It would be really easy for me to sit down and start preaching about the basics of designing a great landing page. Yes, you need a great headline, copy text, a Call-To-Action, and all that good stuff.
And yes, you need a great offer to encourage opt-ins, downloads, or whatever else you’re offering to your prospects.
As a matter of fact, I was going to write a blog post about all of that good stuff when I first sat down in front of the computer today.
However, do you have any idea how many articles cover the exact same topic? I did a quick Google search and found 4 excellent resources that cover these basics:
7 Things Every (Great) Landing Page Needs – Neil Patel
What else needs to be said on those topics? In fact, if you don’t know much about landing pages you should stop reading this and read all 4 of those articles immediately – they are invaluable.
You’re still here? Excellent!
I’ll grab a coffee and we can talk about what I’ve learned to truly make the difference on an effective landing page.
Landing Page Key 1: Targeted Traffic
Yes, I’m going to cover something quite basic, but only because it’s not covered in most articles about designing a great landing page.
I don’t care how good you think your landing page is, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve tested the color of your shiny CTA button; the single biggest factor that will affect how your landing page performs is the quality of traffic you’re sending to it.
I can make an extremely boring landing page that looks pedestrian and amateur compared to some of the beautiful pages that are available in the same niche, but if my traffic is better than the competition – I will get a higher conversion rate and my list will be more valuable with higher open rates and longer customer value.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first; What separates good traffic from bad traffic? Two things affect the quality of your traffic: Where it comes from, and what their relationship is to you.
If my landing page is offering a free download of “The 6 Best Tips to Lose 10lbs in 2 Weeks” There’s a couple of places I can get some great traffic:
- Adwords – Yes, Google AdWords. Expensive and feared among most newbies (and a few veterans). We’ve all heard stories of people losing hundreds or thousands of dollars when trying to buy some premium traffic from the world’s biggest search engine. The fact is though, that the quality of traffic from a well designed AdWords campaign can be excellent.
- YouTube – Free video content directed at your target audience is a fantastic way to generate some targeted views. These videos can be optimized to be seen by the right people and filled with value to help establish that all important trust your prospect needs to feel towards you before opting into anything.
- Facebook – Getting some PPC traffic through Facebook Ads is much cheaper than Google AdWords, and that’s before you consider that you can share your page for free by encouraging creating great content and interacting with your audience on a regular basis.
If your traffic is great, your landing page doesn’t need to be anything spectacular to increase conversions.
Landing Page Key 2: Messaging
I went online for 5mins to find the first 4 landing pages I could. Let me share a few critiques with you:
I’m using this example because it’s a lead that my company just found whom we will be calling next week, and it’s a terribly unfocused ad. It’s awful in fact. The keyword we used in Google was “Renovations Toronto” and this ad was in the #3 position. I’m not going to get too critical on the ad copy itself since I want to focus on landing pages, but there is certainly some work that my company could do for this client…
A well executed landing page to match this ad might show some images of “before and after” for some basements, bathrooms, and kitchens that they’ve worked with. The company claims to be budget focused, so I would expect to see some testimonials that proves they offer low prices. Let’s click-through and see what we get…
See? There’s a reason we’re going to call this guy on Monday morning to talk about conversion optimization…
What a terrible landing page. It isn’t even a landing page, this ad is making a mistake that over 90% of small businesses make – sending traffic to the homepage.
Here are some of the worst elements:
Our ad told us that they focus on basements, bathrooms, kitchens and more. Why do I have a stock photograph of some work boots and hard hat? Show me some before and after shots!
The ad also mentioned a free consultation, where do I go to get that? Is there a form I should fill in? Should I call? Should I use the live help button?
It’s also clear that this page has been optimized for the keyword “Scarborough Handyman” (Scarborough is a suburb of Toronto) and by doing so, this page alienates all traffic that isn’t in the Scarborough area. If I’m searching for “renovations Toronto” I want a contractor that services all of Toronto rather than just a suburb.
There’s so much more wrong with this page, but these are the key messaging elements.
Turning to Facebook this time, we’ve got a nice Newsfeed ad for Flok. Knowing nothing about the company it appears to be an app that creates a digital punch card for my business.
Simple colors that work, it certainly grabs my attention as I scroll through my Newsfeed. That hand holding the phone looks odd though, right? Looks like a poor Photoshop job.
The ad mentions a few times that the app is free, and it works for a few different business types and It’s apparently going to boost my traffic and sales. Let’s click-through and see what we get…
Well, it’s better than Greenwall Renovators at least, but there are still a ton of messaging problems with this landing page…
What happened to all the colors? I was just blown away by pink/red and turquoise in the ad, why am I look at boring browns and whites on the landing page?
What happened to the girl with the giant hand? If I’m clicking an ad that features a character or actor, it would be nice to see the same actor on this side of the ad as well. She seems to have disappeared to be replaced with a boring cappuccino. Also, what does that cappuccino have to do with boosting my businesses sales?
The ad told me that this app was a “proven way to boost traffic and sales” – why does it say nothing about “traffic” or “sales” on the landing page? Instead, the page is talking about connecting with customers instead? That’s not the same as increasing my traffic and sales at all.
We do have a testimonial this time though, and it does mention a boost in sales. However, the testimonial has grammar errors.
The ad also mentioned that the app works for restaurants, coffee shops, spas, and salons – why don’t I have some testimonials from any of these types of businesses?
Lastly, what the fuck am I signing up for? Do I design the app? Does someone do it for me? How do I get it to my customers? Does this work on Android as well as Apple? There is so little information and it feels like I have do so much work to do just to find out what it is I’m signing up for!
Sticking with Facebook once again, we’ve got a nice ad from Thinking Capital. Without knowing much about Thinking Capital, it’s clear from the ad that they offer small business financing between $5,000-$300,000. Colors are simple but professional which certainly appeals to their target audience, and I do like the splash of green on their CTA “Get it Now”. The true CTA is a simple and clear “Apply Now” button – this tells me to expect some kind of form to be completed on the next page. Let’s see where it takes us….
Definitely the best landing page we’ve looked at by far! Let’s take a look at some of the better elements:
The copy certainly matches the ad, verbatim. I can clearly see that they are continuing their messaging from the ad where they promised me financing from $5,000-$300,000. The landing page also matches the ad saying that it was a “simple application, I can be funded in as little as 24hrs“.
I can scroll down below the fold to see the 3 easy steps to get qualified
There is a clear form to fill in with only 3 questions, and a straightforward CTA reading “Do I Qualify?”
There is another button in the navigation bar in orange reading “Apply Now” in the same eye-catching orange color as the CTA button on the form. Clicking this button brings me right back to this page, so I think it should be removed entirely.
Definitely the best we’ve looked at in these examples so far, let’s check out our last ad and see how it compares.
This is a Display ad from over on IncomeBully.com. Certainly sounds appealing to anyone interested in Affiliate marketing or people who are learning about “making money online”. We’ve got some bold claims that we can make $1,500, $3,000, or $6,000 commissions with a system that is “done for us”.
My skeptical meter just hit “11”, but I’m interested enough to click through and see what kind of landing page we end up with.
The headline is certainly catchy “Poor House To The Penthouse” but that’s where the positives end I’m afraid.
There is absolutely no mention on the landing page of “commissions” or any of the amounts that we saw on the ad – $1,500, $3,000, and $6,000
I have no idea what kind of methods we are going to use to make this money, the copy says that it’s an “online method” which is terribly vague.
The copy says “I’m 100% confident you can profit with this too” – who are you? Are you the bag boy who went from the poor house to the penthouse? Don’t give me your vote of confidence if I don’t know who you are.
The offer says it’s a “report” but the ad told me I was getting a “done for you” system – big messaging opportunity.
I also see no colors repeated from the original ad, and no graphics or charts to prove that any of this is realistic – show me some proof!
It seems too good to be true. Over $4,000/day? Really? I’m going to get access to a system that will generate $1.4mil per year? And it only takes 45mins…
Very poor landing page in such a competitive niche as this.
Keep in mind these are 4 ads that I just decided to grab over the space of 5mins while writing this blog post – 3 of these 4 advertisers could definitely improve their messaging to collect more conversions.
Landing Page Element 3: Risk & Reward
Stick with me for a second, because I’m going to talk about child molesters – yeah, seriously.
When you hear those awful stories on TV about people cruising a neighborhood and stealing kids in their white windowless van, they very rarely jump out and just start snatching up kids. They have a system which unfortunately works.
If our evil-doing kid snatcher takes a stroll through a neighborhood with a fluffy white puppy he’s more likely to get the attention of small kids, and even though these kids know that it’s wrong to talk to strangers the risk/reward of talking to this particular stranger has a nice payoff.
Risk: I have to talk to a stranger
Reward: I get to play with a cute puppy
With a little bit of trust now built up, the kidnapper can propose a bigger risk with a bigger reward:
Risk: Go with the stranger to his van
Reward: Get to feed the puppy a treat
So, why am I talking about kidnapping children? It’s important to understand the risk/reward of your offer and how it will motivate your audience.
So how do we establish the perfect risk/reward threshold? It’s the same thing that makes kids jump into the back of a stranger’s van: Trust.
If we have the right targeted traffic coming to our offer, and the messaging is on-point, then we’re already about 30% of the way to having enough trust to convert this visitor.
That remaining 70% of this trust is going to come from 2 major components:
- Landing Page content
- The offer itself
Landing Page Content
What do you say in your copy? You’re going to need all of the following elements to bring your prospect up a further 30% in their trust and lower the risk threshold even further:
Testimonials from both regular people and industry leaders if applicable.
Top 3 features/functions/benefits of your offer or product. What is it? What does it do? Why do I want it?
Reinforcement items – these can be graphics or stats that show the visual proof that the features/functions/benefits of your offer are real
The CTA needs to be clear – What do they need to do to get your offer; Fill out a form? Download a sample? Call someone? This should be clear and free of any fluff.
Featured video/image – Show them a demo of your product, a picture relevant to the offer, or some kind of visual media at all. UnBounce refers to this as the “Hero Shot”
Got all of those things? Awesome, you’re now at about 60% of the trust needed to turn this prospect into a convert. The last thing we need to establish the maximum trust is also the most important: The Offer
Between your messaging and your great landing page content your prospect probably feels pretty comfortable with you, but handing over their information all hangs on one question- what’s the reward?
Returning to our weight loss example, receiving the “6 best tips to lose 10lbs in 2 weeks” for handing over my email address and name is a no-brainer at this point. But why?
I’m going to give you the top 3 criteria that make a great offer in any niche:
The offer is usually educational – It should give people information to accomplish a goal. Listing “6 tips to lose 10lbs in 2 weeks” is a great example because it lets the prospect know that this can be achieved in a set time (2 weeks) and has tangible results (losing 10lbs). Similarly, offering the “top 30 industries that buy digital marketing services” is a great offer for folks who want to learn about becoming a marketing consultant.
The offer can be collective/summative – An educational offer that includes collective information from other sources, or offers a summary of findings from relevant case studies is also very valuable. Sticking with the weight loss niche, we could make an offer around this collective/summative idea by creating “16 No-Fluff Diets That Work Faster Than Atkins and Jenny Craig”
It can solve a problem – Sticking with our weight loss example, there are tons of guides and offers out there about losing weight with different tips and tricks. Our prospect is obviously trying to lose weight, so these tips from other sources clearly aren’t working for them. They’re obviously on your page because it’s a goal they want to achieve, but something has held them back up to this point. Being a fatty myself, I can tell you that the most common excuse (problem) that I have told myself is lacking motivation. Many other people will tell you that they don’t have time. My point is, that it’s not terribly hard to find common problems faced by your prospects (check out forums for common problems faced by your audience) Your offer can be the solution that points them in the direction of their goal. Offering these prospects an eBook that tells them “How to Find 3hrs each week to exercise” would be a great offer.
Now that you’ve created a great offer you’ve lowered the risk threshold and increased the reward – time to welcome your new conversions with open arms, right?
Landing Page Element 4: Split Testing
I’m not going to beat a dead horse here, you know you need to be split-testing your landing page and you know how much of a difference it can make. If you don’t know why A/B Testing is so important I recommend you check this basic resource for how to split test effectively, I could link to more, but I find that most of those types of guides all end up telling you the same basic information. Stick with one:
All done? Great.
I have 3 key areas that I split-test beyond the basics, because changes here often yield the biggest results to my campaigns.
Landing Page Test 1: Traffic
Testing out all the little details like the color of your CTA button, adding a video or an image to the page, and other small details like that only ever make a difference when you have the highest quality traffic coming to the page as I have mentioned elsewhere on this post.
How do you split test your traffic? This is an entire blog post in itself, but I will give you two basics here to get you started:
- Have very restrictive Ad Groups. In Adwords, this would look like Ad Group #1 targeting people with a specific interest in losing belly fat, while Ad Group #2 would target keywords around toning their bellies, while Ad Group #3 might target those who want to get abs. If my offer is relevant to all three of these groups, I will want my ads to be specifically setup for these keywords. The worst mistake I see from small businesses and people running AdWords campaigns for the first time is that they create a bunch of ads in just one Ad Group and target all three of these groups of keywords together in a big mess. On Facebook, I would create multiple Ad Groups based on age, location, and interests. Ad Group #1 might target 25-30yr old men living in New York interested in weight loss, Ad Group #2 will target the same area and interests of men 30-35yrs old, Ad Group #3 will target 25-30yr old women in the same area, and with the same interests, etc.
- Refine your “want pancakes, get pancakes” ad text. What is your offer in its most simple terms? If you’re offering an eBook that compares 16 of the most popular diets, make that clear in the ad. Only bring in clicks from people who are the most interested in your offer, don’t cast a wide net hoping that it brings better results.
Landing Page Test 2: Load Times/Responsiveness
Are you running a slow-ass WordPress theme that is bogged down by 600 plugins and massive images? You need to strip it down ASAP.
Grab your landing page and run it through the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. Experts will argue over this, but I will tell you that a great score will be 70/100 or above for Mobile, and 80/100 or above for Desktop. The tool will also give you a User Experience score, but I take it with a grain of salt – the speed score is what you should care about.
The tool also tells you what areas of the page are specific concerns for speed; images, plugins, etc.
As for responsiveness, please make sure that your page is mobile responsive. More and more traffic is coming from mobile devices, and you’ve got to remove any barriers that a prospect will encounter when coming to your landing page.
Landing Page Test 3: Page Destination
This is specific to Facebook campaigns, but if you are running a Facebook campaign you should consider building your landing page on Facebook – perhaps with the help of a tool like Leadpages (non-affiliate link). Most people are on Facebook to be on Facebook and they generally don’t like to come off the site to see your offer. Keeping them on the site breeds familiarity with your brand (people know how to navigate a Facebook page) and keeps them on the platform they want to be on at that time.
Bringing It All Together
If you can master these 4 things, you are going to be well on your way to creating a massively effective landing page with substantial conversion rate.
These things are not exhaustive, but they are key elements to making sure that you are giving the most value to your audience and stretching every penny of a paid campaign to bring the strongest ROI.
So what are you waiting for? Take action! Arm yourself with a kick-ass landing page and start up a campaign on AdWords or Facebook!
Don’t make these past 4,000 words a waste of your time.