Once upon a time, a well-designed web page and a social media presence were all it took to get consumers to come to your site.
Now the talk has switched to a sales funnel, call to action, and landing page. So what does all that mean?
The elements a landing page needs are a headline, subheading, visual component, brief description of the offer, social proof, and call to action. The page should be memorable, uncluttered, focused on the message, and the most essential information should be above the fold.
Those are some of the elements that should be on your page. Sometimes, the things we don’t see are essential to creating a successful landing page, so we will discuss those also.
By the end of this post, you should be ready to get started on creating your page.
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What Is a Landing Page?
A landing page is a standalone web page that a visitor arrives after clicking on an ad, promotion, or search result.
The landing page does not replace your business’s website, nor is it an additional page on your website. The two have entirely different goals.
Your website’s home page’s goal should get the user to browse and further explore the site to see all you have to offer.
But a landing page is focused on a single message, which is usually an offer to solve the reader’s problem, or to convert a visit to further action.
The landing page needs a single call to action (CTA). Essentially, your landing page’s message is something like this: “I have a solution to your problem, and click here to get it.”
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Different Kinds of Landing Pages
Although many of the design features are the same, there are several kinds of landing pages. The distinct purpose of the page determines what features to emphasize.
The amount of content and the CTA will be the most significant differences. These two are the most important ones, so we will focus on them first before focusing on some specialized pages.
The Lead Generation Page
If you are looking to gather information about potential future customers, then you want this type of page. The purpose of a lead generation page is to gather names and contacts. Depending on your business, the information can be used to create an email list or to contact individual clients.
A lead gen page (sometimes called a squeeze through page) does not need to collect too much information—just enough to contact them—name, email, possibly phone number.
- Don’t ask for too much information. There are many reasons you will put people off by asking too many questions. Some folks do not feel like giving out a lot of info. Others will leave a page if it seems like the task requires more than a minute or two. The goal is not a sale, but a contact.
- Minimize typing. According to Google, over half of the searches now occur on mobile devices. Instead of asking users to type in more information, consider using buttons. For example, a business that offers several services could have clickable icons for each of those services.
- Succinctly explain the benefit. Let readers know what they will get in return for providing personal information. From email list, newsletters, e-books to free trial—anything that will increase the likelihood of getting a lead from their visit.
Check out Shopify’s simple lead generation landing page. The goal is to get a visitor’s email address, and the benefit is a free trial. The only typing required is an email address, and the benefit is clearly explained.
The Click-Through Page
This landing page has a single goal—to get the user to click on the CTA button or icon. Marketing experts often talk about this page as being one of the first steps in a sales funnel—the steps a user takes to become a customer.
Think of a click-through page as the doors to a restaurant. Once people get past the doors, the likelihood that they will stay inside is excellent. A click-through page aims to get the client to go to your site and make a purchase.
A click-through page won’t ask for information to create leads, although that might occur on the page the user is sent to. Along with other design features—which we will discuss later—one key feature is that a click-through page should have only one clickable button.
The goal is to send them to a specific page on your site before they start exploring.
Specialized Landing Pages
The Splash Page
If you have ever followed a link and had an ad pop up with a message similar to “you will be redirected to your article in 5 seconds,” you have encountered a splash landing page. The purpose of this page is to display an ad. The reader can briefly look at it and then click on the “continue to your page” button or simply wait 5 seconds. Either way, your ad has been viewed.
Long-Form Sales Page
Sometimes to get a user to convert to a consumer, your landing page needs to have more content. A long-form page has the same features as other landing pages, but the service’s explanations and benefits are long and detailed. When creating a long-form page, you need to anticipate questions readers might have and address them.
The 404 Landing Page
Links break. Old blog posts get deleted. It happens to the best websites. Once your site gets large enough, having a 404-landing page lets the user have a positive interaction even though the link is dead.
This Zillow 404 landing page has an excerpt from Edgar Allen Poe’s “Nevermore.” That’s a lot more interesting than “this page no longer exists.”
As you talk with marketers, they might mention unsubscribe pages, about us, and thank you pages, and even more. However, these are specialized pages that can improve the user’s experience—once they have landed on and explored your website.
Although landing pages can have different goals, landing pages share some key elements. These include:
- Social Proof
- Description of the Offer
- Call to Action
A landing page can have each of those elements but not be effective. Often that is because when the landing page was created, not enough attention was paid to the design. You will learn about them as well.
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Identify Your Audience and Its Needs—The First Step of a Landing Page
Before you start working on a landing page, identify your target audience and its needs. Ignoring this vital step can lead to a beautiful, well-designed landing page with no Return on Investment (ROI).
What Is Your Audience’s Persona?
Who are the people who come to your landing page, and what do they need? If you cannot answer those questions, your landing page will have a few conversions. The buying persona can be used twice—in the planning process and on the landing page.
It might help to think of the persona as a profile of the kind of person you want to reach. On a superficial level, you have buyers who want to buy what you offer and those that are interested in your product or service.
On a deeper level, the persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. As you create the persona, think about demographic qualities—age, gender, income, and so on.
It’s not good enough to identify them either. You also need to be aware of their specific needs. For example, if you are selling a curriculum for teachers, you should know their concerns and needs.
How to Create a Persona
When you are starting out, you can keep your persona work straightforward. A simple list such as this should work:
- A fictional name
- Their role (if you are trying to reach businesses)
- Some demographics
- Goals, challenges, and objections
- Your solution to their problem
Creating a persona can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Larger firms often hire companies such as Buyer Persona to develop personas based on research and interviews.
Sites like HubSpot provide Buyer Persona templates. See if you can identify the type of page you landed on
(Hint: you will have to give information to get the buyer persona template).
The Persona on Your Landing Page
We said that the persona would be used twice. If you land on a page and see pictures of people, they represent the persona that the company created.
Your landing page does not have to include people, but if it does, that person or those people should look like they would be interested in the product or service.
Your Audience’s Needs–Where Are They in the Purchasing Process?
How close they are to buying something affects what type of landing page you create.
- Early stages. In the early stages, then they are gathering information. Depending on your audience, you might want a simple click-through page that directs them to more specific information about your product or service. A lead generating page might work well if you provide services. A long-form sales page would most likely be ineffective at this stage.
- Middle stages. Middle stage customers know what they want and the criteria they will use to choose a product or service. A lead generating page might not be as effective, and they could be ready for a long-form page.
- Last stage. The customers know what they want. Now it’s about quality and price. A long-form sales page lets them know about the quality and price. However, a click-through page that leads them to your website where they can explore the product might be even better.
Once you have thought through who your audience is, what they want, and need, it is time to move on to a landing page’s specific elements.
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You could offer the best product and use all the elements in a well-designed landing page, but visitors won’t stay on your page long enough to notice those things without a headline.
The first thing that people will see and respond to is your headline. So you need one, and it needs to be enticing to your target audience.
Creating a compelling headline could be a blog post by itself, but these are a few tips to help you design yours:
- Use the curiosity gap. People always want to close the gap between what they know and what they need to know. A great headline promises to do that.
- Satisfy other needs. Humans want solutions NOW. We don’t want to be left behind. We want to feel like we belong to a group. Headlines that suggest that what you offer will fulfill at least one of those needs have higher conversion rates.
- Start with “How to.” Marketers use this in headlines because it works by appealing to our self-interests. If you are thinking of using social media as part of your marketing campaign, a headline like “How to Use Facebook to Improve Your Marketing” will get your attention.
Your headline is the initial promise. Your subtitle is an expansion of that promise. You can use several strategies. One would be to double-down on your headline. Another would be to expand on it by making a promise. Remember that after you make a promise, people will wonder how that will be possible.
When you work on your subtitle, keep these things in mind:
- The message needs to refer back to your headline.
- Be clear about the benefit.
- Keep it within a sentence.
Your landing page needs an image, and it should be something separate from your logo. The image could be of the product or a person using the product. Both of those build trust, a vital ingredient in selling a product or service.
One caution: do not use stock photos. Nothing spells phony like a stock image. And don’t add pictures simply to have one—they should have a purpose.
The design elements of your landing page should match those on your website. A visitor that lands on your page and then clicks through will be confused if the page’s design is dramatically different.
People need to feel like they belong to a group. The decisions we make are influenced by the people we know and see, and that includes the choices we make regarding what we buy. Check out these three results of surveys and studies:
- 92% of people trust recommendations from peers.
- 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as their friends.
- 93% of consumers report that online reviews help them make purchase decisions.
Although there are many categories of social proof, some are more easily accessible than others. For example, celebrity endorsement requires that you either know celebrities who will endorse what you sell or can pay them enough.
However, a similar category is probably within your reach—the approval of an expert or someone with credentials.
User testimonials and social media are two additional examples of social proof that should be on your landing page. As a matter of fact, without social proof, your pages will get little response.
Description of the Offer
Once you have gotten a visitor’s attention, made a promise, and gotten them to trust you, you now need to give them more information about what is in it for them. Marketers often refer to this description as the copy, opposed to the headline or subtitle. Whether your description is long or short varies on many factors. Let these principles guide you:
- Keep it short. Unless your page is a long-form, keep your offer. Also, keep the sentences and paragraphs short. Remember that up to half your visitors will be viewing your page on a smartphone, and they will tire of scrolling and scrolling just to get to the end of a sentence.
- Keep it simple. Most of your readers will be skimming, so keep the vocabulary simple and avoid getting too fancy. Use a simple sentence structure.
- Keep it real. Avoid overused and trite phrases like “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Make the copy sound conversational. Do not be afraid to use first person. Show your personality.
A Call to Action
Some copywriters suggest that you begin planning your landing page with the CFA in mind. What action do you want the visitor to perform? If you want a lead, then a simple contact form is what you need—a box where they enter their email.
Something that many beginners don’t pay enough attention to is the words in the CTA button. People read what’s in the box you want them to click on.
If you tell them to “Add to Cart,” they are more likely to click on that than if you write “Buy now.” Amazon uses that principle and gives you those two choices when you are ready to purchase, and the “Add to Cart” is on top.
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A Few Other Design Tips
Here are a few more design tips you can use:
- Above the fold. As you design your landing page, have the most important elements “above the fold,” a newspaper phrase that refers to the top half of a paper. Visitors will see the top half of your page first, so that is where the essential elements need to be.
- Do not let them explore. The fewer ways the visitor can leave, the more likely you are to get a conversion. Remember, your landing page should have a specific purpose. If you want a lead, don’t give them a way to bypass the task.
Isn’t a Landing Page the Same as a Sales Page?
Not really. A landing page is focused on one specific outcome, and that outcome isn’t always to sell a product. Often the goal is to create a lead. That is why a landing page has minimal content.
A sales page can still be a single page that leads the reader to click on a product. However, a sales page will have more text, will sometimes sell more than one product, and has a specific purpose—to sell a product.
Landing pages have become crucial tools for having visitors who come to your site to convert to a customer, whether it be for a product or service.
Decide what outcome you want from the page and incorporate the design elements you’ve read about, and if the page doesn’t bring the results you want, there’s good news. It’s easier to redesign a landing page than an entire website.
Related Post: How Can Landing Pages Help Your Business?
- WordStream: Effective Landing Pages
- HubSpot blog: The 13 Types of Landing Pages
- Taboola blog: Landing Page–Instapage
- Unbounce: What is a Landing Page?
- ClearVoice blog: Conversion
- The Search Review: What Percentage of Searches are Performed on Mobile Devices?
- Nielsen: Trust in Advertising—Paid, Owned and Earned