1. It’s not mobile-responsive
If you use Leadpages, you can cross this potential problem off your list: all our landing pages are designed to look and perform just as well on phones and tablets as they do anywhere else. But elsewhere on the web, I’ve seen action-oriented pages that make it almost impossible to take action if you’re viewing them on a mobile device. Buttons that are too small to tap. Text that’s too small to read. Dropdown menus and form fields that just refuse to work. All these things can derail your landing page if the platform you’ve used to build your page isn’t mobile-friendly. Fortunately, it’s really easy to check whether this is the case: just pull out your smartphone and pull up your page. If everything appears fine—but doesn’t appear right away—you may have a different problem.
2. It’s too slow
For years, various studies have reminded us that web visitors don’t hesitate to abandon a page if it’s slow to load. According to 2014 research by Portent’s Ian Lurie, “Every second you shave off your site’s average page load time (without shedding page views) means an 8% improvement in page value”—that is, the amount of revenue that page ultimately generates. While going from even two seconds to one made a huge difference in page value, the study found the most achievable gains in getting from eight seconds or more to under five. You can check on factors affecting your landing page’s load time with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. But beyond that, take a look at the server speed of the hosting company you use (if you’re hosting pages on your own server). If you’ve done everything you can to speed up your landing page on your own, it may be time for a switch. Leadpages users get automatic access to ultra-fast servers when they publish to their Leadpages subdomain, so you may see substantial gains just by letting Leadpages host your landing pages. Since the release of our domain mapping feature, you can even take advantage of a potential speed boost while publishing pages to a custom subdomain on your own site.
3. It doesn’t tell you what it wants
Most people who click through to your landing page are there because they want to do something. But what they don’t want to do is read your mind to figure out what that something should be. It can be easy to get stuck in your own head: you know why you’re building your landing page, so naturally everyone else will too, right? But if you don’t take a moment to step back and make sure everything in your head made it onto the page, you could end up with something like this:
This page isn’t real, but I’ve seen landing pages with similar flaws. At first glance it looks like a complete landing page: headline, image, plenty of sections, most of which center around one product. But how does that product relate to you, the visitor? It’s not immediately clear. We learn a lot about the book and the author, but it takes half the page until we get the opportunity to do anything—and even then it’s not quite clear what. Although the final section makes this page look like a sales page, none of the buttons explicitly ask people to buy. Make sure to put your own call to action near the top of the page (or simply start with a Leadpages template—any one will contain a prominent call-to-action button built in). Even if most people might need more information before they act, when you include a call to action early on it has a priming effect. Once someone’s ready to decide, they’ll already know what to do.
4. It gives you the wrong offer at the wrong time
Your landing page’s success doesn’t depend only on the strength of your offer and how you present it. It also depends on who’s seeing it, and the strength of their relationship with your company. Just as you wouldn’t ask a stranger who sits down next to you on the bus to become your roommate, you should avoid presenting high-commitment offers to people who are just encountering your company for the first time. This applies to most cold traffic you get from sources such as Facebook ads: you’ll likely have much better success asking for an email address so you can send them something free than you will asking for a sale. Think of the average customer acquisition process as a series of stones crossing a pond, starting with simple awareness and moving through several stages until a sale is closed. You might be able to get some people to leapfrog over a couple of stones at once, but for most people it’ll be too big a stretch. So unless you’re selling a fairly inexpensive physical product—or your targeting truly ensures that everyone who sees your ad will be a good fit for your niche offer—you’ll want to spend a little time building a relationship with content first. But on the other hand, you also don’t want to ask someone for an opt-in when they’d be happy to buy. If your conversion rate is low, realistically assess how much of a leap your offer is for your audience. It may be that you just need to save it for a different time.
5. It asks for too much information, too soon
Nothing will cause me to abandon a formerly appealing opt-in offer faster than a request for my phone number. I’ll miss out on the free report rather than worry every call from an unknown number is a sales rep trying to get me to buy a product that I have no desire (or even power) to buy. And in some cases, that might make sense. If the primary goal of a company’s campaign is to get people on the phone, they don’t want to attract people who are unwilling to talk to them. On the other hand, you’re unlikely to get any new visitors to subscribe to a simple email list with an opt-in form that looks like this:
Asking for too much too soon can also take the form of an opt-in form that’s prominently embedded on a landing page. Rather than concentrating on the valuable information at hand, visitors are distracted by the awareness that this page wants something from them right off the bat. Try a two-step opt-in form such as a Leadbox™ instead if you’re not seeing the conversion rate you’d like—and make sure that Leadbox isn’t as exhausting to contemplate as the one above.
6. It’s too long or too short
I don’t mean to say there’s one ideal length for a landing page—at Leadpages and throughout the industry, we’ve seen excellent results with single-frame landing pages as well as landing pages that really give the scroll bar a workout. But at either extreme, the length needs to match what you’re offering and what you’re asking for. A lead magnet with a catchy title, intuitive premise, and obvious value might only need a good background image, a single content section, and a call-to-action button to convert like crazy. If you start piling on more and more content, it could actually backfire and make people wonder: why are you working so hard to get me to take something free? Even the simplest sales page probably needs a little more context—at least a couple of frames to convey the complete details of the product and trustworthiness of the company that made it. And if you’re selling high-value tickets to a three-day event, you’d better make sure your page provides enough content to help people feel fully confident committing their time and money.
7. It looks untrustworthy
The look of your landing page can either support or undermine your credibility before visitors have read a word of that page. If you’re not starting from a professionally designed landing page template, you’ll want to make sure you’re avoiding these design mistakes:
- Poor-quality images: If it looks like clipart from 1995—or like it could show up on a list of the world’s cheesiest stock images—your landing page image is almost certainly raising red flags for visitors. Same goes for images that are the wrong size, so that viewers have to piece together enlarged pixels to figure out what they’re seeing.
- Everything-and-the-kitchen-sink design: Adding an explosion of different fonts and colors to your landing page makes it more confusing, not more compelling. It’s great to customize your landing page if you’re starting from a template, but first take a look at the number of fonts and colors the default design uses. Choose your own design elements accordingly.
- Visual inconsistency: Different versions of your logo, product images that don’t match their descriptions, branding that shifts from section to section—these can all give the impression that your business may not entirely have its act together.
8. It sounds untrustworthy
Of course, your copy can also help people determine whether you’re someone to be trusted, and sometimes it’s less about what you say than about how you say it. Any of these landing page copy elements can cause people to raise a skeptical eyebrow:
- Lots of typos and grammatical problems: It’s great to write conversationally, but make sure your writing is still polished. Rightly or wrongly, writing errors can cause some visitors to doubt your skill or intelligence. Make sure to ask at least one other person to closely review your landing page copy before you launch it.
- Grandiose claims: The offer on your landing page may truly change someone’s life and do astonishing things to their bank account, but heed the old writing maxim “show, don’t tell." To be convincing, you need to ground the claims you make in specific details that help readers bridge the gap between their lives and the better future you’re promising.
- Fake-sounding testimonials: If you don’t have enough real testimonials to fill the testimonial section of your landing page, simply hide it. Stock models spouting too-perfect summaries of your product’s benefits are unlikely to convince anyone.
9. You’re throwing people off with inconsistencies
Any moment when a landing page visitor stops and thinks, “Wait, what are they talking about there?” is a moment that interrupts the momentum of your marketing campaign. To avoid those moments, keep the language you use predictable and consistent. Make sure you pick one version of your product or offer name and your company name and stick with them throughout the page. The same goes for transitions between your landing page and the next step. If your call-to-action button mentions an e-book, don’t call it a 5-page guide inside your Leadbox. If your button asks someone to “learn more,” it shouldn’t lead directly to a checkout page. You want visitors to feel that they’re in control of the process and that they won’t find any unpleasant surprises.
9. Your headline doesn’t connect
Too many landing page headlines simply state the basic offer and nothing more. That approach can be fine if your audience is already very familiar with you, but you’re still missing an opportunity to get page visitors truly excited about what you’re offering. Dig into one or more specific benefits that people will obtain when they opt in. Subheadlines can be your best friend here if you're short on space. On the other hand, stating only the basics is better than not stating those basics at all. Which brings us to another common landing page problem.
10. You aimed for intrigue and landed in bewilderment
An intense dose of creativity can do great things for your landing page, but it won’t take effect without an equal dose of ruthless honesty. Your intriguing headline—does it actually make people want to read on, or does it make them shrug, think “huh, don’t know what that’s about,” and close the tab? Your clever product name—does it highlight the best thing about that product, or does it hide the benefits in elaborate wordplay? Your symbolic background image—is the symbolism instantly apparent, or does it seem irrelevant? A couple of honest friends or colleagues can be your best asset here. (Leadpages’ members-only Facebook group works well for this, too, if you’re a customer.) If you’re trying a creative strategy that feels like a gamble, give your “focus group” 10 seconds to look at your page and then give them a one-question quiz: “What’s the purpose of this page?” If they can’t answer, you need to add some clarity to balance the intrigue.
12. It’s not easy to read
The 10-second test will help you here, too. Your page definitely doesn’t need to be fully readable within 10 seconds (see #6 above), but everyone who visits it should be able to get the gist quickly and identify the sections of your text that matter most to them. Long paragraphs won’t help them do that. Be sure to add “signposts” to your landing page copy. Subheadings, shorter paragraphs and sentences, bolded text, and bullets can all help visitors find their way to your call to action. It makes the difference between this:
… and this:
Same exact content, but which one would you be more likely to read all the way through?
13. Your audience can’t find themselves in it
This is another landing page problem that can come from being stuck inside our own heads. Our audience is so crystal clear in our minds, we forget to actually mention them directly on the page. And the landing page becomes a very cloudy mirror, in which that audience can’t really see their own lives. For instance, maybe you run a gym just for women and promote it on a bright pink page … but you never actually mention that the gym is women-only, talk about women’s lives, or show images of women on that landing page. Or you’re advertising a vegetarian recipe book—but although you never mention meat, you don’t ever come out and say that all the recipes are meat-free. To avoid these blind spots, be sure to ask yourself with each page you create: what problem does this page solve? And for whom does it solve it? Then make sure those answers are obvious to anyone who visits the page.
14. Nobody knows who you are
Everyone in the world is an authority on something, even if it’s just their own lived experience. Still, when it comes to your landing page, you have to prove it (unless you’re already a celebrity in the eyes of your landing page visitors). I see landing pages miss this all the time. Here’s a fake but plausible example:
It’s not clear who’s speaking or why we should care. In order to believe that these productivity secrets truly work, it’s important to know what effect they’ve had on the life of the page’s author. It’s one thing if the tools being touted have allowed the author to find two more hours of Netflix time a week, quite another if they’ve allowed her or him to found a second, profitable business. You don’t need high-level degrees or impressive endorsements to establish your authority. Begin by spelling out and quantifying the real-world results of what you’re offering. Your page will become much more credible and convert much more effectively.
15. It’s full of distractions
Fly-in widgets, sidebars, banner ads, navigation menus, comment sections … an awful lot of things can fit on a webpage if you’re determined to fill up white space. But on a landing page in particular, these things can all send traffic away from your primary call to action. They turn your funnel into a sieve. If there’s a secondary call to action that’s really important to you, either give it its own, less prominent button or page section or—even more elegantly—present it on the thank-you page. There’s generally room for everything you want to do in a given marketing campaign; you just can’t do it all on one page.
16. There’s nothing unique about your offer
In the quest to design a universally appealing offer, you can wind up with an offer that’s universally bland. Nearly everyone wants to get healthier, make more money, find more free time, achieve more influence, and succeed in their careers, but you can’t simply promise to help people achieve those goals and expect them to flock to your business. You need to tie those big goals to a hook—the one thing that makes what you’re offering different from any other option your audience has. Compare the goals above to these specific promises:
- Get healthier without ever stepping on a scale
- Make more money by outsourcing these four tasks
- Find more free time with this "completely backwards" schedule
- Achieve more influence by ignoring this popular advice
- Get a better job by asking one question interviewers almost never hear
Creating a more appealing offer may be as simple as presenting information you already have in a more compelling, less predictable light. The web is crowded—your offer needs to stand out.
17. Your landing page is fine; your traffic strategy isn’t
Finally, consider that your landing page might not be the problem at all. If you’re not getting traffic to begin with, make sure you actually have a solid plan for getting people to your page—even if you’re an SEO whiz, it can take weeks or months for your page to climb its way up the search results page organically. And in most cases, you don’t want to rely on organic traffic alone. You’ve got expenses to meet and bills to pay. “Publish and pray” is not a strategy. If you’re getting traffic but no conversions, look first at your traffic source—typically an ad of some kind—and then at the interplay between your ad (or other kind of link to your page) and the page itself. Many of the landing page problems above can afflict paid media efforts, too. Your ad should promise something truly desirable, and your landing page should follow through on that promise to the letter.
How will you make your landing pages better than ever?
These 17 landing page flaws aren’t just the work of inexperienced or careless people—even seasoned marketers can miss them more often than they’d like to admit. We’re all in this together. And we can all make success more predictable by putting processes in place to identify landing page problems before they become too overwhelming to fix. To that end, I’ve included a 64-point landing page optimization checklist that you can quickly consult for your next high-stakes landing page. (Bookmarking this post might be helpful, too.)