Landing pages might be among the basics of digital marketing, but crafting effective ones is certainly not easy. There are just as many best practices to follow as there are pitfalls to steer clear of. Having touched on the former before, let us now delve into the latter. That is, the seven landing page mistakes to avoid at all costs.
What is a landing page?
First, let us briefly define landing pages. Landing pages, as the name suggests, are pages where visitors land after clicking a link. They are typically campaign-specific and lead visitors to an appropriate Call to Action (CTA) – often a resource in exchange for filling a form.
So, in brief, landing pages have a clear function; they enhance lead generation and acquisition.
7 landing page mistakes to avoid
With this context in mind, effective landing pages are simply ones that best serve their purpose, through such qualities as:
- Readability; the page is pleasant on the eyes and properly formatted
- Conciseness; the page copy is clear and presents a simple course of action
- Clear value proposition; the page’s CTA is focused, uninhibited, and clearly demonstrates value
Landing page mistakes, then, typically hamper one or more of these qualities, diminishing the page’s effectiveness. So, starting from the very first click and ending with the user’s final impression, here are our 7 picks in order.
#1 Slow loading speeds
The very first impression a visitor gets from your landing page comes even before the page first loads. Google research has confirmed what most of us know, or at least suspect, that internet users value their time highly. To be specific, it found that longer loading times directly correlate with higher bounce rates, although not entirely linearly so:
- Increasing from 1 to 3 seconds, bounce probability increases by 32%
- From 1 to 5 seconds, it increases by 106%
- From 1 to 10 seconds, it increases by 123%
For this initial step, you may consider three key practices to ensure faster loading speeds.
If your landing page is a part of your website, minding its technical health requires that you take care of it. Proper website maintenance will ensure your website remains safe and fast and that its themes and plugins remain responsive.
Theme and plugin optimizations
On the subject of themes and plugins, heavy ones are among the most common reasons for website-wide sluggishness. To address this factor, you may regularly revisit yours and distinguish ones you no longer need. As you do, you may conduct A/B tests to identify their exact benefits in action and weigh them against their cost.
Finally, perhaps the most common reason for slow loading speeds comes with bulky, poorly optimized images. Here, you may compress your pictures down to under 100kB in file size while keeping quality compromises to a minimum. Fortunately, many SEO-centric plugins will also offer insights into this factor.
#2 Visual overload
Having made it to your landing pages, visitors should then be greeted by a concise, simple, and visually appealing design. These qualities will allow the page to serve its purpose, offering a clear path forward with little effort. Yet, among landing page mistakes, visual overload is among the most common.
To avoid it, consider such practices as the following.
Use ample white space
First, carefully consider your use of white space, both macro and micro. Micro-whitespace will make individual lines easier to read, especially coupled with clear, safe fonts. Meanwhile, macro-whitespace will make the overall page more appealing, allowing visitors to focus on copy and valuable elements like CTAs.
Limit visual elements
On the subject of visual elements, your page needs to strike a golden balance between richness and conciseness. This typically means limiting your non-CTA visuals down to the absolutely necessary and placing them where they don’t distract the viewer. A/B testing is invaluable in this regard as well.
Mind the layout
Finally, your page’s layout itself should follow the visitors’ natural reading patterns. This means prioritizing information appropriately to ultimately present the reader with an offer they can’t refuse. Should you need inspiration for this step, Hubspot offers an excellent collection of landing page examples.
#3 Excessive forms
If the visitor finds their way to your form, there are still a few crucial landing page mistakes that may sabotage your efforts. High on that list come excessive forms, where marketers focus too much on acquired information that they lose leads altogether.
In this regard, WordStream makes a great case for simple, effective forms and offers case studies to support these suggestions.
Limit your fields
First, asking for information on a need-to-know basis is typically the most effective. Indeed, conversion rates fall off sharply after 7 form fields, so consider asking for no more than what you need. Visitors simply offering their basic information suffices to qualify them as leads, and you can always ask follow-up questions at later customer journey stages.
Use radio buttons
For that matter, manual input also drives visitors away – in line with them valuing their time more. So, wherever possible, consider radio buttons that answer your questions with as little effort on your audiences’ part as possible.
Finally, no two campaigns will be identical. As with all marketing endeavors, A/B testing your forms is also worth your time. It may, for example, reveal that your audience doesn’t enjoy lengthier forms; in that case, you may push length accordingly.
#4 Poor CTAs
Forms and lead acquisition aside, your CTAs embody your landing page’s fundamental purpose. That is, they directly address the visitor’s pain points and offer solutions and value. Few landing page mistakes are as crucial to avoid, then, as CTA mistakes.
Here, you may consider the following.
First, examine your CTA colors. There are a few truisms here, such as that red beats green, and so forth. However, what’s more important is that your CTA colors both clash with background colors instead of blending in, leaving your copy highly readable.
For that matter, consider your CTA copy with utmost care. Use action verbs, such as “buy” and “get” – these are popular in digital marketing because they’re effective. As you do, keep your copy brief, accurate, and compelling, ideally using A/B test insights to gauge these qualities. Finally, consider inciting urgency through countdown timers.
Finally, carefully consider your CTA placement. As mentioned above, you should first ensure other visual elements don’t distract from it. But then you should mind its placement in relation to its complexity, as Joshua Turk accurately points out. Landing page CTAs are typically very simple, so their optimal placement is closer to the top – but as complexity increases, you may need to place them further down.
#5 Choice fatigue
Another noteworthy factor of CTAs is, simply, that less is more. For one, ample CTAs often induce choice fatigue. Even if they don’t, a variety of choices distracts visitors from your intended path, which in turn reduces acquisition rates.
CXL has explored this topic in great depth, but the gist of it in this context is simple. Limit your CTAs to one per page, unless your insights say you can afford more. Your conversion rates will thank you.
#6 Adding navigation options
On the subject of choice, another questionable tactic is adding navigational options to landing pages. Granted, informational pages acting as landing pages should very well have such options; they’re part of your website, and should thus offer navigation to fuel the customer journey. However, adding such options to traditional, standalone, campaign-specific landing pages is definitely counter-productive.
As above, the simple reason for this is that these options distract visitors from your page’s purpose. It may benefit your website if one navigates to it, but your landing page’s effectiveness suffers. Said visitors have not become leads through it; they’ve remained traffic, which may leave without finding your form or CTA.
#7 Lack of monitoring and testing
Finally, perhaps the most grave among landing page mistakes to avoid is not monitoring your pages’ effectiveness over time.
As with all marketing, landing pages should never be a done deal. Campaign goals change, budget allocations change, visitor behavior trends change. The truisms of landing page best practices do reveal universally productive paths, but not case-by-case guidance. Ultimately, it’s your own audience insights that should inform your landing pages, and you may only acquire those through A/B testing and research.
To summarize, landing page mistakes to avoid span across the entirety of visitors’ interactions with your pages. From the first click, they may bounce due to slow loading speeds. At a glance, visual overload and excessive forms may drive them away. Deeper down, weak CTAs, choice fatigue, and navigation options may distract or fail to convince them. Finally, a lack of consistent monitoring on your part may allow these mistakes to persist unchecked, and cost you in the long run.
McCain is the founder and VP of Client Services at Set Fire Creative. When he isn’t busy helping his clients grow their business through digital marketing, you will most likely find him with his nose in a Stephen King book, eating spicy buffalo wings, hanging out with his wife and Blue Heeler Ozzy, or listening to Guns N’ Roses—sometimes all at the same time.