As a small business owner, you’ve put a lot of hard work and grit into marketing your business. You’ve created a beautiful website, you post on social media at a steady cadence, and you’re building your email subscriber list. But the heavy lifting doesn’t end there. Bringing in new leads will be one of the biggest challenges you'll face as a business owner. Landing pages—when set up and deployed the right way—can shoulder much of that work for you.
Landing pages are the point of entry to your sales funnel. They’re major tools in the conversion process. In this guide, we’ll lead you through the basics of landing pages:
Why landing pages matter for conversion
How to create landing pages that convert
How to track their success
At the most basic level, a landing page is any page your visitor arrives at (aka “lands” on) after clicking on an ad or link. Most often landing pages lead your visitors to take a single, specific action, such as making a purchase, downloading a document, or providing their information for follow up.
“Conversion” refers to the process of turning one thing into something else: American dollars into British pounds, imperial inches into metric centimeters, and in the case of your landing page, passive visitors into active engagers. This could be the conversion of your visitors into leads and clients, registers to your webinar, subscribers to your newsletter, and so on.
Unlike the rest of your website (which can be informal, educational, entertaining, or all the above) the goal of a landing page is singular: it exists to convert. Regardless of how much money you've put into paid advertising or how much traffic it drives to your page, it is only well-spent if that traffic takes the desired action. Creating a landing page that results in a high conversion rate takes forethought, strategy, targeting, and goal-oriented focus.
Landing pages increase perceived value and lower the cost of client acquisition.
Have you ever gone on a group trail ride on horseback? Your horse simply follows the horse in front of it. It doesn’t require thought or knowledge of the path ahead—the horse just goes where it is led. This is exactly how you want to guide your client on your landing page. When it comes to persuasion, the reptilian brain is in charge. The reptilian brain is lazy, impatient, and automatic. It likes simple processes and clear next steps. Design your landing page so your visitor doesn’t need to think about what they will do. The page should guide them directly through the process of doing it.
Landing pages educate your visitors and use compelling content to transform them into clients. They also serve as a representation of your website and your business. For example, in most cases, a landing page is first thing a visitor will see after clicking on an ad. However, while it may be the first page your audience sees, a landing page is not exactly a web page.
A landing page stands alone, often at the forefront of a homepage, and serves a single purpose: getting your visitors to give you their contact information. Landing pages have limited navigation and direct visitors to a call-to-action. They give your offer or promotion a place to live, and act as a gate to your coveted materials.
There are a lot of use cases for landing pages, but here are a few of the most commonly used types of landing pages:
Long-form: Long-form landing pages are exactly as they sound: long. They contain content meant to persuade people who visit your page and need to feel as informed as possible before opening their checkbooks. Some use case examples for long form landing pages include training products, health education materials, gym equipment, and investments like real estate.
Short-form: These landing pages are light on copy, but appeal to clients who react to images, emotions, stories, and instinct. These are ideal when something free is offered, like an e-book, promotion code, or some other low-commitment action.
Squeeze pages: A landing page designed to entice, or “squeeze,” your visitors into providing their email address in an opt-in format. For this type of page, keep content to a minimum to avoid distraction from your offer.
Splash page: This type of page appears just before a visitor lands on an actual web page. These can promote a single offer, a disclaimer or an announcement. They can also be used to request acknowledgement of terms and conditions or verification (e.g. age verification to enter a liquor brand’s website). Splash pages should only contain a few elements: a brief message, a navigation link to whatever the page is promoting, and an exit or opt-out link.
Lead capture: The most common type of landing page, lead capture pages are designed to collect contact information from your traffic to help nurture them down your marketing funnel. However, while all lead capture pages are landing pages, not all landing pages are lead capture pages (meaning not all landing pages ask for contact information).As mentioned above, not all landing pages collect leads. Sometimes, they can be used after your leads have given their contact information. Examples include: a Thank You landing page , and an Offer Ended page. An Offer Ended page comes after an event like a webinar has finished or a special offer ends. This gives your visitor an opportunity to attend your next webinar or event, directing traffic back to your website, and alert your clients when your product sells out (bonus if you note when it will be back again).
Launching/coming soon: This is helpful when you still want to collect leads even if your business, webpage, or product hasn’t launched yet. They can be used to host your webpage until your full website is up, or replace your sales page in preparation of your product(s) to be available. This type of page should include a single CTA for emails about news and updates (like when you do launch), a value proposition, and a hero image. A countdown timer can also be included to create a sense of urgency.
Like a first date, your landing page is your chance to make a great first impression. To make this happen, your landing page must draw in your visitors and get them to trust you enough to give up their contact information.
There’s a lot that goes into making effective landing pages that convert.
Often, people at the top of the sales funnel are focused on a very specific problem (or problems) they’re trying to solve. The more you can show that you know the pain they’re going through—and that you have the answer they’re looking for—the more responses you’ll hear.
What does this mean in practice? It means leading with a value proposition, not a product. Keep your message simple, direct, and clearly describe how your product or service will heal what ails your prospective clients.
Companies that personalize content see more conversions. According to a report from Adobe, businesses that personalize their messaging are “26 percent more profitable overall, with a 12 percent greater market capitalization.”
Keyword research lets you see what people are searching for as it relates to your product or service. Your should also be able to access data and analytics from your website platform to help personalize your landing pages.
Additionally, you can use segmentation to carve up your visitor and contact lists to better target their needs. Segmentation is a marketing strategy that subdivides contacts or target markets into smaller groups with common needs, interests, pains, etc. (for example: middle-aged men who use expensive grooming products, love soccer, and live in Northern California). Using segmentation, you can build landing pages with the best combination of copy, images, and CTA that will appeal to chunks of your audience.
Mobile users in the United States spend up to five hours a day on their mobile devices. That’s nearly 20 percent of their day!
Pro Tip: If you haven’t optimized all of your online content for mobile access, do so immediately.
Landing pages are no exception—your clients are looking for answers to their problems on their phones. Mobile is now a vital part of the research and purchase phase. Be sure your landing pages are mobile-optimized for a variety of screen sizes and devices to avoid losing out on valuable leads.
The proper use of testimonials can have a dramatic effect on conversions. Include a real person, a real picture, real quotes, and, if possible, real numbers. In short, be real with your visitors. Like word-of-mouth marketing, providing social proof on your landing page will strengthen your visitors’ trust in your offering.
Design is a crucial part of creating a landing page that converts. It can mean the difference between success and failure. Make sure you’re focusing on these elements when designing your landing page:
Copy essentials: As with your visual design, an optimized landing page should have simplified copy. Your copy should be easy to scan, use bulleted copy blocks, and present a clear, sequential thought process. It should also clearly communicate your value proposition and speak directly to your visitors’ wants and needs.
Pay special attention to point-forward headline construction, which places the benefit at the beginning or end of your headline, where your visitor is most likely to read it.
In your call-to-actions (CTAs), use words like get, view, enjoy, or activate, which focus on what your client will receive and are more powerful than submit, start, or pay, which only focus on what your client must do.
Less is more. When it comes to forms, only ask for the information you actually need. Structure your form so the easiest information for your visitor to give appears first. Make it as easy as possible for people to provide you with the information you need to move them from a visitor on your landing page to a client. If you’re considering including extra fields, ask yourself if the additional information is worth the risk of lower conversion that a more complex form will bring.
Also, placeholder text (the kind that disappears when you start typing) inside the field can confuse your clients about what information is required.
Brevity is best when it comes to landing pages. Landing pages with more than 800 word counts have 33 percent lower media conversion rates than pages with fewer than 200 word counts.
Keep the language simple. Landing pages written at a sixth-grade language level have a higher conversion rate than those written at a university level.
Imagery: You’ve spent hours tinkering with the ideal copy that lures your reader towards action—but what about the image? Images have a powerful effect on our brains. We’re more likely to retain information when it’s paired with imagery.
Choose images that reflect your clients’ needs. Tap into your buyer personas, and figure out what it is they identify with most. For example, if your target audience is millennial women, don’t use images of a baby boomer-aged man.
Use real people. Research from the Nielsen Norman Group shows that people prefer photos of real people (read: actual clients or employees of your organization) over stock images. This is part of a wider trend of consumers wanting to know the humans behind the business.
Don’t forget about your product. Invest in getting some spectacular, clear, and helpful images of your products and/or team. If you’re selling something specific, go the extra mile to get original shots.
Color: It may seem simple, but color plays an important role in how people make decisions. People's’ personal aesthetics and evolutionary and cultural associations drive preference for color, which can help or hinder the success of your landing pages and CTAs. While you can’t please everyone, check out this dissection of what common colors mean and how they should be used.
White space: What you leave off your landing page is almost as important as what you put in. By leaving some unused space on your landing pages, you can lighten up the feel of the page.
When every space is occupied, the page can feel congested and actually invite your audience to bounce.
White space improves readability and helps your visitors focus on the most important parts of your landing page (headline, contact fields, navigation buttons, etc.).
Landing pages aren’t a guarantee you’ll gain scores of new leads, but it’s definitely an integral part of a strong digital lead generation strategy. If you’ve put your landing pages in place and aren’t seeing the results you’d like, take some time to assess your situation. It may be because you’ve made one of these mistakes below:
It fails the “blink test”: Fifty milliseconds (approximately the length of time it takes to blink your eyes) is all it takes for a person to make a judgement about something new. Your landing page is no exception. Be sure to use more relevant imagery, engaging headlines, and clear CTAs.
Slow page load speed: This should be a major consideration before your landing page goes live. Make sure your landing pages are loading quickly and with high quality by testing your website speed. You can do this using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which is free and easy to use.
Too many fonts, too much text: Be conscious of how many fonts you use on your landing page. Two fonts that work well together is the best choice. Too many fonts on a single page can look chaotic and messy.
You have five seconds to convince your visitor to stay, so you don’t want to bury your message in a long, drawn out sea of text. Keep your copy to a minimum.
Failing to test: Your landing pages stand a much better chance of success when you can put a little science behind them. Unless you split test your landing pages (see the next section for more on this topic), you won’t know if you’re actually optimized for your audience. Testing your landing pages can save you some serious cash and increase your conversion rates. This is known as conversion rate optimization (CRO).
No unique selling point (USP) and hidden benefits: Your USP is the first thing a visitor should notice about the message on your landing page. Let people know what differentiates you from your competitors. Write down four or five USPs, choose the best one for a headline, and use the others to make a list of your key benefits.
No explanation of what you want them to do: Your landing page should communicate its purpose and what action you want them to take. If the headline or subheadings don’t communicate what your visitors will receive in return for the action, say goodbye to the conversion.
Tip: Make sure your visitors have all the information they need to encourage their conversion: a brief explanation about your offering, relevant imagery or a video walk-through, and the proper contact form.
It isn’t ready for mobile: This can’t be stressed enough. If your landing page isn’t optimized for a mobile screen (your visitors are having to swipe and scroll, or pinch and expand), it won’t let visitors access your entry form, and doesn’t make it easy for them to find your CTA.
Remember: 90 percent of mobile users try several screens to accomplish their tasks in time. This means that a person could visit your page on a tablet, continue on a smartphone, and finish on a laptop. So, make it easier for them by optimizing your landing page and website for mobile access.
Wrong CTA color: Just like the colors of your landing page design, the color of your CTA can influence your conversion rate. Different colors incite different emotions, so be sure to choose colors that not only contrast to your landing page, but also invoke the action you want them to take.
You forget about it after going live: Just because your page is live doesn’t mean it’s going to do all the work for you. Keep testing your landing page. You never know what works for your target audience until you give it to them. A/B tests can help you with this. Keep reading to learn more about them.
So, you’ve designed the most attractive, perfect landing page and are ready to take it live. But how do you know it’s perfect? You can’t know for sure how effective your landing page will be, no matter how beautiful, unless you understand what success looks like and how to measure it. We recommend you run a series of A/B tests.
A/B testing (also known as split testing or controlled experimentation) is one of the best tools for making sense of how your audience responds to your landing page. It narrows down the most effective elements of your landing page by comparing multiple versions for best conversion outcomes.
A true A/B test should only test one element at a time, and works best when you have a clear idea of what kind of results you’re hoping for. Once you identify what you want to do, you can start thinking of ways to tweak your landing pages to help achieve your goals.
Your test subjects, Group A and Group B, should be segmented as evenly as possible—you’ll want each segment to have equal, or nearly equal, numbers of recipients, and (ideally) equally mixed demographics. Both groups should also be tested at the exact same time, unless you’re specifically testing for timing.
Every test you run should have a control group, meaning your original, unaltered landing page. Both groups should see nearly identical landing pages, except your other group will include one, specific difference, or “treatments,” in elements.
Some elements to consider testing are:
Length of a subject line
Amount of copy
Size of imagery
While this is the fundamental idea behind A/B testing, it’s also the part that many marketers get wrong. It can be tempting to test multiple changes at once. Unfortunately, if you change more than one thing, you can only say that one entire landing page did better than another entire landing page. You can’t point to exactly why one worked over the other.
Once you’ve identified what element you want to test, and what your goal is going to be, you need to track your results. To do this, you’ll need to identify a key performance indicator (KPI) that clearly measures your goal. Here are some basic KPIs you should use to measure your landing pages (Note: this is just a fraction of the KPIs you can use—your business objectives will determine what you should measure):
Bounce rate: This measures the ineffectiveness of your landing page by the percentage of visitors who view your landing page but leave without interacting by typing in a new address, closing the browser or tab, or clicking “back.”
Exit rate: This differs from a bounce rate because it measures the percentage of visitors who might have interacted with your landing page, but click away from it to a different page or site.
Click through rate: This helps you understand what gets your visitors to click on your links, and how many they click. It’s measured as a percentage of the total number of unique page views.
Traffic per device: This tells you what type of platform (PC, tablet, mobile device) your landing page was used the most to access your landing page, and conversely, which one was used the least.
Conversion rate: This tells you how effective your landing page is in converting leads by measuring the number of visitors that took an action that resulted in the conversion you wanted (filling out a form, requesting a consultation, buying a product, etc.).
Cost-per-lead: This measures the total cost of resources used to generate one lead. It’s calculated by dividing the number of new leads by the total cost of your landing page campaign.
You’re going to have more than one type of visitor, all with different preferences. You won’t maximize your conversions with just one style of landing page or a boilerplate message. A/B testing will help you target your unique audiences for higher chances of conversion.
Let’s envision, for a moment, that you’ve created the perfect landing page. You’ve created multiple, thoroughly-tested versions of beautifully-designed landing pages for each segment of your audience, and have started to collect conversions like squirrels collect acorns in the peak of autumn. You can kick up your feet and finally relax now, right?
We hate to break it to you, but you still have work to do. That landing page conversion is just one step in your journey with your audience. Your job now is to create solid, post-conversion experiences for them, otherwise, all the hard work you put into creating those perfect landing pages was for naught. Once you’ve entered the post-conversion chapter in your relationship with your contacts, it’s time to enter them into a nurturing sequence. This is where you’ll usher your contacts through your sales funnel.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Deploy the Thank You page to follow when your new contact clicks the “Submit” button.
Provide client testimonials about your products or services to help cement your credibility.
In addition to your Thank You landing page, you should immediately follow up via email to thank your new contact for their interest, and provide an opening for conversation based on what triggered their contact information share.
Provide relevant and helpful information to nurture your contact to a sale.
Clearly, there’s a lot to think about and keep track of once you’ve entered the lead-nurturing phase. As a small business owner, you don’t have time or resources to dedicate to this full-time. Luckily, there’s automation. We offer landing pages at no extra cost to all subscribers, so you can build a landing page and set up personalized automated follow up in one place.
When deployed properly, automation allows users to create email campaigns that fire automatically when triggered by a previously-specified action (i.e. a contact form was submitted). These can be personalized based on the data collected from your contacts and can be used to nurture your contacts through your funnel.
Landing pages are critical to any successful digital marketing strategy. They help your visitors understand why and how your business is the best solution for their needs or pain points, they provide an avenue through which your visitors can interact with your business to learn more about the products or services you offer, and they act as an extension of your regular webpage to communicate to your clients your appreciation of their interest, or to alert them when certain parts of your business are still underway.
However, as important and imperative landing pages are to your lead generation success, don’t fall in love with yours. Certainly, you should put the time and effort into making your landing pages attractive and effective, but you’ll be using multiple landing pages throughout your business’s lifetime. You’re going to learn from one and replace it with another, so don’t consider each landing page you create to be the be-all end-all to your success.
The important thing to remember is that your landing pages should do their job of converting, but you’ll still need to make sure you give them the kind of attention you give to the rest of your sales process, and the rest of your business.
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