Should You Have Navigation Bars on Your Landing Pages?
Spoiler: The answer isn’t always “no”.
We all know what happens when Indiana Jones grabs the idol from the pedestal.
The place immediately starts shaking.
Indy starts looking around frantically.
He starts to sweat.
And you see his expression change as you can guess the single thought going through his head.
“I need to get out of here NOW.”
He books it to the entrance.
The dangerous traps he’s been carefully avoiding before?
They don’t matter now.
A barrage of sleep darts and traps are sprung in his frenzy to the exit.
And he somehow manages to not get hit by a single one.
And then you can imagine what happens.
Chasms are jumped.
Split-second decisions need to be made.
Whip swinging is a MUST.
What was that?
He looks behind him as he sees the giant rolling ball coming towards him.
More sprinting ensues.
More whips swinging.
But this time, there’s a freaking giant ball-shaped boulder chasing you!!!
There it is! The exit!
But the exit’s stone wall is CLOSING.
And it’s doing so at an uncomfortably slow speed!!!
Hurry Indy Hurry!
He manages to throw himself under the closing door just in time.
And in true Indy fashion, a split second before leaving his hat or his whip on the inside, he somehow can grab them a millisecond before it’s too late and…
He’s out now.
He can breathe.
Until another bad situation happens and he’s put through another chase scene yet again.
But wait, maybe this is a good thing?
Because think about it.
We know in our landing pages, especially ones dedicated to campaigns, there should only be one goal.
Or maybe one phone number we want our leads to call.
Whatever it is, there’s one action that we want our lead to take.
In Indiana Jones’ case, Steven Spielberg did a great job of conveying this through the sequence.
“You’re going to die if you don’t hit the exit RIGHT NOW”.
So Indy ran for dear life (although with the idol always in hand) towards that exit.
(That was his one goal. And guess what? If Indy was a lead, we could say he converted.)
He did what Steven wanted him to do. His one action.
We only WISH leads were as motivated to convert as Indy was.
But then again, we can’t use death as a motivator, can we?
(Or could we?)
But then that begs the question…
If we know that every element in our landing page must push our lead to that one action…
Do navigation bars break that rule?
Should you have navigation bars on your landing pages?
To answer that, let’s first see what classic advice tells us to do:
“Eww, no, never have navigation links in your landing pages”.
Welp, there you go.
Both Instapages and Hubspot swear against their use.
How they make you lose conversions…
How leads will probably use the links to leave…
How it goes against having everything on our page push our lead to that one action (like Indy rushing to the ONE exit. If there were many, wouldn’t he just use whichever?).
But hold on a second…
Is that true?
What if there’s more to it?
Today let’s explore 3 reasons why nav bars aren’t evil. (And explore when they actually are).
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Let’s get started:
1) It’s not the navigation bar itself that is bad. It’s the links you have on it.
Here’s the problem with both Instapage and Hubspot’s case against eliminating the navbar altogether…
They’re always doing tests against pages with terrible nav-bar links.
And they’re terrible because they take the lead away from the offer altogether.
Seriously, what are these links? Marketing Grader? Academy? Marketing library?
Of course those would lead to other parts of your main website.
And of course, it would lower conversions. Because you’re giving leads the option to forget about the offer.
But eliminating the whole navigation bar to get rid of the links?
Instead, you can just eliminate the bad links. The links that are not related to your offer or contain unnecessary info.
So no more random unrelated links that take you away from the page.
And we can also get rid of the pricing links (in most cases), since it’s an aspect of our product our leads don’t need to know right away. (It’s usually better to introduce price later through email).
So what’s left? Sign-in and free trial links? That’s good enough.
What happens if a lead clicks on the logo? Wouldn’t it lead back to the homepage?
No it wouldn’t.
Because you’d either make it unclickable or make it lead back to the landing page.
But definitely NOT to your home page.
We also do this same exercise for your footer. Only include necessary links.
Now we would test and see how conversions improve or not.
But ah, here’s a question.
Okay, so it’s the bad, unrelated, or “no need to know now” links we have to get rid of…
Why not just get rid of the whole navigation bar anyway? Why pick and choose?
And that’s because…
2) Navigation bars can increase trust on your page.
Have you ever clicked on an ad or on a link from a website, arrived on a landing page, and wondered…
“Is this, like, legit? How do I know this isn’t a scam? Who is this company?”
That’s where a navigation bar can come in.
Because they give the illusion of there being more behind the scenes than just the landing page itself.
For example, if in your navigation bar you have:
a) Your logo
b) A link to your about page
c) A link to your product’s benefits and
d) A sign-up link
It definitely feels like you have a few pages around your product (even IF those links just scroll you down the page).
And it feels like you have a solid site (not just a stand-alone page they just landed on which, to be fair, probably is).
When you eliminate navigation altogether, you lose the option to help your lead easily find the info they need the most.
(Maybe they’ll never buy from you if they don’t know what your company does for example. That’s a common objection bigger landing pages have.)
That’s not to say EVERY landing page needs a navigation bar.
If it’s a short page offering a lead magnet?
You might include the logo for trust or branding purposes, but a full bar is not a worry.
But if it’s a long page, offering something like a digital product that isn’t easy to understand?
Navigation that helps your lead understand your company or your offer better, WILL help conversions.
I’d say it’s the most important aspect of a B2B page since they’re well known to be visited quite a few times before a real conversion happens.
Speaking of long pages, there’s one last aspect we still need to explore…
3) When we’re talking about navigation bars, we tend to talk about site-wide navs. Not custom ones.
I think the biggest problem with the myth that it’s necessary to delete your navigation bar is because uhh…
We tend to use one, same navigation bar for everything.
So here’s an example.
If I say:
“Hubspot increased their landing page conversions by 100% because they removed their navigation menu from their page”.
You’d think, OH! It was their navigation menu that was bad.
But we never stop to ask…
Was it the same navigation bar that’s available throughout their whole website?
Or was it a custom one made specifically for that page?
And then you have to ask…
What links did they have? Did those links lead them to relevant pages?
On those relevant pages, did THOSE pages have links that lead them away from the offer or back to the landing page? (For example, a similar but custom about page?)
Did it convert better because it’s just better for the lead to have everything on one page? (Less clicking around?)
Did the navigation menu have bad design?
Those are the kinds of questions we’re not getting the answers to.
We’re just making a blanket statement about a pretty important component without understanding what made it bad in the first place.
Because just assuming everything is bad about navigation isn’t enough information to justify its complete eradication.
Also, yeah, most campaigns just lead people to homepages, which DO have navigation so…
It’s definitely a topic worth exploring (and testing) moreover.
Because it’s not that you want many closing stone doors for Indy to escape from…
You want many closing stone doors that will all end up leading to the same exit.
Isn’t that right indy?
(Also, to be fair, including links in your nav-bar like, for example, an about page, would only work if it was a custom page made for the purpose of your landing page.
That is, a separate page that again would just be informative AND have the same CTAs as your main landing page.
So it’s, theoretically, a landing site instead of a landing page?
I don’t know.
But my point still stands. It’s about overall strategy, how big your offer is and what options you plan to give your lead when they arrive at your page.)
I’m a front-end developer and digital marketer. My newsletter "In One Snap" features weekly insights to help marketers, designers and devs increase conversions on landing pages. You can get my free landing page swipe file (and sign up to In One Snap) by going here → http://bit.ly/Free-landing-page-swipe-file