10 common Landing Page mistakes

Building a Landing Page is one of the very first step you take when working on a new business endeavor. But how do you know if the Landing Page is “good enough” to be shown to your future customers? What are the best practices you should be following when working on your Landing Page? And what should you avoid at all costs?

Let’s take a closer look at the 10 most common mistakes you can make when building your Landing Page and how you can avoid those.

1. Using the Landing Page as a Marketing Website and vice versa

It’s important to define and understand what a Landing Page is and what it isn’t. Generally speaking a Landing Page is a dedicated, self-contained website which sole purpose is to attract the visitors attention and convince her to perform a pre-defined goal or action (often called CTA or “Call to action”). Such goal can be a sign up for a free trial, a newsletter subscription or a booking for a demo call.

It’s tempting to put more information on a Landing Page. All too often Landing Pages include a team section, an in-depth walkthrough on every feature the product has to offer, a list with all the different integration partners, links to pages with case studies and different uses cases and sometimes even an “About” page which describes in great detail where the founders came from and what the company is all about.

Your Landing Page isn’t a Landing Page anymore if it includes more information than necessary to explain your unique value proposition to your target audience. If that’s the case then think about what information your future potential customers need to evaluate whether your product suits their needs. Only keep that information in your Landing Page and move everything else onto your dedicated Marketing Website.

This mistakes goes both ways. Don’t use your Marketing Website as your Landing Page. Users will get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information they’d have to work through. As described above, extract the essentials into a dedicated Landing Page and use that as your first point of contact with new visitors.

This is especially important when you use paid traffic channels to acquire new customers. Never drive paid traffic to your generic Marketing Website. Always use a Landing Page as a destination for your paid ad traffic.

2. Helping people to leave

Do you have a navigation at the top which links to other pages? Remove it! Do you have a link to a YouTube video which shows how your product works? Remove the link! Do you link to your social media accounts? Remove them! Do you have a list with links in your footer? Remove them!

I think you see a pattern here. Remove everything which makes it easy for your visitor to leave your site. Your main goal is to keep them on the site and engaged with your solution to their problems. Everything else is a distraction which might interrupt your visitors thought process.

Of course it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are a couple of techniques and workarounds you can use if your Landing Page has to link to external resources (e.g. legal documents):

Use an anchored navigation which helps your visitors scroll to a section on your page. If you’re doing that you want to ensure that clicking on the link doesn’t result in an “abrupt jump” but rather a smooth scrolling so that the users isn’t lost and sees that there’s more content to explore in-between the navigation and the destination.

Embed your YouTube videos and make downloadable content (such as .pdf files) truly downloadable (avoid using the in-browser preview mode).

Use a Popup window / Lightbox for content you’d otherwise link to externally.

3. Telling without showing

Your product uses the latest and greatest AI research and stores its model weights on the Blockchain while leveraging Smart Contracts to facilitate transactional exchanges between your users? Given such technological advancements your competition isn’t even close. Your steadily growing user base of loyal early adopters makes it even harder to compete with you.

All of that sounds like a compelling reason to choose you over your competition. But how do you back up your claims? Where’s the evidence that you can live up to the hype?

There’s the mantra of “fake it ’til you make it” and painting the picture as to how your future customer will benefit from the product isn’t wrong.

What’s harmful is over-hyping your solution. Even non-technical visitors can smell BS from miles away. If you’re just dropping buzzword after buzzword without backing anything of that up you’re fostering distrust. And building trust is the very first step when a complete stranger sees your product for the very first time.

Again, outlining your vision isn’t wrong. Overselling what you’re actually doing without backing it up is.

4. Fake testimonials

Fake testimonials is related to the topic of “Show, don’t tell” we just covered above. It’s totally fine if you don’t have any testimonials just yet. In that case just skip them for now and add them later down the road.

Fake testimonials harm more than they do good. Most of the time it’s pretty easy to spot fake testimonials as they are generic and don’t include any specific information as to how your product helped the customer in question get from A to B.

A related bad practice is including company logos without explaining how your product is used by such company and what impact it had. Having someone from Apple like your Tweet about your business isn’t enough to include their logo on your Landing Page.

Getting genuine and convincing testimonials is a whole “science” in and of itself and I plan cover that in a dedicated blog post. However if you do have customers from whom you can get testimonials you might want to jump on a call with them and ask them how your product changed their business for the better. Try to figure out what kind of emotional impact your product had (e.g. saving time to pick up the kids from school) and what the business ROI is. Outline how the day-to-day was before using your product and afterwards. Make it specific and tangible.

5. Stock Photos

Try to avoid using stock photography as much as possible. The reason for doing so is simple, yet important to understand.

Put yourself into the shoes of your visitor for a minute and imagine that you visited a website which used the same stock photography you see on your Landing Page right now. You tried their product but had a bad customer experience with it. Unconsciously you still connect the bad experience with the visual the company used. Their logo, their color scheme and their stock photography. This negative, emotional feeling is still prevalent when your visitors explore your Landing Page. Even if they’re not consciously aware of it.

Another reason to not use stock photography is that it makes a very unprofessional expression if users recognize the same image being used on different websites.

If you still want to use stock photography you want to ensure that you buy a license which restricts usage so that you’re one of a few companies allowed to use that photo. Another option would be to use Google Images “reverse image search” to figure out how often the stock photography was used. Pay special attention to the businesses that have used such photo. The more different they are from what you’re doing, the better.

6. Using a template

As an early stage business you want to move fast and save as much time as possible. You’re not a developer / designer so you go to a theme marketplace to buy your very own Landing Page theme. Those themes were designed and built by professionals.

They look beautiful and are easy to use because you just have to fill in the blanks. What could go wrong?

“Filling in the blanks” is exactly the problem. Templates were built to sell. They demonstrate all the features they have to offer to show you that you can use them in various scenarios. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on an iPhone app, an ebook or a SaaS business. The template got you covered.

Adopting the templates structure and just filling out the blanks will cause you to end up with bad copywriting. Your Landing Page doesn’t tell a convincing story. It’s hard to figure out what the product is about. What problems it solves and how the customer benefits from using it.

What you want to do instead is to start with a blank page. Write down the copy of your headline and subhead. Outline the problem and paint a picture as to how your product makes your customers life easier. Think about a compelling story your Landing Page should tell. Once you have done the copywriting you should work on the Landing Page and its design. Following this advice will help you communicate your value proposition more clearly. Your Landing Page will feel like a thoughtfully crafted unit rather than a loose collection of texts and images.

7. Over-designing / Adopting the latest design trends

Every couple of years there are certain design trends that stand out. Back in ~2010 this trend was Skeuomorphism which was superseded by Flat Design in 2015.

While it’s important to adopt new user interface design principles and user experience design trends in your SaaS application to make the usage as simple as possible it can be detrimental for your Landing Page and its conversion rates.

In fact, Landing Pages you and I would call “boring” or “ugly” usually outperform beautifully designed Landing Pages by a large margin. The reason for this is simple. Beautiful design creates additional noise and distractions which drive the visitors attention away from your Landing Pages main goal: Getting the user excited to perform the call to action.

You don’t believe it? Go to the “Templates” section of Leadpages, sort the templates by “Highest Converting” and compare the designs.

When it comes down to your Landing Page you should keep it as simple and as distraction-free as possible. This also includes shying away from new trends such as “Conversational Forms”, “Scroll hijacking”, etc.

8. Bad Copywriting

One of the most common reasons why Landing Pages are underperforming is the lack of good copywriting.

Copywriting is a very underappreciated skill everyone can benefit from mastering. In simplest terms, copywriting is the art of writing compelling and convincing text which resonates with your target audience.

Your Landing Page has to convince a visitors in less than 5 seconds that it’s worthwhile spending more time to explore your product further. Does your headline and its subhead explain what the product is about and what pain it addresses? Show your Landing Page to your friends and family for 5 seconds and ask them what they think your product is about. Can they articulate what your product does? Sometimes a good trick is to switch the headline and subhead as most of the time the subhead is more explanatory.

But copywriting is more than getting the headline right. Do you want to collect E-Mail addresses from business leads? Change your form label to “Business E-Mail Address”. Change the text on your call to action button by thinking about what you’d expect to happen when clicking on it (e.g. “Join the Community”). Do you always get the question if your Webinar will be recorded? Add the text “We’ll send out the recordings of the Webinar so register even if you’re not sure that you can make it”.

Copywriting is a whole profession in and of itself and definitely worth learning more about. The main takeaway is to be conscious with the words you choose. Put yourself into the shoes of your visitor. What would convince you to read more about the product? What questions or concerns are in the back of your mind you could address and answer right away?

9. Not asking for a 2nd action

The Landing Pages main objective is to convince the visitor to take the call to action. Whether that’s a sign up for a wait list, booking a demo call or a registration for a free trial. But what should you do once your visitor performed that call to action? Most Landing Pages display a “Thank You” page and call it a day.

It’s this exact moment where your visitors are excited and open to learn even more about you and your brand. You should definitely use this moment to ask for a second action. Did your user join a wait list for your beta? Why not asking her to subscribe to your Newsletter? Did your visitor book a seat for a webinar? Why not invite her to follow your blog?

There are plenty of actions you can ask your visitor to perform. The only thing you want to keep in mind is to keep “the ask” in perspective. Don’t go too deep down in your funnel. Don’t ask for a free trial sign up if the main call to action was a newsletter sign up. Keep the second action in perspective but always ask your users to perform a second action.

10. Doing A/B testing too early on

Chances are that you’re not getting a lot of traffic and therefore only very few conversions from your Landing Page in the early days. That’s totally normal and expected. Your traffic numbers will grow automatically as you experiment and explore what marketing channels work for your product. Doing that takes time.

But maybe the Landing Page isn’t communicating the core message good enough. Maybe there’s a way to tweak the layout and call to action to get more conversions.

The next step would be to create 2 different versions of your Landing Page and setup an A/B test to see which version performs best. I want to stop you right there.

There’s no chance that you have enough traffic in the early days to conduct a statistically sound A/B test. The math just doesn’t add up.

Setting up A/B tests is time consuming and tweaking the Landing Page every hour or so isn’t enough to make informed decision as to what version performs best.

Start with your very first version of your Landing Page and ask strangers for honest feedback to improve it over time. Do they understand what your product is about? Do they understand the pain points and how your solutions alleviate them?

Build up from there one step at a time. Use an A/B/ testing calculator to figure out if you have enough traffic to perform an A/B test which produces valid results. And if you ever do that, make sure that you only tweak one thing at a time.

Your challenge

Now that we’ve seen quite a few common Landing Page mistakes I’d like you to open up your current Landing Page and see if you can improve it based on the tips we’ve discussed above.

Do you ask for a second action after the visitor went through the call to action? Do you make it easy for your visitors to leave? Are there ways you can improve your copywriting?

Go through all of the points mentioned above and try to make your Landing Page better. Once you’ve done that I’m certain that your Landing Page communicates your products core strengths and is more convincing than ever before!

Conclusion

Creating a Landing Page is the very first action item one the list to build a successful product. A lot of times Landing Pages are created in a rush due to the innate time- and resource constraints every new business has to deal with.

Spending more time, thought and effort on your Landing Page can significantly impact the direction in which your business is going. All too often avoidable mistakes are being made when designing the first Landing Page.

In this post we went through the 10 most common mistakes and how to avoid them. Being aware of the mistakes and the ways in which they can be resolved empowers you to build compelling Landing Pages which will resonate more with your target audience, convincing them to try your product and eventually convert into a paying customers.

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Originally published at https://philippmuens.com.

👨‍💻 Maker — 👨‍🏫 Lifelong learner — Co-creator of the Serverless Framework — https://philippmuens.com