Content and conversion: 8 recurring landing page mistakes to avoid

landing-page ‘8 landing page bloopers’ is a paper/presentation by landing page specialist Ion Interactive (see below), outlining some of the most common and ignored mistakes made with landing pages.

Since conversion rate optimization is key for landing pages – and elsewhere – a quick look at landing page bloopers to avoid before you even have to start doing some serious optimization.

We covered the paper before somewhere else and originally it contained 7 landing page bloopers. We bet you could probably find 25 of them.

As your search engine marketing, lead generation, content marketing and other online marketing activities obviously use landing pages, you better make sure they work and do what they are supposed to do: seduce, persuade, convert and focus on the visitor.

Remember: whatever form your content and, more importantly, your links take: you’re always making – silent – promises, even when starting a blog. Keep those promises, be consistent and use persuasive content and compelling calls-to-action (think of them as headlines) to drive people to your landing pages, make them found and make them convert. The core messages: focus on the customer and the customer experience.

So, what are those 8 landing page bloopers?

1. “Landing page not found” and other ‘technical’ landing page issues

Have you checked your links lately? Do you use a tool to detect broken links? Have you moved content or landing pages and forgot to alter the links?

Deadly mistake and bad branding impact if people want to get that valuable piece of content or that eBook they hope to find on your landing page and of course also a lost opportunity. You would be surprised to know how many businesses move entire blogs, for instance, without taking the trouble to change the calls-to-action and other links. Do your landing pages work? Don’t assume they do! You have to test them in all browsers and you should be testing them at least monthly. Test them completely and test them on a regular basis. And of course make sure the links are not broken. By the way: don’t forget the multi-channel and multi-device customer: yes, mobile matters too.

2. The landing page and pop up debate: customer experience matters

Some very smart folks out there will tell you that pop ups work very well for conversions, but the Ion Interactive presentation states that most people find them annoying.

I agree, pop ups have a terrible reputation among users and are best to avoid. On the other hand, you see famous bloggers and business with usually good reputations using them now and then (or always).

And it seems they tend to drive conversions if well-made (and containing the right ‘content’). Personally, we don’t advice you to use them. I, for one, hate them and will click away when stumbling upon them. And even if they convert: it’s all about the customer experience and if people find them annoying why use them at all?

3. Do your landing pages match with your content and the task/intent of the ‘user’: missed user expectations

You probably know the importance of ‘scent’ as Bryan Eisenberg calls it and of consistency (also remember the conversion trinity).

Conversion paths and customer journeys need to focus on the experience of the target audiences and even the individual. If people are searching for a specific product or service and then come to your landing page and don’t find that information front and center, they are likely to abandon it.

Make sure your landing pages are consistent with the expectations your content and calls-to-action create with the visitor, whatever form your content takes. As Ion Interactive says: “When users click ads they have conceptual expectations“. They’re on a mission or as Gerry McGovern puts it: they want to complete a task. And customer-centric marketers focus on that task, not (just) on content optimization.

As I wrote a few years ago, when talking about SEO copywriting: “He or she needs to be able to write with the needs of the readers in mind, knows how to write a call-to-action, understand what determines if your content will be shared on social media or bookmarked on social bookmarking sites and understands that content is part of a broader exercise where your web site, blog, e-mails, social media presences and whatever you do, are part of another conversion process. Not that from content to click and online conversion. But that from lead to loyal customer by offering content as a way of lead nurturing”.

4. Stop linking to the homepage with your calls-to-action

There is nothing wrong with linking to your homepage when you say you do and when it makes sense.

However, if you create content, ads or calls-to-action with the goal of persuasion and engagement (having people actually DO something), there’s nothing worse than sending them to the most unspecific page you have: the homepage. It all depends on the context and the expectations you create but in general when you link to the homepage this is what you get: high bounce rates, disappointed people, poor experiences and missed conversions.

It’s hard to imagine this crucial mistake occurs when brands actually pay to drive traffic to a landing page, as often is done in search engine advertising, for instance. But it still happens all the time although it’s an old issue.

5. Don’t break the promise of the link

We said it before but it can’t be repeated enough: a link promises something to a visitor. “Click here and get this”. If they don’t get exactly what they expected because of mix messaging and over-promising content, you won’t get the conversion.

As Jeffrey Eisenberg says: “every hyperlink is a contract”.

“A consistent experience across all channels, consistent conversion paths (for instance search engine ad and landing page), delivering what we promise in call to actions and clear purposes on our landing pages are key to conversion”. It goes for online forms, links, search engine optimization, email, your content and calls-to-action.

6. Calls to inaction: enable the task

Never assume the user knows what you want them to do. A landing page really should only have one clear main call to action with perhaps one or at most two secondary calls to action.

And no, ‘click here’ is NOT a good call to action! Create visual CTA buttons or use a CTA button generator – there are plenty of free ones online, make it extremely clear for people so they can do what they want to do in no time.

You only have a limited amount of time to get the action so design for it and remove all obstacles. Focus on enabling and making it easy, not on everything you think you really should say.

7. Information overload: shake hands first

Keep your landing pages clean and uncluttered. Give visitors the option to drill deeper for more information if they like.

Test different landing page copy and calls to action to see what works best. Use thank you messages and other elements deeper down the proverbial funnel to provide more context, content and information.

The landing page, especially when it’s the first real contact with your business, is like a handshake.

8. Avoid the boring landing page

Landing page design can be habit forming and most of those habits will be boring to visitors!

Put a little effort into a design which is engaging and will compel visitors to convert. If you can spot a boring stock photo from a mile away then it’s a good bet your potential customers will too.

Stand out, make the difference, link with the values of your brand, make it an experience, without stepping in the trap of information overload.

Improve that landing page continuously, your customers and visitors deserve it!