A few months ago I did a live critique of Digital Marketer Lab member landing pages on our weekly Office Hours webinar training.
We scored the landing pages on 4 criteria…
Today, I’m going to critique the landing pages of some big brands with you in this article — but first let’s look at each of these important landing page elements in a bit more detail.
The offer is probably the most critical part of any landing page. No matter how well designed your landing page actually is, it won’t be able to rescue a bad offer.
Here are a few questions to consider when evaluating your offer:
Most landing pages have some kind of form on them — an order form, an opt-in form, etc.
Make sure your form actually makes sense and that people are willing to fill it out.
The length of your form should be correlated to the perceived value of the offer.
Lower value offers might only ask for an email address while higher value offers might ask for much more (name, company name, phone number, etc.)
Here are a few questions to consider when evaluating your form:
Face it, people have a trust issue online! It’s your job to ease your visitor’s anxiety and convince them to convert. In order to develop trust, you may need a few things:
This might be the least important of the four landing page pillars, but it is still important. Your page layout not only helps develop trust, but it is a representation of your brand and also dictates eye flow.
The latter is very important because you want to make sure people are looking in locations that actually matter. An unbalanced landing page without a visual hierarchy will confuse your visitors…
… and a confused visitor does not convert.
Here are a few things to ask when looking at your page’s visual hierarchy:
Notice the visual cue directing your eyes to the call to action on this page from Fiverr…
Okay, so designing a great landing page requires attention to detail, but if you successfully incorporate these four pillars you should be good to go.
Let’s take a look at some top brands and evaluate their landing pages.
I found some really great examples, but I also found some pages that…well…left something to be desired. I graded all of these based on the four landing page pillars and this rubric:
16-20 = A
11-15 = B
16 – 10 = C
11-15 = D
6 – 10 = F
≤5 = L
Okay, let’s grade some landing pages, shall we?
Shopify Landing Page Review:
Shopify has a pretty slick page and this is definitely a layout that should be emulated (with a few tweaks).
Here’s my grades for this page…
The offer is 100% clear ‘Create your ecommerce store with Shopify’. It meets a direct need for any company looking to sell products online. The offer is also consistent to the ad that was clicked to get to this page.
However, I would like to see more content focused around the simplicity since the ad’s content almost exclusively promoted that benefit.
The one low point on this offer is the 14-day trial. They aren’t accentuating that part of the offer, and I’m curious how well a 14-day trial converts.
When someone starts an online business, things come up. Sometimes 14-days might not be enough to truly evaluate the product. Ideally I’d love to see them test the trial offer and try to give it more visibility on the page.
I have never been a fan of the horizontal form, generally it breaks the user flow. We are conditioned to scroll down on websites, so making the most important part of your website counter intuitive from a usability standpoint can depress conversions.
Furthermore, the form doesn’t take center stage here. It is more or less the ‘belt’ of the page, which is generally reserved for trust indicators and testimonials.
I love that they said ‘Trusted by over 165,000 business world wide’ and then they reiterate that fact in the bullet copy. This is a huge selling point and they keep it top of mind. Shopify is also a well known brand, so keeping their logo front and center definitely helps build trust.
Where the page’s trust falls shorts are their icons below the video. I don’t know if these are ‘As seen in’ logos or ‘Used by’ logos. Since they are three publications, I assume that it is the former. This ambiguity could be cleared up with a simple line of text.
Visual Hierarchy: 3
Overall this page has a coloration issue, from a visual hierarchy perspective. Everything element looks as if they are all of equal importance, which clearly they are not. The form doesn’t stand out and the trial portion of the offer is marginalized.
The page does a great job highlighting the content, but again the content is only what dictates the value, the converting action must stand out too.
What is done really well is the ratio of links to converting action. There are 3 links on the page: the form, the header image, and the log in link. You want to keep your link to converting action ratio as close to 1-1 as possible.
Landing Page Grade: B
Square Landing Page Review:
Square went with the long form landing page, and that makes sense for their product. Let’s see how this page stacks up!
Similar to Shopify, this landing page has their offer front and center with a compelling headline ‘Start Selling Today’. Other than the placement of the headline and first action point, the offer isn’t all that compelling.
The ad talks about a free reader, but that is only mentioned once as link text for their product video. Needless to say there isn’t a whole lot of follow up from the ad offer to the landing page offer.
This page is all about the click through, whether it be via self segmentation or clicks on the primary call to action. I love the call to action on the button, using ‘Get’ has historically increased conversions on buttons and saying ‘started’ frames that this is the start of a process that might take a little bit of time.
When you click the ‘Get Started’ button you are brought to this form:
This is a clean form, but the two-column form may cause some confusion. On top of this issue, I am not sure just how many steps it will take to complete this process. The copy on the button tells me there are more steps, but I would like to know how many steps I need to take upfront.
Square is a well-known brand, so using their logo and brand reach they are able to increase trust immediately.
The only other trust indicator is at the bottom of the page where they say ‘Join the millions of businesses signed on with Square’
Visual Hierarchy: 4
The page has a wonderful layout that highlights the most important areas using visual queues. Since Square is multifaceted, the page utilizes self-segmentation to get visitors to the most relevant page.
Even though I like to keep the primary CTA to link ratio as close to 1:1 as possible, there are always some exceptions. As a click through landing page, the wide ratio here isn’t a major problem, because the content they promote moves prospects into more refined segments.
Landing Page Grade: B
Fiverr decided to push more content below the fold, but also has the primary call to action front and center on the page.
Similar to the last two examples, Fiverr keeps the main CTA front and center with a simple headline and sub headline. What’s unfortunate is I don’t know exactly what I’m getting when I give them my email address. I know I can get some kind of project done at an ‘Unbelievable’ value, but that’s about it.
Simply put, the page lacks specificity and value. What’s worse is that the offer in the advertisement isn’t reiterated on the page. Instead of telling us we can get jobs done starting at $5, we are met with ambiguity.
Steal this layout! If you have a one form field form, try this basic inline form. It has [almost] everything you need in a good form. It has a headline, sub headline, evident form field, and a clean CTA.
The only thing that’s missing is some kind of privacy reassurance – if they had included one, this form would be perfect.
Fiverr is clearly depending on their brand and their service count (made evident when they say ‘Millions of services’ and ‘Over 3 million services’).
Visual Hierarchy: 5
This page looks good. Fiverr reiterates the call to action for people who continue to scroll so the conversion action is always front and center.
I think what I loved the most was the use of face; the woman’s eyes are looking directly at the form. This type of visual queue prompts user to look at the form next and is a nice trick to try on your own pages.
Fair warning: if you are too egregious with your efforts visitors will see through this and it might have the opposite affect.
Landing Page Grade: C
Note: this is just the landing page grade – it is a slick landing page. The offer is just awful – a slick landing page will never fix a bad offer!
Landing Page Review:
ExtraSpace Storage takes a different approach on their landing page – they used geo targeting in their ad and on their landing page to provide a more personalized experience. This is not your standard ‘dedicated’ landing page, but the product page you’d expect to see while navigating the site.
For sites like ExtraSpace and most ecommerce sites, this tactic works well. Most dedicated pages are focused on a single product or offering – when you have a person searching for something at the category level, you need to provide them with categorical information.
Let’s get to the grades…
Free storage for a month? I’ll take it! Thankfully the ad and landing page had a congruent offer, well for the most part. I’m not seeing that 15% savings, so that could be a sticking point.
That said, you clearly know what you are getting – a mini storage pace in your city at an initial discount. Unlike the other pages we’ve looked at, this page has the actual price on the page for the respective units – so that is also a plus from the offer perspective.
This is a click through landing page, so let’s click and get a closer look at the form…
The form page leaves something to be desired. I like that they display your storage location – but how they do this feels awkward. This page also suffers from business porn, which is an unnecessary distraction on this page (the “If It Matters To You, It Matters To Us” quote and image.)
The form includes trust seals, makes it clear you don’t need your credit card, and requires minimal information. Similar to other critiques, the multi column form isn’t the best way to go from a usability standpoint – especially if there are multiple rows.
The page has a nice set of trust indicators, provides live chat, a phone number, and wants to help with space selection size. This is a trustworthy page.
They lost a point because of the form and lack of proof. The trust indicators on the form were just placed on the left hand side and could be strategically placed a little better. Also, ExtraSpace is banking on these seals getting the job done – sometimes a well placed testimonial about the service or facility will make all the difference.
Visual Hierarchy: 2
Since this is a category page and not a dedicated landing page, the visual hierarchy suffers. There are a lot of links, top bar navigation, and a ton of distractions.
That said, the page does a good job highlighting the call to action buttons – but the unique offer kind of blends in with the rest of the page.
Landing Page Grade: B
Note: this is not a traditional landing page – but this is a layout you’d expect to see when people search from a ‘category’ level.
Spoiler Alert: this is the best page on the list. Check out the breakdown to find out why.
The ad content is reflected right in the headline! This is the only page so far that has pulled this off. If you are running any PPC campaigns, make sure your ad content is congruent with your landing page content!
The offer is clear and enticing. Hootsuite uses a 30 day trial and has a clear CTA button. What’s better is that Hootsuite keeps the offer top of mind by repeating it in different sections as a user scrolls down.
This is a click through landing page, so the form is on the next page. The form is your standard order form and it looks great!…
This is the only form, so far, that is single column. The headline sets the time commitment, and the right hand content reassures the customer about their current purchase.
There is potential for sticker shock here, but Hootsuite handles this well. They prompt the visitor with a price in the subheadline and give different payment options in the form.
I’ve been a little too excited about this page, so let’s start with the negatives here. This checkout form doesn’t use any trust indicators at all. They have a text guarantee about the trial period, and that’s about it.
However, the landing page itself has a lot of social proof and leverages Hootsuite’s brand. By sharing the user count and prominent brands there is clear social proof at work on the page.
Visual Hierarchy: 5
I’m just going to say it – I hate ghost buttons. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how Hootsuite used the ghost button. Generally people use text links as the secondary call to action on a landing page, but the ghost button is an amazing way to show that it’s associated call to action is secondary to the main CTA.
The call to action stands out and use inclusive language. Even better, it is reiterated throughout the page, so visitors always have the chance to move to the next stage in the funnel.
The primary CTA to alternative link ratio is very good on this page. There are three instances of the primary CTA and 3 instances of alternative CTAs. That maintains the 1:1 ratio on the page!
Landing Page Grade: A
Landing Page Review:
Okay, so a lot of the pages I’ve shared were larger brands. The last two are smaller brands – do they have what it takes to pass the landing page inspection?
I think my biggest pet peeve is that the ad says this thing is free, but they don’t mention it ONCE on the page! That should be right in the headline to keep a consistent message from ad to landing page. All of the other content in the ad is shared in the bullets, so why omit the key conversion booster that is ‘free’
I know that this will help me build a resume, but I don’t know what it will cost or if these resume template are even relevant to me. The page just lacks that ‘value’ punch that could take it to the next level.
When they say ‘Create Your Resume’ they aren’t kidding. This goes directly into their resume building wizard.
At Constant Contact they found that getting people to start creating their email campaign first instead of doing the banal task of importing their user list first increased conversions and customer retention. This landing page moves you from the promotion right in to the thick of it without giving one piece of information up.
This was a pleasant surprise and if the team at ResumeHelp really wants to boost conversions, this feature shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Likely you need to create an account after you finish your resume, but by that point they’ve provided value in advance and people will just hand over that information.
This page utilizes some top tier brands to help build social proof. That’s really the best use of trust indicators on the page.
The testimonials below the fold might as well be anonymous, they just have a first name and the images clearly aren’t of the people making the testimonials. Visitors will see through testimonials that look fishy – so if you’re going to have a testimonial make sure you can attribute to someone real!
Visual Hierarchy: 2
The page, overall, looks good. The call to action stands out and there are multiple links that support the primary call to action. What’s odd is where people end up when they click the in-line links. It brings someone directly to the wizard, even though the text CTA is saying something completely different.
Landing Page Grade: D
Note: what really hurt this page was the CTAs that say one thing but lead to another, that there is no display of true value on the page, and that they don’t properly prime the user for the awesome experience of going through the wizard without giving up information.
Landing Page Review:
This page could use little TLC, but with a few tweaks this page could go from a zero to a hero.
Simply put, there isn’t an offer. What’s worse is the ad says that they will teach me to grow tomatoes, but there is no mention of my favorite vegetable (or fruit?!) on the page.
The form doesn’t particularly stand out, even though it is in the most standard form location on a landing page
On top of the form not standing out, there are just too many options. Facebook, Google, or Email? This creates choice paralysis and looks clunky. Pick a way to sign up and stick to it.
Visual Hierarchy: 1
The page is a bit of a mess – no section or piece of content is highlighted.
Landing Page Grade: L (Yes… this is worse than an F)
Give one of your landing pages a score of 1-5 on the following factors…
Then, add them up and give yourself a score.
16-20 = A
11-15 = B
16 – 10 = C
11-15 = D
6 – 10 = F
≤5 = L
… and let us know your score in the comments section below.
Justin Rondeau is the Director of Optimization at DigitalMarketer and runs all of the optimization efforts and split tests at DM and is active among our other properties. A top-rated domestic and international speaker, Rondeau has spent his entire career working on optimization campaigns and has helped train some of the leading optimization teams at Fortune 500 companies. Rondeau has run hundreds of tests for both B2B and eCommerce brands and has has analyzed 3,000+ tests across virtually every industry. Connect with Justin on Twitter.View all Posts by Justin Rondeau