Landing Pages 101
Imagine for a moment that you are launching a new product or service (or maybe you actually are launching something…then, this is highly convenient), and you want to aggregate a list of people interested in what you have to offer. You’re not ready to add your new item to your website, but you are ready to create a buzz about it. What’s your marketing strategy? We strongly suggest a dedicated landing page.
**A Quick Note: Technically, a “landing page” is a page on your website that a user arrives (or lands) on. For most websites, the most visited landing page is its homepage. However, if you’re looking for more of a “marketer’s definition,” a landing page is where a user ends up after clicking on an ad or email link. For the purpose of this article, landing pages are defined by the latter.
Why Would I Have a Dedicated Landing Page?
Landing pages have two primary purposes: they are either lead generators or click-through pages.
- Lead Generator. The true purpose of a lead generator landing page is to collect information – emails, names, phone numbers, and more. Usually, a lead generator landing page will offer something in exchange for information, whether it be an eBook, a free trial, or exclusive discounts for products or services.
- Click-Through Pages. The purpose of these landing pages is to, obviously, have the audience click-through to another page. Click-through pages are like movie previews – when you see a preview, you decide if it’s a movie you might like to see, or if it’s one you can live without. These landing pages work the same way, by sending qualified leads to a page that allows them to convert.
How to Build the Best Landing Page
Whether you are looking for more data or more conversions, the elements of your landing page will, essentially, remain the same. Creating an effective landing page is a three-pronged process – each component is equally as important as its cohorts.
Designing a landing page is slightly different than designing a website. Instead of having a series of supporting pages and content, you have one page to deliver your pitch. Ensuring that your landing page is well-designed is essential to the page’s overall effectiveness. In order to create a top performing landing page, there are a few design elements you should keep in mind:
- Whitespace. According to web technology educators at Treehouse, whitespace – often called negative space – is the portion of a page left unmarked or blank. In web design, whitespace is the space between graphics, columns, images, text, margins, and other page elements. Just because it’s called “whitespace” doesn’t mean it has to be white in color – it just needs to be free of the aforementioned elements. According to a 2004 UX/whitespace study from Wichita State University, nearly 50% of participants preferred passages with margins and measurable whitespace. Content comprehension is also increased with the addition of margins and whitespace. Basically, brains like – and understand – text better when they have some comprehension breathing room.
- Directional Cues. Directional cues are elements on the page that help people understand where to go next. These cues can be more imaginative or inconspicuous than arrows, although Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner tweeted that “as directional cues, arrows are about as subtle as a punch in the face. That’s why they work.” You can use anything from fingers pointing, to faces and eyes looking a certain direction, to where the content is actually placed on a page. Give your landing page visitors a clear sense of direction.
- Visual Contrast. Now, don’t get sucked into a whitespace vs. contrast vortex of doom. Contrast does not mean “busy” or “distracting;” it is simply the state of being strikingly different from something else. Using a contrasting color or creating some segmentation for buttons and other actionable elements will make them stand out.
- Make sure your ad matches your landing page. If you have a display or text ad sending people to your landing page, make sure there is a noticeable level of brand consistency. Your tone, imagery, and messaging should resonate through every channel. The users that click on your ad or click through your landing page to the point of conversion should not have to wonder if they are in the “right” place. Just like a storyline, the progression of events needs to comfortably guide audiences from start to finish.
Your landing page needs to be able to stand on its own or, at least, be able to act independently while representing a greater whole. The same can be said about the content [read: text]. Imagine you had to strip away the visual cues and the calls-to-action, would your content be enough to not just explain, but also convince, someone of your unique selling proposition? If you don’t think your content is quite strong enough to achieve a conversion, you’ll want to keep working on it. A great way to ensure your content is on-point, keep the 5 Cs in mind.
The 5 Cs
- Consistent – Be consistent with your voice, your brand, and your message.
- Concise – Keep your message clear, relevant, and direct.
- Compelling – You have little time and space to convince your audience to convert, so always choose word quality over word quantity.
- Captivating – Make your content so incredible it demands to be read.
- Consumable – Write for your audience and segment your content into bite size, easily digestible bits of information
Clearly, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is critical when building a landing page – that’s the whole point. This component is where you create purpose. Without a defined purpose, you really have no reason to have a landing page (and, no, a generic need/want of data/conversions is not a good enough purpose.).
So, before you start aggregating information and counting conversions, you need to define two landing page essentials: a clear message and an actionable response.
A landing page is no place for riddles, convoluted messages, or unanswerable questions. Define a goal to achieve…then achieve it. Are you promoting a new product or service? Do you want to pursue a position of thought leadership within your industry? What level of the buyer’s journey are you hoping to reach? Answering these questions (aka defining your landing page’s purpose) will help you establish the message you want to convey to your audience.
We’ve established that landing pages are meant to drive conversions. In order to get that conversion, you need to offer a “next step” for your audience, preferably one that rewards the user for taking the time to listen and participate. In order to inspire actionable responses, you need to accomplish three objectives.
- Make a Clear Call-To-Action (CTA). Put your CTA in a relevant and appropriate place. You don’t necessarily have to be blunt, but you should be direct. Tell people what the next step is and how to take it. Ready to talk? Contact Us. Want to learn the #1 secret for a owning a successful business? Tell me now.
- Create a User-Friendly Form. A user-friendly form is short and convenient. If you can keep the form to less than five fields, that’s great. If you can incorporate some kind of auto-complete via social media, even better. The easier a form is to fill out, the more likely it will actually be completed.
- Deliver a Positive Post-Conversion Experience. Sadly, this is the part of the actionable response that is often ignored or underutilized. This could be as simple as a “thank you” message or email, but it could also be access to an exclusive download or product/service coupon.
The #1 Landing Page Tip
Above all, you want your landing page to be helpful. You’re not just selling a product or service; you are also providing a solution to someone looking for an answer. By using this mindset for your dedicated landing pages – and your website as a whole – you’ll likely see an increase in leads, conversions, customer retention, and in your bottom line.