Albert Einstein said “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” When you make one, though, that quote doesn’t really help all that much.
This article will give you five of my most recent (or biggest) landing page optimization mistakes. I’ll outline the five things I thought would have a huge influence on the conversion rates of Wishpond’s pages, but instead, did absolutely nothing (or even lowered conversion rates).
Learning from our mistakes is how we grow – theoretically.
If that’s the case, then I’m pretty sure I should be at least 10 feet tall.
Let’s check out the 5 Landing Hypotheses I had that Were Terrible, and Why
1. Taking Away the Brand Logos
My Reasoning: Like many SaaS and B2B businesses, Wishpond’s target market is small and medium-sized businesses. However, we do have many larger businesses who have, or are, using our services.
General landing page best practice is to show off those recognizable brands that your business has as clients. This acts as a trust mechanism (much like customer testimonials) to convince people that your business is legitimate, and that businesses with much more to lose than theirs have worked with you.
But, as our target market is small business, I had a hypothesis:
These big brand names make it look like Wishpond’s price points are beyond those of small businesses. Removing “Ford” “Unicef” and “Nescafe” will increase the chance of a small business conversion!
Crazy Egg’s “big brand” endorsements:
What Actually Happened: Our conversion rates dropped by about 22% over the course of the 72 hour A/B test.
Why it was a Terrible Idea: The trust mechanism I mentioned above is far more important to landing page traffic than an ambiguous concern over a later price point. If a small business is looking around the web for a particular online service, they’re going to a lot of different providers. If one of these providers has no clear evidence of previous work, they’ll keep looking.
2. Promising Not to Spam Leads
My Reasoning: Privacy and not selling information is one of the most important things to point out when generating leads. Your landing page traffic needs to know that you’ll keep their personal data personal. “We will not sell or rent your personal information to any third party” is the name of the game in lead gen.
Being an online marketer inevitably means being on 1000 email lists. One morning I was incredibly tired of deleting a million emails and had an hypothesis:
I bet telling landing page traffic we won’t spam them will increase conversions on our pages! Everybody hates spam.
What Actually Happened: I tested the new small print “We will not sell or rent your personal information to any third party, or spam you in any way” on one of our product pages. It dropped conversion rates by about 16.4%. I was, frankly, astonished.
Why it was a Terrible Idea: Introducing the word (and therefore the idea) of “spam” right beneath an entry form asking for a user’s email address is not a good idea.
Your landing page traffic is sold on your product or service through your value proposition, USP, images, benefit list, customer testimonials, and appealing CTA. Let them be sold.
My hypothesis was correct that people don’t like spam. It was incorrect in that nobody was thinking about being spammed when they were engaging with our entry form.
Instead, they were thinking about the value of engagement, the exciting return on investment they were so close to attaining, or the one month free trial where they got to see if everything we said was actually true.
Putting the word “spam” into the picture only caused them to be taken aback, reconsider giving our company their details, and bounce.
3. Making the CTA really eye-catching
My Reasoning: This mistake and hypothesis was actually a year or so ago. I’d read a million articles about landing page optimization and each one agreed that making your CTA button eye-catching was one of the most important variables for landing pages.
My reasoning was this: the easier you make it for your landing page traffic to see your CTA, the more likely they are to click on it.
The exact example of this CTA and color combination has been (thankfully) lost forever, but I’ve recreated it as well as I remember. It was at least this bad:
What Actually Happened: Conversion rates on the page dropped by about 33%. I remember seeing a CrazyEgg heat-map and being flummoxed. A larger number than ever of our page traffic was stopping at our CTA banner, and yet a huge number of them weren’t clicking. Why?
Why it was a Terrible Idea: Just because your CTA is incredibly obvious, doesn’t mean it’s visually appealing. An incredibly ugly dog is just as eye-catching as a gorgeous one – that doesn’t mean you want to pet it.
There are many color combinations that allow your CTA to stand out without punching your landing page traffic in the face.
Here’s are a few color combos I can now confidently recommend:
4. Going Long-Form
My Reasoning: If your CTA travels with your landing page visitor (in the form of a very simple scroll banner) there’s no reason why your landing page should ever stop giving value.
I figured that, as soon as enough value had been communicated, landing page traffic would convert. Any page that limits the amount of value for a possible customer is cutting off the chance of a conversion.
I’d seen other businesses find success (notably Neil Patel’s encyclopedic landing pages) with long-form landing pages, and thought to try it for myself.
Can’t provide you with an example here as what I created would continue through to next Saturday.
What Actually Happened: It had no effect whatsoever – didn’t positively or negatively affect our conversion rates at all. And, given that I (and our amazing web developers) had spent a solid week on it, that was a pretty negative ROI indeed.
Why it was a Terrible Idea: To be honest with you, it wasn’t. It was actually quite useful, but only as an educational exercise. In looking at the page’s heat maps after crying for a while, I saw that our landing page traffic was only going so far down the page before bouncing or converting. About 90% of traffic got as far as the page’s (first) customer testimonials and then either clicked-through or bounced away.
They clearly knew that there was more information below, but very few of them had yet to make a decision based on the information the page had already provided.
That ‘cut-off’ point happened to be at about four page-lengths, and knowing that was very useful for future landing page iterations.
It turns out that (at least for Wishpond), if someone hasn’t been convinced of the value of engagement within four page lengths, they’ll bounce.
5. Focusing on One Thing
My Reasoning: We’d come up with what we considered a very solid USP. So solid, in fact, that I wanted to test a slimmed-down version of our landing page. I figured that a catchy USP and the Wishpond demo video would communicate value well enough that the other “distractions” on the page would only increase our bounce rates.
As a result, I decided to cut out our benefit list (which at the time was in the form of eight different icons describing the different services we offered), the brand logos, and the customer testimonials at the bottom.
What Actually Happened: The page’s conversion rates dropped by about 14%.
Why it was a Terrible Idea: Not everybody agrees with you when you believe you’ve come up with the USP to end all USPs. My hypothesis was based on that USP communicating the same amount of value as eight individual benefits, six trust symbols in the form of big brand logos, and two solid customer testimonials with headshots.
In short, I got cocky. Hopefully we can all empathize with that point in marketing when you think “I’ve done it! I’ve written the best thing I’ll ever write and from now on it’ll be smooth sailing. Everybody will just start handing us money and I can retire to Tahiti.”
This doesn’t happen.
You need to communicate value again and again. It’s not just about your USP or your awesome image or the benefit list or the trust symbol or the customer testimonial. It’s all of them together.
Your landing page traffic will convert when they’re satisfied that engaging is worth it, not when you tell them it is.
Let me make it very clear: I do not regret doing any of these tests. I still believe that my hypotheses were sound and worth trying.
That’s the thing with A/B testing your landing page. Almost any idea you have that you think can increase conversion rates is an idea worth testing.
Remember, also, that any positive result (even an overall change of less than a percentage point) can have huge revenue changes in the long run. In A/B Testing, an increase of 1% on your landing page can increase your annual revenue by thousands and thousands of dollars.
Test your CTA colors (B2B company “Performable” found a 21% conversion increase by changing their CTA from green to red). Test the font and size of your USP. Test the location of your CTA button (top right, middle or top left?) Test everything.
It’s worth it.
By James Scherer