How to make your landing page convert more effectively

Web Design
12½ Minutes to Read
Ian Chapman

So much of a company’s marketing focus these days is on driving traffic to their website. They spend thousands of dollars per month with their SEO partners, pay big bucks for Google Adwords, and spend hours on the social media channels connecting with your audience of followers.

But many companies do this only to end up with a few additional paying customers. This often leads them to the (false) conclusion that their marketing efforts are wasted.

Just leading visitors to your website is not enough – you need them to take action once they arrive on your website’s landing page. Don’t let them guess what they should do. Your product or service benefits should be immediately clear and how they can obtain them should be easy to achieve.

You can drive all the traffic in the world to your site, but if your landing page does not convert, then your efforts are wasted.

What makes a good landing page?

There are several elements that must be incorporated when developing a high-converting landing page:

  • A compelling headline
  • An obvious call to action
  • An enticing offer
  • A narrow focus for your marketing message
  • The benefits to the potential customer
  • A beautiful design
  • Social proof for your claims

A compelling headline

Near the top of any good landing page is usually a clear and concise headline that lets readers know instantly what it is you are offering them. This is not the time to get “cute” with a clever slogan. Instead, speak in plain English and clearly communicate what your product or service is about.

Keep the headline relatively shortly (approximately 8 – 10 words at most). Most people have a tendency to be too wordy and lose the interest of their reader before they’ve even finished the sentence. So spend some time on crafting an efficient headline that uses verbiage that is as accurate as possible in describing your company’s offering.

For example, say you are selling printing services for book publishers. Your key benefit to customers might be that you work hand-in-hand with them throughout their publishing project and provide them with several different types of printing options each with a significant cost savings.

In such an example, the initial headline might read something like this: “We are a trusted partner for book publishers who want to minimize waste and maximize their revenue“. The statement is valid, but doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.  Revising it slightly, we might come up with “A trusted partner for book publishers in need of cost-effective publishing options“.

A final tweak to optimize this heading leads us to “Your trusted partner for fiscally efficient publishing solutions“. Those 8 words are very succinct in summarizing the company’s positioning statement. So do spend some time revising the headline as it is one of the most important sentences that you will create for your website.

And once complete, make sure it is presented in a clear visual manner. It should be displayed using an easy to read typeface, in large lettering, and with ample whitespace so as not to fight for attention with other graphic elements on the page.

EXAMPLE: The headline on the Affinity Systems home page clearly explains that they build top-tier enterprise-class software

An obvious call to action

It may be obvious to your company what you want visitors to do when they are on a web page. Whether that by to signup for something, enrol in a course, or even move onto the next page. But to website visitors, the decision to make is not always so clear cut.

Whatever it is that you want visitors to do to move them further along  your conversion funnel, is what you should be asking them to do. Make it clear and make it and enticing and compelling action. Minimize any distractions that will prevent users from reaching this milestone in the conversion process. Having more than one call to action on your page is only going to reduce your chances of them choosing the one action that you want them to take.

Just like Alec Baldwin’s famous speech in the film Glengarry Glen Ross, your landing page should always follow the letters ABCAlways Be Closing. The way to accomplish this is by focusing on your call to action. This means the call to action should:

  • Be displayed in a visually distinct button that is the dominant clickable item on the page
  • Include visual cues to draw the eye (ex: arrows or images of people looking at the button)
  • Towards the top of the page (if your sales copy is lengthy, you may repeat the call to action multiple times further down the page)
EXAMPLE: The call to action on the Coldbox Builders website pages is targeted to the visitor’s interest and provides two clear options

An enticing offer

So now that you’ve got your call to action placed in a highly visible spot on the page, we need to think about why people would want to click on it. The reason why they will click is because you are going to offer them something in return.  Your offer to them can be a whitepaper download, a discount coupon, or a free trial of your product. Whatever it is, it needs to provide some value to the visitor or you will likely not get many of them to take that next step through your conversion funnel. Some examples of compelling offers are:

  • A custom greeting card company might include a 10% off coupon towards a customer’s first order when they signup for their mailing list
  • A consulting agency might offer a free 1-hour consultation, which is a great way for build trust with a prospective client and learn more about their business’ pain points.

For even greater results, try and combine your offer with a deadline to create a sense of urgency, making the visitor feel the need to take that next step right now.

EXAMPLE: This bundle being offered by ANS Performance shows the customer the significant savings that are available

Narrow your focus

Choice is a good thing, right? Not necessarily. While being able to select for a variety of options is usually appreciated, research has shown that too many choices can paralyze a potential purchaser.

So when it comes to your website, the simpler your page layout is, the more likely you’ll be able to get your visitors to take the action you want them to take.

Nowhere is this mistake more prevalent than on a website’s home page. Because your home page is viewed by almost every visitor to your website, every department of your organization wants a piece of the pie. Marketing wants to promote the latest special offer, Accounting needs to highlight the annual report, Human Resources is looking to advertise job opportunities, etc.

While each of those items is important to a department’s specific goals, they are not necessarily the main focus for a first-time visitor to your website. Instead, focus on the main call to action and leave the photos of your in-office pet for a (much buried) sub-page.

To achieve a clean and focused landing page, we suggest that you:

  • Keep your marketing copy brief
  • If requesting information from visitors (via a form), ask for as few details as possible
  • Don’t be afraid to create multiple landing pages to focus on some of your other marketing programs
  • Avoid web design trends that are common, but not necessarily beneficial (ex: rotating banners, live Twitter feeds, etc.)
EXAMPLE: TMR Customs sells hundreds of SKUs on their main website, but setup this landing page specifically for a single speciality product – dimple dies

Highlight customer benefits

When it comes down to it, your potential customers really only want to discover one thing: what is in it for me. It may sound selfish, but that is the reality of how people make purchasing decisions.

All too often, we see websites that are littered with trumped-up copy, statistics, and anecdotes about a company and its history. While it is factual, and sometimes relevant, it doesn’t necessarily speak to the pain points of your web visitors. Sure it’s nice to know your business was founded in 1995 – but it’s better to tell customers how your products have been improving their lives for the last 20 years.

When creating your page’s marketing copy, always write from the point of view of your target audience. Highlight how your product or service will benefit them and resolve the issues that they are facing. By taking this approach, they will realize that you have a deep understanding of their situation. As they say, knowing is half the battle.

EXAMPLE: The product pages on the Alomar Baseball website visually highlight how the design of each item benefits the customer

Presentation is important

While clients are ultimately purchasing your product or service based on benefits, in reality they are often persuaded by packaging. Your website (especially for service-based businesses) counts as part of that “packaging”.

Your customer’s don’t make a distinction between a product and its packaging. They actually treat the product as a combination of the product and its packaging.

In our highly digital world, your company’s website might be what delivers the first impression to potential customers. A design that doesn’t resonate with the general public will usually lead to a loss of trust in the brand. You may offer top-tier service, but if your website looks like it was designed as an afterthought, visitors will take notice.

Keep it clean

Just as your landing page’s headline needs to be clear and concise, your entire entire page should follow this same mantra. Avoid cluttering up the page with unnecessary content and visuals and you will help ensure that your most important information (headline, benefits, and call to action) are easy to read.

Although you’ll need to add some text content to your landing page, you’ll want to avoid “walls of text” that turn readers off. Instead, use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to allow visitors to quickly scan for information that is critical to them.

Keep it quick

When it comes to ranking your website on Google, the search engine has been increasing their emphasis on visitor experience. Websites are no longer ranked just on their content, but rather what their users to with that content. Engaging pages that convert customers will be noticed by Google and are reflected in how well you are ranked for keyword searches.

One of the metrics used by Google to identify a user’s overall experience is how quickly it loads. While much of your website’s load time is determined by technical factors such as hosting performance, your design does also play a critical role. An overabundance of imagery and slow-loading JavaScript can lead to slower page load times, and ultimately, a negative impact on how Google views your website.

EXAMPLE: From top to bottom, the CADmech website uses a very simple and concise design to highlight the key pieces of information that most visitors are looking for

Social Proof

People tend to value the opinions of others – if something is good enough for others, it’s probably good for you too. This “pre-approval” by others causes us to put grater value on the product or service in question. So make sure your landing page lets it be known how much your product or service is loved by others. This can include:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Mentions in the media
  • A list of clients
  • Usage metrics

The difficulty you may face is if your product or service is relatively new and you don’t have a significant group of users to draw from. All you can do is use what you’ve got. But do try to get even a couple of testimonials from anyone that has used your service or bought your product. Perhaps give away some free samples in return for some testimonials or mentions in the media.

For customer testimonials, keep them short and sweet. A lengthy paragraph will not be read, but a quick one-liner will do wonders. Select a specific line from the testimonial that they wrote you and make sure it conveys some real specifies as to how they benefited from your product or service. A quote like “Bob’s Accounting was able to find me an extra $1,200 in tax refunds” is much more effective than something generic like “The service at Bob’s Accounting was excellent”.

EXAMPLE: Social proof on a website can take many forms – Olympia Sports Camp uses video to let their camper’s tell the story

Conclusion

Although there is no magic “one formula fits all”, by taking all the above points into consideration when designing your website’s landing pages, you improve your chance of success dramatically. By putting in the effort and making your words and visuals really speak to your visitors, they will be more likely to be on board with your message and take that next step towards becoming a new customer.

Ready to move forward?

Speak with us and we’ll make things happen on your next web project