Landing pages are a cornerstone of online marketing, but sometimes even large companies forget how to build effective landing pages.
Stockmann is the best known and most prestigious department store in Finland. They’ve been around since 1862 and their special sale is an event people wait almost religiously.
Their marketing is usually really good, but the other day I stumbled onto their opt-in email list landing page. All the three basic elements of an effective landing page were wrong.
I could not believe they could go so wrong with their marketing. But so does many other major companies all around the world.
If you follow these three basic guidelines, you’re landing page will get at least an average conversion. But if you forget even one of these basics, your conversion will sink.
Maybe the most important quality of a landing page is clarity. In practice it means there’s nothing unnecessary on the page, and all the necessary things are clear and easy to read.
Many of the typical elements of a web page cause friction on a landing page. You can see all of these elements in the example by Stockmann (the link was broken after their campaign ended, unfortunately).
- Links in header. You should make your header as simple as you possibly can on a landing page. The idea is to keep the reader reading and not to encourage wondering around the site.
- Navigation bar. There’s often a navigation bar under the header. It’s filled with links, and so you should get rid of it on a landing page.
- Sidebar. You can use a sidebar with great results on a landing page. But you have to build it for that one landing page. In other words use it to demonstrate testimonials etc. and take away any links you may have there.
All together there’s more then 60 links in the example landing page, and none of them help the goal.
When you design any web page, you need to remember to have enough space. In other words, don’t squeeze the page full of elements. Your landing pages should have even more “white space” than other pages.
The most important content on an opt-in landing page is:
- the headline,
- description of the newsletter etc.,
- the box where you write your email,
- and the button for subscribing.
That content should take at least 80% of the area. In the example that content gets about 20%.
Judging by the proportions you’d guess the example landing page isn’t meant to be a landing page.
You need to attract the reader to the most important elements or your landing pages won’t convert. When some content is easy to dismiss, people will dismiss it.
Stockmann created a decent ad for their emailing list; you get to see the offers of their special sale (“Insane Days”) before others. For most Finnish people that’s more tempting than getting to know the next president a day ahead of others ;)
The ad is interesting enough for the target audience to get a click, but then the scent gets lost.
People act in the Internet like blood hounds following a scent; we follow one scent (which is an idea/thought/offer/etc.) and we turn back the moment we lose the scent.
In practice that means that I clicked the ad to see the sale offers, but I didn’t see any mention of that on the landing page. So, I turned back (and returned later when I understood what a great example that page would make…)
Scent, which works offline too, is about many things that all influence your marketing’s effectiveness. You have to make the key elements coherent or your conversion will drop.
- Offer. The offer is the most important part of the scent. If you change the offer even a little, the scent is pretty much lost.
- Language. You can rephrase the offer, the headline, and other copy as long as you use coherent language (meaning, don’t change the words you use).
- Images. When you use images in your ads, use the same images through the chain (for example: ad -> landing page -> purchase page). The images don’t have to be identical, just use the same model, product, etc.
- Colors. Pick a color pallet for your ad chain and stick to it. Changing the color scheme will destroy your conversion.
The example from Stockmann would work a lot better if they had used the ad’s offer, graphics, and colors on the landing page. I’d estimate they could increase their conversion by at least 100% if they did that…
The offer, together with the call to action, tells the reader what to do next and why. Advertising and marketing without a clear and compelling offer is ineffective.
Stockmann used the two most common offers/calls to action on their opt-in landing page: “Subscribe to the newsletter” and “Send” (in the button). Neither one is particularly effective.
The two most important qualities of the offer are:
- Clarity. The offer has to convey the idea extremely clearly and simply.
- Concentration on benefits. A good offer is about the benefits it offers.
Both examples were clear, but neither one is about benefits. “Subscribe” is a relatively “high-commitment” word. “Get”, “Check Out”, and “Read” all convey the same idea but with a “low-commitment” feel.
“Newsletter” relates to spam. Use “Updates” or “Offers” instead.
“Send” isn’t really an offer. It’s also a poor call to action. Even “Click Here” would be better, but “Click here for exclusive access” would convert much more visitors (at least in the case of Stockmann).
The description of a newsletter is also important. It tells the reader what they can expect, and why they should care.
Stockmann did a common mistake with the description: don’t use the description to describe your product, use it to describe why you’re special and what the benefits are.
The consumers aren’t interested in functions and features, but instead in benefits.
For example “knowledge about campaigns” isn’t a benefit even thought it may sound like one. It’s a feature. You could easily rephrase that: “Discounts you won’t even hear of elsewhere.”
Almost all landing pages have a button that completes the action you want your visitors to take. It might be a “buy now” or “add to cart” or “subscribe” button. Anyway it’s the natural extension of the offer.
A good landing page button is:
- Extremely clear. The button should be clearly visible from 20 feet away. If it isn’t, it’s either too small or the color isn’t clear enough (or both).
- Relatively large. A good button is larger than what you’d expect it to be.
- Aggressively colored. The most beautiful and harmonic color is usually the worst. Rather use a color you haven’t used on the page elsewhere.
- It’s about the offer. “Send”, “Submit”, and “Subscribe” aren’t benefit-related; avoid them.
- Has the best property. The button should have the most visible place on the page. That’s usually in the middle and it needs to have white space around it.
Something good too
I’ve been on Stockmann’s emailing list for a while now. So far the emails haven’t been too frequent and they’ve been relatively valuable (mostly about discounts).
You should always remember that even the best landing page is worthless if subscribers run away when they receive your first email.
Stockmann is one of the first major companies in Finland to advertise their emailing list and they haven’t done it for long (or maybe I’ve missed it). So, I expect them to get better at it and the things around it (landing pages etc.), as they put more time and effort into it.
Fortunately your success isn’t about what you do, but what you’re willing to do to learn more.
It’s interesting to note that there’s only a couple of other Finnish larger companies that put so much effort into email marketing.