I’ve created a monster. Honestly, I can barely look at this template. It’s the lowest converting, hilariously ugly template I’ve ever seen in my life. Just…..just look at it.
Woof. What a mess. Graphics aren’t loading, there’s a ton of things happening and the copy just plain stinks. Don’t worry. This template doesn’t actually exist. We wouldn’t unleash anything this bad unto the world. I created this template to give you an example of what not to do. This template was made by taking all the best practices we have at LeadPages™ and doing the exact opposite of what they suggest. There are specific reasons why this template is horrific and, while they all look terrible when mashed together like this example, it's all too easy to make one or two of these mistakes when creating your own landing pages. That’s why I’m going to break down these individual mistakes and show you how to fix them so you can avoid making them on your way to creating a killer, high-converting landing page.
Mistake #1: Left-Aligned Opt-In Box
This is one of the most common mistakes we see from templates that aren’t created by LeadPages™. For many designers, the opt-in box is more of an afterthought when creating a landing page. They focus on the imagery, content spaces and navigation, then all of a sudden they stick the opt-in box wherever the most dead space is. Unfortunately, that sort of oversight can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. After analyzing data points from over 4 million opt-ins, we’ve found that right-aligned opt-in boxes convert exponentially better than those aligned to the left or centered.
In our bad page example, the opt-in box is squarely on the left-hand side of the page. Now, take a look at some of our highest-converting templates and notice where the opt-in box is: [caption id="attachment_4063" align="aligncenter" width="758"]
Click here to view our Enterprise Lead Gen template.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4064" align="aligncenter" width="758"]
Click here to view our New Basic Squeeze Page template.[/caption] Many of our top templates are aligned to the right or the center. If you use an opt-in box on your landing page, make sure you, too, align the majority of it to the right/center.
Mistake #2: Videos/Images Not Loading
You know that feeling you get when you’re giving a presentation and that graph you spent hours working on doesn’t show up? That awkward, uncomfortable silence when you realize a crucial element has failed and you’ve broken any momentum you created? Now imagine that happening on your landing page. And that awkward feeling turning into lost conversions. That’s what happens when an image or video doesn’t load on your landing page. You only have a finite amount of time to persuade a visitor to take action. Not only does a missing element detract from the credibility of your page, but it also destroys your sales pitch.
If you look at our bad example, you’ll notice an image in the bottom left area that didn’t load. Some would discount this, saying, “Oh, well it’s just at the bottom left. No one will notice it anyways.” Trust me. They do. And it could happen. Luckily, isn’t really a problem with LeadPages™. You can host all your images and videos right here on our dedicated, ridiculously fast servers. Never again will you have to face the embarrassment of opening up an email that says, “Just visited your site. You were missing some images. It looked weird.” [caption id="attachment_3917" align="aligncenter" width="758"]
Look at those images. All loaded and everything.[/caption]
Mistake #3: Ignoring Design Space Dimensions
Along the same lines as the previous mistake, ignoring design space dimensions can really wreak havoc on the overall credibility of your landing page. I liken this mistake closely to that of a 2nd grader wearing an NFL lineman’s clothes, or vice versa. Using a small image in an area that demands a large image can throw off the design of the page, while the opposite can lead to a rather strange looking page.
In our bad landing page example, you can see a fuzzy image in the opt-in box. This is what happens when you try to use a small image meant for a bigger area. The image is blurry and heavily pixelated, and it could be a lot worse. The image was stretched so it fit the design space, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. When you’re presented with an option to insert media into a landing page, pay close attention to the size of the photo or video used in the default template. If you want a landing page to perform like it is promised, you’ll need to fully utilize the design space dimensions for each section.
Mistake #4: Too Many Calls to Action
Of course you want a visitor to buy something from your landing page. The more calls to action, the higher the chance they’ll buy due to increased exposure, right? Nope. Don’t drown your visitors in opportunity. It only leads to inaction. We wrote about multiple calls to action in The 10 Commandments of Landing Pages, and the very first commandment showed a landing page that had seven calls to action.
Here’s the problem -- landing pages with too many calls to action cause visitors to suffer from decision overload, or choice paralysis. When you’re faced with multiple calls to action, you tend to shut down and choose none of them because you can’t focus on a specific call to action.
Look at all the calls to action in our example. Links, buttons, headlines...it goes on and on. There are so many and each of them looks almost exactly the same, so you really don’t know which one to select. A good rule of thumb is one to two calls to action per fold. Let the visitor focus on one thing, and make your call to action always visible no matter where a person is on your page.
Mistake #5: Too Much Information
Sometimes, less is more. Especially when you don’t need a lot of information in the first place. One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing for a landing page is to include every single piece of information under the sun. The result of too much information is information overload, which can cripple your visitors' decision-making abilities. There are two ways to overload your visitors with information:
- By literally putting too many words on the page.
- By laying out your paragraphs in an indigestible way.
Specifically, in our bad example, I want to highlight the body copy. To some, this doesn’t look like a ton of copy. However, this section suffers from repetition (more on that in the next mistake) and poor formatting. When you’re writing landing page copy, try to find the key aspects of your product and the specific benefits people will get out of using it. Take your findings from this musing, write them down and read through them. If you find yourself less than fully engaged while reading, then your copy is still too long or you have…
Mistake #6: Bad Copy
Copy is a tricky situation. First, it's subjective — people won't always agree on what's good and what's not. Perhaps a sentence could be shorter, a phrase could be restructured or a word just doesn’t sound quite right. These are all objections that can differ from person to person. They’re subjective and varied and altogether minutia in the grand scheme. Then there’s objectively bad copy. That kind of copy you could show to 100 people and 99 would agree it is indeed terrible (the last person is the 5th dentist in those “4 out of 5 dentist” scenarios). Typos, poor sentence structure, lack of compelling emotion, gimmicky language -- these are all the calling cards of bad copy.
Our bad example contains almost every single one of these copy tropes:
- Gimmick Copy (Purple): These grandiose claims mean nothing and only serve to get a knee-jerk reaction. “Get rich quick” or “rich beyond your wildest dreams” in this case don’t tell you what to expect, yet they promise everything in the world. Somehow.
- Typos (Red): My old writing teacher in college used to say this: “Be skeptical of a typo. Be critical after two.” Typos are ugly, needless and, ultimately, conversion-killers.
- Unclear Emphasis (Green): While they can be effective in calculated doses, underlining, bolding and changing font color on every other word just dilutes your message. It is the sales equivalent of writing in all caps. You don’t really know why things are being emphasized, except to perhaps sound REALLY IMPORTANT!!!
- Vagueness (Blue):Specifically, look at the “calls to action.” They’re extremely vague, to the point where the only way you know you’re supposed to click them is due to the button image. People crave specificity. They want to know what to do and what they’ll get. Give that specificity to them.
- Repeating (Black): Repeating (or rambling) is the sworn enemy of attention. This copy has been written multiple times, when really a paragraph would have sufficed.
- Uncompelling Copy: This applies to the whole piece. Nothing in here is that captivating. You’ve seen this sort of copy on hundreds of pages because it’s the most generic stuff you can write.
Check out this snippet of copy that copywriting whiz Lawton Chiles wrote on a landing page he created using the Brian Moran Bonuses Page inside LeadPages™.
His copy is specific, engaging, concise and error-free. This type of copy really makes you want to act after reading it. You can avoid bad copy by, honestly, writing more. Practice makes perfect, and the act of writing and editing will build your skills tremendously. But writing for the sake of writing won’t improve your abilities. You need to have a goal in mind every time you put pen to paper (or digital Helvetica to document). Check out some of the posts we’ve written on the subject to help you out with writing for landing pages:
- Humans of New York Writing Tips
- 10 Commandments of Landing Pages
- 4 Psych Theories of Landing Pages
- Borrow Apple’s Best Copywriting Techniques
- How Imgur Makes You A Better Writer
- Context for Action vs Call to Action
- The Unique Content Process
- 10 Call To Action Tips That Convert
Mistake #7: Distracting Design
Then again, bad copy doesn’t matter if you can’t even read the words on the page. You might have the best copy in the world, forged at the typewriter of Dan Kennedy himself. But if your page has design elements that draw every bit of attention away from your words, you’ll see conversion rates harshly drop off. Distracting design, much like bad copy, can be wide-ranging. It can be something as simple as a misaligned content box or as drastic as clashing color palettes. Either way, eyes that wander from the intended “hot spots” on a page aren’t a good thing.
In our bad example, there’s a lot of poor design afoot:
- The company logo has a solid background instead of a transparent one. This clashes with the header of the page.
- The header and footer have obnoxiously bright and distracting colors.
- The font colors on the header and footer make the text difficult to read.
- The testimonials section is hard to read and unstyled.
- The “headline” of the page isn’t emphasized.
- Call to action buttons float wherever and aren’t uniform.
- Spacing is jagged and inconsistent in areas.
These are just the major ones, too. Once you see these mistakes, you can’t unsee them. That’s the calling card of bad design. Great design is imperative, which is why this is an area where investing in a professional is a solid path to go down. We follow that philosophy at LeadPages™ with top-notch designers. Our templates are built on a solid foundation of good design, so you don’t have to worry about design and can easily customize them without having to hire a designer. Avoid the multiple mistakes I made in this bad page example, invest in design and you’ll have a solid landing page.
Mistake #8: “Taking Page”
So many pages make this mistake, and people don’t even realize it IS a mistake. See, there are two ways to collect opt-ins. First, there’s what we at LeadPages™ call a “taking page.” These are pages that have an opt-in form in plain sight.
You can see the fields where you give your email, name and whatever else the company asks of you. This is a taking page, and it’s a big no-no for conversions. When visitors see a form on a page, they immediately become more on-guard because they feel like the page is already asking them for something (before they’ve read a word of copy). When a visitor is put in that mindset, they read your copy reluctantly, which leads to fewer conversions.
On the bad example page, we have this opt-in opportunity with a crazy amount of form fields -- another thing you should avoid. The more fields you require a visitor to fill out, the less likely they are to sign up (you should never ask for more information than you absolutely need). With this layout, the example is also classified as a taking page. At LeadPages™, every template we make is a “giving page.” These pages still have the goal of generating opt-ins or purchases like other templates out there, but they go about it in a different -- and much more efficient -- way.
Rather than simply placing the opt-in form right on the page, we utilize the two-step opt-in process. Visitors are greeted by a "giving" button or link, which allows them to take action before they are prompted to opt-in. This way, the visitor doesn’t constantly see an opt-in form that implicitly pressures them into opting in. It makes them read the sales copy in a less guarded frame of mind. It puts the power in the visitor’s hands. If they feel like signing up/purchasing, then they choose to click on the button/link in the page template -- in which case they’re prompted with a LeadBox™ that gathers their information. We've found that, on average, switching from a one-step opt-in to a two-step opt-in leads to a 30% increase in conversions. So remember. Don’t make your page “take,” let it “give.”
Mistake #9: Bad Testimonials
Social proof is one of the biggest influencers in the purchasing decision. If other people enjoy your product (especially big names), then visitors are much more likely to “jump on the ship” with your other satisfied customers. Still, some people include lackluster testimonials because they underestimate the power of a great testimonial. On the contrary. Testimonials are huge for your success. People need to see your product work for other people. It’s not enough to say what it can do. You need to show what it has done.
Look at the testimonials in our bad example. Do any of them make you want to jump out of your seat and buy this product? I didn’t think so. In fact, some of these actually dissuade you from buying the product. I won’t name sites, but these are actual testimonials I’ve found on some landing pages. Crazy, right? A testimonial needs to be absolutely glowing and real in order to have any impact. Even if it isn’t a big name (though it certainly helps), having an enthusiastic customer write about their real-world success will always trump hypothetical promises your product makes. [caption id="attachment_3890" align="aligncenter" width="758"]
Here's a testimonial from our LeadPages homepage.[/caption]
Mistake #10: Slow Loading Time
I get it. You can’t really see this one. But just pretend this page took something like 20 seconds to load. Heck, let’s even cut it in half to ten seconds. It might not seem like eternity, but take a time out from this post and count to ten in your head. …………. …………. I bet you didn’t even take ten seconds out of the day to count to ten. If you don’t have ten seconds to spare, what makes you think your visitors do? And if you did take the time to count, get this -- for every second you counted off, your conversions dipped by 7%. Page speed matters. If your page takes more than a second or two to load, you’ll lose customers at an alarming rate. Your server, code, images, videos, or a bevy of other factors can affect your page speed. Regardless, visitors have to see your page before they can convert, and page speed can kill even the best sales pitch. That's why we obsess over page speed at LeadPages™. Just to give you an idea of what we do to get industry-leading results:
- Our developers write and optimize every line of our code by hand to ensure you get the maximum speed and functionality.
- Each of our pages has to pass rigorous inspections including speed-testing with Google’s PageSpeed to make sure they load instantly.
- All LeadPages™ landing pages are hosted on the Google server network, arguably the fastest server network out there.
A lot goes into this crucial aspect of landing page marketing. What are your loading times looking like lately?
BONUS: Token Stock Photo
Smiling, pointing business man in bright room #18. Happy family of four frolicking through a nameless meadow. A man with his sleeves rolled up leaning over and offering guidance to another person hunched over at a desk. People can spot stock photos a mile away, and using too many stock photos can suck all the personality out of your page. Nothing screams “We can’t prove our claims” like a stock photo taking the place of what should be your customers (or employees) doing something.
Here, you can see our good friend, Mr. Unrealistically Attractive Male Sitting In A Pure White Room And Having A Pleasant Day is the first image people see when visiting this page. Do you believe this is a typical event at General Business? Probably not. What I suggest doing is inserting personality into your page with imagery. Using personal images adds to the credibility of your product, because your potential customers can see you AND they can visualize themselves in the images you produce. Make your imagery tell your story. YOUR imagery. Not stock imagery.
What’s The Biggest Landing Page Mistake You Can Make?
Out of all 11 of these mistakes, which one do you think is the most detrimental to a page? Drop a comment below and let me know which mistake you’d most hate to make.