The web entrepreneur’s guide to creating and using landing pages

Kyle’s Note: A well designed landing page mixed with relevant traffic can send your conversion rate through the roof. This guest post by Ross gives a very detailed analysis of the critical elements of a landing page. Now over to Ross

 

I use landing pages with everything I do as a web entrepreneur via @wpcurve – CLICK TO TWEET

Landing pages are an important component of any web entrepreneur’s marketing tool kit. Over the last decade we’ve seen landing pages go from being virtually unused to a mainstream essential in today’s marketing world.

A landing page in its simplest terms is any webpage that a visitor can arrive at or ‘land’ on. There are a number of reasons why landing pages are popular and why they work.

Personally, I use landing pages with everything I do as a web entrepreneur. I rely on tools like Unbounce to help me capture leads, collect contact information and convert leads into sales opportunities.

Why are landing pages important?

  • They help us focus on one goal or objective.
  • They help us improve conversions.
  • They help us create better experiences for website visitors.

What makes an effective landing page?

I’ve come up with a list of 12 core elements that are needed to make a great landing page. Let’s start the breakdown of these elements by looking at this landing page from Unbounce:

This type of landing page is the one you will see most often. Its purpose is to capture contact details for visitors who want to download or access something on the website – in this case, the recording of a webinar on conversion mythbusting.

1. Design and structure

Your visitors are arriving to your landing page from another page, search engine or online advertisement. You want them to take one specific action when they get there. This is why it should be designed with simplicity in mind – you don’t want to confuse the visitor.

Let’s look at Unbounce’s landing page design and layout.

There are three things that make this design effective:

  • What and why (headers): It has bold, clear heading that grabs your attention.  You know immediately what this page is about and what action you might want to take. The sub-header provides more information and credibility.
  • Benefits (more information): Here Unbounce explains what you’ll learn from the webinar and includes details about the presenter.
  • Form (capture contact details): A great form only asks for necessary information. In this case, they only ask for name, email and one qualification question. They didn’t ask for a phone number because – let’s face it – it’s a webinar. Why would they need it?

2. One goal or objective

Landing pages must have only one goal or main objective. This is because you will be directing visitors to this page from other areas of your website or marketing campaigns with the promise of one thing (e.g. an eBook, webinar, newsletter update, etc.). You’ve already done the hard part by getting the visitor to click on the link and visit the page. Why shoot yourself in the foot and not make it clear and easy for them to convert?

The one goal that Unbounce has in their landing page is to get visitors to watch the webinar and fill in their contact information.

As you can see in the screenshot, the goal is clearly communicated throughout the page, from the header through to the information and form.

3. Targeted to a specific customer profile

Effective landing pages are designed to target a specific customer profile.  They need to appeal to your target market, appealing to their specific needs and challenges. If you want to target more than one customer profile, create a separate landing page. Why? Because if you try and target too many people, the messaging will become less effective because it won’t be as relevant for anyone.

Let’s break down what’s effective about Unbounce’s landing page:

  • Clear customer profile: The first sentence clearly mentions digital marketers. Straight away, you know if this information is relevant to you.
  • Uses terms relevant to customer profile: As you continue to read through the information, they use specific terms that are relevant to their market. Keywords like conversion rate optimization and testing quickly qualifies the visitor as to whether they will find the information useful. This is important because you need to hit key points to convince visitors to fill out the form. Appeal to your customers’ needs and challenges and offer a solution.

4. Message match

Message match refers to matching the message on your landing page with the message in the advertisement that enticed the visitor to come to your page in the first place. For example, with the Unbounce landing page, I came across a banner ad on their blog post that discussed ideas to increase landing page conversions. Here’s the actual banner ad I clicked on:

If you check out the blog post, you’ll see that their landing page is closely related to the topic in the blog post:

Pretty straight forward, right? This is an important rule you need to follow. The ads, banners and links that point towards your landing page must match what your landing page says – and vice versa.

5. Copywriting

The copy on your landing page needs to talk to your customer and show why they should take the action you want them to take (e.g. watch a webinar). Good copy is written concisely and should include a few short paragraphs and some dot points.

Dot points work really well with landing pages because they force you to be concise. Use dot points when breaking down exactly what the visitor will get from filling out the form. For example, the Unbounce landing page breaks down what you’ll learn from watching the webinar.

Here are the key points that make this landing page copy effective:

  • Use dot points: In four quick points, you know exactly what the webinar will discuss and why you should consider watching.
  • Presenter/author profile: Unbounce lists the speaker’s credentials and experience, which helps to build credibility.
  • Show testimonials: Unbounce lists some comments from other past visitors that have watched webinars, which adds to credibility and establishes trust.

6. Photos and videos

Content-enhancing photos and videos work well with certain types of landing pages. In fact, a study by eyeviewdigital.com shows that using video on landing pages can increase conversions by 80%.

They work well because, as humans, we interpret them more effectively than text. We are all time-poor and like viewing photos and watching videos. The key is to make sure the photos and videos you use complement and are beneficial to your landing page.

In the Unbounce example, they don’t use images or videos because, for simple landing pages like that one, they really aren’t needed. A couple of photos of the presenter and past customers are enough to build trust.

Related: Unbounce’s blog post on the benefits of using video on landing pages

7. Call to action

A call to action is the one specific action you want visitors to take when they get to your landing page. Do you want them to fill out a form? Click on a button? Purchase a product?

This one action should be tightly linked with the goal of your landing page and the message match. Visitors should know very quickly what you want them to do. The header, sub-header and additional information should all lead to the one call to action.

In the Unbounce example, the call to action is very clear– they want you to fill out the form and watch the webinar.

Here’s what makes their call to action effective:

  • Easy to understand: All the copy is consistent and is working towards the clearly identified call to action.
  • Visually stands out: Your call to action button needs to be easily identifiable. There have been many studies on what colors work best, but there should be contrast from the other text and images. Try to use buttons and colors that grab the viewer’s attention.

8. Integration with email marketing or CRM

So where does all the contact information go once a visitor has submitted the call to action and converted into a lead? Integration with an email marketing tool or customer relationship management (CRM) tool is important to ensure that you can provide the lead with more information and manage the relationship (e.g. send contact details to sales team). The end goal with landing pages is to get visitors, leads and customers to take specific actions that indicate interest. You need a tool to track the details and interest levels and provide them with the right amount of follow up – whether that is an email, phone call or taking no further action.

In this example, Unbounce integrates their landing page with Mailchimp. Here’s the email I received within five minutes of submitting my information:

I also expect to be added to their CRM and receive an email that provides more product information or a call from a sales person.

This is great example of what you need to be doing. Introduce yourself via email; tell them that you’ll be sending more information in the near future. This is what we call lead nurturing.

9. Responsive and accessible across all devices

Over 50% of visitors access websites from mobile devices. Gone are the days of only thinking about the desktop user – your landing pages need to be responsive and usable on mobile!

You also need to make sure you’ve created one cohesive experience with desktop and mobile access. Visitors will be accessing your page from desktops, mobile and tablets at work, on the bus and from many other locations. They’ll be sharing it with colleagues via email. Do you really want to risk not delivering a mobile-optimized landing page to a visitor?

The Unbounce landing page is responsive:

This is great because I can bookmark the page at work, then revisit it later while on the bus and get the exact same experience. Furthermore, if I receive this landing page via email from a trusted colleague, I can open it up via my mobile and receive a great experience.

Kyle’s comment: The Unbounce page shows a different version on mobiles but it’s not fully responsive. If you check it out in landscape mode on a tablet for example, it cuts off. I think Lead Pages are doing a better job at responsive landing pages right now. 

10.Measurable – A/B testing

A/B testing is the process of comparing two variations of a landing page to see which one performs better than the other. The process must take into consideration a reasonable data size and – when done correctly – will provide great insight that can help you improve your pages, messaging and conversions.

It’s hard to tell if Unbounce is using A/B testing on this example simply because we can’t see it from their side. But, knowing them, I’m sure they are testing some core areas.

Here’s what I’d suggest you A/B test:

  • Header and subheader
  • Form copy – button and number of fields
  • Main content information
  • Images/video/colors
  • Layouts

When using A/B testing, remember to only test one variation at a time so you know exactly what worked and what didn’t work. If you make several changes, then you’ll be clueless as to what caused the improvement or decline. For example, if you tested two completely different headers, images, forms and colors, how would you know what worked?

The goal with A/B testing is to learn from the insights provided by the data and make small improvements. Even 1%, 2% and 5% improvements all add up over a period of time.

Related: What is A/B testing

11. Quality of the traffic

Who’s visiting your landing pages? The quality of the traffic that you send to your pages will greatly affect the performance. No referral source should be treated equally.

Compare someone visiting your landing from a link inside your blog post to someone that clicked on a link via a Facebook or Stumble Upon ad – these audiences are totally different. The blog post visitor has already been in contact with your brand and has a level of trust established. They also likely had a very good message match, so they’ll know what to expect when they hit your page.

Compare that to someone who clicked one of your Facebook ads that might have been targeting a broad range of people. They don’t know who you are, they don’t trust you and they probably don’t know what to expect when they hit your page if your ad was small and vague. This type of visitor isn’t as qualified, meaning they simply will not convert as often as the visitor from your blog post.

In these scenarios, you need to be careful with your traffic – you may want to consider different landing pages for each referral source.

12. Thank you page

A good thank you page provides the visitor with the information they requested via the landing page. In the Unbounce example, I filled out the form because I wanted to watch the webinar. Unbounce needs to send me to a thank you page that displays the webinar.

The one thing you can’t do is send visitors to a page that doesn’t meet expectations in respect to the call to action.

Let’s look at Unbounce’s thank you page:

Here’s what makes this thank you page effective:

  • It’s simple in that it only provides relevant information and displays the webinar recording.
  • As a visitor, I can watch the webinar and get the information that was promised to me on the landing page.

Tools to create landing pages

You have a wide range of landing page tools to choose from.

Unbounce (unbounce.com)

Well, if you hadn’t guessed it already, I’m a big Unbounce fan. I not only love the way they build their own landing pages and their content, but I love their landing page tool.

I consider Unbounce the pioneer that brought landing pages to marketers and helped push it into the mainstream marketer’s toolkit. The tool is perfect for marketers that want to create landing pages without help from or reliance upon their IT team.

As marketers, we all love to move fast, test and move fast again. That’s why I love Unbounce – I have full control of the pages that compliment all my marketing campaigns. I don’t have to wait for IT to make one simple change to the headline. I do it instantly and can test variations.

That’s the next reason I love Unbounce. The tool offers a robust A/B testing feature. You can create multiple variations of your pages and it will automatically track all conversion rates and give you a transparent look at which is performing best.

Finally, I love the integration ability Unbounce provides. You can integrate with all your favorite email marketing tools (like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor), CRMs (like Salesforce and Zoho) and marketing automation tools (like Infusionsoft, Marketo and Hubspot). All these are easy to set up without the help of IT.

Unbounce makes landing pages easy and simple. It saves you time in all areas of usage – from design, setting up, testing and integration.

Convertpress (convertpress.com)

Convertpress is a landing page tool for WordPress that was developed by WP Curve founders Dan Norris and Alex McClafferty. It can help you create simple landing pages all from within WordPress. Here are three reasons why you should consider Convertpress:

  • Works well inside an existing WordPress site. I use this on my blog sites that run WordPress.
  • Matches your existing style sheet to ensure consistency with your fonts, colors and other style elements.
  • Use your existing domain. Instead of using a subdomain like go.mydomain.com, you can host your landing pages from your existing website domain.

Kyle’s Note: Convertpress is great for simple landing pages and in-post opt ins, for more complex pages we generally recommend Lead Pages or Optimize Press.

For more tools that are specific to wordpress landing pages check out Creating Beautiful and Effective Landing Pages With WordPress by Melissa Hill.

Both Ross and Melissa talk about the importance of A/B testing in landing pages, but testing can be helpful in any part of your website with high traffic. Here are some standalone A/B testing tools:

Use landing pages in all your marketing

Landing pages are an essential component of every web entrepreneurs marketing tool kit. When used effectively, they will help you attract more leads and convert more leads into customers. Landing pages work because they help your visitors, prospects and customers to take actions that you want them to take. I use them regularly to convert visitors into newsletter subscribers, leads into qualified sales opportunities and opportunities into customers.

Use the advice I’ve provided here so you can do the same. Getting stuck on anything I’ve talked about? Ask your questions in the comments below – I’ll be happy to help you overcome your challenges.

Interested to learn more? I recommend these articles:

About

Ross Beard is a marketing specialist. He helps companies with their content, SEO and PPC. Connect with him on Twitter @RossBeard.

6 responses to “The web entrepreneur’s guide to creating and using landing pages”

  1. kimseasok says:

    Thanks for sharing..! Actually, landing page is really important for affiliate and online selling. Actually, my research found that the most of online buy is return visitors. Therefore, it is great idea to ask them to put the email through of landing page.

  2. Thank you for a brilliant article. I have been going to Unbounce & Leadpages webinars for a while now as well as following Joanna Wiebe at CopyHackers but did not quite get it. This breakdown of an Unbounce landing page to get a visitor to do something specific and keep that visitor on track right through shows the process so clearly. The stones have fallen out of my eyes.

  3. Paul Sabaj says:

    Ya crushed it with the article. great content, Thanks

  4. Ross Beard says:

    Thanks Paul, glad you liked it!

  5. Ross Beard says:

    Happy I could help Nick!

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