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6 Landing Page Optimization Pros Critique A Turbo Tax PPC Landing Page

by Russ Henneberry

As if you needed another reminder of the looming tax deadline on April 15th (in the U.S.) our Crazy Egg landing page optimization pros are critiquing a landing page for Turbo Tax.

Below is the PPC landing page our experts critiqued.  This page is the result of clicking on a Google AdWords ad for the query ‘file taxes online.’

>>Click to see an enlarged version of this landing page  (it will open in a new tab)<<

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

Tim Ash, Site Tuners

What I Like:

Tim Ash, Site Tuners

Tim Ash, Site Tuners

What I like most about the Turbo Tax PPC landing page is that it employs a consistent messaging with the ad. Visitors clearly click on the ad and arrive on this page wanting to file their taxes for free, and they are assured that they are in the right place with the repetition of the word FREE on this page. This is reinforced with the ‘Start for Free’ call-to-actions on all of their plans.

What I would change or test:

Here are some significant issues that need to be tested or simply revised:

1) This landing page has a lot of distractions (very common for homepages). For instance, there are several CTAs on this page so it isn’t immediately clear to me what I should do here. The most prominent call-to-action is ‘Guide Me’, which is vague. If the main goal of this page is to get visitors to start for a free trial, I would test putting more emphasis on the button for that action and de-emphasizing all other buttons/call-to-actions in this page (eg. the button for the download CD option).

2) Also, since tax filing carries a lot of personal and legal risks for the visitor, it would be a good idea to make trust symbols more prominent and immediately visible, especially the authorized e-file provider and TRUSTe privacy seals at the bottom of the page.

3) Finally, the image of a woman in ski gear used in the landing page seems totally random and unrelated to the product/service. I would consider replacing it with one that’s more relevant to filing taxes.

~Tim Ash, Site Tuners


Brian Massey, Conversion Sciences

Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist

Brian Massey

What I Like:

This page does a pretty good job of keeping the promise of the ad. The headline talks about the free edition promised in the ad. This page works hard to offer something for every kind of visitor:

– The Guide is an excellent way to begin engagement immediately.

– Each level of service is described and priced for those who are ready to make a decision

– A login is provided for those who are already owners.

– Social support is provided in the form of star ratings and review counts.

– News and tips are provided for those who are undecided.

– The spokes model is even looking right at the Guide.

– I can get faster refunds, get audit support, get personalized answers, and feel confident my taxes are done right!

Individually, these are excellent components. As we will see, they each need their own page.

What I would change or test:

This page tries to please everyone, but may only be pleasing H&R Block. The page may be losing the very people it was designed to catch. The page looks like my 1040.

There are dozens of offers on the page, navigation to distract, and even social icons, though they are fortunately invisible among the many eye-catching offers on the page.

My recommendation is to test the 1040EZ with eFile version of this page.

Make the Guide Me quiz the main feature of the page, and provide product details for only the free edition.

However, most marketing departments change as fast as the IRS. So, I’d bring in some accountants to prove my point:

1. Install CrazyEgg to see which links are getting clicks. Use this data to convince designers to remove those with low traffic.

2. Use analytics to see which links generate the most dollars. Get rid of the rest.

3. Test simple page against the current one. Pick a control.

4. Test a 1040EZ version of the page against the control. Now we know what ballpark to be in.

5. Use split testing or multivariate testing to finalize which elements will work.

The problem with this approach: There may not be enough time to test before tax season, and your results will be different at other times of the year. What we learn this year will make us better next year. That is conversion culture.

Maybe we can distract them with a circular IRS form while we do the tests.

~Brian Massey, Author of The Customer Creation Equation


Justin Rondeau, WhichTestWon

Justin Rondeau, Which Test Won

Justin Rondeau

What I Like:

I like how the page immediately puts the user in a scenario where they will know in 4 quick questions whether TurboTax is right for them. I checked the four boxes, and after clicking Guide Me the hero banner shifts to the package that best fit my needs, while highlighting the associated pricing plan in the pricing table. I thought this was a good use of tech on the site that made the experience very clear.

Turbo Tax does a great job tracking interaction on the site, after it was recommended that I use their ‘Deluxe’ plan, any Turbo Tax ad I click refers me to a dedicated landing page for the ‘Deluxe’ plan… clever.

I like the difference in coloration between the two different CTAs (‘Used TurboTax Before?’ & ‘New to TurboTax?’) in the right hand margin, the eye would scan the page, and pause at these locations.

What I would change or test:

For a PPC landing page, there is a lot going on here. It may be in TurboTax’s best interest to remove all extraneous CTAs and use the keyword as an indicator for the little qualification survey. In other words I would remove the pricing table and keep the focus on the Free Edition.

Though the qualification survey is clever, it may give the visitor doubt as to whether this is the correct product for their tax needs. It is my assumption that many hours of deliberation over the use of this survey happened internally. I am not pushing for it to be removed, but I think it would be prudent to test out some different headlines and sub headlines to reassure visitors that this is where they need to be.

The tabular navigation at the top should be removed from this landing page. If you are tracking clicks on these links, take a look at the numbers. Here are three possible scenarios:

• They are not clicking and you are losing valuable real estate
• They are clicking and it is helpful to the conversion process
• They are clicking and it is proving to be a distraction

The ONLY reason you would keep this navigation is if the second scenario were true, which in most cases it isn’t.

Overall I think the main Call to Action ‘Guide Me’ is a little blasé, both in terms of the copy and design.

The white ‘sun burst’ is a major distraction for me in the hero image, my eyes get locked there and I quickly forget where I am supposed to look on the page. Coloration plays an important role, go from dark to light backgrounds for your least to most important content respectively.

~Justin Rondeau, WhichTestWon


Michael Lykke Aagard, Content Verve


Michael Lykke Aagard

What I Like:

I like the overall design of the page, and giving potential customers access to a free version is usually a good way of generating qualified leads for a product of this nature. I like the button copy because it goes beyond the regular generic, ‘Click Here’ and promises a value in exchange for the click.

What I would change or test:

First of all, I’d strip away everything that isn’t 100% to the mission at hand – getting potential customers who’ve clicked the PPC ad to try TurboTax.

Right now there are dozens of different elements fighting for my attention. 6 different CTAs in the body alone (‘Guide Me”‘, 4 X ‘Start for Free’, and ‘Buy Download or CD’), 8 yes/no checkboxes, 6 tabs in the global navigation, and the right column features: search field, log-in box, sign-up box, check efile status, audit support, personalized answers, as well as a handful of other elements that you can interact with.

I’d go over all these elements and ask myself, Is this element directly relevant to the conversion scenario at hand? If the answer isn’t a clear, Yes, the element needs to go.

I’d also remove the right hand navigation completely as the featured elements are relevant only to existing customers.

Another hypothesis of mine is that there are too many different product variations. I’d stick to just pitching the Free Edition in order to avoid choice paralysis.

I’d kill the interactive question/check mark feature at the top of the page and instead focus on listing the main value and benefits of using TurboTax. In other words, I’d focus on answering the question, Why should I try TurboTax?

Right now there really isn’t much on the page that helps me understand how the product works and what it’ll do for me. In my experience, on landing pages such as this one it’s better to give your prospects answers than to ask them questions.

Potential customers are likely to land on the page with the question in mind Is TurboTax Free Edition Right for me? Instead of asking them a question they are already asking themselves, I’d choose to give them the answer.

Moreover, there is really nothing on the landing page that follows up on the PPC ad copy. My experience with PPC tells me that the landing page copy needs to follow up on the ad copy and confirm to the prospect that he or she has landed on a relevant page. An obvious option is to simply use the payoff featured in the ad copy, ‘Get Your Biggest Refund – Start Now’.

In addition to the above-mentioned changes, I’d test a variant of the page featuring a different image. I don’t really see how an image of a woman in snowboard gear is relevant to filing taxes online.

~Michael Lykke AagardContent Verve


Naomi Niles, ShiftFWD

Naomi Niles, Intuitive Designs

Naomi Niles

What I Like:

They did a good job integrating the “free” message from the ad into the page. If I click on that ad, I generally can find what I’m looking for, which is good.

Having a guide to choose the best product upfront and center is also very helpful. If a visitors searches for ‘file taxes online’ it may be that they’re not sure what type of taxes they need to file yet. If they were going to file taxes for their business, for example, they’d probably search for ‘file business taxes online’ or something more specific.

In terms of general organization and visual hierarchy, I think they do a decent job. There’s a lot of information on the page, but it’s differentiated enough so that it’s not too overwhelming.

What I would change or test:

I believe the biggest confusion on this page is which type of customer segment this is for. I see in the ad that there are links for ‘Log in to my account’ and ‘Prior year’s taxes’. However, I wonder if people who are existing customers will be googling ‘file taxes online’. If they’re already familiar and use TurboTax, perhaps this landing page and ad messaging would be most effective if targeted at new customers.

If that’s the case, I would recommend testing the following:

1) Changing the messaging on the page so that it’s fully targeted to new customers.

2 ) Moving the “sign up” to the top of the right column rather than the “sign in” box.

I also would suggest simplifying the page in order to focus on the guide. It’s important that it’s very clear what the visitor should do. If they are a potential new customer looking to compare solutions, then the guide is a great way to do that, but all of the extra information on the page is distracting from that.

For example, the boxes right underneath the guide with all of the different editions in addition to the guide above could feel overwhelming to someone who doesn’t know exactly what they need yet.

In addition, the option to have human help a little more prominent might be nice given that a new visitor might need extra help deciding which product they need.

~Naomi Niles, Intuitive Designs


Ian Rhodes, Acquisitional


Ian Rhodes

1.) Reassuring ‘expert’ response message within the front-row center search box rather than the overused ‘Search’ and ‘Go’ mentality.

2.) Header tabs are clear and directional.

3.) 4 different offerings are clearly presented with price details.

What I would change or test:

Once your eyeballs have settled down (albeit mildly dazed) having read the plethora of hyperlinks and Call-To-Action boxes the key focus of the page is upon the ‘Is our product right for you’ box.

The questions are worded to answer the question ‘Am I the right customer for you?’ rather than ‘Is this the right product for me?’. Leading with a ‘Did you use our product last year?’ question? how does that assist me with my decision making?

The snowboarder image, whilst following the eyeball-to-form guidance, feels like stock photography and adds little to the reassurance factor.

This is a landing page, but has the feel of an overly complex homepage. Whilst it does retain the ‘Free’ messaging found on the PPC ad, it’s overwhelming and requires a significant level of simplification;

1.) Why use 2 search boxes? Test the popularity of both and remove the poor performer.

2.) Bring together all messages delivered to the existing users in one tab or box.

3.) Test the inclusion of the ‘buy CD’ option within the checkout process to help clean the landing page.

Final point, test heavier emphasis on the ‘Free’ offering if this is the focus of the PPC ads. With only 5 ‘real reviews’ does the ‘Premier’ offering demand the same level of landing page presence as the ‘Free’ offer?

~Ian Rhodes, Acquisitional


Did you notice some trends in these comments from our experts? Here are three:

  • The “Guide” is a good use of technology on the page
  • Too many calls-to-action (‘Guide Me’,’Start for Free’ and ‘Buy Download or CD’)
  • The hero image of the woman in the ski gear is random and should be replaced

What are your thoughts on this landing page for Turbo Tax?

One Comment


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Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry is the Editorial Director at Digital Marketer. He's worked on digital marketing projects for companies like CrazyEgg, and Network Solutions. You can connect with Russ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or on his blog.


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  1. March 4, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Another great critique from the experts, and lots of great feedback. Personally, I think Brian’s comments were the most spot on, but helpful tips from all the experts.

    One disconnect I did have from the ad to the LP was the “Get the Biggest Refund”. While this isn’t the headline of the ad, I think it is a strong selling point of any tax software, and one that I think would resonate well with potential customers, however this messaging seems extremely downplayed on the LP.

    I strongly agree with some of the other comments about simplifying this page, focus on the “Right for me” module. Choosing a tax software can be daunting, so making this page simple, and introducing additional information throughout the process might work better.

    – Mike

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