Remember though, these best practices are not meant to be hard rules, but rather guidelines for creation. In crafting a landing page for a new campaign, we follow a set of best practices. Through building, testing, and reviewing thousands of landing pages, these best practices have been shown to aid in building landing pages with improved user experience and increased conversion rates. Remember though, these best practices are not meant to be hard rules, but rather guidelines for creation. In CRO, we use best practices as a starting point, not as an end goal. Use these elements and concepts to put together a landing page, then work towards improvement over time by testing, fixing, changing, and working on your landing pages.
Before jumping into the 9 elements of a perfect landing page, we need to look at a few concepts that we need to understand. These concepts are foundational to building high converting landing pages, and need to so starting here is crucial.
Concept 1. Identifying The Audience
As the saying goes, “no landing page is an island.” A landing page is a single tool full of code, data, and content, but we have to remember that in the end, every marketing campaign is really about people. Digital marketing is not b2b or b2c, but b2p (business-to-people). So, before we can put together a proper landing page we have to identify our audience. We can do this by studying the limited data we may already have (demographic info, client input) but we should also take this data with a grain of salt since it is dangerous to steer your efforts based on limited data. Take this real case study for example:
A new company entered the market with a subscription business that ships a small box of healthy food to college students every month. The idea is that students would get a “care package” each month and wouldn’t need to do anything but sign up once– pretty simple! The company puts their marketing budget towards running pre-launch campaigns on facebook to get email signups from students with .edu email addresses. In the pre-launch phase, the company runs their campaign and receives over 500 email signups for students interested in their product. They have a great conversion rate of over 20%, loads of pre-signups, and a small buzz in their target market. Success, right?
When the company finally launches, only 1 of their 500 leads converts into a subscription, even after aggressively retargeting and emailing the list. The company struggles to get off the ground, runs out of money and folds within 3 months of launching.
Why did this company fail and lose a large amount of money in the process? Because they failed to properly identify their audience. The company assumed that since their product is for college students and the price point is affordable, that they could market to college students and be successful. What they didn’t realize though, is that their target market was completely misidentified. College students rarely have expendable money and they aren’t inclined to add recurring charges to their budget. If they have money in their bank accounts, many times that money comes from their parents. The company should have been spending their advertising money to target parents of college students. And instead of using “affordability” as the messaging, they should have used “simplicity”: “We’ll take care of sending your kid care packages so you don’t have to.”
You can see how failing to properly identify your audience can ruin the success of a campaign. So how can we limit our chances of failing?
By preparing a need state analysis to target the campaign. We need to get into the mindset of our target audience to figure out what they want and how to get them to act towards our goals. Try filling out this need state analysis exercise to get a good start on your targeting:
- Name: (this can be fictional, just used for labeling purposes)
- Gender: (female, male, both, or not relevant)
- Age: (ranges work best)
- Where Else In Our Vertical Does This Person Spend Money:
- What Could Stop This Person from Buying:
- What Might Get This Person to Buy:
- How Will This Person Find Us? (what keywords, platforms, types of media)
Proposed Marketing Strategy:
Once you have this exercise filled out, you can use it to begin to craft the messaging, design, and targeting of your campaigns. In most cases, you will have 2-5 need states. Using our former case study as an example, we can see that the company should have started with 2 need states: one for students and one for their parents, in order to test which campaign lead to more profit.
Other examples of companies with multiple targets or need states:
Need states for a garage door company:
Emergency Repair (high intent, urgency implied, messaging around affordability, imagery less important)
New Garage Doors (longer funnel, messaging around quality, design and imagery more important)
Targeting for the release of a violent video game:
Teens (content features actual game play, depicts violence and action, “download now” CTAs)
Parents of Teens (messaging about the game’s popularity, limit on violent content, “available in all major retailers” CTAs)
Concept 2. Friction Reduction
Sometimes identifying friction on your landing page is as simple as noticing a broken element; in other cases, you will be tipped off by a low conversion rate.One of the reasons users don’t act in a manner consistent with our marketing goals is because of friction on page. It is our job as landing page curators to reduce friction to help users toward our goals. Let’s say for example, we have a landing page where we want users to fill out a form to schedule an appointment. Friction can arise from a form that is too long, a form that isn’t easy to use, slow loading elements, or unclear copy and CTA’s, for example. Anything that makes it more difficult for a user to act towards your goal is friction. By reducing or removing friction, we can improve our rates of success.
Sometimes identifying friction on your landing page is as simple as noticing a broken element; in other cases, you will be tipped off by a low conversion rate. Many times though, the best way to find friction is to use your peers, your coworkers, and real site visitors to explain where on the page they think the problems are occurring. We can use heatmaps, visitor recording, and heuristic analysis to get feedback on what needs to be improved. From that data, we can implement split tests to see if changing friction elements helps or hurts your conversion rates.
The 9 Elements of a High Converting Landing Page
1 Logo / Branding
It is important to include your logo in the page header to establish the authority and trust of the business behind the landing page. The branding and color schemes should stay consistent to the brand and the campaign. In particular, branding & imagery used in ads should match the imagery on the landing page to create a consistent experience from first click to conversion.
2 Contact Info
It is important to make contact information easily findable for users at the top and bottom of your landing page, as users tend to look to the header and footer to get that info. If converted customers will be visiting the business location (a dentist office for example) , it is important to include the address too. If the business instead serves a service area, then that info should be included. Be specific with the service area in your ad copy, targeting, and landing page messaging as to exclude any visitors that might not be inside your target area. Finally, it is best practice to include business hours with your contact info. This can help to funnel more conversions during business hours, which will lead to quicker response times for the business owner.
3 The Big Explainer
“The Big Explainer” is a headline element used to grab the attention of the page visitor, and at a high level, explain to the user what the topic of the page is about. This is the single most important on-page element for reducing your bounce rate. The Big Explainer should help your landing page pass The 4 Second Test — can a user understand what the page is about within 4 seconds of loading the page? If not, you may need to adjust your Big Explainer.
An offer can be an important tool to help your target customer get past the friction surrounding a purchase. Offers give an additional incentive (beyond your standard value proposition) to encourage customers to act. A good offer can make or break the effectiveness of a campaign, so it is important to work with the client to come up with something that can be implemented in ads and on the landing page.
Offers typically tap into psychological triggers that can lead potential customers to act in ways that are not always rational. We can utilize the psychology of consumer behavior to help shape our offers by looking at a few common concepts:
Urgency or Scarcity
– these two concepts can help to increase conversion rates of your landing page as they tap into our psychological favor towards products or services that are scarce or limited. Creating scarcity by offering “limited supply” of your product or service makes the purchase more appealing than if you had unlimited stock. Scarcity is so important to marketing that Robert Cialdini uses it as one of the six golden persuasion principles in his famous book: “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Urgency works along the same lines by encouraging customers to act before it’s too late.
– Anchoring is a psychological tendency for consumers to act on the first piece of information as the anchor. Once the anchor information is set, the consumer will base the next set of decisions in context of the anchor. It is commonly used as a pricing strategy to make up-selling more appealing. A good example of price anchoring is when a business offers three packages: the intro, the regular, and the deluxe. The intro costs $20, the regular costs $25, and the deluxe costs $26. The idea is to lead with the $20 price as the anchor, which makes the $26 pricing less painful to the consumer — for just 5 dollars more you can have the middle package, then for just 1 dollar more you can get the very best package! Our brains use the intro pricing as the anchor to justify the additional $6 for the upgrade. Anchoring can also be used to make offers more appealing — take this example from Disenthrall.co: “Psychologists Brian Wansink, Robert Kent, and Stephen Hoch studied how multiple unit pricing increased supermarket sales. For example, “On Sale, 4 Rolls of Bathroom Tissue for $2” vs. “On Sale, $0.50/roll” In this particular experiment, the multiple unit pricing performed 40% better than the single unit pricing, even though the sale value is exactly the same.” In this example, the consumer’s latched onto the 4 rolls (the anchor) which gave the offer more value, as opposed to the savings for just one roll. Providing the 4-roll anchor lead to a 40% increase in sales.
5 Contact Form
The contact form is the main point of capture for customer leads. It can be a simple contact form or a more complex shopping cart or on-page checkout system. The important thing to remember with lead capture forms is to think critically about what information you need to be collecting and what can be collected at a later point in the sales funnel. Depending on the landing page, it may be more effective to use a short form (name, phone, email) vs a long form (name, phone, email, address, text field, etc). It is wise to test different contact form styles, lengths, CTAs, colors, and messaging since this is the main conversion tool on the page. Small changes to the conversion capture form can mean big changes to conversion rates.
6 Product or Service Explanation
The core purpose of your landing content is to explain who / what / where / when / why. This content should address the major areas of customer friction while showing the potential customer how you can help them. Finally, your content should provide your unique value proposition that sets you apart from your competitors. Perhaps you have been in business longer, or you have the best prices in the market. These unique touch points help the consumer understand why they should choose to purchase from you instead of your competitor. Remember, the best way to sell on a landing page is to not sell at all. Do not use your content to push people to buy, but instead use your content to explain how your product or service can help your consumer or make your consumer better.
7 Trust Building
Trust building elements should be added to a landing page to build authority and trust from the potential customer. Good trust building elements can include logos of high profile clients, badges from review site like BBB, or positive reviews from other customers. When a consumer buys from a new company online, they are inherently taking a risk, as they do not know you (the business) but are sending you their information or payment. We can use trust building elements to reduce the implied risk of the consumer, and build a landing page experience that reduces the anxiety surrounding the conversion.
Your call-to-action or CTA is your opportunity come right out and tell your audience what you want them to do. If all of the content on your page has led the potential customer to the decision point, a good CTA can be enough to push them over the edge and turn them into a converter. Good CTAs are short, easy to read, and persuasive. It is a smart idea to test different versions of your landing page using different CTAs to find out which messaging resonates best with your audience to drive more conversions.