We are all on a digital marketing journey.
You might be a brick and mortar business looking to grow your audience for the first time, or you may be a more seasoned digital marketer – but we’re all travelling down the path with the goal of achieving digital marketing greatness!
And no matter where you are in your journey, it’s a fact that fundamentals are the framework and are the absolute best practices for your marketing. There’s truth to “keep it simple” and “stick to the basics”, right?
Because building “best practices” framework is so important to future success, I want to provide you with the most comprehensive overview on landing pages.
I will walk you through the variety of ways you can use and leverage landing pages, as well as the techniques and best practices I’ve learned over the last decade of digital marketing. I want to help you use landing pages to grow your business, and I’ve seen the value landing pages have day after day. Having driven millions of visits to landing pages both for myself and on behalf of my clients, this is some really powerful stuff.
Before we get too deep, we need to make sure we’re on the same page!
Let’s start at the very beginning by defining exactly what a landing page is.
The Definition of a Landing Page
People think pretty broadly about landing pages. To narrow it down, let’s start with what a landing page is not. A landing page isn’t just the first page a visitor sees when they hit your website. It’s also not your website’s homepage.
Rather, a landing page is a webpage that is designed to take web traffic, and convert visitors in a particular way, for a particular reason.
In short, landing pages are designed to get people to do something (ideally, a single thing). You’ve seen these “things” in action on a landing page, they’re goals such as:
- Subscribing to an email list or newsletter
- Downloading a piece of content (like an ebook or a free report)
- Registering for a live and/or digital event, like a webinar or a conference
- Purchasing an actual product or service offered
You’ve probably noticed that these goals share something in common.
They all have the ability to engage website visitors who have yet to opt in to your marketing, and will work to convert them into a lead.
And ultimately, the entire purpose of a landing page is to capture new leads or to make a sale.
Landing pages are built to grow your email list (and your audience) so that you can promote products, services and events to a warm audiences, to build a community, and to grow your business.
4 Popular Landing Pages Types
Landing pages can be a bit confusing because there are different types and different names depending on when, where, and how you use them. I won’t get too technical here, but below are a handful landing page names:
The Splash Page
Pretty much everyone has seen a splash page at one point or another (it’s also called a splash screen or welcome gate) – this is a very common type of landing page. You’ll usually see this as an intro page of a website, designed to bring valuable information to the visitor upfront. It’s basically a single page that visitors will see before technically entering your website.
A lot of the time this landing page also has a lead capture focus, like asking visitors to join their email list or perform some kind of opt-in action.
The Squeeze Page
A squeeze page is well known throughout Internet marketing circles, and those spammy looking opt-in pages are usually based on the squeeze page model. A squeeze page is designed to “squeeze” visitors into taking a desired action, and those actions are usually lead generation based. You may see these pages in various sizes, shapes, lengths, and with different content types.
Squeeze pages are usually long-form and tell a story to provide the visitor upfront information, testimonials, and offer context that both educates and guides a visitors towards a desired action.
The Capture Page
Landing pages can also be called capture pages, or more specifically, lead capture pages. Again, no real difference here, as capture pages have the same goal as landing pages or squeeze pages: they’re also designed to (surprise!) capture leads!
That’s pretty much all you need to know, these names are pretty interchangeable.
The Sales Page
When it comes to sales, you want to provide your website visitors value before asking them to purchase from you (ideally). However, there are cases where you may want to start selling your product or service to first time visitors. If that’s the case, you’ll need a sales page to make it happen. A sales page is a single landing page that utilizes copy, videos, testimonials, or other elements, designed to guide a visitor to purchase products or service, as opposed to a goal of lead generation.
Elements of a Landing Page
Now that I’ve touched on the definition of what a landing page actually is, along with a few common terms and landing page synonyms, next up are the kinds of elements that belong on your landing pages.
And remember, landing pages are not just for digital based businesses. Every kind of business can benefit, from brick and mortar shops to digital marketing consultants selling information products. Every business can leverage and grow from using landing pages.
This is also why there are so many ways landing pages can be used, and they’re constantly evolving to fit the needs of both their creators and their visitors and customers.
Industry related stuff aside, the highest converting landing pages do the following four landing page elements right!
Headlines That Sell
Headlines engage people.
You probably wouldn’t look twice at a newspaper or a magazine with a boring headline, right?
What if you saw a newspaper where the front page wasn’t designed the way it is, and it looked like an inner page column? It’s probably not going to grab your attention and you’re probably not going to read it, right? I know I wouldn’t, and most people wouldn’t either.
Your landing page headline is meant to frame everything for the reader. It tells your reader where they are, why they’re there, and it will give them a reason to keep reading. Just like a well-crafted newspaper headline, your landing page headline should grab your visitors to keep them reading and get them excited about what you’re offering.
If a landing page doesn’t have an engaging headline, it’s a bad landing page because it won’t do its job. In my experience, this will never drive an effective conversion rate for you and your business, and money you spend driving traffic there will be wasted.
I’ll tackle the specifics of writing an engaging landing page headline in another post, but for now, here are some quick questions to ask yourself when considering a clear and powerful headline:
- “What is my landing page offering?”
- “Why does my audience need it?”
- “Why is this the only place they can get it?”
If your headline answers these questions in a way that is short and exciting, you’ll be on your way to generating more leads.
A Compelling Offer
Landing pages are designed to get people to take action. A clear and compelling offer is by far the most effective way to get people to take this action.
Maybe you want your visitors to buy your product or service, or join your email list, or do something else while on your page, but you need to offer them something valuable in return.
People nod and this sounds very basic, but so many marketers forget to actually offer something of value to their audience on their landing pages! There’s also the case that the visitor doesn’t even really know what the landing page is offering, or what happens if they do choose to give up their email address.
This is why it’s absolutely critical that you make your offer extremely clear and specific. Spell everything out for your visitor and don’t make assumptions that they’ll know something. Plus, the more compelling your offer, the greater the chance that your visitor will take action. They are far more likely to do something if they know exactly why and how it will benefit them.
People can kind of go overboard when it comes to images on a landing page. You don’t need a ton of images as supportive imagery (although carefully selected photos can work wonders). Imagery isn’t just photos, either. Imagery is graphics, icons, bio photos, logos, directional arrows, colour variety. These supportive visuals are the essential elements of your landing pages.
Why does good landing page imagery matter?
Think about any sort of traditional advertising. Picture a food truck, even. It’s painted in bold, beautiful colours. Why? Because it works!
Imagery is also important because it will make your landing page look more polished and professional. People are much more willing to do business with anyone or anything that appears professional, and good aesthetics truly help guide that perception.
A Good Call-to-Action
You’ve likely heard people talk about a call-to-action (or “CTA”) on a landing page. On a landing page specifically, this is probably the button that people will click on the page to join your email list, purchase your product, register for your webinar, etc.
You need an enticing call-to-action that will drive conversions, generating more leads and sales.
In another post I’ll talk more about how you can craft compelling copy for your CTA buttons, but for now just know that a good CTA should be clear, well written, easy to see, and easy to execute by your website visitors.
More importantly, your button copy should highlight the value your visitor will receive by executing your CTA.
For example, a lot of business owners use “Buy Now” text on buttons within their sales pages. This is pretty generic, and “Buy Now” doesn’t connect the action to the value the visitor will get.
Your CTA needs to sell the action, and “Buy Now” doesn’t cut it. Instead, imagine if the button said, “Start Learning English Today.” People will click with clearer intent – “yes, I want to start learning English.”
In your CTA, if you highlight what your customers will receive or the value that they will receive by clicking the button, you will see a dramatic increase in your conversions.
Landing Page Best Practices
With a solid understanding of the four primary elements that should be found within a landing page, let’s check out additional best practices to achieve awesome results.
With landing pages designed for many different things, there may be a slight shift of best practices, but there are a few that just about every landing page will have in common.
I believe the best landing pages:
- Are easy to follow
- Are mobile friendly
- Use clear language
- Feature clean design
- Contain a valuable offer
Let’s take a look at each of these briefly.
1) The Best Landing Pages Are Easy to Follow
It’s no secret that it’s hard to capture lasting attention on the Internet.
Maybe you have an active and engaged community that will visit your landing page, or you could be using ads to send brand new visitors. In either case, there’s no guarantee that people will stick around on your landing page and do what you want them to do. Even more so if your landing page isn’t easy to follow.
The best and most successful landing pages make it as easy as possible for visitors to understand all the information, getting them to the point where they will take action. As a marketer, the user experience here needs to be as frictionless as possible. When you pull this off, you will guide your visitor seamlessly to your action because the behaviour will be intuitive and desirable.
This sounds great, but what does it mean for you when you’re creating your landing pages?
Trim the fat of the copy on your page – make sure everything is absolutely essential and remove anything that isn’t. With the design of the page, consider arrows and sightlines to guide visitors to your call-to-action.
Be sure all text is size appropriately and is easy to read, especially across devices.
All text and pages elements should use contrasting colours to make them easy to understand.
2) The Best Landing Pages Must Be Mobile Friendly
It’s important to understand just how critical it is that your website be mobile friendly. With the majority of users browsing from mobile devices, this is likely to be the bulk of your website traffic. Bottom line: ignoring this best practice will have a severe impact on your marketing campaign performance and it will impact your business.
It’s also important that if a prospect or customer visits your landing page on a mobile device, the page should be just as easy to see, read, understand, purchase, or submit information as it would be on a laptop or desktop computer.
Unless you’re planning to code your own landing pages, you won’t need to know the exact HTML and CSS code that make pages mobile friendly. Generally speaking, this will be built into whatever landing page builder you purchase and use.
For example, I use Leadpages and they have hundreds of landing page templates for just about any use. All of their landing pages are designed and coded to work perfectly (and beautifully) across devices – it doesn’t matter if it’s a smartphone or a tablet, they’ll work as flawlessly as they would on a laptop or desktop. The best landing pages are easy to follow.
3) The Best Landing Pages Use Clear Language
I run into landing pages that are unclear in their purpose or offer, and it happens far too often. You’d probably be surprised just how often. If a visitor on your landing page can’t understand – clearly and quickly – why they should be there, they’re leaving your page.
The only way to stop this from happening is by having clear, concise language on your landing pages. Your visitors will likely be on the page for a limited time and have a short attention span, so you have to sell them with a simple and compelling explanation of why they should stay. Think about your audience. Use terminology your ideal customers will understand and write at a reading level that will clearly resonate with them. Don’t overcomplicate things.
Here’s an overcomplication example. A lot of marketers take a “more is better” approach and will fill up their landing pages with unnecessary questions and basically end up creating a FAQ page unintentionally. Instead, they should be clearly answering potential visitors’ unasked questions in their copy.
4) The Best Landing Pages Feature Clean Design
I will be diving into landing page design in a lot of detail in future posts. For now, just know that a clean landing page design will be the best for conversions. This also goes hand in hand with “supportive imagery” mentioned above.
While aesthetics can be subjective and dependent on the audience, clean design is achievable by everyone, and it is something all landing page creators should follow.
Luckily, there are tools that will save you a ton of time designing and implementing pages. I personally use Leadpages, and their landing page templates take the hard work out of designing a clean and modern landing page from scratch. As you’re customizing your landing pages to meet your needs, consider these three things:
Simplify your page – Too much on your page defeats the purpose of “clean design”. Avoid clutter. Plus, visitors will be less likely to take action on your landing pages if it’s stuffed with images, icons, text, buttons, or unimportant elements that may distract them. Keep your page simple, and make sure to use whitespace to break up elements. This will contribute to a cleaner design and is likely to help your overall conversion rate.
Use fewer colors – Too many colours on your landing page are distracting and will overwhelm your visitors. If your text, images, buttons, and backgrounds are different colours and don’t flow together, your landing page will be to intense and won’t be easy for visitors to look at. Generally speaking, fewer colours and a clean colour scheme will almost always lead to higher conversions (and they will make the user experience much more enjoyable).
Reduce fonts and sizes – Some marketers are font happy, and think that adding new font sizes and styles to every new section or line of text keeps your landing page interesting. It doesn’t, it just makes your landing pages hard to read. Our brains use patterns to focus and concentrate, and when you mix up fonts and text sizes on your page, the visitor’s focus is interrupted. To create a better user experience and to increase conversions, try not to use more than two different fonts and three sizes.
5) The Best Landing Pages Contain a Valuable Offer
This should go without saying, but I’ve seen it happen all too often. For landing page to be effective, it must contain a valuable offer. And it can’t just promise a valuable offer and then not deliver, because the content you provide will set the tone of the rest of your sales process. This is the start of building a relationship with prospects and clients.
If you promise a comprehensive “how to guide” for you industry when a visitor provides their email address on one of your landing pages, then you’d better deliver. If a prospect signs up and then you give them a five paragraph document that looks like it’s copied and pasted into a Word document, you’re really not setting a great foundation to build a future relationship. They will not trust you or view you as an authority. They most definitely won’t share your content or offer with their peers. And they probably don’t want to do business with you either, and it’s even less likely that they’ll want to interact with you at all.
This is why your landing page must offer something of value. And remember, valuable doesn’t mean expensive, and it doesn’t have to mean time consuming. Knowledge is valuable. If you can deliver a truly useful “something” to your potential customers or prospects in a professional looking format, your relationship with your new lead will start out on the right foot. So take the time to create a valuable offer and you’ll end up thanking yourself (especially while checking your bank account) in the future.
This is a great start to creating a solid foundation of your landing pages. There is an agreed upon landing page definition, and I’ve covered some key terms, types and synonyms for landing pages, discussed landing page elements, and covered some best practices to consider moving forward.
Remember when I mentioned that there’s a wide variety of uses and purposes for landing pages?
Well, in a future post I will share more about what people are using landing pages for, and what you could use a landing page for within your business. Later, I’ll dive into how to effectively build landing pages yourself, including step-by-step directions for copy and design, testing and optimization, and more.