It might sound obvious to point out that a landing page should persuade and guide a user towards an action, but most landing pages frequently make this unclear, and even outright difficult, for a user to do anything.
The issue of “What do I do?” on landing pages is normally the result of three problems: unclear offers, having too many different call to actions(CTA’s) on one page, or having CTAs that are hard to notice visually.
For the unclear offer, it’s common to see landing pages with an amazing product or offer, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear way for a user to act on it.
With too many different CTA’s, you end up with the opposite problem. A user wouldn’t know which action to select among available options.
A CTA that doesn’t stand out from the rest of the page easily goes unnoticed by the busy or hurried user (aka all users), who will think the page doesn’t have one.
How to fix it:
Step 1: Focus each landing page on a single goal
For every landing page, whether they’re dedicated landing pages or more general ones (like a homepage), pick the most important conversion goal for that specific page, and ensure the page is focused on it.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have secondary conversion goals on a page, but those CTA’s should be less emphasized than the main CTA.
Remember that the primary goal of one page doesn’t have to be the main goal of your business. Sometimes it makes more sense to encourage users to take a smaller first step, such as a free offering or an initial, smaller conversion, than pushing them to take bigger steps.
Step 2: Remove whatever distracts from that primary goal
There might be times when you have more than one goal for a page, especially on more general pages like home pages. You still need to know what to focus on, and that often means removing distractions.
For example, I’ve seen a number where the minute a user visits the order or pricing page, a pop-up encouraging the user to connect with the company on Facebook or Twitter, appears and blocks the entire page.
If a user is going to the order or pricing page, wouldn’t you rather help them make a purchase than get them to like a Facebook page?
It can be hard to make these decisions to focus, but without taking that step, your landing pages won’t convert as well as they should.
One approach to help gain more secondary conversions is to guide a user towards a large conversion, then once they complete that, offer a smaller conversion on the “Thank you” page for the first conversion.
For example, with UsersThink, after you place an order, on the thank you page we ask if you’ve subscribed to the UsersThink newsletter. It wouldn’t be a good call to interrupt the buying process to ask that, but once the order is completed, it’s a perfect time to ask someone to make a smaller commitment, when the person is already in the state of mind to say yes.
Step 3: Tell the user what to do next, and make it easy for them to do it
Don’t have the CTA displaying “Submit.” Whether downloading a PDF, joining the newsletter, viewing pricing, or requesting a phone call, make what will happen next very clear.
The key is to clearly state the next event, and also make anything connected to taking that step very clear. If a user has to fill out a form, make that form stand out, with the CTA being the form submission button.
Redundancy is okay here. If the page wants a user to order, and the order page link is also in the main navigation, still put a large CTA on the page, even if the link is the same as in the navigation. State it clearly, and never make the user guess.
Step 4: Make the CTA visually stand out on the page
You don’t want the CTA to blend into the page, not even a little bit. Having it stand out is ideal, and this is where sleek and streamlined design neither helps a user nor you.
Allow plenty of white space around the primary CTA. Having empty space around the CTA helps it stand out.
Make the CTA large. Having a small target to click or tap makes it much harder for a user to notice where the main action is, let alone complete the mechanics of activating it. When in doubt, make it larger.
Select a complementary color for the CTA. Often a landing page will have a main color, and in the high majority of cases you’d want to make your CTA the complementary color to that main color.
You can do this by finding the hexadecimal number for the main color of your landing page, then putting that into Color Hexa. Lower on the results page, you will see a “Complementary Color” section. Click the second color, and that is the complementary color.
While you don’t have to use that exact value, it’s a good starting point.
You don’t want to pick a CTA color that is only a shade or two off from the main color of the landing page. I’m amazed how many sites and templates take that approach, and while that might seem aesthetically pleasing, it makes it much harder for a user to notice it.
Step 5: Test your landing page with the “50,000 foot view” test
Still not sure how you’re doing? One way to see if your main CTA stands out is to run a 50,000 foot test.
A 50,000 foot test is done by taking a screenshot of your entire landing page, then decreasing the resulting image size until it’s small in your computer display.
Looking at the small screenshot of your landing page, ask yourself one question: Is it easy to see where the main CTA is?
Use a browser plugin like Awesome Screenshot Minus for Chrome and select the “Capture entire page” option.
Check out these before and after photos:
Notice how easier one is over the other, in terms of finding the CTA and focus of the page, even when the landing page is made to look that small.
Step 6: Be wary of the “best” converting CTA color arguments
There seems to be a number of popular posts written about CTA color, and they mostly break down into two camps: The best converting CTA color, and the psychology of color and how that relates to conversions.
In general, I would avoid following the guidelines from such posts too closely.
There might be some truth to those posts in the abstract, but they don’t address your unique situation.
On a page that is mostly green, a red CTA might work best, despite any associations we might think we have with red.
Supposedly one color might be more ‘calming’ than others, but I wouldn’t put too much stock into that.
Focus your efforts within the restrictions and goals unique to your landing page to produce the best results.