There’s little argument these days about the value of landing pages, customized web pages that are designed to be the first thing users see when they come to your site from a particular source.
From pay per click advertising to social media promotions to organic traffic, digital marketers need customized pages that speak to their target audience no matter where that audience came from.
Some landing page design focuses on being unique, while others stay stick to the tried and true formulas that have proven successful.
Whatever their layout and content, there are four things that the best landing pages have in common:
- Singular focus
- Compelling (and limited) copy
- Un-intimidating forms
- Intelligent use of color and images
The Best Landing Pages Are Focused
The goal of a landing page is to entice visitors to take a particular action. To achieve this goal, the best landing pages have a very singular focus; they don’t give visitors a lot of choices about what to do.
One straightforward way to narrow a page’s focus is by removing the upper navigation bar.
On 99% of landing pages, you aren’t trying to route people to any internal pages on your site. You only want them to complete your page’s goal.
Taking off the navigation can seem counter-intuitive. After all, don’t I want to give people the option to explore my website as part of their landing page experience?
The short answer is definitely no.
Landing pages should act like powerful magnets to draw people toward your desired action. Don’t weaken the pull by putting lots of little magnets around the edge.
Notice how much easier it is to identify the goal of the landing page on the left with no navigation than the one on the right:
You know very clearly what you should do next.
The other half of that clarity comes from the beautiful call to action (CTA) on the Manpacks page. The green button, well placed above the fold and adjacent to the persuasive copy, is an enticing and clear request for a click.
Notice how the Whistle page’s CTA blends in with the rest of its navigation, making it harder to determine what action you should take.
Landing pages can ask for a form submission, a trial signup, a phone call, a download, or some other activity, but whatever it is should be abundantly clear to the visitor.
Don’t muddy the waters by putting in options. You want a laser-like focus on your landing pages, all leading to that mighty CTA.
Limit Your Text on Your Landing Page
There is some debate over the exact amount of copy that belongs on the best landing pages, but the type of content that they use is fairly standard.
Simply listing out benefits to your user is easy, but it’s not a very powerful motivator.
Instead, go for more dramatic language. These are some common drivers to decision making that the best landing pages use:
Creating a Sense of Urgency on Your Landing Page
Many of the best landing pages playoff time-sensitivity in their content. This can be as simple as putting a deadline on an offer or limiting the number of subscriptions available.
For copywriters who aren’t quite ready to work the fear angle, urgency can tap into a similar decision-driving power without feeling as manipulative.
Disney does a great job of doing this with their movies, which are constantly moving in and out of the “Vault.” Customers don’t know when their favorite film might go away, so they want to buy it while it’s available.
Whatever you can do to create this same kind of drive in your customers, do it.
The Power of the Few and Scarcity
Closely related to a sense of urgency is the idea of scarcity, which works best for landing pages that are selling physical products.
By setting a limit on the number of products, subscriptions, or offers available on your landing page you can tap into a visitor’s desire to be part of the “in” crowd who gets a limited offer.
Live counters showing the diminishing number of available offers sometimes appear on the best landing pages, which can add the sense of urgency into the already useful feel of scarcity to drive conversions up even higher.
Showing Results in Landing Page Copy
The flip side of scarcity is to provide social proof and/or results that other people have gotten through using your product or service.
If there is any risk associated with completing the action on your landing page, even if that risk is just providing an email address, the best landing pages mitigate that risk with proven results.
Notice how this page uses social proof to show that other people have gotten great results. This makes people feel more confident completing the call to action, and can also provide yet another motivator: being part of a successful group.
Fear-Based Landing Page Copy
You’ll see lots of landing pages that rely on people’s fears to drive actions, and while this tactic is often effective, it’s also not the most pleasant option. If scarcity and social proof can get the job done, stick with those kinds of language whenever possible.
Avoiding fear-based copy will typically make your offer seem more legitimate and give your audience a more positive long-term relationship with your brand.
With that said, here’s how this kind of text works.
When an insurance company changed their headline from “Protect Your Home From Wild Fires; Brush Fire Season is Coming” to “$20 Million Dollar Homes Burned to the Ground,” their leads increased 65%. 1
This kind of landing page text can seem manipulative, but you don’t have to play on fears of losing a home to tap into a fear-driven decision-making process.
Maybe your visitors have a fear of wasting time, and your product will make them more efficient.
Maybe you’re selling a product to improve their health, and fear of illness would drive them to click.
Whatever the story, fear plays a part in many of the best landing pages. (But that doesn’t mean it has to play a part on yours.)
The Best Landing Pages Have Friendly Forms
Whether you’re looking for complete credit card information or simple first name and email fields, your form should look friendly and professional.
Nobody should worry that sending you their information is dangerous in any way.
Friendly forms on the best landing pages:
- Have the smallest number of fields possible. Don’t ask for last name, phone number, and address is all you need is a first name and email.
- Use spacing wisely so the form doesn’t waste landing page real estate.
- Make it clear what will happen to the submitted information. If you’re going to send them an email, let your visitors know that. If they’re opting in to get a free sample in the mail, be clear about its arrival time. Transparency is vital.
If you’re not comfortable coding your own forms, you can get them via WordPress plugins like Gravity Forms, as part of a landing page package from Unbounce, or through a survey software provider like SurveyGizmo.
Consistent Design is Part of All the Best Landing Pages
Whether it’s a completely separate palette or precisely in line with your current branding, the best landing page will be very careful about its color, font, and image selections.
If landing pages rely on your existing brand recognition for success, it’s vital that you include a logo and your brand’s color scheme on the landing page. This will help establish trust with visitors and lower any barriers they may feel to completing your call to action.
If your landing page is for a relatively unknown brand, you should still include a logo and branded colors but you can be a little more creative.
In either case, don’t overdo the color variety or the number of images.
You want the focus to be on your offer and call to action, not on the pretty pictures and fonts. The Manpacks landing page is once again a great example:
The best landing pages strike this delicate balance between appealing pages that are professionally done and a design that doesn’t conflict with their offers.
Learn From the Best Landing Pages, Then Join Them
By critically examining the landing page examples above and others that you encounter in your own internet wanderings, you’ll quickly start to identify what works and what doesn’t.
Then you can take what you’ve learned and apply it to your own landing pages.
This careful review along with some well-designed testing will get you the conversions that you’re after, and add your landing pages to the list of the best.