How landing pages make – or cost you – sales

What’s the most annoying link you clicked this week? You may not be able to remember, but chances are you were looking for something fairly straightforward – a train time, a new pair of running shoes, the height of Everest… – and clicked a promising link only to be faced with a page which was irrelevant, badly organised, demanding you log in, and/or sign up to a newsletter before you could access the snippet of info you needed. When that happens, you’ve just hit a bad landing page and if you clicked the ‘back’ button in less than a second, you’d be in a vast majority.

So, as a business owner, marketing manager or web developer, how do you make sure that your webpages aren’t having this effect? If you’ve paid per click (PPC) for advertising, having your visitors bounce is particularly frustrating. At boxChilli, we’ve worked on hundreds of campaigns to improve the conversion rate and sales of our clients. Below you’ll find what not to do – and, as you eradicate the worst offenders, we also offer some new ideas to try.

What is a landing page?

A landing page is a specific page which is designed to welcome visitors who have arrived from a particular pathway. It might be static and unchanging or it might be automatically generated. A common example of a static page would be one set up to link to from an ad. Ideally, this PPC landing page should give the user whatever the ad promised, straight away, no fuss no mess. An automatically generated page my be responsive to a users’ search – if they’ve searched for ‘blue dress’ you show them a different selection than if they searched for ‘red dress’.

The home page as landing page

For many websites, most of their traffic comes in from specific searches. Often, the searcher is looking for a product or service that the company actually sells. Despite knowing this, many website owners – even some giant companies – send all new visitors to their home page. Given that most visitors stay on a site for less than 7 seconds, you are using up a lot of that time if you make them find your search bar and type their query in again. Most won’t bother – another sale lost.

Try this – Create a dedicated, static landing page for your most popular or profitable search terms.

Ads that go nowhere

You’ve created an ad and paid actual money to get someone to show it to potential clients, so if a prospect expresses interest by clicking on your ad, you need to make that worthwhile. Conversion rates on PPC advertising vary by industry and region, but dedicated PPC landing pages give campaigns a boost across the board. With advertisements, you’re in full control of the whole process – you know what the visitor wants, so deliver!

Try this – Create a new landing page for an existing campaign with a targeted special offer or curated product selection.

Search results that get it wrong

You searched for ‘green toy tractor’ and the first link gives you red wellies. Even if they’ve got green tractors on them, you’ll still click away. At minimum, landing pages should match the category of the user’s search (perhaps ‘toys’) and a good landing page will make it clear how to refine that quickly. No web developer or marketing expert can anticipate all the quirky queries that will lead people to your site, so dynamic pages are a better choice here.

Try this – Talk to your web development team about using and improving your dynamic landing pages.

The offer on the landing page is out of date

OK, we get it: updating pages manually is hard, and sometimes things slip through the cracks. But if users are faced with an outdated offer, they’ll either demand it anyway (which can be a problem if you no longer have Christmas trees in stock, as it’s July) or get frustrated and leave. Fortunately, web tools are available which let you automatically retire specific offers after a set period, replacing them with a standard image. This is particularly important for PPC landing pages, as lost traffic is costing you money twice over.

Try it – Check your site for expired offers, and set up a process – even just an alert in your calendar – to ensure you deal with them regularly.

It’s there, but where?

Sometimes you hit a landing page and you’re sure the information you need is there… you just can’t find it. As an example, for some companies, like banks, most visitors will be existing customers trying to log in and view their account. These existing customers are a great captive audience and often offer a good conversion rate so it’s tempting to delay them for just a few seconds while you throw up a pop up ad, suggest they sign up to your newsletter or make them hunt past a new offer for the login button. Mostly, you’ll just make them angry.

Try this – Give a friend or family member a list of common actions (search for a product, log in, pretend they’ve followed an ad, and so on) and see how they cope with your site. Listen carefully to their feedback.

No one tested if this works

The page doesn’t load properly; there’s a ‘page not found’ error; the contact us form is out of date; the offer has expired; the product is out of stock… there are so many simple ways a landing page can go wrong which would easily be spotted if only anyone had looked at it.

Try this – Get a friend or colleague to test new landing pages for you, and set a calendar reminder to review old ones.

It works, but it’s dull

Sometimes you tick all the boxes and an organic or PPC landing page still doesn’t generate the conversion levels you were hoping for. In this case, it’s time to pull out the big guns – you need to analyse your market and your page to find out what the culprits are. Alternate designs, different offers and rigorous A/B testing are all good places to start. If that sounds complicated, then…

Try this – Get in touch and the boxChilli team will offer advice and direct action to improve your landing pages.

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