The Ultimate Guide to Landing Pages
A landing page can be the designated page you’re taken to when you click on an ad. It can be the page that follows a call-to-action button. A landing page can also serve as the homepage of a website. What distinguishes a webpage as a landing page is its objective — the purpose of a landing page is to convert visitors into leads.
That’s it. The differentiating component of a landing page is that it contains a lead form that asks visitors for their contact information, typically in exchange for something the visitor values.
Now, think about how protective you are of your personal information. What makes you think a stranger on the internet would want to give up theirs?
Well, that’s where landing page best practices come in. A targeted, well-crafted landing page with a solid format and sound copy will get almost anyone to do your desired action.
And that is exactly what this guide will teach you.
Why would you create a special page just for people to fill out a form? Why not just use your homepage or about page? Great questions.
After reading this article, you’ll likely be able to answer those questions yourself, but the short answer is this: A landing page eliminates distractions by removing navigation, competing links, and alternate options so you capture your visitor’s undivided attention. And complete attention means you can guide your visitor where you’d like them to go, i.e., to your lead form. In sum, landing pages are specifically designed to create conversions.
Now that you understand their importance, let’s cover landing page best practices to make sure your pages are set up to convert.
Landing Page Best Practices
- Craft a benefit-focused headline
- Choose an image that illustrates the offer
- Write compelling copy that guides your visitor to the desired action
- Include your lead form above the fold
- Add a clear and standout call-to-action
- Give away a relevant offer
- Only ask for what you need
- Remove all navigation
- Make your page responsive
- Optimize for search
- Remember to use a thank you page
Was that a lot? We’ll break them down below.
Craft a benefit-focused headline
For every 10 people that visit your landing page, at least seven of them will bounce off the page. To keep that number low, your visitors need to know (and understand) what’s in it for them within seconds of arriving. Your headline is the first thing they’ll read, and it should clearly and concisely communicate the value of your landing page and offer.
Choose an image that illustrates the offer
Yes, an image is mandatory, and it should represent your target audience. The purpose of your image is to convey a feeling — it should illustrate how your visitor will feel once they receive your offer. Certain images work better than others, so you should always split test your options (which we’ll cover below).
Write compelling copy
Don’t spend all that time crafting the perfect headline and finding your ideal image to fall flat when it comes to the words that will actually sell your call-to-action. Your copy needs to be clear, concise and should guide your visitor to the action you want them to complete. Compelling copy also speaks directly to the visitor by using “you” and “your” to make them feel engaged. We’ll go more in-depth on copy tips below.
Include the lead form above the fold
Your lead form needs to be readily accessible should your prospect want to convert right away — you definitely don’t want them searching and scanning your landing page to find your offer. “Above the fold” just means that visitors don’t have to scroll to get to the form — that it’s in view as soon as someone hits the page. This could be a form or an anchor link to the form. Even better: Design your form to scroll with the user as they move down the page.
Add a clear and standout call-to-action
The call-to-action (CTA) is arguably the most important element on your landing page — it’s one of many elements that encourage conversion. The CTA button needs to stand out, meaning you should use a color that contrasts with other elements on the page. Be clear about what you want visitors to do, that is, use an action verb that spells it out for them, like “submit”, “download”, or “get it now”. More on CTA best practices below.
Give away a relevant offer
Think of your landing page as a part of your lead’s journey to your ultimate offer — your product or service, that is. Your offer is the thing you give in exchange for your lead’s personal information. Not only should it be compelling enough for your visitor to provide their contact info, but it should also be relevant to your business. Say you sell horseshoes. Your offer might be something like “10 Simple Ways to Size Your Horse’s Hooves,” because, ultimately, you’re going to ask that lead to buy your horseshoes. You wouldn’t hook them with an offer about organic farming because that puts them on a completely different path. We’ll talk more about how compelling offers below.
Only ask for what you need
You want to gather as much information as possible about your lead, but how much you ask for depends on several factors: how well acquainted they are with you, where they are in their buyer’s journey, and how much they trust you. Ask for as little info as you need in your lead form to create a low barrier to entry. A name and an email are more than sufficient to nurture a new lead.
Remove all navigation
Your landing page has one objective and one objective only: to convert visitors into leads. Any competing links — including internal links to other pages on your website — will distract from that goal. Remove any other links on your page to draw all of your visitors’ attention to your call-to-action.
Make your page responsive
Just like every other page on your website, your landing pages need to be responsive to accommodate every viewing experience. The last thing you need is for your form to fall out of view on mobile devices. Give your visitors every possible opportunity to convert, no matter how they’re viewing your page.
Optimize for search
Sure, you’ll be driving visitors to your landing page through email blasts, social posts and other marketing methods, but your page should also be optimized with target keywords for your paid campaigns and organic search. When someone searches for your key phrase, they should find your landing page. Similarly, when you target a keyword with paid ads, those words should exist on your landing page.
Remember to use a thank you page
A thank you page is where you send leads once they’ve completed your form. Now, you could just show a thank you message on the same page or ditch the thank you altogether, but there are many reasons why that’s not the best option. A thank you page serves three important purposes: 1) it delivers the offer that you promised (usually in the form of an instant download), 2) it gives you an opportunity to interest your new lead in additional relevant content, and 3) it serves as a chance to thank them for their interest, which goes a long way in promoting them to a customer down the line.
Often times, design means creativity, colors, and pretty pictures. For the purpose of a landing page, we take design a step further to mean functional, direction-oriented, and effective. So, to craft a well-designed landing page, you’ll have to tap into both your right and left brain. But don’t get me wrong — you still need great imagery and attractive colors to convert your visitors. We’ll touch on how to incorporate all of this below.
Landing Page Structure
The good news is you don’t need to get too creative here. Most landing pages follow a very similar structure because it’s been proven to work. You can infuse your creativity through branded elements and images, but stick to a landing page format that people are used to seeing.
A good landing page has five elements (check out the landing page example below to see these elements in practice):
- Headline that grabs the visitors attention
- Relevant Image that is relevant to your audience
- Lead Form that sits above the fold to capture visitors’ information
- CTA that is action-oriented and compelling
- Copy/Description that informs and entices your visitor to complete your form
Can your landing page include more than this? Absolutely. (Think social share buttons that visitors can use to spread the word about your offer). This is simply the bare minimum. You need to know your audience, where they are coming from and where they are in their buyer’s journey to know how much you need to include. The rule of thumb is include as much information as you need to get people to convert.
Landing Page Layout
This may come as a surprise, but most people don’t read every word of your cleverly-crafted copy. Instead, they skim through and pull out the most important tidbits. Your job is to make those tidbits stand out so your visitor doesn’t miss anything important.
That means a few things …
- Keep the most important information above the fold so your visitor doesn’t need to scroll to get to it.
- Perform a blink test on your page, meaning a visitor should be able to gather the main message in less time than it takes them to blink, i.e., less than five seconds.
- Use white (or negative) space to keep your visitor engaged, focused, and to help them comprehend your message.
- Write with bullets and short paragraphs to make your copy easy to digest.
- Try to work the important copy into an F-pattern, which is the direction that most people scan a page online. Work with the flow of visual patterns to drive people to the key points that will get them to convert.
Landing Page Colors
The design of your landing page — including the colors you use — should reflect that of your website. You’re aiming to form a long-term relationship with the people who visit your landing page, and that means they need to become familiar with your branding colors and unique style. The more they recognize your brand, the more they trust you (and the more they trust you, the easier it is to get them to do what you want them to do).
The areas where you should consider using alternate colors are on the elements of your page that need to stand out — ahem, your CTA button. Contrast is the name of the game here. Say your branded colors are mostly green … you’ll want to choose a color that can draw users attention, say purple.
Wondering what colors perform well? We did a little research for you to determine which colors convert best.
Landing Page Images
The image on your landing page is one the first things people see, and since people process visuals far quicker than they do text, it sets the tone for their entire experience. . But how can you possibly choose between millions of stock photos and that company photo shoot that’s taking up all the space in your Dropbox? Let’s narrow down the selection with a few important questions:
Who is my target audience?
What does your persona look like? How old are they? How do they dress? What are they interested in? The answers to these questions are important in determining what image you’re going to place front and center on your landing page. If it’s going to appeal to your audience, then it needs to represent them in some way.
Where on my landing page do I want them to look?
This might seem like an odd question, but really it’s based on the idea that people follow directional cues, like where someone is looking or pointing. If you want visitors to fill out a form, consider an image that drives their attention toward that form.
Will this image reinforce my message?
Every element on your landing page serves an important purpose. Since your image is one of the first things that people see, it should help clarify what the visitor can expect from your page. Make sure that your image adds value.
Here are some other important things to consider when creating great landing page images.
We’ve discussed your CTA a few times so far, but since it’s the most important part of your landing page, it’s worth mentioning again. When it comes to the design of your CTA, there are a few tricks will make it so alluring that visitors feel compelled to click. To clarify, your CTA includes the button and the copy you use to draw attention to it; these tips cover both.
- Give your CTA a vibrant and contrasting color
- Focus your CTA copy on the benefit to your visitor
- Get to the point — try using no more than five words
- Tell your visitor what you want them to do using action verbs, e.g. Get, Download, Click
- Make your button large enough to stand out on the page
- Give it some negative space — don’t crowd the area around your CTA
- Follow the flow of the page and place your CTA where your readers’ eyes will go, such as to the right of or below the copy
- Test your button shape, test your copy … as a matter of fact test everything (we’ll cover how to do this below)
Mobile Landing Page
More than half of website traffic comes from mobile devices, therefore, the user experience should be the same no matter the device visitors are using. By making your landing page responsive, you give them every opportunity to view and convert, whether they’re on a desktop, phone, tablet, or otherwise.
After design comes great copy. Your objective is to be compelling, instructive, likable, concise, effective, trustworthy and informative all at once. How? Keep reading.
1. Cover the main points
No matter how you position it, there are a few main points that you need to hit with your copy. Those main points are your persona’s pain point, the solution to that pain point, how your solution works (features), how your solution will improve their situation (benefits), and verification that it works (social proof).
The majority of what you write needs to address how you can help your prospect, not how awesome you are (because that’s implied). Let’s go more in-depth on these points.
The Pain Point
The pain point that you focus on should be the one that your offer solves. Not to sound negative, but it’s important to touch on the problem your persona is facing so they know you understand what they’re going through. Empathy is an effective way to build trust. And if they know you get their problem, then they’re more likely to trust your solution.
The solution to their pain point is what you’re offering in exchange for their information. Illustrate a clear path between their problem and how your solution is the remedy they need.
Just knowing what your solution is may not be enough to convert leads, so you need to mention what’s included in that solution. If it’s an ebook, what are the subjects your cover? If you’re promoting a webinar, how will it work and what will you teach? If it’s a service, what can they expect? Give your potential lead all the information they need to make a decision.
Your copy should be heavy with benefits to the user because that’s what they really care about — what’s in it for them. While features list what your offer has, benefits tell visitors how their situation will be improved as a result. It paints a vivid picture of how much better their life could be by using your solution.
Studies show that social proof is effective for persuading people to take a desired action. Social proof comes in the form of logos of brands you’ve worked with, testimonials from previous clients, reviews of your product, or confirmation that others have purchased your service. In essence, people want to know that others are have used and benefited from your solution, too. By including social proof on your landing page, you’re validating your offer without even saying anything.
Touching on each of these points will provide you with well-rounded copy that answers all of your visitors’ questions … which brings me to my next point.
2. Preemptively respond to objections
A key part of writing persuasive copy (copy that gets people to convert) is dismantling objections before they even come up. Now, this takes some skill … or at least some help from a friend.
Once you’ve laid your foundation by addressing all the main points, put yourself in the mind of your prospect and think about where they might protest or challenge you as they read. For instance, if you say “We’ve helped Fortune 500 companies bring in customers,” your reader might scoff or doubt it unless you follow up that statement with social proof.
Do this exercise for every section of your page (or ask an unbiased friend to help) until you’ve covered every possible objection you can think of. When you get questions from people who’ve visited your landing page, use that as feedback to sharpen your copy even further. Better yet, seek out constructive criticism from your first few converted leads to ensure your landing page is meeting every need.
3. Build trust with your prospect
Say you were reading a sales page and the company wrote, “Our product has helped 100 people and it might work for you, too!” Meh. I’d probably pass and find a company that has a solution that can definitely work for me. Your goal is to build trust with your visitor and the way to do that is to come across as an authority.
Besides using social proof, some other ways to build trust are:
- Write in the way that you speak and address your prospects as you would a live customer.
- Cite statistics that support your message.
- Use case studies that highlight customers similar to your target.
- Be relatable. Show your audience that you’re human by admitting failures, opening up about doubts you’ve had, and being honest. The caveat is you should only share what is relevant to their struggle; don’t just divulge anything.
4. Use click triggers
Click triggers are designed to eliminate that last bit of doubt before a visitor converts. You can think of them as lick Probability Enhancers (… yes, I made up that term). They are essentially copy positioned next to your CTA that pushes your prospect over the edge by easing their mind and mitigating the risk of converting.
Below are some effective ways to employ click triggers:
- Money-back guarantee
- Easy unsubscribe
- Quote from a successful or happy customer
- Blurb on “what to expect”
- Price slashing
- Some other creative method
Whatever you choose, click triggers will give your conversions the boost they need.
Everything we’ve discussed until this point is great … in theory. But your business is different from others, and your target audience is unique. How do you know if the copy you chose is working? Or if your CTA placement is right? Or what colors perform best? Or which image to choose?
You test it. That’s how. Split testing (or A/B testing) is probably nothing new to you as a marketer, and split testing your landing page is just one more experiment to add to your list.
Let’s briefly go over how to best A/B test your landing pages.
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing is simply splitting your traffic to two (or more) variations of a page to see which performs better. While you could do this manually by launching one variation for a period of time, then another for the same amount of time, it’s far more efficient to use a software that allows you to split test and can track your results.
The main components of an A/B test are variants, or the two versions of the page, the champion, or the original page, and the challenger, or the page that you modified to test against the original.
How to A/B test
The most important trick to split testing is to make very small tweaks with each experiment. For instance, you don’t want to split test your headline and your image at the same time because you won’t know which element garnered the results. For this reason, stick to testing one element at a time. The “winner” becomes your champion, then you can create a new challenger to test the next element. You repeat this cycle until you reach a conversion rate that you’re happy with (and that falls within realistic expectations, which we’ll cover below).
What should you test?
You can test virtually anything on your landing page. But while that’s possible, you may want to limit your test to a few of the most impactful elements of your page, like:
- Headline copy
- CTA color
- Click triggers
- Copy on the page
- Lead form length and fields
These tests will have the biggest impact on your conversion rates. Try starting with the simplest change first, like a headline or CTA color, then work your way to the larger undertakings, like your page copy.
Landing Page Metrics to Track
Metrics will tell you everything you need to know about how well your landing page is performing as well as give you some insight on how to improve it. It’s hard to know exactly what will work when you launch a page. Measure and track meticulously in the beginning until you reach a relatively good conversion rate, then you can track your metrics less frequently.
How many visits are you getting on your landing page? The more visits, the more you increase your probability of conversions. Try adjusting your paid strategy or redefining your keywords to drive more traffic to your page. You can also let your current followers know about your offer through emails, social media, and on your website.
Knowing where your traffic is coming from will let you know where you should double down on or ditch your efforts.
This is the number of people that complete your lead form and land on your thank you page. There are many tweaks you can make to your page to increase this number, but make sure to A/B test so you know what’s working.
Contacts refers to the number of leads that you generated from your form. The reason this is different from submissions is because duplicate contacts are only counted once, meaning if a current lead fills out your form to get your offer, they don’t affect the count.
This is more of an observation of how people interact with your page as opposed to a metric. Heat mapping can show you where people scroll, what they read, and how they engage with your page. This is all useful data when thinking about your page layout and structure.
If visitors are coming to your page and immediately leaving, then you need to examine whether the content is aligned with the offer. Does your copy capture visitors’ attention and do visitors automatically know what to do when they land on your page? Is your page a reflection of the copy you used to get people to visit it?
This metric tells you how many people start filling out your form but don’t complete it. If this number is particularly high, some adjustments to consider are introducing new click triggers, shortening your form, or making it more clear what you want your visitor to do.
You need to judge your landing page against industry norms and across a similar audience to know if it’s performing as expected. Check out some industry benchmarks to set as your baseline, but don’t be discouraged by other company’s results.
No matter what’s going on, it’s possible to diagnose and heal your landing pages if you pay attention to the metrics.
There are always tweaks you can make to boost landing page performance. Below are a few great tips (if I do say so myself) to get your landing pages leveled up.
Optimize your landing page
Optimize is such a confusing word, isn’t it? I mean, are we talking about imagery, copy, keywords, or UI? The answer is yes — we’re talking about all of it. Optimize just means to make your landing page the best it can be, and that can include a myriad of modifications. If you want to know everything you could do to optimize your landing page, you’ll need a pretty expansive guide. And, guess what, we have one here.
You could argue that anything free qualifies as “good,” but that isn’t exactly true. Not only should your offer be free (we’re not talking sales pages here) but it also has to be good enough to warrant a stranger giving you their personal information. Let’s face it — there are a lot of companies competing for your audience’s attention, asking for their information and soliciting them via email. So, what’s going to make you stand out from the pack? An outstanding offer, that’s what.
Here are a few questions to determine if you have a compelling offer or not:
- Does my offer solve a pain point for my target audience?
- Is there a clear benefit that a lead can gain from this offer?
- Can my offer rival the competition?
Decrease page load time
A single second delay in page load time means 7% less conversions and 11% less page views. One study found that a three-second page load time can result in losing nearly half of your potential customers. Not only that, but slow page load times result in customer dissatisfaction and frustration.
Needless to say, landing page load time is a metric to take seriously. If you need some tips, check out this resource on decreasing page load time.
Keep the buyer’s journey in mind
Since you’re driving traffic to your landing page, you should have a clear idea of where your visitors are in their buyer’s journey. That means, you’ll know if they’re trying to diagnose a problem (awareness), looking for a solution to their problem (consideration), or are ready to close (decision). Your copy and offer should reflect this if you want to convert. It’s no different from any other marketing materials — meet your visitors where they are.
Create a seamless experience
No one should be surprised when they arrive on your landing page. It should be exactly as advertised, meaning be consistent with your copy. Use the same words on your landing page that you used to get people to arrive there, whether it was a paid ad, social post, blog CTA, or email. You need to avoid the bait and switch at all costs if you want people to stick around.
Create a clear path to conversion
There should be no guesswork involved in navigating your landing page. Once someone arrives on your page, it should be clear what you want them to do — submit their info to your lead form. Your goal is to guide visitors to your form using creative directional cues.
Here are some ways to point your visitor to a conversion:
- Choose an image of a person that is either gazing in the direction of or pointing to your form
- Make your CTA a contrasting color to draw attention to it
- Use arrows that point to your lead form
- Insert anchor text that brings people back to the form when clicked
- Give your CTA some negative space on the page
- Frame your lead form with a bold color or outline
Add scarcity to your offer
Few emotional marketing tactics work as well as fear … and the fear of missing out (more formally known as FOMO). Consumers don’t like to lose their ability to choose, and once you make it clear that your offer is in high demand and/or short supply, they’re going to clamber to get it. (Here’s a cool study on cookie jars if you want to geek out on the psychology of scarcity marketing.)
The other reason why this technique works is because people want things that are hard to obtain — that signifies value and exclusivity.
To show scarcity, mention how little of your offer is left, include a countdown timer, use words like “ends soon” or “last chance”. Obviously, we want you to be genuine, so only employ tactics that are true for your business. Bottom line: there are many ways to use and benefit from this technique.
Video marketing is becoming increasingly popular for good reason. Not only do customers prefer to see video from companies, but video has been proven to increase conversions by up to 80 percent. The key is to create an effective video that doesn’t distract visitors from your ultimate goal: the call-to-action.
If you’re on the fence about using video, here are some reasons that might push you over the ledge.
- Increases conversion rates
- Is a more personable way to share a message and connect with prospects
- Can be more engaging than an image and will get visitors in the habit of clicking (and converting)
- Keeps visitors on your page longer
- Is processed 60,000 times faster than text
If you do plan to employ this tactic, VidYard has some helpful landing page video guidelines to follow.
Are you excited yet about all the ways you can improve your landing pages? Sure, there are quite a few but that just means that a poor-performing landing page doesn’t have to stay that way. Take it one tactic at a time and build as needed.
What to Do Post-Conversion: Lead Nurturing
So, you have an optimized landing page that converts like a charm. Now what? You don’t want to leave those leads hanging. Instead you want to nurture them into becoming customers, then nurture them some more. Here’s how.
Optimize your thank you page
I hope you’re not tired of optimizing yet. Your thank you page is the first thing someone sees after they convert, so it serves as a great opportunity to delight your new lead even more than you already have. Your objective is twofold: deliver your promised offer and get them interested in something else on your site.
Your thank you page should:
- Thank your new lead (go figure)
- Provide links to relevant content on your site
- Invite your lead to follow you on social media
- Ask your lead to subscribe to your blog
- Automate a follow-up email with the offer
Guide them along their buyer’s journey
Your new lead is going to make their way to the decision stage with or without you. You want to be the one to help them get there. You’ve gathered some valuable information about your lead, which means you can anticipate what they need next. Provide content or resources to bring them to the subsequent stage of their journey, and you just might be their option for the decision stage. After all, we know that prospects buy from companies that they know, like, and trust.
Form a relationship
Once someone signs up to receive information from you, they become a potential customer with whom you should work hard to build a relationship and connection. The good thing is you already know what they’re interested in and what their pain points are, so you can target them with additional, helpful content and personalized marketing.
Landing pages will account for a majority of your new leads, so they demand your attention. With the vast number of tweaks, additions, and variations you can implement, there’s no reason why you can’t have a landing page that converts well. As long as you’re following the best practices we covered above, you’ll be on your way to a high-performing landing page. And if you need some additional guidance, we’re always here as a resource.
Originally published Aug 7, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated August 07 2019