Landing Page Best Practices
Let me make a small assumption and have a guess on why you are reading this article.
Perhaps you already know what landing pages are, perhaps you have already run your own campaign or two, and most likely are in the process of creating another one. It may be, you’re browsing the Internet in search for more tips, with a few more similar posts like this one opened in other tabs of your Internet browser.
I like to define landing pages as simple pages focused on making the visitors do one, specified thing. Simplicity is the key here. And so, instead of creating a long list of landing page optimization best practices you absolutely must adhere to while creating your ultra-convincing landing page, let’s keep this best practices list just as simple.
The long and the short of it is that your aim should not be to create a beautiful landing page but rather to use this page to fulfill your marketing objectives.
What do you need landing pages for?
Sometimes marketers feel like they need to come up with something truly special and, consequently, they end up overcomplicating things. Because of this, my first piece of advice will be: do whatever you can to focus the visitor’s attention, preferably in the simplest way possible.
Instead of trying to include witty references or catchy phrases literally everywhere, first, ask yourself whether it is clear what the landing page is all about.
Once your landing page mockup is more or less ready, make a pause to gain some perspective. Put aside everything you know about your company for a second, assume you don’t know anything about your campaign’s purpose, ROI, KPI-s, etc. Now, take a look at your current project, approach it with a clear head and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the landing page directed to a single persona you consider potentially interested in your products?
- Is it clear from the first look at the page what the single action is to be taken by the users?
- Is the whole page focused around a single goal?
- Do you feel encouraged to take any action on this landing page?
- Is there a problem your offer solves? Why would the users feel the need to click your call-to-action button?
What do you want the user to do?
All landing pages focus around CTAs. All sorts of CTAs, as a matter of fact.
When you browse through landing page templates in the Landingi platform, you will be asked about your landing page goals and presented with themes matching your needs. As you can see, a lot depends on the purpose (and, consequently, a call-to-action) of your landing page.
(Not that I’m suggesting anything but the landing page templates in our platform may come in handy here. Did you know you can create an unlimited amount of landing pages in the Landingi platform?)
Once you have a purpose to build your landing page around, make sure all the elements work towards highlighting it. I mean it quite literally. What I humbly suggest is that you begin all your work with defining your call to action as a core element and then, design your landing page around its message.
Still not really sure what to do? Or perhaps you’re struggling with choosing the perfect copy for your call to action button?
How about taking a piece of paper and writing down everything crucial about your company, product, specific offer, campaign or the newest update to your services? After you do so, take a break, and then look at the paper again and try to mark out what is the very core of your offer.
Ideally, your call to action should be included in one button and precise at the same time. Although there is no place for long sentences in a button itself, you can add a caption below and above it. Remember – it is about sending a clear message in just a few words. Sometimes, when it comes to landing pages, design is hardly the most important factor. Ugly landing pages may convert perfectly well. Why? It’s because they send a clear message their visitors expect. It’s better to have a bit of a vanilla landing page with a great proposition of value than a perfectly-designed page with nothing to actually care about.
Call To Action
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few call to action examples used in different SaaS offers. As you can see, all the offers are quite simple yet clear:
As you can see, the buttons presented above are simple and precise. Using verbs (like “get” and “redeem”) is a good way to tell the viewers exactly what they should do. Below each button, you can see an addition encouraging the visitors to click on it.
How to make sure your CTA was created in line with landing pages best practices?
- Describe clearly what happens after the visitor clicks on the button.
- Use verbs – instruct the user what to do.
- Distinguish the button (say a big “yes” to contrasting colors).
- Make use of scarcity – show that the offer is valid for limited time only or there is a limited amount of available items.
- Focus on what is free or effortless.
- Include it on your landing page more than once (unless it’s a short landing page).
Once you have decided on your CTA, come up with a matching copy to accompany it with.
This is how we move on to the second step, namely, adjusting your message to your visitors’ needs. What I am referring to now is addressing your marketing persona’s needs to personalize your landing page.
As you can see, these 3 personalized headers, each of them directed to a different persona:
The idea was to make use of the dynamic text replacement functionality and to display different headers to different groups of visitors. Each of them highlights a different need or benefit. Even though your product may be suitable for different groups of people, each group will be more receptive to certain motivators or triggers.
Widgets and dynamic content may both be a huge help here (to display different landing pages to different audiences).
Now that you have your call to action defined, it should be easier for you to come up with the copy for ads directing users onto your landing page.
Message match and why it matters
It’s crucial for you to realize that landing pages are (or should be!) a part of a marketing funnel. This funnel begins with ads you put on social media, Google or somewhere else.
Your landing page will be visited by the ones attracted by your ads. Let’s take a look at these mock-up ads – see the matching phrases and images.
Message match is crucial because it helps the user to feel “at home” on the landing page. If your ads promise something, so should your landing page.
We are surrounded by ads. I bet that there is a company name or logo somewhere in your sight even as you’re reading this article. Because of the constant information overflow, you have to be aware that every visitor of your page is precious. If your ads proved attractive enough for them and caught their attention, it would not be wise to lose them once they clicked. Every landing page visitor must be sure they found themselves in the exact place they hoped for when they clicked the ad.
Now, you may discover you need a couple of landing pages and a couple of ads, each set fulfilling a slightly different purpose – and yes, this is exactly what I’m trying to achieve here. The more precise the overall message is, the better. So, in the first section, focus on making the user feel like they are in the exact place they were looking for and that they agreed to be redirected to.
One small thing at a time
Landing pages are neither your website nor your portfolio. They should not serve as a tool to present every single aspect of your offer – that’s what websites are for. Here, you create a page to support one of many services.
If you sell on landing pages and your product has a few versions or variations, arrange it so that there is only one link on the first stage of your marketing funnel (something like “buy” or “choose”). And then, after you convince visitors to click, ask them about the colors, details or packages. The thing is, once people make small initial commitments (a click-through), they are more eager to take further steps (a purchase).
Decide on the length of your landing page
The rule of thumb is: keep it as short as possible. Generally, either you want to encourage your visitors to subscribe, sign up or download your freebie (in other words – you could do with a short page), or you need a place to explain why a complex product or service is going to be beneficial for your clients (a general or even a long landing page in this case). Let me elaborate a bit:
Go for short landing pages if your landing page is about:
- PDF/checklist download
- Providing a discount code or signing up for a newsletter
- Signing up for a consultation/demo tutorial
- A single webinar signup
Go for long landing pages if your landing page is about:
- Sales (you need more than a couple of paragraphs to show why someone should give you their money)
- Presenting complex services (high-tech industry, automotive, pharmacy, architecture)
- Recruitment offers (showing requirements, benefits, company info)
- Online courses (to explain what the participants may learn and how it will benefit them in the future)
Elements to prepare
Before you start working in a landing page editor, I suggest you first prepare a couple of crucial elements. It all depends on the length of your landing page, of course, but generally speaking, you’ll need the following:
- Copy – description of features and (more importantly) benefits
- Form fields (terms & conditions are a must-have I assume you already took care of)
- Selected images
- Selected testimonials
- Widgets to enrich your landing page with
It’s much more effective to prepare all the elements beforehand and then simply paste them into proper places in your landing page builder.
Now, let’s elaborate on what to keep in mind when creating these core elements of a landing page.
Create precise and witty headers. Easier said than done, isn’t it? Tell the users what you want them to do by using verbs and clear instructions.
Use concrete nouns to describe your product. Focus on data and numbers instead of abstract adjectives (“long-lasting”, “blue” or “soft” instead of “wonderful”, “effective” or “exciting”).
If you don’t know what to focus on, it may be a good idea to first think of possible objections, list out things that may make your clients reject your offer, and, subsequently, come up with appropriate arguments to prevent it.
Use short sentences, headings and subheadings to focus on the most important parts. Bold or CAPITALIZE important parts. Use bullet points and numbers.
Understand and clearly distinguish features and benefits. The common mistake is to assume that your customers will be able to understand what’s special about your product just by reading a list of its distinctive features. Well, it’s not the case exactly. It’s your job to explain how a feature may turn into a benefit. Unless you operate in a very narrow niche, you have to take care of acknowledging visitors about your products’ benefits. Imagine you sell oranges. The simple orange description (it’s, well, orange, round and sweet) may not be enough to encourage anyone to buy it. But listing out its benefits (oranges are rich in vitamins that are good for your health, their sweet taste will improve your mood) will work much better.
Another thing is, people tend to write more than they actually should. Keep it brief. Delete half of the copy. Learn to cut off meaningless text and leave out the most meaningful parts.
Do your research to learn which keywords you should focus on in the header, titles, sections above and make sure your copy is SEO-friendly. We can argue on how the Google algorithm will change in the upcoming times, but one thing’s certain: it’s wise not to ignore keywords completely.
Design a form with as few fields as possible. The longer the form, the lower chances of visitors filling it in. Ask yourself which pieces of information are a must-have (and include them) and which ones can be skipped now and obtained by your sales team later on.
There’s a huge chance that your landing page’s finishing line is a form where personal data are gathered. Subsequently, a thank you page is displayed to your leads once they sign up. And so, if your landing page’s visitors trusted you enough to supply you with such data, it would be nice if you thanked them on a landing page.
You can learn more about creating a form on a landing page in this article.
Let’s think of a stock photo with a smiling group gazing into screens in disbelief. It’s not like your own marketing team looks like this, is it?
The most important thing is to keep the photos genuine. This way, you can help the viewers to focus on your landing page’s content and message. And this is exactly what you need. To make the viewer pay attention to your site.
Choose a photo of your product. It’s best to present your product in action and, even better, to include a human element in the image (authenticity vs. stock photos)
Note that our brains process stock photos and original photos in a different way, the latter being given much more attention to. Even the not-so-ideal photos of genuine products are way better than the ones from stock (which make every landing page look pretty generic and not evoking trust at all). Consider adding photos made by the clients themselves – they will feel genuine and help you gain the visitors’ trust.
Remember to optimize your visuals
Compressing your images will work well both for your SEO and your landing page’s weight and loading speed. You can either use a plug-in (especially if you use WordPress landing pages) or reduce the size of every single image before you upload them onto your server. Also, rename your images and take care of alt descriptions (you can do better than naming every image like “graphics98version23”).
Include social proof in the form of videos, testimonials or reviews. 97% of B2B customers cited testimonials and peer recommendations are the most reliable type of content (Demand Gen Report, 2014) while 88% of consumers say reviews influence their online purchasing decisions (Vendasta).
Your landing page should be directed to just one persona, so choose testimonials coming from clients with similar problems to the ones your personas might be facing. It may cause the potential customers to think of you as a possible solution to their own challenges.
See this sample customer reviews sections available in the Landingi platform:
Decide which widgets you’d like to enrich your landing page with
Images speak louder than words. Does it mean that interactive images speak even louder?
As I said before, it’s not about filling your landing page with hundreds of widgets. However, if you’re advertising a concert, why not embed a Spotify widget with the band’s latest release? If you’re inviting for a webinar, why not show a counter displaying how much time has left until the start?
Animated elements on landing pages help to visualize e.g. how much time has left until the event’s start (countdown widget) or where the venue is located (Google maps widget). They catch attention and make it easier for visitors to understand what kind of information is presented to them. Lines of text describing the location will most probably remain ignored, while huge graphics will get the message across way more clearly.
Now it’s time to plan how you’re going to arrange text, images and other (possibly interactive) elements. Open your landing page editor or, if you prefer, use a huge piece of paper to plan out the mockup “offline”. How to plan out the layout?
Design tips to always keep in mind
- Don’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to templates. Browse through popular websites or template galleries, take a look at sample WordPress landing pages themes and pick up a few that you think will fill your purpose. Then, either purchase a template, or let your design team do the job based on what you consider a suitable template. You can also browse through some design ideas to get inspired.
- Be aware that you need to take care of your mobile view. What can go wrong even on the most beautifully designed landing page? Well, the fact that it looks great on your PC does not automatically make it mobile-friendly. Always check if the mobile version displays correctly and make sure your landing page template works for mobiles, too.
- Make sure that the images you upload are compressed in order for your page loading speed to be as fast as possible.
- If you’re planning on enhancing a ready-made template, first learn the basics of color psychology, design principles, and how you can use such knowledge for your own benefit (assuming you’re not a graphic designer). Focus on colors and their meaning – we associate blue with links and clickable elements, green with free entrance while bright colors focus attention. Generally, contrast works well.
Now it is time to bring the elements together and think over the arrangement on your landing page.
The first section of a landing page should serve as a clear introduction to what is going to happen in the parts below.
Keep your (first) CTA above the page fold and make the users indeed want to scroll down the page. Of course, inventiveness and new ideas are highly appreciated, but the thing is, the Internet users have already got used to seeing opening sections with a header, description and a button in the first section. Your goal is to make them feel in place on your landing page.
See below for these three different templates from Landingi:
As you can see, these three opening sections all consist of a header with clear proposition value and a button encouraging to learn more or scroll down.
And now imagine what would happen if we decided to include every single element in the opening section:
Aside from the awful choice of fonts and the lack of consistency in colors, the page looks terribly messy and lacks purpose. This is quite an extreme example of what would happen if you chose to present the visitors with literally every single detail and the benefit above the fold.
Instead of including every single crucial piece of information above the fold, design the top part of your landing page in such a way that your visitors wish to scroll down for more.
As you can see, the opening section of your landing page is not about overflowing the user with all the stuff they can achieve with your help but rather about keeping the header simple, precise and direct. Remember to work towards a single goal!
The middle section and big decisions to make
If your visitors are reading the middle section for your landing page, this means you’ve been doing great so far! They’ve clicked on your ad, begun scrolling through your landing page, but…
...but without you telling them what to focus on, they will not take any action. Not yet.
This is the right time to present them with all the crucial points about your offer, be it an event, a product, a course or a webinar invitation. You’ll need testimonials, forms and visuals to keep the visitors’ interest growing. A good idea may be to prepare the copy and images beforehand and then simply add them to your project. Let’s now focus on each of them and elaborate on why they are important and what landing page optimization best practices they come by.
Every landing page is different, so I’m not going to get into never-changing rules like “three CTAs are a must”. But we can all agree that your Unique Selling Proposition must be understandable to visitors.
Here come the features and the benefits. Your client does not need to fully understand the technical details of your products. However, they will be interested in how the stuff you sell can help them.
White space is your friend. It helps to distinguish important parts of the page. Allow more space between your landing page’s elements in order to declutter your site and distinguish what’s really important.
Allow only one link to keep the visitors focused on one goal. Get rid of navigation bars. The more links you include, the less effective your landing page is going to be. There should be only one link included on your landing page – the CTA.
Gamification – focus on what may encourage the visitors to click through your landing page, and aim to entertain them somehow. This works especially well if your landing page is complex or consists of stages.
Learn a bit more about the Z-pattern and F-pattern and how they affect the users’ behavior. Note how most landing page templates do support such patterns by making the visitors look in the top left corner first.
The bottom section
This is your last chance to make your visitors convert. They have already read the landing page’s content, probably have a good understanding of how your product works (or what the service is about), read its reviews and, judging from the fact that they are still scrolling, are still interested to learn more. You had their curiosity. Now, let’s get their attention and prove it’s worth clicking this button.
With one last final CTA.
We already know it should be distinctive when it comes to colors and shapes, but are there any further optimization tips you can take advantage of?
- Embed the CTA logically so that it will not be missed
- Use contrasting colors
- Make it clear what will happen after the users click the button
See below for a few examples of CTAs from SaaS companies:
Aside from design, which I will discuss later in this article, see how benefits are presented here. Each CTA is directed to a different persona’s needs and focuses on different pros of the offer.
Thank you page
Prepare a thank you page to make your viewers feel special. A final touch to your landing page is the message that is displayed to those visitors who successfully filled in your form and clicked “next”. Make sure that this page is eye-catching, friendly, reminding of what just happened and what your visitors can expect and when. You can even create a dynamic thank you page by making use of form attributes. If you’re a Landingi user, you can find an appropriate guide here.
Also, from the practical point of view, if your landing page’s goal was to collect email addresses, it would be wise to direct the users to their email boxes now so that they read the confirmation emails (or confirmed the signup, if necessary).
Remember – just because someone finished all the steps on this landing page, it doesn’t yet mean they will become your faithful client forever. Reassure them that their choice to give you their contact data willingly was good, and gain more confidence that they shall return. Surprise them – don’t limit yourself to yet another standard thank you page. On the contrary, do something unpredictable, catch them off guard, and, most importantly, build trust.
Apart from design and copy tips, there are also technical aspects of a landing page you’d better take care of:
- Find a way to optimize images and videos (for example, video in the background may be a shot in the foot as they load longer and look different in the mobile view).
- Automate as much as possible, especially when it comes to repetitive tasks. It will make work much easier for you when you are sure all the leads are, for example, automatically sent to a CRM tool and then sent a professionally designed welcome email. Scaling your work in the future will prove much easier thanks to integrations.
- Choose a reliable IT reliable server solutions to prevent downtime.
- Make sure to have an IT guy check the safety and an attorney check the form and terms&conditions appropriate for your area.
- If a landing part is a part of a funnel, make sure that data from the initial stages is sent to the next ones without any complications.
Before you publish any landing page, make sure to have someone else check it for you. It’s not just about proofreading (which is crucial for everyone not willing to risk making a typo). Show your landing page to someone. Also, it’s with checking out whether users face any difficulties when they try to load your page on mobile devices.
After the publication
Landing pages, no matter whether they are a way to test your product, a way to present your new scope of services or a place to gather signups, should always be a part of your marketing funnel. Imagine you use a landing page to collect email addresses and then not take any action (no welcome email, no enrolling contacts in any sequence). You’re risking that when you finally decide to send such leads a message. See below for landing page best practices to follow after the page is published.
Run A/B test
In order to get reliable test results, duplicate your landing page and change one detail in the duplicated version. Provided that your traffic is significant enough in order for the test to make sense, A/B tests will give you the legitimate reason to implement changes in your landing page and to choose the version that converts better.
Keep an eye on your tracking data and analytics so that you know if something goes wrong. Draw conclusions.
It’s not about landing pages, it’s about the clients
It would be a total waste of time to create a great landing page, gather leads and then do nothing with the fact that numerous people decided to trust you with their contact details.
How to take care of the newly gathered leads:
- Distribute and nurture leads quickly (e.g. pass them on to your sales team once they’re still hot)
- Plan how you are going to treat leads in the future, segment them, etc
- Do not focus on gathering leads per se, keep the bigger picture in mind.
Is there anything like a “ready-to-publish landing page” at all? Highly doubtful. Sadly, perfect landing pages don’t exist – there’s always something you can improve or optimize. But, if they did, they would be a mix of straightforward and captivating headlines, a neat, eye-catching images, a captivating header, a clear call to action, the list of your offer’s benefits, and a thank you page (displayed after submitting a form).
Thankfully, there is something like a “ready-to-use landing page template”. In fact, there are over 250 of them in the Landingi platform and you can start browsing through them even now. Curious to learn more?