There’s an old direct marketing axiom that states too many choices paralyzes your prospect into complete non-action. But does that behavior apply to landing pages? Marketing Experiments Journal did a recent study on the topic, Landing Page Confusion: How Does Having More Than One Objective to a Page Affect its Performance?
They tested their hypothesis using real-world companies to illustrate 5 fundamental principles of landing page design. They reviewed an online electronics retailer, large national newspaper, and a paid subscription site. Some pages started out better than others, but all had room for improvement.
So what did they learn? In every case, landing page effectiveness and measured conversion increased significantly when choices and unnecessary distractions were eliminated — and the overall design and orientation of the page emphasized the call to action. Here’s a list of the Journal’s specific recommendations:
- Focus on one objective for each page. Define your objective and drive everything on the page to it.
- Sales pages should use a vertical flow through the center of the page. For commercial offer pages, vertical single-column body copy through the center of the page consistently performs better than other layouts and should always be tested. Left or right columns should be used to support movement toward the objective such as testimonials (to reduce anxiety at clicking the Order button).
One of the changes they made, for example, was to swap out the left-column navigation, replace it with testimonials, and move the navigation to the far-right column. You could try that, or move the navigation to the bottom of the page, or delete it.
- Eliminate elements that may distract eye path from flow toward the objective. If page elements such as photos and graphic images don’t move your visitor briskly to taking the desired action, dump them. Every element on the page has to work in concern toward the same goal.
- Use visual elements (size, motion, color, position, and shape) to draw attention toward the call to action. Don’t guess. Test it all to find what works best for you.
- Avoid using off-page links. Use passive pop-ups or launch new browser windows when needed to provide details or supplemental decision information. Once visitors have left the page, their forward momentum is interrupted and must be re-established even if they do return. By eliminating the number of clicks it takes to act, you keep a visitor longer and more engaged with your message.
No surprises here for me. As my Grandma Fanny used to say, “You can’t dance at two weddings with one tuchas.” (That’s Yiddish for backside.) Define your objective (singular, not plural) and stick with it. Make sure every word, graphic, icon keeps your prospect focused on the one single action that will satisfy the your single, most-important objective.
Not as easy as I make it sound, I know. Clients tend to want to “kitchen sink” every pixel of web page real estate. So make sure you keep your evidence and test results like these close at hand. And if your client or boss balks, tell them to talk to me. I’ll be happy to set ’em straight.