14 Tips From the Pubcon Experts About Landing Page Optimization

I recently had the good fortune to attend a session on landing page optimization atPubCon.com, the annual conference about search, social media, Internet marketing and website operation. I learned a lot, so I thought I’d share the 14 top takeaways from the session with Small Business Trends’ readers.

Landing Page Optimization

The experts who shared their knowledge at this session were Joanna Lord, Director of Customer Acquisition for SEO MozKate Morris, SEO Consultant; and Tim Ash, CEO ofSiteTuners.com. Here’s what each of them had to say.

There Are Tons of Tools to Help You—Use Them!

Joanna Lord’s presentation was focused on tools and programs you can use to discover which pages on your website and what types of content are converting well or poorly. I came away with lots of interesting tools I’m going to try.

1) Use Google Analytics to data mine. Google gives you so much information to uncover what parts of your site are working to convert customers and which are not. Everyone should start with this tool.

2) Use heat mapping. (In case you’re not familiar with this term, a “heat map” uses colors to show the areas of a Web page where users most frequently scan.) By seeing where users spend the most time, you can improve your click-through rates and conversions to products/services. Here are some heat mapping tools Joanna suggested trying: Clickheat (this is a free tool); Click Density; and Crazy Egg. Crazy Egg is Joanna’s favorite heat mapping tool. While some heat mapping tools update you on the most popular areas of your site every 24 hours, Crazy Egg provides hourly live reporting.

3. Do user surveys. When people leave your site, do you know why? No one likes a popup box on a website, but if you can get useful information by running a popup or exit survey for a week, a temporary decrease in conversions is worth it for the long-term health of your site. Here are some user testing tools Joanna likes: Assistly.com (free trial), UserTesting.com ($39), Keynote (free trial), Providesupport.com (free trial) and Zendesk (free trial). The tool SEO Moz uses is KISS Insights ($29/month). Joanna likes KISS Insights because it has great survey options, including surveys via popup boxes or upon user exit.

4. Test out new options. After you have surveyed your users, make changes and test their effectiveness. Tools Joanna recommends to test different landing pages: Unbounce.com, Google Website Optimizer and Optimizely.com.

Think Like a User

Kate Morris offered some great advice as well.

5. Know your product and always keep in mind user intent. What are users trying to do when they are on your site, and can they do it easily? Assess your site from the viewpoint of the user trying to accomplish a goal. Can they check out quickly? Can they navigate back to a prior page? How good is your search function?

6. Identify high-traffic pages that are not converting and make changes. If a page is getting lots of traffic, great! But if that traffic isn’t converting, not so great. Kate suggests using Google Analytics to pinpoint these pages. She used the example of one customer that had a high-traffic page with lots of white space on the right nav. She had them add a form, which helped increase conversions.

7. Look at “top landing pages” in Google Analytics and search for outliers. Are there pages on your site that are receiving zero visitors? Is your internal linking structure poor? Do you need more links to those deep pages?

Image—and Images—Matter

Tim Ash’s presentation was extremely visual. He showed a number of before and after pictures for sites and displayed heat maps for the old and new pages so we could see the comparison. I will mention a few of the sites that he has worked on, so you can check them out for yourself (unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the “before,” but hopefully the “afters” will inspire you!).

8. Create trust. Many sites don’t convert because they lack credibility and fail to establish trust with users. Consider displaying seals (Truste, McAfee, BBB, VeriSign and the like) as well as displaying the logos (he couldn’t stress enough the importance of images, not just the names) of large companies that you do business with.

9. Keep it simple. Don’t offer too many choices on the home page. Keep strong images of what you are selling on the site, but don’t clutter things up with unnecessary Flash (especially not fast scrolling Flash shows). Tim showed us the “before” look ofMosquitoCurtains.com (which was very scattered) compared to the new look. Cleaner and simpler is much easier for users.

10. Read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

11. Adjust guarantees. Don’t offer 30-day guarantees; offer lifetime guarantees and watch your purchases increase. Lifetime guarantees make the user feel much safer.

12. Ask for the sale. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of asking for the close. Tim showed us the “before” for 1-800-Flowers. Their order form was so buried and blended in that users never clicked on it. After changing things up, the order form was much more prominent and got a ton more clicks.

13. Check out B.J. Fogg from Stanford Labs. B.J. helps organizations use technology and new media to influence people. Tim suggests reading through his papers and articles on customer interaction and usability.

14. Remember, you’ve only got an instant to make a good impression. Tim emphasized that customers make up their minds in a fraction of a second whether or not they want to interact with your site. Good, clean design is of paramount importance.

What tips and tactics have worked for your website in improving conversions and click-throughs? Share them in the Comments.

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