We’ve hosted a couple of live optimization clinics in the last month or so, featuring audience-submitted search terms, PPC campaigns and landing pages for analysis and optimization.
I was reviewing the live audience Q&A recently and a comment from frequent clinic attendee Jerry E. caught my eye: “The findings are repetitive. Maybe that is because so many are still doing so many things wrong?”
Jerry is on to something here.
While there are many ways to look at a landing page and an endless combination of elements to be tested, we see a lot of similar problems in the pages we review. Mainly, lack of a strong, clear value proposition and way too much going on with pages (competing objectives, calls to action, the “kitchen sink” approach). And we tend to focus on those same areas because that’s where you can find the biggest impact from testing.
Many marketers are afraid of defining the one thing that separates their company or offer from competitors — and putting that stake in the ground. We worry that we’ll alienate some of our visitors and send them to the back button. Keep in mind that your potential customer clicked through to your page because something in your search results or PPC ad caught their attention.
Figure out each page’s value proposition and stick with it on the page, as well as in the corresponding PPC ad and search results. If we try to be everything to everyone, we end up being nothing to anyone. Specificity converts.
Choose one ball
Another issue we see often is way too much content on a page, and it’s not unique to landing pages. It’s a big problem in traditional advertising too, and it reminds me of Rethink Communication’s Ping Pong Ball Theory: If I throw one ping pong ball at you, you will probably catch it. If I throw five ping pong balls at once, you probably wouldn’t catch any of them.
It’s the same thing when several marketing and advertising messages are thrown at you all at once. Most landing pages we see have more ping pong balls than any visitor can catch. You are far more likely to absorb the most important message if it’s the only thing coming at you.
This may seem simplistic, but it’s something we all encounter so regularly it’s worth reminding ourselves when we’re at work on our own sites and campaigns. For each page, pick your ping pong ball carefully, and throw just that one.