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Fresh Cuts

  • Writer's pictureDrew Donaldson

How to Write a Landing Page That Doesn't Stink

And they’re off! The small business owners are trotting down their lanes, ambling towards their computer stations. Everyone watching the 2021 Marketing Olympics is eager to see the debut of team USA Coached by the world-renowned Coach Gro.

Known as “the man who knows how to land,” Coach Gro made a name for himself coaching the 1996 Olympic team that broke the four-hour landing page record. We caught up with Coach Gro to get his thoughts on what it takes to stick to the perfect landing page.

Coach Gro Defines a Landing Page

Coach Gro here, and I am delighted to break down the basics of landing pages so your small business can start growing in a big way. Understanding this is the first step toward that shiny gold medal.

Landing pages are isolated pages created for a singular purpose or goal. Unlike homepages of a website, which are designed to facilitate exploration, landing pages are created just for this goal and contain Call-to-Actions (CTAs) to help achieve it. CTAs are what you want your customer to do, like in a desperate-bottom-of-your-soul, please-click-this-button sort of way. Strong CTAs are the number one way to drive customer conversions, which is just a fancy word for how often and how much you can get your customers to open up their wallets or give you their email or other contact information.

Whew. Formal definitions are a workout. You’ve got to replenish those electrolytes after each exercise, even the warm-up.

Gold Medal Take-Away

Don’t confuse landing pages for homepages. They’re different and, man, they get really cranky if they are mistaken for one another.

Poor Form to Perform: How to Create a Gold Medal Landing Page While Avoiding Rookie Mistakes.

Mistake #1: Losing Style Points to the Clutter

On the next episode of Marketing Hoarders, you’ll meet Doug, a small business owner who wanted to do too much on his landing page and is now living under a pile of life-threatening clickables, images, and content. Can the GroHaus clean-up crew save him? Stay tuned to find out.

Let’s look at this landing page from the company Loup (formerly called ShipCarsNow).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know where to rest my tired coach eyes. There is just too much going on here. Sensory overloaded pages can overwhelm viewers, and no one wants an inundated customer. They throw fits.

While there are CTAs on this landing page, there are actually seven of them with varying goals. What should you do? Should you sign-up now, get a free price quote, or investigate the rebate program? Ah, too many decisions and too little time. It’s fine to have multiple CTAs as long as they are aptly placed and support the same singular goal. Don’t get greedy with the goals! Going for that extra rotation is a recipe for a guaranteed faceplant.

Additionally, look at all the peripheral information to the left and the right of the screen. People tend to read dead center first, so that’s where you want your core content and CTA. Don’t add too much on the sides; otherwise, the customer will click the dreaded back button, and you are out of luck. Sorry, friend, no conversion for you today.

Here, take this and towel off. Your forehead is shining, and It’s, well, distracting.

Gold Medal Take-Away:

Coach Gro stands by the idea that too much of a good thing is, indeed, too much. Write a landing page that nurtures a singular goal with focused CTAs. Give it water daily, weed and trim it, and watch it grow into the beautiful and rare, Great White Oak Conversion Tree. Its leaves are healthy, crisp dollar bills. Like that imagery? In addition to coaching, I also dabble in poetry slams.

Mistake #2: The Mundane Headline

There are plenty of times in life where being boring is a good thing: court proceedings, tax audits, the TSA line at Laguardia. Your headline, on the other hand, should be anything but.

All web pages, including landing pages, should have a headline that captures customers’ attention in an “I’ve-taken-you-hostage-and-you-are-now-my-prisoner sort of way.”

No one likes ordinary, boring headlines, and if that is what you have on your landing page, then you are up marketing creek without a paddle (which is slated to be the next new sport in the 2025 Marketing Olympic games).

Take a look at this landing page from the company Magento.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, what a shame. Come on, entrepreneurial athletes! You were taught in grade school to avoid vague pronouns (i.e., it, thing, that, this, etc.). I literally just yawned at their headline, “We Did it Again.” While the CTA to “View Report” is clear and crisp (good job, Magento), the boldly generic title negates its effectiveness. That’s a big no, no. Don’t risk a poor landing with a dull opening.

Gold Medal Take-Away:

You need a show-stopping opener. The best way to create that type of headline, according to Hubspot, is to focus on the benefits of your product instead of the aspects of your product. Customers probably already know about your product; that’s why they are on your page. Being Janet Jackson fans, they want to know, “What have you done for me lately?” For instance, Magento focuses on being a leader in that Magic Quadrant thingy (sounds kinda fun; can I play with it, too?), but the focus should be on the customer (not the company or product).

Mistake #3: The Too Formy-Form

A common marketing goal is to have a customer fill out a form. So, your CTA could be something like, “Sign-up for our newsletter,” and floating delicately above that would be your fillable form. Goal achieved. You can breathe a deep sigh of satisfaction. If only it was that easy.

The reality is most business owners have a tendency to treat form creation like an all-you-can-eat buffet. A little bit of this and a little bit of that, and soon enough, your form starts looking like that stupid intake form the doctor makes you fill out EVERY SINGLE TIME you come in for a check-up. How in eight years of medical school did you not learn how to set up a digital intake process? But I digress...

The point is, that if your opt-in form is too complicated, it weakens the effectiveness of your clear call-to-action. Take a look at this landing page from a gardening company (probably now out of business).

Oh Gardener Sally, how you have failed your customer, your business, and yourself. This form has 9 different sections for the customer to fill out. Never forget that people are lazy; when the form feels like work, you’ve lost them. If you make customers work to fill out your form, that CTA sign-up button will never be pushed. It will suffer from years of neglect and vanish into nothingness, like that make-believe, weird dog dragon thing from The Neverending Story.

Gold Medal Take-Away:

Hubspot spotlights the 3-section form as being more effective on a landing page. First name, last name, email address. That’s it, people! Simple, fast, and easy, just like this take-away. (Ok, ok, I hear the phone salespeople squawking, “yes, you can collect their phone number if you must, as well as their company name since so many B2B buyers use their personal emails for some reason. But that’s it! You’re on a diet, after all; you don’t need the extra slice of cheesecake.)

Mistake #4: The Hoops

Unless you are on a motorcycle, about to propel yourself through fire-ringed hoops for the sake of a circus act, no one really likes jumping through hoops, especially when it comes to completing forms or pushing that coveted CTA button.

Just take a look at this landing page from Google Cloud to see what a hoop explosion looks like (duck and cover!).

The check-marked list to the left contains ten different hoops for the viewer to jump through in order to be ready to “try it for free.” Each of the ten hyperlinks will redirect the viewer to a different page to learn more about that particular benefit. So, what Google has essentially done here is a required the viewer to click on all the benefits to make sure he or she really wants that 60-Day Free Trial. And, I’m sorry, if the free trial is this much work to sign up for, then I’ll pass, even on a $300 free credit.

Don’t make your customers work for a CTA. It is a classic way to lose the game, people! Too many hoops on a landing page decrease conversion rates and increase customer irritability, and that’s a combination best avoided. Just ask that Google Cloud landing page. Er, wait, you can’t. RIP.

Gold Medal Take-Away

Despite enjoying the sound of a good click, people really don’t like doing it more than once or twice. Adults have the patience of a toddler. They want what they want when they want it. So, don’t force a potential client to click on multiple buttons before a CTA. It’s akin to receiving a verification email, only having to click on another link, just to enter more information. Jumping through hoops drives people crazy. And it’s just good business practice to avoid sending your customers to a padded cell. Trust me, I’m an Olympic coach.

Alright, newbie, your rapid-fire training session is almost finished. Give me all you got in this last session. Channel your inner Rocky and climb those stairs. Climb. Those. Stairs.

Mistake #5: Burying the Lead

Did you know that people are part robots? It’s scientifically proven in the Institute of Crackle Theory (disclaimer: not a real place).

Think about it! People can scan a webpage for salient information fast and efficiently, our eyes flitting back and forth and up and down the page in a matter of seconds. If we don’t find what we are looking for in the first few scans, we flit off. This is why it’s a good idea to put your most valuable content, especially your CTAs, above the fold on your landing page. “Above the fold” is just an origami-inspired way of saying, put your important stuff at the top! What do you want your customer to do on that landing page? Whatever it is, they should see it right away.

Take a look at this example of a stellar landing page.

This company got it right (ahem, ahem)! On this landing page, a simple yet inviting headline gains the attention of your robot eyes first, and then they flit to the dark green, aptly-placed CTA button, “Schedule Appointment.” This CTA is contrasted in a different color and placed in the center of the page. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Gold Medal Take-Away

Attractive headline? Check. Clear CTA. Check. 3-tier benefits list, neatly organized. Check. Available Calendar Schedule. Check. GroHaus, wherever you are, whoever you are, you check all the landing page boxes, and we should all bow down to your unmatched talent. Coach Gro likes your name, too.

Stick the Landing

And that’ll do it for Coach Gro and this year’s Marketing Olympics. Team USA is going home with enough gold medals and free hotel soaps to last them at least the next four years.

If you’re ready to go for the gold, GroHaus is ready to don our athletic wear and meet you on the mat! Our strategists will guide you on your landing page routine, PPC pole vaulting, and even your lead gen deadlift. We pride ourselves on our best-practice marketing guidance and resources, and you will, in turn, take pride in the growth your small business will inevitably achieve.

Schedule your appointment today to begin working with one of our marketing strategists, and you’ll stick your landing every single time. And, we promise, you don’t even have to go to the gym.

Image by Canva



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