By Larry Kim
Much of what marketers have learned about landing page conversion is wrong. Worse, the optimizations promoted across industry blogs, courses and at conferences as game changers are really just best practices every marketer should have implemented already.
Tweaking headline and body copy, adjusting line spacing, repositioning buttons, playing with fonts and colors – all of these conventional landing page optimization recommendations will bring only small, short-term results at best.
We recently analyzed thousands of advertiser accounts to determine just what it is that sets the top converting landing pages apart from the average. These landing page conversion truths will change the way you optimize, enabling you outperform competitors by 3 to 5 times.
1. There’s A Ton Of Room For Improvement
First, what is a good conversion rate? You may have more room to grow than you think. In our research, we found that about a quarter of all accounts are converting at less than 1%. Across industries, the average landing page conversion rate was 2.35%, yet the top 25% are converting at 5.31% or higher.
typical paid search conversion rates
(Click to enlarge.)
Ideally though, you want to break into the top 10% — these are the landing pages with conversion rates of 11.45% or higher. Two or three percent isn’t so enticing anymore, is it?
2. Conventional Landing Page Wisdom Is Leading You Astray
The small-fry, basic optimizations mentioned above (line spacing, button placement, font colors, etc.) are simply table stakes for landing page design. They may result in small, single-digit increases in conversion, but won’t get you to the top of the pile.
You might even see massive changes — double digit increases in your current conversion rate. However, we found that in most cases, these changes were only temporary and were usually the result of a too-small sample size or other factors. We want to believe our optimizations have paid off, so we discount the daily statistical flux that occurs across all of our campaigns. In truth, you could A/B test a page against itself and still see one copy of the same page beat the other, if you wanted to.
Instead, look for substantial, long lasting, double or triple-digit changes. They won’t happen as a result of changing font color or headline size.
3. Average Conversion Varies By Industry But Adheres To The 3x-5x Rule For The Top 10%
The top 10% of landing pages are converting at a rate 3 to 5 times higher than the average, but what about variation in different industries?
Conversion rates by industry
It’s true, average conversion rates vary widely across industries. E-commerce, for example, has a far lower average conversion rate than finance, at 1.84% and 5.01%, respectively.
However, the top 10% of landing pages in each industry perform 3-5 times better than the average, a trend we found held true across the board. Of course, this also means that if you’re in a higher converting industry like finance, 5% conversion isn’t all that fantastic.
4. Winning Landing Pages 5x Better Than Average Are Not Uncommon
It must be super difficult to get into that top 10%, right? Not really! There’s no magic bullet, and these guys aren’t just getting lucky. They do, however, put a good deal of effort into testing landing page variations to find the winners.
If you want to break into the top 25%, you need to test four unique landing pages, on average, with different offers, messaging and flow to find that one winner. To break into the top 10%, you’ll need to test ten different landing pages. To succeed across your account, you’ll need to test this much for each winning page.
Note that small changes like a font or button color doesn’t count as testing a “new landing page,” since it’s essentially the same page with just a minor change.
5. 80% Of Traffic Goes To The Top 10% Of Landing Pages
Below, see our analysis of an e-commerce account with 1,000 unique landing pages. About a third of traffic goes to the top most-trafficked landing page in their account. Digging deeper, you can see that about 80% of traffic goes to just the top 10% of landing pages.
Typical traffic distribution to landing pages (click to enlarge).
But what about small businesses? On average, each small business account has just three landing pages, with one taking 85% or more of their impressions and clicks. Meaning: why even spend your time optimizing those two landing pages that are soaking up only 15% of the clicks?
In many cases, focusing your time and attention on having just one truly spectacular offer is enough to propel yourself into the top 10% of landing pages.
6. The Standard Offers Are Boring & Not Compelling
A common trait across all top performing landing pages was this: they have incredibly unique offers that help them stand out in their respective industries.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of offering the same thing everyone else is offering. If you’re a dentist, for example, your offer might be a discount on an initial visit. Accountants might offer a free consultation. Software companies a free trial.
The top converting landing pages feature creative offers that are more compelling, more interesting, and ultimately convert better. For example, we had to take a critical look at our own software free trial offer when we realized our conversion rates just weren’t where we wanted them to be.
We asked landing page visitors what would really help them out, by adding just one more form field on our landing page. That insight told us our prospects wanted more information they could use to help them improve their PPC strategy, so we offered a free AdWords Grader report card instead.
The conversion numbers were 10x better than our previous “free trial” offer and have persisted to this day. Get creative with your offers and test several completely different ones to find your winners.
7. Higher Conversion Is Not The End Game
A software company recently decided their landing page flow was preventing conversions. Instead of asking people to sign up for a free trial, they made the software download open and instead asked people to register the software after installing.
This worked so well that they were actually overwhelmed by the response — but it created a different problem. They now had to nurture all of these unqualified leads.
Another landing page tweak solved that issue, as they then asked users to register the software only after using it for a week. Those who followed through showed far greater intent and were higher quality leads.
Your ultimate goal needs to be not only higher conversion, but better leads — and ultimately, more sales. The best landing page optimizations — the ones that will shoot your conversion rates into the top 10% realm — help you not only convert more, but build a better business.
Looking for a way to implement these strategies? Now that you have a better mousetrap; here’s the cheese!
And a little peanut butter!