traffic to a website or create a relevant landing page. You may have direct competitors or at least other businesses in your space. MixRank Professional is a great tool for easy landing page research showing you what similar marketers are testing, the changes they make and reveal what they have learned through experience.

Fantastic Forms
– Your landing page may have a simple call to action button, but in many cases you actually want to collect visitors’ information through a simple registration form. You are always split between keeping it short versus collecting more data to make your job easier later on. Rather than basing your decision-making on guesswork, ClickTale’s Form Analytics identifies all the fields in your form and shows you, for each one, where visitors abandon the form, take long to complete, encounter errors or leave it blank. This way you’ll have the most optimized forms possible.

Know Your Goals
– One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is “what is the goal of my landing page?” Sometimes you want to communicate what you do and get visitors to just start clicking. On other occasions, you want them to give you their email address, or even make an immediate payment. Whatever your goal, absolutely everything on the page must be geared towards it. You may have other messages you would like to communicate but if they don’t correspond with your key message, then you’re better off without it. Focus on your value, take out the noise and let yourself be heard.

Clear Call to Action
– The main CTA button must be clear, prominent and seen by all. You’ll be amazed how many leading websites have their call to action button below the fold, hidden among other content or simply not compelling enough. You may want something simple like “Start Now”, “Register Today” or “Free Trial”. On other occasions a slightly longer message might work better like “Start Saving Money Today” or “Try Our No-Risk 30-day Free Trial”. Only testing will help you discover what works best for your visitors.

Build Trust
– Your visitors may be first-timers who don’t know you. One of the most important goals of your landing page must be to reassure them that you are a reliable website which offers them great value. There are plenty of ways to do this but a good first step is to include a handful of logos of existing customers or quotes from satisfied users. If you’ve been featured in any well-known newspapers or websites, add their logos too. They don’t need to take up much space or attention but just to be there to subtly communicate this message.

Lower the Risk
– Make it a no-brainer to proceed. You want visitors who have clicked through to your landing page to spend no more than 30 seconds looking at your page and be convinced that it makes sense to get started. The message in your marketing campaigns should flow smoothly into the landing page. With a key value proposition, simple form, evidence from customers and/or press coverage and of course an attractive design, you will minimize any obstacles. If you can offer them something with zero risk, like a free trial or an opportunity to browse or play without an initial payment, there will be little to hold them back!


About the Author

Jonny Steel is Director of Business Development at ClickTale, responsible for all partnerships, whether agencies or technology partners. With a background in e-commerce, he understands the desperate struggle websites face to understand what their customers are actually doing on the site. His main concern at ClickTale is developing a host of valuable integrations for our customers and ensuring that our valued partners are getting all the support they need. Jonny holds a law degree and MA in War Studies from Kings College, London.

About ClickTale

ClickTale is the leader in Customer Experience Analytics, the next advance in web analytics, optimizing usability and maximizing conversion rates of any website. Its patented Customer Experience Visualization™ technology allows ebusinesses to see their customers’ true-to-life online experience at all levels of detail, from aggregated views to playable videos of users’ browsing sessions. Unlike traditional analytics platforms that assess page-to-page navigation, ClickTale reveals the customer experience inside the page. ClickTale, an enterprise-class SaaS solution, is fast to deploy and provides immediate ROI. Serving over 2,000 customers worldwide including Fortune 500 ebusinesses, ClickTale is the fastest growing company in its space.

You’re Not Failing Enough

I was asked to give a talk about paid traffic sources at 500 Startups last week. The presentation is embedded below.

Although I couldn’t resist diving into deep, specific, tactical stuff near the end, the three most important points I wanted to impress upon my audience were:

  1. Most online ad campaigns (even those created by professionals) fail
  2. The only foolproof way to succeed is to try (and fail) enough to exhaust every other option except the successful one
  3. Therefore, your objective should be to fail as quickly and cheaply as possible

It’s become common knowledge among the lean startup movement that you should launch quickly, iterate, pivot, etc. But I want to take this one step further as applied to traffic (and startups as a whole):

When you launch a campaign, your objective should be to make it fail.

When you launch an advertising experiment, it will most likely fail. The null hypothesis is that it fails. This is a good thing, because it creates defensible barriers to entry for your business.In other words, once you have a successful campaign, a novice with a $100 AdWords coupon won’t be able to disrupt your acquisition channels.

If chances are that your campaign fails, you might as well do it quickly and painlessly.

I know it seems crazy to set a goal of losing money. But just give it a try. Because here’s what happens when a campaign fails:

  1. The campaign failed because it spent money without bringing in enough conversions or revenue to pay for itself.
  2. If the campaign is spending money, it’s generating traffic.
  3. If the campaign is generating traffic, it’s also generating data: click costs, conversion rates, ad copy and landing page split test results, etc.

And as any good marketer will tell you, data is everything. He who has the most data wins.

Don’t aim for launching a campaign that’s instantly successful/viral/profitable. That’s a fool’s errand, and it can only lead to disappointment.

Your only objective with a new campaign should be to collect enough data to validate or disprove your assumptions.

Then go back to the drawing board, use what you’ve learned to create a new campaign that fails slightly less than the last one, and try again.

Don’t worry about the conversion rate or CPC with a new campaign. Just get the data, so you have a baseline you can optimize from.

If you get an additional data point about what works and what doesn’t you win, no matter the result.

Pickup artists call this mindset outcome independence, defined as “The mindset of not focusing on a specific result, or growing attached to any outcome.”

If you’re not attached to the outcome of a split test, you’ll never get demoralized by its inevitable failure. And you’ll never risk giving up on a traffic source or acquisition strategy too quickly because your first few campaigns failed.

This can be an incredibly powerful mindset. Embrace failure. Never stop testing. And the successes will come in time.

The high rate of failure for most ad campaigns is the reason we started MixRank. We built our startup to catalog and analyze millions of split tests and campaigns  so you can learn from your competitors’ mistakes rather than making them all over again.

I don’t post that frequently, so your best bet to get notified about new posts like this one is to subscribe by RSS.

Reading this Book Cost Me $15,000

If you’ve been following this blog you know I am a huge fan of learning marketing from the classics. Indeed, the fundamentals of human psychology and persuasion collected in these books offer tremendous insight that will help you make more money.But, as I learned with a campaign I ran in the halcyon early days of my affiliate marketing career, you can’t follow everything in the textbooks too closely.I was building a campaign for an education(scholarship grant) offer. I had done a little traffic in this vertical before, and I knew it had potential to be a huge campaign. So I was going to do this right, just like the old masters of direct response.Every old marketing book will tell you that 80% of marketing is research. And research I did. I spent weeks learning everything I could about my target market, trying to think like the people visiting my landing pages, finding and analyzing every single advertiser in that space, and so on. I searched all of the keywords I thought would be relevant and made huge spreadsheets of all of the headlines used in the ads and landing pages, what kind of images those landing pages used, meticulously documenting every little detail down to the color scheme they used.And that was before I had written a single word for my landing page. That consumed the next month. I think I wrote over 300 different headlines before finally settling on one I liked, in addition to the thousands of words of copy I kept writing, editing, rewriting, scrapping, and rewriting again, until it was as perfect as I could make it.I figured that it would be better to spend the time to create a high converting landing page than to waste money driving traffic to a worse landing page that might not convert.I was wrong.To say this was a lot of work was an understatement. It was a grind, a relentless slog. But the copywriting books promised that engaging in this process of relentless editing and refinement was worth it all. This, according to them, was what separated the good from the great.Meanwhile, while I was laboring on my landing pages, my competitors had thrown together quick landing pages in a few hours, launched their campaigns, and were testing and optimizing based on actual click and conversion data from their traffic.I was eventually able to launch my campaign, and it was profitable very quickly, to the tune of about $250 a day. Unfortunately, I was only profitable about about a week before conversions started dropping off. My competitors has saturated the market, and the campaign died quickly. If, instead of waiting two months to launch, I had launched this campaign right away, I could have been making $250/day for 9 weeks instead of 1 week.Although I had not spent much money, I had given up $15,000 in lost revenue. The opportunity cost of launching this campaign late was greater than any amount I was afraid of losing from launching with an imperfect landing page.All of the seminal copywriting literature, from Claude Hopkins to Gary Halbert was written in a very different time, when launching a marketing campaign was a slow, expensive endeavor. Back then, in the days of direct mail(that’s snail mail in case it’s not clear) you only had one shot to make a campaign work. If your copy didn’t convert the first time around, after paying for printing, postage, and list rental, you just couldn’t afford to try again.Internet marketing changed all of that. Now, it’s possible to test a campaign for only a few hundred dollars. If it fails, no big deal; most campaigns fail. The goal isn’t to craft the most brilliant campaign ever, it’s to test lots of different things and iterate quickly in response to the data the market gives you.When you’re building a business, any business, you need be cognizant of opportunity costs at all times. This is difficult and does not come naturally or intuitively, and it’s something I still struggle with every day. But you only have to look at how wealthy people manage their time and money to see that mastering the calculus of opportunity cost is a big coefficient, if not a precursor, of creating wealth.I think one of the most important things any businessman does is figure out how to allocate his time and resources most efficiently. You may miss out on a few sales initially because of suboptimal landing pages, but the opportunity cost of delaying launching by even a few days will dwarf those missed sales. Every day spent tweaking your landing pages is another day of missed traffic and revenue, and it is costing you money right now.So don’t waste time tweaking and refining your campaigns before the market has had a chance to validate their potential. Quit fucking around and just launch already.