The Seven Biggest Mistakes in Landing Page Design

A landing page is a page on your website that is created with one specific goal – to persuade your visitor to convert into a customer by making a purchase, completing a form, signing up for a newsletter, giving you a call, or any other action that you consider to be important.

Unfortunately many website owners (and even web developers) don't really "get" the importance of landing page design.

The purpose of a landing page is to encourage and guide visitors to take a specific action (your Call to Action),  resulting in a conversion.  If your landing page is well optimised, you can expect higher conversion rates, if your landing page is poor then your conversion rates are very likely to be significantly lower than they could be.

I've outlined below seven of the most common mistakes that site owners make when developing a landing page. If you take a close look at your own landing pages, there is a very good chance that you would find at least one – if not many – of the following problems.

1. Unclear Call to Action

The call to action is the reason that this page exists, and it needs to be VERY obvious what the next step should be.  If your visitor has to hunt to see what to do next then you have failed. Load up your landing page – look away – and glance back at it.  If your call to action doesn't jump out at you in this glance then you probably need to review the design.

2. Too many choices

Clearly if there are multiple options on your page, it reduces the chance of the visitor choosing the primary Call to Action that is important to you.  Your landing page should be as simple as possible – ideally with just a single option. For a landing page – 2 choices is usually too many.

3. Asking for too much information

This is relevant for online forms, if you are asking for a users details for registration, make sure that you ONLY ask for information that is absolutely necessary.  Ideally this should be limited to name and email address.  The larger and more complex the form is the lower your conversion rate is likely to be.  If you really do need extra information try splitting the form into several steps, so by the time that you ask the "hard question" they have already invested some time into the process and are more likely to complete it.  Insisting on providing personal details like Date of Birth or Income is a very good way to cause your conversion rate to plummet.

4. Too much text

Too much content on your landing page is also generally a bad idea.  If your visitor needs detailed information to be "convinced" to buy or sign-up, then you should consider including that information on other pages – as a part of the funnel to get to the landing page – or as supporting content which they can access if they need more information.
 

5. Not keeping your promises

Whether people arrive at your landing page via an internal link, a PPC Ad, or via some other source, if the page doesn't meet their expectations by providing the information they were looking for, then you have failed.  A classic example of this – which still occurs far to often is with PPC Campaigns – where users are directed to the sites home page, and are expected to find their own way to the (for example) "blue widgets" page. Clearly the PPC Ad relating to "blue widgets" should use the Blue Widget page as the landing page instead.

6. Visual Distraction

If your landing page is too cluttered, or if there is one or more elements on your page that draw your visitors attention away from the call to action, then you have failed.  Animated images (which are thankfully less common these days), photos and high impact graphics, can all distract users from your primary intent.

7. Lack of Trust and Credibility

Although these days people are more used to interacting online, they still need confidence in your site before they are likely to pass over their details.  Poor design, spelling mistakes, and layout glitches can all harm your credibility and reduce conversion rates.  If you are asking for private or confidential information such as credit card details – it is critical that you use secure protocols (such as https) to protect the users data.  


Optimising your landing page
, is a critical step to improving your conversion rate – and hence the effectiveness of your website.  If your websites landing page suffers from one or more of the above problems, it is very likely that your conversions can be significantly increased by fixing them.

The social media shirt

Confused about social media as it relates to your business?
Don’t worry – you are not alone.

Social media can be a very confusing marketing element to work into your mix.

There are so many approaches and methods that can be utilised in Social networking that you can end up being unsure if you are actually doing what best suits your company.

To help out a little, you can try to think of social media in terms of a shirt.

Determining which one is the best representation for your company, can also assist in providing a style that you can build upon.

Style 1: The Business Shirt

Business Shirt drawingStructured and professional. Solid colours or stripes.
Button down collar and crisp creases in the sleeves.

This style lends itself to a very professional approach. Your interactions within the social media networks would usually be prepared earlier and will back up and reinforce any current marketing messages that are in place.

People will follow your accounts, but will not really expect to get much interaction from you – if any at all.

Accounts wearing this style of shirt will be restricted to discussing company business only.

 

Style 2: The 3-button Polo shirt

Polo ShirtSlightly relaxed “man of the people” feel.
Comes in a range of colours & patterns, but always the same basic design. An easily seen corporate logo is embroidered in a prominent location.

The polo shirt is the new choice of business attire for companies that choose to have some interaction with their customers, but still make sure to brand themselves at every given opportunity.

Followers of your social network accounts can expect a mix of corporate marketing/branding messages, along with some basic conversation with customers.

The polo shirt isn’t rigidly starched, and invites relaxed client interaction, but it is still all about branding.

 

Style 3: The T-shirt

T-Shirt DrawingEasy going street wear. Very relaxed style. Comes is a huge variety of styles and colours – usually with a funny slogan or “damn the man” statement emblazoned on the front.

The T-shirt is usually seen being worn by creative types, or those that don’t mind getting themselves a little dirty. The comfortable nature of the shirt lends itself to relaxed encounters and a general sense of approachability.

Wearers of the shirt will poke fun at things, make statements of belief and genuinely interact with others on a one to one level.

Followers of the t-shirt wearers tend to be extremely active in their interactions, blunt with their feedback, as well as being very loyal to the cause.

Taking your business down the Social media pathway is a very important decision.
It requires focus and needs to have time dedicated to it.

It’s part of the business that needs to be represented as well as you can, but in the style that best suits you.

So before you begin, why not take a moment to decide if you are choosing the right shirt to wear.

Choosing the right CMS

In today's web environment, where content is key and the demands of your users grow, a customised CMS (Content Management System) may be a viable option in keeping your website managed, and up to date.

The following systems, technically speaking, can cater for much more than what is mentioned below. However, for the purpose of "enlightening" those who are new to Content Management Systems, I'll keep it simple.

Depending on the type of website you require, you may wish to go with one of the following options:
 

WordPress
Traditionally a blogging tool, WordPress can be totally customised to do much more than just blogging. With thousands of plug-ins suited for all types of purposes (shopping carts, custom image galleries, enhanced search, etc.), totally theme-able and programmable, WordPress is definitely worth consideration.

As WordPress themselves put it, "WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability."

It sure is!

All Aces Blog
Tweeterview Blog

 

Drupal
Similar to WordPress in it's potential, Drupal in its own right is a powerful "social publishing system" which can be customised to function pretty much as you need it to. On-page editing allows quick content updates, customisable enquiry forms can be added to a page easily and thorough backend managemtent options allow total control of your content.

Drupal can do a lot!

Ireckon Design Showcase
JK Builders

 

Ark CMS
Ireckon's own CMS, this powerful tool gives you full control over your content and is particularly suited to producing and managing lastest news and information sites with large user bases.

Some ARK CMS sites out there:
The Gold Coast Bulletin
The Weekly Times

Of course there are many more Content Management Systems, it's all about finding the one that will work best for you!

On Fish Value

We’ve had fish in the ireckon office since forever. Well, forever for me… they’ve been there since before I started here, so to me that = forever.

The fish have always been fish. I can only assume that they’ve always needed feeding and talking to, and they’ve always had their little quirks and characteristics that make them interesting and loveable. However, it wasn’t until we moved office a couple of months ago that I really paid much attention to them.

Through an interesting and very different desk arrangement, and a change in responsibilities, the fish all of a sudden were reliant on me. They now need me to feed them, keep an eye on them, and make sure their home is in good condition for them to live and thrive in. Now I must say, being a parent for the first time has not been easy, I have on occasion forgotten about them, and I’ve had to learn about all the new tasks I now need to perform as a part of my parental duties, but I have learnt a lot and am certainly enjoying it.

Ireckon school of fishI know that a majority of the fish in our tank are Mollies. Mollies are live breeders, and I’ve learnt a lot about what this means. I also know that some of the bottom-feeders (I call them Clown-Sharks even though I know it’s wrong) have been around a long time – and they have a different personality altogether! I’ve been so interested in the last few weeks that I’ve found myself gazing into their tank watching them swim around! I’ve watched a YouTube video of Mollies giving birth, I’ve Googled how to tell the difference between the sexes, and just generally spent time observing their behaviour and trying to find out as much as I can online.

I’m not the only one in the office who’s been paying more attention. Since I have started naming our finned friends and being an internal advocate for their place within ireckon, others seem to have jumped on board and taken to them with a similar amount of enthusiasm.

Chops having a napBefore the fish-craze began, I had friends/co-workers entering the office and asking ‘how was your weekend?’, ‘what did you get up to last night?’, ‘we doing lunch today?’. Now all they ask is ‘How is Chops?’, ‘Have we had any babies yet?’, ‘Is Chops lying on his side again trying to freak you out?’
I’m not taking the lack of interest in me personally (honest), but it’s interesting to me that the fish have been there all along, right under our noses, and few of the people in the office have really paid much attention, let alone taken the time to inquire about them and help me name them.

As I consider our forever fish, and continue to enjoy their company more and more, I’m also lead to think about what else is under our noses that we are not entirely aware of, or – that we are aware of but spend little time nurturing and paying attention to simply because it is just ‘there’. Whether it is an idea or process, a person or relationship, it might just be time to revisit, reassess and spend some real time thinking about its value.

CSS Hacks – IE8, IE7, IE6 and Firefox

With more users starting to use IE8, the other day I found myself needing to update a certain style that was not displaying correctly in the IE8 browser. It was displaying correctly in Firefox 3 and earlier versions, as well as IE6 and IE7. So I needed to find a way to also target IE8. After searching the internet, and coming across only a couple of options for IE8 (which I couldn’t get to work), I decided to use different hacks together to achieve the outcome I needed. It’s a little bit of work for just a small thing, but I have no doubt better solutions will present themselves.

Below I have added some different options, depending on what browser you need to target.

Option 1: IE8 and Firefox using the same style, IE6 and IE7 using another

#block {   margin-top: 5px; /* target only IE8 + Firefox browsers */    *margin-top: 10px; /* target only IE7 and older browsers */ }

Option 2: IE8 and Firefox using the same style, IE6 and IE7 using their own styles different to IE8 and Firefox.

#block {   margin-top: 5px; /* target only IE8 + Firefox browsers */ }

* html #block { /* target IE6 only */   margin-top: 50px; }

*+html #block-block-10 { /* target IE7 only */   margin-top: 100px;}

Option 3: Similar to above, but if you need to target IE8 and Firefox separately.

#block {   margin-top: 5px; /* target only IE8 + Firefox browsers */ }

#block-block-10, x:-moz-any-link { /* target only Firefox, overriding the style above */  margin-top: 20px; }

* html #block { /* target IE6 only */   margin-top: 50px; }

*+html #block-block-10 { /* target IE7 only */   margin-top: 100px; }

Option 4: Similar to above, but if you need to target Firefox 3 and Firefox 2 separately.

#block {  margin-top: 5px; /* target only IE8 + Firefox browsers */ }

#block-block-10, x:-moz-any-link { /* target only Firefox, overriding the style above */   margin-top: 20px; }

#block-block-10, x:-moz-any-link, x:default { /* targets Firefox 3.0 and newer, overriding the style above */   margin-top: 30px; }

* html #block { /* target IE6 only */   margin-top: 50px; }

*+html #block-block-10 { /* target IE7 only */   margin-top: 100px; }

 

Hopefully this makes sense, I have tested it so hopefully it works for you. Feel free to give feedback or other solutions you have come across.

Use your Blog to Increase Site Traffic

You've already got a Blog on your site right?  If not, then you should very seriously consider adding one. Search Engines love Blogs as they typically contain fresh, unique, content. The posts for many sites are crawled and indexed frequently (posts on the ireckon blog typically are crawled and indexed within hours of being published – often much sooner).

This post assumes that you've already established your blog – and highlights some of the strategies that you should be using to maximise the benefits of your blog – to raise your online profile, improve rankings, increase traffic, all with the primary goal of boosting your sales/inquiries.

You should be promoting your blog to drive traffic to it and make it work most effectively for you. Here are number of the ways you can market your blog:

  • Use keyword-rich titles. Search engines will only deliver high quality traffic to your blog/site, if they think it's relevant. Use appropriate keywords in your blog titles to improve your rankings.

  • Promote your RSS feed. Most blogs generate an RSS feed automatically which allows people to get sent your post automatically whenever they are published.  Make sure that you make it easy for people to subscribe to your RSS feed.
  • Include an Email subscription option. Not everyone understands RSS – some of your readers will probably prefer to be emailed your blog updates.
  • Submit your blog to blog directories. If you want you blog to be found, it's a good idea to let the blog directories know about it.  These can categories and make it easier for people who are interested in your particular "niche" to find you.  Important blog directories include sites like technorati and blogcatalog – but there are many more.  Try a Google search for "Blog Catalog yourkeyword" to help you find catalogs that are most relevant to your niche.
  • Tweet it. If you are a Twitter fan, make sure that you tweet your followers each time you add a new post.  Also consider adding a Tweetme button to your blog posts, to make it easier for Twitterers to spread the word.
  • Contribute to forums. Find which forums your target market hangs out in, and simply participate (without making a sales pitch). Most forums will allow you to include a link back to your website/blog in your signature file.
  • Be Responsive.  Make sure that you review and respond to any comments you receive on your posts.  If people are taking the time to comment on your blog, thank them to encourage more of the same behavior.

Your Blog can be a very effective tool for raising the online profile of your brand or the products/services you offer.  Use it wisely and you should be able to significantly improve your online sales and inquiries.

Communication Methods

This morning while I was sitting in traffic I received a phone call from my mother (don’t worry, I put her on speaker phone). Anyway, she was ringing to let me know that my sister, who is currently on holidays in Africa, had updated her Facebook status to say that she had arrived in Nairobi. I have my sister as a friend on Facebook and my mother knows that I do. So what possible reason could she have for calling to tell me this? I thanked her obviously but after the call was left shaking my head in bewilderment.

Similarly, on occasion when I arrive at the in-laws for dinner my father-in-law will hand me a sheet of paper he has printed out. On the paper is a joke that someone emailed to him. My father-in-law has my email address and knows how to send emails but still, every time he receives a funny email joke, he prints it out and hands it to me on paper. And I chuckle to myself but not necessarily at the joke.

Both my mother and my father-in-law are in the 55-65 age group so they didn’t grow up with computers the way I did. Having said that though, they both use computers regularly and are reasonably oh fey with all things internetty. They know how to surf the web, can send and receive emails and can download their digital photos, but because of the habits of a lifetime they still choose to do most of their communication offline even when the source of the communication began on-line.

Interestingly, at the other end of the spectrum, is a 25 year old friend of mine who, this morning, updated her Facebook status to say “Lauren hates making phone calls”. And another friend of hers commented saying “I agree. They’re so last century and inconvenient!!”

There are so many different ways to communicate today. I often have to choose, when I want to contact a friend, whether to email, SMS, Skype, Tweet, Facebook, phone etc etc. With all of these options I suppose it’s little wonder that people feel more comfortable with one method over another. But it does also raise the question of how long older methods of communication such as telephones remain relevant.

I can’t even imagine writing a letter to someone any more. Surely you would just send an email instead. But can all these modern communication methods completely replace the traditional letter or phone call? Another friend of mine has recently joined the Army and was sent off to basic training away from his family and friends. I received an email from his wife soon after he left which was sent to all his friends and family. In the email his wife gave his mailing address and asked us to write him letters rather than send emails. The reason? A letter can be tucked in your pocket and pulled out at your leisure to read and re-read. Whereas, an email is only accessible during the short time that you are allowed access to a computer.

What is your preferred method of communication? And is it really the most practical?