Generate More Leads and Sales with Google Display Campaigns By Pulling These 6 Competitive Intelligence Levers

Turing leads into sales, CRM Concept

Contrary to what some might say…

Display advertising is far from dead.

Many successful marketers have built their entire company almost solely from display advertising. And no, these aren’t only big Procter & Gamble-style brands.

Many are small teams of scrappy direct-response marketers who have figured out a simple “shortcut” to making display traffic work.

This “shortcut” has nothing to do with any kind of marketing hocus-pocus.

In fact, it comes down to two simple words:

Competitive intelligence.

In other words: Look at what your competitors are doing on display.

Learn what’s working for them so you can leverage their results to spend smarter.

Although people might not think about it, ethically copying your fiercest competitors’ display advertising strategies might be one of your best business decisions.

As Pablo Picasso once said:

“Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

This mindset applies to the digital marketing scene.

Today, we’re going to teach you how to dissect any successful advertiser’s campaign so you can avoid the pitfalls of display advertising.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to improve your display campaigns by uncovering what already works for your competitors using six “levers.” When you optimize and apply each of these levers with insights your competitors have already discovered to your own campaigns, you’ll be well on your way to more sales with display advertising.

(Note: While Picasso did use the word “steal,” we urge you not to directly copy your competitors. That’s not the point and it can get you in trouble. However, there is nothing wrong with using what they’ve already found to work as inspiration to improve your display campaigns).

Let’s start with…

Lever #1: Traffic Sources & Ad Networks

There’s no chance of having a successful funnel if your traffic is of low quality. Luckily, this might be the easiest part of the entire competitive intelligence process.

There are literally hundreds of different ad networks, and the ad network selection generally follows the 80/20 rule: 80% of your traffic will come from 20% of the ad networks you test.

There are some basic recommendations for traffic sources, but you’ll always want to check the tags of an ad to see which network is serving it.

One way to do this is by looking at an ad’s script code.

For example, this DigitalMarketer ad on wikihow.com is being served by the Google Display Network (GDN) because it shows the “googleadservices.com” code when you view the source with Chrome’s “Inspect” tool:

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You can access the tool by right clicking on any ad and clicking the “Inspect” tab on the dropdown. Firefox has a similar tool.

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Another way to get an idea about which networks an advertiser is using is to download a free Chrome/Firefox plugin called Ghostery. Ghostery shows you all of the ad tags and trackers that are on a given page:

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By using Chrome’s “inspect” tool or Ghostery, you’ll likely see some of the most popular ad networks pop up. Some of those ad networks include the Google Display Network, Conversant, BingAds, and many others. These are all of the networks that serve the traditional banner ads that people think of when they hear the words “display advertising.”

The next type of network you’ll want to test out is a new take on an old concept:

Native Advertising

Native ads—or ads designed to blend in with organic content—are growing faster than ever.

Sources estimate that native ads will make up 74% of total US display ad revenue by 2021.

Many large advertisers have begun to allocate more of their ad budgets from traditional banner ads over to native ads.

Why?

Native ads work really well for advertisers in various markets…

  • Native works for direct-response companies.
  • Native works for health advertisers.
  • Native works for ecommerce brands.
  • Native works for big brands and software companies.
  • And native especially works for publishers who want to drive traffic and increase ad revenue (ad arbitrage).

In other words, you’ll want to get in on this quickly, because your competitors are likely already testing out Native.

Now, the “big three” native ad networks are Taboola, Outbrain, and Revcontent.

They are used by affiliate marketers, financial newsletters, cost-per-action advertisers, and personal finance advertisers:

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They are also used by health and fitness advertisers:

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Fashion brands:

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Large brands like Walmart:

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Health and beauty:

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And just about everyone else.

Most advertisers can find some use for native ads. You just need to locate the perfect network, have the right ad, and test a variety of landing pages (you’ll see which ones you should test later).

Other Networks

There are hundreds—if not thousands—of ad networks out there. Many of them are relatively unknown, except to your competitors. Although they might be small, they can provide a huge boost in sales and ROI once you know how to find and use them through competitive intelligence.

Honestly, choosing ad networks might be one of the easiest parts of running a display campaign. Most advertisers only choose a few to buy with. However, the next part is where many marketers get stuck and where competitive intelligence earns its place in your marketing arsenal.

Lever #2: Publishers/Placements

This is the step many people fail on.

They use a high-quality network, they design great ad creatives with compelling copy, they optimize their funnel, and they even get a few clicks… But their CTR might be so low that it’s impossible to get out of the red. Maybe they’re getting traffic, but it’s not converting.

So, they’ll often go back and change the ad copy and landing page copy.

This might work.

Anyone who has tested out display advertising has fallen victim to the publisher trap. You might get clicks, but no one seems to be buying. So, you take a look at the publisher/placement report (the sites your ads have been showing up on). For example, you may see that the network is showing your ads for an enterprise software product on a celebrity gossip site.

While gossip sites tend to get a lot of traffic, it’s unlikely that someone reading those articles will be in the right mindset to sign up for a seven-day trial for a high-end help desk software.

Placing your ads in front of the wrong audience might be the #1 reason why display campaigns fail. It doesn’t matter how awesome your ad creatives and sales funnel are; the wrong person seeing the wrong offer will never work.

The best way to find publishers that work for your market is to look for publishers where you see your competitors’ ads popping up constantly. If you see an ad on a publisher or set of publishers, then you know that this specific ad creative and market will work for you as well.

However, there are a couple of different types of publisher selections being used. Keeping these in mind when you’re scoping out different publishers is the key to your success.

Method #1: Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is when the content of your ad creative/offer is directly relatedto the publisher’s content.

For example: Imagine you sell a digital course that shows golfers how to improve their short game. If you want to contextually target someone, then you’d show your ads on sites related to golf.

Here’s an example of a contextually targeted ad from Revolution Golf:

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Another example is the classic “4 Foods to Never Eat” ad on a weight loss article:

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Contextual targeting is used by almost every single advertiser. However, there are two other targeting methods you’ll want to pay attention to.

Method #2: Demographic Targeting

Demographic targeting is placing ads on sites that are relevant to the demographics of your target audience. This could include your ideal customer’s age, sex, race, economic status, education level, etc.

Here’s a great example on Weight Watchers:

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Weight Watchers is not a clothing site. However, its audience is mostly female. Therefore, Zulily—an ecommerce brand that sells women’s clothing—is on target for the Weight Watcher’s audience due to its mainly female demographic.

Another classic example is alcohol ads that are shown during sporting events. Booze (in theory) has nothing to do with sports. However, beer and other alcohol beverages go together with the demographic of the main sports viewers, men.

Here’s an ad for Jim Beam on The Bleacher Report (a sports news website):

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Demographic targeting is a bit more complicated than simple contextual targeting.

However, let’s take things a step further.

Method #3: Psychographic Targeting

Psychographic targeting is targeting based on the values, attitudes, personality, or beliefs of the publisher’s audience. Psychographic and demographic targeting usually complement one another.

You’ll often see psychographically targeted ads on political websites. For example, Newsmax—a conservative news website—shows this ad from Mindhealthreport.com on a page about Muhammad Ali and the disease that killed him:

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First, the ad is targeted at older Americans, considering the age and appearance of the man in the creative. Polls show that older Americans tend to identify more often as Conservative than liberal. That hits demographic targeting.

However, Conservatives also tend to be more religious. That hits psychographic targeting. Thus, an ad and offer all about how prayer can help improve your health is right on target for this publisher’s audience.

You’ll also see a lot of ads for the survival/prepper market on conservative sites. Here’s an example for a “tactical flashlight” on the same publisher:

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The above example works because conservatives…

  •  Tend to be pro-gun
  • Make up a large part of the security/survival market

Choosing publishers can be tricky, even with competitive intelligence. However, you’ll see results A LOT faster when you use publishers that are similar to your competitors’. But, if you don’t have an ad creative that speaks to your target audience, then you’ll see lackluster results.

That brings us to our next step in the competitive intelligence process…

Lever #3: Ad Creatives

One of the hardest parts of display advertising is consistently coming up with good ideas for ad creatives.

There is, however, “inspiration” for you (or your graphic designer) every time you hop on the internet.

I put “inspiration” in quotes for one reason: Creativity is overrated when it comes to writing ads that work.

Most large advertisers rarely come up with amazing ideas out of thin air, and great ideas tend to come from competitive intelligence. But you need to be looking at the right ad creatives.

Ads to Look For

You’ll want to look for two types of ad creatives for your competitive intelligence:

  1. Ad creatives from direct competitors
  2. Ad creatives from direct-response advertisers in mass markets like finance, weight loss, and relationships

Competitors might be obvious, but why should you pay attention to direct-response companies in those three markets?

Mass markets, like weight loss, are the most competitive niches on the planet.

Weight loss alone is a $64 billion dollar industry. It’s extremely competitive because it can be so profitable, and there are many weight loss advertisers who rely heavily on display advertising to bring in new business.

The competitive nature of the industry means these advertisers are continuously innovating. They are always testing new ads, new landing pages, and new traffic sources. They must constantly test in order to stay one step ahead of the competition.

What does this mean?

These companies know what works on display in general. With a few changes, most direct-response strategies can be used for any market. You can find little snippets of copy that you can transfer to your market.

For example, here are three ads from three different markets:

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The markets are all different (mutual funds, website design, and weight loss), yet all of these ads are based on a similar concept: There are a certain number of things to avoid in order to see better results with whatever it is that your prospect desires.

Ads to Avoid

As we’ve said before, you want to make sure that you see an ad creative or landing page continually running in order to deem that it’s been successful for the advertiser.

However, there is one exception to this rule:

Big brands.

You want to avoid relying on concepts from big brand ads, especially when it comes to ad creatives. For example, take a look as this ad from Kroger:

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And this ad from Givology:

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These two ads were not designed with conversions in mind. There is no copy or hook that compels you to click the ad. Both ads just have the company logos.

Big brands run these ads because they almost always have an advertising budget that they must spend every year. ROI often takes a backseat to making sure that as many people see the ad as possible. They are just looking to burn through their budget, and that’s not the best idea for most advertisers.

The Most Important Factor: The Hook

Display ads are different than search ads.

They need more of a “hook.” They need to be a bit more provocative and snap the browsers out of their daze and get them to click the ad.

(Related: The Ad Grid: How to Build Traffic Campaigns that Convert Higher and Scale Faster)

Most of this is done by using emotionally compelling copy. While specific words are important, it’s the emotions behind the copy that make people click and, ultimately, buy.

Yes, the headline is important. Yes, the call-to-action is important. You should test them.

But it’s the emotions that are the most important thing to be on the lookout for when you’re analyzing new angles and hooks to use in your ads.

Here are a few examples.

Curiosity

Curiosity is why those “you won’t believe what happened next…” ads work so well. After all, we really want to know what happened next! If you make people curious enough, they won’t be able to help themselves. They’ll have to click. And if they’re on target, they’ll have to buy.

One amazing example is InstantCheckmate, the background check company. Almost all of their ad creatives run off of curiosity.

Here’s an example:

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People will be dead curious to wonder what exactly is online about them. It’s almost impossible to not click on that ad.

Direct-response advertisers are also pros at running ad creatives based on stories and curiosity.

Here’s a great ad from the Palm Beach Research Group:

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People see this and will be curious as to why social security “sucks” and how they can get an extra $4k a month. Curiosity is an amazingly powerful emotion.

Fear & Powerful Emotions

Many have heard the phrase, “people buy with emotions and reason with logic.”

Marketing and copywriting is a transference of feelings. Make people feel a certain way and you’ll get them to buy. It’s nearly impossible to make a sale without reaching some sort of emotional bond.

The key to doing this is stimulating emotions in your ad copy and on your landing page. There are many emotions you can use, but the most powerful and most used emotion is fear.

People will happily pay to be able to sleep at night.

LifeLock—software for identity-theft protection—uses fear to make sales during tax season:

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These ads were…

  • already addressing what was going on inside their prospects’ heads (that they need to pay their taxes)
  • scare people by showing how easy it is to have their identity stolen

Or this PSA ad that uses fear to convince people they need to wear their seatbelt:

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Fear obviously isn’t the only emotion you can use, but you’ll see many advertisers using it. Unfortunately, it’s easier to use negative emotions to get people in the mood to buy.

However, you’ll need to see which emotions are being used to drive sales in your market. Fear might not be the best for your business.

Numbers in Copy

As you saw before, there are multiple advertisers using the “4 mistakes” or “4 things to avoid” angle. Numbers in copy are extremely powerful.

Why?

A certain number of items is a “big idea” that’s easy to understand.

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For example, there are three foods that are harmful, and you shouldn’t eat them.

People get it.

“There are three foods that I shouldn’t eat.”

If you just said, “Harmful Foods To Avoid” without the number, it simply wouldn’t be as powerful.

We’ve also seen advertisers use specific numbers when it comes to discounts in ecommerce ads.

For example, Zulily almost always uses the number “70%”:

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We’ve also seen Wayfair use the 70% discount number in their text display ads:

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What is it about the number 70%?

I speculate that it’s high enough to make people want to click, but not so high as to make it unbelievable.

The point is, there’s a psychology behind the numbers in your market that you should be looking at and taking advantage of.

This just scratches the surface with some of the hooks and emotions you should look for when doing your competitive intelligence. However, before we go onto the next section, we can’t stop without showing you a few native ads.

Native

Native ads are a whole new ball game.

Since there is less going on, there is much more to “swipe” here. Plus, you’ll often see multiple native ads from different styles of advertisers in the same widget. Therefore, you’ll likely be able to use pieces of copy from multiple markets and test them out in your own ad.

Here are some of the commonalities to look for in native ads.

Viral sites and large publishers who wish to promote their content through native ads also have a very good idea of the type of content that drives clicks and shares on native. If you see the same types of content over and over again, then consider testing it.

Risqué Ads

As native networks begin to initiate a “cleanup” process, you’ll see fewer risqué ads. However, they’re still around and they still work.

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Some of these images are more risqué than others, but there is always at least some sexual undertone to the image itself, even when the market itself doesn’t warrant it. Here’s an example of an ad for an insurance advertiser that’s not risqué per se, but it is using a bit of sex appeal to drive clicks:

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Sex has sold since the beginning of time. It’s alive and well on native, and we don’t see it going anywhere any time soon.

Shocking and Weird

Society is full of voyeurs.

Many people can’t help but look at the gross, strange, or just plain horrible part of everyday life.

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Along those same lies, you’ll also see many health advertisers using pictures of strange foods and herbs in their ads. Here’s an example from a company that sells weight loss info products:

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Celebrities

We live in an entertainment-based society, and celebrities are huge in native advertising.

You’ll often see some of the most shared and advertised articles are about celebrities. Many celebrity ads are linked to listicles (an article written in the form of a list). These are mainly linked to viral content sites running ad arbitrage.

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However, viral content sites are not the only advertisers harnessing the power of celebrity.

There are advertisers who use celebrities in their ads and landing pages and then tie in a simple quote or piece of advice from the celebrity into the offer itself.

For example, you’ll see a lot of finance advertisers using Warren Buffett:

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Or this ad featuring a Shark Tank star that leads to a lead-generation advertorial for a mortgage refinancing offer:

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The point is many native advertisers “borrow” celebrity credibility. Each market has its own set of celebrities, even yours. Think about how you can tie them back into your offer.

(NOTE: Want to learn how to drive quality traffic from platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube and LinkedIn? Become a Certified Customer Acquisition Specialist and have a guaranteed traffic plan for acquiring new customers. Learn more now.)

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Lever #4: Landing Pages

This might just be the most important process of your competitive intelligence because so many display campaigns do everything right up until the prospect lands on your site.

(Related: [DOWNLOAD] The 15-Point Landing Page Audit)

In display campaigns (often called “cold traffic”), the landing page is even more important because you’ll usually only get one shot at getting someone to do what you want on your site. Therefore, a cold traffic landing page needs to be very compelling, since you often haven’t built up enough trust before they landed on the site.

Different markets with different products and price points will require different landing pages depending on the length of the sales cycle. For example, it’s going to be difficult to get someone to purchase enterprise software that costs $2,000 without a bit of communication back and forth.

You probably have an idea about what the sales cycle is like for your market, but again, it’s crucial to look at what other successful advertisers are using on their landing pages.

That being said, here are a few examples of landing pages that are currently working on display:

Opt-in

An opt-in page (also called “squeeze pages”) is a page where you offer to give something in return for someone’s email address. Lately, we’ve seen fewer opt-in pages on display.

Part of this has to do with specific ad networks placing more restrictions on the information that must be seen on an opt-in page. Another reason is that some marketers now say that the “money math” of sending traffic to opt-in pages just doesn’t work out.

However, there are markets where the opt-in page is still seen. These tend to be industries with expensive products and long buy cycles.

For example, you’ll often see SaaS and Enterprise software/hardware companies using opt-in pages by offering a white paper in exchange for an email address.

Here’s an example from SanDisk:

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As opposed to the opt-in, there is also the option to make the sale right there on the spot. There are multiple mediums that advertisers can test out, including, the long form sales letter.

The Long Form Sales Letter

This is the classic long form sales letter that leads the user down the “slippery slope” of compelling advertising copy. These are still prevalent on most sites but are not necessarily the norm on display.

Here’s an example for a thyroid supplement:

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The Video Sales Letter

The Video Sales Letter (or VSL) tends to be the modality of choice for most direct-response advertisers on display. Most of these videos are PowerPoint slides with a voiceover combined with live action footage and/or animated text and images.

Here’s an example from a direct-response advertiser selling a diabetes info product:

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You’ll also see other companies using videos but not in a traditional VSL format. The Dollar Shave Club popularized their form of funny/entertaining sales video. Other companies have followed suit.

Here’s the landing page for The Dollar Beard Club, who uses a similar approach as the Dollar Shave Club in a sales video for their beard creams:

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As I mentioned before, we live in an entertainment-based society. Many people simply prefer watching a video to reading. However, like everything, you’ll need to test various landing pages and discover what works for your market.

Advertorials

Advertorials have been the biggest change in landing pages to date. An advertorial is a landing page designed to look like an organic blog post, news story, or editorial story, but is actually a sales pitch in disguise.

There are two main types of advertorials.

The first is an advertorial designed to look like a news story. Many financial advertisers in the mortgage refinance and credit card markets use advertorials that look like this:

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Many advertisers often opt for using a different domain to host these advertorials. This is usually a domain with a name that sounds more like an online news site or a site that sounds more professional.

Another type of advertorial we’ve seen a lot of lately is what I call the “blogvertorial.” The blogvertorial is similar to an organic news story, blog post, or review, only the difference is the site appears to look more like a blog and it is almost always hosted on the advertiser’s main domain.

One great example is The Dollar Shave Club (not to be confused with the Dollar Beard Club).

It sends a lot of traffic to these blogvertorial review pages that include a call-to-action at the bottom:

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HelloFresh also uses blogvertorials to promote its food delivery service:

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Common Ecommerce Landing Pages

Many of the pages you’ve seen can also work if you’re running an ecommerce business (especially advertorials and blogvertorials). However, one landing page that’s used by many of the most successful ecommerce business is the gated landing page.

The gated landing page requires visitors to enter their email address before they are allowed to browse the products. The opt-in box is often overlaid over a few different items, which acts as a bit of a teaser.

Zulily is a massive ecommerce advertiser that relies heavily on the gated landing page:

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You’ll see that Wayfair (another multi-million-dollar spender on display) also uses gated landing pages:

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Many advertisers might be skeptical about using this type of page, or a few of the pages in this post. These pages might seem annoying to visitors.

However, when multiple successful companies are using the same type of marketing funnel (not just limited to landing pages), you can be pretty sure it’s working.

This is the power of competitive intelligence. You’re no longer left asking, “does this really work?”

My last two tips for landing pages are the following:

  • Test landing pages that you see are working for your market or ancillary markets.
  • Test landing pages that you see working for other advertisers that your competitors might not be using.

For example, perhaps none of your competitors are using advertorials. However, since you know they are working for other competitive industries, they might work for yours as well. This could give you a leg up on competitors since you’d be one of the first to use a landing page style that your target audience is not used to seeing but might respond to.

Lever #5: Checkout

Here’s a simpler, albeit important, lever in the process. You don’t want to do all that work by paying for a visitor and customer and have them leave right before buying (which is when many of them will leave).

Therefore, you’ll want to take a look at some of your most successful competitors’ and advertisers’ checkout pages across various markets.

Start with the very basics.

What sorts of conversion elements are on the page? Are there testimonials? Seals? Guarantees? How is it laid out? What is the flow of the checkout?

Are there any payment plans? If so, what are they?

Next is an even more important question to answer: What happens after the user finally decides to buy?

Upsells and Downsells

More often than not, you won’t make a profit off of your front-end offer. Many advertisers don’t. They make a profit off of upsells, downsells, and continuity plans. Therefore, it makes sense to see what other advertisers are doing to increase their average customer value.

For example, here are the upsells for one of the biggest fitness products over the past couple of years, Old School New Body:

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If I was going to sell a similar fitness product to the same target market, I would probably create upsells that were similar to the ones that this advertiser used. While you should never copy directly, using similar products made in the style of your product can only help you increase your average customer value on the backend.

One of the best investments that you can make is to purchase all of the successful products in your market. You’ll be able to go through the sales funnel yourself as if you were a customer. You can take screenshots of every single step of the process, and use this form of competitive intelligence when you’re designing your sales funnel backend.

But the backend competitive intelligence doesn’t end there.

Lever #6: Email Follow Up

Since the cost-of-acquisition on display can be expensive, you’ll need to keep monetizing your current customers even after they’ve run through your sales funnel.

What’s the best way to do this?

Old school email.

Email is an essential tool in every single display campaign. All of the top marketers use email constantly to continue to monetize their current customer base. Your best future customers are the ones who have already bought.

(Related: The Ultimate Guide To eCommerce Email Marketing (Online Retailers, This One’s For You…))

You’ll see the advertiser from the previous section on upsells (Old School New Body) also consistently emails you even after you’ve bought the product:

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These emails include new products, affiliate offers, and tips/tricks to build goodwill. They never stop monetizing their current customers, which is probably why the product is so successful.

Sign up for all the email lists in your industry. All of your competitors. Buy their products. Sign up for the email lists of all of the major direct-response companies (e.g. Agora). See what they do, and then implement their strategies into your own funnel.

Although they may never admit it, almost all of the most successful companies perform some form of competitive intelligence. It truly is the quickest way to take your company from the red to the black. It takes a bit of extra time, but you’ll find the increase in ROI is worth it.

(NOTE: Want to learn how to drive quality traffic from platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube and LinkedIn? Become a Certified Customer Acquisition Specialist and have a guaranteed traffic plan for acquiring new customers. Learn more now.)

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Bradley Nickel

About Bradley Nickel

Bradley Nickel is the Head Copywriter & Content Marketing Manager of Adbeat, an advertising intelligence tool that will help you uncover your competitor’s advertising strategy at a glance on 100,000+ websites – view competitors’ winning ad copy, best website placements, and landing pages. Learn more about digital media strategy on the Adbeat blog.

View all Posts by Bradley Nickel

[DOWNLOAD] The 15-Point Landing Page Audit

Want DigitalMarketer’s proven 8-Step Optimization Process for turning existing traffic into more leads and more sales? Get our Optimization & Testing Specialist training and certification. Learn more now.

November 30,2016 by
Justin Rondeau

Over a year ago I did a live critique of DigitalMarketer Lab member landing pages on our weekly Office Hours webinar training. During that Office Hours segment, I identified four main landing page criteria that every landing page must consider.

Today I’m expanding that list with a 15-Point Audit across those 4 categories that will tell you if your landing page stacks up.

(NOTE: You’ll get a downloadable version of the 15-Point Landing Page Audit at the end of this article.)

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The Landing Page Audit worksheet has five components (labeled above):

  1. Grading Elements –  Evaluating elements like the headline, offer, trust, visuals, etc..
  2. Grading Criteria – Grade these elements based on specific criteria.
  3. Element Scores – Score each element separately on a scale from Exceptional to Unsatisfactory.
  4. Final Score – Receive an overall score out of 100.
  5. Action Items – Take action to improve the elements that don’t receive a perfect score.

With all of the Landing Page editors or themes you can use out there, it is REALLY easy to create a kind of Frankenstein’s monster without even knowing it — this will give you the process you need to avoid doing that entirely.

The Components of the Landing Page Audit

As you start grading your pages (or other people’s pages) you’ll go from the abstract feeling of “Man, that page pops” to knowing exactly WHY it “pops” (sorry, designer friends, I know you hate that term).

The four landing page categories are:

  • Offer
  • Form
  • Trust
  • Visual Hierarchy

There are 15 elements to a landing page audit within those categories:

  1. Clarity
  2. Scent
  3. Relevance
  4. Visualization
  5. Visible Form
  6. Appropriate Number of Fields
  7. Compelling Form Headline
  8. Visible & Noticeable CTA
  9. Professional Design
  10. Relevant Trust Icons
  11. Authentic Testimonials
  12. Clear Privacy Policies
  13. Using Visual Queues to Highlight Key Areas
  14. Page Design Fits a Singular Theme
  15. Supporting Imagery

Who Should Use This Landing Page Audit?

In this post, you’ll learn to evaluate and improve each of these elements. Then, you’ll get access to our Landing Page Audit spreadsheet.

Here’s how to put this audit to work:

  • Email Marketers – You should definitely direct your traffic to a solid landing page, and the better the landing page the better your email campaign J
  • All PPC Marketers – We all know how important a well-crafted landing page is for our PPC campaigns. Use this audit to squeeze even more revenue!
  • Business Owners and Managers– Landing pages are easier to create than ever and it’s likely yours could use a tweak. See how your campaigns stack up or evaluate how your team creates their landing pages!
  • Agency Owners and Freelancers– Audit the landing pages of your clients so you can help them improve their campaign conversion rates.

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.

Landing Page Audit Category 1: Offer

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 mean a darn thing if you have a crappy offer.

When scoring your offer, you need to pay attention to four main points:

  • Clarity
  • Scent
  • Relevance
  • Visualization

landing-page-audit-img2

All four of these points work together. You need to have a clear offer, meet your user’s expectations (scent/relevance), and  attractively depict the offer and benefits.

You’ll find that you want your offer to be as well rounded as possible, so if you see a dip in the numbers here, definitely start working here.

Landing Page Audit Category 2: Form/CTA

Most landing pages have some kind of form on them unless they are a clickthrough landing page that leads directly to some kind of checkout.

If your landing page is the latter, then make sure that CTA button is noticeable and that your cart page actually makes sense.

For pages with forms, you want to make sure your form is understandable and that people are willing to fill it out. The length of your form is contingent upon the offer’s perceived value.

If there is low value, then you can only ask for an email. If there is high value, you can start asking for more information.

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This section break down is pretty straightforward.

First, if a visitor can’t see the form then they aren’t going to fill it in. That’s why this is the first “all or nothing” score. They either see it or they don’t.

Earlier I explained how important it is to have an appropriate number of form fields for the perceived value of the offer. A form with a lot of fields should have a high-perceived value.

If people are going to give up their information, they need a good reason to do so.

It’s also important to use a solid form headline! Don’t just reiterate something said on the page already or use a generic “Fill in this form” headline.

Try to draw their attention and speak to the desired end result.

Related: Use this Headline Swipe File to get more clicks

If you have a form or just a simple CTA, you need to make sure the copy is clear and actionable, and that the CTA stands out. Lyft does an amazing job with this (while still using their brand colors).

I can’t help but look at the button.

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Landing Page Audit Category 3: Trust

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Face it, people have trust issues online!

It’s your job to ease your visitor’s anxiety and convince them to convert. In order to develop trust, you are going to need a few things:

  • A relevant trust icon
  • Non-anonymous testimonials
  • Clear privacy policies
  • Relevant guarantees
  • Return policies (if applicable)

I didn’t include “Professional Design” in the list here because I wanted to talk about it at length.

At DigitalMarketer, we’ve gone on record saying “What is beautiful doesn’t always convert,” and while that is true it is still important to put effort into your design because people will judge your credibility based on the design.

Let’s play a game!

Which mode of transportation would you take to Hogwarts? (Let’s assume there is a speed charm on the van so either mode of transportation will get you there at the same time.)

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Now if you are a consumer online and you were choosing to buy the same product from two different sites where the design differed in the same way, who would you buy from (assuming they have the same product and messaging remains consistent)?

…yeah, I thought so.

Landing Page Audit Category 4: Visual Hierarchy

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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 that lacks any 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:

  • Does the page design maintain the “ad scent”?
  • Are your images competing with your call to action?
  • Is your most important content being accentuated by the page layout via location, coloration, and visual cues?

Okay, so designing a great landing page requires a lot of attention to detail, but if you successfully incorporate these four pillars you should be good to go.

Editors note – the pages by Shopify, Square, Fiverr, ExtraSpace Storage, Hootsuite, & ResumeHelp were all critiqued based off of the rubric below. The next batch following these examples will use the 15-point methodology.

Just for fun, I decided to 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 take a look!

Shopify

Ad

Ad to Landing Page for Shopify

Landing Page

Shopify Landing Page

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 are my grades for this page…

Offer: 4

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.

Form: 2

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.

Trust: 3

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

Ad

Ad to Landing Page for Square

Landing Page

Square Landing Page

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!

Offer: 2

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.

Form: 3

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:

Square Landing page

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.

Trust: 2

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

Ad

Ad Example to a Landing Page

Landing Page

Fiverr Landing Page

Fiverr Landing Page Review

Fiverr decided to push more content below the fold but also has the primary call to action front and center on the page.

Offer: 0

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.

Form: 4

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.

Trust: 1

There’s really no trust indicators at all on this page. What’s worse is there is no mention of a privacy policy when you enter your information.

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!

ExtraSpace Storage

Ad

AdWords Ad to a Landing Page

Landing Page

Extra Space Storage Landing Page

ExtraSpace 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…

Offer: 4

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.

Form: 2

This is a click through landing page, so let’s click and get a closer look at the form…

Order Form on a Landing Page

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.

Trust: 4

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.

Hootsuite

Ad

AdWords ad for Hootsuite's Landing Page

Landing Page 

Hootsuite Landing Page

Hootsuite Landing Page Review

Spoiler Alert: this is the best page on the list. Check out the breakdown to find out why.

Offer: 5

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.

Form: 5

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!…

Hootsuite Form Page

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.

Trust: 4

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.

landing-page-ghost-button

The CTA 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

ResumeHelp

Ad

Resume Builder's Landing Page

Landing Page

Resume Help Landing Page

ResumeHelp 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?

Offer: 1

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 templates are even relevant to me. The page just lacks that “value” punch that could take it to the next level.

Form: 5

When they say “Create Your Resume” they aren’t kidding. This goes directly into their resume building wizard.

ResumeHelp Form Page

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.

Trust: 2

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

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.

July 2016 Critiques

Kitchen Gardeners Interactive

Ad

KGI AdWords Ad

Landing Page

Kitchen Gardeners Landing Page

Kitchen Gardeners Interactive Landing Page Review

This page could use little TLC, but with a few tweaks, this page could go from a zero to a hero.

Here’s how…

Offer: 0

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.

Form: 0

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.

Trust: 1

There are only two real instances of trust building on the page the mention of 35k gardeners and the privacy policy under the social media buttons.

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)

(NOTE: Want DigitalMarketer’s proven 8-Step Optimization Process for turning existing traffic into more leads and more sales? Get our Optimization & Testing Specialist training and certification. Learn more now.)

optimization-email-banner-2

… And here we are! As you’ve clearly noticed, the last few examples were based off of an old evaluation system. So I’m going to evaluate 3 more pages based off of the 15-point audit I described above! In fact, both Molly Pittman & I evaluated these on Facebook Live (you can watch the video below).

Don’t worry; I’ll do a written critique for each page, too! But first, let’s lay down some ground rules…

In order to stay consistent, I will give these an A through L score, here’s how that breaks down:

92 – 100 = A

83 – 91 = B

74 – 82 = C

65-73 = D

40 – 64 = F

25 – 49 = L

Let’s see how these landing pages stack up against the audit…

Trulia

Landing Page

landing-page-audit-img26

Trulia Landing Page Review

Offer: 21.8 Points

The offer on this page is about as clear as it gets. The desired end result of the visitor is to find out what their home is worth, and this uses very direct copy to set expectations and activate the audience.

Since we aren’t looking at referring ads here, I automatically give this a 4 and will for all other pages (they shouldn’t be penalized because we don’t have ad creative to compare the pages to).

Trulia lost some points on relevance.

I understand that they are leveraging their brand recognition and the copy to show the visitor that the site is about buying/selling property. However, the end result isn’t depicted and the background image is more or less a generic placeholder.

I touched upon the visualization a bit when I discussed relevance, but there is no visualization of the product or service on the page.

Again, this is likely due to brand recognition since people equate Trulia with real estate.

Form: 26.6

This entire page is the start to their form, so it’s easy to see why they got a 4 for visualization.

On the surface, it looks like they are severely under utilizing form fields when compared to the value they are providing. However, when you click through you are brought to a longer form that is an appropriate length for the perceived value.

landing-page-audit-img29

I raved about the headline on the page already when I discussed the offer and since this page is just one big form my praise stands.

The CTA is one of the main focal points of the page. It stands out with its bold colors and doesn’t use generic copy which better primes the prospect to click.

Trust: 11.6

This is a really slick design, despite it being so minimalistic.

Trulia used the mega image background to create a better overall aesthetic (a blank white page with a form on it wouldn’t have the same success).

Since all three of these pages are from major brands you’ll notice that they don’t spend a lot of time trying to build trust…the weight of their brand does that for them. Based on my rubric they will lose points here, but this score is subsidized by the name recognition.

On this page, they didn’t tell you what they’d do with your information, why you should work with Trulia over Redfin (or other competition), or even share testimonials from happy Trulia users. They went minimalistic on the design and hoped their branding would take care of the rest.

Since this has been their control (with some slight variations in form fields numbers) since 2014, it’s safe to say they have seen success from this page.

Visual Hierarchy: 18.3

In terms of visuals, Trulia did a good job working around a singular theme and hyper-focusing on the key sections of the page. The fact that they didn’t use any other supporting imagery cost them a point, but overall the visuals are focused and work toward the page goals.

Landing Page Grade: C – 78

This is a very simple landing page that relied heavily on brand recognition. When you have simple pages like this, you don’t have time to inform or persuade, which could hurt their overall conversions if people are deciding to sell their property on Trulia or their competition.

Microsoft

Landing Page

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Microsoft Landing Page Review

Offer: 13.3

First and foremost, I want to say that an ebook is a terrible way to capture leads. Books sound time-consuming and aren’t immediately useful/valuable. Busy professionals likely don’t have a time to go through that book and it is just adding more to their ‘to-do’ list!

Further, the offer isn’t all that clear! It’s an ebook, but I’m only going to have 7 takeaways? The 7 takeaways sounds more like a blog post, not an ebook! So the offer is muddled and is also not attractive.

I might be overly critical because I’m not their target audience, but there has to be a better way to articulate this offer and make it seem immediately applicable and thus more relevant to the consumer’s needs.

Form: 11.6

This form cuts me deep (if you watch the Facebook Live video…watch to see how I react to this one!).

Yes, the form is visible but that’s really the only thing it has going for it! They are asking for WAY too much information for a convoluted offer. They are asking for 6 pieces of information and one of these pieces is a high friction form field: the phone number.

Furthermore, they shouldn’t have to ask for the country if they have the phone number, a country code can take care of that for you! If you can gather information from things like GEO-IP or have form fields that can answer the question: remove the extraneous field!

The CTA stands out, but it is in an awkward position.

Trust: 10

Just like Trulia’s page, this page is banking on its brand authority. However, since they are asking for some high friction fields, the prospect might be a little curious as to what they are going to do with that information!

Visual Hierarchy: 11.6

This is the perfect example of a “Frankenpage.” I realize that the team is likely stuck with a particular approved template and have to make due with that. I understand that, but this page has no logical flow to it.

Key copy areas are just identical headlines, it’s difficult to read the copy, and they don’t use any visual depictions of the deliverable (what the heck is that background image?!)

Landing Page Grade: L – 47

Sorry to say, but Microsoft had the worst page of this lot.

Remember that landing pages need to be more than just a storage place for headlines and filler copy, they need to follow a central theme that inspires the visitor to take an action through clear offers, clever persuasion (copy and visual), solid usability and reduced friction.

Lyft

Landing Page

landing-page-audit-img37

Lyft Landing Page Review

Offer: 26.6

Lyft did a great job depicting their offer. They also used a secondary form to let visitors who weren’t sure if they wanted to drive for them see what they could potentially make each week.

This is a great way to get an “on the fence” visitor to become an active page user and interested in making the main conversion action.

They clearly speak to a desired end result: “Make 35/Hour” and use supporting content to drive this offer home.

Form: 25

This form really stands out on the page. I can’t help but look at this thing!

They are definitely asking for an appropriate number of form fields. What’s funny is they ask for the same number of form fields as Microsoft and they are actually offering to PAY the person who fills out the form!

Further down the page, they reiterate their call to action. This is a great practice because you don’t want your visitor to go looking for the CTA when they are finally convinced to convert.

Trust: 20

Lyft did rely on their brand, but they also used below the fold content to educate and convince the visitor. There is some opportunity for Lyft to improve the page. They could have testimonials from drivers to further persuade the visitor.

Visual Hierarchy: 20

This page just looks good and follows a very logical flow and each content section compliments it’s neighboring sections. There is a natural anchoring of the main content area above the fold (used with bright coloration).

Landing Page Grade: A – 92

This was the best page of the three I looked at today, so great work, Lyft!

I know this page is flashier than most, but I want to make it clear it isn’t the flashy page that always wins. They used solid design tactics but it was born out of solid page structure.

November 2016 Critiques

It’s time for another round of landing page critiques! I’ve picked some pretty cool pages that, on review, fell short and others that knocked landing page design and messaging out of the park.

Here’s what you’ll see:

  • An Electronic Health Record product offer page from AthenaHealth
  • A restaurant management app from OpenTable
  • A smart thermostat product landing page for Control4
  • An Agency Partner sign-up page from Unbounce

Okay, let’s do it!

Athena Health

Landing Page

landing-page-audit-update-img1

Athena Health Landing Page Review

Offer: 22

The offer on this page is a little convoluted, it took me a while to figure out that they were actually selling software! The headline uses cute language and speaks to a pain point, but it doesn’t edify the audience.

I may not be the target market, but they are making a major assumption that people are familiar with HER technology (which as I Google it most doctors will be). However, you want to avoid jargon on the page as much as possible and they simply don’t do that.

After the somewhat obscure headline, you get a few statistics and some supporting imagery. There is nothing on this page that would convince me to take either of the two actions they ask me to take.

Speaking of actions: there are too many of them! But I’ll cover that next.

Form/CTA: 10

This page uses the 2-Step method where you click a button and are pushed to this opt-in form

landing-page-audit-update-img4

Before we talk about the form, let’s discuss the major problem with the CTAs on this page and I’ll give you a second to guess exactly what it is…

There are two competing CTAs! Do you want me to watch a 3-minute video or do you want me to get started? Make a decision and stick to it!

Okay, now let’s talk about the form. Why do I need to give you seven fields worth of information in order to watch your promotional video? If I’ll truly want to see more after three minutes, let me see the damn video!

Trust: 15

Athena Health is a well enough known company where they can rely on their branding to instill trust in the visitor, and when you have a well-known brand you don’t have to rely on trust seals as much as “the little guy (or gal).”

Despite them missing some key trust indicators it will likely not hurt the page.

Visual Hierarchy: 23

The page looks just fine; it’s on brand, simplistic, and focused.

Landing Page Grade: D – 67

Overall, what hurt this landing page was the depiction of the offer and the form. Athena has enough brand recognition and budget to create a well trusted and beautifully designed page.

However, if they don’t clean up their jargon and provide more value before they ask for a metric butt ton of information, then this page will remain subpar.

Open Table

Landing Page

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Open Table Landing Page Review

Offer: 23

All in all the offer is pretty clear and compelling…except for the headline.

The headline tells me nothing about the service and relies on the sub-headline to do all the work. This is the most common problem on any landing page! Your headline is one of the most read pieces of copy on your page; make sure it isn’t vague.

Form/CTA: 10

This page really struggled in two areas and this is one of them.

The form is asking for too much information without making any promises. The headline doesn’t tell me what to expect or why you need all of my information.

It is 100% acceptable to ask for detailed information, but that is only acceptable if you are providing enough value to justify it! Just set some expectations and tell me what I’ll receive, when I’ll receive it, and what the heck you’re doing with my information.

(Side note: I already have a family, I don’t want to join yours so stop asking.)

Trust: 12

Here is the second area of struggle on the page.

Like Athena, OpenTable is 100% relying on their brand to build trust. That’s not a good thing! Sure the brand is big, but smaller restaurants may be hesitant to work with them because they are used to their “old ways.”

I’ve met plenty of restaurant owners who avoided Yelp, OpenTable, and other newfangled tech like the plague. This page would never reach a key demographic, the small business owner, if they don’t attempt to build any trust.

Visual Hierarchy: 20

This page looks great. Like really great. The use of imagery, coloration, and the reliance on the long form scroll is a solid move to get people to interact with the page and consume the content.

Landing Page Grade: D – 65

This page is all beauty and no substance! Opentable was looking to rely on their design and brand to entice restaurant owners to sign up for…something…without attempting to build trust.

They need to hone in on the offer, set expectations, and use testimonials and other trust factors to convince people to take an action.

Control4

Landing Page

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Control4 Landing Page Review

Offer: 25

It took a total of three words to completely describe what this product does, great work. The short headline with the supportive background video was a great way to turn visitors into active participants and really see the benefit of the product immediately.

As you scroll further down the page you get more information about what differentiates the product, some key benefits, and another video showcasing the features.

Form/CTA: 25

The form tells you exactly what you’re getting with the headline and actually has an appropriate number of form fields for a buyer’s guide. In this screenshot, it looks like the CTA isn’t standing out, but that’s because it doesn’t “pop” until you fill out all of the form fields, which is SMART.

The form stands out enough to draw attention and the button stands out enough when it’s ready to be clicked, great work!

Trust: 15

This is the third example in this batch that really wavered on trust!

They do provide a privacy policy link, but they don’t try to show any testimonials, clients, or anything. Unlike the previous two brands, this could actually hurt this product since they aren’t an “everyday” brand.

Visual Hierarchy: 20

This page looks good and follows a natural flow. However, I’m a little worried about the false bottom above the fold, but the video might be enough to get people to convert. That said, the rest of the page is easy on the eyes and makes sense.

Landing Page Grade: B – 85

Overall, this page is a solid landing page that should perform well.

If they up the trust factor with more testimonials and social proof, they’d have a real winner!

Unbounce

Landing Page

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Unbounce Landing Page Review

Offer: 27

This page shined in the offer department. The headline explains clearly what the page is about and what’s in it for the visitor. The subsequent content explained more about the program, the perks, the requirements, and further explained with a detailed FAQ section.

Form/CTA: 22

So, this one would have been a perfect score had the form been seen immediately or there was a CTA button instead of that downward arrow. However, to save myself from some trouble if Oli Gardner sees this I have an adjusted score for this!

Oli has presented plenty of times that forms in “Zone 2” or the zone below the fold don’t necessarily hurt conversion rates. However, the page does use visual queues to get the visitor to scroll down the page where they will see this massive form.

When it comes to form size, the length makes total sense. This is an attractive offer for an agency who wants to partner up with Unbounce resulting in high intent. That level of intent makes the offer consistent with the number of fields.

Trust: 13

Unbounce is banking on their brand to carry this page for this [very] specific target market. The only people who would be interested in this page are marketing agencies who have a solid customer base and use Unbounce.

Since this is such a niche market, the power of the Unbounce brand doesn’t really require extraneous trust seals on the page…in fact, it might clutter the page up and cause further confusion.

Visual Hierarchy:  20

This is a great looking page that entices you to scroll and learn more without overtly hitting you over the head with what to do next. I’d also argue that this page had the best statement of value of the bunch.

Landing Page Grade: B – 82 (Adjusted Score for context: A – 97)

Unbounce is a landing page creation tool, if they had bad looking landing pages then they’d likely be out of business. As always, this is a great page made by the team and is the type of landing page any marketer could learn from.

It is much easier to be a critic than a practitioner, so please take these tips and actually implement them on your own page rather than just praising the beautiful pages and pointing and laughing at the ugly pages.

The 15-page audit is a great starting point for your own page evaluation…so, get started so your page doesn’t end up on with a L score on my next list.

Click here to download the 15-Point Landing Page Audit

Happy Optimizing!

(NOTE: Want DigitalMarketer’s proven 8-Step Optimization Process for turning existing traffic into more leads and more sales? Get our Optimization & Testing Specialist training and certification. Learn more now.)

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