The Art of Online Business Podcast

#42: Anatomy of Killer Landing Pages with Unbounce’s Oli Gardner

Great conversation on The Art of Paid Traffic today all about landing pages with a really smart guy — Oli Gardner.

Oli is the co-founder of Unbounce which, if you’re not familiar, is a site for marketers where they offer helpful tools and resources to easily create high converting landing pages for your campaigns.

Oli is an expert in landing pages, conversion & optimization, design, and also things like copywriting, UI and branding.

In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • The elements every highly converting landing page should have.
  • The heiarachy structure every marketer should go through when creating a landing page. Hint: this is a really important process most of us aren’t going through.
  • Oli’s recommendation for how to properly optimize a landing page.
  • He answers the question – if he could just give 3 copywriting tips for a great landing page, what would they be?
  • Landing page designs that he’s liking (and not liking) these days.
  • And a whole lot more…

Download Today’s Bonus

We cover a lot in this one so I’ve created a Paid Traffic Bonus for you. This bonus is Landing Page Best Practices which breaks down for you everything that Oli teaches in today’s episode.

You’re going to want to reference this EVERYTIME you make a landing page for your products, services, and campaigns.

You can download today’s Paid Traffic Bonus resource for free by clicking the image below:

Subscribe to The Art of Paid Traffic on iTunes and/or Stitcher

subscribe-with-itunes-button sitcher inside social media podcast

Links & Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Right click here to download this episode

Oli’s website:

Unbounce’s The Conversion Marketer’s Guide to Landing Page Copywriting:

Follow Oli on Twitter: @oligardner

Email Oli: [email protected]

Reserve a free spot for Rick’s Facebook Ads for Beginners: How to Create Killer Facebook Ads On Less Than $10 A Day webinar:

Rick’s Facebook Ads flagship training: The FB ADvantage: Automated Facebook Ads Made Simple

Got A Question You Want Answered On the Podcast?

Every month I’m doing a Q&A episode where I answer your questions about Facebook ads and paid traffic.  If you ask something I can’t answer or I feel will be better answered by a specific expert, I’ll find that person to get an answer for you.

To ask a question to be answered on the podcast, click below and leave me a voicemail.  All you need is a microphone and Internet connection.

Other Episodes You’ll Like

#41: How to Dominate Pinterest Ads with Cynthia Sanchez

#40: LinkedIn Ads with Stephanie Sammons

#39: Facebook Video Ads – Part II with Keith Kranc

#38: How to Use Story-Based Facebook Video Ads to Increase Conversions with Keith Kranc

Transcript of Today’s Episode

Rick: Hey Oli, welcome to the Art of Paid Traffic. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Oli: My pleasure, Rick. Good to be here.

Rick: We’re going to be talking some conversion optimization today, something that we’ve talked a little bit about here on the show before, but I know that you’re really an expert in this and you’ve got some really cool things to share. I want to start off with talking about some elements that you think that every highly converting landing page should have. Are there specific elements that we should be looking out for when we’re creating our landing pages?

Oli: Yeah. There are lots of elements on a page usually, but there are some essential elements, a core set in the anatomy that you need to construct anything. Your landing page is no different there. These are just structural onlines, they’re a good place to start. You have your headline, your sub-head they communicate your value proposition. Actually, an interesting part there people talk about USP, unique buying proposition or whatever, but there’s a difference. When you talk about landing pages, landing pages are for marketing campaigns. You’re website is for organic traffic. Landing pages are for campaigns so it’s really a unique campaign proposition at that point, so it has to speak just about the campaign not your overall definition.

Then you’ll have some benefit statements, features and benefits. A hero shop which is the primary image or video, ideally showing your product or service actually being used not just a static photo, something a bit more demonstrative. Then-

Rick: Is that… Sorry to interrupt you. Is that somebody, like one of your customers using the product or service that you’re doing or is that you doing it? Is there kind of a best practice there?

Oli: Yeah, well think of… Let’s say you have a product that’s a small step ladder that helps shorter people reach into high cupboards in the kitchen, if you just had a photo of this thing on a white background, I mean, yeah that’s what it is but the context of use is more important in that, so if you showed someone standing on it and doing that and then showed step 2 like someone folding it up and putting it under the sink, now I see the benefit of it, visually rather than it just being a product shot.

Rick: Is there generally one way to go better than another whether we’re going to be using images or a video or does it really depend on where the traffic is coming from when they’re landing on that page?

Oli: In some circumstances, yeah. One thing about video is that you should be designing an experience that communicates what your offer is, making an assumption people won’t watch the video. In many circumstances I’ve seen that only 10% of people will actually watch the video, depending on the landing page. If all you have is a video, higher likelihood people are going to do that. Also, interestingly, and this comes down to like an auto-play question as well because, generally, by practice but if you… When it’s an exception, let’s say you have an email, you do email marketing and you have a thumbnail, a video or thumbnail in there because you won’t be able to click on it, if people click on a thumbnail that looks like a video they expect a video. So, having auto-play then is perfectly okay because they’ve asked for it.

Rick: Interesting. Okay. That makes sense.

Oli: Then you’ve got your call to action… a form or just a button to click through. So they’re the main elements. Like I said, that’s just the structure and those things don’t really change because they’re best practices and best practice warning. People crap on best practices all the time but they’re essential to get you started, not everybody’s an expert so they’re a good place to start. The things that do change are people, processes, and experience, those are the things that do change.

So, it’s kind of important to think about the whole structure of your marketing campaign. When you set up your campaign what’s the purpose? What are the metrics you’re going to use to measure the success? What are the channels you’re going to be running through? What’s the architecture of this whole campaign? What’s your optimization plan, interaction model, your information hierarchy, copy, the design, setup, QA, launch… It sounds like a lot but that’s a great framework to have established. Overtime you’ll have built up page templates for these campaigns. You start reusing them and optimizing and it gets much easier but it’s starting off from a strong perspective is really the way to go.

Rick: Sure, I like where you were going with that. Can we actually break that down? There was a lot. It seemed like a lot of steps there but I think that talking about that framework there, that template you just mentioned, I think, is really important. Can we start to break that down and see where the three P’s that you just mentioned, where each of those fit into this overall process here.

Oli: Yeah. Do you just want me to run through them and expand on that a little bit?

Rick: Yeah for sure. That sounds great.

Oli: So, your purpose. There are 2 acronyms I like. Never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page but conversely, never build a landing page without a campaign goal. So, you need your goal first before you do anything. You need to know what you’re actually going to measure. So what are the metrics? What’s important to you? Is it a lead, is it a trial of software, is it taking someone from a lead to become a customer? Have your metrics very clear so that you can see… Someone might go “Oh this campaign’s doing so well. It’s got so much traffic.” But are they doing what you want them to do? So, it’s not successful.

What channels? So if you’re doing email, paid search, social, they’re all different because they have a different level of context prior to the click. Like an email has a conversation, a tweet has very little, and an ad just has search intent, so each experience based on the channel can often be different.

Architecture. Sometimes it’s good just to white board, so just look at everything, put all your channels in there, maybe different line of pages for each channel that’s kind of advanced but it’s a really good way of working. Just write everything on a big white board so you can see how this thing comes together. Often you’ll spot holes or opportunities as well.

An optimization plan. What do you hope to learn from running this campaign? Have you done some research? Do you have an observed pain point, maybe from a previous campaign that you can develop a hypothesis for testing during this campaign so you can learn something. Then there’s an interaction model. This is really… Your campaign should be very simple. One click in the email just one purpose there. One purpose on your landing page just kind of map that out, make sure you’re not having too many things to do. Then you get your copy and that’s information hierarchy. I like to write a linear experience. Just forget the design at this point. Then you design an experience based on that copy. Then you go through the technical set up, building your landing pages, build a page variant, if you’re going to run a test, do some QA make sure the link’s unbroken and all this kind of stuff. Launch it and then finally a post-morton. Take a look at your campaign after the fact. What did you do right? What did you do wrong so you can feed that. What did you learn from the test? You can fee the old back into the cycle.

Rick: Yeah, how many variations… I have a couple questions that came out of that. How many variations do you generally suggest for, let’s just say I’m designing, I have 1 goal and I’ve created… I’ve gone through that entire process that you just mentioned there. How many variations of a landing page am I going to be creating or am I just creating 1 at a time and then as it’s going I start to AB split test, different variations of the page.

Oli: Yeah, it depends on your hypothesis. You should never run a test without… Like I said, doing some research and having this observe pain. Let’s say you have an event webinar or a course which takes time to go through. If you do research, what’s preventing you from doing this course? You might get things, I’ve done this, you might get this “Oh, it’s too long.” Or “I can’t commit the time.” Now you know there’s a time based problem, so you can address that. Making things shorter or talk about the fact “Oh, it’s easy. Each 1 only takes 15 minutes.” That kind of thing. So, then it really depends on what your hypothesis is to how many variants.

I’m running a test right now, which I’m trying to see the impact of when you have an email address field, so I’ve got free variance. I have the main, the champion long one. It says email address as the label on the form field. The next one is your best email address and the third one is business email address. Now, I don’t expect a conversion rate change on these, I expect them to all be the same pretty much. I’m not surprised but I think they’ll be the same. What I’m looking for is what kinds of qualitative email am I getting? I’m going to look through them and go “How many are Gmail versus an actual company name?” To see whether that… My hypothesis is that we get… we can do better if we have business email addresses, so I’m testing different labels to try and pull that out of people.

Rick: So are you going back later and looking at the deliver-ability of the email campaign that you’re sending out?

Oli: No, just really I’ve been looking at all the leads and just I’ll manually go through and I’ll kind of get a gut check on which version gets the best type of email address.

Rick: Gotcha. Okay. Because you figure that the business email is the one that you want rather than say a Gmail address.

Oli: Exactly, yeah. It gives you a bit more insight into which companies are signing up but yeah it’s generally going to be a bit more serious.

Rick: Gotcha. Okay. You mentioned something to there talking about linear copy-writing. So let’s talk about copy-writing for a little bit. Can you describe what you mean by that linear copy-writing?

Oli: Yeah, so an important thing to remember is that copy informs design not the other way around. Templates are great for getting you started but you shouldn’t write 3 bullet points because your template has 3 bullet points. Shouldn’t have 4 features because the template has 4 feature place holders. So, you should write … Have your campaign goal and write all of your copy and then design an experience that communicates that and I’ve done test where having a 2 column layout, people are jumping around between different types of information. Every time you change information, you’re not really aware of it, but the cognitive load, you’re learning something every time you move to a different format of information but if you do a linear experience where it’s just a single column and you’re just reading 1 thing after another as you go down, it’s just a more direct path to the end. I find this a lot simpler. That’s also how you should write. Just like boom, boom, boom. 1 thing after another and that can inform how you develop your design.

Rick: Now, something I just thought about as you were just talking about that there, is that a lot of people get hung up on the writing part and they think that they’re not good copy-writers. Number 1, what would you say to that person? And number 2, do you think it’s a good idea for them to hire a copy-writer as opposed to just kind of suffering through trying to create a copy for their landing page?

Oli: Truth is, most people suck at copy writing, specially persuasive copy-

Rick: Myself included.

Oli: It’s difficult but I would advice people to try. Everybody thinks they can’t write. Well, if that’s the case it’s not true because you write every day. What I like to do, it’s kind of taken from the artist way, is basically… Do this for a month. Every day when you get up write 300 words about anything before you do anything else. Just gets you into a rhythm and you can start figuring out… and you never know where you’re going to go and sometimes it’ll turn into something related to your business but often you just ramble, but you’ll just get better at it. Practice is really important but if you’re conversionally maybe you do need to hire someone. Something that’s really good to do is do a clarity test. I always useability hub. Where you can upload a screenshot and you do a 5 second test. So, you asked a question like what is this page about? Or how would you describe this page to someone else? Then you can look at like 20 answers and you can look at this qualitative data and see if people can actually figure out what your page is about. If they can’t, you have a clarity problem, so that’s teaching you which elements… Maybe your headline isn’t clear.

Rick: It’s usability hub, is that right?

Oli: Yeah.

Rick: You just upload a screenshot and you can asked… Do you ask a specific question that you want to get feedback on and then just random people who are in there get to look at it and give you feedback.

Oli: Yeah, exactly. It’s a 5 second test. So, basically you ask a question then the screenshot gets flashed up for 5 seconds then it comes down and… You have instructions first and then you see that and then you ask the question. You can ask more questions. It’s like 3 in a row but I find that’s a little too much for someone only seeing it for 5 seconds. Then it gives you a tag cloud like a work cloud so you can see which ones are really jumping out. It can be surprising.

Rick: Really cool. I’ll be sure and link that up in the show notes page. You mentioned also the artist way. I’ve heard… I’m totally blanking on the author of that book, I’m trying to think of it right now but I’ve heard about that book for some reason, a lot lately. Do you know the author?

Oli: Yes, I just searched for it. Julia Cameron.

Rick: Okay. I’ve heard about that book a lot lately and I’ve heard it’s really good as far as writing goes and it’s definitely one that want to pick up.

Oli: It’s massive. It’s a big book. It’s for people really serious about writing. That play on one of the main exercises, it’s called your pages or something. You have to do it… If you’re doing it properly you follow that. You have to hand write this stuff because it really, it makes you slow down. I couldn’t do that, my handwriting’s terrible.

Rick: So is mine.

Well, it looks like… Are there any other books like copy-writing books that you would highly recommend that people would pick up and… If they, I think it’s one of those arts that you just mentioned, most people are terrible at copy-writing so you can always be improving that art. What are some books that you recommend for it?

Oli: It’s funny. I got asked this the other day. I’ve only ever read 2 books on copy-writing.

Rick: Oh, really.

I put you on the spot.

Oli: Yeah. What I would recommend if you go to go to the resources link in the main nav, go to the e-books section and find the copy-writing one by Joanna Wiebe, it’s excellent and it’s a fairly quick read. It’s a really really good way because it’s about landing page copy, so it’s great for campaign based writing.

Rick: Awesome. She’s an upcoming guest here on the show.

Oli: Oh, nice.

Rick: I don’t know a date quite yet but she has confirmed so that’s going to be a great conversation.

1 more question about copy-writing. If there were just 3 copy-writing tips that you could give to somebody for a great landing page, what would they be?

Oli: When you’ve written your headline, your subhead, reverse the order and see how it reads.

Rick: Okay.

Oli: That’s the information hierarchy thing again. I find so common that all of the clarity of your communication lies in the subhead. Your subhead is supposed to add clarity not be the only thing that’s clear. Very often people do a clever headline or whatever which can work, but generally speaking clarity beats clever. So, I would just flip them and just read it and see how it sounds.

Similar to that, print out your page and then read it out loud while walking in a circle because-

Rick: Really?

Oli: -reading out loud and you have someone listen, you’ll hear completely different things when you’re saying it out loud. The walking in circle thing is to add some distractions if you’re an impatient visitor that’s a good exercise.

Rick: Okay, I like that.

Oli: Another one, this one’s really… I got this from a friend of mine, Carlos Del Rio, and I can’t stop talking about it it’s so good. Ask your customer to write your headline for you because they have gone through the experience, they know why they like your product or your service, they’re happy with it so getting them, because… Joanne will probably talk about this where you can go and take their language from testimonials and things… but actually having them sit down and write it, they’re going to speak directly to the benefit that speaks most to them. So, it’s a really cool-

Rick: I’ve never heard that before. I love that. That is great.

Oli: Finally, for writing you call to action copy, this is a very simple one. As a starting point, never use the word submit, yes people know that clicking on the submit button will submit that, they know that. That’s not the problem, it’s just that you’re missing out on an opportunity to be persuasive, so make your call to action copy, complete the sentence I want to blank. I want to start my free trial. I want to download this e-book. Another little tip there, using the word my often converts better than your because there’s a bit more of an association with what I’m going to get rather than-

Rick: I’ve wondered that. Obviously it’s one of those things you’ve got to test out but I’ve often wondered that because I thought about the same thing too. It’s like well do they think it’s my, like I’m writing it so is it my or are they thinking it’s for them. So, that’s a great point.

Oli: Yeah, actually I’m just opening up Spotify here because there’s something in there that I really dislike along those lines.

I can’t find it but it’s along those lines and it really doesn’t speak to me in the way that it should. The my word really helps.

Rick: Okay. Last question for you. Are there any kind of landing page designs, and you mentioned earlier that the copy that you’re writing should really… the design should come as a result of your copy but are there any designs that you are seeing these days that you are particularly liking?

Oli: You mean aside from the 98% that suck?

Rick: Yeah, what about that 2%?

Oli: Really, it’s the information hierarchy thing, I can’t get enough of it. When I see people doing that right I automatically like it more. It’s a more delightful experience, so that’s why I’m really geeking out on the single column layout thing. That’s kind of what I’m liking. The converse, like this 98% that are bad … Well what scares me are the yearly design trends that come in that we then have to deal with. So, there was parallax and ghost buttons, background videos and the worst one … I’d love to get some, take a data driven approach and mine are database, we have a project about to start, so see some aggregate data. Does a ghost button … How does it compare on average to a button that’s more buttony, I’d love that insight. The worst one right now, people… a lot of designers and theme developers, landing page designers, they’re putting in this kind of scroll manipulation j-query or something where when you scroll it tries to control it for you, it changes the way it shifts and it’s a disaster. You shouldn’t mess with 20 years of established, browsers know how to scroll the page. We just had a competition where people designed landing pages. I had to critique them and out of 100 of them I had disqualify 20 of them immediately because they had that in there.

Rick: Oh really?

Oli: Just a terrible idea.

Rick: Now, you mentioned… This has been great. Now you mentioned I got to give a big shout to the blog over there. You mentioned the resources section, I’ve got to check that out. I have not checked that out yet but your blog section is amazing. I get lost in there and it’s a worm hole for me, before I know it an hour’s gone by because it’s just great content over there but where else can people connect with you, Oli?

Oli: Twitter is a good place. @OliGardner. I’m on there all the time so if you reach out you’ll get me immediately or you can email me O-L-I [email protected] I’m very open so you can just email me-

Rick: Sure. I’ll be sure to link those links up in the show notes page for today’s episode. Oli, this has been great. Like I mentioned before we got going here, we could talk about this for hours. I may have to have you back on the show again but thank you so much for joining me today.

Oli: Yeah, my pleasure.