With the UK general election just weeks away, the major political parties are hitting the campaign trail hard. This has undoubtedly translated into a long spike in online interest – but how well are their landing pages harnessing this exposure?
Barrack Obama’s digital campaigns were famously brilliant at converting top of funnel web visitors into bottom of funnel voters and activists. It looks like Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be just as good at conversion-focused digital marketing.
But how do the British political parties stack up against their American cousins? I had a look at the websites and landing pages of the seven parties that took part in the ITV Leaders Debate in April 2015, accessed solely through organic search.
Over at conservatives.com, first impressions are very slick. A large, quality background image, inspiring language and data collection from the word go – a true landing page.
Underneath the gloss, however, lies some problems:
- The call to action is “Say you’re in.” In for what – the aforementioned brighter future? Membership of the party? It’s a vague and odd CTA – nobody would say they prefer a darker past to a brighter future.
- There’s a dissonance between the brighter future copy and the dark background image.
- The CTA button text is “Continue”. Continue to what? Where are you taking me exactly?
- The disclaimer is a bit long. Not only that, it says, “By clicking ‘submit’, you agree to…” when there is no submit button on the page.
Worst of all, when you do input your email and postcode, you are taken to the main Conservatives website. No lightbox explanation or confirmation of what just happened to your personal details at all. Very worrying.
Visit greenparty.org.uk, and you aren’t actually greeted with a campaign landing page, just their usual website. Marks off for that.
On the site itself:
- ‘Read our manifesto’ is the main call to action. The Greens may be guilty of overestimating the attention span of online audiences here. Hit me with the manifesto’s main points, and I’ll consider downloading the full version.
- When you do click ‘Read our Manifesto’, three links to different versions are below the fold, under yet more blurb. I’d choose one main version to promote and give it a dedicated button.
- Confusingly, you can get a PDF version of the Mini Manifesto, and a separate ‘online’ version. So…you’ll post me the PDF?
Ah, there’s the real Green landing page – it’s a deeper link under ‘I’d like to help’, suggesting it’s aimed at bottom of funnel activists, not undecided voters at the top.
I clicked through to find a lovely, simple and well designed page. The text didn’t quite inspire me to enter my details though, as it sounds like I’ll just be added to their mailing list.
But wait! I did enter them, and got a way more engaging page that tackle the common misconceptions undecided voters have about the party.
This is a great experience tailored to their main audience of undecided voters. It should be on top of the main website, not hidden as a deep link.
Labour’s website greeted me “Good evening”, and that varies depending when you’re visiting. A nice touch.
There’s no background image at all, just the text of simple question. I wasn’t expecting this, but the lack of visuals actually got my attention. The question is much more direct than ‘Say you’re in’ for example, so is easier to answer and targets their main audience of undecided voters.
Still some problems though:
- When I answered the question, I was prompted for my personal details without being told why they’re needed.
- I entered them anyway and got another question – “We’re keen to hear how this government has impacted on your community.” A deeper level of engagement, but there was no option if none of the options applied in my area.
- A third question! Complete this sentence – “I would vote Labour if…” This question stands out from the other parties – it’s an open question, interesting to answer and useful data for them to receive.
- While part of me likes being asked about my opinions, three questions felt a bit more like a Survey Monkey than a landing page.
The Lib Dems haven’t overlaid the website with a landing page at all. Instead, it tells us that ‘The NHS needs an extra £8bn’ and asks for my email address to ‘Back our Campaign’ in a small form field on the bottom left of their home page.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I was signing up for, but that seems like a good idea. So I popped in my email address, and got not one, but two ‘thank you’s (nice but weird). Then, as on Labour’s site, I was asked what issues matter to me most.
The button copy here is ‘Submit’. This is a schoolboy error from landing page primary school, unless of course they are running some kind of bondage academy.
I clicked submit anyway. I was then asked to share my response on social media, and to make a campaign donation.
These extra calls to action were perfectly timed and at the right level. In fact, I got the same type of page after signing up to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, so this is definitely best practice (despite the slightly odd background image).
Not much to say about Plaid Cymru’s landing page. They have a brochure website with no overlaid landing page, or any obvious way to engage an undecided voter.
- All calls to action are equal, including ‘Join’, ‘Shop’ and ‘Find us on Facebook’. And they all seem to be aimed at existing supporters towards the bottom of the funnel.
- The phrase ‘Get email alerts’ did not inspire me to join their movement for a better Wales.
- Their Twitter feed is entitled ‘The latest from Twitter’. The latest what – Katie Hopkins gaff, some pictures of cats in sinks? Or something Plaid Cymru related? More specific and inspiring copy would be a start here.
Not much to say about the SNP website either – it’s another brochure site, no way for undecided voters to engage, and a few obvious problems on the site.
- Multiple calls to action, with ‘Register to vote’ standing out a bit more than the others (and this takes you to the gov.uk site)..
- Another carousel with calls to action sailing by, one of which advertises an SNP event that took place several weeks ago.
- The images look like stock images, compared to the much more real and sleek ones of their competitors.
Ukip does have a single call to action landing page overlay on the site, requesting my name and email address.
- The call to action is not issue based liked the others. I will simply ‘Get the latest news & updates from our campaigns’. This feels aimed at visitors already in the middle to bottom of their conversion funnel, not undecided voters.
- Where’s Nigel Farage in the background image? If there’s one site you expect to see a party leader on, it’s this one.
- I inputted my details, and was again asked to sign up, this time declaring my voting intentions. Didn’t I just do that? What did I just do?
- I was also asked to activate my account. What account? Did I not just sign up to email updates?
A confusing experience to say the least.
So if I had to cast my landing page vote, it would probably go to the Labour page. Their copy was direct, the path was clear (if a bit long) and Matthew McGregor’s digital expertise is clearly playing a big role in their digital campaign.
And if you assume that a large proportion of the parties’ traffic is coming from undecided voters, the below data from SimilarWeb suggests a Labour win on 7 May is more likely than you might have thought.