Over the last twelve months I've roasted the landing pages
of 200 startups. Landing pages from indie makers, VC-funded scale-ups and profit-generating enterprise organisations, across multiple industries and audiences. With an average of 25 mins a roast, that's over 3.5 full days of roasting pages to increase conversion.
Each roast was a personalised 20-minute video review of a landing page, identifying fixes to convert more visitors into customers. Based on best practice, testing insights, and my work as a conversion rate optimisation expert.
But what did I learn about high-converting landing pages? And about running a productised business? And what can you learn from me? It turns out quite a lot...
Roast My Landing Page started as a pandemic side-project to allow me to support early-stage startups while generating a second-stream of income outside of my freelance marketing work. It ended up generating me over £70,000 of work, over 2,000 email subscribers, and an ever-growing list of insights into the pains and challenges of early stage businesses and the amazing people that run them.
And it has really been about the founders! Every single person comes with their own story, passion, and ideas. They were eager to learn how to do justice to their product, service or email list, and showcase it to the world in the form a high-converting landing page.
This post is for every founder who thanked me, challenged me and (in rare cases) fought me. It's been a blast. So, here's what I've learnt...
50% of founders had one clear goal for their landing page - sign up, download a lead magnet, or book a demo. The other 50% had multiple, often equally prioritised call-to-actions. This often leads to analysis paralysis and confusion for the visitor.
Fix: Focus your landing page on one conversion goal.
After booking a roast, customers of Roast My Landing Page are asked to fill in a quick questionnaire. One of the questions is "what makes your business unique?" Nearly every founder was able to capture their product or business USPs gracefully in the form, but only about 1 in 5 had this language on their landing page.
One of the key take aways from your landing page needs to be what makes you unique. If a buyer is in the consideration stage (comparing solutions) your USP is what is going to make them recall you, and decide if you are the best fit for their needs.
Fix: Contrast your product with competitors and the current way of doing things.
Testimonials, ratings, awards or quantifications to evidence that other people use and love your product. Only about 40% of landing pages had it above the fold (what people see when they first land on your page). And of those, only about 50% used testimonial language that was consistent with the pain and benefits listed elsewhere on the landing page.
Fix it: Move your social proof up the page, make sure it's concise, compounds your copy, and from a buyer relevant to the visitor.
About 1 in 8 landing pages I read, I couldn't comprehend on first read-through. These landing pages required several attempts to simply 'get it'. I had a monetary incentive to try and work out what was going on - your visitors do not.
Fix it: Avoid technical terms and acronyms, and write in plain language. Remember you're talking to a human, even if they are a B2B buyer. Ask yourself if a 12 year old could understand your landing page.
PAS (pain - agitate - solve) is a common copywriting technique used to increase conversion. Most landing pages touched on the pain they were addressing, but only 1 in 15 agitated or amplified the pain with emotional language and vivid imagery. The ones that did this well created much more powerful landing pages that moved me to explore the solution.
Fix it: Agitate your visitor by painting a vivid picture of the pain using emotional language, stories and visuals.
Lots of pages talked in-detail about product functions but ignored benefits and use cases. Research consistently shows higher conversion with benefits-based language. It was left to the visitor to think how the product would benefit them, or specifically solve their problem.
Fix it: Visitors shouldn't have to work out how and why the product will benefit them. Tell and show them with clear benefits language, and example use cases.
So many landing pages had a call-to-action to do something, without clear signposting around the action. Yes, they were they about to sign up but... how long would it take? What were they agreeing to? How much would it cost? What technical setup was involved?
Fix it: add context to your CTA so the visitor knows what to expect.
3 in 5 founders mentioned a level of frustration over not knowing what was happening during the pre-roast survey. They weren't sure why their landing page wasn't converting visitors into customers. However, very few had actually asked their visitors.
Fix it: sign up to GetSiteControl and add an exit intent survey on your landing page. Asking why they're leaving. Address those reasons on your page.
Only 2/5 founders could tell me current conversion on their landing page. In most cases these people didn't even know if they had a conversion page issue but had booked a roast anyway. Most founders had Google Analytics installed but had limited goals tracking setup, or hadn't reviewed reports in months.
Fix it: setup analytics and events tracking. Uncover a conversion baseline for future experimentation.
About 1 in 4 bookings were to roast landing pages from scale-ups where there was clearly a high level of expertise and skills used to build the landing page. These businesses still had conversion challenges, which fell mainly into the following 7 areas.
I saw this over and over, and was asked about it as often. "Should I target a bigger audience or a smaller one? Surely the bigger the market the better?" My advice was always them same. Build a landing page for the most niche audience possible until you've secured your first customers. Build out more landing pages later.
Landing pages targeting multiple personas and use cases almost universally convert at a lower rate. Go more niche, expand later
Nobody is signing up without understanding their own problem, your solution, and your pricing. And very few people are paying an enterprise SaaS without speaking to an account manager first. Be mindful about what you ask - your CTA. Too soon on the page or in the buying cycle, it's not going to convert.
Write a list of what a visitor needs to know before they will sign up. Make sure this critical info is before your first CTA.
So many pages used large blocks of text to explain something that could be more clearly and powerfully demonstrated in a simple product shot, table, visual, example, demo, illustration or abstraction.
Show, don't tell.
On visiting your landing page, your potential buyer will be forming questions in their head. As these unanswered questions grow, the chances of a conversion decrease. Find out what they are, and address them throughout the copy, or in a FAQs module.
Understand and address doubt through user testing, exit intent, or surveys.
Around 65% of the landing pages I reviewed used images from popular landing page collections: photos, icons and illustration. Although they were workable and even at times relevant, they rarely told the same story as the copy visually.
Work harder to find or create meaningful images for your landing page.
Even people who were extremely smart and knew their landing page performance, had not measured their full funnel from marketing channel source, to account sign up. This meant they would often have a fantastic landing page but sign up pages funnels that weren't measured.
Setup funnels in Google Analytics or other tools so you can review drop off throughout the funnel, not just on your landing page.
And finally. You may already have a high-converting landing page, but without regular testing you're not learning. No customer had a regular schedule of tests in place. At best, they had last checked performance after relaunching their site several months previously.
A cycle of constant experimentation increases your learnings about customers and drives more revenue. Keep shipping tests!
If you want your first 100 users or to increase your landing page conversion, give me a follow :)