Landing pages are one of the most important pieces in a successful online marketing campaign. The design and quality of a landing page has a huge impact on the success of a campaign, affecting everything from the cost of CPC advertising to the number of conversions that an offer or sale generates. There isn’t any one landing page design formula guaranteed to produce results every time, but there are some general rules that all landing pages should attempt to follow for optimum results.
Limit the exit points for readers:
One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of landing pages suffer from is a huge excess of points that readers can leave from. The goal of a landing page is almost always some type of conversion. Whether it’s a sale, a newsletter sign-up, a specific click, or any other goal, distracting readers with too many exits can only hurt conversions. Links to other websites, advertisements, and even on-site navigation are all potential distractions and potential exit points that could end up reducing conversions. To ensure the best possible results, these distractions should be minimized, sometimes even to the point of removing or heavily minimizing on-site navigation.
Use strong calls to action:
Creating a landing page and putting together a great offer are a waste of time if readers aren’t specifically asked to do something about it. A call to action is a specific appeal to the visitors of a landing page to take action and sign up, submit an email, set an appointment, make a purchase, or whatever the goal of the landing page may be. Calls to action should be clear, concise, and shouldn’t be subtle. A call to action should be like a hard sell. Examples of strong calls to action include phrases like “Buy Now”, “Download Now”, “Click to Get Your Free Copy Now”, and more. Whether they’re plain text, links, or buttons, calls to action should stand out on the page and be impossible to miss.
Social proof is a strong way to build trust:
Social proof is an incredibly strong way to help bridge the trust gap on landing pages, especially in instances where a purchase or email address are being asked for. By nature, people are skeptical about offers that ask them to part with something valuable, whether it’s cash, an email address, or personal information. Social proof like testimonials or product reviews give the reader a shot of confidence that the product or service being offered is worth the action they’re being asked to take. Landing page designers should be warned though that Internet users have become very good at sniffing out bogus testimonials, and using false social proof to try and push up landing page conversions is not only illegal, but it’s also likely to backfire from a results perspective.
Keep the important stuff above the fold:
Websites are like newspapers in the sense that they have a fold. In a newspaper, the fold is the literal fold that divides the paper in half. On a website, the fold is the lowest point on the page that is visible without scrolling. Just like newspaper editors always place their main headlines above the fold, so should web designers aim to ensure that the most important elements on a landing page are in this crucial area. Space is finite, so not everything can be placed in that important spot, but certain elements, like the primary headline, a call to action, purchase or sign-up buttons, and any other core elements should always be above the fold. Things like calls to action or buttons can always be duplicated further down the page as well, but the best strategy is normally to offer them up first in a spot that doesn’t require the visitor to do any scrolling to find.
Follow the rules of good copywriting:
Copywriting is one of – if not the – single most important factors in a marketing campaign’s ability to convince a prospect to take some sort of action. The power of great copywriting is also reflected in the price of great copywriting, and hiring world-class copywriters can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Luckily, there are some simple and easy to follow rules of copywriting that even amateurs with no experience can understand and follow. Crafting strong primary headlines and sub-headlines, tying them in properly with the body content, focusing on solving problems for the reader, moving the reader through the copy logically, and all of the other basic tenets of copywriting will go a long way toward maximizing conversion. Copywriting goes beyond the scope of this article, but a ton of great resources exist, including the Copyblogger website, and books by gurus like Dan Kennedy and Joe Sugarman.
Testing and refining is often the difference between unsuccessful campaigns, moderately successful campaigns, and campaigns that blow the roof off of expectations. Landing pages are like print ads in the sense that small changes in layout, fonts, or wording can have significant impacts on overall success. Unlike print ads, it’s extremely easy to split test and refine landing pages on the web. A simple rewording of a title, moving a link to a different spot on the page, or any number of other minute changes could significantly boost conversions, but the only way to know what works best is to constantly test. Testing should always focus on one element at a time in order to clearly narrow down the best combinations. For instance, a headline modification should not be tested at the same time as an overall font change, because it would make it difficult, if not impossible to determine which modification was the cause of the overall change in performance.
A landing page is often one of the most important points of contact in any web marketing campaign, and a poorly designed one can have disastrous effects on conversions. On the flip side, a well designed, user-friendly page focused on maximizing conversions can be the difference maker that drives a campaign’s success. Landing page designers can help ensure that by focusing on the basic tenets of good landing page design like limiting distractions and exit points, using social proof to build trust, following the rules of strong copy writing, utilizing strong and highly visible calls to action, and testing and refining their designs. While no single formula for landing page design guarantees success every time, these basic rules will make it much more likely, and in the world of online marketing, where almost everything is a numbers game, following these rules represents a very safe bet.