Stop Building Landing Pages Like “Cash For Gold”!

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We’ve all been bombarded with the above statements on television, radio, and in print. Most people ignore it. These slick snake oil ads have had their day in the sun. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again consumers are more savvy than ever today!.

Yet, we continue to see sleazy ads infiltrate our daily lives. Growing up in Toronto, I remember one of the city’s most notorious salesmen, Oliver Russell (image above) a.k.a. the “Cashman” of Oliver Jewellery. He is literally the Cash For Gold guy, at least in Toronto, see for yourself.

So what does this have to do with landing pages? A few weeks ago Leila and I were doing some research for a client. We were sourcing landing pages for a competitive audit. After viewing half a dozen landing pages I became frustrated as usual with the results. It’s amazing how many people screw it up! I mentioned to Leila how it always comes down to the number 1 offender – sucky headlines. That’s when Leila said ‘It’s like Cash For Gold!”.

People think landing pages are easy – in theory they are. But, in the real world, landing pages are quite hard to get right. It’s getting more and more difficult to drive traffic and make money with AdWords and other PPC channels, so boosting your conversion rates is more important than ever.

Here are a few common mistakes that we now playfully around the office refer to as “Cash For Gold”:

  • Sucky headlines – choosing the right headline is crucial. It is the first thing people see. It’s your one opportunity to explain what you’re all about, create curiosity, and lure them in.
  • No clear value proposition – your value proposition, the value of what you’re offering, is the most critical piece on the landing page. It’s the primary reason visitors take action.
  • Bad copywriting – let’s face it, without great copy you may as well be selling encyclopedias to a blind man. Choose your words wisely. Good copy is clear about the benefits, geared to a target audience, and makes a compelling case.
  • Poor call to action – your call to action needs to be a trigger. The best calls to action are clear, they stand out, they are loaded with benefits, and it’s obvious what happens after you click the button.
  • Cheesy stock photosTheSaint will nail you on this one! Cheesy photos of men in suits shaking hands, women with headsets, and happy families picnicking in parks will make him cringe. These are conversion killers and kill credibility and trust!
  • To many offers – a landing page should have a single focus. Don’t confuse your potential customers with multiple options. You need to be hyper-specific and targeted, this will also help make your CPC lower and your CTR higher.
  • Lack of credibility – if you’re solving a problem, you’d better be able to explain how. Give examples. Use testimonials. Why should anyone believe you? What proof do you have? Credibility is everything!
  • Irrelevant content – focus, focus, focus. Don’t put anything on your page that does not support your goal. Always think about why people are coming to your page and what they want to see.
  • Bloated forms – the more information you ask someone to hand over, the less likely they are to do it. Put yourself in their shoes. If you had to fill in 20 fields would you bother? Keep it simple. Just ask for what you need to make the sale.
  • My 4-year-old can design a better site – well, this one is obvious. Bad design will kill any chance of a conversion. First impressions matter!
  • What’s Responsive? – it’s not about optimizing for mobile anymore. It’s about building responsively! Every landing page should be built on a framework that enables it to respond to any device or screen.
  • It’s slooooow –  people are impatient. The longer a site takes the load the more likely people are to click away. Amazon did a study that showed a 1% decrease in sales for every 0.1s decrease in response times. Slow site = less conversions.
  • I’ve seen this site before – don’t use a template that thousands have already used to build their landing page. You need to build brand presence, create a unique voice, and stand out from the bunch.
  • Copy galore – get to the point as quickly and clearly as possible. Minimize confusion and information overload. Follow this simple rule: the more complicated the offer, the more copy you need.
  • I don’t need to research it – before you even begin writing your copy and designing your page do some conversion research. Know your demographic, understand what they want, what turns them off, how they talk, and if your offer resonates with them. Know your audience!
  • Oh, you can track performance? – You can’t improve the performance of your landing page and increase conversions if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not. Like research, before you start writing copy, designing, and coding it, determine what elements of the page you need or want to track. Use google analytics, event tracking on button clicks, heat maps, and consider A/B testing.

Fixing these common errors alone can make a HUGE difference in you campaign. If in doubt ask yourself this question “Is my landing page Cash For Gold?”, I’d recommend showing your marketing team the “Cashman” commercial a few times, let it sink in 🙂 or, you can always contact us if you need some help.

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