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Reviewing Landing Page Experiences in the Tyre sector. Who comes out in pole position?

13/04/2021
A 7 minute read

Our Head of CRO, Simon Clark, takes a bunch of the top UK tyre brand’s websites for a spin to determine the quality of landing page experience they are offering users, the areas of opportunity for other brands in the sector and much more.

In this post, we’ll be assessing the landing page experience of the following brands/sites:

What is a landing page?

To Google and for the purpose of this article, a landing page is the first entry point into your website. Within Google Analytics you will find an entire report on this and there are many companies who focus on creating amazing landing page experiences, such as Unbounce.

We’ll go into more detail later on in the article about why they are so very important, but imagine your landing pages as the hotel lobbies of the web. They are what your visitors see and experience first. Without the touch, feel and smell you experience in real life, they are left with only what they can see and this can be a short-lived thing. 

According to UsabilityHub, “users can judge a web site’s credibility in as little as 3.42 seconds based on visual appearance alone”. The stakes are high, people. 

Are your landing pages optimised enough to load all elements, show what the page is offering, who your company is, what you are selling, the benefits of your products, all 50 features, explainer videos and customer reviews, in under 4 seconds? Probably not. But you need to get their attention in those split seconds and make the process as easy as possible so they carry on with what they came to do. No easy task.

What is landing page experience?

Doing a quick search (on Google) for ‘landing page experience’ will show you three articles by Google themselves. Why is that important? 

Well, because Google is all about getting people to relevant content on the web (and making money, I know!) but they also have many factors that look specifically at the experience a user has upon landing on a website.

One of the components in Google’s Quality Score is, you guessed it, Landing page experience. They explain it by saying ‘How relevant and useful your landing page is to people who click your ad.’ Other articles from them go into much more detail and are all great to get started with. Another component is Ad relevance. This is described as ‘How closely your ad matches the intent behind a user’s search.’

Relevant. Relevance. You can start to see a theme emerging, right?

As busy marketers, we all look at those words and think:

  • We 100% have a relevant product or service (tick)
  • We absolutely have a web page just for this product or service (tick)
  • John from marketing wrote some copy to go onto the page a few years ago (tick)
  • Our PPC agency are pushing a load of traffic through to the page (tick)

Well, that all sounds great, but too often we find a disconnect from the people designing, building and writing the content, to the Ads that are directing visitors your way. This should really be a more holistic process. You need to take a step back and review the overall experience from Ad/Search to Landing Page. Ads and Users change over time and you must ensure your pages do too.

More recently, Google implemented a new set of page experience signals into their core algorithm, known as Page experience. Some elements have been around for a while including Mobile-friendly, Safe-browsing, HTTPS and removing intrusive interstitials. These have all had a positive effect on the user, whether they know or not.

The next big update is Core Web Vitals and this will look to focus on the aspects of loading, interactivity and visual stability, as Google put it. This one really seems to have shaken up the industry and I believe this will be one that runs past the suspected May launch for many companies who tweak their site code, third-party Tags, Fonts and Imagery. 

On a side note, this really is great for consumers as Google are essentially forcing companies, small and large, to look at their website code and ensure it is optimised to the full.

So in summary, we have two signals that give us indications as to how our users are experiencing our web pages – relevant & useful content that provide a smooth passage from Ad to Page and when you arrive, a fast webpage that works straight away. No waiting about. When combined they become extremely powerful and the margin starts to open up when you optimise both at once.

Why should you care about your landing page experience?

So, we know what to look out for now, but should we really care and how do we go about improving these aspects? They seem time-consuming.

The honest answer is, yes, you should care. They will take time, but your growth as a business relies on you keeping up with your competitors, so these things must be considered. By investing just an hour a week you could be swinging the momentum your way and the benefits of optimising your user journey are huge.

The ultimate reason why you should care is.. money. You could be spending hundreds or thousands on Ads with the intent on getting as many potential customers onto your website. You may have considered what happens next, but you also may not have the time. You could be pushing hundreds of visitors onto a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load or where the page has a completely different message to what the visitor searched for in the first place. You wonder why conversion rate isn’t going up and it’s costing you more to get more traffic. 

The answer to that question is most likely linked to the factors below:

Site speed: The page might be slow to load, or fast to load but the content shifts and it isn’t very interactive. That would most likely point to issues around Core Web Vitals and these would need to be looked into, ideally before May 2021.

User experience: It may be that your visitors searched for ‘Tyre fitting near me‘ and instead of a page that instantly shouts ‘WE FIT TYRES’, it has no heading, nothing mentions local services, the cookie banner overlaps key messaging and you have never used the brand before. Would you honestly carry on looking around this website? I wouldn’t. I’d hit the back button and look at the next result.

This is where relevancy becomes so important. We need relevant headings, images, CTAs, forms, form titles/fields/labels and trust signals that reassure us that we are real and do what we say we are going to do. They don’t care about a large image of someone fixing a tyre above the fold (although it helps) or a huge banner displaying your latest offer (this might help someone who is ready to purchase however). We need to be clear, relevant, provide value and reduce friction & distractions.

Lifetime customers: By optimising the two factors above, you will be in a much better position to not only retain current customers, but also turn new customers into lifetime advocates of you and those who shout loudest about your service. Think about it. How can you make someone a lifetime customer if their first visit to your website is bad. They will never return, tell a friend or follow you on social media.

Crazy to think this can all happen within seconds, huh?

Landing Page Optimisation

Here are a few rules to follow to optimise your landing page experience and supercharge your business growth.

  1. Ensure you have robust Analytics tracking to allow you to measure landing page performance and trust the data
  2. Ideally, you should understand your target market: the visitors to your website. Who is coming to your website, what are they looking for and what stage of the buying process are they in?
  3. Take a step back and evaluate your landing page from the Ad or Search Result they came from. You need to become a customer to truly see what they see. Top tip: view your web page in incognito mode, different browsers/screen sizes and even try it on a walk or when sitting on the sofa watching TV – seriously! This is what your customers are doing, so search like one of them.
  4. Compare your landing page to these factors: Relevancy (to the search term), Clarity, Value, Friction and Distraction
  5. Does your call to action (CTA) communicate clearly what the user should do and what will happen next?
  6. Start to optimise your entire website for the Core Web Vitals update and monitor closely to ensure small changes to code, imagery or content don’t lead to increases in speed. This isn’t a do once thing.

Road testing the Tyre sector

We analysed 10 companies in the tyres sector and ranked them on the two main factors above – site speed and user experience, in order to get a feel for their overall Landing Page Experience.

Site speed scoring

We measured a number of site speed metrics over a 1-month period, continuously, to get an average and then selected what we consider the most important to the landing page experience.

These were then combined to give us an overall speed score. It’s worth mentioning that a lower score is better.

  • Start render: reports the time necessary for a first element to render on the page, regardless its size or its importance for the user.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): reports the render time of the largest image or text block visible within the viewport, relative to when the page first started loading.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page.

User experience (UX) scoring

We did a Google search for ‘tyre fitting near me’ and compared each landing page against a set of heuristic (rule of thumb) criteria to understand the relevancy to the search term, whether the page offered clarity, whether it communicated value to the user, if it caused any friction such as doubts or hesitations and finally if there were any obvious distractions to the user’s task.

UX criteria:

  • Relevancy (to the search term): Does the page meet user expectation – both in terms of content and design?
  • Clarity: Is the content/offer on this page as clear as possible?
  • Value: Is it communicating value to the user?
  • Friction: What on this page is causing fears, uncertainties or doubts (FUD)?
  • Distraction: What’s on the page that is not helping the user take action?

Remember: you are in your customer’s shoes and have just come from an Ad.

Overall scores

Based on our scoring system for both Mobile and Desktop devices, we found consistent top performers: blackcircles.com, asdatyres.co.uk and tyreleader.co.uk.

We initially based the order on site speed, as this determines whether we can firstly see the elements on the page after loading. We can then see the corresponding UX scores, which were calculated using the five criteria above and a 0, 1, 2 score.

Mobile

  • None had Start Renders on or under the 1.5 second budget we set
  • None had an LCP that was under our 2.5 second budget
  • 60% had a CLS under the 0.1 seconds in our budget

Results:

tyreleader.co.uk performed very well in both scores, creating a good user experience. It performed the best for overall speed with virtually no CLS. The UX score wasn’t perfect, but the page was uncluttered and the search feature was very clear.

blackcircles.com did very well in both scores. Although the H1 told us everything we wanted, we found it a little hard to read due to the image behind it. The cookie banner will in most cases be closed, but it did cover the key USPs.

Finally, ractyres.co.uk and asdatyres.co.uk were consistent across both UX and Speed. RAC pipped ASDA due to the slightly faster Start render and CLS.

Desktop

  • 60% had Start Renders on or under the 1.5 second budget we set
  • 60% had an LCP that was under our 2.5 second budget
  • 70% had a CLS under the 0.1 seconds in our budget

Results:

blackcircles.com performed very well in both scores, creating a great user experience. A fast loading page and a clear page with very little friction or distraction.

ractyres.co.uk performed the best in terms of UX, but was let down by a slow LCP, which was the highest out of the 10 tested.

tyreleader.co.uk again, performed well in both scores with it’s ultra-fast page load and uncluttered UI. Lots of room to improve for sure.

Conclusion

From our testing on just 10 websites from across the UK tyre sector, you can see that it really is a fine balance and one that doesn’t really stop. We must all continually improve and maintain our positions as we add and take things away from our websites. Our Ads change and the way in which people reach our site may go up/down.

Looking at the scores, it can be hard to balance a fast site with an awesome user experience. It is hard, like most marketing is, to create the ultimate experience for your customers. Few really achieve it, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t do it.

Whether you enlist the help of Evolved Search or try doing some research yourself, you will most likely find some of the obvious issues and we implore you to look to fix or improve them. A lot of CRO is incremental. Research and experimentation take time, but the end results can have great effects on your business growth.

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