4 Optimization Experts Critique a College Break Landing Page

by 4 05/09/2013

As the end of the school year approaches, many graduates are planning their getaway celebrations.

Search for “best graduation getaways,” and you just might turn up this landing page. Does it make high enough marks to get people packing their bags?

Four optimization experts give a mixed review.

Here’s the landing page. (Click on the image to see an enlarged version.)

college-break

 Here’s what our conversion experts had to say about this landing page.

Naomi Niles, ShiftFWD

Naomi Niles, Intuitive DesignWhat do you like about the Landing Page Optimization on this page?

I like the infographic-like look. The layout makes it easy to scan the page and the amount of information is not overwhelming at first glance.

The design branding looks appropriate for the type of age visitor that this ad would attract.

What would you change or test on this landing page?

The biggest concern I have about this page is that it’s asking for too big of an obligation, too soon. Specifically where it says “talk to experts.” I think it’s important to set clear expectations about what will happen after I send in my form (beyond a checkbox at the bottom). Will I still receive sales pitches even if I don’t check the box? When will I receive the call? Will they be pushy? It’s too many decisions to make.

The other main issue I see is the mismatch between the search term and what the offer is on the page. If I search for “best graduation getaways,” I want to see immediate information about what kinds of trips are offered, not have that information hidden behind a gateway. Also, where are those “30 amazing” trips promised to me in the ad?

Finally, it would be nice to be offered a specific graduation package. I can imagine this might be structured differently than a group packages where I’m lumped into other college students. If I’m celebrating my graduation, it would be nice to celebrate it.

~ Naomi Niles, ShiftFWD

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Ian Rhodes, Rhodes Consultancy

ian-rhodesWhat do you like about the Landing Page Optimization on this page?

Okay, let’s put my “I’m 18 again” hat on. What am I looking for from a travel partner website to help me book my getaway? An adventurous destination and everything packaged together in one tidy bundle.

Now, let’s take a look at the landing page. I’ve got a low-price guarantee, hotels and flights, even breakfasts included and trips across Europe and beyond. That’s ticked all the boxes. Let’s go explore.

The landing page has the simple directional elements covered with the “get started” button highlighted along with an arrow ensuring I don’t miss the call to action.

Keeping the phone number as an option is also going to help lead generation — we’ve even got a tick box to receive a call regarding my travel requirements.

I also like the space-saving tab navigation highlighting popular trips, pricing and the About Us section. It retains focus and ensures we don’t lose traffic away from the intended page.

What would you change or test on this landing page?

The big question is whether there’s enough persuasive content to entice the would-be traveler to enter their personal details before accessing the trips & offers.

There has to be a strong business argument to “hide” all these offers from the browser behind a entry form. My concern would be the level of early-stage would-be travelers who are immediately turning away due to the sign-up barrier. There’s some serious split-testing required to ensure this is a correct business call.

I’m not convinced the clip-art imagery is all that appealing. What better way to demonstrate the destinations being shown than with real photography capturing students abroad? If Europe is the focus, then let’s see a shot of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben or the Coliseum. I want to picture myself at these destinations.

Final point: The ad says I can choose from 30 amazing trips. Where is this represented on the landing page? In the entry box. This could leave your audience frustrated at not having immediate access. I’d be testing the ad copy to reflect this along with the ‘Europe and beyond’ theming to ensure we’re hitting our audience’s budgets accordingly.

~ Ian Rhodes, Rhodes Consultancy

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Brian Massey, Conversion Sciences

Brian Massey, Conversion ScientistWhat do you like about the Landing Page Optimization on this page?

The value proposition is pretty clear: “No Hassle Traveling.” We all imagine college kids are lazy (after all, weren’t we?) so things like hassles are frowned upon by them.

The page is brief, uses colorful icons to guide the eye in bands (a “Z” pattern), and doesn’t over-sell.

While it isn’t graduate level, this page should get a passing grade.

What would you change or test on this landing page?

The landing page doesn’t match the ad perfectly. The ad promised “Fun and Easy” with “30 amazing trips.” The landing page promises “No hassle.” Try ads that talk about “No hassle” travel for this landing page.

The 30 amazing trips don’t show up on the landing page either. You have to click away to another page. Not always good for conversion. Test listing some of the trips on the page, perhaps below the signup form.

Also, the call to action is as murky as a college calculus. What happens if I fill out the form and “get started?” Will experts email me? What kind of offers will I get — spam? What’s the specific payoff?

Test some more specific calls to action.

~ Brian Massey, Conversion Sciences

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Justin Rondeau, WhichTestWon

Justin Rondeau, Which Test WonWhat do you like about the Landing Page Optimization on this page?

To be honest I am not a huge fan of this page. I do like the use of the cartoon-style imagery. I have seen those test positively. However, there are a lot of issues with this page that I will outline below.

What would you change or test on this landing page?

One thing I would change is the inconsistent arrows. By having arrows going in all different directions, this is an eye-flow nightmare. If you are using arrows to get the eye to move to the call to action, do that!

I am not a fan of the form at all. Horizontal forms have consistently tested poorly from studies I have seen. My recommendation would be to use a vertical oriented form and move it up next to the relevant content. You are doing yourself no favors by hiding your form underneath content (even with arrows). If you want people to act, get the conversion activity in front of them!

This page is suffering from a lack of content prioritization. The biggest clue to this is the ‘hidden’ content that requires a user to click the other topics on the right. This is a ‘tabular’ approach that isn’t done all that well (specifically because it doesn’t look clickable).

Just like with anyone who takes the tab approach, I advise them to look at the number of clicks there to see if these tabs are being used. Likely they aren’t. If they are, the clicks will also give you insight into the most important content (another bonus of tracking your clicks).

I’m having difficulty connecting the ad to the page. There isn’t a message that resonates between the two other than ‘Travel.’ This may be due to the page’s scattered layout, but since the ad is talking about amazing trips, I would like to see them focus on the trips rather than more generic talking points.

Finally, there are competing calls to action. If you have to have the ‘Chat with us Live,’ I would recommend moving it from the main call to action.

~ Justin Rondeau, WhichTestWon

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Your turn

Our experts took issue with the ad’s lack of focus. They also agreed that the promised information shouldn’t be hidden behind a form.

Those are great tips for all of us to remember. As common as these mistakes may be, they’re relatively easy to fix.

What  would you add? Share your critique of this landing page by College Break.

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4 COMMENTS

Jamey

I agree – it’s sort of a mess . . . .
I like many of the suggestions mentioned above – particularly:
- way too much going on with the landing page and sign up box
- signup box is too low on the page
- real pictures of 20 somethings having too much fun on location where the trips actually are would be good
2 other things –
This target market likes social proof – show me some likes – show me some testimonials on the landing page from some good looking graduation getaway students who had a blast last year – include what schools they graduated from – where they went on vacation etc.
And secondly and I guess more “big picture” – I don’t like the overall strategy of the ad verbiage.
I’d like to test how this performs against a more targeted ad campaign.
If we are targeting the search term “best graduation getaways” and we are (apparently) selling just European Graduation Getaways – then the ad should say “European” in there somewhere – maybe I searched “best graduation getaways” looking to go to Cancun or China or well anywhere else other than Europe . . . .

Great example and great write up!!

May 9, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Awesome review, Jamey! Your tips are spot on. Thanks for your input.

    May 9, 2013 Reply

Anna Kitowska

The first thing that drew my attention in the ad was “choose from 30 amazing trips”. So, entering the site I would expect them to be listed or featured more prominently than they are now (signing up to see them seems like a lot of hassle actually).

May 13, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    I agree, Anna. It’s a bait and switch that always turns me off.

    May 13, 2013 Reply


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