throw_away_moneyImagine travelling all the way to the INBOUND 2014 conference and forgetting to exchange business cards with all the people you met. You’d be kicking yourself, right? You would’ve had jovial conversations with a bunch of interesting people and probably talked some serious shop. However, if you couldn’t reconnect with any of them once you head home, you would’ve left real money on the table. 

Of course, this specific situation is all hypothetical … but it’s not so different than what’s happening on many people’s websites every day. We leave valuable business opportunities on the table because we fail to exchange details with people who interact with us on our website. I was certainly guilty of this.

Confession: My Landing Pages Sucked

The truth be told, I didn’t even have a form on my landing page for the first 12 months. I felt really uncomfortable asking people to tell me their name and email address because I lacked confidence.


I was the nervous kid at the school dance. When I finally mustered the courage to ask people for their name and email address in exchange for a valuable piece of content, people accepted in droves. My email list started growing to the tune of hundreds of new email subscribers a month. More importantly, every single client who has engaged my firm since then has downloaded content from our landing pages and been nurtured by the subsequent Bluewire News emails.

You can read about the ingredients of a successful landing page or landing page copy tips, and even how to avoid completely screwing it up but let’s dive into the most costly mistakes I made (in the order I made them) — hopefully you can avoid making them, too.

Mistake #1: Having a Navigation Menu

I had my main navigation bar on my landing pages, which gave visitors a dozen different options above the fold alone, and I wondered why more people weren’t taking the specific action I wanted. I removed the main menu navigation bar and bam: No distractions and total clarity for the user.  

These ‘menu’ leaks are only leaks off your page, not leaks off your website, but it is still critical to fix since your window of opportunity to convert a visitor is limited. People’s attention is very fickle, especially when they have multiple tabs open, emails, and offline distractions. Don’t lose leads by making it too confusing.


I hear some people saying, “But what if users want to browse around the site and not be forced into a landing page form?” This is a great question and I am all about what is best for the user.

So remember that your visitor has arrived at your specific landing page at their own will (and probably to try to solve a problem). They’ve clicked a Google search result, a social media mention, backlink, email, or menu item. Either way they are expecting to see what has been promised to them, not a myriad of things they haven’t asked for. Their priority is to complete that task.  

I believe that making this process as easy as possible is our obligation as marketers. Then after they’ve downloaded what they are there to access, by all means reintroduce the main navigation on the thank-you page so they can continue to browse around your website.

Mistake #2: Having More Than One Option

This is a huge no-no in my book. I used to give visitors the choice to download the PDF, fill in a contact us form, or call us. Not surprisingly, visitors had to think too hard, got confused and vanished. Three options meant few conversions.

As soon as I removed our phone number and contact us form and focused solely on delivering the promised PDF, conversions shot up over the 25% mark. These new contacts then entered our lead nurturing process of receiving our Bluewire News emails and our free templates.

Mistake #3: Not Having a Preview of the Goods

This is one technique that I don’t see too many people doing: Giving a preview of the offer on the landing page. Some marketers tell me that if someone can read the part of the PDF on the screen or sneak over to SlideShare to download it without popping in their email address, then you’re missing out on a lead. Hear me out though.

If someone wants to harvest your content and bail, they’re going to do it anyway, so at least be a sport and show them your hand. If your content is good, they’ll probably change their mind and opt-in to get your content after all.

Most of my landing pages convert at over 25%, and we manage a 7% website conversion rate. I personally feel this technique of including a SlideShare preview has been the most effective in conversions.


Mistake #4: Not Optimizing Landing Pages for Search

If you’re only linking to your landing pages at the end of blog posts and on the sidebar, think again. Blog readers can be in a passive frame of mind, and it takes a lot of effort to switch people from consumption to action.  

On the other hand, people searching on Google are there to solve a problem.  As you know, people will see organic results on the left side and the sponsored link results on the right.  The organic results are where over 90% of us click, so that is where the action is and where I suggest focusing.

A well optimized landing page will stand tall and proud on the first page of Google and it will effortlessly drive action-orientated visitors to you. In my personal experience, people in this “active” frame of mind are 20-30X more likely to take action and convert.

Let me show you.  A reader who reaches the template via call to action at the end of a blog post, like this, at the end of blog post converts at <1% for me.


Whereas someone searching who reaches this template via their Google search will convert at 29%. People searching for something have an active intent compared to someone who is passively reading a blog post or cruising social media.


Mistake #5: Not Having a Second Offer or CTA on the Thank-You Page.

It’s a smart move to keep your primary offer nice and clean on your landing page and not confuse people with multiple CTAs. However, once you’ve given the promised content to the lead, you are wise to garner their support by asking them to do something whilst they are “hot.”

I always suggest to make sure you utilize the thank-you page to place another CTA or offer. I choose to ask people to share the content via a Click to Tweet link. 


Mistake #6: Not Always Testing

There is no magic formula, and as a marketers, you should always be testing new things. The biggest testing win for me has been the discovery that “templates” are incredibly popular and they convert like crazy!

The actual word “template” is included in 8 of our 10 highest performing keyword phrases and they convert at an average of over 20%.  


Of course Google has started encrypting much of this data in recent months, but I’m confident the lion’s share of the “unknown keywords” would include the word “template” and be reflective of the rest of the stats.

Templates are also the most popular content on our email newsletters (they attract a 33% – 66% click through rate) and the most retweeted items too. Our best converting pages have all included the word “template” and it makes sense because people are looking for something they can pick up and use right away.

This desire for utility far outweighs downloading another ebook that gets stacked on the pile of guilt that you must eventually read (one day!).

If you kick the six costly mistakes I’ve made, you’ll attract more leads, customers and revenue — and you can make it easier by downloading this free, easy-to-follow landing page design template.

free ebook: optimizing landing pages

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