Episode 4: Top Tips For Creating a Landing Page That Converts w/ Nick from Shogun

You'll learn:

  • The role of landing pages in a Shopify Store
  • Why page design is key to everything your business does
  • Why testing and analysis are key for creating successful websites
  • How can you make it worthwhile for your customers to do the things you want them to do on site?

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Transcript

Miz Trujillo

Hello, we're back with another episode of Make Merchants Money! Episode 4, really getting into the swing of things now! We have some really great guests lined up for future shows, we're covering some really useful topics and it's really exciting. And today we're talking about landing pages. Top tips for creating a landing page that converts and to help us with this discussion we have two wonderful guests. First of all, we have Nick, co-founder of the Shopify and Big Commerce app Shogun. Thanks for being on the show Nick, how are you?

Nick Raushenbush

I'm doing great. Very glad to be joining you.

Miz Trujillo

Excellent. And we also have Gary on the show, owner of Underwaterpistol. Thanks so much for joining us Gary.

Gary Carruthers

Thanks for having me. Yeah, looking forward to it.

Miz Trujillo

It was only a matter of time before we had you as a guest on the show. So we're talking about landing pages, specifically landing pages that convert and it's a big; important, topic which is constantly on sellers minds. 22% of businesses are satisfied with their current conversion rate, that is a really low percentage which means 88% of people are dissatisfied, 88% of people should be interested in this conversation we're going to be having, landing pages that convert. And it's really great to be covering this subject with with you today Nick, because that's exactly what Shogun specializes in right? Could you maybe tell us a bit about the the services Shogun provides?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah, absolutely. So we are a software company. Shogun is a super powerful page builder that has a seamless integration into Shopify and Big Commerce ecommerce platforms. And so this allows folks regardless of whether they know how to code or not to be able to build beautiful landing pages, blog pages, product pages, collection pages, and we're actually building some conversion tools into the software right now releasing analytics within, well analytics is actually already released for for some of our users and with with A/B testing coming just at the start of next month. So we're conversion minded software with page building capability.

Miz Trujillo

You've mentioned quite a few things that hopefully we'll be covering and talking about during the episode, including testing and obviously, the conversion rates, which are very important and key to the conversation.

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah.

Miz Trujillo

But I think for the episode to be as useful as possible for our listeners, I guess it'd be good to start with with the basics. So maybe, Gary, if you'd like to start us off. What is a landing page? If people are confusing them with a homepage, are they wrong? Why are these so important?

Gary Carruthers

Yeah, landing pages are pages that are optimised to get a user to do one thing and that is respond to the call to action. So it could be signing up for a newsletter. It could be making a purchase, a subscription, but the idea is to build a page in such a way that the focus is on the task at hand. So the merchant site owner wants one thing to happen and and that is often making a purchase is the most obvious one for an e commerce site. And what we want to do is to be able to adjust the look and feel of a page so that focus is retained. So it would typically be very different from for example a homepage or even a product page. And so you tend to reduce a lot of the noise by removing the furniture such as a lot of the navigation. And so like I say, you want people to keep the focus on; you know, signing up for the newsletter, making the purchase or whatever and often you want to test that as well. So Nick mentioned about the A/B testing and so on that he'll be expanding on.

Miz Trujillo

Perfect, perfect and Nick, anything you'd add?

Nick Raushenbush

No, I think that was a perfect description from Gary. Landing pages are all about focus, right? So they're focusing on one call to action, one primary CTA usually, you know, as Gary mentioned, lead generation or product purchase for a specific product. And yeah, they're often characterized by stripping out the data in the footer, which, although they're really useful for site navigation, they can be distracting and have the user taking off to different places of the site, in the site.

Miz Trujillo

Absolutely. That's something that I wanted to touch on, a stat that I was really fascinated at was that 84% of landing pages still have navigation. I mean, you've talked about it already a bit, but the point is to keep people on the page until you've converted, so surely minimizing where they can go from that page is what we want to achieve? So what should people really be looking at in terms of navigation and what they should be including?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that it's like a case by case basis. Again, the point is that you want to control where the traffic is flowing through the website. So you know, if it makes sense to completely strip it down and give the option; you know, for the user to only click the Add to Cart button or for them to, you know, only able to sign up for a newsletter, or click a button that flows to a different page, or even have multiple buttons go to different pages. It's all based on what your goals are. Yeah so for some businesses they; you know, it works for them to leave in the header in the footer, or works for them to leave the footer but remove the header. I think that it can be on a case by case basis and it's all about implementing that strategy and then looking at the analytics to see if users are; you know, kind of wandering, or if you're still able to maintain that focus even with the header.

Miz Trujillo

Absolutely yeah. I know that something that is an important factor in landing pages is obviously the design and it's obviously a very broad subject, there's lots of different approaches that people like to take. But if we're talking very basic conversion centered design principles that people need to be following, what would you highlight? Maybe Gary, you could start us off?

Gary Carruthers

I suppose some of the fairly obvious points would be to focus in the space above the fold. And so you don't want a lot of scrolling, you don't want a lot of copy, and I know copy landing pages, some people will approach it with a lot of narrative and so on. From a design perspective, we like to try and keep the noise to a minimum. So it's very obvious what the users meant to be doing. But again, you know, it's speculative, you know, we like the data to lead us in this. So that's why we like to get the testing started as early on as possible and rather than us guessing, or going with your gut instinct what we'll do is we'll make a couple of recommendations or suggestions will discuss that with the client and we'll try and back that up with with any sort of case studies or past experiences that we've run for other clients, and then we'll decide on a strategy and then test it.

Miz Trujillo

Excellent, Nick anything you'd add on this?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah. Again, you know, I coin a lot of Gary's thoughts. But, minimal, clean, obvious, you know, every click on the landing page should be obvious if you have a whole bunch of extra content or things that are distracting, that distracts from driving the user to perform the desired action. And also, I think, like thinking about where the user is coming from in their journey, lots of landing pages I mean, are you know, driven by advertising, right. So, if you know if you've got an ad that's on Facebook, or that's on Instagram that's showing a specific product or a specific subset of products, you're going to want the design to be in line with mirroring those products, you know? Because that's what the user expects to see next. So that's an example, but I'm thinking about you know, how the design of the page fits into the greater user journey or flow that the users taking and yeah making in terms of you know, the specific aesthetics, making sure that the CTA is very obvious you know? If you have very subtle or downplayed buttons that the people can't find easily or they don't pop off the page, you might want to reconsider some design decisions there. Um, but yeah, clean, minimal, focused and like Gary said, it's all about getting that first iteration out there and then getting the data back. Like almost everything should be data driven. So again, using your analytics suite, you know, to take a look at, see what is happening on those pages with the events or using software's like, you know, Shogun, we use Full Story which is kind of similar to Hot Jar, which I think is a pretty well known one for just like watching what's going on in the user sessions. And yeah, using A/B testing, multivariate testing software's to take a look at what page versions are performing the best and as I mentioned, that's a feature that we're building in eminently into Shogun.

Miz Trujillo

We've been talking about the data capture and the testing a lot and on the last episode that we recorded, which isn't live yet but will be by the time this one goes up, I talked to Murat from Segmentify a lot about personalization, segmentation and especially gathering data. And the one thing that we kept on coming back to is that we need to be given the right message to the right person. Targeting and testing correctly can increase conversion rates by up to 3,000%. So it's really crucial. But the stat that I found even more staggering with that in mind is, 20% of businesses report that they don't have a landing page testing strategy in place. So this is something that's used, that they're really missing. What testing should be in place? What analytics should people be tracking?

Gary Carruthers

Well I think for a lot of people, a lot of merchants maybe here are not particularly established yet, they would regard this sort of work as a bit of a luxury and something they want to shoot for, but not like now because they've got more pressing tasks in hand. But for us that doesn't make an awful lot of business sense. And you should at least find a modicum of budget for putting resources towards a sort of testing because the stakes are too high not to and so what we try and do is make the entry level fairly low. I mean Hot Jar is a tool that we typically use for the heat mapping and so on. And that's that's fairly quick as long as there's decent amounts of traffic going through the site and it's a fairly quick process to capture enough data to make some informed decisions. So we would always recommend you know, taking care about the data. And you know ,sort of prioritizing that and we don't see it as a luxury or a nice to have at all, it's an essential really.

Miz Trujillo

Viewing it as an essential I think is really what we're trying to get through to listeners. And Nick anything you'd add on the testing?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah I mean, your base layer I think that anyone who's not performing like CRM exercises consistently is definitely missing out. So having a strategy there, a structured kind of process for generating hypotheses about what is going to change the conversion rate and then taking a staggered approach to that enough such that they're able to get data back and understand what was the cause of the increase or decrease in conversion based off, you know, the changes that they made to their online store is definitely essential. In terms of like baseline tools, I think that obviously, you know, Google Analytics, using the analytics suites that come native in these ecommerce platforms and something like Hot Jar would be like the bare essentials. Obviously, you know, you're mentioning stuff like, sort of really advanced personalization or multivariate testing suites, you know, that you'd see at an enterprise level in something like Dynamic Yield and I think that starts to you know, that's kind of the much upper, the other end of the spectrum where you see a lot of these enterprise clients that are turning this into a science. But yeah, that's what I would say.

Miz Trujillo

Excellent. I think it would be good to touch on maybe some of the common mistakes that we see made, so that we can warn people off them. For example, we know that decrease sales, a result can be having multiple offers on a landing page and yet 40% of landing pages still seem to do this. So it's obvious big mistakes are being made. What are some of the ones that maybe you see done more commonly?

Gary Carruthers

I think just the last the last couple of years I've noticed some, it's almost like a lack of confidence in the strategy, of taking the trouble to make, to create these landing pages. So an obvious one would be trying to not stray too far from the branding. So a lot of people would be concerned about the landing page being ugly or being less refined than perhaps the rest of the site and off brand. Whereas us data lead people are saying trust us let the data to do the guiding and yes, it may not be as beautiful and elegant as various other bits of more curated areas of the site, but there's good reason for that and the data will back it up. So I would say you need to be quite robust with your arguments for a landing page looking a certain way. And I also think there's a bit of a lack of confidence about being to bare and so extra bits of furniture like the navigation items in the header, in the footer and so on creeping in because the client is worried about it then being too focused and the user not knowing what to do if they don't action the call to action. So I think those are typical things that we would see and I suppose we've just got to be strong in our recommendations and try to back it up with with past data.

Miz Trujillo

Amazing. Any common mistakes that you'd add to this Nick?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah, I think you know, too much clutter as Gary mentioned, or split focus, right? Like, if your focus is on on sales, trying to then work in email collection widgets or pop ups for lead generation that interfere with that user experience, sometimes I can see that being really off putting. And you know, when you're doing lead generation it's really helpful when it's not your focus, you should you know, you should focus on just making the sale. Other things as you know, often there are many cases where landing pages are being used in conjunction with like a time sensitive sale but still like no sense of urgency is created. Like there's no, it's either not indicated in the banner, there's no countdown timer, there's no kind of urgent, you know your discount coupons or anything to incentivize the user to use the landing page, to transact immediately, which is the desired goal and a lot of these time sensitive sales but people forgetting to incorporate that into the design I think would be one. Yeah and I think Gary just had some really, really good points about worrying that it's too minimal and adding just adding things unnecessarily. Landing pages, like in my mind, the main things are like keep it simple, focus on the CTA and also optimise for speed right? You know, don't make the page any bigger than needs to be.

Miz Trujillo

I mean the speed section is something that's really important. Every second that it takes for that page to load is actually costing money. So it's important that people get these things right, so that they're not leaking money in these situations. Something that I've seen a lot of discussion on is the number of landing pages that companies should have. This ranges from one, to people saying ridiculous amounts. So is there a general guide to how many landing pages someone should have at one go? How should this be incorporated into a marketing campaign? Gary, maybe?

Gary Carruthers

I think this would really depend on the general strategy of the brand. I think if you're if you're trying lots of different things, you've got lots of different channels that are pulling the traffic in you're going to need a lot of landing pages but I think if your product you're offering is fairly limited in number and fairly focused, then having lots of pages is probably unnecessary. But it's about testing, it's about them getting, spinning these things up nice and quickly and getting some data through them. And measuring and reading.

Miz Trujillo

Hopefully, we're really getting the point across that testing is one of the most crucial factors in, not just the landing pages that we're talking about today, but a lot of the topics that we actually discuss on the show. One of the things that we've mentioned a lot about landing pages is keeping people interested and people really aren't easily entertained these days. We're constantly bombarded with information, videos, images, sales pitches, so we need concise design, which we've touched on, but also the message is really important. So are there maybe any tips you would give in terms of the copy, the headline, the description, or pitfalls that people should be aware of?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah, I think, you know, Gary mentioned this earlier, but putting too much copy into a landing page is not not a great idea. You know, we're very ADHD these days, we do not read a lot of text, we like to consume, you know, big, beautiful images and, you know, minimal, minimal amounts of text, sometimes videos in certain situations. When you do write,that copy, making sure that it's something that resonates with the personas that you're targeting is very, very important. So take time to really be considerate of how you phrase your CTA's. Of how you describe those products. And and also you know how you articulate things like time sensitivity or, you know, how much savings or what this particular deal is. Taking the time actually run that by individuals that fit your target, your target customers, your target personas, I think it's important to take the time to research.

Miz Trujillo

Absolutely. Gary, anything you'd add on on the copy front?

Gary Carruthers

No, I would just back up with a quick sentence. It's just about clarity. And so tone of voice obviously has to be consistent with the brand. But I think you can afford to be more direct and more explicit and you won't be judged for it. You know, I think people are getting savvy to the concept of the landing page and what it's there for. So yeah, just nice and direct and nicely laid out, very clear visually.

Miz Trujillo

Excellent. So I think we're covering a lot of ground and really, really, great tips being given today. But are there any other big impact CRO changes that you think are worth highlighting?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah, I mean, there's like a list a mile long of all the little changes that you could experiment with. Some obvious ones that I remember that were just absolutely killing people. Like not including social proof anywhere, like you know usually now we're so accustomed to seeing some form of social proof, like this product has x number of reviews, or this product is spoken for by this celebrity, you know not having any social proof on on your website but also on your landing pages can be harmful. Not making clear, not offering know free shipping is one thing, or you know in reality bundling the cost of shipping into your product, or having a trigger point where when a certain amount of products are bought the shipping becomes free. People just expect free shipping now and so if you're not making that clear. What else? Yeah pop ups can be killers, that, that's the thing. Like I am actually a huge fan of taking opportunity to build email lists and to build your marketing database but when that comes at the cost of user experience that can be real killer. Let me think what else? Those are the ones that are kind of, off top my head. That and speed you know? Just making sure that you are running speed tests so that your pages are loading fast. And also this is the big one! Making sure that your landing pages look absolutely amazing on mobile! What was it was like like almost 66% of Black Friday sales through Shopify sites were done through mobile? Yeah, so making sure that those pages are mobile optimised. And that I mean, I would even go as far to say it's like designing the page mobile first in a lot of cases and having desktop. Unless you know that you're working with a target persona that's like, maybe a little older, they don't do as much mobile, you know, mobile shopping there for sure gonna be on a desktop or with a certain browser type. I would, I would probably design mobile first!

Gary Carruthers

Agreed and the other thing that just popped into my head was, this might come across a bit facetious, but if you're asking somebody to do something, in return, give them something useful. So useful content if you're trying to capture their email address and resources that they're going to be able to do something with. And if you're trying to get them to buy something, make sure it's worthwhile, you know, that the product is good and it's good value for money that there's a reduction in price, new special offer, you know it's rare, something. So it's basically make it worth their while.

Miz Trujillo

Absolutely. I think everything that's been said resonates with me perfectly, especially you started Nick with talking about the reviews and I know that I personally generally don't buy off any website unless I can see reviews of the product. So it doesn't matter how good the copy is, how good the design is. If everything isn't thought about you're going to really leak customers, you're going to leak money, which is a huge issue. Are there maybe any great examples of landing pages, or companies that use landing pages, that you think people should check out?

Nick Raushenbush

Yep. People always ask me this question. You know I think that it is because they figure, Shogun you have so many so many clients, you must know what a great landing page looks like and you know I'm sure that our database does. Which might be alluding to future features there, but we have like over 7000 active clients now and so we don't really take like an individual focused look at individual landing pages. What I actually do, shameless plug here for Underwaterpistol is go to agency websites that are best in breed agencies and I take a look at their client websites, they generally, you know ,as you guys have been mentioning they make a science out of it, both a science and an art out of this and so going and taking a look at the portfolios of agency websites like Underwaterpistol, that's in my mind the best place you can go.

Miz Trujillo

Perfect, Gary any that you'd highlight seeing as the limelights been pushed over to yourself?

Gary Carruthers

To be honest, I think I suppose I gravitate to brands that I personally like, so music tech brands that would do it from me, but also tools that we would use like I think HubSpot do a really good job at them getting the hooks into you and with their landing pages. And Nick I don't know if you would agree but that sort of very long sales cycle type of product or services. And I think the likes of HubSpot do a really clever job because they're giving you really useful information and resources in return to us, you know, giving them your contact details and then just this sort of incessant drip, drip, drip of follow up and it just leads you down a bit of a rabbit hole, not in a negative sense because you're getting, all the time you're getting valuable information back from them. So I think companies like that do a really good job.

Miz Trujillo

I think what you said is really key to getting people interested in and having these landing pages actually be effective as well. And we started talking about conversion rates, that was the whole point really of the discussion. They really talk for themselves, so maybe is there any stats that you could share with us that really highlight the effectiveness of having a really good landing page Nick?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah I mean I would say that it's variable based on the company and it depends on what your baseline is. I think that's something like the average ecommerce conversion rate is between 1% - 2%, so you know but you have like the top 25% of these websites are converting at a higher level and that may be closer even to 5%, for for some of the best ones, people who have really figured out how to crack this equation, you know, getting up towards 10%. Um, again, I think that it's where your baseline starts. You know what's good for your business based what you take, what you see with your current analytics and with the current KPI's that you focus on, be it sales or be conversion, for collecting email addresses. So know your baseline and then, you know, targeting increasing that I think even by an additional 1% to 2% can be absolutely phenomenal for for many companies.

Miz Trujillo

Those stats are great. I think from from my perspective, the thing that really sticks with me from the discussion we've had is how important testing is to the decisions we make from there, but maybe if you had to leave our listeners with one thing from our discussion today, Gary, what would it be from your side?

Gary Carruthers

I think don't underestimate the power of this, what the data is telling you. And I would say try and read up about other people, other people's experiences. So any case studies that a merchant can read up on before undertaking their first experiments with landing pages. And that would be good advice. But yeah it's the interesting tiny little tweaks that can make a huge difference. So you know, positioning of elements on a page especially on mobile and you know, sticky elements etc. Clear calls to action, use of colour, that can have a huge huge upturn in conversion rate and I think those things are really fascinating but and you've got to remove the reliance on instinct and just trust the numbers.

Miz Trujillo

Perfect, thank you so much, Gary. And Nick, what would you leave our listeners with?

Nick Raushenbush

Yeah, I would echo a lot of what Gary said . Think about yourself as, like a detective or a scientist and come up with hypotheses and have a structured approach towards experimenting and testing and be incredibly data driven in your decisions. Trust the data, that said, if you are going to go out there and just try, you know, you need some baseline to start out. The main things that I would focus on are, make sure that your landing pages are mobile optimised, make sure that they are incredibly fast with the way they load and make sure that they are, you know, relatively minimal. And focus on a specific CTA because that's their primary purpose.

Miz Trujillo

Thank you so much Nick. It's been absolutely great having you both on the show thank you so much for coming on.

Nick Raushenbush

Thank you so much for having me.

Gary Carruthers

Thank you.

Miz Trujillo

Excellent, so thank you to our listeners too and you can get all the links to both Shogun and Underwaterpistol in the description below as well as to any of the reports that we've mentioned. So thanks everyone for listening and thanks again Nick and Gary.

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