In a world of digital overload, you have less than three seconds to keep your website visitors on your site and convert them to users.
Which is a pretty daunting hurdle to overcome for an early-stage company just starting out. The secret is in perfecting your first impression with the visitor -- which always means designing a fantastic landing page.
The good news is that building a compelling landing page primarily means focusing on your core message and removing the major pitfalls that cause new visitors to ditch before they click through. Here’s how to make that happen with just a few tweaks.
1. Being Clear vs. Being Clever
Why did the chicken cross the road? To buy one of our egg-celent SEO packages!
This has probably (hopefully) never actually been used as landing copy, but it should prove what we’re getting at. When you’re looking for a product, are you hoping for a joke or information on something that will really solve some sort of need?
The tendency in creating landing pages is to appeal to some emotional sense in hopes of “grabbing” a visitor or impressing him/her into staying. But what can end up happening is the creation of overly vague, nondescript copy that doesn’t give the visitor enough incentive to pursue your product any further. The company in question is likely to then boast about their services and accolades or what makes them “different” in their own words.
But do we really care about this as consumers?
Instead of lending your copy to cleverness and self-aggrandizement, commit to making it a clear solution with distinct offerings and benefits – concisely. Get to the point and let visitors know why your offering is important, not how clever its developers are.
2. Avoid Excessive Tech Jargon
Don’t forget that the average user probably only has a vague knowledge of what you provide -- particularly in more tech-oriented industries.
For instance, if you’re selling TVs, stating how high the resolution is in a number value is probably white noise to the regular guy just looking for picture so clear he can see the blades of turf on college football Saturday. Instead, tell him that the picture quality on X TV is sharp enough to show the individual blades of grass on college football games. That’s impressive, and right to the point. As a non-techie I can visualize that, but if you tell me the picture is 1080p, I have no idea if that’s high or low or what the number even translates to.
This goes for any industry. Overloading your landing page with unfamiliar terms will alienate the visitor. Remember that the expert visitor will understand the simple terms, but the novice visitor will not understand the complicated terms.
Apple is the master at simplifying complex hardware products and their technology down to their basic core value to the everyday buyer.
3. Don’t Be Pushy
This one is more subjective than it might sound and can do the most harm of any of these common landing page issues, so it requires extra attention.
Most landing pages are written with the business’s needs in mind, not the consumers: What do we want? as opposed to, What does the visitor want?
What happens then is that landing pages become sales solicitations rather than sales tools. Are you more likely to buy something from a street vendor who’s pushing his product at you and asking you to buy it or from a professional in a store who simply outlines the benefits of the product? No one wants to be sold to; we want to feel like we discovered the solution to some need or desire ourselves in the form of a product or service.
At Blue Stout, when we designed the landing page for Offmap.com, we removed the sales "pitch" all together. In fact, we flipped the language to first person, and instead of telling the visitor what they should do next (i.e., "Sign Up"), we let them tell us by clicking "I'm interested. Show me the trips!".
4. Speak Like a Human
Keywords and SEO are all the rage, we know, but they can easily do more harm than good if they’re stuffed in and obvious.
“Are you interested in finding real estate deals on Mankato, Minnesota, foreclosures 2013?” Is this how real people talk? Of course not, and your visitors are real people who will pick up on this.
Make sure your copy is natural and that keywords are worked in fluently, even if they’re not exactly matched. Tone down nondescript industry buzzwords as well, those terms that mean something to industry experts but nothing to the average consumer. Keep the content conversational, like the way you would speak to a friend who’s asking you for advice on a product or service. If it helps, record yourself speaking about the product and listen to it, then write based on that.
5. Avoid “Paradox of Choice” Above the Fold
Ever notice how the best restaurants have the smallest menus? Surely there are myriad reasons for that, but part of it is to appeal better to the consumer.
People don’t like to feel overwhelmed by choices, to some extent they like to have them whittled down to the best and most relevant rather than a huge range, half of which may not even be what they have any interest in. Instead of bloating your landing pages with a huge number of buying choices you have to explain and bother your visitors with, cut it to as few offerings as possible.
The design team at BarkBox does an outstanding job of focusing their main call-to-action above the fold to give users only two options for proceeding forward. Providing all possible options is lazy. It's your job to provide exactly what the visitor wants, when they want it.
It mostly comes down to simplicity and consideration of visitors. Be personal. Get to the point. Don’t try to impress. Tell your product and company story in the most compelling and shortest dialog possible.
What other quick landing page adjustments have you made that dramatically increase conversions? Let us know in the comments!
Allen Burt is the founder of Blue Stout, a product development agency that crafts stunning applications and websites for compelling small businesses and startups.
As a serial entrepreneur and digital product expert, Allen has led teams in developing stunning products and brands in industries ranging from fashion to travel that have gained features in such publications such as WIRED and the Los Angeles Times.