Landing page conversions are critical to both paid and organic search strategies.
But what do you do when your landing pages aren’t converting?
Depending on how you create, integrate, and monitor and adjust these “landing pages” in the context of your overall marketing strategies, you could stand to earn far more sales—and revenue for your business.
This guide will introduce you to the concept of landing page optimization, also optimizing landing pages or landing page elements effectively, and best practices for securing long-term gains for your investment.
Table of Contents
What is a “landing page”?
First, let’s define exactly what a “landing page” is. There are a variety of forms here, but the basic concept is simple. A landing page is a specifically dedicated page of your website tied to some means of attracting customers, landing page website visitors from various channels, such as social media or paid advertising, will “land” on these pages after clicking a link, and be presented with an opportunity to engage. Usually, these engagements are tied to some kind of value, making the focal point of the landing page a conversion rate optimization opportunity. Usually, these pages are left off the main navigation, as they serve a niche function and may not be relevant for your standard target audience.
For example, you could create a perfect landing page for your social media/target audience, advertising an eBook you’ve recently written. You could use this eBook as an incentive for new email newsletter subscribers, funneling your followers to the form contained in your landing page and securing a number of successful conversions.
Landing page optimization offer a number of advantages, which I’ll get into in the next main section, but first, let’s take a look at exactly why landing pages are one of the best landing page optimization tools you have to increase your bottom-line revenue.
Revenue and conversions
The goal here is to optimize your landing pages for local SEO to gain more conversions, but the type of conversions you seek is up to you. Your conversion could be tied to a direct means of achieving revenue—such as selling a specific product—or an indirect means—such as acquiring more signups for your email newsletter. Either way, your goal is to get users to interact with your page on some level, which will ultimately drive more revenue to your business.
How can landing page optimization do this?
Key Advantages of Landing Pages
Best Landing pages give your campaign a number of distinct advantages, most of which revolve around the customizability of the strategy. You can create a number of different landing pages, running simultaneously or one at a time, for any and all inbound marketing campaigns you have in operation, and keep them separate from the rest of your website at the same time. In this section, we’ll explore these individual advantages, and some key opportunities for development.
Better audience targeting
First off, landing page optimization give you an enhanced ability for your target audience. Let’s say you have two demographic segments: you appeal to single, young adults as well as parents of young children. These are two distinct demographics, and you’ll likely use two different online marketing methods to target audience/ them (such as newer social media platforms for young adults and paid advertising for parents). If you funnel them both to the same website, you’ll have to speak in generic terms, which could lower your relevance and overall engagement, but landing page search engine optimization / (Landing page SEO) give you the ability to segment your audience according to their demographic makeup.
This is perfectly illustrated by the pizza-related landing page optimization below. Look how one variant targets family specifically, while the other targets single eaters.
(Image Source: WishPond)
Using & landing page optimization can also help you get better data from your audience, in a number of different ways. First, you’re isolating your customers’ behavior to only one page; rather than tracking the complicated paths your users take throughout your website to convert, the process is a simple yes/no opportunity. Second, when you have multiple optimize landing pages running at the same time, it’s easy to compare your data apples-to-apples. Take a look at this chart as an example:
(Image Source: Hubspot)
Finally, you have a better ability to track your performance over time, which is vital as you make adjustments to your online marketing page (and your landing page as well—more on that in the next section).
Just keep in mind that in order to reap the analytics benefits of a landing page, you need to be actively tracking and measuring this data. The simple installation of a Google Analytics script is likely enough to get you the information you need here, but double check your tracking proactively to make sure everything’s in order before your campaign goes live.
AB tests and experimentation
Due to their flexible nature and similar structure, you can easily use landing pages as AB tests and as platforms for experimentation. On a surface level, this makes it easier to analyze and improve your landing page optimization over time. For example, if you aren’t sure what type of layout to offer, you can set up two almost-identical landing pages with differences in layout, run them simultaneously for the same audience, and objectively determine which one is better. And since landing pages are relatively easy to create, you don’t even have to limit yourself to AB tests—you can do ABC or ABCDE if you have the resources for it.
(Image Source: Hubspot/ComScore)
Experimentation here will maximize your landing pages’ potential profitability, so use it often as a means of self-improvement. It’s hard to say exactly what factors will encourage & increase conversions, so tweak everything to see what works and what doesn’t.
You don’t have to use landing pages only for destinations in your long-term inbound marketing campaigns. In fact, they have a distinct advantage when used as measures for short-term stints, such as temporary promotions or seasonal items.
For example, let’s say you’re featuring a sale on one of your top items, or that you have a new product you’re coming out with. You can use a perfect landing page experience to build specific hype around your promotion without deviating from your standard web page/website strategy.
One of the greatest advantages of landing page optimization or landing page elements optimization is their ability to be optimized for search & lead capture landing pages. Even though they main not appear in your main navigation, or be straightforwardly accessible to users on your site, they still have the URL structures, titles, descriptions, and on-page content that any page can use to rank for a Google/search engines search:
What’s the advantage here, when you could just create a specific page of your website to do the job? The big opportunity is to target niche keywords you may not otherwise include throughout your site. It allows you to cater to specific topics and specific audiences without interfering with the rest of your strategy. Of course, you’ll still need link building for SEO if you want your landing pages to rank.
For a more detailed discussion on SEO link building, please visit our beginner’s guide to link building.
Best Practices for Landing Pages
Now you know exactly how and why landing page optimization are valuable, so let’s turn our attention to making the most of each landing page experience. Landing page optimization tips: It’s not enough to simply create a page, tie it to an inbound campaign, and hope for the best. There are a series of best practices you’ll have to follow, in concept, design, content, and execution, if you want to earn the greatest amount of revenue from the tactic.
The bottom line for any dedicated landing pages/sales landing pages is the number of conversions it can generate. Naturally, you’ll want yours to earn as many landing page conversion rate as possible. For that, you’ll need your landing page/landing page elements optimization to encourage more & increase conversions, regardless of what “type” of conversion you’re offering (Landing page optimization tips).
- Overall focus. Think of your landing page as a machine to generate conversions. That is your focus. If you keep everything on your landing page focused on achieving more conversions, you’ll maximize your conversion rate. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting distracted with things like promoting your company image or leading users to other sections of your site. Your design, layout, and copy should all “funnel” the user to fill out your form (or complete a purchase), with no opportunities for that focus to be lost. These are concise, singularly functional pages, so don’t let yourself get carried away with chasing secondary goals.
- Prominent call-to-action. You’ll also need a prominent and final “call-to-action” on your landing page. Even though your headlines and copy should make it clear that you want your users to convert, your CTA (usually a button) will be the final threshold a user has to cross before passing revenue to your business. Make it prominent with contrasting coloration, a strong, compelling phrase, and a bit of explanatory text as well. CrazyEgg demonstrates this well:
(Image Source: Wordstream/CrazyEgg)
A valuable offer
Conversion opportunities can be lumped into two main groups: product purchases and user signups. In both groups, you’ll have to prove the value of your offer before a user will be persuaded to convert. In the case of product purchases, this means you have to show off the value of your product with bullet points, advantages, and possibly reviews and case studies. Make your user see the true value of your product. For user signups, don’t take user personal information for granted—there’s a value to this, and you’ll have to provide a value in return if you want to receive it. There are several ways you can do this:
- Free trials. You could offer a free trial of your service, especially if you’re a SaaS company promoting your content. This will entice users to part with their personal information and will give you an easy opportunity to sell them on your full services down the road.
- Free content. This is an extremely popular way to earn new user signups. Here, you’ll create a landmark piece of content, such as an eBook, a template, a toolkit, or even a lesson series, and offer it as an exchange for users’ personal data. Hubspot uses this on a rotating basis:
(Image Source: Hubspot)
- Newsletter subscription. You could use your email newsletter as the “value” in question—as long as you can succinctly prove that the content, you’re distributing is actually valuable.
- Discounts. Finally, you can give users discounts or promotions (on your products or an unaffiliated brand’s) in exchange for their information.
Concise headlines and copy
The content of your landing page is going to make a big difference in how users interact with it. First, make sure your headlines and body copy are concise—now isn’t the time for long paragraphs of highly detailed content.
Provide a link building opportunity to your main site for users who want to learn more about you but keep your targeted landing page material as short and sweet as possible. Remember, your goal is to get a conversion. Nothing more, nothing less. (Landing page optimization tips)
You’ll want your headlines to be compelling and exciting, so show off your brand personality and use strong, urgent language to motivate your users to take action. Use your body copy to sell your offer (bullet points work great here) and of course, be sure to craft a powerful few-words-long phrase to use as your final CTA. This is one of the hardest areas to nail, so don’t be afraid if you don’t have it perfect in round one—there are plenty of ways to experiment with your headlines and copy as you continue your strategy.
Aesthetically appealing design
“Aesthetically appealing” is one of the most vague and subjective phrases I can think of to describe the layout and visual appeal of a landing page, but it’s appropriate because of how many directions you can take here.
There’s a basic “formulaic” kind of layout you can use to get started. This usually has your form featured prominently, with your logo, headlines, body copy, and peripheral material (like images and/or video) stacked against each other. This is good to get started with, but you’ll also want to customize your approach—you don’t want your targeted landing pages to look like every other page out there.
(Image Source: Unbounce)
The key features here are keeping all your content “above the fold” (a term that means less and less as mobile marketing becomes more significant), using colors and fonts to emphasize key areas and avoid missed material, and organizing your sections as logically as possible. Strive for an “at a glance” style of presentation; remember, your users will be making their decisions rather quickly, so you need to convince them as swiftly as possible.
One other important note about your design; keep it as branded as possible. You’ll want to feature your logo at the top of your landing page, keep the coloration in line with your brand, and of course, leverage the power of your brand voice throughout. Make your brand stand out—even if you don’t convert users, you’ll at least stick in their memory.
Easy, approachable functionality
The functionality of your landing page is also important—if users are forced to jump through hoops, or if they become frustrated in any way by your page, they’ll abandon it without converting. These are just a few of the simple ways you can improve your functionality:
- Don’t force a scroll. All of your most important content, especially your form, should be featured above the fold. If you make users scroll before you start effectively convincing them, you’ll lose deals. Feel free to offer content below the fold, but keep it limited to supplementary material that not everyone’s going to need.
- Reduce your required fields. This is a huge deal—users want to spend as little time on your tasks as possible, so keep your forms limited to only a handful of fields. If all you’re looking for is subscribers or additions to your database, consider asking only for names and email addresses. If you have a particularly valuable offer, you can ask for more.
- Simplify your steps. Users should complete your conversion process in as few steps as possible. If you force them to go through many steps of a checkout, they may bounce before ever completing the process. A one-click checkout isn’t always possible, but it’s something to strive for.
- Improve loading times. This is a basic step, but one that shouldn’t be ignored; keep your loading time snappy by reducing your image sizes, limiting your on-page content (images and videos), and eliminating any unnecessary code or meta data from your back end.
Before users will convert, they have to have some level of trust in your brand. Since most of these users will be unfamiliar with your brand when they sign up, this can be difficult to pull off—you need to call upon the value of trust factors to get the job done:
- Customer reviews and testimonials. Include a handful of customer reviews and testimonials. For some brands, this will mean going all-out with personalized video reviews. For others, it will mean showing off an aggregated star rating. Either way, social proof can go a long way in securing the trust of your newest website visitors.
- Publisher and partner affiliations. If you have partnerships, publishers, or affiliations that will seem valuable to your users, show them off! They take up very little space, and make a big impression with your users. Take a look at how SEO.co uses them:
(Image Source: SEO.co)
- Trust badges. Trust badges are like publisher affiliations, but are usually associated with institutions like the BBB, PayPal, or other places that offer formal certifications for various business elements.
- Guarantees and trials. You can also secure trust by making the transaction more secure; for example, you can offer a money-back guarantee, or promise a free trial before having to start. Even a simple statement of “it’s free!” can increase your conversion rate:
(Image Source: Unbounce)
- Alternate contact information. Give people more options to reach you, such as with a phone number or a live chat window. Most people won’t take you up on this information, but they’ll feel like you’re more “real” if you offer it, and they’ll grow to trust you more.
Finally, you’ll want to optimize your money page for search engines. I’m only going to touch on the basics here, since I’ve delved into topics of on page search engine optimization and off-site optimization previously:
- Onsite factors. Make sure your landing page has a title and description appropriate to its purpose, and relevant to potential searchers. You’ll also want to make sure your URL is concise, descriptive, and features as few numbers and non-alphanumeric characters as possible. You should have at least a few hundred words of content on your page, and all your images and videos should be optimized to be crawled by search engines. If your landing page is relevant to the rest of your onsite content, you can even work on interlinking it.
- Offsite factors. Most of your offsite optimization will revolve around the quantity and quality of links pointing to your landing page. Strategically target publishers to maximize your relevance to your target audience and diversify your portfolio by including a number of different backlink sources. This will increase your page authority, which in turn will increase your proclivity to rank for relevant queries—just make sure your links are valuable and relevant, which can be hard to pull off if your landing page is focused strictly on sales.
Integrating Your Landing Pages
Most of the best practices I’ve covered thus far have related to the layout and structure of a single landing page, existing in a vacuum. Once a user gets to your landing page, these tactics will help you tremendously. But what about the path they take to your landing page, and what about how they relate to the strategies driving customers to them in the first place?
For these considerations, you’ll also have to learn to integrate your landing pages effectively.
Match the medium
When structuring your landing page and drawing up headline copy, keep your chosen medium in mind. For example, let’s say you’re tying one of your landing pages to a segment of your social media audience. In this case, you can assume that most of your users will be on mobile devices, they’ll be looking for fast transactions, and they’re probably plugged into current events. Contrast this with a traffic source like referral traffic from a major source of information—these users will likely be in the middle of a major decision and will have more time to consider their next actions carefully.
Of course, it’s possible to send multiple traffic streams to a single landing page, especially if your target audience/demographics have multiple means of communication and interaction. This is a general consideration and should be treated with a degree of flexibility.
Match the message
You’re also going to want to match the message of your lead-in closely. For paid advertising campaigns, your landing page form or content should closely match the headline and copy you used in your ad. For other campaigns, you likely used a headline or short sentence to draw people in. Whatever the case, you need to keep a degree of consistency, or else your users are going to feel alienated and jarred when they start navigating your page.
VistaPrint has a great example of message-matching done right. Take a look at the process here—a search for “cheap business cards” leads to this prominent advertisement, which promises 500 cards for $9.99. Click on the link and you’ll be met with the basic headline “standard business cards,” which matches the query and the ad, along with a price and quantity offer that exactly meets the expectations the ad set up.
(Image Source: VistaPrint)
There are no surprises and no sudden changes here.
Compare and contrast
Finally, I highly encourage you to launch more than one landing page, even if it’s only two variations of the same idea. Just as conducting a survey with one person doesn’t give you nearly as much information as conducting the same survey with many people, the more landing pages you have to look at in similar live environments, the better. Compare and contrast your approaches, keeping objectively measurable data at the center of your interpretations.
As you continue to run your landing pages in the context of your marketing campaign, there are a few ongoing best practices to keep in mind:
- Measure everything you can. This is crucial. If you want to glean the most powerful insights from your audience, you need to measure everything you can—that means the basic information like traffic volume and conversion rates, but also lesser information like heat maps of user interaction. You won’t have to look at every piece of data you gather, but you need to gather it in case you want it later; much of your conclusions will be based on historical and comparative findings, so it’s definitely better to have too much information and not use it than to lose data you wish you had.
- Experiment and refine your approach. Landing pages are not a strategy meant for one-time creation and execution. They are an organic strategy, evolving over time, and only over several rounds of changes will they start to improve in meaningful ways. Furthermore, you can’t rely on your conceptual or hypothetical assumptions to hold true; challenge yourself by changing your landing pages in unique and speculative ways. You are an experimenter, and only through trial and error will you learn, for sure, which tactics are effective and which ones aren’t.
- Don’t manage more than you can handle. In an earlier section, I mentioned that having more landing pages was better; this is true in terms of the amount of data you’re able to gather, but at the same time, don’t try to manage more than you can handle simultaneously. Each of your landing pages requires attention, maintenance, and adjustment to earn growth, so the more you add to your plate, the fewer time and resources you can spend on each one. Keep your list consolidated to a group you can actively manage, and during the beginning of your campaign, limit your focus to only a few.
- Hedge your bets. Invest in a number of different areas if you want to see the biggest return for your money; this means using landing pages for a number of separate marketing channels as well as using strongly differentiated designs and content to appeal to your audiences. If you have a major traffic stream (i.e., thousands of monthly website visitors), don’t risk them all on one untested landing page; segment your traffic to “hedge your bets” and balance out the winners and losers.
- Drop what doesn’t work. When you spend hours of time concepting and creating a landing page, you don’t exactly like to admit that it isn’t getting the job done. But like it or not, some of your landing pages, in part or in full, simply aren’t going to work. When you realize this, drop the dead weight immediately. It isn’t going to bring any additional value to you.
Marketers everywhere are increasing their online marketing budgets, and you should be doing the same. Landing pages are a cost-efficient way to make almost any marketing strategy you currently follow more effective, and they don’t take much work or experience to get started. In fact, if you’re currently using a template-based site or a convenient CMS like WordPress or Drupal, you can start creating your own landing pages immediately. They don’t have to be fancy at first—so long as they follow the best practices I’ve outlined in detail above. Instead, the true power in landing pages comes with your ongoing adjustment and refinement.
The sooner you get started with your landing page strategy, the more you’ll stand to earn in long-term revenue, so begin your strategy now—even if your pages aren’t perfect, to have tons of landing page visitors.