You and I are living in a world of almost endless choice.
A world where “do you want it or not?” has been replaced by “how do you want it?”
This is, by and large, a Very Good Thing.
It’s great to live in a world of almost endless possibilities…
On a quiet-Saturday-night-in for instance, you might revel in the array of face-stuffing and binge-watching options in front of you:
30 different pizza toppings…
50 different ice cream flavours…
6,000+ movies on Netflix…
If you grew up in the ‘80s or ‘90s, you might wonder how the hell you ever got by with the more limited options those decades had to offer.
Back then, there were no app stores, no video-on-demand, no YouTube, no music streaming…
And – in my town at least – there were only about five types of pizza (this was Lincolnshire in the ‘90s, people. Sure, if you grew up in Milan or NYC things may have been different).
Whether you use or even want all these options or not, you gotta admit: these are pretty incredible times we live in.
But every choice we’re presented with is also a decision we have to make.
And decisions aren’t always easy…
Our overworked brains are forced to make decisions – large and small – hundreds of times each day.
And sometimes, having too many options can be a bad thing.
The ol’ brainbox can get fatigued through overuse…
Or easily confused when it’s not given clear instructions, or we’re given the wrong information.
When the luxury of choice can actually be a burden
Truth is, we don’t always want limitless possibilities.
A lot of the time, we want our options reducing to just one thing… or the other.
In or out.
Yes or no.
To buy or not.
These sorts of situations make decisions easier, buy us more time and help us move forward with our lives.
And it’s the same with your prospect (why wouldn’t it be? They’re people, like us – yes, even in B2B).
Sometimes, they just want to be shown what the single best decision they can make right now is.
They want direction.
To choose A or B, so they can move on.
One of these two options is right for them – they simply want to understand which one, and feel confident in that choice.
And that’s what a successful landing page does.
It makes things clear for the visitor.
It shouldn’t offer multiple options.
It shouldn’t list your 5 top-selling products.
It shouldn’t present all the directions your prospect can take to find out more about your services (that’s a homepage).
They shouldn’t need a map to navigate it – it should lead them, smoothly, in a straight line.
When your prospect arrives at your landing page (it’s ok to have more than one – for different audiences, traffic sources and products) they should be given a single, clear choice to make.
It’s common sense, really:
Don’t confuse your reader with multiple choice.
Don’t make them work for anything.
But offering too much choice is probably still the most common screw-up I see on landing pages and other parts of marketing funnels (like email campaigns, surveys and direct mail).
Confusion is a conversion killer
Even if you’re trying to be helpful, it’s possible you’re killing your conversions with kindness.
Imagine you’re on holiday abroad – remember holidays, entrepreneurs? ; ) – in a town you don’t know.
It’s hot, you’re lost, your kids are either crying or fighting, you’ve already taken two wrong buses…
And worst of all, your partner is wearing their “I told you we should have done it my way” face.
So you flag down a friendly-looking local couple to help out.
You ask them for directions, and it goes something like this…
“Ah, you want to get to the Generic-Tourist-Attraction-I’d-Never-Personally-Visit-As-A-Local? Yes, of course,” they say, in English so fluent it leaves you embarrassed about your own.
You smile, relieved that they know the Generic Tourist Attraction you mean (of course they do, you’re the third flustered visitor to ask them today), and settle back to receive instruction.
“Everything is going to be ok”, you tell your family.
Except, this friendly couple are too damn helpful…
They want to give you a few options, so you can see how beautiful and culturally varied their town is.
So they launch into four different ways you could get to the GTA from here.
First they describe the prettiest route in proud detail…
Next they explain the route the locals would use (if they ever wanted to visit the GTA and laugh knowingly at tired tourists)…
Then there’s the fastest, but which involves walking single-file down an alley only accessible through a flap in the back of their cousin’s market stall…
And then their partner chimes in with their preferred route…
Which involves subtly different turns at most of the landmarks mentioned in the first route, but with a warning not to get the first turn wrong (or was it the second?) or else you’ll end up in the Wrong Part Of Town.
And still just as lost as you were.
They’ve given you too many options, and – even though they’re trying to be helpful – you end up ditching the plan and visiting the much smaller, much closer Generic Tourist Attraction instead, which bores your kids into another tantrum.
In marketing terms, this adds up to a failure to convert
When you give landing page visitors too many options, there’s a chance they’ll choose the wrong one.
That’s how you end up with negative feedback and refund requests.
Or, they may just give up and choose to close your page rather than sign-up to anything…
And possibly even end up choosing a competitor whose product is nowhere near as good as yours, but who presented a clear, smoother path to the sale.
So here’s a few simple rules to follow to keep people moving along your landing page to a successful conversion:
1) Limit your sign-up options to a simple Yes or No
Your visitor’s only choice should be to either sign-up, or leave.
(Ok, you don’t have to be that direct, like an angry nightclub bouncer, but you get the idea.)
In your copy, make the case for the former, and point out the downside of the latter.
You don’t have to use the tired old “You’re at a crossroads…” routine beloved of ClickBank sellers…
Just focus on the contrast between life with your product and life without it, and remind them of it in the run-up to your CTA.
Reduce choice, convert more.
2) Lose the social links
Unless social sharing of your landing page is a clear part of your strategy, be very wary of adding those familiar Facebook and Twitter icons to your page.
People love to disappear into a social media time-suck when they should be focused on other things, and if you give them the opportunity, a portion of your visitors are gonna take it.
Those cute little social icons are like primers that yell “FUN IS HAPPENING ELSEWHERE!” at your prospect, making them gateways to all kinds of tempting frivolity.
That means your potential customers suddenly have the opportunity to be somewhere else, looking at baby pictures and cat gifs when they should be weighing up the pros of using your product.
If you give them that option, you can’t blame the babies and cats when your conversions suffer.
(Similarly, if you’re using video, nix the ‘View on YouTube’ option in the pop-up.)
3) Make your sign-up process crystal clear
Assuming you’ve done a great job of drawing your reader in to your sales argument, and they’re dying to sign-up (you haven’t? They’re not? Let’s talk) then it’s essential they understand exactly what to do next.
If there’s a sign-up form, make it obvious where to start, and how many parts they’ll have to complete.
If there’s a CTA button, don’t ask them to email you (I see this all the time).
If you want them to call you, be sure to list your opening hours so they get straight through.
The absolute worst kind of lead to lose is the almost-customer who had their wallet open, but couldn’t figure out how to pay you because you fudged the CTA.
4) Design your page to focus attention on the CTA
Don’t clutter your landing page with a bunch of distracting design features.
Yes, it’s good to use images, testimonials and video to support your argument – but don’t bury your CTA amongst similar-looking widgets.
Use pathways in your design to draw the eye naturally to the sign-up section or button.
Arrows are great if used sparingly, as are converging lines that draw a path of least resistance to your CTA.
Ok, now you’re all set to optimize those leaky, confusing landing pages for more conversions by reducing your visitor’s options.
Don’t worry, it’s not like you’re cutting their Netflix library in half, or telling them it’s pepperoni or nuthin’…
You’re actually being helpful by giving clearer direction to your prospects.
And in a world of multiple choice, they’ll thank you for making at least one decision in their lives easier.