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Conversion Myths Debunked: Three Landing Page Mistakes To Avoid

Stewart Hillhouse
Posted by Stewart Hillhouse|Published on July 12, 2023
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Let’s say you’re tasked with increasing your company’s pipeline by 20% by doing nothing except optimizing the conversion landing pages you already have? Quite a tall order, but a common one that many marketers will continue to face as their company attempts to conserve cash while still achieving efficient growth.

Before you go out and change the headlines and call to actions on your most visited landing pages, first understand these 3 common conversion myths and how to avoid their pitfalls:

  • Myth 1: Start by optimizing pages with low conversion rates

  • Myth 2: To increase paid conversions, focus on optimizing the ad

  • Myth 3: Free trials and demos increase conversion rates of signup page

In this post, Sophie D’Souza, VP of Optimization at the performance marketing agency Spiralyze, and Farouk Elmoursi, Conversion Rate Optimization Specialist at Spiralyze, share the most common mistakes they see marketers make when optimizing their high conversion landing pages.

Myth 1: Start with pages that have a low conversion rate because there’s so much room for improvement

So you need to increase your company’s pipeline by 20% by improving your existing landing pages. This would be relatively simple if you only had one or two landing pages to start running tests on.

But what if you have dozens, or hundreds, each tied to different campaigns? The question becomes how do you prioritize what pages to start with?

This method of thinking isn’t wrong, but it doesn’t take into account the full scope of the challenge. Sure, you might be able to improve a page’s conversion from 0.5% to 5% (a 10x improvement!), but will that change get you closer to the 20% pipeline increase you’re actually being measured on?

Solution: Prioritize high intent and high traffic pages

To ensure you’re spending your time and resources on optimization tests that will actually move the needle, Sophie and Farouk recommends prioritizing pages with high intent and high traffic. They recommend this for two reasons:

Go for big wins that move the business forward: The impact of the tests will be felt where it matters (in your lift in leads). A small lift on a page with a lot of traffic will yield more leads than a massive conversion lift on a page with little traffic. Companies who invest in conversion throughout their website see a return on their investment in the form of new business, not just website visitors.

Get to statistical significance ASAP: Conversion optimization tests being run on pages with higher traffic will lead to statistically significant results faster. Say only 30% of the tests you run lead to positive results. The velocity at which you’re able to prove or disprove a test will dictate how many winners you’ll uncover by the end of the quarter. This is called experiment velocity and is a key metric that CRO (conversion rate optimization) professionals consider in their design process.

Knowing the traffic volume to each landing page is easy in your analytics. But how do you quantify the intent? Using a conversion map. 

A conversion map outlines where conversions occur and the web journey of a converted visitor. Said another way: how they got to your website and where they converted. 

Build a conversion map in 3 steps (with template)

Use this conversion map template Spiralyze uses to assess which landing pages to prioritize optimization experiments. 

Step 1: List pages with Thank You Page URLs and their Google Analytics conversion numbers per month. This will allow you to see how many of the conversion goals are attained each month. 

List pages with Thank You Page URLs and their

Step 2: Record 'flowthrough' conversion volumes. This breaks down each conversion goal by what page on your site they completed the conversion. This will tell you what paths are most effective at converting traffic into leads.

Record 'flowthrough' conversion volumes

Step 3: Analyze direct and flowthrough page data to figure out intent, priority, and how many tests per month to run. Give each page a rank between zero (meaning not impactful) and 1 (extremely impactful). Mutliply the impact by the traffic to get a net score. Pages with the highest net score should be prioritized, while pages that score low should be de-prioritized. 

Priority high conversion landing page

Myth 2: Spend all your effort optimizing your paid campaigns at the ad level

When running paid campaigns, most marketers focus on optimizing the ad itself; the copy, CTA, and creative. But in doing so, they’re actually optimizing for click-through rates, not conversions. 

This might lead to a large number of prospects clicking the ad, but if the landing page they’re taken to doesn’t align with their expectations, the session won’t end in a conversion. Wasted clicks, wasted dollars, wasted leads (they probably won’t click another ad from you after a bad experience). 

Solution: Optimize the landing pages paid traffic is sent to

A major benefit of paid campaigns is that you know exactly what your prospect expects to see on the landing page: the same messaging as they saw on the ad they clicked. 

There are four areas that Sophie and Farouk’s team pay close attention to as they help optimize paid campaigns for their clients:

Analyze keyword interest in Google ads: Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for understanding existing interest in keywords relevant to your product or campaign. Use the ‘discover’ function to allow Google to suggest alternative keywords to include in your campaign.

Google ad keyword explorer example

Optimize ad copy to reflect selected keywords: Be sure to use the keyword in your ad headline and body copy. This will help increase the relevance of the ad in the eyes of Google’s algorithm and your target audience.

When Attentive did this they saw a 77% increase in conversion on their paid landing pages.

A Google ad from Attentive
Landing page for Attentive

Build and optimize a landing page with relevant keywords and copy: Now that your ad has been created, optimize your landing page to match the keyword and ad copy used in the ad. When Notion applied this tactic on their paid campaigns, they saw a 60% increase in conversions.

Notion paid playbook

Continuously optimize: As mentioned in the myth above, you’re going to want to send a lot of traffic to high intent landing pages so you can reach statistical significance quickly to uncover winning experiences quickly. When you find a winner, double down. Kill all landing page experiences that lead to a decrease in conversions.

Myth 3: Use the word “free” in your landing page CTAs 

People love free…right? Well, not all the time. Check out this real conversion test Spiralyze put on for a demo signup page. Which CTA button do you think led to the highest conversion rate?

High conversion rate call to action example

Here are the real results:

Conversion rate optimization results for landing

It’s often perceived that emphasizing a free trial reduces the friction and therefore the barrier of entry to prospects trying your product. However, testing data indicates that when the value proposition is aligned with user priorities, conversion rates increase regardless of mentioning the word free.

Solution: Focus on unveiling the prospects deeper motivation (other than price)

In the previous sections we’ve used quantitative tools (like keyword research and page volumes) to dictate our experimental parameters. For this experiment, Sophie and Farouk tend to rely more heavily on qualitative research methods: observing how people actually behave on your landing page. 

Three research methods to uncover the deeper motivations your prospects experience when visiting your landing page:

Heat mapping: see how far people scroll down your landing page. Deep scrolling signals that they’re really invested in solving the problem (and that your copy is engaging). Shallow scrolling might indicate that the above the fold doesn’t capture their deepest motivation, or the value prop mentioned isn’t relevant.

Session recordings: see where your visitors click and what sections they spend time reading. These session recordings will give you very granular insights that should illuminate exactly how people interact with your landing pages. Pay special attention to sessions where the visitor spent more than 30 seconds but didn’t convert. Were there any navigation or design elements that prevented them from converting?

Objection polling: to see if there was anything that stopped them from signing up for a trial. A small popup that triggers on exit intent can be a powerful way to capture objections that prevented your visitor from converting.

Takeaways: High conversion landing page mistakes to avoid

  • Takeaway 1: To generate more quality pipeline, prioritize pages for testing based on volume and intent, rather than by pages with low conversion rates. 

  • Takeaway 2: Optimizing the landing page experience from keyword all the way through to landing page will give your prospects the best buying experience possible (and decrease your cost of acquiring a customer). 

  • Takeaway 3: Prospects have varying motivations for why they want to buy. Avoid assuming that price is their biggest driver.  

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