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Seeking Improved Conversion Rates? Landing Page Optimization Is Key.

February 8th, 2010

The first step we take before starting design is taking a gander at what the competition is doing to see how we can do it better. The place we look for competition is in the search engines, firstly in the sponsored results (as all of our landing pages are created for optimizing the conversion of such marketing). (To be mindful of the competition, we always make sure to right-click and copy the target pay-per-click URL into a text editor to remove the stuff that would otherwise cost their campaigns.) From our research, some of the poorest specimens that we have ever encountered are in loan modification landing page design (which ironically is one of the most hyper-competitive).

Loan modification marketing is as expensive as it is competitive (pretty much a marketing rule-of-thumb). Considering the costs involved with getting a loan modification business on the first page of the major search engines, you’d think that landing page optimization would be a huge priority, right? It seems logical that the higher the cost of marketing, the more likely the business would want make their landing page as sharp as possible to eek out as many conversions as possible (a conversion being the saught after action, i.e. a phone call or form submission). In the loan modification PPC world, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

To bring home what we are seeing we will give a mere two examples, though you can see plenty more just perusing the sponsored search results (again, be mindful as described above as simply ‘clicking’ is expensive to the company), of companies that would benefit greatly from some conversion rate optimization. Landing pages are specifically designed to capture the user’s short attention span after they have clicked through to your page. This is where the three pillars of landing page conversion rate optimization come in: You need to instill trust, sell yourself from competition and compel an action all in a matter of seconds. These two examples do not follow these rules, and after showing why, we will demonstrate how much can be saved or sussed out from returns on marketing investments by investing a few hundred dollars into a well designed landing page.

First, let’s examine Brigman Loan Modification. Here is a screen shot of their landing page:

A good thing (possibly the only) about this page is that the ‘home page’ is actually the landing page. Cmpanies quite often direct paid traffic directly to a home page that has no calls to action, no form and/or phone number or any of the standard pillars of landing page optimization (this we will see in the next example). Brigman’s landing page follows the basic layout and landing page marketing pillars however the execution is quite offputting. Our first impression when viewing this page was that they are time-warping from over a decade ago as if they knew somehow in 1998 (about when this landing page design would have ‘fit in’) that a mortgage crisis was going to happen. Joking aside, there is nothing professional about this design. Would you go to a law firm that was in an office that looked like a shanty town? Even if it had a sign that stated ‘A Professional Law Firm’, as this page does?

Maybe this ‘Professional Law Firm’ is doing so incredibly well that they can afford to be throwing thousands of dollars away a month by not having a conversion optimized landing page. What could be improved is: a) modernization of the design (unless you have been living under a rock this has got to be obvious, no need to elaborate too much but… smoother edges, smoother font usage, more engaging colors, a more web 2.0-style submit button); b) a form that follows standard design principals i.e. isn’t ‘center aligned’, uses consistent font faces (at first glance I see Arial and Times New Roman in the same form), is larger and easier to use, has a clearer, bolder more colorful call to action and proper capitalization as well as a bigger, bolder arrow pointing to the TOP of the form, not below the submit button where it’s currently drawing the eye to some dead space.

Here is the second example of a landing page that could be optimized to save the company tons of marketing dollars: SB Law Center. Here is a screen shot of their landing page, which is essentially their home page:

From our experience, having too many options (read: links) decreases the chance of the desired action you wish to get from the user (read: conversion). Many clients come to us thinking that it must be important to instill trust through a multi-page site with ample information to convince the user that the company is legit. This of course depends on the audience, and in many cases this is true. With loan modifications, a very over-saturated market, you need to make your point very fast in order to get them to act i.e. call or sumbit their information. Once you have captured their contact information or received a phone call, the user can be contacted immediately and through a one-on-one sales call you have more control over the close than you would if you’d left the user to hang out browsing around your site.

This page has nearly twenty links. How long did it take you to find the ‘Apply Now’ button? The phone number however is quite prevalent so chances are that they receive many more call-ins than form submissions. Note that as you navigate around the site, the phone isn’t as prevalent on every page. Also note that the phone number is missing a call to action (i.e. call now to get a free mortgage analysis).

Now, consider this: Getting first or second positioning in Google’s sponsored results for loan modification-related keywords can cost between $6-$10 per click. Let’s first define a ‘conversion rate’ to be, on average, the ratio of how many clicks happen before a conversion happens. So, say after a company’s ad receives 100 clicks to their landinge page they get 18 conversions – that would be STELLAR. The average ‘sweet spot’ is 10-12 conversions per 100 clicks, or a 10-12% conversion rate (this we easily accomplish with a first-draft landing page design though we have, after testing, seen conversions upwards of 20%).

We have no way to ascertain what conversion rates the landing pages exemplified above are experiencing as they are not our own and we do not handle their marketing, though we’d assume they are lingering around 5-7%. So, let’s say they are paying $8 per click and getting 6 conversion per 100 clicks (6% conversion rate). That means they are paying $800 for 6 conversions, or $133 for 1 conversion. Now consider that if they were to implement design changes in accordance with what we define as the three pillars of conversion optimized landing page design (instill trust, sell yourself from competition and compel an action all in a matter of seconds), with a first-draft landing page they would see an increase to a 10% conversion rate. This enhancement would lower the cost-per-conversion by $53 as they’d be getting 10 conversions per $800 of marketing. The ROI is blantant, especially when you consider that the cost of having a landing page like this created is only $750.

If you would like a free consultation regarding how to optimize your PPC campaigns with conversion optimized landing page design contact us today.