As Christmas draws ever closer, a few things are happening; the days are getting shorter, the nights longer and every digital marketer is trying to ensure their website is able to capitalise on Christmas spending.
Just in time for the Christmas rush, Which? Has named the best and worst online shops according to ‘shoppers’ preferences based on experiences in the past six months’. It will, perhaps, come as no surprise that Homebase runs Britain’s worst online shop.
Harry Rose, editor of Which? Magazine, said:
"Where the big players are lacking, either with poor service or confusing websites, smaller more specialised online retailers have seized the opportunity to make their mark and give shoppers exactly what they want."
With that in mind, we thought it’d be interesting to compare the quality of the landing pages of three of the best online retailers on the Which? list against three of the worst. To accomplish this we used our famous landing page scorecard.
Since Which? Looked at the entire site of each online retailer and not just the specific landing page, we expected to get differing results - it’s possible to have a great site but poor landing pages. Each landing page has been given a score out of 10.
Rohan - Rohan.co.uk
The main headline is clear and festive and therefore relevant to a Christmas shopper. The page doesn’t do a great job of communicating the company’s USPs and value proposition. There is also a lack of reassurance messaging which means this page may struggle to convert users who are unfamiliar with the brand.
Our Score: 4
Relevance - The images used do a great job of illustrating brand identity and what the main messaging should be even though the copy could be improved. The primary CTA is a clear next step for a user to take once they arrive on the page, even if it doesn’t stand out.
Relevance could further be improved by having the main headline match the paid traffic messaging which primarily refers to ‘outdoor and travel clothing’.
Simplicity – The language is clear and concise and the CTA clearly shows what the user can expect when they click on it. The CTA isn’t the biggest on desktop and is far too small on mobile, which is a barrier to mobile conversions.
Reassurance – The site assumes that the user knows who Rohan are and therefore quality of their product is known and doesn’t need to be shown. Aside from a small Reviews.co.uk module in the footer, there isn’t much to give the company credibility. Putting the score from a 3rd party review provider more prominently on the page would help to reassure users who are new to the brand.
USPs – The page does a poor job of communicating a compelling reason to choose a Rohan product over a competitor’s. The bar below the hero image looks like it could be better used to show some key USPs rather than additional navigation options. And let’s face it ‘free delivery to store’ isn’t a strong USP.
Deadline – Ecommerce sites have it a little easier than most when it comes to including deadline messaging. Messaging varying from a simple ‘buy now’ to ‘order within the next 3 hours for next-day delivery’ allow ecommerce sites to motivate their users to respond quickly. Rohan doesn’t incorporate any of this messaging.
Clutter – There are too many navigational options on every aspect of the page. The page includes the customer service number and shop finder twice above the fold. And while it is important for the user to be able to find these, they shouldn’t be the primary focus in above-the-fold messaging of an ecommerce site. On the mobile site, there are even more navigational options further down the page.
SeaSalt - Seasaltcornwall.co.uk
The first things that stand out are the four USPs, which easily show benefits for different user groups based on location. The main headline is vague and doesn’t express what product is being offered, though the rest of the page does this well. The CTA stands out and also gives the user a better idea of what product is being offered.
Our Score: 7
USPs - The top USP bar is very good at appealing to users who are local, national and international and stands out while staying behind the main CTA in the visual hierarchy. The USPs could be improved by having more that actually refer to the product.
Clutter - The page does a good job of including lots of navigational options without making the page seem cluttered. The primary CTA is above the fold and stands out, and once the user scrolls down, the secondary CTAs stand out too.
One interesting thing that Seasalt does is bring the “gifts” option ahead of the other top navigation options, and does so while ensuring it stays behind the main CTA in the visual hierarchy. This is a great idea at Christmas.
Relevance - The images used on the page illustrate how the clothes look and what the brand is about. The hero image supports the main message somewhat, even if the message itself isn’t very effective at showing what products are on offer.
Simplicity - The language is clear and concise and the main CTA is prominent, clearly showing what the user can expect when they click on it. This translates well onto mobile.
Reassurance - There is no evidence of happy customers on this page. This is key to reassure new visitors. Once a user navigates to a product page they can read a large amount of great reviews but if a user has doubts once they reach the landing page they may navigate away.
Deadline - Yet another ecommerce site which misses out on using deadline messaging. Why not tell them how long they have left to order if they want to ensure their delivery arrives in time for Christmas?
Liz Earle - uk.lizearle.com
The page highlights key USPs well and highlights the free delivery over Christmas. A central CTA makes it easy to progress through the buying process. The page has also adapted to Christmas with the creators recognising that many users will be looking to buy gifts at this time of the year.
Our Score: 9
Relevance - The main CTA on the hero image is a clear next step to take when reaching the site. While the hero image doesn’t do a great job of portraying what products are on offer, it does focus on the free delivery. This festive motif is carried through to the product images, which more clearly show the product offering.
USPs – The page does a great job showing its different USPs, the one they consider most important - free delivery throughout the Christmas period - is shown on the hero image. Additional USPs are shown in the bar above it, one of which does a nice job of explaining the specific time period that the free delivery is available for.
Clutter & Simplicity – The page does well to ensure there are a small amount of navigation options above the fold so the user can focus on the main CTA.
Deadline – Clearly defining how long the free delivery offer is available for shows the user why they need to take action soon. Having the deadline more than two weeks before Christmas ensures users won’t just click away with the intention to come back at the last minute.
Reassurance – No reassurance is given. In this industry it can be useful to show customers that products have been approved by testing bodies or show how useful they’ve been for other users.
Dorothy Perkins - dorothyperkins.com
As soon as I arrived on the site it was obvious what this company did and what their USPs were. There is a large amount of navigational options but limited seasonal messaging, with the exception of a large gift module. The “24 Hours only” banner unfortunately pushes half the hero image and main CTA below the fold.
Our Score: 6
Relevance – Page clearly shows what a user can expect when they navigate here. There are two CTAs, which are logical based on the user journey so far.
USPs – USPs are shown on a bar at the top of the screen. Returns and free delivery are great things to include on ecommerce sites.
Deadline – Having a special offer which only applies for a limited amount of time is a great way of getting users to act quickly
Reassurance – The page has no way to reassure potential customers, this could easily be improved with a third-party review rating on display.
Simplicity – The page includes two CTAs on the hero image - some users may be unsure which to choose as they are too similar, this can lead to decision paralysis. Aside from this, the page works well on mobile.
Clutter – Due to having two primary CTAs below the fold, they struggle to stand out. There are also too many navigation options on the page; as a user I am unsure whether to shop by size or by product type, this can make it difficult to get the user to where they need to be.
Sports Direct – sportsdirect.com
When I first navigated to the site I was greeted by an overlay with a special offer on running shoes, which I immediately closed, then I saw a header banner with vague messaging and an equally vague CTA. There’s an interesting Instagram module towards the bottom of the page with a ‘follow us’ CTA, but it’s almost as if this CTA is more important to them than trying to convince customers to buy the product
Our Score: 5
Simplicity – There’s a clear primary CTA which shows the user what the next step to take is, but the messaging on it is a little vague
Deadline – The use of a weekly offer which shows the user what they could save and how long they’ve got left to take advantage of it is a great way to get them to act quickly
Relevance – The main headline “Light up Christmas” isn’t very relevant to the product offering. This makes it hard for users to understand what they can buy here, this isn’t made any easier by how vague the copy on the primary CTA is.
USPs – There is a lack of USPs on this page, it’s a great opportunity to include messaging about prices, offers, quality or delivery.
Simplicity & Clutter – There are navigation options to see clothing based on gender or brand. This is similar to Dorothy Perkins and can lead to decision paralysis.
Reassurance – There is nothing used to reassure the user.
Homebase – homebase.co.uk
Hero banner and main CTA, and the navigation options above the fold look good but the page seems to get more and more cluttered the further down you go.
Our Score: 6
Relevance – Clear hero image supports the main message and the CTA on the hero image is the obvious next step to take. Could be improved by matching the PPC copy more closely to the main messaging. In general, images used all support messaging.
USPs – USP bar used well. The brand match guarantee is also a great way of showing how low prices are but this isn’t shown as prominently as it could be.
Simplicity – The language used is clear, simple and very concise & the clear CTA makes user journey easy. Page translates well onto mobile, where some options have been reduced to ensure the page isn’t too long.
Clutter – There are a lot of navigation options further down the page. These probably aren’t required with the large top navigation and search bar. Having too many navigational options can make things more difficult for the user.
Deadline – There isn’t a lot of deadline messaging but the promise that you can collect your item in store within 3 hours will incentivise some users to act.
Reassurance – No reassurance messaging used.
As it turns out, the site that came top in the Which? Survey - Liz Earle - also came top in our assessment. They simply have the best landing page, and have clearly been working hard on optimisation. Having said that, the landing page isn’t yet perfect and would benefit from reassurance messaging.
In general, there was some correlation between the sites that Which? reported gave users the best experiences and how good their landing pages were. Homebase didn’t come bottom here - that sought-after accolade goes deservedly to Sports Direct.