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ONLINE MARKETING

Fix Your Website: 5 Things to Change Now

After thousands of tests, we've identified a few of the most effective ways to improve your website's landing page.

Measure your website's effectiveness: Do new visitors do the things you want them to?

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With all the dollars spent on pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and search engine optimization efforts (SEO), it is easy to forget that the single largest factor that determines the success of your online marketing efforts is the effectiveness of your website's landing page.

The math can be staggering. Let's say you spent $10,000 a month on your online advertising efforts to drive users to your website to complete an action–fill out a form, purchase a product, etc. And let's assume your conversion rate–that's the percent of visitors that actually complete the action–is 4%.

Now you face a lofty goal: to increase results by 50%. You could increase your total budget by $5,000 per month. Or you could try making some tweaks to your landing page to see whether you can increase your conversion rate by just two percentage points. (Translation: You just need to get an additional two out of every 100 people to take the desired action on your site.)

Which would you rather try?

The landing page tweaks sound relatively simple, but you do of course need to know what to test or change. At Wpromote, we've conducted thousands of tests for hundreds of clients. Here are the factors we've found do the best job at improving the conversion rate of even the best pages.

1. The 'Submit' Button

This is one of my favorites. In short, avoid buttons that ask too much.

We recently completed a test of four submit buttons: "Free Consultation," "Submit," "Next," and "Get Started." The results are at right: The low-commitment-feel of "Next" and "Submit" were clear winners (with "Next" taking the cake).

The big loser? Our original button, "Free Consultation." Oops--lesson learned.

2. Headline on the Page

This one may seem obvious, but it's still essential.

Often, companies don't understand what truly motivates their potential customers. In general, winning headlines are short, snappy and tell the story along with a value proposition.

You also want to make sure that users' eyes are drawn to the page headline as the first thing they see. To make sure you're getting readers' attention, ask your friends to check out the page and tell you what they see first–and if it's not the headline, redesign the page until it is.

Here are the results of one experiment we did with different headlines on a page:

Or take another example: If you're a running shoe retailer, "Free Shipping on All Products" doesn't tell your story; that belongs in your "Selling Points." (More on those in a minute.) Rather, a headline like "Huge Selection of Discounted Running Shoes" will do a much better job of letting users know that they are in the right place.

In general, avoid the trap of being too creative. Marketing taglines that make snazzy brand advertising rarely have a place in a successful landing page.

3. Limit the Navigation

One possibly surprising rule of thumb: We found after hundreds of tests that the less navigation is on your landing page, the better your page performs.

Now of course, you want to make sure that there is enough content and information to educate users–they need to be comfortable submitting the desired form. But if you give a user too many options and too many things to read, you'll end up with distracted, confused users who end up hitting the dreaded "back" button.

Nonetheless, simply removing the entire top-level navigation on a lead-capture page  almost always serves to improve conversion rate. Similarly, be sure to have the most important content within the main part of the page.

4. Keep Your 'Selling Points' Short

The sad truth here is that people hate to read. When you're trying to explain key selling points, avoid paragraphs and focus on bullet points–even if they seem bland to your inner writer.

Have four to six bullets, all short and digestible, and try to avoid wrapping lines. Oh, and: Always avoid the throwaway "And much more ..." bullet. (I am doing my best to rid the Web of that worthless construct.)

5. Rethink Your 'Hero Image'

This is the image that is above the fold, generally alongside or integrated with your headline and "selling points." First, make sure you have one; the image is a very useful way to break up text and forms, offering a little bit of "eye relief."

Now refine it: Be sure to avoid complicated images and images that are overly product-specific–unless they are easy to understand, such as fashion or design products.

You may need to do some testing to get the image exactly right, but here's one rule that transcends industry: People sell. At our own website, displaying a picture or video of happy Wpromote clients nearly always beats an image of a Google ad or a screen shot of search results.

Put these five tips into practice and you should see a world of improvement. Meanwhile, if you've found other changes that bring in a huge payoff, be sure to share them below!

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: Jun 7, 2012

MICHAEL MOTHNER is the founder and CEO of Wpromote, an online marketing firm and six-time Inc. 500|5000 Company that runs SEO, PPC, and social media campaigns for companies worldwide.
@mothner




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