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How to design landing pages that convert

Joanne Amos's Layout avatar

Getting traffic to your landing page is a fairly easy task, but keeping people engaged and leading them to the conversion you require is a different matter altogether.

Your success depends largely on one thing: the quality of your landing page.

Think of it as your fishing hook – you can cast your net wide, but without a decent hook you’ll struggle to reel anything in.

So how do you create the perfect landing page? Here’s a quick guide.

Before you start

Before we jump in, a quick note on what a landing page actually is and what you need to consider before you start to create yours.

A landing page is designed to accomplish a specific conversion goal. Sometimes people use their home page as a landing page, but this is generally a bad idea – your home page is an introduction to your business and your products or services, whereas a landing page is targeting a specific campaign. It must capture your visitors’ attention and persuade them to convert.

The main thing to bear in mind is there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Each page has a different goal, audience, product or service, and serves a different niche and industry.

But there are a number of essential elements that all good landing pages need to incorporate, and some questions you need to answer before diving in, namely:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is your goal for this page?
  • What’s the incentive for your visitors?

Knowing the answer to these questions will help you determine the focus for your page, the tone and style you need to adopt, and whether to use a short landing page or go long-form.

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As a general rule, a short landing page works best where the action you desire is a low-cost one, such as a sign-up to a newsletter, or something that doesn’t require much commitment. It can also work if your brand is well known, so little explanation is required. A long-form landing page works best for a complex or expensive item, or where there’s a perceived high risk. Essentially, if you want people to dedicate a significant amount of time, money, or energy to your product or service, you’ll need longer copy in order to be persuasive and address their possible concerns.

Essential elements of a landing page

If you want your landing page to be a high-converting success, you need to incorporate the following seven elements.

1. A killer headline and persuasive subheading

Forget clickbait. Your visitors have already found their way to your website. You’re no longer fighting for their attention; you already have it. The key here is enticing them to stay and read on.

Your headline needs to be clear and explanatory. It should be short – certainly no longer than 20 words and preferably shorter than 10 – and it must be relevant to your product or service. If it isn’t obvious what you do, people will be less inclined to hang around.

Once your headline has captured your visitors’ attention, your subheading should elaborate on your offering in greater depth and detail. Ideally you would place this below your headline, and it needs to have an element of persuasiveness.

2. An explanation

Your visitors need to understand exactly what you’re offering and what that product or service does. Otherwise you’ve lost them. Your landing page should contain a clear, straightforward explanation that’s geared towards showing people the value they will gain from opting in.

Your explanation can be comprised of different elements on your page, such as your headline, subheading, and images, or it can be a separate section on the page. Just make sure it’s there.

Your landing page needs to be concise, but also comprehensive. Here are a few tips how to optimize your web content.

3. Relevant imagery

Images communicate much quicker than text because our brains process the information faster. They also make your landing page look more appealing.

The images you choose should be large – although not so large they affect your loading time – and high quality. Which means lay off the stock images – it’s too important.

Most importantly, the images you choose need to be relevant. If you’re offering a physical product, you must include a picture of it. If it’s an online app or service, screenshots play a useful role, and if it’s a different type of service, the image you choose must reinforce your message and make your visitors more inclined to take action.

4. Benefits

The first few items on this list are designed to attract attention; now you need to add some detail. Identify the top three to five benefits your potential customers will gain from opting in. The key is to show your visitors what’s in it for them, and demonstrate how their lives, businesses, or whatever will improve.

You don’t want to drown your visitors with content they have to wade through to identify the benefits. Simply explain, clearly and succinctly, the value they will gain. The best way to lay this out is in list form, so it can be quickly scanned and digested.

5. Social proof

We’re social creatures, so we naturally place more value on things that have been endorsed by other happy customers. So providing trustworthy testimonials on your landing page will give potential customers confidence that you’re providing something of value.

If your product or service has been used by an expert or organization your target audience knows and approves of, by all means include a testimonial. But don’t forget the real people, the ones your customers will be able to relate to the easiest. Choose people who are most relevant to your target audience, and ask permission to include a photograph with their testimonial – it’s a great indicator of trust.

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6. Contact details

Including contact details on your landing page will strengthen trust in the company and prove the legitimacy of your offer. The more methods of contact you supply – email address, telephone number, physical address, contact form – the more trust you will gain from your visitors. You can even include a Live Chat function if you think it will help, although it’s not necessary.

7. A powerful call to action

This is the most important element of your landing page. You need to be clear about what your visitors should do next to move along the conversion funnel, and you need to tell them, clearly and concisely, to do it.

Your CTA needs to be compelling and persuasive. It should stand out on your page, preferably using larger text, a contrasting color, and a button – because we’re hard-wired to push buttons.

If you’re using a long-form sales page you can include your CTA at various points down the page – giving your visitors the chance to opt-in as soon as they’ve made their decision – but you should never have more than one CTA on a page. This will dilute the overall effect. If you want a second action, include it on your confirmation page or in a follow-up email.

Putting it all together

How you organize your landing page is equally important to the content you include. It must have a logical flow so your visitors can follow the thought process and get excited about the conversion as they move down the page.

Start with your headline, then move on to the explanation, benefits, social proof, and finally the Call to Action – as I mentioned above, you can include more than one CTA on a page, but never leave out the final one!

The tone and style you use in your copy will depend on your target audience, but it must be compelling and persuasive throughout, and it needs to keep your visitors engaged – otherwise they’ll bounce off somewhere else to look at cute kittens or read the news.

You need to keep it simple and eliminate anything that could distract people from the action you want them to take. This means breaking the content into manageable chunks with lots of clear space, and leaving out a navigation menu, links to your about page, or anything else which could distract them from the desired path.

Testing, testing

Once you’ve put your page together, you need to test it properly before sending it out there.

Although you may find this difficult to believe, many people are still surfing on small screens, so the first impression they receive could differ greatly from what you’re seeing on your widescreen HD monitor. To combat this, keep the key elements in the top center and test it on a number of different resolutions, as well as on mobile and tablet screens.

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And of course, you should always run some A/B tests to ensure your page is optimized to its maximum potential. Key areas to test are headline and subheading, length of copy, color of your CTA button and your CTA copy, fonts, and color scheme, although you should only test one element at a time.

Go forth and convert

“A good landing page is your number one weapon for getting the conversions you want ” , but there is no single formula to making them work. What works for one site, niche, or industry isn’t necessarily going to work for another.

You need to be clear about the action you want your visitors to take, and make it easy and compelling for them to do this. And you need to keep testing and improving it until your efforts come to fruition and you maximize your conversion rate.

Over to you. Time to go forth and convert.

What do you consider to be the most important elements of a landing page and do you have any success stories to share? Tell us below.

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