What makes the perfect landing page? How can you drive traffic to a landing page and then make sure that this traffic converts to sales or sign-ups?
This week, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to landing page optimisation with a handy cheat sheet that you can refer back to time and time again.
What is a landing page?
Although any page that a person ‘lands’ or arrives on as an entry point to your website could be classed as a landing page, what we’re talking about in this article is a landing page used for marketing purposes. This is a standalone web page, distinct from your main website, which has just one objective, whether it’s building your mailing list or securing sign-ups to a new programme.
What do you want your landing page to achieve?
In many ways, the single most important thing you can do to create a successful landing page is pinpoint your business objective for needing it.
- Are you trying to build up your mailing list?
- Are you trying to fill a webinar to boost your reputation and authority?
- Do you need a fresh cohort for a coaching programme?
- Do you want to sell more of a particular product or service?
Once you understand your business objective, you are better placed to ask the question: what is the one thing you want your customers to do when they arrive on the page to help you achieve this objective?
- Do you want them to sign up to receive a freebie, e.g. an ebook or white paper?
- Do you want them to make a purchase?
- Do you want them to book a place at an event or seminar?
Once you identify what your landing page needs to achieve, it’s easier to create a coherent design and message, and cut away any elements that don’t serve the focus of the page.
Know your audience
The next step is to understand your audience.
- Who are they?
- How old are they?
- What keeps them awake at night in terms of the products or services you offer?
- What motivates them?
- How will they benefit from taking action when they arrive on your landing page?
Try to create a landing page that matches your message to your target audience. In other words, make sure it’s written and designed to appeal to them.
Understand how people will find your landing page
The golden rule is don’t ever send campaign traffic to your website’s Home page as there will be too many distractions for the visitor and they may not even be sure whether they’ve landed on the right site or what they need to do next.
When designing a landing page, you need to consider whether you will be running a long-term ‘Evergreen’ campaign, i.e. one that could potentially run for years because it includes a timeless free ebook to build your mailing list, or a short-term campaign, i.e. the landing page is to promote a time-limited offer or programme.
The longevity of the landing page will influence how people are going to find it. Longer-term pages might rely more heavily on traffic from organic searches and social media channels, whereas you might decide to invest in Pay Per Click (PPC) or banner advertising for a short-term campaign where a long-term approach to organic SEO wouldn’t work.
It’s worth noting that evergreen pages offering a whitepaper or ebook are likely to attract more high quality backlinks over the long-term, strengthening their performance from an SEO perspective. Landing pages that are time-limited may not be in the public consciousness long enough to generate backlinks.
If possible, you should make sure that the headline and design of your landing page matches the ad that visitors would have clicked on to come through to it. This gives visitors a sense of consistency and the confidence that they’re in the right place.
An added benefit is that Google will give your AdWords campaigns a higher relevancy and quality score if it feels that the landing page content closely matches the copy and link title on your ads. This means you may pay less for your chosen PPC keywords.
SEO considerations for your main heading
You’ll notice that on many landing pages, the main heading sits in an image, which means that – depending on how the image has been optimised – Google may not be able to read the text.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if you have a text-based headline rather than copy embedded inside an image, you can give it a valuable H1 tag, which is one of the most important on-page SEO elements for any web page.
Before designing your landing page, you need to decide whether you’re happy to sacrifice the H1 tag for an image-led landing page. The H1 tag is more important for evergreen campaigns that will rely on some organic traffic and being found in searches long-term. It may be less important for short-term campaigns that are dependent on ads driving traffic to them.
Prioritise your call to action (CTA)
The call to action is arguably the single most important feature of a landing page because whether or not a visitor clicks on it is the measure of how well the page converts.
Make the call to action big and position it above the fold, i.e. above the bottom of the screen and the point at which you would need to scroll down to see more. Try to incorporate an oversized call to action button into your landing page design and consider using directional cues such as arrows that draw the eye to the button.
It’s essential to get the wording for your call to action right. It should show that clicking on the button will deliver whatever has brought people to the page and should be completely unambiguous. Saying something like ‘Get your free ebook’ should lead to far more conversions than a woolly, unfocused call to action like ‘Go’, ‘Submit’ or ‘Subscribe’.
Get rid of distractions
Going back to the fact that a landing page should have a single purpose, it’s essential to get rid of any distractions. This is one page where it’s OK to scrap the internal navigation used elsewhere on your website. Remove the top menu, the sidebar, the ‘articles you might like’ features that populate other pages, as you don’t want anything on your landing page that might give people an excuse to navigate away and not convert by clicking that call to action button.
White space is good, it lets the elements of the page breathe. It’s for this reason that we’d also recommend against pop-ups or music/video that auto-plays. Pop-ups provide a distraction and there’s nothing worse than auto-play sound for people who are viewing your landing page in a quiet shared office.
While we’re on the subject of getting rid of distractions, the visitors who come to your landing page are all busy people. They may also be quite choosy about which companies they give their details to, especially if their inbox is already overflowing. To show your customers that you respect their time and privacy, we would recommend only adding essential fields, e.g. name and email address, to your sign-up/lead capture forms.
If you ask for what the customer perceives to be non-essential details such as their date or birth or address when they simply want to download a free ebook, they may become wary about giving any details at all.
Instead, focus on making the rewards and benefits of filling out the form obvious at a glance. You want your customers to feel that they are the ones who gain something from signing up or that it’s a mutually beneficial exchange. In other words, if a person asks, “What’s in it for me?” the landing page needs to make it obvious.
Show your products
If your landing page has the purpose of selling a particular product, then consider using images or video that show the product being used in context. This can help people imagine what it will be like for them to use the product.
If the landing page exists to promote a printed book or ebook, you might want to consider showing some preview pages to highlight the quality and let people know that you’re proud of what you’re selling.
Using video on a landing page
The use of video marketing continues to be on the increase, and the rise of live streaming with Periscope and Meerkat only looks set to boost its popularity.
Consider adding a video to your landing page. A study by eyeviewdigital.com found that the presence of a video can increase conversions by a whopping 80%!
Numerous studies have shown that people tend to stay on web pages featuring videos for longer and, according to recent stats from Hubspot, 65% of us will watch more than three-quarters of a video, which gives you more time to communicate your brand message.
One staggering statistic, originally put forward by Dr James McQuivey of Forrester Research, is that one minute of video has the same value in terms of the information it can communicate as 1.8 million words. With video, people not only hear the words you say but they form impressions based on what they see. If you can feature real people from your team, for example, or appear in the video yourself, it will help to build trust.
A word about your landing page copy
It’s important to keep the copy on a landing page as succinct as possible. Time-poor visitors need to be able to see and understand the key message at a glance, so use copy elements that make the content easy to scan, such as headings, subheadings and bullet points.
Only say what you need to say without overselling with too many words like ‘awesome’ and ‘unbelievable’ or over-promising what the call to action will deliver. We’d also urge you to avoid using dodgy sign-up tactics, such as telling people to click on the call to action to access a free ebook, only to take them to a PayPal page where you ask them to pay for the ebook that seconds ago you were promising for free.
In terms of SEO and the copy on your landing page, you should consider focusing on long-tail phrases rather than competitive keywords that you already use elsewhere on your site. Long-tail phrases can help you attract visitors who are directly looking for what your campaign offers.
The power of social proof
One of the biggest barriers to selling a service or product is fear. Each time someone connects with a new company as a consumer, they are taking a risk, paying over hard-earned cash – or their contact details – to an unknown quantity. If a landing page can break down the barrier of fear by showing that other people have clicked on the call to action and benefitted from it, you should see a rise in conversions.
Testimonials are an effective form of social proof but you should always use real testimonials for authenticity. The news story in August 2015 about the UK government using fake testimonials in the DWP sanctions leaflet demonstrated clearly how using made-up testimonials can seriously undermine trust and reputation.
Another way to show social proof is to add social media like and sharing buttons to your landing page or, if you’re expecting lots of people to sign up to your campaign, a visitor counter so that potential customers can see that lots of other people have signed up before them.
Following on from the idea of social proof, you might want to consider other ways to remove risk from your offer so that you can highlight this on your landing page. Tactics such as a 100% money-back guarantee if a person isn’t satisfied with their purchase or an instalment plan for paying can convert well. You could also consider offering a seven-day free trial or something along those lines.
Some companies opt to give an either/or call to action. For example, you could have your main, prominent call to action as ‘Try it for free for 30 days’ but then have a smaller, less prominent call to action – possibly a line of hyperlinked text underneath – saying ‘Or find out more about the benefits of using…’.
Another example would be a main call to action saying, ‘See pricing & sign up’ or a ‘safety net’ call to action saying, ‘Take a tour to find out more’. This tactic can help you capture the interest of someone who is still a lukewarm lead, especially if you’re selling a product or service.
You might also consider adding a telephone number to your landing page to show that potential customers can speak to a real person if they want to. This can be helpful if you’re dealing with a target audience that feels more comfortable making a booking over the phone rather than online.
Long landing pages
If you decide that a long landing page would be more effective for your campaign, it’s important to consider where the call to action will sit.
Long pages tend to be popular for coaching programmes where the coach decides to cover as much detail as possible about a new programme, including plenty of testimonials and bonus materials.
If you only have a call to action at the bottom of the page, you risk your customers losing interest and not scrolling down to find it. Instead, try to place the call to action at strategic intervals throughout the copy. It’s not advisable to have it at the end of every paragraph but think about where a customer might logically reach the decision to buy at different points in the copy – perhaps when you have highlighted the benefits of your product and service, then again when you’ve featured some compelling testimonials, and again when you’ve announced an instalment plan.
You might also consider using directional cues such as a downward pointing arrow above the fold to show people that they need to scroll down to find out more.
Segmenting your traffic
Many businesses choose to create several versions of their landing pages with slightly different URLs. This is so that they can segment the traffic and send people to separate landing pages that have a slightly different message tailored to how they found the page, e.g. an AdWords campaign, a search engine, email, social media, or banner ad). You might also want to segment your traffic by user type/gender so that you don’t send men to a page about cellulite treatments, for example.
Segmenting by traffic source is a great way to measure which traffic source is proving to be the highest converting and most profitable with the best return on your investment (ROI).
Review, refine and repeat
To make sure that your landing page achieves as many conversions as possible, it’s essential to review the content before you publish the page.
Does everything support that single purpose that you identified before the page was designed? Remove any words or images that don’t fit with this single focus.
Spend some time proofreading the page, as even the most stunning design can be let down by a typo. Can you say what you want to say with fewer words?
The five-second test
Did you know that any web page has just five seconds to grab a visitor’s attention? The same goes for landing pages. To make sure that yours passes the five-second test, ask some friends, family or colleagues who haven’t been involved in creating the page to look at it for just five seconds.
- Can they tell you what the purpose of the page is?
- Do they understand what’s on offer?
- Could they find the call to action?
- Did they understand what they needed to do?
- What stood out to them?
If they can’t answer those questions easily, you will need to revise the design and/or content.
A/B split testing
A/B split testing is essential to a successful landing page. If you’re not sure what split testing is, there’s a great introduction on the Kissmetrics website. A split test is basically when you publish two slightly different version of your landing page and see which one achieves the best conversion rate.
Ideally, you should change just one element on the pages at a time. You might, for example, split test the colour of the call to action button, the main image for your landing page, the wording of the main heading, the wording of the call to action, or the position of the call to action. You can test any element of the page but you need to change one thing at a time, otherwise you won’t know what new element is responsible for the rise or fall in conversions.
Armed with the information you gather through split testing, you can refine the design and content of your landing page for optimum results.
So there you have it – our ultimate guide to landing page optimisation. But that’s not all. We have a free printable Ultimate Landing Page Cheat Sheet to help you. Simply click the link and print it off. How many boxes can you tick?
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Hazel Jarrett, director of SEO at SEO+, is well-known in the SEO space, has won many awards during her 20-year career and has been published on various well-known sites. Through her services and training programs, her SEO strategies have generated 10s of millions of sales for her clients, earning her a big reputation for delivering the results that matter.
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