Marketers and Landing Pages: Behind the Scenes for 2020

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As part of our new Conversion Benchmark Report, Unbounce ran a survey of marketers, working in dozens of industries, in early 2020.

We wanted to know about your plans when it comes to running a high-converting campaign—as well as the role played by landing pages in supporting your post-click strategy. How do our expectations line up with the insights revealed by a machine learning analysis of 19 million conversions? How firm is the average marketer’s grasp on industry conversion rates? And how satisfied are they with their current performance?

Of course, 2020 didn’t exactly turn out how anybody expected. (Boy, that’s an understatement.) But your answers provide a unique window into the “best-laid plans” of marketers and underline how—midway through a beastly year—some things may have changed in dramatic ways, while others remain tried and true

Together with the findings from the report itself, these numbers provide a behind-the-scenes view of what other marketers think when it comes to their landing pages. I thought I’d share some of the results with you today.

Takeaway #1: The most popular digital marketing strategy is a diverse one.

When asked about budgets, the 400 people we surveyed were evenly split in how much they plan to spend on marketing activities in 2020. Answers ranged from less than $5,000 to more than $500,000, and this didn’t always depend on the size of the business. 

No matter the heft of their wallets, though, marketers also told us they planned to fire on all cylinders by taking on a wide variety of marketing activities. Here are the most popular types of campaigns you told us you’re running this year:

The “Other” category also yields some varied answers, from paper mailers to podcasts to push notifications.

In some cases, we expect this mix of activities has changed to match the new normal. A business-as-usual approach to event marketing hasn’t been possible, for instance, and the landscape for PPC and social is different than it was six months ago. (Though PPC experts are nothing if not adaptable.)

These challenging times don’t mean these activities have been completely abandoned, however. While in-person networking is harder, many companies have found ways to achieve similar goals online by running webinars or digital conferences. (Many say this shift to virtual gatherings will have a lasting impact on how they do event marketing.)

Which brings us to another question…

How often are marketers including landing pages as part of their campaigns in 2020? 

Very often, it turns out.

36.2% of respondents told us they use them all of the time, and 41.8% said most of the time—that’s a whopping 77% who see landing pages as an essential part of their post-click strategy.

We surveyed marketers outside our networks, but likely attracted some fans of landing pages (and Unbounce) who may have skewed the results. Still, these responses are an indicator that if you’re not using landing pages to support your campaigns, you’re in the minority.

New to landing pages? One reason they appeal to so many marketers is that they help you squeeze more conversions out of your existing ad budget. If we’ve piqued your interest, take a look at our guide to creating your first Unbounce landing page to learn more about how you can get started.

Takeaway #2: Marketers are doing a whole lot with their landing pages. 

So, yes, marketers are using landing pages quite often. 

When it comes to how they’re using them, we naturally expected lead-gen activities to top the charts. That’s still true, but it was also surprising how many respondents said they also use landing pages to connect more directly with prospects by scheduling appointments (42%) and phone calls (37.2%). Here’s how it breaks down:

Four years ago, when we were working on the first version of the Conversion Benchmark Report, we focused our analysis entirely on lead gen because the overwhelming majority of landing pages on our platform served that purpose. That’s no longer the case.

This year’s findings reveal that what marketers consider to be a conversion has diversified. A conversion can look very different depending on your business, your customers, and your goals.

For example, while CTAs related to ecommerce (like showing off merchandise or adding a product to cart) are still less common than, say, calls to download an ebook, the popularity of these use cases continues to grow. As competition increases and more brick-and-mortar businesses move online, we expect more marketers to adopt pre-cart landing pages. These let them tell better stories about their products or frame their offers in more compelling ways.


Takeaway #3: When it comes to reaching their conversion potential, marketers are an ambitious bunch. 

In advance of publishing the benchmark data, we were curious about what marketers think is an average conversion rate in their industry and what kinds of conversion rates they’d be satisfied with achieving. 

As expected, you’ve got high—but, crucially, not unrealistic—expectations about how you want your landing pages to perform. First, here’s how respondents told us they think the average page performs in their industry:

Marketers rarely expect conversion rates over 10%. More than two-thirds of them told us that the averages in their industry are likely below that impenetrable ceiling. (As we’ll see, their instincts aren’t wrong.)

But here’s where you told us you’d like to be: 

Clearly, marketers crave big numbers when it comes to conversion rates. If we total the numbers, 71.8% of marketers told us they’re trying to achieve conversion rates of 11% or higher. Many have their sights set even higher than that!

Lofty goals like these are good—great even. And our results show they’re definitely achievable, but probably not without knowing your audience very well and taking the time to test and continuously optimize your landing pages and campaigns.

So…

How do landing pages in your industry actually perform?

Drumroll, please… 🥁

According to our analysis of 34 thousand landing pages, the average landing page converts at 9.7% (or 3.2%, expressed as a median).

That’s not the whole story, though. Some industries perform much better than others. For example, the finance and insurance industries convert at 11.6% (average), while real estate achieves average conversion rates of 6.2%.

And when we decided to isolate the top quartile in our conversion data—that’s fancy talk for focusing on the top 25% of performers—we also see much more drool-worthy conversion rates. In finance and insurance, chart-topping pages convert closer to 26%! (So people who told us they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less aren’t dreaming. There are campaigns and marketers achieving those kinds of results right now.)

Conversion Rate by Home Improvement Type Graph
This graph from the Conversion Benchmark Report shows the median (rather than average) conversion rates for four subcategories in the home improvement industry. 

These are just a few generalities. In the report, you’ll find the specific benchmarks related to 16 industries, including SaaS, e-comm, agencies, and business services. You can also read insights about how long your pages should be, what reading level you should target, what calls-to-action are most popular, and which emotions relate to more conversions.

Why’d we create the report? More than just benchmarks, the data-derived insights from the Conversion Benchmark Report will help you pair your savvy with AI to create the highest-converting campaigns of your career. It’s part of the Unbounce Conversion Intelligence™ mission to bring marketers new ways to optimize and level up their skills.

Takeaway #4: Delivering the right landing page for the right audience remains a challenge.

Let’s sum up what we’ve learned so far. Marketers have big ambitions for their landing pages, and they’re looking to do even more with them in 2020. We also saw that the best-performing landing pages routinely hit double-digit conversion rates. (Yowza.)

So, what’s holding the rest of ’em back? We wanted to know where our respondents saw room to improve their landing pages, and here’s what they told us:

It wasn’t deliberate, but it seems to me that the answers here fall into four broad categories: 

  • First, there are issues with optimization. Marketers feel they don’t have time to optimize their pages using A/B testing. Sometimes they may not have the data or expertise to make meaningful choices when it comes to improving their conversion rates.
  • Second, matching the right page to the right audience can be tricky. Fixing it can involve traffic optimizations further up the funnel. But how do you also make sure that each visitor hits the landing page that’s right for them?
  • Third, whether it’s a matter of talent or time, sometimes marketers don’t feel like the copy and design on their pages are effective. (Testing could help, yes. But see #1 on this list.) For small businesses, marketers may have to play too many roles. And they may not have access to learning material that helps them improve.
  • And fourth are technical hurdles, like slow loading times or ensuring pages look perfect on different devices. (These made up the “Other” category above.) In this case, marketers have risen to the challenge of building lighter, more mobile-friendly experiences.

Today’s marketers have a lot on their plate—you could say they’re young, scrappy, and hungry—but that doesn’t mean they’re not looking for easy ways to step up their game.

How’d we get these numbers? We fielded the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Survey between December 2019 and February 2020. To ensure a healthy sample size, we surveyed 439 people. After a few qualifying questions, we paired it down 400 respondents who identified as marketers.

How can marketers overcome these challenges?

When it comes to getting the most conversions from your landing pages, we’ve been talking a lot about a shift in mindset we’re calling Conversion Intelligence. Again and again, we’ve seen evidence that better performance isn’t an accident. It’s the result of continuously fine-tuning each element of your campaigns.

But when marketers often do this optimization work on their own, they quickly run up against limits—of time and money, of expertise, of insight. By pairing your expertise with Artificial Intelligence, you can overcome these limits. You can create and optimize the highest-converting campaigns possible.

Our teams are working to share opportunities you couldn’t spot without the processing power of a machine. For now, you can check out the Conversion Benchmark Report. Starting with the benchmarks, dig into your industry. Use the machine-derived insights about reading ease, word count, and sentiment to create higher-converting pages.

Better yet, build a low-commitment (as in, quick and easy) variant or two based on the insights in the CBR, then flip on Smart Traffic and see how they perform. This feature uses machine learning to automatically match each and every visitor to the landing page most likely to convert. There’s no need to babysit it or declare a champion variant, and it never stops learning.

Using Smart Traffic is a quick win, especially if you don’t have the time or traffic for the traditional A/B testing. It needs just a little bit of attention to get it up and running on your most important pages. All you need to do is build a few variants, and turn it on. We see an average lift in conversions of 20% for customers who use it, so it’s very much worth the small effort.

Finding a New Normal

The Conversion Benchmark Report Survey was a bit of informal market research before starting on an intimidating project. But your responses also helped us enrich the quantitative data (generated with the help of AI) with some good old-fashioned human intuition.

It continues to be a challenging year, and we’ll run a follow-up survey to see how things have changed for you in 2021. But, for now, I’m curious: how have your plans changed? Have you adjusted? Have you pivoted? Swerved? Tempered your expectations? Adapted your existing campaigns to the new normal? Found new opportunities even?

Let me know in the comments.

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