Design Insights

Do traditional landing pages work for SaaS startups?

Nov 2018

4
min read

How should designers navigate the landscape of landing pages in an interconnected world? Explore website design with an expert consultant here.

By Simon McCade
Nov 2018

4
min read

Startups that aim to sell software as a service (SaaS) have a unique challenge in today’s market. It’s crowded out there and people are increasingly short on patience when it comes to online interactions with brands. Time is precious. Simplicity is key.

This gives the designers behind these brands a crucial role to play in engaging with and converting visitors. How should they approach landing pages in such a frantic and demanding environment? Is it OK to lean on the traditional tactics of constructing a landing page or does the rulebook need rewriting?

What is a traditional landing page?

We are now officially in the mobile-first era – Google has been implementing mobile-first indexing throughout 2018, which means that landing pages have had to evolve to remain relevant in almost every industry. The ‘traditional’ desktop-first approach to landing pages, which relied on an abundance of content and calls-to-action with plenty going on below the fold (BTF), has arguably been phased slowly but surely out of the creative workflow.

Landing pages have had to evolve to remain relevant in almost every industry

Sure, we’ve still got the same objective of communicating a multitude of marketing messages at once, but we’ve moved on from the one-size-fits-all approach of using landing pages as dumping grounds.

What is the role of the landing page today?

Modern user behaviours necessitate more strategic input than ever before – that’s not to say that traditional landing pages were never strategically planned, but it is to say that it’s a bigger challenge to engage a more empowered consumer in this interconnected day and age. The number of potential touchpoints with any given brand is much greater than it was even 10 years ago; smart TVs, smartphones and smart homes make for smarter consumers.

This presents an interesting challenge in the creation of landing pages that are specific and targeted when it comes to individual campaigns. Traditional design principles like having a short and simple form with few fields to capture data still apply, but it often means that multiple landing pages are required for the same product (no two consumers are the same, after all, right?).

Whichever route your consumers take to find your SaaS to purchase, the landing page must exist solely to communicate the basic need for the product in the first place.

A bad landing page can ruin a great product

According to data from CB Insights, 42% of startups fail because there is no market need for their product or service. No magic landing page is going to be able to fix that for the long term, but the same applies on the flipside: no great product is going to make up for an ill-considered and poorly executed landing page.

42% of startups fail because there is no market need for their product or service

This is why the traditional one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work for most SaaS startups. Designers must understand the nuances of audience behaviours on various devices and the relationships between the product(s) or service(s) at hand and those of direct competitors within the industry, as well as the design and UX standards of other industries.

Content needs to be instantly consumable with next to no load time and an easy path to purchase. Landing pages without these key components will and, indeed, do fail.

Why video can make all the difference

It’s yesterday’s news that video is the content king when it comes to engaging visitors and encouraging conversions, but it still rings true today. People simply want an easy life with straightforward and accessible answers and it’s often the case that a short product video for your SaaS startup can provide exactly that in a minute or two. Visitors won’t have to scroll and search around for answers if what they need is immediately accessible on a simple landing page.

Collect by WeTransfer utilises video on its landing page

We’ve seen thousands of great product videos dominate landing pages in recent years and we know it works. A study by video marketers, eyeviewdigital.com, showed that conversions can increase by as much as 80% when videos are added to landing pages, but that, of course, doesn’t apply to every industry out there. Video isn’t necessarily right for every type of user, so be sure to consider the end-goal of the end-user when starting your website design.

“…conversions can increase by as much as 80% when videos are added to landing pages.”

Conversions, conversions, conversions

It’s fair to say of most startups that the first iterations of landing pages aren’t going to make millions in an instant, but that’s where modern user testing and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) have come into their own in recent years.

We have more access to data from the likes of A/B testing than ever before, so there’s no reason why multiple iterations of multiple landing pages can’t be tested at any one time.

This makes the design process anything but traditional; it must be completely fluid and ready to change with the ever-changing tide of user behaviours.

I’ll be following up with a post about what makes the ideal landing page for SaaS startups soon, so watch this space!

What are your main challenges for your landing page? Share your thoughts here to join the conversation.

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This article represents the opinion of experience design consultant, Simon McCade, who has no association or affiliation with the company or the app in question.

Are you experiencing similar issues with your app?

I can help you enhance user engagement, reduce friction with customers and develop your digital products in a user-centric way. Get in touch today.

By Simon McCade
Design for Ambitious Startups

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