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As a marketing strategist with a digital focus, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing, tweaking, testing, and generally thinking about landing pages. The topic of conversion optimization is one that’s been widely written about and discussed. And yet, I continue to see landing pages from businesses that are falling short in critical—and familiar—ways.

If you haven’t acquainted yourself with the basics of landing page conversion strategy—relevant copy, prominent contact info, multiple methods of contact, etc.—there are plenty of resources out there to get you started. If you’ve incorporated the basics into your landing page and your conversion rate still leaves something to be desired, perhaps it’s one of these less obvious conversion killers.

Slow Load Time

Page Loading TimeDo you know who doesn’t like to wait for things? Everybody. Your average online visitor expects your page to load within two seconds. According to KISSmetrics, 40% of visitors will abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load, and a one-second delay in response can lead to 7% fewer conversions. When those visitors bounce from your page, you can be assured that they’ll find their way to your competitors. On top of that, slow load time can hurt your search engine rankings.

To test the speed of your site, try webpagetest.org, use PageSpeed Tools, or check your load time through Webmaster Tools. To shorten your site’s load time, try the following:

  • Get rid of any extra content, features, or widgets that you don’t need (do this regardless of your site speed)
  • Use static HTML instead of PHP
  • Optimize images
  • Utilize a Content Delivery Network
  • Use external files for CSS and scripts

Holes in the Social Proof

Yes, social proof is a great marketing tool. According to a CompUSA & iPerceptions study, approximately 63% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a site if it has reviews and customer ratings.

That said, not all social proof is created equal.  For example, far too many landing pages feature testimonials like this:

This company is good.” –Tim

Not only are these generic types of testimonials unexceptional, they look made-up. In a perfect world, you’ll include video testimonials, as these tend to be the most memorable. If video isn’t feasible, you can still add credibility by including a picture with the testimonials, adding the last name, and—if appropriate—their professional title.

Ambiguous Call to Action

Landing Page Calls to ActionWhile landing pages are increasingly incorporating a CTA (call to action), most are pretty vague. CTAs like “Contact Us” and “Send Message” are clearly not persuasive. The most effective CTAs are descriptive and succinct; they efficiently answer that important question: Why do I want to contact you? Will I get a free quote or consultation? Will a salesperson contact me? Will I instantly gain the strength of 500 apes by clicking submit? Determine a (physically plausible) conversion point that your target audience will find compelling, and speak to that in the CTA.

Lack of Brand

The importance of brand and the personality of your business shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to your landing page. (If you aren’t sure what your brand is, stop worrying about your landing pages and go figure that out.)

There are plenty of landing pages that look professional enough, but you don’t get any impression of the company or their people. They use stock photos, stilted language and corporate jargon, and they don’t make it easy to determine who the people actually are, what they’re all about and what work they’ve done.

You don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) include all of this info on one landing page, but you can include some of it and make the rest easy to find. Remember: if you’re not giving your visitors any glimpse of your company’s brand and personality, you shouldn’t expect them to take the leap of faith and give you their business.

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Published by Charlie Nadler

Charlie Nadleris the marketing strategist for Simple Machines Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency that uses time-tested strategies to help businesses grow.

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72 Comments

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  1. Hi
    The biggie I keep having with my first site I did is the load speed I used a lot of images on it and I optimised them and kept them as small as possible and as I did this I noticed my load speed come down. Lately though I have noticed my bounce rate going back up and wondered why. I am going to check the load speed again to see if that could be the culprit hope so then I know where I have to go to improve.

    Great info thanks lee

  2. Great article…I work for an agency and so little is discussed about landing page conversion… I think it is a great dis-service to send PPC traffic to a site and think the job is complete. I go against the grain most times by consulting even the smallest of clients about USP, brand, and lead capture/conversion… We fight the good fight 🙂
    Thanks for the post!

    1. Hi Sue,
      Thanks for letting me know that you like Charlie’s post about landing pages. I learned about landing pages and PPC ads the hard way. For starters, I was bidding on the the keyword phrases that people were searching on when they were in research mode. Once I realized which terms people were bidding on when they were ready to buy, I then realized that I needed to create landing pages that were built for the specific PPC ad. The landing pages that I finally ended up with included a buy now button and were really a micro-site. You sound like you do your clients a service. It’s nice to meet you here! 🙂

      1. Hi Sherryl,
        Thank you for the reply and warm welcome..
        That is a real coincidence you mention micro-sites.
        I have just introduced the concept, created samples and am now working on lead magnets for each vertical we service. Most of the clients we represent have no means of lead capture…So, slowly turning this a round. one client at a time….

  3. I agree Charlie, it is very important for a company to show the visitors some examples of their work. If the landing page has a real example of the company’s work, it gives a vibe of authenticity and not something made up. Thanks for sharing the post.

  4. Hi Jessica,
    I agree with Charlie’s points that your brand must be consistent and that your calls to action are very important to getting the desired responses that businesses are looking for. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this.

  5. Excellent points ! This is a very nice and useful post. I agree to you on the statement about CTA, it is indeed very important to have a tempting CTA which would compel the reader to make it.Thanks for the post.

  6. the number one “must have” thing for any blogger/business online are Fast site loading and Brand. Two absolutely different aspects of the area but still,you can’t start anything without these things.

    1. Hi Anil,
      Thanks for taking the time to let us know that you agree with Charlie’s points about the importance of fast page load times and branding to conversions. It’s valuable to read everyone’s comments.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      As always, thanks for taking the time to drop by and for letting me know that you liked Charlie’s post. I’ve been kicking around an idea for an eBook myself. I’m going to hop over and read the post you linked to. 🙂

    1. Hi Doreen,
      Not resizing and compressing your photos and graphics is one of the most common mistakes that I see bloggers making. Once you start the habit though, it will just become second nature. It would definitely help with page load time and it would make Google happier too! 🙂

  7. This is an excellent share Charlie. It’ll definitely help out in what we’re trying to accomplish with our company’s page and hopefully it’ll improve the traffic we’re getting.

  8. You have presented good points and yes,more discreet landing page conversion killers. Thank you very much Charlie, because you have pointed out some of the things that a novice blogger mike me tend to overlook once in a while.

    1. Kelly,
      Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed Charlie’s guest post. His article is a good reminder to everyone (not just novices) that we should take a look at our landing page strategy. Page load time can change and all of us need to check that every once in a while. I checked mine again and I’ve found a few things that I need to improve upon.

  9. Hey Charlie, this is a very nice and useful post. I agree to you on the statement about CTA, it is indeed very important to have a tempting CTA which would compel the reader to make it. I mean in this competitive market, you have to go out of your way to grab audience. Thanks for the post.

  10. Charlie – excellent points about landing pages at a time when I’m planning to launch a pop-up landing page to attract new subscribers. But I also have a “Contact” landing page and I just looked and it needs a stronger CTA. Thanks for the tip!

    1. Jeanette,
      Thanks for letting us know that you found Charlie’s article helpful. I need to audit my site for CTAs too. I just checked my page load time using one of the links that Charlie included and I see opportunities for improvement there too. I really need to give my site some TLC.

  11. Well that was a terrible blow, but thank you Charlie. If you haven’t brought up this topic, I wouldn’t have realized those little but fatal flaws when it comes to landing page conversions. This post is bookmarked!

    1. Joy,
      Thanks for letting us know that you enjoyed Charlie’s aticle about landing page conversion killers. I followed the link to check my page load time and it identified a few areas where I can make improvements too.

  12. People trying to cram too much stuff into their landing page is definitely annoying and sends me on my way pretty quickly. I particularly hate pages that are overly long, often repeating themselves over and over. When the landing page is so long that I could print it out and fill a binder it\’s too big.

    1. Kevin,
      I agree with you that long landing pages are annoying and unnecessary. We need to keep our target customers/clients in mind when we design all of the pages on our site. As a wise marketing consultant once told me, people listen to the station WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?” I strive to always keep that in mind.

  13. Slow loading time is a very big put off for all visitors. I personally avoid sites which take time to download. It is very much understood that visitors will not waste their time on sites which are slow in the very beginning, this kills the entire story then and there.

    1. Hi Paul,
      The general consensus from reading the comments here is that all of us have a low tolerance for waiting for pages to load. I used to call it the 3-second rule. (I think a long time ago, it was the 7-second rule). Now, with faster Internet access speeds, it seems that our tolerance is getting even lower. Thanks for weighing in on this.

    1. Hi Jeri,
      Thanks for letting us know that you found Charlie’s guest post on landing page conversion killers. I appreciate knowing when you find content on my blog that’s valuable enough to bookmark.

  14. That\’s amazing – 2 seconds and they are gone. We have become a society with patience of a nat. I try not to use many plug-ins for that reason. Same goes for widgets, less is best! Thanks for sharing the different ways to check your speeds Charlie.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      As always, thanks for taking the time to drop by. We do have the patience of a gnat these days. 🙂 I need to work on my page load time. Recently, I came across a post by Courtney Robertson that explains how to create a contact form using Google Drive: http://bit.ly/VYOeXT. I’m still using a plugin for my forms. So, I’ve added that to my to-do list.

  15. Hey Charlie, it is a nice post. And I agree with Sherryl’s comments – it is always a better feeling to buy something from someone who respects my existence as a customer and not someone who will just slap a bill on my account and forget me. And James is absolutely correct, creating a good first impression is very important. Thanks for sharing the post.

    1. Hi Nelson,
      Thanks for taking the time to let us know that you liked Charlie’s guest post about landing page conversion killers. I’m getting to the point where so many people are using the same landing page templates that I’m being turned off before I make it to the bottom of the screen. It’s difficult to feel that my business is appreciated when it’s obvious how little time has been spent on the page.

  16. Slow loading time is a very serious problem for a landing page. Not only does it scare away visitors who don’t want to wait for your page to load, but also search spiders may not index your page if the load time is too slow. And that will seriously damage your site.

  17. I love using Premise plugin to help me develop good landing pages. It helps me with all kinds of different types from video to opt in to sales pages and integrates with my Autoresponders.

  18. I believe that your landing page is the first thing viewers experience about you or your company. It gives them the first impression, and I would agree that I keep coming across landing pages which are not up to the mark. No doubt the business does not get a good response, how are readers to understand your business if inappropriate information is provided.

    1. That first impression is definitely critical. Most businesses will spare no expense to drive traffic, but if the content isn’t converting, they’re essentially just paying for missed opportunities. Thanks James

    2. James,
      You make an excellent point about landing pages making that first impression. So many landing pages these days are treated as being obvious “squeeze” pages. They’re designed hurriedly and with the obvious intention of making a sale. It’s always a welcome pleasure to land on a page that was designed with the website visitor in mind. I’m much more likely to purchase from someone who makes me feel like a valued customer than from someone who is just trying to make a sale.

  19. Load time is often overlooked and a very important factor is bounce rate. It really is an easy thing to check. If it takes to long, a visitor will not wait. Of course if there is little of interest when they do manage to get past the wait time then that will assure they won’t return… LOL

    Now I need to go check my page. 🙂

    1. You’re absolutely right; it’s an easy thing to forget about when you’re working on a landing page. But from your visitor’s perspective, slow load time isn’t just annoying – it’s also a red flag that there might be other problems. Thanks Susan

  20. Page loading is commonly affected by the huge image size associated with it. One solution is reduce the image size only for the size that’s actually required to be displayed. I use sprite method to load static images faster. If you’re using heavy javascript libraries, one option is to get it linked from CDN so that it loads in an asynchronous way.

    1. Michael,
      In my reply to Heather, I mentioned testing the effectiveness of landing pages for PPC (pay-per-click) advertising which was my first introduction to using them.

      Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation!

  21. Once you have your brand, I love using Premise plugin to help me develop good landing pages. It helps me with all kinds of different types from video to opt in to sales pages and integrates with my Autoresponders. And it does so much more including managing membership sites

    1. Hi Heather,
      I hadn’t visited your blog in a while. It’s looking great and it loaded really fast for me. It’s great that you started tweaking right away. Too often, I read about something and add it to my to-do list. (That’s not good.) 🙂

      1. Thanks Sherrly! It loads fast for me too and I’m glad it does the same for you. I never know if it’s just my computer or if it loads quickly for everyone.
        Anyway, I did want to say that I always thought a “landing page” was for Facebook, and since Facebook no longer allows them I thought it was really weird to read about landing pages. I didn’t realize a “landing page” is the main page on one’s website! Thats really interesting, and it’s made me look at the main page a little differently.
        Thanks so much for stopping by my website and taking a look too!

        1. Heather,
          A landing page can be any page on your website where you are directing traffic and they don’t have to be included in your navigation menu. For example, if you were running a promotion (maybe you were giving something away or running a contest), you could create a page just for that promotion. It would include your call to action and should provide all the information the person needs to do whatever it is you want them to do. (If you wanted them to purchase something, you’d have a buy now button right there.)

          When you run the promotion, (possibly in a blog post, Twitter, FB, Pinterest etc.), you direct people to that page. Landing pages are common in PPC (pay-per-click) advertising where it’s often best to create a different landing page for each ad.

  22. Good article Charlie!

    What’s your brand? What makes you a bit unique?

    In my case it is how international I am. Have lived and worked in – or – worked with almost all countries in the world. Hence the photograph of me surrounded by veiled women in Saudi Arabia and the sentence “Catarina Alexon is an international busienesswoman & writer” at the top of my page.

    1. Thanks, Catarina. Having a strong international brand can certainly be effective with the right market. At Simple Machines Marketing, we focus on the time-tested fundamentals of marketing to help businesses succeed with sound strategies; that “simplified” approach is a big part of our brand.

  23. As for me, the number one “must have” thing for any blogger/business online are Fast site loading and Brand. Two absolutely different aspects of the area but still,you can’t start anything without these things.

    1. Evan, what score did your site get on PageSpeed Tools?

      Personally think my blog is too slow, but I still score 83 out of 100. And their suggestions of what to do to speed it up is far to technical for me. I would end up with no blog:-) A slow blog is better, as far as I’m concerned.

      1. Catarina,
        I’ve never noticed that your blog runs slowly. I don’t remember ever having to wait for your server to respond. As for your technical skills, I think you do just fine. To me, the people who tend to get in the most trouble are those who overestimate their skills rather than underestimate them. 🙂

    2. Thanks Evan. I agree that if you have a slow-loading landing page with poor branding, the bounce rate is likely going to be high no matter what other elements are in place. Ultimately, you want your visitors to be able to quickly and effortlessly get the information they need that will inspire them to take the next step.