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Why are bad landing pages so common?

I've made several landing pages, all of them feel like Sh**ty First Draft. I know they have 'mistakes' but I ship them anyway as we do. I know there is a lot of advice about making effective landing pages out there, I finally decided dig into some to see what makes sense to me and to see if I can find some objective truths :) I wrote about my learning in The Leaf Node last week. Here's my report:

How Stuff Works: Landing Pages

I consumed the following resources:

My reading time: 2.5 hours, Your reading time: < 10 minutes hopefully!

Why Learn to Make Good Landing Pages?

I wanted to learn how to objectively evaluate landing pages, instead of thinking "I guess this seems good?", "Is it missing anything?", or "Do I need to make the design a bit fancier or is basic okay" etc.

But why get good at crafting landing pages? Here's why it's important: until we find the right product idea for our potential customers, we have to test out many different ideas, do experiments to learn what resonates and what doesn't. For each idea that we're testing, there are two possibilities — either the idea is good or it isn't. If the idea is good, then it's in our interest to communicate it in a way that the customer 'gets it'. It would be a shame if a good idea doesn't get traction because we didn't convey it clearly, because of poor landing page copy.

The other possibility is that the idea is not a good one. In this case, we'll realize this while making a landing page if we know the key ingredients of an effective landing page. For example, if we can't express what problem our product solves or illustrate how the product will benefit the customer in vivid detail, it could be because it's not a very good idea. It may be that our idea is not really a solution to a problem, to a real pain point that customers are willing to pay to solve.

Either way, being skilled at crafting effective landing page copy and design is valuable. This way we can separate the testing of our idea from testing our ability to communicate about the idea. We don't want to confound the two. If our landing page is well designed, then we can remove that variable. If a well crafted landing page doesn't get traction, it's more likely that the idea is not a good one (and not because we are poorly communicating it).

Okay with that, here's what makes an effective landing page.

Ingredients of an Effective Landing Page

It helps to think about it from our own experience as a customer: as a user/customer what is my thinking process for when I visit a landing page? I'm subconsciously looking for answers to the following questions.

What is the thing? Is it for me? What problem does it solve? Do I have that problem? What does it cost? Who made it? Do I know/trust them? Do I believe that this thing is legit, will actually do what it says? This can be a checklist to go through and make sure you've answered all of these questions in a clear way. All landing pages need to have:

A single clear offer - what is the thing? A SaaS app, an ebook, an online course, a newsletter, an online community. Offer one thing per landing page.

Call-to-action (CTA) - a button to click to sign-up/login, an input field for email address. One action that you want the reader take.

A reason to take action - how does it solve a pain point for the user. How will the user benefit exactly.

Landing Page Mistakes to Avoid

All three of the resources above had their own list of common mistakes to avoid. Here's a consolidated list that covers all three resources.

  1. Words or copy is the most important tool you have to convince your readers. Don't make words hard to read. Don't add generic images or trendy design elements. Don't copy generic landing page templates, make yours uniquely recognizable.
  2. One of the classics mistake/advice is don't list product features, list benefits to the user. This makes sense, don't say this ebook has 16 chapters. Who cares? That is not useful to the reader. Tell them why reading this book will benefit them. Even going beyond the benefit, what pain will this book solve for the reader. For example: instead of "16 chapters" something like "clear jargon free explanations of programming concepts so that you can develop an intuitive understanding of the fundamentals". (btw I'm picking on myself here, I did in fact say "16 chapters" at the top on landing page for an ebook last year). The article from Stacking The brick makes a strong case that you first need to remind the user of the pain so that they are prepared to receive the benefit. This is about focusing on the readers instead of the product.
  3. Don't include generic images or videos that are not directly relevant to your product. Include vivid details about your product. This means show screenshots of the actual product. Or even hand-drawn mock-ups. Whatever gives the user a better idea of what exactly they're buying. Important to remember for digital products. Vivid details also serve to build trust.
  4. Don't hide your call-to-action (CTA) or make the expectations of what happens after you click ambigous. Have a clear compelling single button, or a clear action that you want the reader to take. If you have more than one CTA, make sure the primary one is more prominent. For example, if you have a button for "order book" and another one for "read free chapter", make sure it is clear which one is primary. Don't make the user think and expand the effort to having to decide which one to click first (I made this mistake as well by having two equally prominent buttons)

Read more at The Leaf Node

  1. 1

    Good job! Great post full of "zipped" insight! Love it
    Also Im from Austin, TX - small world!

    1. 1

      Thanks @orliesaurus!

      Oh nice, yes small world! (hopefully some indiehacker austin meetups will be possible later this year)

  2. 1

    @bhumi Thanks for doing this post! I'm sure your 2.5 hours will help lot of people. It was a quick read, loved reading it.

    From what I have learnt after building landing page for Brutask, I've seen that people who stress too much on design fail to see that content goes hand in hand.

    Sure, your design needs to be attractive, but if the content is too complicated/not relevant, people will leave even if your website looks the best.

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