What’s a landing page?
I’ve found different definitions for “landing page,” like this one from the beefy book, Landing Page Optimization:
A landing page is any webpage on which an Internet visitor first arrives on their way to an important action that you want them to take on your site. The landing page can be a part of your main website or a standalone page designed specifically to receive traffic from an online marketing campaign.
Got it? It’s wordy and sleepy, but nothing in it’s untrue. Ask Google and you get this:
Doink! Sorry Mr. Dictionary, a landing page obviously is a page visitors land on, but a homepage IS NOT a landing page (or at least it shouldn’t be). Unbounce makes software you use to make landing pages, so let’s give their definition a shake:
A landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign. It’s where a visitor “lands” when they have clicked on a Google AdWords ad or similar.
Most would agree a landing page is created specifically for the purpose of a marketing or ad campaign. And most would agree the pages are designed with a single objective, the so-called call-to-action (CTA).
So allow me add my simple definition:
A landing page is a “response page.”
A homepage might be deemed successful in a number of ways and by varying degrees. Not so for a landing page. It gets a simple pass or fail grade. It passes by achieving a conversion and fails otherwise.
So let’s look at how to create high converting landing pages.
1. Write a clear and connected headline
The first thing the visitor will read is the headline of your landing page. Within a second or two, it should make a clear connection to the language used in whatever medium from which the reader found you.
You don’t want to:
- Disorient visitors or force any unnecessary mental gyrations
- Be overly creative or clever
In other words, kick-off your page with a dummy proof headline that assures the visitor she’s arrived at a page that offers a solution to her problem.
I did a search for “SaaS CRM” and clicked on an ad that read “Zoho Online CRM Software | Empower Your Sales Team.” The logo in the upper left and subheadline assured me the landing page was about CRM and the headline made clear the purpose of the platform.
2. Present a compelling call to action
Again, your landing page is a response page. You need to decide what response you seek and tee it up with a compelling call to action. At a minimum, you’ll execute the CTA with a button, but you might also include an action-oriented sub-headline.
High converting button copy is clear and specific. Make it as compelling as possible with:
- Action words—avoid generic commands such as “submit” or “click here” and instead use words such as “get,” “reserve,” “download,” “register,” etc.
- Inject value—consider reiterating the benefit of taking action. For example: Discover how to master landing page conversion.
- Go with first person—an effective CTA trick is to turn the table, such that instead of telling the reader what to do, they’re telling you. For example: Tell me how to skyrocket my conversion.
- Say “free”—is your offer free? If so, say so. Free is everyone’s favorite price.
- Make the button shine—make your buttons standout with a background color that can’t be missed and an ample amount of negative space surrounding it.
- Use directional cues—arrows or graphics leading the eye to your CTA button can increase click-through.
For more on CTA buttons, check out this study of techniques to improve your call to action buttons.
The landing page for eSpacial’s heat mapping software tells me to “Start Mapping Now” in a big, orange CTA button that’s impossible to miss.
3. Remove links
The purpose of a landing page is to get visitors to take action—but not any action—one specific action (or at least a very small selection of actions). You need to resist the temptation to invite them to do anything else, including visiting other pages.
As such, your landing page should not include a website navigation bar, links, or menus of any kind.
This page suffers from information overload, a serious dose of visual chaos, and hundreds of links (in three different menus) that are remarkably distracting. Oh yeah, it also features a recipe book. This is NOT how you focus on your offer.
4. Press the problem, showcase the solution
A landing page needs to get to the point. State the value of your offer immediately in your copy and reiterate it where appropriate. Like most effective sales copy, a problem-solution sequence will serve you well.
Should your page be brief? Usually, yes.
What if you believe including several details, say features and benefits, will make the offer more compelling? Include them. Make them skimmable with design elements that break the story up into small pieces.
Whether your landing page is 50 words or 1,000, give it a thorough fluff test and take out anything that doesn’t make it more compelling to respond.
A landing page can feature a number of details and still be effective. This page from Uscreen does a good job highlighting the product’s benefits. (Though, the trio of choices—book a demo, sign up for a free trial, and watch video—is likely to dilute conversions.)
5. Show something meaningful
Don’t add stuff to your landing page for the sake of art. Clutter your page and you clutter the mind of your visitor.
On the other hand, you probably don’t want your page to be 100 percent copy. Include a relevant image.
- If you’re offering downloadable content, offer a preview.
- Offering software or demo? Again, a preview should be good.
- Offering a consultation? Put a friendly face on the page.
- Registering people for an event? Show the venue. Or the speaker. Or a cool shot from the last event.
I haven’t hit on every conceivable offer. Consider yours and rally up an idea to give your landing page some visual interest. If possible, show the reward.
I just created this landing page for my new website. Like most of my landing pages, it offers a free ebook, so I show and describe the free content. Simple, right?
6. Add trust-builders
Put yourself in the mind of your landing page visitor…. “Should I read, watch, listen to, try or buy this?” “Is it worth my time or money?”
Anything you can do to infuse your page with elements that foster trust and build credibility could be helpful. Consider including one or more various forms of social proof:
- Customer logos
- Media mentions (“As seen on”)
- Verification or trust seals
- Security badges
- Numbers, e.g. downloads, satisfied customers, shares, etc.
Awesome use of social proof here. Bravo Freshdesk.
7. Make small asks
Simple principle: the less you ask for the greater response you’ll get. Apply this thinking to your form:
- If you want more leads, include less fields on your form. In many cases, a simple email address is all you need.
- If you must qualify respondents, zoom-in on the data points that matter most and make it easy on them with check boxes, pull-down menus, etc.
- This principle will also apply to the amount of effort, time or money your landing page requests. If your goal is to build your email list, make small asks.
Uh, seriously, will you also need to know my blood type to fork over that amazing event brochure? The reader has to scroll just to find the button on this messy landing page, which provides an example of how to do the opposite of most of the advice in this article.
Test and refine your landing page
Optimize the conversion rate of your landing pages by running A/B tests. With A/B testing, you simply compare a control page (“A”) against a variation (“B”) that includes a significant difference of some sort.
After a period of time, or number of visits, review the results and pull the plug on the lower-performer. You can proceed with the winner or further improve conversion by conducting additional tests.
A/B testing for landing pages is not complicated. The experts at Unbounce say, “Launch, optimize and repeat.”
I recommend using A/B tests for elements such as:
- On-page copy
- Call-to-action copy
- Images and video
- Form length and style
You might also consider testing:
- Your offer
- Button design
- Page design
- Social proof
Go forth and convert
The step between earning a click and generating a lead is the all-important landing page. Create high converting landing pages by applying the ideas I’ve presented here.
However, don’t assume the process is perfectly repeatable. A winning landing page for one offer may fail for another, so create and experiment relentlessly.