The best color for your CTAs. What hero images work best. How to tweak your headlines. Writing conversion focused copy.
All of these are the bread and butter of writers like me.
We know these articles are going to grab attention because, well, people are always looking for an easy fix.
Marketers the world over dream of changing their button color and seeing a 200% increase in conversions. They fantasize about using a headline template that’ll skyrocket their income, and honestly believe that a better hero image could save a failing business.
And so we create content that plays to those needs.
Often, that content is still relevant and useful. But you know as well as I that good CRO (conversion rate optimization) relies on far more than amending a few on-screen elements. It takes more than a cursory change to turn a failing page into a conversion powerhouse.
Even putting all the aforementioned actions together isn’t a complete solution. Add in some ongoing testing and you’re closer, but still not at the point I’d consider your strategy “well planned.”
No, you see, all of these actions are secondary. Yes, they can help increase your conversions and yes, they need to be a part of your campaign. But they are not where your optimization campaign should begin.
No, if you’re launching a new site or optimizing an existing page, you should be focusing on one aspect. An action often overlooked in the majority of these articles you read.
What’s Often Overlooked, But Incredibly Important
Let me give a realistic example.
I’ve recently been helping a real estate agency improve their landing pages. They were seeing some decent traffic from their PPC ads, but a very low conversion rate from that traffic.
They desperately needed a fix. And so they followed the advice that experts and writers like myself give out. They’d changed button copy, placement, and color. Improved their headlines and even thrown up some pretty awesome images of their properties.
Yet, there was one glaring problem. One which took me a grand total of 30 seconds to notice.
Here’s the journey their prospects were taking.
They’d head to Google and type something along the lines of “2 bed houses in London”. Straight away the agency’s PPC ad was visible and had relevant copy.
Not a bad start.
But as soon as the ad was clicked it fell apart. It redirected to a landing page that had beautiful design, well thought out CTAs (placement, color, and text), great images, and enough social proof.
So, why wasn’t it converting?
Well, my search was for a 2 bed in London. The featured properties on that landing page were all 2 beds in Manchester. Their targeting was off, they’d linked to a page that contained and focused on one of the two keywords in the search term. 2 beds.
If you’re not familiar with the UK, these two cities are on the opposite ends of the country.
Very few who live and work in London would want to move to Manchester and endure a four-hour commute each day.
The client had put a lot of time and effort into optimizing the details of their landing page but had fallen at the first hurdle.
The page they created wasn’t at all related to the solution their traffic needed.
The Most Important Thing for Your Landing Page
Understanding your target market is one of the most important steps you can take before putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard.
Ignore all of the information about the nuts and bolts of landing page optimization and instead focus on your targeting.
Without knowing what your user wants, even the most beautifully designed landing page will fail to convert. Dale Cudmore summed it up well in this piece he wrote right here on the Crazy Egg blog:
“The One Thing That All High-Converting Websites Have
Without it, you won’t be retaining visitors or converting anyone.
We’re talking about value.”
And that’s the key to a successful landing page. Even a poorly optimized, ugly page can convert well if it conveys value to your customers.
It’s a sentiment echoed across the web; your value proposition is the most important factor for high converting landing pages.
So the question then becomes, what makes a landing page valuable?
90% of the advice you’ll read online about landing pages very correctly advises you to consider the user’s stage of awareness. To create specific landing pages for the stage your user is at within their purchase journey.
Let’s look at the image below to help illustrate the stages of awareness.
But awareness is only half of the equation. There’s something else you need to consider to ensure landing pages are as accurate and targeted as possible.
And that’s intent.
If we look once again at the real estate example, then we can say that the landing page was perfectly tailored to the visitor’s stage of awareness. The solution they needed was a two bed house, and they were presented with the right product for their needs.
A 2-bed house.
Now, if they were looking to invest in a two bed anywhere in the UK, that page wouldn’t be so terribly off base. But they weren’t, the intent was to find a place in London.
You’re probably saying that this isn’t a case of intent. That it’s just poor targeting. And you’d be half right. I chose to use my client’s mistake as an example because the mismatch is so black and white.
In the above, the product is the house. Regardless of where it is, the product is a 2-bed house. Manchester, London, Birmingham, or anywhere in the world, a 2-bed house is a 2-bed house.
People searching for 2 beds everywhere have the same level of awareness. They need somewhere to live with 2 bedrooms, and so that’s what they search for.
But the intent differs greatly.
When it comes to real estate there are many different intents. You could have someone who’s looking for a retirement home, a family who needs a property close to good schools, or young professionals who need a small place near the city.
That’s the intent. And in the above, the intent is to live in London, probably because that’s where the visitor already lives and works.
Intent is a huge consideration in proper targeting and needs to be considered if you want to increase your conversions.
Intent and Awareness are Not the Same
If we create landing pages based solely on awareness, you could still risk losing the interest of an audience segment.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, let’s imagine you’re a guy in the unenviable position of purchasing something for his better half.
I’m going to use the Kickstarter campaign for the Unstainable White Shirt as an example here. Don’t think I’m disparaging the campaign. Far from it, the product and landing page for Kickstarter are amazing and undoubtedly contributed to the product’s huge success.
But take a look at the below.
The copy is pretty awesome. It uses a nice little story to bring those in who are unaware of the product, before explaining the benefits. It’s perfect for the target market and would probably still resonate with a lot of the more thoughtful guys out there.
But it might fail to hit the mark with the more pragmatic of men. The guys who purchase gifts based on value and use. Cause these guys aren’t too concerned with the elegance of silk, their partner’s fear of wearing white (purchasing a dark colored blouse is an easier fix), or their partner’s difficulty in committing to wearing a white shirt prior to breakfast.
These are the kind of guys that would come up with a practical, inconsiderate workaround (I know because I’m one of them).
So if the story above wouldn’t appeal to pragmatic men unaware of the product, what would? Well, a slight shift in story focus. A minor adjustment that plays on the man’s pain points associated with his partner wearing white shirts, potentially including:
Wasted time in the morning due to last minute shirt changes
An irritable partner and bad start to the day
This is, of course, just as an example. I’m not saying men are all inconsiderate gits who only think of themselves first, but their reasons for buying something for their partner are very different from the reasons their partner would purchase it for themselves (and please spare a thought for my girlfriend who has to suffer through these kind of non-romantic gifts).
When you’re creating a landing page, you have to consider the intent of the person who is handing over the cash. Two people at the same stage of awareness can have vastly different needs and intent. Especially if one is the end user and the other intends to gift the products to another.
Before I move on I’ll give you another example:
Purchasing a first car:
A newly qualified driver might want a car that’s:
- Reasonably priced
Whereas the person’s father will want something that’s:
- Reasonably priced
You can, of course, create one page that addresses both parties, but by creating landing pages that speak to the intent of each party, you’re more likely to strike a chord and really grab attention.
As I mentioned in the Guide to Conversion Copywriting, you’ve got to start at the end.
If you listen to any successful marketer they’ll tell you one thing.
That your opinion doesn’t matter. What you think your audience wants is rarely correct, and that you have to start by figuring out what the demand is, before moving to fill that demand.
And that’s what so many landing pages get wrong.
Shortcuts seem to be landing page creators best friend. I see so many landing pages with beautiful buttons, benefit laden CTAs and captivating headlines, yet lacking in relevancy.
They follow the detail oriented advice but seem to have no idea who they’re selling to.
Before you do anything with your landing page you have to know exactly who you’re selling to. You have to start at the end and figure out what action it is you want your users to take.
The first questions you need to ask yourself are:
What is the goal of this page?
To get signups, solicit sales, etc.
Who are we targeting?
People purchasing their first car, parent’s buying a car for their children, a man buying a very useful, but hardly romantic gift for his girlfriend…
What’s their stage of awareness?
Just starting their search, product aware
How will we persuade them to take the next step in their purchase journey? (What are the right story elements, benefits, etc. for this stage?)
The more questions you can ask to decide on the specific action and angle of your landing page the better. It’ll not only help you drill down to a very specific segment, but it will also help you stay on track and create a landing page that speaks directly to their needs.
It’s All About a Logical Journey
Tailoring your landing pages by the stage of awareness is a step that will have your pages converting at a higher rate than most others.
But really drilling down to the intent of the user will take everything and kick it into a higher gear.
Conversions come from creating a relevant journey. They’re the result of building trust and ushering your user through each stage. If you fail to hit home with the right intent, then the logical journey progression is broken. You add unnecessary friction into the journey, causing hesitation. Hesitation which kills conversions.
As the years have gone by I’ve seen some advice extolling the benefit of taking a more granular approach. But I’ve also seen some people take a more general approach with their marketing.
They believe in churning out more generic landing pages that speak to one of the more major pain points shared by users.
Personally, I believe the more relevant, the better, but I’d be interested to hear your take on things in this domain. Do you believe that a more granular, focused approach is needed or should we be creating generic pages that focus on a primary pain point?