5 Landing Page Optimization Tips from Jane Hayes

This is the second half of our chat with Jane Motz Hayes where she discusses landing page optimization. We caught up with Jane after her clinic on landing page optimization at SES Toronto 2010.

In this clip, Jane elaborates on 5 ways to optimize you landing page: (1) clear and relevant call-to-actions, (2) page funnels and following through on call-to-actions, (3)having conversions forms that don’t ask for more info than you need, (4) having a site that appears trustworthy and professional, and (5) making your content scanable and user friendly.

SEO vs PPC Landing Page Optimization

This is the first half of our interview with Jane Motz Hayes of Page Zero Media. We met Jane at SES Toronto 2010 while she was giving a free site clinic across from the NVI booth. So we asked her if she’d take a few minutes to discuss landing page optimization with us.

In this installment, Jane discusses the difference between optimizing a PPC landing page and optimizing landing page for organic traffic. Basically, when users come in through different channels, they look for and expect landing page content that’s relevant to their experience. Jane also talked about what are some of the most common mistakes she’s seen in landing page development.

Pubcon Live Blogging: Landing Page Optimization

Moderator: Kate Morris
Kate Morris, Director of Client Services, New Edge Media
Joanna Lord, CMO, TheOnlineBeat.com
Tim Ash, President & CEO, SiteTuners.com
Janet Driscoll Miller, President & CEO, Search Mojo

First up is Tim Ash of Sitetuners

Tim starts with the brutally honest insult: Your baby is ugly – why should you care? It’s costing you money. Most landing pages have issues, and need a fresh set of eyes. Our money if filtered through these landing pages, sometimes millions of dollars to these poor neglected step-children of your website.

Where CR = conversion rate.

Who should design your site? Typically the answers come back:

  • Ad agency
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Your boss
  • Marketing
  • Webmaster

The real answer – your website visitors (I dunno dude, some of my visitors are preeeetty dumb). It should be focused only on conversions.

The 7 deadly sins of landing page design:

#1 Unclear call to action – this one is pretty intuitive, you need clear, obvious and compelling call to action items on your landing pages – not cluttered with other junk, and not below the fold. Don’t make your visitors think.

#2 Visual distractions
There are a million and one wrong things to do – relative emphasis is key, don’t put entry pop-ups on landing pages, they’re simply a distraction from a conversion.

#3 Too much text
Do you really expect me to read all this? Nobody will read paragraph text. Unfocus your eyes and look at your page, that’s the impact it’s having (the author takes no offense, regardless of the ten thousand words he’s published live blogging so far).

#4 Lack of upstream continuity
Does your landing page keep the promise that your traffic sources make? Example, consumer reports promises a review of a camera in its PPC ad, but presents you with a ‘join today’ button to see the content. Keep your promises. IMHO this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of all of SEO and PPC, taking the searcher intent into account when you decide what information to present to them.

#5 Long forms
Is the information you’re asking for absolutely necessary to complete the current transaction? No unnecessary fields, info not needed until later, or requirements of supporting info that is not available.

#6 Invisible risk reducers
Do I feel safe? Don’t let your trust symbols/indicators sit ‘below the fold’ – keep them visible! If you can use other trustworthy brands (legally!) on your site, do it. Media mentions? Use the CNN and MSNBC brands!

#7 Lack of trust indicators
Why should I trust you? It’s up to you to prove to your visitors that you’re trustworthy. Gather and display trust symbols, even if they’re just testimonials you made up (okay, he didn’t advise that, ignore that, it doesn’t work *cough*)

Up next Joanna

Post click marketing: it’s what happens after someone has clicked through an ad to get to your site, and apparently, it’s all the rage (coming from an affiliate world, I’ve lived in both pre and post click marketing forever, it’s post-click traffic as comes into my site from the engines, but immediately becomes pre-click for the affiliate ads on the site). The post-click world is centered around converting specific audiences, and helps turn brand traffic to converting traffic. Lots of things to play with:

  • Segmenting out traffic
  • Keyword research – for what’s on your landing page
  • User flow navigation
  • Site functionality
  • Landing page as a whole

What’s important? Mostly the landing page. Mostly.

The idealist: user > click > page > conversion
The realist: user > click > page > pages> conversinoooon> saldow <Admkw eoaodjwed>coffee (basically)

Realists don’t think in straight lines – real user flows involve coffee, or at least non-linear ummm … lines.

Keys to success: delegate, automate, evaluate

Assign a post click marketer. For this you want an out of box thinker, and you should pair them with a pre-click marketer – they both need to be good at communicating to other teams. Create set of metrics/goals, set unique timelines/benchmarks

Streamline every process possible: Build out landing page templates – 62% of ppl have 6 or less landing pages – build more!
Content management system – put the power in the marketers hands, not tech – a good CMS does that
Auto-expire pages – if you’re doing promotional or seasonal pages, set them to auto-expire and redirect
Preview / Q&A system – no manual e-mails, have a checklist system, a standardized test
Data collection – do it!
Auto-remove bad performers – do this for your landing pages, not just your keywords

Test a/b, avoid multivariate (more complex, less intuitive – do multivariate when you have pieces that you know work, via a/b results)
Basics (portion out, don’t give it to the whole audience/review often)
Adjust & track
Communicate results to other teams

Ask yourself, are all possible user flows addressed?

Janet Driscoll miller from search mojo is up next:

Landing pages and post click marketing (yup, told you it was all the rage)

It’s shocking how many PPC advertisers just dump people onto the website home (besides the obvious quality score pitfalls, imo). After they see this not working, they learn to build custom landing pages, and eventually people start getting their heads around conversion paths, and building custom conversion paths based on visitor type/persona.

The example given showed this from a PPC campaign:

  • Homepage converted at 1.17%
  • A pre-existing, better page choice converted at 2.4%
  • A custom landing page raised conversions to 12.5%

Use dynamic programming language (like PHP) to build your landing pages:

  • Increases flexibility – add keywords dynamically
  • Ease of multivariate testing: add or remove individual page elements for testing quickly. Perform real time tests
  • Quickly incorporate best performing elements into all pages. Example: one form for all landing pages
  • Track performance to keyword level
  • Tracking things over the long-term, from the granular level like keywords, all the way through to conversions (and beyond, repeat buyers etc – CRM integration can help this) is the best use of information.
  • Stay on targeted message
  • Keep information above the fold
  • Pass keyword through url to headline
  • Consider removing website navigation
  • Try to stick to one call per action, but provide an ‘escape hatch’ (example: learn more)
  • MUST READ: marketingSherpa landing page handbook

Google website optimizer: doesn’t allow for changes (or additions) to a test. Not as simple as it appears on first glance (if you know the html programming to make this work, you can likely just do dynamic programming, which is more flexible) – she recommends if you’re going to use it, get started with some professional help.

What to test?

To truly make landing pages the most effective they can be – you must continually test them against other versions. While one layout works for one ad group, company or product, it may not work as well for another. Test page elements, pay layouts, and messaging. Test your own audience, does ‘buy now’ work, or ‘add to cart’ work? It’s all about your audience.

Conversion paths

  • Conversion paths in the real world are no longer linear, think about how people are working their way through your site.
  • They provide segmentation – you can provide specific offers to specific types of visitors by splitting them into different conversion paths
  • Qualification – ensure that the leads you are getting are more qualified. Only send conversions from the most promising path to sales and reduce their overhead of calling unqualified ‘leads’.
  • Gain partial data over time – learn from visitors as they progress through a conversion path

Segmentation is achieved by offering two main options as a path for people to follow once they land. Literally two big boxes with different messages which differentiate your visitors in some way (one of which will usually end up with stronger leads). Scrub away the non-qualified leads.

Capturing the segmentation data: use cookies to record data on a path. When the visitor finally signs up, download all of the cookie data into hidden form fields – this provides your sales force with added knowledge about the prospect. It’s really really really important to use deduplication software for your CRM database.

Additional resources:

  • Research: marketing Sherpa landing page handbook, marketingexperiments.com
  • Books: the paradox of choice, the big red fez, beginners web design for roi, advanced honest seduction
  • Blogs: search marketing sage. Blog.search-mojo.com and post click marketing blog

Pubcon live blogging: Conversion Rate Testing and Optimization


Christine Churchill


Taylor Pratt, Search Marketing Specialist, nFusion Group
William Leake, CEO, Apogee Search
Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist, ConversionScientist.com

First up is Taylor Pratt

Starting with a classic quote from Avinash: “unless you’re conversion rate is 100%, you’re never done testing”

Know your users. Understand the needs of their visitors

  • What motivates them?
  • What are they there to accomplish?

Take into consideration: Types of personas/personality types

  • Competitive
  • Spontaneous
  • Humanistic

Testing Calls to action:
Eliminate guessing. Test the CTAs: location, button shapes and colours, texts vs graphics, button and link copywriting, CTA size

Consistency is important for a site that has a lot of repeat visitors.
Testing page layout

  • The five second test a new layout: location of elements above the fold, one two three column, image location, more/less headlines
  • Font type
  • Making text and images clickable (use crazyegg)
  • Colours: background and font

Use crazyegg a lot – find out where people are clicking, then figure out what they want to see, and make it so.
Testing site navigation:

  • Is it obvious where you should click?
  • Is your navigation descriptive, do they know where they’re going
  • Adding active verbs to links
  • The order of navigation
  • converting headers to links
  • breadcrumbs on or off?
  • top or side navigation?
  • Testing product presentation
  • Ensure product pricing is clear
  • adding product reviews
  • adding a video: instead of or to compliment an image
  • adding a call to action to each product page
  • adding multiple views to a product:larger pictures, product in use

The product in motion can be great for conversions. Amazon lets you ‘flip through’ the book. They are constantly tweaking their conversion process.
Testing the purchase process

  • Adding a progress bar to your checkout process!
  • offering free shipping
  • reducing the number of steps and form fields
  • adding approximate time of arrival
  • removing promo code box (you mean there’s a promo I can get!??! I need that discount, so I’m not buying now!)
  • removing requirement to register

Best resource available: your users. Do user testing – simply watch people interact with the site. Make them speak what they’re testing.
@pratt on twitter

Next Speaker: Brian Massey

Okay I lurve brian, we’re playing WHAT TO TEST? THE CONVERSION GAME SHOW?!? Simply awesome.
Dang, I thought the whole presentation would be set to game-show music.

Ground rules: your business has only 3 or 4 customers living at a thousand different addresses. There are ‘profiles’. Whatever is important to your business, you can model these personas. Thumbnail personas people.

Compare Boomer/silent, Gen X, Millennial.
Tv at the left end of spectrum (boomer), email middle, social media on the right side (millennial audience).

Myers Briggs personality types apply here: Competitive, metohodical, spontaneous, humanist. These people are either emotional or logical. They make either quick decisions or slow decisions.

Scenario: business website is a plumber. We’re targeting a GenX female, 30-40, new wood floors, sink leaking, emergency
What to test?

• A link to a contact us page
• A phone number
• An EMERGENCY hotline
• A branded phone number (800-stop-leak)

Test 3 and 4

Scenario: sports equipment. Persona, male genx, spares no expense
Different navigation items to test:

• Soccer equipment
• Hot new products
• Editors choice
• Best deals

Test 2 and 3, maybe even 1

Business: manufacturer: persona, boomer, operations manager, methodical, non technical looking for workflow software
Test sales copy:

  • on demand software provides best-of-breed blah blah blah
  • new IBM case study, business transformation
  • a long-assed page

Test 3, also test 2

William Leake is now taking the floor

Clicks and traffic? No way, we’re sophisticated and are focused on web forms, right?

dang straight. If that’s what I’m paid on. I don’t think that’s where he’s going with this…

Primary conversion approaches:

qualitative: heuristic (rules of thumb)

  • top ten lists
  • checklists
  • best practice


  • a/b and analytics
  • multivariate: google, omniture test and target etc.

There are many roads to conversion testing. How to market to French people? The heuristic approach would go and find a best practices list, finding things like, French people like pastel colours. The quantitative approach is ignorant of why the French like pastels, but they included the pastel page in the multivariate test, so now you know.

what does your CEO really want to get out of marketing?

  • sales
  • top line revenue
  • bottom line earnings
  • margin
  • ROI?

most likely, not web form fill-outs. Great web-forms don’t always create good leads. A web conversion is an intermediate event, in a longer web-conversion process.

All leads and sales are not created equal. It all goes back to the funnel.

  • B2C: move beyond sale to lifetime value customer (cCRM)
  • B2B: ensure that you are integrated with the sales automation / crm system
  • Both: change your optimization focus to “post click” and “post web”

Do you care about all personas? how about coupon clickers? The answer might be no – these can be expensive, non-loyal people that aren’t worth your follow up effort.

Alternative conversion types: conversion doesn’t have to occur on your website

  • track phone calls from search
  • integrate chat to drive conversion
  • add coupons to in-store items

Q&A Time

Q: if we’re starting a new site, and have no data, how do I create personas?

A: Personas are a bridge between research and people integrating things. You still need to do research, or why are you starting a site/business?

Q: if we want to not offer a promo code, but we need one, what do we do?

A: Jetblue offers an incentive at the start of a funnel, and only include the promo code box when someone starts the funnel from the incentive

Q: Tracking numbers – we like to use them, different for each campaign, but there’s a lot of leakage as people surf around the site. We had to pull a phone number from every page but the landing page. What do you think of that?

A: Try Google’s tool to generate 800 numbers just for your website. Or use third party tools like clickpath, and a few others that are phone-analytics links.

Q: if stuck to pick between a qualitative or quantitative approach?

A: The quantitative approach requires traffic, so if you don’t have a lot of traffic use qualitative. If time is the issue, use qualitative heuristic persona based stuff because you don’t have to start from scratch, and it will put you further ahead. Multi-variate has historically been expensive, not so much these days. But really, once you’ve figured out your personas, you have more data to test with, and better creatives to begin with. Generally a fan of starting with heuristic if you’re budget limited.