Landing pages are mysterious things, aren’t they?
It’s one simple page, yet it’s full of potential pitfalls.
Some think it’s a science, others look at it as an art.
To tell you the truth it’s a bit of both.
Yes, there are things you need to look out for. Yes, there are a lot of studies that prove certain things and yes, there are best practices.
Then again, it’s still an art. You could create a landing page that goes against every best practice known to man and still have a winner.
Ultimately it’s a testing game.
The best way to create landing pages is to take an educated guess and see if you were right. This article will show you how to make an educated guess. It will show you some of the best practices for creating landing pages.
Alright, let’s start with the juicy stuff.
Before you ask for their email and send them drip campaigns (or ask them to buy something), you first need to get their attention. You do this with a quality landing page.
A landing page is a remote salesman. It welcomes users, tries to pinpoint a specific problem and offers a solution to that problem. There’s only one issue:
In 2000 the average attention span of a person was 12 seconds. That already short period of time decreased to 8 seconds in 2013. To put that in perspective: the average goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds. Let that sink in for a minute. (source)
So you’ve got about 8 seconds to convince your visitor that your page is worth reading. That’s why headlines are so important. It’s one of the first things people see.
A headline’s job is to make people read the first line of copy.
It has to convince people that reading what you have to say will benefit them.
Now, creating magnetic headlines can be a total pain in the ass if you’re not a copywriter. It’s hard to think of a line that both sounds cool and oozes benefits. Luckily, there’s a way to bypass that problem.
1.CREATING A SWIPE FILE
A swipe file is a collection of winning headlines that you can build upon. Even seasoned copywriters use them to make their jobs easier. Why reinvent the wheel, right?
A good way of creating a swipe file is to see what your competition is doing. Gather every piece of copy from other people in your niche and put it in a file. It will make your life easier and you’ll notice that certain words get used over and over again.
These words are golden because it means they resonate with potential clients. Use them in your copy.
Another way you could start collecting winning headlines is to go over to Amazon.com and look at the magazines in your niche.
The survival of a magazine depends on their headlines. If they can’t get anyone interested, they won’t sell anything. You can be sure they spend a lot of time on them.
If you still want to create an ‘original’ headline, there are a couple of different frameworks you can start with.
2.END RESULT + TIME FRAME + ADDRESS AN OBJECTION
This one is great because it tells your visitor in one sentence what they’re going to get. A headline like this also doesn’t need a boatload of creativity to produce.
You can play around with it. You don’t have to put everything necessarily in that order and it doesn’t really need all 3 elements. It’s just that they work really well together.
- Give me 30 minutes and I’ll teach you how to get more done
- Start a business today, without investing a ton of money.
- Lose 5 pounds in 2 weeks, without spending ages in the gym.
3.HOW TO + (ACTION) + THAT + (BENEFIT)
A ‘how to’ headline intrigues people. It usually implies that what they are about to read will improve their life or bring them closer to a goal.
- How I Made an Extra $5000 On The Side While Working Two Jobs
- How To Create a Landing Page That Brings In a Steady Stream of Customers
Or, the most famous “how to” headline of them all:
The brilliance of that last example is that it consists of two major benefits and not much else.
Anyway, you can’t really screw up a ‘how to’ headline. It either works really well or it just works.
Check out Buzzfeed.com and look at how many of their headlines contain numbers. It’s a lot. (Actually just check out Buzzfeed, they’re headline-making machines)
The reason these type of headlines work well is because people know what they’re going to get when they pay attention to you. A number is a very specific thing. Combine this with an intriguing problem or statement and you’ve got yourself a winner. Here are a couple examples:
- 7 Ways Your Website is Leaking Money.
- 5 Foods That Are Secretly Killing You.
- Learn The 10 Ways To Increase Traffic to Your Website.
Even if you know a ton about generating traffic or nutrition, you’re still going to be interested to see if you know all of them.
5.QUICK, SECRETIVE, EASIER AND BETTER
Words like this will help you get your visitors attention. People are always looking for ways to make things easier, faster or better.
Just think about it, it would be kind of dumb to keep doing it the slow way if there’s a faster, easier way of doing it.
Secretive on the other hand is catering to people’s curiosity. If there are things people aren’t telling you, would you like to find out?
- See How Easily You Can Get Leads With Social Media
- Little Known Ways To Lose Weight Fast
- Give Me 30 Minutes and I’ll Make You a Better Blogger
6.SHORT AND TO THE POINT
This type of headline states what you want people to do. It can also just state your offer. Stating the offer is mostly used when you have something that’s a no-brainer. Things like:
- Buy One Get One Free
- Get a Free Consultation
- Sign Up Now And Get Health Tips Sent To You
Questions are great because they get your visitors thinking. If you ask them whether they are making one of the following 6 mistakes, chances are they’ll take a look. Nobody likes making mistakes.
The key here is to know your audience really well. If you can ask a question that hits a nerve you’ve got yourself a winner.
- Do You Make These 10 WordPress Mistakes?
- Are You Tired of Being Overweight?
- Do You Know Why People Aren’t Going To Your Website?
A secondary headline has a couple of purposes:
- Clear up any misunderstanding your headline might have caused. I’d personally try to avoid this. You want to make your headline as clear as possible.
- Tell people what action they need to take. The asthma example above tells people to find out about a clinical research study. It’s clear but it wouldn’t work as your primary headline.
- Generate interest. If you use the frameworks above to create a good secondary headline you can increase the interest you’ve already generated. The secondary headline should compliment the main one, though.
Closing thoughts on headlines
So, now you’ve got a couple of frameworks you can use to create headlines that get people’s attention. Before we go on to the next part of a landing page I want to mention a couple of things:
- Never make promises you can’t keep.
There’s nothing sadder than seeing a headline promise amazing results only to see them go unfulfilled. It’s also pretty disrespectful to your customers.
- Headlines should always match the ad.
If you are doing Pay-Per-Click, media buys or Facebook ads it’s really important that your message matches the ad. If your ad offers free weightloss advice and your landing page promotes a paid course then there’s a disconnect. You’re disrespecting people’s ‘click’ (aka time). Not good.
- Be really specific.
Remember the attention span fact I told you about? Well, I want to stress how important it is to make it as clear as possible what you offer.
The Hero Shot
A picture is worth a thousand words. You’ve probably heard that a million times already. While it is a good thing to use images on your landing page, there are a couple of things you want to look out for.
1.Avoid using cheesy stock photos
You know the ones I’m talking about. Imagine two businessmen reaching out their hands and smiling just a little bit too hard. Or a smiling woman with a headset on with her colleagues blurred out in the background.
The thing about these kind of images is that they’ve been used over and over again, 10 years ago. You can spot them from a mile away and they’re not really realistic. Don’t use stupid clip art either.
What’s even worse is that people tend to completely ignore fake looking stock photos. They will, however, look at pictures that seem authentic and realistic.
2.Using irrelevant images
A picture of an attractive woman will get your visitor’s attention(mostly men), but if it doesn’t have anything to do with your offer it just distracts whoever lands on your page. Your hero shot should support the message you are putting out.
This might seem like an obvious one, but for the love of god don’t use crappy images on your landing page. If the quality of your image is so bad that you can see the pixels, use another image. Nothing screams “I’m an amateur” like a pixelated image on your website.
Don’t use pictures that take a ton of time to load. While the rest of your page may load, an image helps sell your product or service. You want it to load fast. I’ll talk more about why speed is important later on in this article.
A good image is an image that helps the user understand what they are going to get. The goal of a landing page is to inform the user what you are about in the shortest amount of time possible.
Another way of conveying the value of your offer is by using video.
In some cases, video can increase conversion rate immensely. Take this jewelery shop for example. They increased their conversion rate by 247% simply by using a video.
There are a couple of ways you can do this:
A screencast is basically a presentation. You’re going over slides while you’re talking to your visitors. This can be great if you teach something and you want people to get used to your voice.
What better way to explain explainer videos than to explain it with an explainer video (phew).
This video is great because it, well, explains what this kind of video does. I don’t agree with it being expensive. There are ways you can get a video like this made for only a fraction of what it would normally cost. Check out VideoFruit for more info.
A talking head video is when someone is in front of a camera talking to you. It’s a good way for people to get to know you and you get to explain to the visitor why your service is great.
4.How to video
If you have a product and it isn’t really obvious how to use it, you can create a video to show off how it works. It shows people what your product does and how it can benefit them. Infomercials do this to the extreme.
Now that you’ve got your visitors interested, you want to make it absolutely clear what you can do for them. There’s a saying that people only listen to Radio WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).
According to Drew Eric Whitman, author of Cashvertising, there are eight desires human beings are biologically programmed to care about. Those desires are:
- Survival, enjoying life
- Avoidance of pain and danger
- Good living conditions
- Being superior. Winning
- Protection of loved ones
- Social approval
When you tap into these eight desires you tap into human instinct. It’s pretty obvious, really. Who doesn’t want to survive? Who doesn’t want sex? Who doesn’t want their loved ones to be safe?
Just look at some of the huge markets out there:
- Health and fitness (#1, #3, #4)
- Dating (#1, #4, #8)
- Self-Improvement (#1, #6, #8)
These markets have been around for ages and won’t go away any time soon. Why do you think 50 shades of Grey is so popular? It hits one of these eight desires right on the head.
So when you’re creating a landing page you want to tie your offer to one of these eight desires. I admit, that can be tricky sometimes.
Features vs Benefits
Eugene Schwartz calls features your physical product. It’s how many pages a book has, the things your service offers, the technical details of a computer, etc.
Benefits, however, tell your customers what’s in it for them. It can be hard to spot the difference between the two. Just take a look at this:
“Our product is made from long-lasting, quality materials.”
Sounds pretty beneficial, right? They’re still features.
A good technique for finding benefits is asking yourself “So what?”.
Made from titanium -> so what? -> Long-lasting, quality materials -> So what? -> Saves you money because it doesn’t break easily.
BAM! Now we’re talking to their instincts. Having to pay for another product because the previous one broke is painful, which ties in to desire #3.
You want to sell with benefits and support with features. The decision to buy is mostly an emotional one. People buy because they feel like they want it. They use features to rationalize why they have to buy it.
Data input & Call to Action
So, you’ve got their attention and got them interested. Now it’s time to get their information or to make the sale. There are only a couple of things to say about this:
- Get all the critical information you need but don’t make the form too long.
It’s tempting to try and get as much info as possible. The problem is, the more info we ask, the less likely people are going to fill in the form. A 5-field form can convert 20% better than a 7 field form.
- Don’t use ‘Submit’
‘Submit’ is the weakest call to action you can use and frankly, it’s lazy. It doesn’t say anything. Instead of putting the default text in there use something that gives your visitor an idea of what he or she is getting.
For example, if you are pre-selling a book you could use “Reserve my copy” as a call to action. They know what they’re going to get and it doesn’t sound as bland as ‘submit’.
Here are some more examples:
- Free ebook -> Send my free copy
- Free Webinar -> Reserve my seat
- Selling a product -> Get yours now
If you have a very long page I suggest repeating the call to action several times. Just to make it easier for your visitor to take action.
It’s important, though, that you build your landing page around one main goal (to sell a product, get subscribers,…). I’ve seen a lot of landing pages that try to get your email, sell you something and hopefully make you like them on Facebook. Also, if you could tweet about them that would be great.
By giving your visitor a wide range of choices to pick from, you are demotivating them to pick anything.
The same goes for links (or leaks, like Oli Gardner from Unbounce likes to call them). You’re homepage shouldn’t be your landing page.The more links you have on them, the higher the chance of people becoming distracted and clicking away.
Social proof sells your stuff. Take a look at the statistic below. It shows who people trust when they want to buy something online.
It’s one thing for you to say that you are awesome, it’s another thing for someone else to say it. Buyers trust buyers.
There are a few ways you can convey social proof. The first and the most well known is:
A testimonial is one of your customers telling everyone else that your product works. It’s as simple as that.
The problem with testimonials is that they can be easily made up. To make them more believable add pictures of the person giving the quote.
- Borrow Credibility
Another way to gain trust and credibility is to borrow it from someone else. You can do this by showing logos of companies that have used your product.
- “X people use our product”
If a significant amount of people have used your service, it’s a good idea to show it the other people. It shows that other people trust you and that you’re not a scam. I would only use this if you have a lot of people using your service. It can work both ways.
Sometimes people still have doubts. After all, they’re trying to figure out if they can trust a random person over the Internet. You have to let them know that they’re not running any risk.
You might be able to get away with not doing this if you’re a well known brand like Coca-Cola and they’re about to buy a $5 product. For the rest of us, assuring people they won’t lose any money might be the best route.
This is where your knowledge of your customers comes into play. If you know what goes on in their minds you can address their doubts and fears.
A good example of reversing risk is the ‘money back guarantees’. It reverses the risk of loosing money and looking like a fool.
When it comes to design you can do a lot of things. You can show off your webdesign skills if you want to. There’s one important rule, though. Your design should compliment your message.
You can create a really nice website but if people aren’t going to read your message then it’s all a waste of time.
Don’t get me wrong. I think a nice looking site is important. After all, first impressions count. It takes people about 0,05 seconds to decide if you like a page or not. A well designed website will definitely help create a good first impression.
Take a website like Iutopi for example. It’s an absolutely stunning website. It uses parallax scrolling to create a unique experience for the user. The problem is that I’m spending more time looking at the background than looking at what they’re saying.
Quick disclaimer: I don’t have access to their analytics, so I can’t say if it converts well or not. It might be working really well for them.
Make it familiar
Use webdesign conventions to make your visitor feel like home even if they visit for the first time.
Quick example: You might think this is a link. It isn’t. It has the same style as real links but you can’t click it. Stuff like that just confuses people.
Put important info above the fold
The fold is an old term that describes the upper half of a newspaper. Papers are often presented folded in half. Newspapers put their biggest scoop above the fold so they can catch people’s attention.
When it comes to webdesign, ‘the fold’ means the part of your website that people see without scrolling. Even though it takes almost no effort to scroll down, people only spend 20% of their time below the fold.
That means you have to put all the important stuff at the top of your page.
Color is an interesting thing. It can alter our perception of something and it can help us guide the visitor to what we want him to do.
I could go into the whole ‘psychology of color’ thing but that would make this article twice as long. If you want to learn about that, here’s a good article.
When it comes to conversion, the only impact a color has is that it can change the visual hierarchy of a page. For example: it can make the call to action stand out which could lead to a better conversion rate.
As I said before, landing page optimization is a numbers game. There’s not one landing page that will outsell the others. In order to get the best results you’ll have to test different elements of your page.
Why test landing pages?
Frankly, if you’re not optimizing your landing page you are leaving money on the table. That might sound incredibly greedy but money is a tool that helps you grow your business.
An extra $5000 could help you improve your business which in turn helps your customers.
When to test:
If you’re not getting a steady stream of traffic then testing is a waste of time. You can test all you want but if the tests are not statistically significant then they don’t matter. It’s distracting you from what’s really important: getting customers.
If you have a website but you’re not getting any visitors I suggest you skip this part for now and focus on further developing your business.If you are getting enough visitors you can start testing. If you don’t know how many visitors you have you’ll need to install analytics software to measure it. Check out the tools section for that.
What to test:
There are a couple of elements that have priority when you are optimizing your landing page. If it’s not converting and you are wondering why, don’t start testing the bottom of the page. Try testing the headline, the benefits, the hero shot and the CTA first( The headline being the most important).
Remember: the headline’s job is to get your copy read. If it fails, people go away. So test it and test it well.
How to test:
There are tools out there that allow you to do A/B tests. With this kind of testing you create two different versions of your landing page and you let them compete against each other. One group of people gets to see version A, another gets to see version B. You get to see which one performs better.
However, If you’re doing a simple A/B test it’s important to test one thing at a time. You want to know what change improved your conversion rate.If you have a lot of visitors you might consider multivariate testing. This is where you test multiple versions of elements to see which one wins.
Although this is faster than a simple A/B test, it requires much more traffic to produce statistically viable results.
Here’s a (long) video that shows some interesting case studies and tips.
If you want to know more about landing page optimization(LPO), check out this guide
Speed might not seem that important. However, it can cost you money. In Amazon’s case, a 100ms(!) delay results in a 1% decrease in revenue. A 500ms delay in displaying the search results reduces Google’s revenue about 20% . (source)
Most of us don’t have a website as big as Amazon or Google. Still, the message is clear. When people have to wait, we lose money. The longer people have to wait the higher the dropoff rate.
You can use a tool like pingdom to find out how fast your website loads. Just enter your website and hit test. Google Pagespeed insights will give you a great overview of what can be done to increase website speed.
Don’t worry, if you’re using WordPress there are a few tricks and plugins that make the process pretty easy. Here’s a great video by Sean Donahoe that shows how to speed up WordPress. I’ll put a link to the plugins in the recourse section
Phew, that took a while to write down. If this guide seems a little overwhelming just focus on the following stuff:
- Make your message as clear as possible
- Focus on one single message
- Build your page around your message
- If you have enough traffic, start testing
Don’t worry about all the technical stuff either. You can use any of the landing page builders that I linked to in the resource section.
I hope this gets you on your way to building a high converting landing page.
What’s your best landing page tip?