Whether you’re a seasoned Digital Marketer, CMO or business owner, you know Google has been on the move this year, overturning rankings with Penguins, Pandas and manual penalties as it breaks through sly, manipulative techniques on its quest for best possible experience and search results for its users. The key takeaways from Google this year? Everyone needs to get with the program and provide their visitors with an outstanding user experience. That should be your primary digital strategy. From better experience comes improved rankings; from improved rankings comes improved traffic; from improved traffic (hopefully) comes improved conversions and revenue. This is where you can start calculating ROI from your digital marketing efforts, but it’s going to take an investment in time, effort and money, especially if you don’t have the time or knowledge to carry out the work yourself.
Given the ever-increasing importance of User Experience, I’ve put together this guide to provide:
- Insight into user behaviour on landing pages
- Landing Page pro tips from Unbounce’s Co-founder, Oli Gardner
- An introduction to the conversion rate optimisation (CRO) process
But first let’s go over some basic terminologies:
What’s User Experience?
User Experience (UX), or Usability, is a design principle whereby the goal is to provide the end user with a visually appealing, easy-to-follow experience, enriched with valuable content, ensuring the user’s query can be answered, or their problem solved.
What’s a Bounce Rate?
When a user visits your webpage and leaves without visiting any other pages, this is considered a Bounce. Your Bounce Rate is a percentage worked out by dividing the number of bounces by the total visits for a prescribed period.
What’s Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and how is it related to User Experience?
Firstly, I want to stress that while CRO is mentioned heavily throughout this blog post, and is indeed a fundamental part of UX, the focus of this post is Landing Pages and their importance to UX.
Conversion optimisation is the process of constantly reviewing the performance of conversion goals for a landing page, tweaking elements and comparing several versions (called Multivariate Testing) in order to find the best performing page. But it doesn’t stop there. Every time you find a winner, it becomes the control for your next round of testing. In this way, CRO is a never-ending process, as you can always improve conversions and income.
Now let’s dig into the insights!
Insight: First Impressions are Everything
Think back on your first interview with a current employee. How the candidate was dressed, the initial handshake and their first words likely made a lasting impression, and this would have been firm in your mind when it came time to fill the role.
This is how you should think about your visitors. Is your website corporate interview material? Does it provide the first impression you desire?
Usability Fact #1
Research into usability has shown:
- A participant who clicks down the right path on the first click will complete their task successfully 87% of the time
- A participant who clicks down the wrong-path on the first click, tends to only successfully complete their task 46% of the time.
If that task is a conversion, you’d want to make sure your landing page is set up to meet the criteria of the ‘right path’ for the user; if not, you’ve almost halved the possibility of the user converting, as the first click usually comes from organic or paid search results. This is why we recommend having a dedicated page for each keyword your targeting for SEO; high specificity on a topic is going to give you better ranking results (and user interaction) than a generic page that touches on a variety of different keywords.
Usability Fact #2
A Human-computer interaction (HCI) research posted on Nielsen Norman Group’s website states:
- Users judge a website in a very harsh 10 seconds
- Users that stay on beyond that are highly likely to leave within the next 20 seconds
- Users that remain beyond this timeline often stay for over 2 minutes.
This means a Value Proposition needs to be clearly communicated within 10 seconds! Open up your website and if the answer to a user’s query can be clearly identified within 10 seconds, you’re doing well. If not, it’s time to start rethinking your landing page design.
The most common issue here is when a home page ranks for a specified keyword, instead of a dedicated landing page. Unless your home page content is relevant and answers the user’s question, expect them to bounce.
Conversion Rate Optimisation Basics
CRO is all about taking your landing page and optimising the layout, content and style around principles that have proven to be successful in attracting higher conversions and testing new ways to make users convert.
In his recent workshop, Oli Gardner, Co-founder of Unbounce, provided some great insights into landing pages design and Conversion Centred Design (CCD).
Here some the key takeaways:
- 98% of Landing Pages Don’t Cut It – If you’re not getting high amounts of conversions, you, along with many others, make up this majority and need to consider CRO.
- N.S.A.M.C.W.A.D.L.P.: Never Start A Marketing Campaign Without A Dedicated Landing Page – Marketing campaigns have goals. If you don’t have a dedicated landing page, your AdWords are going to fall short on the conversion front, as well as pushing your quality score down and CPC up!
- Attention Ratio should be as Low as Possible – The purpose of a landing page is to drive conversions, be they purchases, ebook downloads or email subscriptions. Landing pages that are packed with large amounts of information, or links to other pages, cause the focus on conversions is reduced. Users only give your page 10 seconds before they’ve made up their mind on your product or service – highlight your Call to Action and don’t distract users from converting!
- Testimonials are Crucial & Video Testimonials are King – Trust is essential. Forget the notion of ‘social proof’ and focus instead on creating trust with testimonials from credible sources. If you’re selling software B2B, the Head of I.T. from a large corporation would be great; if you’re targeting consumers, a customer that represents your target market, or that your target market can relate to will be best. Video Testimonials keep users on the page longer – keep them on the page for over 30 seconds and they often stay for over 2 minutes. Video Testimonials have also been shown to increase conversions rate.
- Use Bullet Points Over Text Blocks – This ties into attention ratios; content should add confidence that the product will serve their needs, not distract the user from converting. One of the case studies in this presentation involved a company that surveyed its customers to find out why customers purchased. They added the top 4 points on their landing page and their conversions improved marketedly.
- Landing Page is Relevant to the Query – From page title to headline, from image to content, it all needs to tie in and give the user the information they expected they’d find on the page, with testimonials from credible sources indicating the value added by your product/service.
Change, Test, Evaluate, Repeat
Because every website, industry and product differ, so too does the recipe for converting consumers. And just like any good recipe, everyone’s got their own secret ingredients, a special method for mixing, and their own way of presenting and serving their dish. If you watch MasterChef you’ll know they sample each dish (testing), note the pros and cons (evaluating) and repeat this for each competitor before declaring a winner. If they picked one dish every week and sampled it, the results wouldn’t be accurate; because they judge the dishes all at once, the memory is fresh and can be accurately compared. This is the same for conversion optimisation.
Of those companies that identify a page isn’t performing well, they usually go about changing the page and measure the results 3-6 months later to see if it’s been successful in improving conversions. However, like the previous example of judging a dish weeks apart, the data isn’t fresh for you to accurately judge success upon. This is why CRO is so great. A/B (Split) or Multivariate Testing allows two or more versions of a landing page to be created and tested on live users. Data is collected, such as heat maps, clicks, conversions and bounces, providing insight into which page works best. But it shouldn’t stop there!
Conversion optimisation is an ongoing process. After the first test, which should have fairly significant differences (e.g. block text vs. bullet points) and should provide you with an insight into the right layout for converting, the second test should refine this further (e.g. Hyperlinks vs. bold text on bullet points) and the next level could test styling (e.g. Arrow from bullet points to buy button vs. no arrow). Each time you’re getting closer and, yes, you will have some short-falls, but it’s all about experimenting to find the perfect formula.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, same goes for a well converting landing page. You can always improve your conversions and user experience, so you should never stop testing and experimenting.
Keen to get testing? Get onto a Landing page tool like Unbounce or contact Search Factory for advice!
Image 1 Credit: http://www.siliconcloud.com/Portals/55887/images/8%20Tips%20to%20Optimising%20Your%20Landing%20Pages.jpg
Image 2 Credit: http://www.martalain.net/Portals/188576/images/ux.png
Image 3 Credit: http://www.conceras.com/assets/img/in-text/insights_ideas.jpg
Image 4 Credit: http://www.digitalimperia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Conversion-Rate-Optimization.gif
Image 5 Credit: http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-repeat-73.png#sthash.YMskCCYx.dpuf
Oli Gardner SlideShare Presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/oligardner/how-to-create-delightful-highconverting-landing-pages-with-conversion-centered-design