In conversion optimization, there is a mistaken belief that adding more things to a page is the solution to higher CTRs and more conversions. What I’ve discovered, however, is that there are a lot of things that should be removed from landing pages in order to gain more conversions.
Landing pages often become stuffed with so many extra features, buttons, colors, copy, details, forms, checklists, bullets, videos, options, questions, and headlines that the whole goal — conversions — gets swallowed up in the mess.
Even some pared down and simple landing pages have elements that are superfluous and distracting. The result of such landing pages is a huge amount of friction, which means lost customers, lost conversions, and lost revenue.
Based on my research and experience, I’ve developed a list of some of the most outstanding things that you should remove from your landing page. If you begin by removing these things from your landing page, you will see an increase in conversions.
1. Stock images
Everything on a landing page should say something or do something. It should serve a purpose.
Stock images do not serve a meaningful purpose.
Users know when a photo is stock. There’s an obvious look to it, and the user may have even seen that image or model before. Recognize this guy?
I thought so.
Most experienced web users intuitively block out whatever messages these stock images are attempting to send. In effect, then, stock images are doing nothing but devaluing your brand, wasting landing page real estate, and possibly even annoying your user.
Get rid of stock photos, and replace them with high-quality custom images.
2. Busy backgrounds
Eradicate anything distracting in the background. The main elements of a landing page — heading, value proposition, form, etc. — should reign supreme. If there’s anything that’s cluttering up the background, it’s creating friction.
Friction, as you know, is a very bad thing. One of the greatest culprits of visual friction is background elements that move, shift, have words, have patterns, display images, or otherwise compete for the user’s attention. Remove it.
Don’t be afraid of stark white negative space on your landing page. Learn to love white space. Use white space, and see what a clean white space can do to streamline your landing page.
3. Way too much information
A landing page should not be a repository for a thousand-word manifesto on the greatness of your product or service. Get rid of all the extra information.
With landing pages, less is more. If you don’t need it, get rid of it. In most cases, if someone is going to convert, they aren’t going to spend fifteen minutes reading all your convincing copy in order to do so. In fact, such laborious tedium may actually prevent them from converting.
Obviously, this depends a lot on what the conversion action is. If you’re asking for a social security number or a credit card number, then people are understandably more cautious. They need assurance, proof, and anxiety reduction. Often, lengthy and careful explanation can enhance the process. The bigger the commitment or action, the longer the landing page can be.
David Hartstein wrote about this in a Crazy Egg article:
One of the most distracting elements of a web page is far too much content. You can’t include everything. One of the hardest parts of content creation is cutting what is not absolutely essential. But parting with those extra words is well worth the heartbreak.
Your goal on a landing page is to get the individual to do one important thing. Say it, and be done.
Urgency should lead to brevity. If, for example, you are telling someone to “STOP!” from stepping into the path of an oncoming car, or “Pull the cord!” while parachuting, you don’t mess around with lots of words. You just get the message out.
Landing pages aren’t life or death, but they should still have a sense of urgency that compels you to cut out the tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) and tell them what you want them to do.
4. Two or more call to actions
Don’t try for a twofer. A landing page is about one thing and one thing only.
Here are some examples of trying to get extra actions out of a single landing page:
- While you’re at it, sign up for our newsletter!
- And like us on Facebook!
- Please register for our webinar!
- And then please read this article about why we rock.
No, no, no, and no.
Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger, had this to say on the subject:
The idea that more choices make people happier has been proven to be a psychological fallacy time and again. This “paradox of choice” reveals that when given multiple options, the decision ends up being not to choose at all.
An effective landing page asks for one specific action, and that’s it. And don’t forget to actually clearly ask for that one specific thing, which is an even bigger conversion killer if you don’t.
Keep in mind that some things are call to actions, even if they don’t seem like it.
- Clicking play to watch a video
- Enlarging a picture
- Clicking on anything
- Scrolling too much
- Filling out a CAPTCHA form
If you have one conversion goal, one action, then don’t ask for anything else.
Since a landing page is for one purpose, then a user should only be in one place — that landing page. No where else.
For this reason, remove all navigation items.
A landing page is not truly a part of your navigable website. It is instead an external sales funnel. It is a marketing page, intended to generate leads or score conversions. The user is not supposed to go anywhere else.
You have to take the lead and control user behavior. Anything that a user sees, does, clicks or navigates to is a distraction, and may compromise the conversion.
Hubspot’s study revealed this convincing truth: Removing navigation scores higher conversions. Several study subjects reported these improvement rates:
- Yuppiechef saw a 100% increase in conversion rates (from 3% to 6%).
- Career Point College removed the top navigation and modified its form layout, which increased the conversion rate 336%.
- SparkPage’s conversion rate jumped from 9.2% to 17.6% over the month they ran a test removing their top navigation.
There is disagreement in the CRO community over whether to remove top navigation, bottom navigation, or all navigation. Your safest bet is to get rid of it all.
Any link in your copy that allows users to leave the page is an open door to abandonment.
The whole idea of a landing page is to placer users in a single-action environment where they do only one thing. If you have links to other interesting articles, other pages, or other sites, you are basically opening a door wide, and saying “This way, please. No conversion necessary!”
While internal linking should be part of your SEO strategy, it has no place on a landing page.
7. Boring button copy
Let me be totally clear. If you’re using the word “submit” on your button copy, you need to stop.
Let the numbers convince you. HubSpot tested landing page buttons that used the word “submit” against buttons that did not use the word “submit.” Guess what they found out:
Submit is a techy word that lacks any luster, excitement, joy, or compelling behavior. It’s basically a turn-off.
A button is your chance to give one final compelling statement. Say something with your CTA button. Ask for something. Entice with something. Don’t be boring.
8. Blocks of text
Massive blocks of text on a landing page are a huge signal that say, “This is not worth reading.”
If you must have considerable text, then you need to break it up with headings, bullets, and chunks.
While I’m on the subject of text, let me offer two more crucial warnings:
- Eliminate small text. People don’t like to work to read anything. Like your heading — which should be massively insanely huge — you need readable and large text for anything that you want people to read. If text is small, it suggests that it is unimportant — like a legal agreement or something.
- Eliminate unnecessary text. Remember that a landing page is for a single purpose. If it distracts from that purpose it is superfluous, unnecessary, and begging to be axed. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If the answer is “nope,” then get rid of it.
Conversion consultant Peep Laja made this remark about text:
Small text is difficult to read & may add friction to the sign-up process. On the same note, remove unnecessary text like “enter your details” we already know what to do on a form.
Go ahead and kill the big chunks of text.
9. A form with more than four fields
Your form is probably the most important section of your landing page. Human nature demands that it be short. If you ask for more than four pieces of information, you’re beginning to transgress the boundaries of patience and trust.
Better yet, just ask for one piece of information, usually an email address. Do you need to know what company they work for? Or what their last name is? Maybe you do. But if you don’t, then remove it.
Some landing page experts advise: Make the form look short. It’s really easy. Just slide the form fields closer together, like this.
Here’s the big idea of removing stuff from your landing page. A landing page is about one thing, and one thing only. Focus on that one thing. Get rid of everything that doesn’t support that one thing.
Why would you put more things on a landing page, if those things are only going to distract from the conversion? Simplicity and spartan demands for action characterize a successful landing page
Finally, I recommend that you test every change you make. Although I provide some great advice that works for most landing pages, every site is different. Your results may differ, because you have a different audience, different product, and a different approach. Focus on gaining the best information for your site by testing your changes, and pivoting based on the information you gain.
What landing page elements do you think need to die?
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