saboteur-image-1If you're serious about maximizing your investment in marketing, you're probably at least trying to optimize your landing page conversion rates. You're doing all the right things -- split testing, trying different copy, rearranging page elements, and testing again.

What if I told you all of those things, the conventional wisdom around conversion rate optimization, aren't enough?

We recently took a deep dive into thousands of advertiser accounts in an attempt to understand why some advertisers are outperforming the conversion rates of their peers by two or three times, or even more. What we discovered is that just as there are common traits in these top performing accounts, there are perfectly preventable missteps keeping average to lower performing advertisers from reaching their conversion potential.

See if you're committing one or more of these cardinal conversion sins and what you can do about it:

1) You Believe Average Conversion Rates Are Awesome

The first step toward meaningful change is admitting you have a problem. You may have heard conventional wisdom dictate that a good conversion rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2% to 5%; however, this is just about average. The top 10% of advertisers are actually achieving 11.45% conversion or greater.


In our analysis, we found that about 25% of all accounts have conversion rates under 1%. If you're starting there and achieve 3%, that's awesome! You've tripled your conversion rate. Even still, you're doing only slightly better than the average of 2.35%.

The top 25% of accounts are seeing conversion rates of 5.31% and the top 10% are fully five times the average. Which bucket would you rather be in?

2) Lack of -- or Misdirected -- Effort

Trying really hard in the wrong areas is just as fruitless as not trying at all. In our research, we found that the average SMB has just three landing pages. Typically, one landing page of those three takes 85% of all impressions and clicks.

It's far smarter to cut those two loser landing pages and focus on your top performer. Smarter still is to continue to test additional landing pages with different offers, flow, and messaging to find another winner. You'll need to test four landing page variations, on average, to find that 1-in-4 awesome, top 25% landing page. If you want to achieve a top 10% conversion rate, plan on testing 10.

3) Premature Testing Dilemma

Now you're testing and you're doing all the right things: changing the button placement and color, adjusting your white space and line spacing, tweaking your headline and body copy. What do you know, conversions increased!

Before you start your happy dance, consider this: These small landing page optimizations earn only small and temporary gains.


What you see above is a landing page split test, with the first version marked by the grey line and the second, newer version in blue. We made small adjustments to font size and color, spacing, etc. The new version shows a leap in conversions, so this must be the winner, right?

Unfortunately, the gains quickly dropped off and this is a pattern we've seen again and again. Why does this happen? We call it the Premature Testing Dilemma and often, it's caused by a low volume of tracked conversions to begin with. When you're only measuring 200 conversions, an additional four to six can cause what seems like a significant jump of 2-3%. Basically, these small improvements seem more impactful than they are simply because your sample size isn't large enough.

4) A Lot of Offers Suck -- Does Yours?

One of the key features we found in the top 10% performing landing pages was that their offers are incredibly creative and stand out in their respective industries. It's easy to fall into the trap of offering the same thing as everyone else -- in software, you offer a free trial, or in financial services, a free consultation. How are you supposed to stand out?

Get creative and change it up. We offered a free PPC software trial but our conversion rates told us it just wasn't a compelling offer. We added a form field on our landing page that simply asked prospects where they needed help and thanks to their feedback, decided to offer a free PPC health report from our AdWords Grader instead. In testing, this new offer was the clear winner. Start brainstorming new offers that are more compelling for your target market.

5) You're Placing Roadblocks on the Path to Conversion

This can be a huge conversion killer: You've attracted the right audience, you have your offer down, but you're making people jump through too many hoops to seal the deal. You need a better understanding of your prospects' path to conversion so you can remove as many potential roadblocks as possible.

NinjaTrader's landing page was a great example of changing the flow to enable easier conversion. In their first iteration, prospects had to register to download the software trial by providing their name, referrer, email, phone number, and more. It was too daunting for someone who had nothing invested in trying the software.


Their new landing page flow, shown above, allowed anyone to download the file. After they had downloaded and installed the trial software, only then were they asked to register it. Now, a good 10 or 15 minutes into the process, they were far more likely to do so.

Bringing It All Together: Get Better Conversion Rates by Getting Out of Your Own Way

Higher conversion rates don't happen by accident. The top performers are outpacing you by 2-5x and it's not because they have some secret formula, or just got lucky.

Conversion rates of 11% or higher, in the top 10% of all accounts, are perfectly achievable if you can let go of conventional wisdom and bad habits.

What are your worst landing page optimization habits? Share with your comments or questions below!

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Originally published Mar 31, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


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