Keys to a Killer Landing Page (That Converts)

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landing pagesSara Thompson also contributed to this blog.

There are many factors that go into making a landing page an integral part of a successful marketing campaign. On the most basic level, a landing page is any page that a visitor “lands” on. However, it’s more commonly a page that is created for a specific goal in mind: influence visitors to take a desired action.

Types of Landing Pages

While there are many strategies implemented, there are two primary goals businesses want to accomplish through a landing page. It may be to purchase a product or service directly, or to gather valuable data from the target audience that can pay dividends over an extended period of time. The latter, most commonly referred to as a lead generation landing page, involves a form requesting info such as name and email address. Sometimes there may be more, but often it’s argued to keep it brief to increase conversion.

Now, let’s take a look at the elements of an effective landing page.

Keep a Narrow Focus

The difference between a page that someone “lands on” and a true landing page is that the former may have any number of themes or topics related to the business. However, a landing page built for the purpose of maximum conversion for sales, lead generation, or whatever goal it might be needs to be highly focused.

Your homepage, for example, is the place where a majority of your traffic lands. But, there are probably dozens of links and ideas presented there. From your homepage users are invited to read your “about us” page, scroll through blog posts, browse your products or services, look at pictures, etc. Conversions will be all over the board as to be expected. But on a landing page, the purpose is to invite them to one thing and one thing only.

Headlines

While there are several different headline styles, some of which work better in certain scenarios, generally speaking, the best approach is a benefit headline. More often than not, people take to the Internet seeking a solution. So it’s only logical that providing a clear benefit statement via the headline will convert best in most situations.

The headline is usually the first words your visitors lay their eyes on. You can lose them or hook them with the slightest variation. How does your offer benefit them, and does it align with what they are searching for?

Example: Increase Your Web Revenue in 6 Easy Steps

The benefit is clear (and even at the beginning of the statement).

While it can be highly effective to use action-oriented language, it’s even more important that there is no ambiguity in what you are offering.

For example, an A/B test was performed on the homepage for the joint supplement Movexa. The main headline was anything but dazzling: Natural Joint Relief. This can be confusing and begs the question, “How am I getting this relief?” Simply adding one word — Natural Joint Relief Supplement — reportedly improved sales by 89 percent.

Sure, it wasn’t a true landing page, but the takeaway still applies. Before, the headline was vague. It could have applied to any number of things related to relieving joint pain. Simply clarifying that it was a supplement being offered made it clear for people who were searching for that kind of product.

So, when crafting your headline, tell the reader exactly what it is you are offering and why your product or service is better than the competitors’. If you’re offering to walk people’s dogs, how are you different than every other dog walker in town? What sets you apart?

On the other side of the coin, it’s very easy to cross the line from clarifying into being too wordy, subsequently stretching the headline into two or more lines of text. This would be a mistake. It’s very important to keep the headline as simple and concise as possible since you have about a half-second to make an impression. If you wind up with too many points to get across in one short, simple sentence, transfer some of those ideas to your sub headline.

Sub-Headlines and Copy

Since you have limited real estate to get your point across in the main headline, you can really drive home a persuasive benefit statement in a sub-headline just underneath it. Get their attention with the headline, complete the sale with the sub-head.

However, this is also no place to get wordy, and it’s crucial that these ideas are consistent with the headline. A barrage of claims and/or conflicting statements are sure to confuse viewers and foil your efforts.

Communicate Trust

Before people decide to give you their private information or buy your product or service, they need to know you can be trusted. That trust comes in two forms. The most obvious is that you are a legitimate business that won’t be stealing their money or exploiting their private information (email, address, credit card number). But trust is also about wanting to be reassured that you provide quality products and/or services.

Trust in the security sense is built by displaying third party badges that indicate some form of verification that you are trustworthy (a “verified merchant” badge, a privacy statement, a company phone number, etc.). Trust from a quality/value perspective is won by including testimonials, awards, and industry certifications.

Testimonials are huge. They are a great way to build trust and generate demand. However, transparency and clarity are also key. Make it clear that the person vouching for the company is actually a previous client or customer, and put their photo alongside their quote if possible. Real people’s faces, not stock photos, build trust. Also, while it might seem smart to make a customer’s tweet about how great your product is into a clickable link to that user’s Twitter page — proving it’s the real deal — giving someone the chance to click and leave your landing page is not ideal.

Design

On a more subtle level, trust can be built with a high quality website design. If your site looks shabby, many people will instantly assume your products or services are as well.

While it may seem like cheating, and while many web designers generally prefer starting from scratch, using a template to design your landing page can cut out a lot of guess work. Landing page templates are designed based on good data — the placeholders for your headline, subhead, image(s), and call to action are all placed in a way that is proven to drive conversions based on lost of testing and tracking.

Those fonts and color schemes are also suggested for a reason: they’ve proven to be appealing to the masses. So, consider putting your pride in your design skills aside and use a popular template as a starting point to create your landing page.

Furthermore, getting fancy with design, like continuously streaming a video in the background, can actually distract users from the copy and hinder conversions.

A Clear Call To Action

Now for the most important feature… well, at least it’s where the closing happens on your sales pitch. Everything else leads your audience to this point where they will (in theory) be taking the desired action. You achieve this by creating a call to action that is easy to see and easy to understand. Whether it’s a button to click or a form to fill out, make sure it pops off the page.

The location of your call to action should depend on the action you’re asking for. For example, when you’re asking for a user to sign up for a paid account or give detailed personal information, you’re going to need to make your case before most people will be willing to commit. In cases like this, it’s best to put your call to action below the fold so the user can read all the copy necessary to fully understand what you’re offering, how they’ll benefit, and why they can trust you. Would you be willing to offer up your credit card information to a company you just discovered without knowing all the facts? I sure hope not.

The beauty of landing pages is that you can continually test various approaches over time. Replace elements that seem to hinder conversion and continually look for ways to improve results. Good luck!

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