Landing Page Makeover Clinic #22:

Landing Page Makeover

This is another addition to our ongoing series of tutorials and case studies on landing pages that work.

Robert Regehr wants to save homeowners big bucks on mortgage refinancing. He and his videos are leading the charge. He’s consistently getting about a 3% conversion rate (those prospects that move from reading to registering) based on about 400 unique visitors a day.

Robert, to quote Oliver Twist, ” . . . would like some more, please.”

  • The Goal: Increase conversion from current 3% mark.
  • The Problem: Self-testing hasn’t appreciably moved the 3% conversion rate. To make 3% work, Robert would need to see daily traffic grow to 1,000 unique visitors daily.
  • The Current Landing Page: (home page). (The site may not load with Internet Explorer, see the critique below.)
  • Value: $30-$50 per valid lead.

image of landing pageClick image for larger view

The Maven’s 10-Point Critique

Before I get into the critique, be aware that we had intermittent problems loading your site at all in Internet Explorer. Since this is still the most common web browser, resolving this problem should boost your traffic and conversion without any additional change on your part.

#1 — Focus your content on the deep benefit of what you’re offering: What do your prospects really want?

They want to lower their monthly mortgage payment so they can use the dollars they save on other things. From paying off credit card debt to sending a kid to college, they want to have more money in their pocket. They want freedom from worry. At the same time, they want to be smart about it and not get ripped off.

They don’t want videos. They want advice to help them make a smart decision about their money so they can do something way more fun with it than give it to the bank.

You’re already pulling a wealth of demographic information from registrants. How could you use the info you’re gathering to further sharpen your copy and find the sweet spot for your prospects?

#2 — Test a variety of headline approaches.

Go negative — No more junk fees! Don’t get ripped off on your next refi!

Go positive — Thinking it’s time for a refi? Learn how to put more $$$ in your pocket with these FREE insider secrets.

You don’t have to get all that sophisticated with the testing unless you want to. Simple Headline A vs. Headline B will help you sharpen your message.

#3 — Test going straight to the video.

Since you’re promoting knowledge through the video series, I’d test bringing the video to the first screen and write some intro copy that hones in on: “Lenders are smart, but you can be smarter. Our mad-as-hell, 27-year veteran of the mortgage lending business spills the beans on the truth behind refi. Here’s just one example . . . ” which then leads directly to the video.

You want to keep this video clip short (no more than 30 to 90 seconds), value-rich, and emotionally resonant. You want the viewer to get mad and want to learn more.

#4 — Upgrade the value of your offer in the prospect’s mind.

Your offer of Free Videos sounds a little vague and generic.

Instead, reframe the offer as a series or a mini-course and promote its value as a single entity.

The No Refi Rip-Off Short-Course will teach you X, Y and Z. Composed of X, XX-minute videos you view right online, this is the information the mortgage industry doesn’t want you to know. Watch them at a single setting or one by one at your convenience.

You do some of this on your About Us page, but it really should be on the main landing page, too.

#5 — Add credibility and provide details on your refi industry “turncoat” and author.

Who are you? And more to the point, why are you qualified to provide this advice?

Your copy tells us the videos were developed by a 27-year veteran, but we don’t know more than that. Is that person you?

If you need to, we can say we have to keep his identify anonymous to protect him from lawsuits and industry wrath. But tell us more. What kind of experience does he have? What kind of lending institutions? Tell us about his epiphany and why he decided to create the videos.

You also want to establish who you are (if you’re not the author of the videos). Your headshot is there in the live chat box. Are you a sales rep or a refi expert? Make me feel comfortable engaging with you. Don’t forget to add the “trust badges” you use on the registration page here, too.

#6 — Be consistent with your message and terminology on every page.

Your current landing page is also your home page, so visitors are exposed to your complete site navigation. When I look at the About Us section, you promote the series value but you also call the information by different names.

So now I’m feeling confused – what is the video series called? “Underground Mortgage Videos?” “Mortgage Refinancing” (which you refer to as a guide, and which links back to the home page). Or even “Win Smart, Win Ugly,” which, while not a name per se, reads like one. (A better title would be: “Win Smart, Win Ugly — Just Win.”)

A confused viewer, unless deeply motivated, goes elsewhere.

#7 — Get more mileage from your sidebar.

You have a live chat box. Good. But you could be doing much more with it.

Restate your guarantee in this space. Testimonials belong here, too. Pull one or two from your registration page and get them in here.

You have images of Oprah and Kiplinger’s magazines. Good, but the images don’t link anywhere. Ideally, they should link to articles where you’ve been mentioned.

If you can’t do that, you can link to articles that talk about these same refi issues. Just change your headline from “As Seen In” to something like “Everybody is talking about Refi Rip-offs,” find magazine articles that cover the topic, and link them up.

Ideally, you want solid sidebar information next to your main copy so it shares the same “eye space.” It also shortens the screen scroll.

#8 — Rethink your overall color scheme and the imagery in your banner.

I usually don’t comment on color. I try to keep my personal aesthetic out of the equation. But the subdued burgundy-ish, lavender-ish is a downer, man. :)

Consider a brighter, lighter look that doesn’t undercut your professionalism. You don’t have to look like a bank – in fact, you don’t want to — but you want an optimal mix of trustworthiness and optimism. You’re in the happy-making business, and you want a site that reflects that.

Regarding your banner: Remember, your prospects already own their home, so the “moving-in” image doesn’t reflect them. Instead, your prospects want to save money on their monthly mortgage bill and/or pull money out to do something else. Perhaps a montage of two or three happy couples, all ages, would work here, showing the bright smiles that come from saving a whole bunch of money.

#9 — Up the trust factor on your registration page.

Here’s what we know: 97% of the people who visit your site don’t take the next step to register.

I’m sure in large measure that’s because you’re asking for specific financial information and opening the door to sales calls and emails.

Tire-kickers for sure don’t want to give up any personal information. But for those folks who are actively thinking about refinancing their home, giving up personal information may be ok if you’re straightforward and honest about those next steps and how their information will be used, now and in the future.

You won’t convert the tire-kickers, but you will get more active refi-seekers to sign on board.

#10 — Strip your registration page to the essential steps.

Right now your registration pages use the same copy top and bottom, with the form area sandwiched in the middle.

I’d remove the redundant copy from Steps 2, 3, etc., and focus more on the information being requested. Add one or two short, pithy “confidence boosters” per step, per page.


Yet again, I’m recommending an exit pop-up before your prospects disappear into the cyber-void.

Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, exit pop-ups can be very effective and are definitely worth testing. What can you offer to entice a first name and email address now for marketing later on?

My thanks to Robert Regehr for his patience and support of Heifer International. Look for my next makeover in approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

Want to get a future Copywriting Maven landing page makeover?

Got a landing page that’s more poop than pop? Willing to share with Copyblogger readers? Prepared to put a little of your own “skin in the game” for a Maven Makeover? Then click on Maven’s Landing Page Makeover page for all the details.

I’m booked for gratis “Heifer” critiques until 03/15/10. If you’re interested in a private critique/makeover or other services, please email me directly.

About the Author: Roberta Rosenberg is The Copywriting Maven at MGP Direct, Inc. Find her @CopywriterMaven on Twitter.

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Reader Comments (29)

  1. says

    Hi Roberta.

    I agree with you about the color of the site; there’s something about it that I find slightly depressing. I think its the shades of gray.

    The landing page looks like there’s too little space on one side, which feels rushed, and too much space on the other side, which feels..well, spaced-out 😉

  2. says

    Great tips. I would also try…

    #11 Cleaning up all those different fonts: bold, italics, bold-and-italic. It looks too much like a cheesey sales letter for a pyramid scheme right now.

    #12 Put your sign-up form on the Landing Page.

  3. says

    This page just screams scam to me. I’d be happy to refinance *if* I knew I’d get a good rate and the period it would take to cover the costs of the refinance was short.

    This really makes me think of acai berries and teeth whitening pages. I’m not sure that even Roberta’s excellent suggestions would change this feeling. At least if you are using quotation marks, cite your source and make it somewhat verifiable.

    Your video has 30 seconds that are pointless and an 8 minute video, probably not going to happen. Who wants to watch that? In addition, some people don’t like video. I’d suggest additional materials (worksheets and tip sheets help lots of people).

  4. says

    Here’s my question: why keep using quotation marks around headlines? I know it’s standard landing-page format, but it’s so tacky. They don’t belong there.

    To me, they feel as gratuitous as the ones in, say, “fresh” asparagus. I wouldn’t buy from someone who uses them, because I’d think that person isn’t so smart.

  5. says

    Laura – I’ve actually seen some research that shows adding quotations around headlines can pop response. I haven’t tested it myself, but others have. Perhaps I’m resistant since the quotes in your example show the problem. “Fresh” makes me think the veggie is obviously not fresh at all.

    Have any Copyblogger readers tested adding quotes to their headlines vs no quotes? I’m interested in hearing your results if you have.

  6. says

    I think adding quotations without clarifying who said them (that is, citing a source) invariably makes me leave a page. I guess that’s popping a response — departure!

  7. says

    In my opinion quotes should only be used on testimonial-style headlines, which are very effective.

    “I read Copyblogger first thing every morning,” admits Angelina Jolie. 😉

  8. says

    What a genuinely helpful, useful, wonderful post. Great content.

    Easy to see that the CopyBlogger standards are remaining sky high for 2010.

    Thanks Roberta and Brian
    Mike Wilke

  9. says

    Thanks so much, Mike. There’s some fresh approaches to come on my landing page makeover beat, including a follow-up post on ‘Where are they now” previous makeover participants and a few more goodies down the road. Stay tuned.

  10. Sonia Simone says

    I would be very disinclined to change anything about the page to make it “less sales pagey” without testing. Remember that normal people don’t see nearly as many “Info Secrets of the Marketing Millionaires” pages as we do. And most of the sales page cliches exist because they boost conversion.

    Roberta, what do you think of that third “check” point? I found it confusing. I’d probably rewrite it to avoid the blanks, something like “Save Thousands of Dollars Every Year by Avoiding These Three Common Rip-Offs.”

  11. says

    I’m not sure how you kept it to 10 + 1 points. Everything about the site is done poorly.

    I’m not trying to be mean but a complete overhaul needs to be done. From the look and feel to the copy to the navigation to the …. well, we can just keep going.

  12. Steve says

    As mentioned in a previous comment, this page just screams “scam” to me, almost on the “make millions working from home” level. When I stop to think about why I get this impression, a few things pop out to me:

    1. The page starts with “shocking online videos”. This sounds like something I’d see in the checkout line of a grocery store. My trust factor just took a serious hit.

    2. Large, red, bold text. I know it’s there to get my attention, but it reminds me of numerous online scams I’ve run across.

    3. The site makes, and guarantees, a broad claim that can’t possibly apply to everyone. Anyone who makes a guarantee without knowing my situation loses credibility.

    4. The page looks like it was put together by an amateur. The overall look of a page plays a large role in how I perceive a business. Also, that clip-art has to go.

  13. Sonia Simone says

    And yet. He’s getting 3% conversion from the page, which is extremely respectable. I’m quite sure he can do better, because there are clear areas for improvement, but I’ll also give him credit for what he’s done so far.

  14. says

    As Sonia pointed out, the participant is getting a 3% conversion rate. Not too shabby.

    My job was to take what he’s been doing and make it better. Had I been commissioned by him to do a private makeover, I would have done a much deeper analysis of what works and what doesn’t. For my makeover series here, I try to hit the main points for the public Copyblogger audience to read and from which to learn.

    Lastly, coming from a direct mail background as I do, I’ve learned that ‘scam’ is a purely subjective descriptor. There’s a reason why my very first email address in the mid 1980s began with ‘junkmail.’ :)

  15. says

    I’ve gotta wonder about that big ‘ole header up top. It’s diluting the power of the headline (which needs a little TLC). You have 2-4 seconds to grab attention, and that headline is a speed bump.

  16. says

    He’s doing a respectable job so far, but the tips listed are great ways to improve the page and get that number even higher. It’s amazing how just a few simple changes can see big results.

  17. says

    Nice and useful tips.
    Colour scheme is very important but is so easily overlooked.
    I do prefer using other methods than getting users to register, as it proves to be easier and more effective.

  18. says

    May I offer some comments from Down Under. I agree that the response rate’s OK. And the copy has faults. My concern is with design.
    I believe that 25%–50% of all visitors will go no further than the first para. It’s just too hard to read easily.
    Cartoon Graphic
    This graphic attracts the eye and competes with the headline for attention. It also draws the eye away from the copy beside it. And it interferes with left justification.
    Readers expect left justified copy. The headline is left justified but the next line isn’t. The “tick” points aren’t either. The reader has to make three eye adjustments
    right at the start of the page.
    All this occurs because the graphic is out of place. Put it on the right hand side of the page so that the copy’s left justified and maintains reading gravity.
    The page seems to have two conflicting headlines. This confuses the reader. It drives them away.
    The first para has at least four typefaces. Every change of typeface loses readers. Whether you prefer serif or sans-serif, choose one typeface and stick with it. And remember: capital letters drive readers away.
    It’s a tribute to Robert’s offer that he gets a 3% response.
    The copy itself could improve greatly. But the current design will cause many readers to stop reading in the first few lines.
    Regards to all from Oz

  19. Robert says

    What’s pretty and proper in the mind of a “copywriter” may not generate a response in the mind of your prospect. Until you’ve tested you won’t know what your prospects are going to respond to. Quotation marks are placed around headlines because they been tested and generate a better response that way. (favorite trick of adwords advertisers) The items on this page have been tested using taguchi methods and they are up there because they generated the best response. Loosely quoting Dan Kennedy award-winning copy usually isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on when it comes to generating a response.

    Also, what you see in the checkout stand at the supermarket is written that way because that space is some of the most competitive advertising around. The copy is there because it generates the best response…not because it looks pretty and copywriters admire it. As far as direct response marketing goes I’d consider it a compliment that the copy reminds some of the supermarket checkout stand. Copywriters at Cosmo and the Inquirer are some the best paid in the industry.

    I’ve gotten some great suggestions here for further testing. Thanks Roberta

  20. says

    Robert, I appreciate how hard it must be to watch your site get whacked. But the flip is we all get to learn something from it – and Heifer International gets a little something, too. It’s all good.

  21. says

    Tried to post this here some time befoe, but somehow the post was not accepted :)

    Had a look at your site and found the following:

    1) the couple in the photo doesn’t really look happy and I thought that applying your knowledge or working with you makes customers happy. Fire these kids and get some really happy people.

    2) the scene in front of the garage looks to be set up too much. If this is meant to present a young family with kids, show the kids. It make the scene more lively and kids sell.

    3) the doodles in the middle (angry face) and near the bottom (dollar bill) don’t fit the style of the site. Either remove them or use more of it (you refer to DK, so check out past newsletters about the use of copy doodles).

    4) the video doesn’t load for me as it is hosted on youtube (which my proxy blocks). Check out if it is possible to host it on your own webspace or maybe Amazon S3.

    5) At the end of you page you ask the visitor again to register. There is no button, no link no nothing. The visitor has to scroll upwards to find the Register button. Addition of a second button at the bottom would probably increase conversion.

    6) The pop-up when going to the back-button is nicely made but doesn’t really relate to your site. You ask the leaving visitor for calculating a refi deal by giving details about his property and personal data. If someone really uses this, you make some bucks on commissions from the affiliate program behind it, but you don’t own the customer. Offer them a subscription to a newsletter instead so you can do a direct follow up. After they have signed up you still can send them to the aff program.

    Hope this helps a little

  22. says

    Unless you get a professional advice it takes time to get your website right from the start. The fact is that a webmaster might not yet know what he exactly wants his website look like at the beginning. In time he will learn, test and improve. Most of the comments are coming from pros and almost throwing all his ideas out of the window. Whatever you say this website has an individuality comparing with all the other similar sites. Most mortgage refinance sites are cheesy; full of banners and happy pictures. Great work Roberta. I have to keep the page url safe, because I’d love to come back and read it again and again.

  23. says

    About a year ago i made the following comment:
    “1) the couple in the photo doesn’t really look happy and I thought that applying your knowledge or working with you makes customers happy. Fire these kids and get some really happy people.”

    Checked out the site again today and found that he has finally changed the the photo. Happy family in front of their house -> people are more likely to be drawn into the salesletter than in the old version. (points 1 +2 solved).
    Unfortunately, the other points mentioned were not taken on.

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