How to Optimize a Landing Page

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  • 3/19/2020
    Your landing page is the backbone of your conversion path. It’s the support beams that hold up your palace of customer acquisition. In fact, if your landing page were a beverage, it would be water because it’s necessary, integral and you can dress it up with fun flavors to make people like it more.
     
    In this case, your fun flavors aren’t cherry, lemon or lime - they’re graphics, content and page speed. Determining the right formula for your page’s flavor is a process that takes time, knowledge and research.
     
    From start to finish, here’s how to improve page results and ensure you end up with a well-optimized, sparkling lemon-lime landing page.
     

    What is landing page optimization?

    Officially, landing page optimization is the process of adjusting certain pieces or elements of your landing page in an attempt to improve conversion rates or increase instances of a desired action. A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who see your landing page and complete that action
     
    In other words, optimization means making your landing pages better so that users are more likely to do what you’re asking. 
     

    Why should you do it?

    It’s tempting to create a landing page and then throw it to the wolves without ever changing it to get better results or better serve your customers. However, all landing pages should go through some sort of optimization process to improve their performance whether they’re doing well or performing poorly.
     
    Speaking strictly in terms of industry benchmarks, a good conversion rate for landing pages is anywhere between two to six percent. But the best landing pages can have conversion rates up to 27 percent, depending on a number of factors.
     
    A better landing page can lead to more conversions and leads in general, but it can also generate higher quality conversions. Standout landing pages provide quality content catered to the audience’s needs and challenges. Adapting your content to reflect the interests of your target audience will lead to a higher number of conversions from the users most likely to buy into your product or service.
     
    Generating high-quality leads that are more likely to buy is a natural progression into increased ROI, as you will have to put less effort into working your sales pipeline. 
     
    Additionally, if you’re directing users to your landing page with paid advertising, an optimized landing page can maximize your ad spend. If your landing page and ads are targeting and speaking to the same audience, you’re much more likely to see conversions. 
     
    All of this (higher quality leads, maximized ad spending) leads to a higher overall volume of customers with a lower customer acquisition cost metric. Honestly, a better question to ask yourself might be: why WOULDN’T you optimize your landing page?
     

    Where to begin when optimizing a landing page

    There are a few things you should look at before you start changing page elements willy nilly. We suggest knowing the following:
     

    Important KPIs

    This is perhaps the most important thing to know before you start testing landing page optimizations. Your important KPIs are determined by your content goals. For example, if your page features a lot of educational content, you may want to increase time on page. Most likely, your landing page will be focused around your desired audience action, in which case you’ll want to measure your conversion rate.
     

    Current Benchmarks

    In order to determine whether or not your optimization changes work, you’ll need to know where you started. After your original landing page has been up and running for at least a month, take a look at your KPIs and decide what you’re most interested in increasing. Take note of these benchmarks at least every 30 days in a monthly report.
     

    Traffic Sources

    It’s important to understand your traffic sources when optimizing your page. Users coming from different traffic sources may be expecting different content. For example, if the majority of your traffic is coming from organic sources, but your page speaks to audiences who are already aware of your brand message, your content may not be clear. Take note of how many users are coming from the following sources:
    • Organic search
    • Referral
    • Direct

    Determine your audience

    We’ve touched on this a few times already, but here’s where we really hammer it home for you. You can’t optimize your best landing page without knowing who you’re talking to! Look back to your company’s buyer personas and identify the persona you’re primarily looking to target. Take note of their challenges, goals and what you want them to do.
     
    Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, it’s time to conduct in-depth research and perform baseline optimizations.
     

    Underlying causes of poor landing page performance

    Before we get into hardcore optimization strategy, it’s important to do a little baseline check-in with your content. You might be convinced that the problem is in your messaging when page speed is really the culprit. Here are a few things to double check before we dive into optimization testing:

    Optimizing-a-Landing-Page-05-05-(3).jpg

    Page speed

    Visit your page on a different computer and network. Is the load time reasonable, or is it taking so long you have several new gray hairs before the form even shows up? A slow load time could be a result of several things, but check first with your hosting platform to make sure everything is running smoothly in your corner of the internet.
     

    Image sizing

    Huge images could be another reason for slow load times. Make sure image file sizes can be measured in kilobytes (not megabytes or gigabytes) and that images are to scale in height and width. Giant images shrunk down to meet your page sizing requirements can seriously impede your load times.
     

    Javascript

    After all that research, if your page is STILL running at the rate of a snail on his day off, you might have too much Javascript or external third-party scripts hampering your run times. Check with a developer to make sure the page is good to go on the back end and not bogged down by any rogue scripts.
     

    CTAs

    Calls to action are another simple fix for a poor-performing landing page. A true landing page should have one desired action for the user to complete. If your page has one form with three CTAs (or worse - three forms and three CTAs), you could be overwhelming or confusing site visitors. Ensure you have one CTA and one form. 
     
    A true landing page has one message and can be short and sweet or contain a high volume of copy rallying around that message. Avoid using a web page with distracting navigation, pop ups and any other links outside of the one true conversion you're asking for.
     
     
    A true landing page has one message and can be short and sweet or contain a high volume of copy rallying around that message. Alternatively, you can also design a web page with multiple messages to work as a landing page. For example, your business service offerings page can have more than one message about your different services, but contain only one contact form. These types of landing pages should still have one form and desired action for the user to take.
     

    Mobile responsiveness

    Take a look at your site’s device readership and determine whether your users are finding your site on mobile or tablet devices. Odds are they’re visiting from iPhones, Androids, tablets and multiple devices outside desktops. Is your site optimized for mobile viewing or does a tiny screen mess everything up?
     

    Landing page optimization beginner’s research 

    If these quick fixes didn’t help, it’s time to get serious. You’re now searching for ideal elements to change in order to best optimize your landing page. Here’s what we recommend researching before determining your optimization strategy. Take notes on the following:
     

    Try heat mapping

    Heat mapping software allows you to see where users are clicking and what point on the page they’re most often scrolling to. Take note of the most popular places to click and what the audience responds to visually. Could a CTA link be turned into a button? Should your form be moved higher up on the page based on scroll depth? 
     

    Review your UX design

    Is your design simple and clear? Or are your users bouncing around the page, distracted by visuals instead of converting? Make sure your design flows easily and doesn’t hinder conversions. For extra help, we suggest consulting your friendly neighborhood UX design expert.
     

    Utilize testimonials 

    User generated content like testimonials can encourage conversions. Whether they’re in video or text form, including friendly advice from other users can bolster user confidence, making them more likely to convert.
     

    Search for content gaps

    This research piece involves going back to your traffic sources. Are users coming to your site from social media ads, emails or search engine advertising? Wherever they’re coming from, make sure your messaging there aligns with your page messaging. For example, if many people are coming to your page after searching organically for “beekeeping for beginners” and your landing page is offering an eBook called “Advanced Beekeeping,” you haven’t optimized for their search intent and may see a high bounce rate. Optimizing for search intent also ensures better search engine optimization results - a win-win!
     
    At this point, you should be able to look through your notes and pull out several optimization ideas for things you can try to change for better landing page performance. That means it’s time to pull on your lab coat and run some tests!
     

    How to perform a landing page optimization test

    Remember in 5th grade when your teacher had a poster on the wall with the steps of the scientific method? Optimizing your landing page is a lot like the baking-soda-vinegar volcano you presented at the science fair that year. 

    Optimizing-a-Landing-Page-03.jpg
     
    Keep in mind you’ve already completed steps 1-3 above. To move forward, you must decide what element of your page you plan to adjust and how you think it will affect the KPIs that are most important to you.
     
    Then, you must determine whether to run a standard (or single element) test where you change just one element of your landing page and compare the results to your original page benchmarks. Or whether you’ll run a multivariate test where you change several elements at once and compare your results.
     
    We recommend a standard test, especially when you’re just starting out. It can be hard to interpret results of multivariate tests without an advanced platform or expensive software to provide you with clear insights.
     
    Now, it’s time to experiment! Grab your lab goggles (safety first) and change your decided element(s). Now, we wait. 
     
    If your website is low in traffic (less than 25,000 hits per month), you may have to wait 60-90 days before analyzing your results. With high traffic, you need only wait 14-20 days to get accurate measurements. Yes, it will feel like wearing a cast in July in Florida, but you can do it. 
     
    Once adequate time has passed, we’re on to step six: data. Your success rate depends on the KPIs you determined to be most important at the very beginning of this process, whether that’s bounce rate, conversions or page traffic. 
     
    Only then can you reach your step seven conclusion. Take all the knowledge you’ve armed yourself with and determine whether or not your optimization experiment was a success. If it worked, keep your new landing page up and running! If it failed, no worries - revert back to your original page and start again.
     
    Remember, there’s always something to test! Start a mini landing page knockout tournament and keep making changes and analyzing results until you have one landing page to rule them all. This could take years, but even then keep checking back in case your audience, timing or offers change. You can also use this knowledge to create better landing pages for different offerings in the future. 
     

    Tools to assist with optimization

    We use several handy tools to assist us in the scientific method of landing page optimization. Here are some of our favorites to help you with your research and analysis.
     

    Unbounce

    Unbounce is a landing page creation platform that lets you choose from a library of templates or build your own. Their landing pages are already optimized for speed performance and mobile responsive. Unbounce does cost a small fee, but it’s pretty affordable and useful in speeding up the creation and editing process.
     

    Lucky Orange

    Remember when we talked about heat mapping above, and how it shows you where your customers are most often clicking or scrolling on your page? Lucky Orange is a tool that shows you your heat mapping report to help you make decisions based on user behavior.
     

    Hot Jar

    Hot Jar is another heat mapping tool we recommend when researching your landing page performance. It’s a bit less popular than Lucky Orange, because it does not allow for heat mapping of a live site, but it does offer a free account option if you’re new to the process and hesitant to pay for heat mapping software.
     

    Google Optimize

    Google Optimize is a free platform that integrates with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to help you A/B test your landing pages. It’s very useful because it allows marketers to work without a developer on hand and can provide great insights into your data analysis and results. 
     

    Google Search

    When in doubt, Google it out! If you’re looking for landing page inspiration or examples of great landing pages, Google is your best friend. Plenty of sites create roundups or well-organized, effective pages and explain what makes them great. You can learn a lot just from searching “landing pages examples” or “what does a good landing page look like.”
     
    If we leave you with anything, it’s that you should always test and then test again! Creating a great landing page takes time, but the results are priceless. Throughout the process, you’ll get important insights into audience behavior that you can use and test throughout your marketing efforts.
     
    A little research and a lot of time and patience are our favorite recipe for a beautifully optimized page. 

    In need of more best practices for your marketing? Subscribe to our Marketing Momentum or Data Download e-newsletters!
     
    About the author::Dan Lyons is a Digital Marketing Team Lead at thunder::tech. He develops and implements well-rounded digital campaigns that help clients achieve their business goals. He's best described as a positive, hard-working person who enjoys working out and a good laugh.
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