Episode 256 | The 10 Elements of Highly Effective SaaS Landing Pages

Show Notes

In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike put together a list of the most common things that are working and effective for SaaS landing pages.

Items mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

Rob [00:00]: In this episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, Mike and I discuss the 10 elements of highly effective SaaS landing pages. This is Startups for the Rest of us, episode 256.

Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product, or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.

Mike [00:28]: And I’m Mike.

Rob [00:29]: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. So [what are this week?] sir?

Mike [00:33]: Well I caught a nasty virus over the weekend so I was hugging the toilet the other day. I could not keep food down. So it’s what? Wednesday now, and I’m just kind of getting back into the swing of things and trying to catch up from having not gotten anything done the past several days, but it was pretty brutal.

Rob [00:49]: Do you get sick a lot?

Mike [00:50]: No. I almost never get sick. I’ll get sick like once every couple of years and that’s about it. But when it comes, it’s just brutal. I’ll be in bed for a couple of days just because I just can’t get out of bed. I remember making fun of you a little bit because you said that you were sick once, and you were so sick that you couldn’t even listen to podcasts, I was that sick. I remember [?] it was like, “Oh, I shouldn’t have made fun of him.”

Rob [01:14]: I totally know what Rob is talking about right now. That is funny. So, we’ve gotten a lot of comments on last week’s episode, episode 255, where you talked about moving on from AuditShark and that whole decision. You’ve received Tweets, you’ve received DM’s, we’ve received several e-mails, there’s more than a dozen comments on the podcast blog with folks just talking about how they felt this was one of our best episodes and basically wishing you luck and appreciating that you put yourself out there with the vulnerability and were willing to discuss this. I think it really hits home with people to see, it’s not only vulnerability, that’s a big part of it, but it’s also just to see you or anyone come out and talk about mistakes that they’ve made and to basically help show other folks how not to make those mistakes. I think that was really the point of last week, was to kind of bring it all to the front so, A: You could kind of have a post mortem. But then, the entire listener base for this podcast can kind of peer into it and think to themselves, “Wow, am I doing that right now?” or “Am I going to do that with my next product?” And really take it as al lesson for the community rather than a single person hiding away in a basement making these mistakes and no one learning from it. How have you felt about the response?

Mike [02:29]: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. I haven’t really seen anything negative about it, just a lot of thanks and appreciation. I don’t know. I guess it’s humbling. It’s more than I could have expected or hoped for. I guess. I don’t know. It was one of those episodes where, it was coming and I knew it was coming for a while, and I was kind of dreading it at the same time.

Rob [02:48]: Very cool. So let’s move on to what we are talking about this week. We received an e-mail from Stefan at vividwebcopy.com. He says, “Hi Rob and Mike. How about an episode SaaS landing page design?” And Stefan is actually, it looks like he is a copywriter, vividwebcopy.com, if you want to go check his stuff out. But Mike and I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, and so we wanted to weigh in. And I specifically put together this list. I was trying to boil it down into the most effective elements that I see that go into these landing pages that work and I want to talk about the typical SaaS landing page rather than going outside the box. Obviously, if you know the rules and you’ve been doing this and you’re an expert, UX guy or UI woman, you can break the rules. You don’t need to listen to something like this. But if you’re wondering about the most common and most effective things in general that are working for SaaS landing pages, that’s what we’re going to be talking about. And this typically a SaaS home page, although it can be often you copy your homepage to make landing pages for, say, Facebook ads and other stuff, because your homepage should really be that landing page that gets someone acquainted with your product quickly. So we’re not going to talk about long form landing pages, like getdrip.com right now, is a long form sales letter in essence. We’re going to talk about that because we are going to talk about the more traditional SaaS landing pages and you could see examples of these at places like bidsketch.com, planscope.io, getambassador.com, hittail.com, all of those are the more traditional scene that we’re going to be talking about. So to dive in, the first element of highly affective SaaS landing pages are to design it for first time visitors, to get in the mindset that you really want a first time visitor to come, get acquainted, and go down a very specific path that you’re outlining for them. If you have customers who are coming to your homepage to log in, they will find the log in box. Don’t make that prominent, don’t put that right smack in the best part of the screen right above the fold, this is for first time visitors, trying to educate them, get their interest [peaked?], have them figure out if it’s for them, and then get them to take the next step in the action. So often times, I will see a log in or a sign in button right in the same top navigation that you’re trying to sell to people and I disagree with that approach. I think it should be a tiny link above or maybe far off to the right. Like, there should be a separation because your customers are going to find a way to log in, don’t worry about that, but your goal is really to get those first time visitors to follow this path that you have in mind.

Mike [05:14]: Yeah. And the essence behind that is just to not give them false paths that they’re going to go down and waste time because it’s very easy to, and I’ve done this myself, I’d go to a web page and you just land on it and then there’s a log in button and you’re like, “Oh well, I kind of want to see the pricing and see what that stuff is like” and maybe it’s not obvious where to see some of that stuff, so you click log in and then it’s just giving you a username and a password fields to have you log in and there’s nothing else. There’s nowhere else for you to go on that page so then you end up going back and you get a little bit confused about where to go. So the whole idea of this is to make sure that when somebody is coming to your page, and they don’t know anything about your site or your application that you’re essentially walking them through everything. So that’s why Rob is talking about designing it for the first time visitor. You have to make a blanket assumption that the person coming to your site knows absolutely nothing. So because you’re designing these pages for the first time visitor, you have to figure out what the goal of that page is, what is it that you want them to do, why should they care about your product, and what are the next steps that you want them to take? Do you want to ask them for a trial, do you want to get them to get into pipeline there, do you want them to come back to your website in the future? Rob, you had a great talk a few years ago at the business software which was – I forget the exact title but it was something along the lines of, “The purpose of your website is not to get them to buy your app, it’s to get them to come back to your website.”

Rob [06:33]: Yeah. It was called “The number one goal of your website” and it just talked about how returning visitors are between six and twenty times more likely to purchase from you. I mean, very few people purchase on the first try. There are exceptions to that. If you have a price point, I’d say starting between maybe $10 a month, we’re talking SaaS here right. But anywhere under, let’s say $15-$20 a month and you have a high curiosity factor where you’re kind of giving someone something that they kind of curious about trying. So an example of this could be like HitTail. HitTail has this promise of, “We’re going to give you keywords that you’ve never seen before.” There’s this high curiosity of like, “Wow. What are my keywords going to be? And I can get them right away?” So you’re very likely to be able to sign up to directly for a trial and not actually need to go through an educational process first. It’s a low commitment thing. Most apps are not like that, I’ll say. I mean if you have a proposal app or even a marketing app or affiliate software, that kind of stuff is less about curiosity and it’s more about, “Wow, does this fit me? Why is this better than other things that I’ve seen?” and getting [signed?] before a trial right away is just a lot lower, there are lower odds to doing that and that’s where you need to start thinking about, “Okay, I shouldn’t push this trial right away but how can I start educating and how can I bring them back to my site in the future?” And bringing them back, of course, these days, re-targeting is a big one, and then getting folks on your e-mail list. These are the two biggest drivers of being able to start to build a relationship and bring people back. So instead of having a few people signed up, you get that 6 to 20 times higher likelihood of folks signing up. The second element of highly effective SaaS landing pages is to have a gripping headline. And I have a pretty simple formula for this that I’ve talked about in the past, but it’s to just have three things in place. The first is to make a promise in the headline, the second thing is to have an action word, like a verb, and the third one is to either have a directly stated “You” or “imply you” meaning, that you’re talking to the person who is reading the headline. So as an example, I’ll come back to HitTail again, because it fits this well. The headline at hittail.com is “Guaranteed to increase your organic traffic” and the promise is that it’s guaranteed to increase traffic, the action, the verb, is “Increase” and then there’s a “You”, it’s “your, you, or you’re”. You rarely should be talking about your app. Here’s another headline for HitTail that wouldn’t work nearly as well, “The best long tail SEO keyword tool.” Because there’s no promise, there’s no action and there’s no you. So I’m not saying that this is a hard and fast rule that all headlines need to follow, but I’ve found that it’s a really good starting point for me. When I sit down to write a brand new headline, I say, “What can I write first that follows these three rules?” and then I start massaging and thinking of other headline ideas. So I think it’s a good solid framework to begin with.

Mike [09:23]: Yeah. When you’re coming up with the headlines, it’s definitely all about the person who’s visiting the site, and again, it goes back to who is coming there and what are they coming for. But when they’re looking at the page, they’re going to be thinking, “What’s in it for me?” And this simple formula really gives them a good idea of what’s in it for them. You’ve got that promise, the action and you’re talking specifically about them. You don’t want to be talking about your app or the things that it does or how it works or anything like that. You want to be telling them how it’s going to benefit them.

Rob [09:51]: If you want more information on headline writing, you can head over to copyhackers.com and they have 7 different e-books and book two is $19 and it’s called “Headlines, subheads, and value Propositions” and that’s definitely a decent place to start. There’s a lot of info on headlines but that’s nice because it’s specifically for software and startups. Third element of effective SaaS landing pages are to have at least one visual element here at the top of the page. So as Mike and I walk through this list, I want you to imagine it as going from top to bottom. It really is a prescriptive order of starting with that headline, having a visual element either next to it or below it. And then from there, we go to element 4, element 5. Again, these are not hard and fast rules, once you know what you are doing you can mess with these things. But when you are starting out as a framework, this is a good solid place to start from. So this third element which is visual elements, I’m thinking of something like a video, short video, less than 90 seconds for sure or an image. And if you go to the web page of hittail.com, you’ll see an image that describes what HitTail does just with a couple of circles and some arrows. So it’s almost like a video, it doesn’t move but it has enough text and some arrows that it shows you what it does in that image and I think that’s important. I think just having an image of a random person sitting there clip art staring at a screen, I don’t think it’s helpful because it doesn’t actually talk about your value proposition or talk about your benefits or demonstrates something. I think this visual element needs to serve a purpose. So either an image that actually serves a purpose, a short video that gives some high level benefits, or the third one that really is ideal but is a lot harder to pull off, is an e-mail capture form related to the functionality of your application. So I don’t mean something that says, “Hey, here’s some education about this topic of how to find more affiliates or how to be an e-mail marketer of SEO, but actually starts to demo the functionality of your app. So an example of this is if you go to the bidsketch.com homepage, and you’ll see that Ruben has a form there where you enter your e-mail and it doesn’t sign you up for a course, it doesn’t send you education, it actually creates a proposal, it e-mails you a proposal basically demoing the functionality of the app. And so, although, he will send follow-up e-mails after that, that first one you get is essentially your first [foray?] into seeing how the app actually works. And I think if you’re able to pull that off in a way that’s pretty elegant and actually shows people how your app’s working, I think that’s a big win as well.

Mike [12:18]: Yeah. If you look at the Bidsketch website right there on that homepage it says, “Get a sneak peak at a sample proposal” so that kind of meets the element two that you said, a gripping headline, where it follows that simple formula for promised action and then talking about you, and then has that email capture form which says, “Send it to me” which gives you that sample proposal. So you get a couple of different things there and those two elements are combined. And Ruben has been doing this for a long time, so he has been able to effectively put those things together. And it may take you a couple of times to do this sort of thing but again, the goal of this episode is to kind of lay these things out and talk about the different elements and how they can be added to the page and in which order they should be added in order to give you a starting point. Once you’ve done this and you start testing it and checking with your customers to see how well it’s converting, then you can start playing around with these things, but this is just the framework that we’re following through.

Rob [13:09]: And the fourth element is to provide a couple of benefits, not too many, typically use the rule of three here where I would veer on the side of having 3, 6 or 9. Probably, the fewer the better, it kind of depends. If you go to planscope.io, you’ll see that right down below his visual element which is a video, Brennan has three benefits, [?] more estimates, one sentence describing what that means, “deliver better projects and grow your business”. It’s a really nice example of, boom, having three left to right, three benefits of what you’re going to get using planscope. If you go to hittail.com, you’ll actually see it’s three sets of three and each set is aimed at a specific market segment that is using HitTail essentially gets value, it’s SEOs, it’s internet marketers, and it’s e-commerce folks, and those are kind of the key three core areas that use HitTail, so both of them work. I think the thing that I would recommend is, when you’re providing benefits like this, stay grounded. The biggest mistake I see with benefits is that people go so high level that it doesn’t even make sense anymore, like it’s so vague that any app could do it. So I really don’t like benefits like, “Saves you time, makes you more money” because doesn’t every app do one of those two things? I mean, really that’s the point today, is that every business application needs to do that. So I think if you find yourself saying that, like come down one or two steps to be a little more specific, and again, like Brennan says on Planscope, “Win more estimates.” If you went up a step you could say, “Make more money” but that isn’t helpful. You got to drop it down one level or two. Deliver better projects to grow your business. These are things that there is some tangibility to them. And if you’re having trouble thinking of these benefits, what I would tend to do is to- if you make a list of benefits and a lot of them seem like features, like actual features you have built into the app, then read that feature and say, “All right, we built XYZ feature so that” “So that” is the key phrase there and you complete that sentence. So we have built this keyword suggestion tool so that you will get more keywords that you can then get more traffic from blah blah blah. And that’s your benefit after that “So that” period of the sentence.

Mike [15:18]: When you’re describing these benefits, whether you’re going with 3, 6 or 9 it doesn’t really matter. The headlines are going to be I think a little bit on the generic side because they tend to be only several, 3 to 5 words for the title of that benefit. I mean if you have them separated out into 3, 6 or 9 sections, the words there are going to be relatively tight. But then underneath it, when you start talking about what the details of that benefit, you can be very specific about it. So for example on planscope.io, Brennan says, “Win more estimates,” and then underneath it, he says, “Our collaborative estimating features help Planscope customers close 2 to 3 times more clients. And that piece right there, closing 2 to 3 times more clients, is helpful in a couple of different ways. One, it tells you exactly what the benefit is and two, it is very specific. And the fact that it’s able to close 2 to 3 times more client projects, means more money for you and that is, in a way implied but it is also led from the “win more” estimates headline. So keep those sorts of things in mind when you’re putting together those benefits. Another thing that you can do is you can take those benefits and separate them out onto different pages and talk more specifically about those. A lot of times when people are building a website for a new SaaS product, it can be difficult to figure out what information needs to go on the different pages. So make it simple, just start out by outlining the different benefits and don’t talk too much about them. And then later on, as you start to grow the site and you expand the footprint of the website, then you can talk about those benefits individually on their own pages and then you can link to them from your homepage some place. But I don’t think that you need to do that from day one and you don’t want to overwhelm somebody on your homepage with every single piece of information you possibly have, because that becomes a long form sales page. And I don’t think that’s what you want to start out with. You want to start out with educating them about your product, and then if they start if they start drilling into your website and are interested in those other features, you can talk more about them and you’ll be able to get more information about them according to your bounce rates and how long people are staying on the different pages by looking at the analytics behind those pages as people are visiting them.

Rob [17:24]: I’d also like to point out, I just noticed on Planscope’s homepage, their headline is “Gain total control of your agency” and that fits right into the three elements I said before of making a promise, having an action and having “you or your” in the headline. Element five of highly effective SaaS landing pages is social proof. This one is very common and very necessary. I do not think this is optional. Social proof can come in many forms and actually believe that having all three of them is ideal. The first and most common one people think of are testimonials from customers. I always recommend you have head shots with those as well if possible. So you have a head shot of a person and the name linked to their website. You don’t want anonymous testimonials or just a first name or something. And then edit their testimonial down to just the core part, so if it can be 10 words or 15 words, you’re doing really well. Pretty much the best SaaS landing pages I see have testimonials. The next piece to have, press logos, whether you’ve been mentioned, whether online or offline press. If people are going to recognize that logo, have that in there. And the third one is to put a vanity metric in there. So if your app has analyzed a billion keywords, if you’ve sent out $100 million of proposals or your clients have through your app, if you’re a web host and there were 9 billion page views through your network last month. I mean these are very much vanity metrics. They are not business driven and they don’t help your bottom line, but they are basically bragging rights to show you that other people are using it and that you held up under the stress and that you have experience in this field, and all of this ties into basically socially proving that your app is something that someone should consider.

Mike [19:04]: Yeah. Part of the social proof is just all these things that you talked about, the testimonials and the press logos, those are essentially trust factors and people want to be able to trust your app but you need to give them a reason to, you need to give them proof of some kind. So the fact that you were mentioned on msn.com or CNN, or wherever, those are trust factors, the same with testimonials, especially if you start including head shots of the people who said the things about you. Those are also considered trust factors. When you start talking about those things that Rob just mentioned in terms of the vanity metrics and the number of keywords processed, the amount of money that is embedded in the proposals that are sent out or the page views last month, those are also trust factors but they are internally related. So there’s two types, there’s the external ones that you don’t necessarily have control over and then there’s the internal ones which you do. You could obviously fudge those numbers. But when somebody’s looking at that website, they are not going to sit there and think, “Oh, this person is pulling my chain.” And as long as the other things match up, they are just going to believe those numbers. They don’t have to be accurate, they can be incriminated on a daily, or monthly basis, or what have you, but there has to be some semblance of trust there for them to take those numbers and internally process them and believe them. And the same thing goes for those external loads, I mean if it’s something that they’re going to recognize, definitely use it and it’s essentially your piggy backing on the trust of that other website. So as I said, the logos of other major news outlets or anything like that. You’re piggy backing on their credibility to essentially enhance your own.

Rob [20:35]: And just to clarify, you said, the vanity metric doesn’t necessarily need to be accurate, you can update it once a month or whatever. I’d agree with that, I think as long as your low rather than high, you’re [airing?] on the side of caution, right. It doesn’t need to be an exact thing pulling from your database as a live feed.

Mike [20:50]: Yeah, exactly. That’s more what I meant than anything else. It doesn’t need to be up to the second. That’s really what it comes down to.

Rob [20:56]: All right. So our sixth element of effective landing pages. This one’s an optional one, its features. It’s having features on your home page. So not benefits, and this is further down the page, remember we’re going in order from top to bottom. I have seen this done really well with some very specific features that set you apart. And in fact, if you couch it like that, and you specifically say “No other app has this feature or these are the features that our customers like most” or something like that and just give a few of them. You’re not giving a whole run down of everything but you’re trying to call it out and show why you’re different. You have to be very specific at some point during this journey and if you feel like you can do it by putting some features on the homepage and then folks can click through at the bottom of the homepage and get to like a tour or a features page with more specific mechanics of your app, I think it’s not a bad idea. I think if you’re not sure, probably don’t do this step but I have seen it done really well. The reason that I like when people start getting into features, definitely, on the website somewhere, you need a features page. Because if you’re just talking about benefits all the time, no one knows what your app actually does. If you go to a website for like an IBM software product or some Salesforce product that each own [bazillions?] of products, it seems like all you tend to find is benefits with a lot of marketing speak and it’s really hard to just get a list of what does this app do. And it’s hard for folks to figure out what you do if you never get down to the features. So you definitely need a features page somewhere and I think a few that call you out on your homepage is not a bad thing. Our seventh element is to look at your top nav and have four items or fewer in that top navigation and that includes your home link. So you really only have room for a couple more. So I would typically have something like home on the left, and then either a tour or how it works, which is kind of the same thing. It’s explaining the basic flow of your app. Sometimes it depends on if you want to include a bunch of features on that page, probably another discussion but sometimes a tour is just- if your flow is fairly complicated and you’re trying to teach people what your app does, then you’d have a separate features page and that could also be in the top nav. And then you can basically have a pricing page. I’ve also seen it done well to have another page that basically says [why, app name?]. So if you’re base camp, it says, “why base camp” or why should you choose base camp. That’s if you have a ton of press mentions, social proof or just so much more to say. In fact, with HitTail, we have a “Why” page in our top nav and the reason is, there was so many press mentions because the previous owner was actually a PR firm. There were mentions on TechCrunch and in multiple newspapers and offline magazines, just all kinds of stuff. So there were so many quotes that I found that I didn’t want to stuff them on the homepage, didn’t want to stuff them in the tour. Although, I sprinkled them all over the place. We really needed a dedicated page. It’s just another way to build credibility and that someone can click to and think through and then offer social proof.

Mike [23:47]: These elements in the top navigation are probably going to get hit a lot more than anything else. We’re going to talk a little bit more about the elements at the bottom of the page. but at the top navigation, those are the things that people see right at the top of the page and they are far more likely to get the users to click through to those than anything that you’ll find in the footer. And I’ve used this strategy before where I’ve embedded links in the footer and I’ve used this strategy before where I’ve embedded links in the footer purely for SEO purposes to get Google to essentially spider other pages on the site. But the reality is, if you start looking at the analytics for that, the users who are coming to your website, virtually, never follow through and click through a lot of those links. So you want to make sure that the pages on your site that you want to get the most traffic to for people who are hitting your site and you want them to learn more about your product or what it is that you are going to do for them, make sure that those links are in that top navigation.

Rob [24:40]: Our eighth element is to have an exit path at the bottom of every page. In essence, this is a button that takes someone to the next step of your flow. You want to think of this as a specific journey that you are leading someone through. So when they hit your homepage, you don’t want a bunch of extraneous links, you want a few options at the top. If you even have a top nav, which is probably another discussion. I’ve seen folks run experiments that I’ve worked where you basically remove the top nav and someone really only has one flow to go. You can scroll down and read and at the bottom, there’s kind of a tour button that leads you to the tour and you’re basically leading them through a flow. But in this case, having an exit path at the bottom of every page is something I think you have to have and I think a lot of people don’t do this. It’s to think, “Boy, after they read this homepage, they get to the bottom, so maybe they’ve read the social proof and the benefits and maybe a feature or two, what is next? What do they really want to know?” And then take them maybe through a tour and then perhaps take them to features or you could start letting them know, “Hey, you can sign up for a trial,” there’s some options to think through. You really want to have one main and then maybe a secondary, call to action, down at the bottom there. But not having this exit path at the bottom, then makes your reader get to the bottom, and look around, probably click on something in your footer or scroll all the way back to the top of the page and you’ve lost them, you’ve lost control of their journey because now they’re just wandering around clicking random stuff and that’s not an ideal scenario if you want to lead them through a path of education.

Mike [26:03]: If you take a look at, I’ll use HitTail’s webpage for example, if you go in, right on the main page at the top navigation, you’ve got home tour plans and then why HitTail and you already explained why you have the “why HitTail” there. But embedded in the text in the middle of the page, it says “Increase your traffic” with the big orange button or take a tour. Well that’s the second link in your navigation. So if somebody does click that, they go to that tour page and then at the bottom of that, there is essentially this call to action which says “Your free trial awaits, grow your traffic” And then you click on that, that goes to the third thing in the top navigation which is essentially the plans and trying to get somebody to sign up for a trial. So there are definitely times where the call to action at the bottom of your pages is essentially going to mirror what they would see at the top navigation, but that’s not always the case. They may well be an extended set of tour pages, for example, or additional educational content that you’re going to put in front of them to help essentially walk them through the process of getting to point where you’ve educated them enough such that they are going to sign up for your product or at least sign up for and e-mail course or something along those lines to be able to bring them back. And it kind of depends on where it is in the sales funnel that those people are likely to be. The one thing that I have seen a lot of, and this is especially prevalent in a lot of word press themes, is that they have this “scroll to top of page” widget that will pop up. That’s not something that you want to put in there. If you can disable that, go ahead and disable it because the fact of the matter is, if you have a long enough page that it needs something like that, they’ve already scrolled through the page, they don’t need another thing at the bottom popping up to say, “Hey, would you like to scroll all the way up to the top to see all the stuff that you just scrolled past?” No, they clearly know how to use a scroll bar. So if you can get rid of those things, get rid of them.

Rob [27:44]: Element number nine is something I already covered when I was talking eight, but it’s to basically limit the number of links and buttons that you have on the page. It’s essentially limit the number of decisions that folk need to make as they’re reading though it. Be opinionated about where you vision should go. Think through this flow, it takes time. Think through the journey. But it will absolutely increase the number of folks get the proper kind of education that you’re trying to give them. And our tenth and final element is put everything else within reason into your footer. So typically we will see footers on homepages say something like about contact, terms of service, blog, affiliates etc., and I think that’s perfectly fine. I think having 6, 7, 8 links down there is fine. And something we’ve done with Drip, because we have a PI docks and we have like a press kit, I didn’t want a link out to all of those, we just have a docs link at the bottom and it links to kind of a nested page. So you can obviously start nesting things at some point. but I am not a believer in having 20 links down here, but I do think that having the basic pages that you’re going to have in a marketing side and basically linking to all of them from the footer when you’re starting, is the way to go. I would not put an e-mail sign-up form down here. I see people doing that and no one is ever going to submit that. If you really want folks to sign up for your course or whatever, I would not put it in the footer and frankly, I probably wouldn’t put it in the header either because that’s really your educational call to action of trying to get someone to learn more and click through to a trial. I would tend to use a little JavaScript widget like something you get from Drip or [Sumumi?] or OptinMOnster, instead of trying to plug this thing down in the footer and that will give you control to have it pop up at certain times or not and just a lot better control of when to make it visible and when not to.

Mike [29:24]: Something else that’s helpful to put down at the footer is some sort of a site map so that it’s easier for the search engines to spider your website and get to all of the different pages that are going to be embedded in your site. I think if you rely too much on dynamic html that essentially is put there through JavaScript or anything like that, to display based on who’s visiting your pages, that can be a little bit difficult to have the search engine spider your website. You could also submit a site map to Google but, again, having a site map there that is human readable and, I don’t mean by human readable xml, I mean a link that just goes to a site map where it lists all the different pages and all the different sections on your site. As your website expands and starts filling more pages, that becomes more important because sometimes people can get lost on your website. You may know exactly where everything is but again, your website isn’t for you, it’s for the people who don’t know anything about you and want to learn.

Rob [30:18]: I haven’t been building site maps recently as we build new sites. Definitely, we do this, the xml site map that search engines use and they’re pretty good at crawling anyways, but it’s always nice to help them out. The human readable one, I need to look. We still have one for HitTail because one existed when I acquired it. You know, when we update it and stuff, it’s been kind of a pain as we add new pages to have to add them there too. I’d need to look to see how many people actually use it because I genuinely don’t know how many visitors that page gets in a given month. I’d be curious to see if those are still used. I know it’s something that we did 10 or 15 years ago when you designed a site but it’s not something that I typically put in sites these days.

Mike [30:55]: Yeah. I find that there’s a lot of sites that I go to that if they are large enough, there is so much content there that you don’t necessarily know where you last saw something, for example, and the site maps can really help out with that, but it depends a lot on how mature the product is. I don’t think that, up front, you need a site map but I think that in longer term, as your product gets bigger and bigger, you probably do.

Rob [31:16]: So to recap, our ten elements of highly effective SaaS landing pages are; number one, to design for first time visitors; number two, to write a gripping headline; number three; to have a visual element; number four, to provide three benefits or to think it in the rule of three; number five, to provide social proof; number six is an optional one to provide features on the homepage; number seven, to have four or fewer items in the top navigation; number eight, have an exit path at the bottom of every page; number nine, limit the number of links and buttons; and number ten, put everything else within reason in your footer.

Mike [31:50]: Well that wraps us up. If you have a question for us, you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can e-mail it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re out of control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. You can subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for startups and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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One Response to “Episode 256 | The 10 Elements of Highly Effective SaaS Landing Pages”

  1. Great episode – would also be interested in one on long form sales websites, since they were left out. What are the pros and cons vs a more traditional landing page, and how can they be optimized?