Brick and mortar stores carefully plan the concepts, designs, and layouts of their display windows in a way that captures attention, piques interest and invites shoppers to enter the store. The Apple Store, for example, consistently creates displays that appeal and inspire.
Online businesses must create the same feelings and set similar goals for their landing pages: the online equivalent of the display window.
Landing pages must also carefully select and combine elements to create a user experience that will increase conversion rates. Much like the Apple Store's window displays, this is done with landing pages that capture attention (measured as reduced bounce rate), generate interest (measured as increased time on page) and invite shoppers to enter (measured as successful conversions).
To increase conversion rates of landing pages, these 15 components, proven to work for many websites, should be considered, tested, and measured. Incorporating some (or all) of these elements does not mean that the landing page needs to be overly convoluted. In fact, the opposite is true. Think "clean and clear" - like the Apple Store.
1. Audience profile
Before writing, designing, and creating a landing page, the fundamental first step is to get clarity about the audience that you are targeting. This precedes everything else you do within the landing page, because it will define the rest of the optimizations you will make. You probably already know the basics such as:
- Are you targeting businesses or consumers?
- Are you targeting men or women?
- Are you targeting a specific income level or job function?
Beyond the basics, there is more you should consider when studying the profile, or persona, of your target audience. Seek to understand their pains and how your product solves them. Research other solutions they may consider, and get a firm grasp on the unique selling points that differentiate your offering.
Only when you get a comprehensive understanding of your target personas can you initiate the process of designing a landing page that will be successful at converting them.
2. An effective headline
The heading on a landing page is the main attention-grabber. Make sure your target audience can relate to it and that it piques their interest to learn more. Keep in mind that a headline should be approximately 10 words.
Keep it short, informative and interesting.
A good technique is tying the main headline back to the source from which the visitor came. For example, NetSuite runs a PPC campaign for the keywords "business translation software." Their Google Ad boasts that they are the #1 cloud business software, with a 100% cloud platform, and free product tours.
Clicking on the ad leads to a landing page with similar messaging:
This is effective in affirming to the user that they reached the right place and found what they were searching for. In other words, they will have enough reason to read on.
3. Valuable subheadings
Web content should typically be easily scanned and digestible. By using subheadings effectively, you can direct users to the most important points you want them to know. Consider the value proposition that is most important to your target audience, and package it neatly into subheadings that will clearly communicate the attractiveness of your product.
4. A single call-to-action
While website homepages often have multiple calls-to-action (CTA's) on a landing page, it is important to focus on one goal and one CTA. If your goal is to lead visitors to sign up for a free white paper, do not overload the landing page with information about an upcoming webinar, links to blog posts or free trial offers - you can create separate landing pages for those. Each landing page should have a single CTA.
Many companies find it beneficial to remove all other navigation from the landing page. This helps keep users focused and funneled toward one desired action.
The CTA should be prominent; aim to make it the first thing a user sees when they reach your landing page. Try using a color that contrasts with the page's color scheme and displaying the CTA button above the fold, in the F-shaped pattern of web content. The words on the CTA button should be short, easily understood, and action-oriented. Instead of "submit," use CTA copy like "read the case study" or "start a free trial."
5. Unique Selling Points
What sets your product apart from the competition in the eyes of your target audience?
Or, asked from the perspective of the user, "what's in it for me?"
The answer to these question is to display your unique selling points, and they need to be presented prominently on your landing page.
Call them benefits, selling points, or value propositions; but whatever you call them, make sure your users see them, relate to them, and want to get in on them by converting to a lead or customer.
6. Trust and credibility
Especially if your business has not yet achieved top-of-mind awareness (TOMA), it is important to convey your trustworthiness and credibility to users who visit your landing page, but may not have heard of your product.
This is often done with customer logos (make sure you get their permission!), "As seen on" press logos, security badges, and industry associations.
7. Social proof
Another way to build trust and encourage conversions is with social proof. By showing testimonials and reviews with pictures, names, company logos and links to social profiles, you present the user with like-minded real people who have had positive experiences with your product.
Successful landing pages often include pictures or videos. Make sure any media you use is licensed. Also, make sure the images are large. If you use a hero shot, make sure it is in line with your target persona:. Any product images should showcase the best benefits your product offers to the target audience.
9. Overcome objections and pains
Once you've studied your target audience, understood their pains and clarified how your product helps your audience solve them, you can now highlight this information on your landing page.
Is the cost of competing products prohibitive? Highlight a free trial or lower monthly subscription prices. Are users afraid that implementation of your product will be too demanding on their organization? Mention your customer support team, and offer a free training session.
A common method that both overcomes objections and builds trust is to offer a guarantee. It can be in the form of a satisfaction guarantee, money-back guarantee or any other kind of promise, which helps the user trust your product and feel that there is nothing to lose by trying it.
11. Offer something valuable
Beyond showing them that they have nothing to lose, give your visitors something to gain.
If the goal of your landing page is to collect leads, make sure you give them something valuable in exchange for their contact information. Offering a case study, white paper, or other valuable content is often extremely effective. Offering other benefits, like a free trial or a discount, may also work on users further along in the buyer cycle.
12. Clean design
The most effective landing pages have clean design and clear flow. The best way to achieve the desired user experience is by planning out all landing page elements before starting to implement them. Otherwise, starting with only part of the elements and then adding more usually creates a page that is disorganized and confusing. This results in higher bounce rates.
13. Lead capture form
Obviously, your landing page needs a lead capture form; but less obvious is what to include in it (and what to exclude from it). The best way to sum it up is to only ask for what you need to fulfill the goal of that landing page. If the goal is newsletter subscriptions, you do not need to request a phone number. Moreover, if the visitor is already known to you and your systems thanks to cookies, do not ask for information you already have. At the very least, pre-populate the fields with information you have already collected.
14. Share links
Once you design an effective landing page that offers a valuable piece of content and a clear value proposition, encourage visitors to share it with their colleagues or friends by adding social sharing links.
The final element required for an effective landing page is measurement metrics to gauge its effectiveness. By implementing web and behavioral analytics tools, you can identify which elements are effective. You can analyze different versions by A/B testing them, or by examining users' online behavior (through tools such as ClickTale). This will help you gain valuable insight about your target audience.
Your high performing landing page
When you view your landing page similar to the way Apple Store views its display windows, you realize the importance of "less is more" and how to focus the user's attention in a way that inspires them to act . . . and convert!