Lessons from Baseball: 8 Tips To Improve Landing Page Performance

As we watched the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers play in this year’s thrilling World Series, it got us thinking about statistics, walking runners and landing page testing.

It always amazes us how many stats the announcers spit out during the course of a game. The fact is baseball is a numbers game. And that was brought home to us when Albert Pujols, the Cards’ first baseman, stepped up to the plate in game 5 of the World Series and the Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis intentionally walked him.

Know the Odds
This puzzled Scott’s wife. “Why do they not let that man hit the ball?” Good question. Why walk someone? Well, the answer was in the stats. Pujols is tied for second place (with the Boston Red Sox’s Kevin Youkilis) for hitting during a single season league championship, fourth place for runs scored, and second place for home runs.

You wouldn’t want to pitch to this guy if you could help it, especially if there were runners on base. The Rangers’ pitcher and team managers would rather take their chances on the next batter in the lineup than with Pujols.

So what does this have to do with landing pages? Plenty. As we design and write content for our landing pages, we need to have that same nose for statistics that the players, managers and announcers do in the major leagues.

Low Quality Scores?
And the point in all of this is: know what you’re up against, plan for it, and keep tweaking your landing pages. If your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are up and running, but your conversion rates and your quality scores are falling short of your expectations, your ad campaigns are probably not the problem, but your landing pages probably are.

What? You didn’t realize Google’s search engines were looking at your landing pages? Yes, they are, and that is part of what calculates their quality score for your campaigns.

Here are 8 tips to help you turn an underperforming landing page into a star player.

1. Create a unique landing page. The first rule of thumb for PPC campaigns is: NEVER send your PPC campaigns to your home page, NEVER. Got that, NEVER! (Pardon the all caps, people.) By itself, your home page isn’t designed to convert. Its primary purpose is to be a brand entry point and navigational hub for your website. Depending on your conversion goal for your unique landing page, your landing page should provide users with the most direct path to the conversion event, whether it’s a page view, click-through or form submit.

2. Capture attention. The headline is the first thing visitors will see when they come to your landing page. So it’s important that the headline capture attention by stating clearly why your visitor should continue reading, scanning and viewing the page rather than exiting your site. Adding a subhead can help provide further clarity and give you another chance to hook your visitor into wanting to learn more or take the next step in engaging with your company.

3. Don’t just pick pretty images – make sure they support content. Many companies blow it when it comes to images on their landing pages. They pick a generic business image or one that the web designer personally likes. Instead, the image should work with the content to tell a story. You need to think about how that image helps convert and less about the artistic merits of the graphic.

4. Know your target audience. Most organizations think they have a pretty good understanding of their target audience. But how many of them have really taken the time to really get to know their target audience’s challenges, their decision criteria and their perceptions of your products or services – by actually talking to a few prospects or customers? By building buyer personas, organizations can finally connect with what really matters to their target audience, how best to reach them with the right messages, and how to overcome resistance and turn a suspect into a prospect.

5.  Don’t let your landing page be the online equivalent of the boring, self-absorbed guy who talks endlessly about himself at the party. Keep your audience in mind. What do they care about? What trends or case studies would they be interested in viewing or reading? Your content needs to address exactly what matters to your audience. Whether it’s in the form of a video or text, your landing page’s content is your golden opportunity to convince prospects, in a clear and concise way, the reasons why they should engage with you. Also, your landing page should have a single goal or call to action, so keep all of your copy on track with that objective in mind.

6. Don’t forget the next step. The call-to-action is what you want the user to do on the landing page, whether that action is to purchase, to sign up, to download – or even call a phone number. Often, the call-to-action is placed on a graphical submit button. You can also use hyperlinks within the copy to give visitors – who aren’t quite ready to respond to your offer – some valid alternatives to engage with additional content and keep them moving along in the buying process.

7. Establish credibility from the get-go. Any good relationship – even an online one – must be built based on trust. Your landing page is no different. In order to keep your visitors reading or viewing your content on your website or filling out a brief form, you must establish credibility with your visitors immediately. Client testimonials, guarantees, trust or security icons, and placement of privacy statements are ways that you can build trust and credibility with visitors right away. Be careful not to overdo it, though. Too much bragging and boasting or guarantees might have the opposite effect of triggering doubts in visitors’ minds.

8.  Test, test again, and test some more. You may have created a great landing page, but are you sure that it will convert – or convert better than sending visitors to your home page (It had better!)? The fact is, you will never know until you test it.  Don’t set it (your landing page) and forget about it. Instead, use your favorite testing tool – Google Conversion Optimizer (free), Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce, to name a few – to perform split tests, A/B tests, multivariate tests and more on your landing page(s). If you do, you will gather the intelligence needed to tweak your landing pages and improve conversions.


So what do you test? The answer is anything and everything. It depends on which variables are present and what action you are trying to get your visitor to take on your landing page.  It might be you want to test the headline, the content, the calls to action, or the images and layout.  Check out Scott’s conversion optimization guide for a more complete list.

More than “at bats”
We once knew a sales VP whose favorite phrase was “at bats” – as in he wanted Marketing to get him more “at bats.” This sales guy believed that more leads inevitably would translate into more closed deals. A bit of wishful thinking, perhaps?

As we know, the number of “at bats” doesn’t guarantee a scoring run in baseball any more than it does a closed sales deal. You’ve got to attract the right kind of visitors to your landing pages. And once you have them there, your landing pages must be optimized to provide visitors with a more consistent branded experience, deliver a lower cost in PPC media fees (by increasing clicks and lowering per-click costs) and convert more suspects into prospects and prospects into customers.

How do you turn low-performing landing pages into great ones? What are your greatest conversion challenges? Welcome your comments, tips and thoughts.

Scott Quarterman is Co-Founder and Chief Conversion Scientist at Surge Labs. Surge Labs provides conversion optimization and testing services, and often works on a pay-for-performance pricing model (if we don’t increase your conversions we don’t get paid). Download our FREE Conversion Optimization Guide today.

Sheryl Roehl is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer at Sheryl Roehl Communications, which provides marketing and public relations services to help B2B companies  build and execute campaigns that drive increased brand awareness, generate leads and drive significant business results.

One response to “Lessons from Baseball: 8 Tips To Improve Landing Page Performance”

  1. How NOT to Choose a Marketing Agency: 13 Rules You Should Break

    [...] you? Are visitors converting to leads? Does the content reflect your current positioning? Have you optimized your landing pages? Have you integrated social media into your site beyond just sticking up some icons on your [...]

Leave a Reply