A 101 Guide To Landing Pages
First, what is a landing page?
When it comes to your website you might think - surely every page is a landing page because, as long as it’s linked to, it can be landed on? It makes sense, but it’s not correct. A landing page is a marketing term for a page that acts as the entry point to your site for visitors. They are used for campaigns, whether it be an ad campaign (e.g. Adwords), product launch, pre-launch, newsletter etc. They communicate specific information about a targeted item - a product, newsletter, e-book, article, webinar, etc. A landing pages' purpose is to persuade and encourage visitors to perform a certain action in relation to that product - buy, register, download, read, etc.
Why are landing pages used?
A landing page is fully focused on a product and desired action. Why send a user who clicks, for example, your banner ad about a specific product of yours, to your homepage which contains a load of information about a number of products? You need to make it easy for visitors - they clicked the ad, they want to see stuff about that ad, and they certainly do not want to go looking round your site for stuff about that ad. Landing pages are optimised pages, fully purposed to maximise conversions.
In hope of better simplicity, from now on I will refer to the ads, newsletters, search engine listings etc. that lead visitors to a landing page as the source and the landing pages targeted ‘thing’ - a new product, newsletter, e-book, webinar etc. - as the product.
What makes an effective landing page?
You need a consistent message: the source and landing page should match in terms of the product they are targeting. You shouldn’t target one product in your source, and another product on your landing page.
Less is more when it comes to copy. Don’t bombard visitors with information. You need to communicate what’s essential, specifically the benefits of performing the desired action. We live in a world of quick consumption and short attention spans, so you need to try and be as concise as you can.
The layout and spacing of your landing page is a key consideration. You want the eyes of your visitors to be led to the important components of the page, so these components need to be in prominent positions and they need to stand out. Use spacing to your advantage and avoid unaesthetic cluttering.
Colour is a vital aspect of a landing page, and web design generally in fact. Colour can be used to set a mood and stimulate a feeling in just a split second. Think about the feeling you want your landing page to evoke in a visitor and look at colour psychology, for instance, shades of blue can conjure feelings of safety and trust. Colour should be used tactfully to draw attention to your call to action (CTA).
Your Call To Action is the most important aspect of the page. It prompts visitors to perform the action you want them to perform. It should stand-out in terms of size, colour, and page positioning and it should be clear and concise in terms of wording. It needs to be inviting: ‘Click Here’ or ‘Submit’ are the perfect examples of poor, uninviting CTAs. A good CTA example is ‘Sign Up For Free’ or ‘Get Unlimited Access’ - they are descriptive and also communicate benefits.
Use a high quality image (or two), possibly of your product. Images can explain and communicate more than many words (most visitors probably won’t bother reading most of your copy) so it’s important to invest in images and get it right. Videos are also used frequently for landing pages as they can relay a lot of product information more effectively than a block or two of text.
Many landing pages will include a form to capture data from visitors. Forms should only ask for the essential, necessary information from visitors and they should be compact - you don’t want to put visitors off with a lengthy-looking form to fill out. To make it as easy as possible for your visitors, perhaps include ‘greyed out’ instructions or examples in blank fields. The benefits to the user of filling out the form should be clear, communicated through the forms headline, introduction text and/or CTA.
Directional cues are a great way of pointing out important parts of a landing page. This could be through the use of arrows or perhaps the eyeline of someone in an image, to highlight your CTA, form of some other significant page component.
Here are two guides from Hubspot and Mashable for a range of other handy tips and tricks to optimise your landing pages.
The important thing to remember when designing and implementing a landing page is - you’re never finished. Test, test and test again. Use A/B tests and try out different CTAs, layouts, colours, images, headlines, etc. Sometimes what works best and gains the most conversions is not what you expect, so always keep refining and never preserve your landing page as a finished page that’s completely set in stone.