Design Development

50 Landing Pages and 4 Startups … This is What I’ve Learned Pt2

50 Landing Pages and 4 Startups--This is What I’ve Learned Pt1

Do you want to learn how to design and build great landing pages? Do you want to know how to encourage social sharing? Do you want to know how much information should you ask for? What about the power of social proof and trust elements? You will learn about all this and much much more more in this second part of 50 landing pages and 4 Startups … This is what I’ve learned during series. I hope this article will help you learn everything you need to succeed. So, let’s begin.

Lessons no.1-5 are in part 1.

Lesson no.7: Always encourage social sharing

This lesson was simple. Never forget to include social media sharing buttons that will allow visitors to promote your content and offers. However, don’t overdo it. Include only buttons for the social media channels your target audience uses. After that, make sure to add an email forwarding option. Remember that people have different sharing preferences. Not everyone will want to use the channels you provided. Before you skip this tip, remember one thing. Even if your social media contacts never buy from you, there’s always a chance that someone in their personal network will.

Having sharing buttons is not enough

Many landing pages contain some social media sharing buttons. However, this is just not enough. We humans are lazy by nature. We want to conserve our energy instead of spending it on activities that are not necessary. Therefore, a lot of people will not share link to your website because they will not want to write the post. Think about it. Or, even better, we can use one simple exercise to prove this hypothesis. Let’s say you just finished reading some interesting article.

We will talk about two scenarios. In the first scenario, everything you need to sharing the article on social networks is set up for you. There is icon for every social network you may want to use. For every social network, the post contains default text with relevant hashtags. Every premade post also includes customized image to help you get more impressions. In other words, you just have to choose your favorite network and click on one button to send the post. Quite easy.

In the second scenario, there is no set up at all. You can’t use any default text for the post with hashtags or image. What’s worse, you don’t see any sharing buttons on the page. This means that you will have to do everything manually. First, you will have to copy the URL of the article. Second, you will have to go to your favorite social network. Third, you will have to write down the text for your post. Fourth, you will need to find the most relevant hashtags. Fifth, you will also need to find relevant image or download one from the article. Finally, you can hit the button and send the post.

Make sharing as easy as possible

In which scenario is it more likely that you would share the article? The majority of people would probably share the article in the first scenario. In first scenario, author made sharing very easy by keeping the amount of steps you have to make to minimum. We can safely say that you would have no plausible excuse to not to share the article if you liked it. This is a good way to encourage people to share your content. I suggest that you use this strategy on your landing pages as well.

To make sharing as easy as possible for people is easy. I outlined the process in the description of the first scenario. However, let me add some improvements. The first step is to think about catchy headline you will use as default text for the post. Keep in mind that headline must meet two conditions. First, headline must be able to catch attention of people scanning the social media feed. Second, it must be true. You should never promise something you can’t deliver.

Think about how to make the text of the post benefit-oriented. Meaning, think about how will your offering help your people. In some sense, you are crafting USP for your offering. This also means that you have to keep the text short. This is also why I love Twitter. 140 characters will often force you to be really creative with your USP. When you have the text and good hashtags, you should work on visuals to improve the aesthetic side of the post.

Image must be relevant to your offering and be able to catch attention. Keep in mind that social media feeds are overflowing with content fighting for attention. Make sure yours will win.

Never, ever, ever lie in posts on social media

Getting people to visit your landing pages is easy, if you ignore the second condition. There is just one small problem. It doesn’t matter how many visitors will you get. If all visitors will leave your landing pages immediately you are still on zero. What’s worse, high bounce rate will also soon harm your ranking in search. As you can see on this infographic, simple landing pages has quite high bounce rate. On average, it is between 70 to 90%! This is true if you people ave at least some idea about the purpose of the landing page.

Now, imagine that your custom posts for social media are full of lies or exaggerated promises. You will be happy to keep the bounce rate under 90 or 95%. Again, another problem is that high bounce rate will start to affect your ranking in search. And, no I’m not talking about effects that you would like to see. Think about what will happen if people will visit your website after seeing post that is honest. These people will be more likely to be interested in your offering.

There is another benefit of having honest social media strategy. You don’t have to stuff all the information about your offering and big CTA above the fold. We talked about this in the first part, but I think it is worth repeating. When people are interested in your offering, there is no such a thing as fold. These people are willing to read lengthy copy and scroll a lot. They will scroll until they reach the part where you finally mention the price and put your CTA.

The conclusion is simple. Keep the copy of posts on social media truthful. Honesty will help you establish trust and this will be beneficial to your business.

Do no harm to your evangelists

You should always think about the people sharing posts about your landing pages. I am still referring to the content of your premade posts. They should never contain anything that could potentially cause problems to people sharing them. You should avoid anything that could be inappropriate. This means no strong language or any content meant only for adults. I understand that you want to stand out. I also understand that sense of humor is a good thing.

However, not everyone will get your joke or understand it in the same way as you do. Therefore, I suggest that you abstain from all these things. And, if you are not sure whether something is appropriate, just ask. I suggest that you form a group of people with diverse backgrounds and opinions. You should also try to find people from different age groups. Then, let all these people read the text you created for the posts. This will help you gather the most usable feedback.

With this feedback you will know whether the text is good to promote your landing pages. It is up to you whether you decide to form this testing group or not. Just keep in mind that your message should never cause any problems to people sharing it. People sharing links to your landing pages should never feel bad or embarrassed.

Be different, show your gratitude

It is one thing to protect your evangelists from being harmed or ridiculed for showing their support. It is something different to also show your gratitude. There are only a few companies who will take the time and reach out to people who promoted them. This is the next level of customer experience. My suggestion is that you give this idea a try. Don’t worry, you can start with something small and easy. For example, monitor social media channels and send short thank you to everyone promoting the link on your landing pages.

You may not believe it, but saying simple “Thank you” can do wonders. The biggest benefit of doing this “small” act is that it will immediately separate you from the crowd. How often do you receive a thank you note or tweet for sharing some article? It is sad, but the answer is not that often. We are living in an extremely connected world. Still, these small acts are more and more rare to see. I think that the majority of us take these acts as something granted. We may want to believe that this is how it works. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

There will be a lot of people arguing that it’s about business. Therefore, you should not include your feelings and more personal aspects. This is nonsense. Emotions are something deeply ingrained in us. They also helped humanity get where we are today. We should not neglect them. Instead, we should embrace them. People will be much more likely to promote your product and share link to your landing pages. All you need to do is show them that there is a real person behind all of it. Go ahead and give it a shot.

Lesson no.8: Ask only for the information you really need

Pretty much every landing page is built with the intention to sell something. It is, therefore, almost necessary to put in place some type of basic form. Now, you might be wondering how much or how little information you should be asking for in your forms. My direct answer is there is no magic bullet. There is no one-size-fits-all solution you could immediately put into action. The best way to deal with this is by collecting only the information you really need to qualify leads.

Use shorter forms for higher conversion rates

Study after study has shown that the more fields you use in form, the higher conversion rate you will get. The reason of this is simple. There is a hidden price with each new input field you add to your form. Every additional field creates more work for the visitor to complete the form. Some people will be not willing to go through longer form. As a result, your conversion rate will be lower. The conclusion, we can draw from this, is that you should avoid longer forms.

We could assume that very short forms are the best choice for your landing pages. This is not true. There is at least one problem with short forms. They may not provide you with sufficient amount of information. There is also the question of interest and time invested to filling in the form. When you have a long form with many fields, you will get better leads. The explanation is again simple. Visitors who are willing to complete a long form are more interested in your offering.

In this sense, you can use longer forms as a way to test how much interested in your offering visitors are. We used the same reasoning in the first part of this series to prove my claim that fold is relative. This is applicable to any design in general and not just landing pages. I think that the best way to determine what form length will work best for you is to test it for yourself. And, keep in mind that you are working with motivation of your visitors.

It doesn’t matter how many fields you have in your form. If your offering is not valuable for your visitors, they will not be motivated to complete the form.

Find the minimum effective amount of information

We talked a lot about how you should keep the form short. Then, we talked about why longer forms can be a useful way to find the right customers. In a summary, I didn’t give you any specific answer you can use at all. Please, give me one chance to correct this neglect. I want to give you a few ideas to help you figure out what’s the minimum effective dose of information you need to get. First, what’s the purpose of your landing pages? You probably want to first and foremost sell your product or your services. However, is this your only goal?

Here is what I mean. In case of many landing pages, selling the product is only the first step and not the most important. The real goal is actually upselling. Meaning, you want to sell product X so you can sell product Y or service Y related to the product X. Is this your goal as well? Then, the question is simple. What information do you need to sell these “secondary” products or services? If not, focus only on the information necessary for making the purchase.

Minimum effective amount of information for SaaS

What if you are using your landing pages to promote a SaaS business, not something physical? Then, think about what information are crucial for function of the product. You will probably need some login or username, password and email address. You can also ask for visitor’s real name. This is, I think, the absolute minimum. You can also ask visitors for uploading their photo for avatar, short bio, links to social media and so on. However, none of these information is necessary.

You may need to gather more information about the user. There is also clear benefit to having more information about your users than less. The more information you will have, the more you can customize the product. Higher amount of information will then help you create better user experience. Yet, if none of these information is necessary to start working with product, I suggest that you skip it. You can always ask for these information later.

Another approach is to first ask for the least amount of information. This will help you remove friction from the process of registration and make it smoother. Then, you can ask user for more information through user onboarding. In other words, you can transform information gathering into some kind of introductory tutorial. Doing so will help you achieve two goals at once. First, you will get the information you need to personalize your product. Third, user will have a chance to learn how to use your product. If you do it right, user will enjoy the process.

Minimum effective amount of information for blog

On the other hand, what if you want to use your landing pages for building email list? Again, you have to decide what is the purpose of the email list. Do you want to collect addresses to send a blog newsletter? Is it one-time purchase or continuous purchase? Is it some combination of these options? In case of newsletter, you need only email address. If you want to personalize the newsletter, you can ask for name. You can take this personalization further by asking for birth date.

When you know this, you can send greeting card to your subscriber when she has birthday. The only problem with this is that not everyone will be willing to tell you the date of their birth. For many people, this is too personal. It might be easier to get this information if you wait. First, focus on building trust with your subscribers. Then, after couple weeks or months, contact them and politely ask them for the date. If you decide to try this keep in mind one thing. Always tell your subscribers why do you want to know that information and how will you use it.

So, let’s say you want to know the birth date of your subscribers. Then, tell them that you want to know it because you want to send them greeting card. Also, make sure to reassure your subscribers that you will not use this information in any other way. The better your relationship with your subscribers, the higher the chance you will get these personal information. Therefore, work on your relationships first. If you need more information such as location and interests, you can get them from your analytics. You don’t have to ask for these information. My last tip is to again test everything by yourself.

Lesson no.9: Use appropriate labels for buttons

How many times have you seen buttons with label such as “Submit”? Your answer will probably depend on the number of landing pages you’ve seen so far. Anyway, this label is pretty common. You can see them almost everywhere. It is a paradox, but one simple way to increase form conversion rates is to avoid using these default words on your form button. One possible explanation maybe the meaning of the word “submit” and how we perceive it.

Let’s think about some synonyms for this word. Acknowledge, agree, defer, surrender, abide, accede, acquiesce, appease, bend, quit, obey, tolerate, cede, just to name a few. Take these words and tell me what is your first impression. In many cases, it will not be positive. Here is the thing, the majority of people don’t want to “submit” to anything. The simplest way to fix this is by turning this statement into a benefit that relates to what people will get.

For example, let’s say that form on your landing pages offers to download an eBook. This is quite popular nowadays. Then, the submit button should say something like, “Get Your eBook.” Other examples can be “Download Your Template,” “Get Your Free Cheat Sheet.” If you want to get people to subscribe to your blog newsletter, use “Subscribe to Our Newsletter.” Remember that you don’t have to invent creative labels. Just make sure the label is related to the gift.

Here is another helpful tip for CTAs and other buttons on your landing pages. First, make the all buttons big. Second, use color that is in the right contrast with the background. In the terms of color, your hands are free. There is no one right color that will work in every situation. Third, make sure it looks like a button.

Lesson no.10: In case of social proof and trust elements, more is better

When you work on your landing pages, you have to focus on establishing trust and credibility. You will have a hard time selling or promoting anything without these two properties. There are basically two ways to establish trust. The first way to establish trust is through use of evidence of social validation. We are social creatures. As a result, we tend to place greater value on things that other people have already approved. That is the usual approach used by many landing pages.

Use evidence of social validation

The most common examples of evidence of social validation are testimonials and press mentions. Another evidence of social validation are lists of customers or their logos. You can also use logos of your partners. Lastly, usage statistics can be also a good way to show people that your product is already in use. Don’t wait, gather some good evidence of social proof for your landing pages. After that, keep your landing pages updated, unless you don’t want to keep your website for long.

I know that I said that there are two ways for establishing trust. However, there is one more way. You can also make sure the design of your landing pages is simply great. In the past, I took a look at some of the world’s best designed websites in the world. Basically all of them shared three characteristics. You’ll find these characteristics in this article.

Use logos and security badges if possible

Testimonials provided by your customers are great, but they are not bulletproof. Your customers are probably not famous people. Therefore, the value of their testimonials will work only to certain degree. One way to bypass this issue is by using already mentioned press logos and logos of your partners. These visuals have a huge power. Visitors of your landing pages don’t have to know who exactly approved your product. Show them logo of Forbes or Fast Company and it will be enough.

What if you can’t use logos of press of partners? In that case, you can use security badges as indicators that your visitors can trust you. Are your landing pages selling something? Then, make sure to use badges to show that transactions are secured. However, never lie. Show only badges and certificates for security features that are really implemented on your landing pages. If you don’t have any, don’t even think about faking it. Instead, fix it immediately.

Evidence of social validation is important, just don’t overdo it

Before we move to the last lesson, I should warn you. Don’t let the pursuit of evidence of social validation harm the design of your landing pages. Just like with design portfolio, everything can be harmful in high doses. So, if you’re displaying client or press logos, keep the amount on reasonable level. Keep the design of your landing pages clean and focused on the primary goal of your landing pages. Besides that, use uniform size for the logos and display them in gray scale. This will help you minimize clashing colors and keep the focus on what do you want.

Lessons no.11: Measure everything and test it often

The last lesson I’ve learned is that you have to measure everything. Peter Drucker once said that what gets measured gets improved. The logic is simple. You can’t improve something if you don’t know its current status. In other words, you can get to your final destination if you don’t know where you are right now. This means three things. First, you have to set clear goals for your landing pages. What do you want to achieve? Do you have some specific amount of money you want to make? What’s your goal for customer acquisition for one month? Think about your goals.

When you know your goals, you have to choose what do you want to measure. What metrics and data are the most important? Use the goals you’ve set for your landing pages as direction indicator. What metrics are the most important for you to help you reach these goals? What other metrics should you also measure? There are many metrics that are important to keep you moving forward. However, you should also watch for metrics that might hold you back. Remember, you need to know the weaknesses of your landing pages if you want to fix them.

Bonus: Couple of ideas you should test on your landing pages

Before we end this article, I want to give you a couple of final ideas you can test on your landing pages. Test different headlines and slogans. Test different descriptions under the headlines. You can also try version with and without description. Try new phrases in CTAs on your landing pages and measure the results. Also, try the add the magic word “Free”. Test different colors and shapes of the CTAs and focus on contrast. You may find out that some shapes and colors may work better.

In case you have some form on your website and it is short, try adding it on the homepage. Add list your clients and partners. Although it’s not bulletproof, it can still help. Ask your current customers and users for testimonials and use it as social proof. Pick the most satisfied users and create a case study with them around their experience. Add screenshots or videos to show your product in action and outline the benefits of your product. Get testimonials for every feature of your product.

Remember to make the description of the features benefit-oriented. Think about how is this feature helping your customers. Gather the most often asked question and created FAQ section on your landing pages. Finally, whatever you try, make sure to measure and analyze the results. Remember, what gets measured gets improved.

Closing thoughts on creating great landing pages

That’s it. Now you know about all eleven lesson I’ve learned from working on 50 landing pages. Let’s quickly recap. Today you’ve learned that you should always encourage social sharing and how to do it. You’ve also learned that you should interact with your evangelists and that you should show your gratitude. We also discussed that you should ask only for the Information you really need, use shorter forms and appropriate labels for buttons.

The next lesson was about the power of social proof and trust elements. We discussed how to build trust and credibility for your landing pages using evidence of social validation. The last lesson was quite simple and straightforward. Measure everything and test it often. In the end, I’ve also included a couple of ideas you should test on your landing pages. I have one last thing to tell you. Keep in mind that what worked for me may not work for you. Test all hypotheses and see the results for yourself. And, remember that sometimes removing elements can be the right thing.

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