A guide to best practice for your landing pages
Achieving that #1 position on Google is the holy grail of any SEO campaign, and if you’re a website owner your primary objective is to drive new customers towards your products and services. Where these new customers are being directed to from Google can make or break your chances of online success. When they click through to your landing pages, what are they greeted with? Is the content relevant, compelling and persuasive? Is the layout optimised? Have you tested variations to improve landing page performance from data insight?
In this ultimate guide, we will be diving into best practice guidelines for landing pages created to boost online conversion.
What is a landing page?
A landing page is a stand alone web page, created specifically for the purposes of a digital marketing or advertising campaign. It can be the designated page you’re directed to when you click an online ad. It could be the website page that follows a call-to-action button on an email broadcast.
A landing page can effectively serve as a homepage, but where the content is specifically created for the interests or requirements of the customer. As the first page they see, landing page content is relevant to the external call to action that directed them to it in the first place.
Almost every landing page has the same purpose – to convert visitors into leads. By analysing, adjusting and improving them to squeeze the conversion rate further, their purpose gradually evolves – to getting more leads.
Why do you need a landing page?
One of the main benefits of landing pages is the ease with which they can generate leads. Strategic landing pages are used by 68% of B2B businesses to acquire leads (Marketo 2018). Instead of directing all your website traffic to a home page which typically displays less specific content, your users can be segmented according to their preferences and characteristics and directed to a more ‘personalised’ page . This helps them identify with your content more quickly, and helps start the process of nurturing them towards conversion.
Making life easy for your customers is essential. They don’t want to wade through complicated forms, poorly designed web pages, and unnecessarily long check-out processes. These are simply lines of red tape which stand a far better chance of turning off your visitors who will simply give up and move on to your competitors. To make their lives easy and make them feel loved, the landing page can be the initial arresting touchpoint which adheres them to your products and services. Using the notion that ‘first impressions last’, a landing page can instantly engage the visitor by clearly showing them what they want to see, and give them a simple journey to get what they want.
As well as helping visitors with short successful journeys that lead to a conversion, a landing page can also provide invaluable insight. Through even the simplest of web forms, you can capture and learn a lot about your visitors which can be used to enhance their user experience, and improve the performance of the landing page, and other landing pages.
Better still, the data could help improve the structure and content of your communications for specific users and help inform your business’s marketing campaigns. The more you learn about your customers, the more you can confidently tweak the content of your communications to drive better conversion rates.
Identify the role of the landing page within your digital marketing strategy
Before we jump into landing page best practice, it is essential to identify what you’re looking to achieve. Yes, that means thinking about a digital marketing strategy, and specifically the role of the landing page within that strategy.
For example, you may have a landing page which receives traffic from an email or ad campaign. Your content will be relevant to the email and ad message, contain very specific information to convert the visitor, but not optimised for search engines. Or maybe you’re looking to create a landing page which will rely on search engine visibility to direct organic traffic to it.
In both cases you will have traffic going to the landing page and you need to make sure it is as optimised for conversions as possible. But the landing page which relies on search engines has an extra responsibility – it needs to be visible as well as convert. Its content therefore will be very SEO-focused using relevant keywords to achieve high ranking positions and attract visitors. But SEO-focused content will naturally compromise your efforts to empathise and engage with them.
Understanding the role of your landing page within the strategy will give you a clearer indication on content and structure, and will help you make critical decisions related to some of the following best practices…
How to create a landing page that works
LANDING PAGE BEST PRACTICE – OUR TOP TIPS
#1 – One landing page for each campaign message
You’re reading this best practice guide because you have understood that sending visitors to a home page will have a low conversion rate compared to a landing page with specific content and a clear call to action. Take that one stage further. Instead of pointing everyone to one landing page, you need to be channeling visitors to dedicated landing pages that give them access to the specific product or service that fulfils their requirement.
That means for every message you’re pushing in a campaign, you need a dedicated landing page to boost your conversions. For example, a software company offering an online booking solution to hotel owners have two different selling points:
- Lowest commission rate on the market for every room booking
- Free installation service
Hotel owners may be very interested in both selling points and there is every reason to include both selling points in a single landing page. But greater conversion can be achieved across two landing pages by funnelling the hotel owner to the most appropriate and relevant selling point for their requirement. Landing page A will focus on Selling Point 1, supported by selling point 2. And Landing page B will focus on selling point 2 supported by selling point 1.
#2 – Craft compelling and specific content on your landing page
Compelling content fascinates the target audience and drives them to pull the trigger on a call to action. It does this by capturing their attention, unearthing a pain they’re desperate to resolve, and leading them to the call-to-action. Your copy needs to be concise and as clear as possible. The visitor has arrived on the page for a reason, don’t confuse them with lots of options, simply stay on message, encourage them to keep reading, and steer them to the action you want them to complete.
By the time they reach your landing page they are potentially quite advanced in their buyer’s journey. Your compelling content needs to move them from this point to the next stage or the end of their journey.
Landing pages can work at all stages of a buyers journey – Awareness, Consideration and Decision stages. If you’re trying to convert a visitor from the Consideration stage to the Decision stage, don’t introduce content associated with the Awarness stage of a buyers journey because it is irrelevant to the conversion.
For example the software company mentioned in point 1 know that hotel owners on their landing page 1, are not happy with their current online room booking solution. In this scenario the hotel owner is already at the Consideration stage. The software company don’t need to mention about current problems in their content because the hotel owner has landed on the page knowing they need a new solution, and are already past the Awareness stage. Instead the content can be very specific about how this shiny new solution will make the hotel owner more profit on every booking. This is focusing on the value and benefits associated with the hotel owner’s Consideration stage.
#3 – Higher converting landing pages speak directly to the visitor
Knowing how to speak to visitors in your content is the key to connection and engagement. The focus should not be about you, it should always be about them, the one person who is there right now on your landing page.
Empathy with your visitor’s situation is your strongest selling point. Show them you understand their needs. Then illustrate how your business meets those needs. So be personable as well as compelling, and speak directly to the visitor by using “you” and “your” to make them feel engaged.
#4 – Eliminate distractions on your landing page
If the purpose of a landing page is to create a conversion, it needs to be 100% focused on doing just that. Eliminating all distractions so you can capture your visitor’s undivided attention is the key to achieving a conversion.
Removing the website navigation and menus will almost completely remove signposts to other parts of your website. They aren’t browsing the internet, they’re looking for something on your landing page, and you want them to stay on it. You only need to display content on the page relevant to the conversion, so focus on guiding your visitor where you’d like them to go – e.g the sign up form.
#5 – Images can increase your conversion rates to improve results exponentially
We respond to and process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text content, which means the first thing your visitors see on a landing page is the image and the colours you use. If that isn’t reason enough to choose a good landing page image, our ability to remember depends upon visual references, as about 90% of information that enters the brain is visually-based.
Landing page images have been shown by numerous studies over the past few years to either enhance readers’ experience on the page, or distract them from the task at hand. That means they can increase your conversion rates to improve results exponentially, or potentially cause serious damage. Getting the right image becomes essential if you’re serious about landing page conversion.
We also tend to make purchase decisions based upon emotions, as this method seeks to justify the conversion (purchase, sign-up etc) with logic. To make this work, the image would need to convey a feeling. Ideally it should illustrate how your visitor will feel once they receive your offer.
#6 – Videos on landing pages are highly influential, persuasive and will increase conversion rates
Videos are an easy type of content asset for landing page visitors to consume. They can describe the value of your service or product, explain how it works or simply make the visitor feel excited about your offer. They deliver your message and proposition in a format that is universally compelling with very little effort from the visitor beyond an initial click.
Well that’s all great, but the most crucial thing to emphasise here, is video is one of the most significant impacts on lead generation. Having a video on your landing page can increase your conversion rate by 80%, according to EyeView.
But why does video work so well?
Most of us prefer watching to reading, because it’s easier – just consider the last time you watched the news versus reading a newspaper! At the end of the day, when it comes to making a purchasing decision it’s far easier to have all the facts explained to you instead of having to do the hard work yourself. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video could very well be worth a thousand conversions.
Trust – When a visitor first arrives on your landing page, they don’t know who you are and probably have never heard of you before. So why would they give valuable information about themselves, particularly in sensitive times where data in the hands of the wrong people can damage lives. That lead generation form is a real barrier for many people because of the issue of trust. If they don’t know who you are, there’s no reason to trust you, let alone provide valuable data or ultimately buy from you.
A video can increase trust because it gives a personality to your business. If the video contains a voice-over, or someone talking to camera like a CEO, company employee or customer, it shows your business as human and a whole lot more personable and trustworthy.
Visitor engagement from video assets is huge in comparison to any other type of medium – 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week; and 55% of people consume video content thoroughly (according to Hubspot). The longer a visitor stays on your landing page, is more time for the benefits and value of your product or service offer to sink in.
Persuasive – According to Tubular Insights, 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching social videos and 90% of users say that seeing a product video is persuasive in the decision. Videos connect and help to direct your viewer to the thing you want – conversions.
If you’re about to put everything on hold while you create a video for your landing page, there are a few things to consider.
- Have a storyboard and script that focuses on the benefit for the user at the right stage of their buyers journey.
- Keep the video short and compelling. The most engaging landing page videos are not Hollywood blockbusters. They are short, original pieces of content, with good pace, and which talk directly to the viewer about solving their problem or opportunity. Keep the video between 45 seconds and 2 minutes. Visitors will be instantly drawn to the video duration, and will be switched off if they see it’s too long.
- Make sure the visitor has control. The role of the landing page is to generate conversions, and the combined elements on the page need to achieve this. But you have to let the visitor believe they are in control of their experience and having a video that auto-plays when they arrive is too intrusive. Trust the persuasive elements on your landing page, and give the visitor control to play the video when they are ready.
#7 – Direct visitors to a single call to action
A call to action (or CTA) is any message designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale. Let’s face it, without a call to action your landing page isn’t ever going to convert. Your CTA for the benefit of removing any doubt, should consist of a button plus additional copy which will draw attention to it.
According to Visual Website Optimiser (VWO), almost 30% of all A/B tests run by their customers are call-to-action button tests. But only 1 in 7 of those call-to-action tests produces a statistically significant improvement. When it does, however, the average increase is 49%.
There should only be one CTA on a landing page. More than one CTA implies that there is more than one focus – and that is completely against the purpose of a landing page. One CTA demonstrates a single action for the user to follow; more than one CTA introduces choice and will compromise conversion rates.
By following the flow of the page content, position the CTA where your readers’ eyes will track. Often this is to the right of the main content or directly below.
The most obvious thing stated on this page is the CTA button itself needs to stand out. Of course it should, but it’s incredible how many landing pages have a CTA camouflaged by other page elements. The best way to make the CTA stand out is to use a colour that contrasts with other elements, and large enough so that it can’t be missed.
The additional copy placed above or next to the button should focus on the benefit to your visitor, and in a minimum number of words tell them what you want them to do using action verbs, e.g. Download, Receive, Get or Click.
#8 – Write a good headline to draw the eye deeper into the landing page
If the image on the page is the first thing your visitors will see, it is crucial for the headline to keep their interest. In terms of time, we are talking fractions of a second to raise and maintain their interest, so the headlines need to be good, compelling and draw the eye deeper into the landing page.
As an absolute minimum, the headline should clearly and concisely communicate the value of your landing page and offer. But that’s really only half the requirement because your landing page needs to talk to the visitor in a way that empathises with their needs. Follow these five tips to create headlines that work:
- Value-centric headlines – Being value-centric means that the central message of the headline is about the benefit/value your visitor will get by reading more of the landing page. Be upfront about what they will get if they continue their journey.
- The headline should summarise the content to follow, not give a false or misleading signpost.
- Specific and accurate headlines – Do 8 out of 10 cat owners really recommend your product? If they do, say it like you mean it. Avoid being vague by saying ‘recommended by cat owners’ when you know the valuable detail.
- Never overstate the benefit or value your product or service will give the visitor. They will know when you’re bending the truth, and certainly don’t expect them to believe what you’re offering is “the worlds greatest”.
- Use a qualifying sub headline – Developing a short and concise headline is often the antithesis of emphasising value-centric. But there are times when the use of a sub headline will help qualify or bring more detail to your headline.
Headlines are crucial to your landing page – work hard on them, and they’ll work for you.
#9 – Use the right type of lead generation form
One of the biggest barriers to conversion on landing pages are lead generation forms. Use the wrong type of form and you’ll seriously limit, if not remove any chance of success.
If an intimidating form is the biggest turn-off for a visitor and you have a requirement to capture as much information as possible, something needs to compromise. Well, the visitor wins every time because without them, your landing page sucks. But you don’t necessarily have to compromise your data capture either if you simply consider how you display your questions.
A great solution is to hide the form behind the CTA button. Let the CTA and the other landing page elements work their magic and tempt the visitor into clicking through to the form. You haven’t bombarded them with your form as soon as they land on the page, instead they click through to a modal/pop-up containing the form which presents your questions in an isolated environment.
If you have a lot of questions in the form, and when no amount of CTA trickery is going to overcome the intimidated visitor, use a multi-step form. A multi-step form is typically a long form that is broken into multiple pieces to make them less intimidating and daunting. By allowing visitors to complete their information in smaller chunks, you create a positive user experience and increase conversions.
In a recent Hubspot experiment a single-step form experienced an increase in conversions of 59.2% after it was converted into a multi-step form. These outcomes are being repeated time and again. Multi-step forms are out-performing single-step forms where there are significant increases in the number of visitors who start filling them out and the number of those who complete them.
Multi-step forms are not always appropriate on landing pages. Basic actions like white paper downloads, newsletter subscriptions and general enquiries need to remain as quick and as easy as possible for visitors to complete.
In the above example there is a simple 3-field form to subscribe to a newsletter. Visitors are then taken to a secondary page where they can complete their marketing preferences and newsletter type.
#10 – Mobile first design
Whether your visitors are accessing via mobile or desktop, you need the page to load quickly and the layout to be optimised for their viewport. With just one or possibly two images on the landing page, and nothing more than just a headline, content and a lead generation form, the speed of the page shouldn’t be an issue. Even mobile users out of WIFI range shouldn’t have too much difficulty with the speed performance of the page.
But what about the layout for mobile users? What about making forms easier for mobile users to fill in? These are valid questions which should be one of the primary considerations for web developers at the design stage of the landing page.
Having a lead generation form on a second column for large screens helps to present this crucial landing page element higher up the page. But on mobile there isn’t this luxury and a common mistake is to consider the layout for mobile last.
To create the most effective landing page layout, the design stage should start with mobile first, and then introduce adjustments for larger screen sizes afterwards. For mobile users single column layouts are important for a number of reasons. Above all, they’re easier for visitors to quickly interpret and scan/scroll down.
Likewise, single column lead generation forms are much easier for mobile users to scan and complete, but there’s a little more to designing forms for mobile than making them responsive. Use HTML5 markup to enable the visitor’s keyboard to display in the correct format for typing phone numbers, email addresses and other input types.
#11 – Use incentives to boost landing page conversion
So you’ve implemented everything in this ultimate landing page best practice guide, and you see the word ‘incentive’. What? Why is that here? Why would you need to even consider incentivising visitors when there is a heap of other guidelines that are going to work?
It’s actually quite simple. Incentives help make it easier for a visitor to make a decision about completing an action on a landing page.
When it comes to landing pages, an incentive is typically some attractive element like a bonus download designed to stimulate a desired action. In some cases the incentive is the reason why the visitor has landed on your page in the first place. Incentives, often known as magnets are a way of tempting the visitor to do what you want them to, and as a treat here is something special relevant to their need.
Incentives could be a white paper or ebook which could be downloaded from the thank-you page which visitors see after completing the lead generation form. These are useful educational content elements which further extend the reach of your brand messaging well beyond the landing page touchpoint.
Tools are highly effective methods of incentive because they are likely to make the visitor’s life easier. Document templates like Excel templates; and online tools like website performance checks are very popular, and the latter can introduce visitors to free versions of SaaS plans which in turn expose them to paying for upgrades.
Finally, there are always the prize incentives to consider. Depending on your type of business, and more importantly the type of visitor to your landing page, there may be an appropriate competition or free prize draw. But be warned, even when prize incentives are linked to complex retargeting campaigns, the quality of conversions are usually swamped by the sheer quantity of people only looking for something free.
If you’re creating a landing page and have given full consideration to all of the above, your next job is to A/B test it. Make appropriate tweaks based on insight, and test again. Keep on testing all your landing pages, never become complacent, and keep an eye on new technologies to make it even more successful – A.I. anyone?
For further information on creating landing pages call Oxfinder on 01993 706254 or email firstname.lastname@example.org