All posts by Casey Ark


4 Stupid Mistakes You’re STILL Making On Your Landing Page

Are you still making these landing page mistakes? Image by Brandon Grasley via Flickr.

Believe it or not, many of the world’s most aesthetically beautiful landing pages fail miserably when it comes to conversion.

Why? Because when you focus too much on design and not enough on your customers, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and fall into common conversion-killing traps.

In this post, I go through four of the worst mistakes you can make on your landing page, with real-world examples. Fixing even one of these mistakes should result in a serious conversion rate improvement – so let’s get started!

1. Not showing the product

Let’s take a look at this landing page for iMenuPro – an app that allows restaurant owners to design menus online:

Click for full-length landing page.

It’s a nice enough page, right? Solid design, pretty engaging content and it even has a bit of personality. But there’s one crucial thing missing: they never show the product.

iMenuPro is a menu designer, yet we never see any actual menus that have been designed with the tool. Believe it or not, this is an incredibly common mistake.

If this seems like a huge oversight to you, it should. Neglecting to show your product is the #1 cardinal sin of landing page design, and here’s why: humans aren’t just visual learners, they’re visual purchasers.

Do you show & tell? If I can’t see myself using your product, I can’t see myself buying it.
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If I can’t see your product or what it does, how in the world am I supposed to want it? Imagine trying to buy a car that has only been verbally described to you.

The solution

Show your product up-front and clearly. Make it the hero shot of your page.

And when possible, show your product in action.

This technique, called context of use, helps show prospects how your product works and helps them envision themselves using it:

This is precisely the reason that ShamWow has become a household name – they show their product in action with real people, in real situations you can relate to.

Showing and telling will help you convert browsers into customers.

2. Not explaining what you do

It’s all too easy to forget one of the main purposes of your landing page: educating your prospects.

Many prospects who visit your landing page know nothing about you, your company or what it is that you do. It’s your landing page’s job to fill in the blanks. When you don’t do that, you get a page like this:

Click for full-length landing page.

Marketing Genesis is a paid seminar for aspiring marketers – or, at least, that’s what I think it is. They never actually say.

If you carefully read a few hundred words into the text, you’ll eventually infer what Marketing Genesis is, but it takes some effort. They’re assuming that I know something about their business, but I don’t.

They make this same mistake dozens of times throughout this page:

  • The main headline on the page tells me to “Register Now,” but I don’t know what I’m registering for yet.
  • The CTA asks me to click for tickets, but again, what am I getting tickets to?
  • They even assume that I know where the event is taking place (hint: I don’t).

If you’re thinking, “how could someone possibly forget those things on a page?”, you should know that this sort of thing happens with shocking frequency.

When you’re elbow-deep in the goings-on of your own company, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to not know about your company.

The solution

When in doubt, treat your clients as though they know truly nothing about you.

Explain what you do, why you’re better than your competition and how your product can improve your potential customers’ lives.

The people at Webflow do a brilliant job of this – take a look at their homepage:

Click for larger image.

Even though they’re selling a relatively high-tech product, their opening headline tells me exactly what they’re all about in just a few words: “Professional-looking websites without writing code.”

That’s the kind of quick sales pitch we’re looking for.

Note: explaining what you do does not mean telling prospects about everything you do. As we’ll see below, you want to test making your copy as minimal as possible.

3. Using lots of paragraph text

If there’s one immutable truth about your customers, it’s this: whether you’re Apple or a mom-and-pop shop, nobody wants to read the long paragraphs of text on your landing pages.

Take for example this page from Newschool of Architecture and Design in San Diego:

Click for larger image.

They seem like a lovely university, but they fall into a common trap: they’re over-explaining.

In order to get my questions answered, I need to read through at least a few paragraphs of relatively dry copy. I’m willing to bet that many potential students would rather leave the page than put in the effort.

It might feel like your business is too complicated to explain quickly but in reality, even the most complex businesses can be to be boiled down to a series of short, benefit-driven sentences.

If you absolutely need to write a longer page, communicate your unique value proposition up front and don’t write a word more than you have to.

The solution

Be kind to skimmers and impatient users by cutting down on text, focusing on the key points of your service and providing visual examples.

If you routinely have issues with including too much copy, try writing your copy first before even looking at a landing page template.

That way, you’ll be sure to design a page that complements your copy and only includes the words you absolutely need. Not sure what you need? You should test that.

4. Making users choose (or even think)

Many businesses have multiple buyer personas, which makes marketing to them kind of tough.

How do you tailor a landing page to drastically different groups of people while still resonating with your ideal customers? We’ve all heard it before: Try to appeal to everyone and you’ll appeal to no one.

As a solution to this, many companies add a click-through page that asks users to self-select what kind of customer they are. For example, take a look at this landing page by PerfumesForABuck, an ecommerce outlet for cheap fragrances:


Before you can see any product, you’re forced to choose between jewelry for men, women and gift baskets. Until you choose, you can’t see anything about the business or their products – and that’s problematic.

When you force users to choose before seeing content, a strange thing happens: many prospects leave and don’t come back.

Forcing choice adds friction – you’re putting extra work on the visitor, and the visitor doesn’t like work. They shouldn’t have to think.

The solution

Even if you have a segmented customer base, you can market to all of them individually without forcing them to make choices. It just takes a little finesse.

If you’re marketing to multiple personas, create separate ad campaigns for each one and drive those separate campaigns to customized landing pages.

Instead of buying clicks for “perfume” in AdWords, buy clicks for “men’s perfume” and send the traffic to a dedicated landing page. This eliminates choice from the equation and helps drive more targeted, valuable traffic to your site.

Don’t make users self-select. Do the heavy lifting with PPC & customized landing pages.
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Wrapping things up

It’s tempting to run tests on granular stuff such as your call to action and headlines.

But doing so can lead you to lose site of the bigger picture: at the very least, are you explaining what you do and showing people what you have to offer?

If you’ve made one of these mistakes, count yourself lucky. An error like this is a huge opportunity for improvement. And many of the mistakes outlined above are relatively easy to fix.

So fess up. Are you making any of these mistakes? I want to hear in the comments!


4 Stupid Mistakes You’re STILL Making On Your Landing Page


8 Mobile Landing Pages Get Spanked for Conversion’s Sake

These brutal critiques will help you whip your mobile landing pages into shape. Image by John via Flickr.

Do your landing pages provide delightful experiences for your users regardless of which device they’re using?

If you didn’t answer “yes,” then you could be leaving conversions on the table.

With up to 60% of users browsing on a mobile device, neglecting your mobile users means driving away potential customers.

So what does it take to create a high-converting, mobile-friendly landing page?

Let’s start with what not to do.

In these eight brutally honest mobile landing page critiques, I’ll break down some common conversion killers – and show you how to create high-converting mobile landing pages that leave your competition in the dust.

1. Room5

Click for full-length view of landing page.

On desktop, Room5‘s webinar landing page is reasonably simple and attractive. It clearly describes what the webinar is for (learning how to create smart devices). On mobile, however, it could use some serious improvement.

There is far, far too much text on this page for mobile

Amazing landing pages are amazingly concise. This is especially true with mobile landing pages since mobile users have smaller screens (and often shorter attention spans). Make them skim too long and they’ll quit entirely.

The text on this page can take 2-3 minutes to read and very little of it has anything to do with customer needs. For mobile, condense these long paragraphs into brief summary sentences.

Free ain’t a UVP

“FREE WEBINAR” is the first read on the page and it’s not a strong enough anchor.

Webinars are nearly always free – why should I come to yours? Focus less on “free,” and tell me more about the benefits I’ll receive by watching your webinar.

This page’s actual UVP is hidden in the basement

If I’m skimming this page, I see (in order):

  1. FREE WEBINAR. Co-Creation: The Hidden Disruption in IoT

Here’s the critical mistake: the first three points on this page are entirely about the company itself, not how this webinar will benefit users. I’d be surprised if most users scroll far enough down the page to see customer benefits.

#5 above is, by far, the most important point: you’re not just trying to identify with me, you’re telling me how you’re going to improve my company. That’s the real UVP, and it should be right up at the top (or at least above the fold on mobile).

2. Kontiki

Click for full-length view of landing page.

This landing page from Kontiki (an online video conferencing tool) is well-designed, simple and has a somewhat compelling UVP: “Unlimited webcasting for cheap.” Still, there’s room for improvement.

Move phone numbers higher up

Remember: mobile users are browsing your site on a phone, which means call conversions are easy to get (if you make it easy for them). If your customer is looking for a phone number, give it to them fast.

Ideally, these phone numbers should be click-to-call buttons to ensure ease of use. For the optimal arrangement, test a clickable phone number versus text such as “Click here to call now.”

Too many (inconsistent) CTAs

Great landing pages have one goal and one goal only. Mobile landing pages are no exception.

On this page, you have buttons that say “GET A QUOTE,” “REQUEST AN ESTIMATE,” and “DOWNLOAD WHITEPAPER.” If I’m interested in your business, which button am I supposed to press?!

Pick a page goal – and make sure each element is in alignment with it.

If you have multiple goals for your landing page, you should probably have multiple landing pages.
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3. Bizo

Click for full-length view of landing page.

On desktop or mobile, Bizo‘s landing page is one of the strongest pages of the bunch. It’s extremely compelling and extremely simple, but there are a few mistakes that could seriously be hurting conversions.

On mobile, the phone number vanishes

If you have a support team that can field these calls, you need to show your phone number at the top of the page to maximize call conversions.

Also, as a general rule, it’s always a good idea to test your landing pages on a wide variety of devices pre-launch to ensure that these sorts of errors don’t happen.

Focus on customer benefits, not shiny talking points

Let’s use the “bullshit detector” method on this one. Your users are undoubtedly skimming your pages, so let’s skim through the page and see what they see.

The first two lines are very strong:

  1. 6 Simple Ways to Increase Online Conversions through Display Advertising
  2. Online marketers: Don’t launch your next display advertising campaign without reading this first!

But then the bolded text from the bullet points throws us off a bit:

  1. Success metrics that matter most
  2. Display to impact other marketing channels
  3. Retargeting to increase conversions

Why should prospects care about these bullet points? Success metrics for what?

I’d suggest changing the bold text to focus on customer benefits each time – for example, “Increase conversions through advanced retargeting.”

4. Kendo UI

Click for full-length view of landing page.

Kendo is a framework for building mobile apps, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at this vague page…

What is Kendo?!

It’s really quite simple: if you want people to buy your product, make sure they know what it is.

This page seems to assume that we’re already familiar with Kendo, but the fact is that your prospects very rarely know much about your product – even if they’ve encountered your site in the past.

And even if they do know your product, it’s still a good idea to reinforce your UVP.

No matter what you’re selling and how you’re sending traffic to your page, explain what you do and how you do it in a sentence or two.

Ditch the social sharing icons

On mobile landing pages, social share icons are unwanted distractions.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you never need social sharing on any landing page, and here’s why:

  1. Your prospects are very unlikely to share your landing page (why would they?)
  2. Worst of all, share buttons can needlessly distract users from the true goal of your page: real, valuable conversions.

The best landing pages have one goal – and one goal only. Don’t confuse your users!
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5. AnyMeeting

Click for full-length view of landing page.

This landing page from landing page software AnyMeeting has simple, intuitive design – but it has some serious clarity issues.

This headline is confusing

Features for what? What big guys? If your customers aren’t hyper-familiar with your industry, they probably don’t know who the big/little guys are.

With a headline like that, I don’t know what you’re selling yet, so how could I be interested in a 30 day free trial?

Your headline should give me a quick look at what you do and how you’re going to benefit my life in the next 24 hours. How about something like, “Run Easy, Powerful Online Webinars at Half The Cost”?

Change to a more specific, customer-focused CTA

“Continue” as a call to action is very weak. Instead, try something that focuses on how your product will benefit your customers (like “Get your free trial now”).

Also, the placeholder message for the email box is too long to be seen on phones. All I can see is “Please enter your email ad….” Small mistakes like this negatively impact user experience on mobile and can negatively affect conversions.

What are you selling?!

Believe it or not, you won’t find an actual sentence describing the product on this page. We see product features and lines like “The perfect combination of powerful features and low cost,” but nothing that clearly indicates what this product actually is.

This is problematic because mobile users skim page text in a different way than desktop users. On desktop screens, your eyes can bounce around on the page, absorbing context about the product from a variety of different sources quickly. On mobile, you’re forced to engage with each paragraph in a linear way.

This can make it more difficult for prospects to figure out what’s going on – especially if you’re not telling a seamless story.

The bottom line for mobile:

Skip buzzwords on your landing page. Tell me what your company does and how you can help me.
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6. ReachLocal

Click for full-length view of landing page.

This is a solid, clear page for a marketing ebook from ReachLocal, an online marketing firm.

They do a great job of describing their services, but have committed a common error: getting a little too wordy. I’m spotting a few big opportunities to simplify the page and increase conversion rates.

Don’t include information for information’s sake

This is especially important on mobile. It can be tempting to link to other articles on a page, but you need to resist that temptation.

We’re not looking for more blog readers here, we want conversions! That means being single-minded and removing all extraneous links, no matter how cool they may seem.

Those infographics have nothing to do with the offer

The infographics look nice, but they don’t have anything to do with the offer. Facts are nice, but confusion is fatal. Lose the infographics!

7. DeGoo

Click for full-length view of landing page.

Here’s a simple landing page from Degoo, a free cloud storage site. Their mobile landing page has a solid headline/subheading combo, but unfortunately, Degoo missed the mark on a few things.

Eliminate spacing between form fields

Your mobile users are especially cognizant of spacing as they have to make the conscious decision to scroll after entering each form field.

Removing spacing like this can make forms feel shorter and easier to fill out. Note: it’s okay to allow some spacing to allow for big thumbs, but try to keep it to a ¼ inch or less.

Desktop-sized images don’t always work well on mobile

What’s that smudge in the background?

On mobile, the text is difficult to read and the background is ominous at best. If your background image doesn’t scale appropriately, remove the background entirely and replace it with a solid color.

8. BespokePost

Click for full-length view of landing page.

BespokePost sells themed monthly gift boxes – kind of like a fruit-of-the-month club. The page is delightfully concise, but it could still use some serious work.

Show, don’t tell

“Themed boxes” doesn’t tell me anything – I need to hear about what kind of things are actually in these boxes and why I ought to buy them. If you want customer interest, show the product! I’d love to see a real photo of one of these gift boxes, front and center.

The calls to action lack clarity

The first CTA says “EXPLORE” followed by a “CREATE ACCOUNT USING FACEBOOK LINK” and I’m not sure what either of these mean.

Am I going to be exploring the list of available themed boxes or signing up for an account? Also, who is Andrey Zaytsev and why is his name everywhere?

If you’re not being explicit about what happens after a prospect clicks your CTA, then you’re causing unnecessary friction.

On mobile, details matter and mistakes are magnified. Your landing pages need to be crystal clear.
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The bottom line

Mobile landing pages may be a pain to create – but don’t let my critiques discourage you.

The important thing is to get started today.

Start with something simple (just about any mobile landing page is better than no page at all) – and run tests to improve your page from there.

No matter your industry, keeping your mobile users in mind is a simple way to get a leg up on the competition.

– Casey Ark


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8 Mobile Landing Pages Get Spanked for Conversion’s Sake