Four common issues with landing pages

Four common issues with landing pages

According to my analysis, one of these four issues (if not all) were the most common causes of poor conversion rates. As you go through the list of issues below, try to relate them to your landing page (or homepage). Here are the four most common issues that affect conversion rate and sales:

  • Too-much text (without any apparent order and layout)
  • Headline that doesn’t tell what your product or service does (or, in other words, tangential headline)
  • Lack of a single prominent call-to-action (either there is none or there are too many)
  • Lack of social proof or ROI proof (who uses the service and what are the benefits)

Let’s analyze the issues one by one.

Issue #1: Too much text

Example of a homepage with too much text

I won’t be surprised about lack of sales and conversions if your page announces “Welcome to..” followed by a bunch of three paragraphs describing what the site is about. Nobody on the web has patience to read paragraphs after paragraphs about you are offering.
On the web, people scan for elements that catch their eye. And you get only first few seconds to answer two most important questions: a) what you are offering; b) why they may need it.

Example of a balanced webpage (text + images)

So, what you need is a proper balance between graphics and text. Some examples of how you can improve your landing page (by replacing some text):

  • Instead of extensive “How this works” (consisting of heaps of text), make a simple graphic detailing the process
  • Instead of writing “We make some of the best shoes in UK” followed by description of different kinds of shoes you make, show pictures of shoes you make
  • Instead of trying to stuff every piece of information from your site on one page, concentrate on a SINGLE objective (and replace most of the text by images, graphics, etc. – all neatly arranged).

Hiring a professional web designer will certainly help if you lack design skills. On a similar note, “visually appealing” pages are always seen as more credible than “crudely designed” pages. So, an investment in a good design will go a long way helping your sales and conversions.

Issue #2: Lack of descriptive headline

Example of confusing headline: “Changing how the world works”

As I hinted in the section above, visitors on your page are impatient. Within first 5 seconds, they want to know what your service does or you have lost a chance with him/her. As someone wise said: “Browser back button is your biggest enemy” (if you find the source of this quotation, please leave a comment). Never think that a visitor is going to spend minutes reading through all text on your page and then make his best guess of what you are offering. Instead, you should make the job easy for him. Have a big, bold descriptive headline as the first thing he should see.

Example of good headline: “Hire Online Workers to get the Job Done”

A descriptive headline also serves another important job: it *sticks* in the visitor’s brain as long as he stays on your website. Contrast this to the scenario where there is no helpful headline which a visitor can fall back on if your page gets too confusing (usually happens because we want to write about EVERY feature our site offers). Moreover, your visitor is usually distracted. Imagine a “busy-beaver” visitor chatting with friends on IM, doing a status update on Facebook/Twitter and on a call with his boss, all at once. Now imagine he stumbles on your website. Do you expect him to really understand what your site does without having a descriptive headline?

My advice is to avoid following kinds of headlines:

  • No-headline: no matter how bad it is, you should definitely have a headline of some kind
  • Visionary headline: avoid headlines such as “Welcome to the future of social media marketing”. Such headlines are usually vague and convey no information at all. And if you think it may excite visitors, read last section of this article (about social proof).
  • All focus on benefits: in the first version of Visual Website Optimizer homepage, we had a headline “Magical tool to convert visitors into customers”. While that headline tells about the benefits of the tool, it doesn’t talk about what the tool really is. So, we changed the headline to “World’s easiest A/B testing tool” and believe it is much better than the other one. (Can you come up with an even better one?)

In a nutshell, headlines should be short, concise and descriptive.

Issue #3: Lack of a single prominent call-to-action

Paradox of choice on a landing page. Out of three call-to-action buttons. which option to choose?

Call-to-action is a button or link that asks visitor to take a specific action. It may be a link to your signup form, plans and pricing page or the feature tour page. There are two specific issues related to call-to-action: a) either some sites don’t have any call to action button or b) some sites have too many call-to-action buttons. Once the visitor arrives on your page, thinks that you are credible (from your design), reads the descriptive headline and is finally convinced to spend some time on your site, what’s the next page you want him to see? That decision should not be left on visitor because only you know (and not him) which is the most relevant page that the visitor should be viewing next.

Example of single, prominent call-to-action: “Download WordPress”

If you don’t have a single call-to-action or have far too many call-to-action, visitor is likely to get confused what to next (since all links from your landing page/homepage seem to be of equal importance). Even if you have two prominent buttons (e.g. one of Learn More and other for the signup), try reducing it to one button. There is even a book titled: “Don’t make me think!” and that’s precisely the point I’m trying to make here. Don’t force your visitor to make a choice. By placing relevant call-to-action buttons on different pages of your site, you should gently guide him to the final goal (be it a signup, purchase, download, etc.)

Issue #4: Lack of social proof or ROI proof

Example of no social proof. Why should I bother about Twhirl?

So you make bold claims on your site. Of course, you think you are the “Best Twitter client ever”. But, unfortunately, making claims is easy. Any site can claim to be the “best” or “revolutionary” because those words are abstract. You may think your product is the best but if you are the only one in this world with that viewpoint, you are not going to convince anyone to try it out.

Humans crave for social proof. They want to know whole else is using this thing and how beneficial was it for them. Even if you design the most beautiful landing page but fail to include any social proof, your sales and conversions are going to suffer. Social proof can be shown in terms of testimonials, company logos, customer photos or case studies.

Example of social proof: we know Facebook, LA Times, etc. use Hootsuite. So it must be good, no?

It is understandable that if your site is just getting started, it may be hard to get any social proof because you may not have any customers. In that case, you need to have a convincing return-on-investment proof on your site. I’m not just talking about justifying investment of money but you also need to convince a visitor to invest time trying out your service or product. People crave for statistics and validation. So, you can perhaps do a small study or research on Internet to come up with metric of some kind highlighting usefulness of your service. (Example if you have a new social media monitoring service: 95% of business are talked about on the Internet, use MyShinyNewTool to talk to those invisible customers).

Another key point with regards to social proof is human emotions. People respond to concrete representations (say a customer video testimonial) in a much engaging way as compared to an abstract fact (say, 50+ companies from Life Sciences and Biotechnology industry use our software). This is not to say that facts in your social proof don’t work. They do. But you can always augment them with stories of individual customers and what your service did to them. (Case studies are a great way about doing that).

Pace Lattin


To re-iterate, if you want to increase sales and conversions on your landing page or homepage, you need to concentrate on fixing following issues:

  • Too-much text (without any apparent order and layout)
  • Headline that doesn’t tell what your product or service does (or, in other words, tangential headline)
  • Lack of a single prominent call-to-action (either there is none or there are too many)
  • Lack of social proof or ROI proof (who uses the service and what are the benefits)

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