Recently, I’ve watched landing pages explode with creativity and new levels of power. For a long time, landing pages were pretty much all the same — a headline, a few bullets, and a capture form.
And they were boring. Dull. Not to mention ineffective. You can A/B test headline placement and CTA button color until the end of the age, and not experience any significant uptick in conversions. It’s big thinking, big ideas, and mold-shattering innovations that really take you places.
We’re in a new era of landing page optimization. Designers, marketing pros, SEOs, CROs, UX experts, and other professionals have pooled their collective wisdom to come up with landing pages that blow the mind and defy conventional wisdom. These are not your grandma’s landing pages.
Here are some of the disruptive elements in landing page optimization that I believe signal a new era in landing page design.
1. Multiple Calls to Action
- Conventional wisdom: Use a single, powerful CTA
- New strategy: Use multiple CTAs throughout the page. Placing a CTA after each persuasive technique increases the likelihood of a conversion at other points throughout the page.
Using several CTAs on a page sounds like a recipe for user confusion. But not if you do it the right way.
First, let me tell you what the wrong way is. You should not have different calls to action. In other words, a landing page is about one thing. Asking the user to do several things is not good — sign up for the newsletter, like you on Facebook, get your free ebook, and buy your product. No. Don’t do it. One thing. Just one thing.
Even though you have have multiple CTAs, they should all be calling for the same action.
Adding in more calls to action can increase the likelihood of a conversion. Here’s how the multiple CTA technique is used.
Long landing pages.
It would make zero sense to have a bunch of CTAs on a short page. The landing pages that use more than one CTA are usually long.
A page with parallax features — or at least chunks of visual segments — can use this technique with power. Each section of the page comprises its own landing page within a landing page. The section that fills the browser screen at that point has its own images, features, copy, and call to action.
Through flow follow.
The most strategic way to use several CTAs is to do so in a way that tracks with the user’s thought process. For example, the first section of the landing page answers the question, “What is this service all about?” The images, copy, and headline answer that question. Then, there is a CTA. At that point, the user may be ready to convert, so he or she can click on the CTA.
If not, the user scrolls down to the next section. This section answers the question, “How will this help me?” Again, after the persuasive copy, there is a CTA. The user has another chance to convert at this point. If not, there is an additional section below that addresses other concerns — cost, guarantee, product comparison, etc. Each section has its own discrete CTA.
Let’s take a look at this technique on several landing pages.
Basecamp’s landing page looks like an ordinary single-view landing page with a fat headline and big CTA button:
Actually, the landing page is long.
Each section of the landing page has its own CTA. Three large CTA buttons will help to convert users at any given point on the landing page.
Dell’s storage solution landing page takes this approach. The innocuous “learn more” text isn’t the strongest CTA I’ve ever seen, but at least it appears 15+ times on their landing page.
Landing pages with lots of CTAs stand a higher chance of conversions. The more intuitive and strategic the placement, the better.
2. Longform Content
- Conventional wisdom: Make your landing page short.
- New strategy: Create lots of content in order to completely answer the user’s questions, provide assurances, and give them all the information that they need to convert.
The idea behind short landing pages is to reduce time friction. If the copy is compelling enough and the copy is short enough (so went the thinking) then the landing page will be effective.
But maybe not. Maybe for issues of greater buy-in and higher significance, users want more information before they will convert. Maybe the whole idea of a landing page is to give the user everything that he or she needs to know before signing up, buying, or sharing an email address.
An A/B test from Marketing Experiments found that a longform landing page performed 220% better than it’s short-form, above-the-fold CTA counterpart:
Long landing pages have an inherent SEO advantage because of their extensive copy. But they also have a persuasive edge. The wider variety of persuasive techniques you unleash on a page, the greater your chance of converting any given user.
Different buyers are persuaded in different ways. There are three main types of buyers — spendthrifts, tightwads, and the unconflicted. It’s important to craft a landing page that has techniques that will address each type.
Conversion Rate Experts created a landing page for Moz, which was effective at harnessing a million dollars in sales. The number one secret that they revealed was this:
We created a page long enough to tell the story. There’s a popular myth among web marketers that “long pages don’t sell.” These people believe that it’s much better to have short pages that don’t require scrolling. What we’ve discovered from many client consultations around the world is this: What counts is not how long your page is but rather how engaging it is.
But here’s the thing. Longer pages are usually more effective at being engaging than short ones.
When Conversion Rate Experts got done redesigning Moz’s landing page, it was six times longer than the original.
And it was dozens of times more effective.
Kindle’s landing page is enormous. But if you have any question about the Kindle — any issue that needs to be address prior to purchasing — this landing page will answer it.
3. Strong Visual Features
- Conventional wisdom: Keep landing pages as simple as possible.
- New strategy: Add visual elements that engage users, attract attention, and improve conversions.
If a page lacks visual panache, it’s not going to be very effective at converting users. The simple truth is that people want to look at pretty things. If a landing page is not pretty, the user imports that “not pretty” idea into their idea of the product or service. If, by contrast, the landing page has a lot of visual interest, it creates a superior user experience.
VW.com uses landing pages that are packed with visual features. They sell cars based on how they look. Notice the spread of photos on this landing page.
Scripted looks more like an infographic than a landing page.
Inspiron is selling a tangible device, so obviously people want to see it if they are going to buy it. That’s why the Inspiron landing page features a prominent image and options for additional pictures.
I’ve discovered that videos are part of this visual power, too. Vidyard recently tested a video on their landing page, and came away with a 100% increase in conversions.
- Challenger “D” – video in a light-box
- Challenger “H” – video in an embedded iframe
- Challenger “J” – a version of the page with no video
Video helped improve conversions on CrazyEgg’s landing page, thanks to some optimization by Conversion Optimization Experts. They reviewed the case, and made this remark:
Even though the video’s message was similar to that of the rest of the page, during the split-test the version of the page with the video in it generated 64% more conversions than the control.
Images and videos are an important part of the sales process. Landing pages do not exist merely to capture information. They are a huge part of the conversion funnel. Without images and visual power, landing pages are completely uncompelling.
4. Interactive Elements
- Conventional wisdom: The only thing a user should have to do is input their information.
- New strategy: Invite interaction, and you gain buy-in, which leads to an increased likelihood of conversions.
When I think about optimizing a landing page, I like to consider interactive elements. An interactive element is anything that invites a user’s active participation, beyond just visual intake and scrolling. I would place videos in this category, especially those that require the user to click and play.
There are other ways to invite interaction. If you can compel a click/tap on your landing page, you are inviting the user to interact. This requires that you develop interactive elements somewhere on the page.
CommVault uses an interactive calculator on their storage solution landing page:
Inviting customer buy-in without asking for an explicit conversion is a strategic way of drawing them further down the conversion funnel.
5. Extremely Short
- Conventional wisdom: Every landing page should have a headline, subheadline, value proposition, and bullet points.
- New strategy: Use a single explosive technique to compel conversions.
I don’t recommend the short landing page technique for everyone, but I’ve seen incredible effectiveness in some cases.
My personal website, Neilpatel.com, is short but powerful. With less than fifty words, one image, and one color, I’ve boosted conversions by incredible amounts.
The power is in the simplicity.
I believe in long landing pages, but for some types of conversion actions, shorter works.
CrazyEgg has tested the same model — really short.
Again, the success is in the simplicity. All the elements that are necessary to score a conversion are right there. The process is so straightforward and simple that the user can’t help but convert.
Optimizely knows a thing or two about landing pages. They’re using the same technique. Short short.
There is no such thing as a formula for the perfect landing page. What used to be accepted as unchanging wisdom has been shattered by powerful innovation.
But even in the brave new world of new landing page techniques, the new is not necessarily the better. For example, in this article, I suggest both a short landing page and a long landing page. Which one is right?
The right solution depends on your product/service, your customer, and your conversion action. The right solution is always strategic, never formulaic.
My advice is to question conventional wisdom, experiment with wild variations, and discover unknown conversion power through unorthodox means. (And don’t forget to A/B test.)
What unconventional landing page solutions have you discovered?
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