We asked pros from 60 SaaS businesses to share tips for converting trial users to paid customers. Here’s how they’ve improved their paid activation rates.
Product and Design | Jun 26
Kevin Kononenko on June 5, 2018 • 27 minute read
If you’re like most marketers, your answer likely ranges between the following:
100% confidence is rare.
Sure, we can benchmark our current conversion rates with how a specific landing page performed in the past. These types of time-based comparisons are helpful, but they’re never apples-to-apples.
Changes to your product or service, new campaigns, seasonality–all of these outside influences will likely skew any comparisons in your month-over-month conversion rates.
So again, is my landing page conversion rate good?
Well, we can also benchmark ourselves against industry standards, however, there’s so much variance between your business and everyone else’s, that these comparisons are really just a starting point.
So how can we be sure that our landing pages are converting to their highest potential?
Because that’s the real question, isn’t it?
It’s great to see when your conversion rates trend up, or that yours are higher than the industry average, but what we really want to know is, “is my landing page converting as well as it could?”
We asked marketers from the Databox Partner Program to share one tactic from their “bag of tricks” in order to learn how other companies go about improving conversion rates.
Here’s what we learned.
When you don’t have any data at your fingertips, how can you make an educated decision on how to improve your landing page? You can launch a landing page with a hypothesis about which factors will lead to conversion. But, you will only have definitive proof after a series of test. This attitude encourages you to launch new versions of the landing page every 2-4 weeks.
One Tip: Gather as much data as possible. If you want to track the macro-conversion of new customer acquisition, start small.
Let’s take a demo landing page for instance. Your observation might be that the landing page form conversion rate is below industry benchmarks and is therefore negatively affecting your customer pipeline. The overall goal of your CRO efforts might be to improve the conversion rate on the demo landing page form. And, your hypothesis could be that if you shorten the form by two fields, you can improve the conversion rate by 10 percent.
If you update the form and don’t get these results during your experiment, it might feel like “back to the drawing board.” However, if you measure the more granular data of this website experience, you might have very rich insights during your analysis phase of the scientific method.
Consider measuring specifics on the site, including:
and so on. Dig deep to understand the micro-conversions on the path to purchase and associated granular data or you could miss the real bottleneck on your webpage. You can’t perform CRO well without fully understanding the customer journey and attribution dynamics, so dig in.
60 Second Marketer
One Tip: If you’re like most people reading this post, you’re skimming through to find golden nuggets of information that will improve the performance of your landing pages. You might find one expert who says that red buttons convert better on landing pages, while another expert will say that blue buttons convert better.
What you don’t know is that they’re BOTH right.
For some target markets, red buttons will convert better, while for other target markets, blue buttons will convert better. The point I’m making is that advice is just advice until you test it with your particular product and your particular target market. Once you’ve tested the advice, it becomes a FINDING. And findings are what transform businesses. So … read through the post, digest what the experts are saying, and then develop your own findings. When you test your way to success, you’ll find the golden nugget you’re looking for. And that’s the best way I know to generate real results.
Six & Flow
One Tip: While it’s difficult to nail down just one transferrable technique for improving and striving for an optimal landing page setup, you won’t go far wrong from implementing a testing plan.
Of course you need to define your value proposition from the outset for the target segment to understand your USP, whilst using:
But not all industries are the same and nor are their audiences. So it’s important to understand what your base landing page will be, and with planning, a testing matrix will help outline what you plan to change on the page, when and what the results will be.
We as marketers understand that not all campaigns can be approached with a broad brushstroke approach. A pre-defined testing matrix will allow you to have a control page, testing one element at a time with dates and performance updates accordingly. In doing this, you can then test ‘winning’ elements concurrently and in theory, move to a continually improved conversion rate.
In short, plan your tests. This would be the primary tactic we deploy for our clients when performing conversion rate optimization.
Sometimes, your offer is just not that appealing in the first place. You might have a great design, great copy and a clear call-to-action. But if the topic of the e-book or whitepaper is just not that interesting, you will struggle to generate downloads.
Most marketers use a combination of buyer personas and real feedback from customers to create a plan for a winning offer that offers unique value. You don’t want to fall into the category of “yet another ebook“.
Webrunner Media Group
One Tip: An offer!
The landing pages that feature some kind of worthwhile offer always outperform those without. We strongly encourage our clients to develop a promotion we can center the page around. Not only does it help give the page a very dedicated purpose in terms of text and CTA (call-to-action), it’s much more enticing for a potential customer to work with a company offering them something of value.
Coupled with an offer, we try and push social proof on every landing page we create, such as testimonials of people that have benefitted from the service or offer. Giving a user the chance to hear from past customers and their experience can address any questions, concerns, or doubt the user may have had. Additionally, it adds a human level to the page that can’t be matched with even the most tailored CTA’s.
One Tip: In many cases, it is actually an offer problem, not a landing page problem. Before you start testing the landing page, make sure that you have an appealing offer.
Remember that a bad offer on a great landing page probably won’t perform, but an OK landing page with a GREAT offer can still do quite well.
I like to follow eight rules from digitalmarketer.com that makes an offer stand out:
1) Ultra-specific – The offer needs to offer an ultra-specific solution to an ultra-specific market
2) One big thing – Give the reader a “silver bullet” that delivers on one big promise
3) Speak to a know desired end result – Think about what the market really wants and create an offer that promises and delivers on it so that visitors will convert
4) Immediate gratification – Give leads something they can use right away.
5) High perceived value – Even though it is free, the offer must not look free. Make sure the offer has a great design and professional imagery to establish real monetary value.
6) High actual value – The content needs to be great, or you will lose the prospect’s attention. You must promise AND deliver.
7) Rapid consumption – The offer must not be a roadblock in your sales process, so make sure it is possible to consume the content in 5 minutes or less. Avoid the long and boring ebooks!
If you use HubSpot to build landing pages, track all your metrics in real-time with a HubSpot Landing Pages dashboard
One Tip: Keep the content relevant and evergreen. Landing pages are meant to not only attract users into a product or service, but also share information that is beneficial for them. We have a good number of clients from manufacturing and service centers, and the best type of content that provides them a high amount of traffic are tips and advice that are related to their products, along with general facts and information about their products. These kinds of tips and advice are highly searchable and are relevant for a long time. Landing pages are an essential part of a good SEO strategy, and content optimization is the best way to go.
One Tip: Our best-performing landing page (>40% conversion rate) only asks for an email address. It’s at the tippy top of the funnel and provides an extremely useful tool (rather than a guide, ebook or infographic). It’s a template to build out a year-long marketing plan. It’s highly useful and it enters these new leads into a retainer-focused workflow. Be useful with a template or tool and don’t ask for a lot of information at the top of the funnel.
We are all familiar with the difference between features and benefits. That is a good start for copy ideas, but great copywriters go even further. They try to use the exact phrases that their audience is using on a daily basis.
Return On Now
One Tip: Conversion optimization can come in many forms. However, the best way to improve conversion rates is often the simplest.
We have seen significant conversion improvement for multiple clients over the past year with one simple, yet impactful change: Optimizing the call to action on the button itself.
All too often, we see companies take the lazy route and have buttons say simply “Submit.” What a conversion killer! Do you want to submit to me, or what?
No, change that CTA to something more action-oriented. Even basic and generic CTAs such as “Get Started” or “Download Now” can work wonders.
Take time to test what works best on your own landing pages. Every audience is different, but one thing holds true: no one wants to “Submit.” So ask them to do something more relevant, and your conversion rates should improve in short order.
One Tip: There are a lot of different best practices when it comes to creating landing pages, from your page layout and design to the copy you use, the CTA button color and shape, the image, and more.
You also need to take into consideration who it is you are trying to attract. Is your audience B2C or B2B? What industries do they represent? The different personas of people who buy your product and service? And where these people are in the customer journey.
Regardless of the different tactics and techniques, there is one thing that your landing page has to have in order to be a killer marketing channel for your business.
What all high-performing landing pages have in common is the ability to speak directly to the visitors – to reach and resonate with them.
And the best way to accomplish this is to answer the question, “I want . . . ?“
Most online search queries begin with the question, “I want . . .?” People are looking for a solution to their problem, an answer to their question, a match for their need, and it all starts with the same premise:
I want . . . I want . . . I want . . .
It only makes sense, then, that your landing page immediately addresses this need. If not, visitors will quickly click away in pursuit of the answer to their question.
Track your top-performing landing pages with the Google Analytics Landing Pages dashboard
One Tip: I never read reviews. I’m not interested. But I value the reactions of the spectators.” (Hayao Miyazaki)
Reviews matter. Use testimonials or customer reviews in the heading of your landing page in the form of quotes, case studies, videos and plain reviews as well.
3 reasons and some numbers for that:
Testimonials build trust
Customer reviews and testimonial build trust. According to a BrightLocal survey (2017) 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Testimonials and reviews encourage people to stay on your landing page
The main purpose of a landing page is to make visitors commit with a call to action without leaving the page and going somewhere else. Before taking action, visitors need to trust you now more than ever. That’s why, after landing on your page and grabbing the relevant information, they could be more likely to go back to Google and search for “you” + “opinions”, “you” + “reviews”, “you” + “feedback”…
By placing testimonials/customer reviews directly in the heading section of your landing page you could make your visitors skip the external reviews-search phase, remain on your page and probably get directly in touch with you. According to a BrightLocal survey, in 2017, 17% fewer people will visit a business website after reading good reviews than in 2016 (37% this year compared to 54% in 2016).
This means that a review represents relevant information for them and if they find it in the landing page, they may not need further investigations on Google, Yelp, Facebook and other websites they trust for reviews.
Testimonials and positive reviews could increase conversion rate
According to a BrightLocal report (2017) 10% of consumers contact a business after reading a positive review. According to another survey BrightLocal conducted in 2016, 74% of people said they would contact a business with reviews on their landing page (vs. only 62% who would contact the business without reviews).
One Tip: Use bulleted points with clear and real results. Let’s say you want prospects to download an eBook in return for their contact details. People don’t really want the eBook, they want the results that it’s going to help them generate.
Therefore, clearly demonstrate the real results that people can expect to achieve if they act on the advice within. This led to a 37% increase in CloudTask’s landing page conversion rate.
One Tip: To improve a client’s landing page, we use testimonials a lot. One client didn’t have testimonials on his landing page. We asked him to gather as many testimonials as possible from happy clients and partners. After a week, he had 20 great testimonials. We chose the best 5 and added them to the landing page just below the first CTA (Call-to-action). This isn’t the only action we took, of course, but this definitely drove the most conversions.
The Copy Wordshop
One Tip: When you are about to go “fishing” for clients, you’ve got to make sure that your “bait”, aka your headline, pops out. Your headline should directly address the problem you are solving, making you irresistible to your ideal client.
It is crucial that you nail this part of your sales page so that your audience will continue to read. Remember that this is THE most important piece of copy on the whole page.
One Tip: As customers come to landing page we just have 5~10 sec to keep them on the page and convert.
In the case of B2B landing pages, the customer pain point is the main pivot. Do detailed research on Buyer Personas and find the main keywords and pain of that target segment.
Example – I was working with a cloud telephone company and one of our target segments was online travel companies. Of all the features, offline call tracking was the most important feature and their main pain area was “Give timely information to all customers during peak hours”.
The landing page banner image should have “Give your customers on-time information, even in peak hours”. It’s always better to have this content on the banner as many visitors don’t scroll and just bounce.
MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute
One Tip: This will sound like a simple tip, but so many brands overlook it – make sure the value of the “ask” on the landing page outweighs the (monetary and non-monetary) cost of whatever you’re asking customers to do.
For example, most brands assume shorter landing pages will be more effective. We’re all impatient these days, right? Who wants to read a long landing page?
But by adding more value about the requested action when asking prospective customers to call a TeleAgent, Aetna’s HealthSpire subsidiary was able to generate 638% more leads for its call center with a LONGER landing page.
Link to the full case study above.
One Tip: Surveys can give you direct insights from your customers.
You can directly know what your customers want, the words they use to describe it, the things they are struggling with and how they are planning to buy products to solve their problems.
Once you know this, it becomes extremely easy for you to serve them with what they want.
After you know:
One Tip: You should treat every page you promote on your site as a landing page.
And I have come to realize the best way to double your conversion rate is by doing three simple things.
A good headline should have three key features:
Make a compelling call to action. The color and size should stand out. And pay attention to the positioning.
Place your call to action next to every compelling argument, for example, immediately after the headline, after stating the benefits and at the end of the landing page.
As tempting as it is to write down features, focus on outlining the benefits of those features. That is what will sell you, your product and your process to the buyer.
Benefits will also set you apart from your competitor.
Let’s say that a visitor arrives at your landing page, and they have questions that go beyond the content on the page. Do you expect that they will begin searching your domain for answers? Even if they do, how will you know if they find an answer?
Live chat gives you a chance to answer questions in real-time, through a combination of bots and humans.
One Tip: We add a chat client to each and every landing page we create for clients. It’s become table stakes that when a visitor has questions, they should be able to get them answered immediately. Responsiveness matters.
Your visitors have likely visited tens, if not hundreds, of landing pages throughout their lives. They have high standards, since you can now create a beautiful landing page for free (or close to it). Your page design should motivate them to take action, and then direct their attention to an offer which will help them. Otherwise, they may not understand how your brand can solve their problems.
Red Wall Marketing
One Tip: The biggest optimization we make on a client’s landing page is to make sure the goal is very clear. Too often there is unnecessary clutter on a site, and the visitor can’t figure out what you want them to do.
For instance, we often see client sites that rely on phone calls for business but have the phone number buried somewhere on the contact page. That phone number should be in a prominent place and easily seen within seconds at all times.
If you want form fill-outs instead, make that prominent and seen right away. Don’t make the visitor work to figure things out. Without doing anything else on your site, they should be able to quickly tell: who you are, what you do, where you do it, and how they get you to do it.
One Tip: Be very intentional about the form fields on your landing page. Asking for information that the user feels is unnecessary or not an ‘equal’ trade-off for what they’re getting will quickly deter them from the page. Revisiting this has consistently helped our landing pages.
One Tip: Create simple progressive forms with easy-to-follow steps which the user can fill-in. We have tested this over and over again and it works every time. The tactic is to ask a simple question which visitors can answer without hesitation. Once they go through the first step and show interest, they perform ‘micro-commits’ which nudges visitors to fill out the full form.
In contrast, if the same form is presented to the visitor with all possible fields, it would definitely turn them off. Can you think of a simple question you can ask your customers to which they can reply without thinking too much?
One Tip: There’s one rule of thumb when it comes to landing pages that I can’t mention enough to people because it’s broken so often. Landing pages should always have an “attention” ratio of 1:1, meaning, the one thing you want that person to do on the page is the only thing that person can do on the landing page.
Ditch the navigation in the header and/or footer along with everything else that can be clicked on outside the one thing you want the visitor to do. You don’t want a 40:1 attention ratio.
One Tip: Here’s an example of a home page which we wanted to optimize for contact capture though inbound in the B2B domain.
Our advice: Keep benefit-driven resources at the highlighted spots on the page. Make them short and to the point.
We have created 2 special areas in the top zone that highlight benefits for customers in the renewable energy domain at the very top fold, which led the conversion (downloads and form submissions) up by 11.61%
The PHNX21creative Agency
One Tip: We increase our landing page performance by cleaning up the clutter. When a Call-To-Action looks cluttered with a lot of buttons or text, it can seem less trustworthy to a visitor. That’s why we have moved to using Drift, which allows a simple yet insightful way to reach out to your visitors.
A landing page that loads slowly will lessen your chances of ranking for your target keywords, and increase the chances that your visitors will leave your page and try the next link on the SERP.
One Tip: Probably the most important factor that influences landing page experience is the loading time for your landing pages. One of the things that can completely turn off users or potential customers to your site is the page speed.
One of our key focuses during a client’s campaign is improving landing page load times. A fast site is crucial for a good user experience which ultimately leads to higher conversions. A fully optimized landing page that loads quickly across all platforms will have a direct impact on the user engagement and overall landing page experience.
The best part is that Google gives you the tools to help evaluate your page speed and tips to improve it. You can check your pages or client’s pages using Google’s own PageSpeed Insights Tool!
One Tip: One of the best things to do to enhance performance on a landing page, or any page, is to use images that are enhanced for web use. Nothing will slow page speed to a crawl quicker than a large, un-optimized image. This is extremely important when using a hero image on the landing page. Products like WP Smush, Imagify, and using old-school Photoshop to optimize your images for web will make a world of difference for the landing page performance.
Running a one-time campaign requires one set of promotion activities. But, if you want your landing pages to rank for an extended period of time, you also need to consider tactics that build links.
One Tip: Strategically time your landing page promotional campaign.
Promotion of a landing page is huge because your optimized landing page can’t return results if there are no visitors. In a typical campaign, we begin with a promotional email to our database on launch date. Shortly thereafter, we added a banner on the home page to send direct traffic to the page. After a month of this, we then amp up our paid search campaign to add another boost to our page traffic (and ultimately conversions). This strategy allowed for a steady flow of leads in quantities that were manageable for the sales team to handle. It also gave the page the boost it needed to start to garner organic visits.
Some visitors prefer text, while other prefer video. Your landing page can sell to both of these audiences without becoming cluttered. You can use tools like Wistia or Vidyard to add an embedded video to your landing page.
Doidea – a part of Avidly
One Tip: The one landing page tweak that has turned out to have the biggest effect is video. When including a video on the landing page, not only does the stickiness of the page increase (in terms of time spent on page) but also the conversion rate. The video though should never be longer than 45-60 sec and include a clear CTA regarding the form.
Track your Wistia video performance on landing pages with a Wistia Basics dashboard
Idea Girl Media
One Tip: In one example, our goal was getting conversions for a membership program. The original landing page was just text with testimonials and images. All good stuff, but they weren’t getting conversions.
When we included a personal message video on the landing page, it changed time spent on the page and people were more likely to head on to payment and checkout. We also included personal video messages on the checkout page and thank you page, and all of that together made a huge difference. Conversions spiked, and they met their signup goals.
One Tip: At iSwissWeb, we believe in Video Marketing. Adding a background video on a Landing Page can increase the conversion rate by up to 80%.
You have only 7 seconds to catch a site visitor. Thus a video has the best potential to retain visitors through the emotion you communicate. It is the opportunity to immerse someone in an atmosphere, to easily convey a message and stay in their memories. Indeed, only 20% of people will read text when arriving on a website, when 80% will watch a video. Moreover, video tends to improve your SEO! Here are some examples: https://www.boatingreece.com & https://www.chalet-grimentz-location.com. The bounces rates and the average time of visit have multiplied by 2 since we added a video hero.
One Tip: One of the most powerful tools we have found for increasing conversions on our client’s landing pages has been explainer videos. One of the main challenges with landing pages is immediately capturing your visitor’s attention and conveying how you solve a problem for them. With the average person’s attention span at 8 seconds (shorter than a goldfish), it’s critical that your visitors don’t get hit with a wall of text or have to spend time figuring out what’s in it for them. Explainer videos are the perfect solution for this and case studies have shown this over and over.
For one of our clients, we designed a landing page and an explainer video for them to send their traffic to their new business. Their page ended up having a ridiculous conversion rate of 25-30% and a bounce rate of <20%. These sort of results would be game-changing for pretty much any business.
One Tip: I’ve been doing digital marketing for 10 years and landing page conversion has always been a key focus. One of the highest returns on my time investment has been in split-testing different videos on landing pages.
Data has shown for some time that having a video on a landing page increases conversions, but there are so many elements inside a video that it’s difficult to get it right.
We created a series of videos for our landing pages. In them, we ran various tests like:
and many more.
The key is to never test more than 1 element at a time. If you do more than that, you won’t know what caused visitors to perform different actions.
You will also need an adequate sample size. This means different things to different businesses, but we made sure there were at least 2 weeks for each test and at least 1K visitors before determining a “winner” of each test.
StoryTeller Media + Communications
One Tip: Creating videos for your landing pages is one the best ways to increase conversion. Adding a short video to your landing pages can help reduce barriers and communicate the value of your offer. We’ve worked with several clients to do a simple video shoot and record multiple landing page videos for some of their most important landing pages.
As your contacts move down the funnel, you can use video to establish trust. Especially on pages like your pricing page, your videos can reduce friction for a buyer.
Some of the participants hinted at this above, but you can be sure that all of these marketers track metrics that go way beyond form conversions.
Form conversions may be the most important metric, but they don’t always provide direction in terms of what needs to be improved.
If you want more direct signals on what is working on your page and what isn’t, it’s helpful to track metrics like bounce rate and time on page.
Behavioral metrics like those can tell you whether visitors are sticking around to read your content and watch your videos, rather than bounce within the dreaded eight seconds mentioned above.
For a full overview of tracking landing page performance, check out our guide to landing page metrics.
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