Landing pages are an essential part of Inbound strategies. Without them, our communication lacks both context and clarity for potential customers.
The good news is that optimized (read: effective) landing pages are within reach regardless of your budget, reach or time constraints. You need 7 critical components, and I've got examples of how to rock them here.
1) Hidden Site Navigation
I'm not a huge fan of the phrase "Keep It Simple, Stupid" because frankly, nobody gets away with calling me stupid.
Nonetheless, this cliché accurately describes the frame of mind we should adopt when designing landing pages.
A user shouldn't have several different actionable choices on a landing page, their attention should be focused entirely on the offer at hand. Thus, removing extra site navigation is key to driving the conversion.
KISSmetrics demonstrates this practice flawlessly.
In the image of their blog below, I count no less than 12 Calls to Action! But when I click through on the SaaS Marketing Bundle CTA, I'm taken to a clean page with only one option: to provide my information and get the free marketing bundle.
This simplicity and focus on one intended action leaves little question in the mind of the page visitor, and has been proven to increase conversions by up to 105% (Source: Visual Website Optimizer)
2) Attention Grabbing Headline
You only get one chance at a first impression, and the headline on your landing page is a major component of that first glance. To keep prospects interested, you absolutely must craft a headline that effectively grabs your visitor's attention and simultaneously explains the offer.
As Unbounce puts it, "If a visitor to your landing page can't figure out what you're offering during the first 5 seconds, you've probably lost them. There's simply too much to do online these days."
Speaking of Unbounce, they created a great Ebook in partnership with HubSpot on the subject of landing page optimization.
It comes as no surprise that the landing page for said offer features a great headline which defines the offer ("Free Ebook") but also solicits intrigue ("Conversion Centered Design: Essential Elements of High Converting Landing Pages")
3) Concise, Persona Focused Copy
Basic principle: the more relevant something is to our life and context, the more intrigued we are by it. This idea should really be tied in to all aspects of your landing page (from images to layout) but is most important in your copy.
The story your landing page tells doesn't have to be an epic tale, it just has to be relevant to the intended audience. You've already created an offer that is meant to help them, now your task is to briefly explain how in your page copy.
In order to accomplish this, you'll need to have your buyer personas solidified in advance. This includes everything from professional pain points to demographic information, which can all be spoken to on your landing page.
Bullet points are a great way to hone in on key aspects of your offer and make information easier for users to digest.
Notice how the bullet points on the landing page below speak not only to what the checklist offers, but how it will positively impact the readers life by reducing stress and ensuring accuracy.
4) Relevant Graphic
Images play a huge role in the way we digest information, and landing pages are no exception.
This applies not only to visualizing your offer (Ebook cover image, checklist graphic, etc) but also to the entire aesthetic appeal of your page.
I love this example from SalesForce, because they've done a great job visualizing an otherwise dry concept. I mean, how exciting can a software trial really be?
Apparently pretty exciting, because just look at how friendly Karen and Dennis look! I can already tell they're going to get me.
Seriously though, this personal touch is an awesome way to humanize what might seem like a "boring" offer.
5) Simple Form
The less you ask on your form, the better chance you have of a visitor actually filling it out. If your form includes 10 fields and all of them are mandatory, you're playing a risky game and are likely scaring away many potential leads.
Ask only for the information you need to qualify leads at each stage of the funnel, and only make fields mandatory if they are truly essential.
The form below, for a free webinar, is pretty overwhelming in the amount of non-negotiable information it's requiring:
6) Social Proof
The theory of social proof dictates that the more we see other people taking an action, the more inclined we are to do the same.
Effective landing pages leverage this opportunity and utilize testimonials, references to social recommendations, and various other forms of group persuasion to drive conversions.
SproutSocial does this with testimonials from happy users associated with recognizable brands.
If you have these types of recommendations, absolutely include them on landing pages. If not, at the very least incorporate social buttons which allow users to see how many times your offer has been shared, and to share it themselves with their social networks.
7) The Next Step
Where do users go after converting on your landing page?
If you're a smart marketer, you're sending them to a thank you page. Not only does a thank you page demonstrate your appreciation for their interest, it presents an entire second opportunity to drive additional conversions.
Thank you pages can prompt users to download another offer, to engage with you on social networks, and even to subscribe to your email list. Needless to say, all of these actions are incredibly valuable, and they're not out of reach when you've already established a relationship through the initial conversion.
HubSpot does a great job personalizing the message and inviting additional action on their thank you pages:
And that's all, folks!
Master these seven critical components, and you'll be creating optimized landing pages that naturally and effectively convert visitors into leads and customers. And don't forget to let me know how it goes in the comments below!