It’s a big problem. An epidemic really.
Business owners spend hundreds, thousands, even millions of dollars a year to get traffic to their company’s website.
The traffic builds and builds. And, along with it, the expectation that a SURGE in sales is just around the corner.
But often that surge never comes.
And most of the time, it’s because all the traffic they’re getting takes visitors to a landing page that, to be perfectly blunt, sucks.
(For newbies: A landing page is simply the page on your site someone lands on when they click on a link from an ad, search result or another website. It could be your Home page, Product/Service page, page promoting a special offer, etc.)
A few months back, I posted about the 5 Essential Elements a landing page must have to be successful.
And, while that provides a great framework for building landing page content, I’ve had a number of questions lately about the specific steps and components that go into creating a killer landing page.
So here’s a primer on what belongs on your landing page (and what doesn’t) as well as some tips for each…
1. Identify the primary goal of your landing page
When someone lands on that page, what’s the ONE thing you want them to do? Buy something, call you, fill out a form, share the content, continue to another page on your site, etc.?
It’s essential to figure this out first because it’s the ultimate goal your headline, copy, etc. all lead to.
Your landing page should focus on just ONE primary objective… ONE main thing you want visitors to do when they get there.
Any more than one causes confusion. And you don’t want to confuse prospects because confused prospects don’t convert!
This isn’t to say you can’t have secondary objectives on a landing page. It’s perfectly fine to have links to other pages on the site, social media buttons, a phone number, a newsletter sign up, etc. . Just make sure the secondary objectives don’t steal the show from the primary objective.
2. Understand the “Thought Sequence” of your visitors
Conversion experts like to say “you don’t optimize landing pages, you optimize thought sequences.”
Here’s what this means…
First, think about the conversation going on in a visitor’s brain when they get to your landing page.
How did they get there? What keywords did they use? What are they looking to accomplish? What problems are they looking to solve?
It makes a big difference if someone comes to your landing page from an AdWords ad after typing in the the keyword “landscape architect” vs. someone who arrives from a Facebook post about your spring plant sale.
Those represent the beginning of two very distinct thought sequences and deserve very different landing pages.
Understanding thought sequences is crucial because your landing page’s job really boils down to this…
You start with “Point A”… the conversation going on in your prospect’s brain when they land on your page.
You end with “Point B”… the ultimate action you want them to take before leaving your page.
So, the job of your landing page is to meet them Point A and optimize their thought sequence on the page so when they get to Point B they are totally convinced that taking that action is in their best interest.
8 Main Components of a Landing Page
Okay, with those two concepts out of the way, let’s look at the 8 main components that make up a landing page (along with some key tips on how to make the most of each).
1. Site header/banner
With headers, narrower (height-wise) is better. They’re about branding and giving people a brief, initial impression of who you are and what your site is about.
Designers love to make big banners to show off their creative abilities. These behemoths take about 1/3 of the “above the fold” space on the page and push the content that’s actually gonna get visitors to convert lower on the page. Don’t let them do this to your site!
Often just a clean, simple banner with your logo (and maybe a tagline) on the left and your contact info on the right is all you need.
The headline is the single MOST important element on your landing page. It’s the first, and possibly only, copy a visitor will read on your site.
Make it clearly stand out from the other elements around it so it commands attention (it should immediately draw a visitor’s eyes when they first land on your page).
The main job of your headline is to let visitors know they’re in the right spot (based on the conversation in their head that got them to your page) and offer them a reason to stick around.
It should NOT try to make the sale. It’s the opening of your sales message, not the close.
The subheadline goes right under your headline and continues the conversation the headline started. It’s usually longer than the headline and in a font size that’s smaller than your headline yet still in a larger/bolder font than the other copy on the page.
Subheadlines aren’t essential. However, they’re a powerful way to elaborate on the unique value proposition you’re offering to visitors so your headline doesn’t have to carry that burden on its own.
Together, your headline and subheadline should clearly lay out the benefit/value you offer your prospects.
And, most importantly, their focus should be squarely on your visitors and their needs/problems/desires… remember, it’s not about you!!
3. Main Content/Copy block
Like the head/subheadline, the main content of your landing page should focus on the reader and, ultimately, the benefits they’ll get from taking the action you want them to take. The copy’s job is to guide a visitor’s thought sequence from the headline to your call-to-action.
There’s a lot of controversy and misconceptions about how long your copy should be (ie. long vs. short copy). And there’s really no set right or wrong answer. The length of your copy really boils down to what you’re offering and what you want prospects to do.
If you’re offering an easy to understand, free giveaway… you don’t need much copy. However, if you’re selling a more complicated and/or expensive product or service that you want prospects to buy on the spot… you’ll need more copy to get the job done.
Also, make your copy scannable because most people won’t read your copy but rather SCAN it for key points. Having all your paragraphs left justified makes this easy to do as does using bullets, short paragraphs, putting carefully selected words in bold font, etc.
Images are not as important as most people think they are (an obvious exception being the product pages of an ecommerce site).
In fact, you can have a high converting landing page without any images at all.
If you do use images, avoid stock images of smiling business people. Instead, use images that demonstrate the value proposition of your offer. And, ideally use images that show your product/service being used.
Also, always put a CAPTION below your images. People’s eyes are naturally drawn to images and a caption can be among the most read copy on the page.
Keep forms as short as possible. Just capture the essential info because the more fields on your form, the fewer people will fill it out (fewer people may not be a bad thing… you have to balance quality of leads vs. quantity of leads depending on your objectives).
Left justify the fields for a cleaner, less intimidating look. If you do require a lot of fields, often breaking them up into smaller, related groupings can make the form more appealing.
One last tip… unless you have a problem with a lot of web spam, don’t use a CAPTCHA for your form… don’t make people do any more work than needed!
This is all about the primary action you want someone to take on your page so let them know exactly what you want them to do and the benefits they’ll get by doing it.
If taking action requires a click, be sure the button/text they have to click stands out by using an arrow, bold color, spacing, etc.
Oh, and don’t use the word “Submit” or “Click Here” on the button. Use phrases that reinforce what the visitor gets when clicking on it (ie. “Get Your Free Trial”, “See Plans and Pricing”, “Start Your Tour”).
Navigation isn’t essential. In fact, some landing pages perform better without it.
It depends on your niche and the objectives of your landing page. However, most of my readers own real world businesses/Ecommerce sites and will generally want to have navigation on their sites.
If you have navigation, it’s often best to put it between your header and headline, where most people expect to find it (as opposed to down the side of the page).
And keep it simple. Multiple navigation bars and/or navigation bars with too many options can be overwhelming. Simplify things so visitors can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.
All the above are general rules of thumb/best practices to help get you started in creating a killer landing page.
However, rules can be bent/broken. The only way to know what’s going to work best for your landing pages is to test, test, test!