Recently, I’ve been reviewing several of our customers’ AdWords campaigns and suggesting areas for improvement. I’ve given feedback to a half-dozen or so of our customers, and I’m happy to report that most customers are following our recommendations closely and creating some solid AdWords campaigns. But I’ve found myself repeating one piece of advice to virtually every customer.
Here’s my advice: dumb it down.
If you want to double your conversion rate — so that more people contact you and do business with you — then you should make it blatantly obvious what people are supposed to do when they land on your website.
Why is it important to "dumb down" your advertising?
- People are really impatient online. When people land on your website, they want to know — right away — whether they’re in the right place. They don’t want to waste a single second. If they don’t see what they’re looking for, they’re gone.
- Not everyone is as smart as you. Sad but true: the average American reads at a 7th or 8th grade reading level, so skip the big words, and keep it simple. A good rule of thumb is to write like you speak. Keep it conversational and you’ll get better conversion rates.
One of the biggest leverage points in your marketing is your landing page conversion rate – the percentage of people who contact you (or buy from you) when they land on your website. (You should never direct advertising to your homepage; instead, you should point ads to specific landing pages relevant to your ads.)
I’ve repeatedly found that when it comes to landing page design, the simpler you can make it, the better. Specifically, the more obvious you can make your call to action, the better. Seriously -- just make it incredibly obvious what your website visitor is supposed to do, and you’ll improve your conversion rate.
Here’s an example of an incredibly simple (and very high-converting) landing page. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this landing page isn’t pretty. You probably don’t like the design of this page. To be honest, I don’t like it much either. It’s really ugly.
But we can probably both agree that it’s blatantly obvious what you’re supposed to do. That’s right -- you’re supposed to enter your email address below the red blinking arrow and then click the “Download Now” button. Hard to miss. Although this landing page is ugly, it works -- very well, in fact. And actually, I would say that it works because it’s so ugly and simple.
On average, 40 percent of the website visitors who land on this page enter their email address to request the free business plan template. That's roughly two to three times the average conversion rate, in my experience, and sourced from “cold” advertising traffic.
Are you being too smart?
Many people will read this article and brush it off. They’ll assume that my advice is too simple to possibly work. They’re looking for a very complicated cure to fix their advertising.
But that’s a mistake. Instead, dumb it down. Make things so clear and obvious that it’s incredibly easy for more people to respond. Your landing page conversion rate is THE biggest leverage point in your advertising. If you can double your conversion rate, then you can afford to spend twice as much per click. And that means you can buy more traffic than your competitors, which means you gain more market share.
Here’s what to do now:
- Load up your landing page. Take a few steps back. Is it obvious what to do? If not, then dumb it down.
- Get a second opinion. Grab somebody who doesn’t work with you — somebody who hasn’t visited your landing page before. Ask them to take a look at your landing page, and ask them if it’s obvious what to do. If it’s not obvious, then dumb it down some more.
- Go one step further. Once you’re satisfied that your page is already obvious, make it blatantly obvious. For example, make the text or button of your call to action bigger and more prominent, so it’s even more obvious what to do. We’ve run tests -- increasing the size of the call-to-action button on a landing page provided an extra boost of 10 percent or more.
So, don’t be afraid to make your landing page brain-dead simple. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Recommended Resource: If you want more tips along these lines, check out the book Don’t Make Me Think. It’s a classic book about website usability
Pete Kennedy is co-founder of Main Street ROI, a company that teaches small business owners how to implement online marketing best practices. Main Street ROI has helped hundreds of small businesses create profitable online marketing campaigns, and also publishes step-by-step reports about online marketing.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.