Article

Rohan Ayyar
Rohan Ayyar 9 November 2016

A Treatise on Landing Pages and Customer Behavior

Learn about your customers' preferences and purchase behavior from their interactions with various elements of your website, such as images, CTA, and text positioning.

Your landing pages could give you a cue to your customer’s mindset. From your customers’ interests to issues close to their hearts, you can learn a lot about their personalities.

If you don’t want to spend valuable dollars in third-party behavior testing and data, here are a few ways how you can use landing pages data to understand your customers.

You may have read hundreds of case studies how changing an image or text position helped many businesses to turnaround their conversions. You might have your own A/B test results that prove Image A works better than Image B. Also, the placement of call-to-action text and buttons has a pivotal role to play in conversions.

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But what those tests won’t tell you is why one thing works better than the other? And more importantly, how can you make sure your probability of choosing a winner goes up in areas which aren’t on your A/B testing priority list.

This is why it is important to understand customers’ behavior based on landing page tests. Once you find the winning image type, repeat and review (until the time your conversion rates start falling again. Then it’s time to review and deviate from your usual strategy and try something new.)

So without further ado let’s see what your landing page images tell you and how you should learn from them.

The human connection

I will begin with a hypothetical example for a pet shelter’s campaign around their Pet Adoption Month Drive:

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Here I have used the same dog in both the images, but Image A has a human, too. If you have been reading up on blogs or studies on ecommerce conversion, it wouldn’t have escaped your notice that images with human faces work better than ones without.

But there’s more to it.

Smiling faces generate more conversions than ones that don’t. So, it’s not just about humans, but the “emotions” that humans in the images are expressing (and consequently, can be sensed by the reader).

Coming back to our hypothetical adopt-a-dog campaign, if we add a pleasant human smiling face to the mix, it might actually powerful enough to distract the viewer from the focus of the ad – the dog (since it isn’t dogs that are going to see it). Therefore, we can safely (okay, probably) conclude that image A, with the use of a smiling dog and the subtle hint of human accompaniment, will convert better than image B. (No hard feelings poochie, that’s just how people are!)

Now let’s look at an actual example which is somewhat similar to what I talked about above:

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When The Saint Jude Retreat House tested the efficacy of their PPC landing page to get more telephone inquiries, they found that Version A inspired 42% more visitors to call than Version B. Needless to say that Version A has human images, which made all the difference.

So what does that say about your customers or visitors?

  • They want to feel connected with your content — meaning, instead of raving about the merits of getting pets, share as many personal, emotional stories (about friendship, healing and compassion) as well as human images as possible, around people, pets and adoption.
  • Social media is without a doubt, the best and most effective platform to tell and share stories. And once you tell it right on social media, make sure you sell it right with a landing page on your site or app.

Short attentions spans and multivariate testing

Now let’s take an example of a makeup box subscription service, and see how image placement, text color and size of the CTA impact conversions.

Ben Ricketts of SimilarWeb claims that keeping your image in the center grabs visitors’ attention. Ben also asserts that along with your image (aka “hero shot”) your CTA button should stand out, too.

So here are two designs: One with a centered image and a bigger CTA than the other, while the font size and style of the headline and product benefits stay the same.

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Based on our theories, can we assume that A works better than B? The answer lies in multivariate testing.

Hyundai played with the positioning of images, text and CTA buttons, and as a result were able to increase their conversion rate by 62%. They performed a test with three unnoticeable — but important — changes:

  • Increased the size of the image and found that one large image worked better than a collection of thumbnails
  • Made the CTA buttons larger and more prominent
  • Divided the content into neat sections and optimized it some important keywords

Here are the before and after images and a nicely put-up case study on the same:

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Based on the results, one can safely assume that your images, CTA and buttons should stand out. But have you wondered why and what does this tell you about your customers’ behavior?

  • People (including your most loyal customers) don’t want to make even that negligible extra effort to process images and content left to right and then down, as opposed to just top to bottom.
  • If, after testing, you determine that more people convert in the variation that has larger images or CTAs, it means they aren’t interested in reading too much text. Your strategy should be more focused towards bite-sized content and attention-grabbing elements in your web layout.

Startup customer behavior

Another distinct behavior can be noticed in shoppers who favor local mom-and-pop stores and single-service-based sites. These customers are different from your average Amazon and eBay shoppers.

Startup websites started to evolve differently from regular ecommerce and company sites about five years ago, and users have since got used to their distinctive user interface.

You cannot slap together a generic, typical ecommerce storefront for the discerning customer. Many startups and single-product retailers these days use clean and minimalistic themes with full-screen landing page images. Some of them have their entire website in a single page:

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And yet others have just made the switch to ecommerce by monetizing their blog or content with the help of providers such as Shopify.

So, assuming uncluttered, flat layouts are a common practice for small business websites, what are the lessons you learn about their customers?

  • The fact that people are open to buying from a new place means they are curious and willing to take risks. This means you have ample room to experiment with everything from fonts to colors to images, something that most enterprise business marketers crave for. Lucky you!
  • You need to provide a unique look and feel – bold, quirky and ethereal – in short, anything that stands out. This article on UX for single page website tells you how to do that: use shorter chunks of text, alternative navigation design, stronger CTAs, simple (but not boring) copy and design, and blazing load speed. If you try to sell a traditional or cookie-cutter product on a templated website, your customers will leave you sooner than you can say “Click!”

However, as a startup, you always need to be on your toes, as your business will not always remain a small or a local business. (Hey, think positive!) You need to keep a watch on the changing tastes and growing demands of your customers, and decide when to pivot, change, or scale up to accommodate their behavior and preferences.

The page as a whole

Let’s jump down right to real-world examples.

First, an apparel retailer (Mrs. Ayyar’s favorite ecommerce category). Check out Farfetch’s “landing page” for their New Year sale — light, breezy, almost too beautiful — but will it convert?

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From what we learned above, this landing page could have been much better. For starters, just one of the models is smiling. Then, there is no single, unique or attractive CTA. Words like “sale” and “fraction of a price” are hardly noticeable. And though black buttons go well with the theme, they hardly inspire you to take action.

And look at the positioning of images and text: it’s almost similar to what we saw in the makeup subscription example. They have multiple images in the header and body text, and the text and CTA are by the side of the images in the body, which makes it difficult to focus.

All in all, you could say that this is not even a landing page, because it has menus, many options to choose from and even a full footer. I call it a landing page just because I arrived here from one of their emails (and they’re remarketing it to customers, too).

Having said that, this page might have worked for Farfetch solely on the basis of images/photography or an awesome product collection. If you have professional pictures or your product is too good to need any supplementary fluff, you can safely use Farfetch’s strategy.

Let’s move on to study the homepage (which doubles up as the landing page) of well-known A/B testing software, Visual Website Optimizer:

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A self-explanatory headline and a descriptive sub-headline combine to tell the user in one glance what the page is all about. Pricing information offered upfront along with a loud and clear “Free Trial” CTA button tells the user the product is not free, but there is a free trial version available.

VWO then proceeds to give a detailed demo video of how to use the product and how it can help marketers in improving their websites. In this context, the demo video is meant to educate and “wow” the users — and give them a fresh perspective or “reason to believe” In their product.

The homepage goes to great lengths to win the user’s trust because they:

  • Demonstrate they’re a global company by showcasing clients on a world map
  • Display in-depth testimonials from actual users with their names and photos
  • Show data from clients that turned around their business with VWO

Every single element used as a convincer is laid out aesthetically, without taking anything away from the main CTA.

The finishing touch is the fact that the page is mobile optimized and responsive.

Finally, I’d like to examine Marketo’s lead generation landing page that offers a free ebook download. Upon clicking on a link in an email sent by MarketingProfs, I see this page:

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The page includes people, is minimalistic and clean, the CTA button clearly stands out, and the form tries to qualify the visitor.

Is it too perfect or are we missing something here?

In my humble opinion, this landing page could have been much better. For starters, there is no “pull” in the text here, nothing that entices the visitor or convinces them of the benefits of reading the ebook. The (stock) image could have been much better especially since it’s coming from a well-known marketing automation company who wants businesses and marketers to download their ebook. Finally, since the link is part of an email campaign, why do you need my name and email again?

I doubt seasoned marketers are going to fall for the promise of a free ebook on social media or lead generation, considering the internet is awash with them. Which is probably why Marketo offers the same book without asking for personal details in their Resources section:

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Not only that, there’s a link to a more definitive guide that’s also available for “effort-free” download, i.e. you don’t have to fill up a form for that one either.

Strange. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Over to you

Sometimes less is more, and despite those perfect landing page prototypes floating around, I suggest you stick to your instinct. Go overboard if you feel like it or try bare minimum – after all, it is not about the latest consumer survey results or this year’s design trends, but what your customers want!

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