November 10, 2015 | Sarah Danks
(Originally published on January 28, 2015)
Consumers want lots of options…
In today’s over-stocked, Best-Buy-or-Amazon world, consumers are used to seeing a myriad of choices of products. In fact, they’re so accostumed to being presented with multiple choices that when they’re not, noses turn up in disdain.
“This restaurant only has FIVE kinds of burgers? <scoff> How lame.”
…but is that the best option for the marketer?
But, as marketers we need to know when NOT to offer lots of choices. Take pay-per-click advertising, for example.
So many search marketers are still sending paid search ads to the client’s website and not building unique, dedicated landing pages for their paid campaigns. Websites aren’t built to convert paid traffic; they’ve got an entirely different purpose.
Sure, sometimes there are budget constraints, or the SEM works for a company that doesn’t build landing pages, etc., but at the very least you should be building one landing page to route PPC traffic to.
Custom landing pages have one purpose: to convert the visitor.
So, you should be building dedicated landing pages for paid campaigns. But, when you do build a custom landing page — or thirty — you need to keep the choice factor to a minimum. It was even touched on at the SEJSummit by Erin Everhart:
Trouble is, many marketers still think landing pages need to offer users multiple choices so as to get SOME action rather than no action at all…
…but here’s where their thinking is wrong: according to a leading authority in choice theory — none other than Sheena Iyengar — when people are offered too many choices, they often choose NOT to choose. She states:
“Choice overload reduces engagement, decision quality, and satisfaction.”
In this must-see TED Talk, Sheena shares her wisdom on how to make the choice easy for your customers. While she’s talking in a general sense, this applies to any form of marketing — especially pay-per-click.
She has many take-aways in this talk, but I really like the jam example. In a nutshell, grocery store consumers had the option of sampling either 6 jams or 24. Of course the table with 24 kinds of jams brought many more people, but only 3% purchased anything.
On the other hand, the small table of only 6 jams brought less people…but of the people who DID sample, 30% made a purchase.
Pretty cool stuff.
What does this mean for PPC landing pages?
Obviously the entire point of a landing page is, again, to convert visitors. But the problem with some landing pages is they offer too many ways to convert. Do you want them to pick up the phone and call you, or fill out the form, or request a quote, or download the white paper, or watch the video, or sign up for the newsletter…?
Pick one and stick with it (per page)! Just like Sheena said, if you offer too many choices you’re going to run into an overload problem and your visitors are very likely to not convert at all.
Subscribing to Sheena’s logic, Unbounce is well-known for their highly opinionated “less is more” landing page ideas:
“Less distractions, less links, less “leaks” and ultimately less choice equals higher conversion rates, more leads and more money in the bank.”
Another good example from Unbounce: in 10 Landing Page Mistakes You’ll Never Make Again, they point out the need to focus on a single goal with this landing page example:
I love the comment about the confusing myriad of options:
“This (landing page) has 15 individually clickable elements. That’s complete rubbish!”
The Crazy Egg blog cites the same aforementioned example as a landing page mistake:
“I just can’t understand the purpose of this many call-to-action buttons on a single page. It’s as if they want to generate paralysis-by-choice in their readers. Your landing page should offer just two options: to convert or to leave the page.”
Also on that blog is a nice post about not overwhelming your visitors, including case study information that proves less distractions leads to more conversions.
And, harkening all the way back to 2009 is this still-relevant blog post* wherein Mary Flaherty discusses reasons why a landing page might be driving visitors away…
…and she, too, touches on Sheena’s advice:
“Don’t overwhelm your visitor with too many options on your landing page. The more options you offer the less likely it is your visitor will take any action other than closing the browser.”
So, IS there such a thing as too many choices? YES.
Hopefully with all these experts telling us what we should be doing, we’ll do it, and not overwhelm our PPC visitors with too many selections! You might think “but all the choices I’m offering are equally important!,” but I can assure you, they’re not.
Think what you want each landing page to accomplish, and ask visitors to fulfill ONE goal. If you must, split your offers up into different landing pages — this’d be great for A/B testing — to see how effective each choice really is.
If you don’t have the bandwidth to create that many landing pages, hone the focus.
Cut down the number of options (ideally there’d just be ONE goal a visitor can/should complete on a dedicated landing page) and don’t fall prey to the negative consequences that come from offering too many choices to your (potential) customers.
Did you ever offer multiple CTAs on pay-per-click landing pages? How did you make the decision to cut back and focus on “less is more”?
*I’d love to see the original webinar by Tim Ash, The 7 Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design, but it’s gone-ski. (As a site note: WTH, Google? I mean, I realize we’re hiking through the galaxy aaaaaaalllllll the way back to 2009, but still. It’s just…gone?! Check it for yourself.)