This article was contibuted by Ted Vrountas.
Not too long ago HubSpot unearthed a secret that a select few marketers were using to generate 12 times more leads than their competitors.
Yes, you read that right — 12 times more.
Their 2012 survey of 7,000 B2B and B2C businesses exposed just one major difference between the some of the world’s best lead generators, and some of the worst.
So… what was it?
More landing pages.
Businesses that had more than 40 landing pages were generating 12 times more leads than those with just 1-5.
And here’s the good news — so can you.
But how? How do you arrange a landing page that drives maximum conversions?
Let’s dive in…
What’s a landing page?
A landing page is what your prospects land on after clicking through from a display ad, an AdWords ad, or any other type of promotional link.
These hyper-focused web pages are designed for just one purpose: to convert visitors.
Whether that conversion goal is to get people to buy a product, or to book a consultation, it can be accomplished by strategically arranging persuasive elements on your landing page.
What’s the difference between a landing page and all the other pages on my website?
If you’re like most businesses, you probably have an “About us” page, a variation of a “What we offer” page, and a web page dedicated to your clients and their testimonials. These pages, among others, help comprise your website — the purpose of which is to teach your prospects more about you.
Landing pages are different. They’re designed specifically to convert visitors into leads or customers, which means they need to be more persuasive than any of the other pages on your website.
The people who land on these pages aren’t interested in learning your philosophy, or meeting your team. They’re there because they’ve been enticed by your promotion and want to evaluate what you’re offering.
So how do you go about creating a landing page layout that will boost the chances your visitors convert?
Let’s start from the top…
The best landing page layout, above the fold:
If you want to make a good impression, place these elements above the fold. Right off the bat, they’ll help you quickly convey the benefit of your offer, and show prospects what they need to do to claim it.
1. Your logo
If you don’t include your logo somewhere on the top of your page, those visiting may wonder where the heck they are. It’s always good to practice consistent branding, especially on landing pages, so that prospects know they haven’t been redirected to some spammy page after they clicked your ad.
Like most brands, mindSHIFT places their logo in the upper-left corner of the page:
It’s recommended you do the same, because the upper left is where most of your prospects will look to find your logo.
Make sure it’s big enough to be noticeable, and that it’s not linked to your homepage like most logos are.
2. No navigation
A landing page is a little bit like a well-designed trap. Your prospects should be able to get in, but not out, unless they convert on your offer.
That means there should be no navigation menu across the top of your page for visitors to escape through. The only three ways they should be able to get off your landing page are:
- By converting
- By hitting the “x” in the corner of their screen to exit the browser window
- By clicking the back button
When HubSpot removed the navigation menu on five of their landing pages, they found that it boosted conversion rate by as much as 28%!
3. A strong headline
Your headline should be the first thing your prospects notice when your landing page loads. Use big, bold text to draw their attention, and communicate your unique selling proposition in a way that emphasizes how it will benefit them.
Here’s a great example from Five Four Club:
Their unique selling proposition is that they deliver your clothing to your doorstep. So how does that benefit the prospect?
They don’t have to go through the hassle of shopping.
When crafting your headline, think about the problem your prospects face, and communicate exactly how your business is going to uniquely solve it.
4. Engaging media
Long before humans learn to read and write, we process the world visually through cues like gestures and facial expressions. As a result, we’ve evolved to prefer images to text when processing information.
So what does that mean for you?
It means that the quickest, most efficient way to get information across is to show, not tell on your landing page.
Hero shots help your prospect imagine their lives after your product or service has solved it; infographics like charts and graphs help them better conceptualize data; and video explainers, testimonials, and case studies help them understand your offer in a more easily digestible way.
Don’t rely on a novel of text to get your visitors to convert, because they won’t read it. This brings us to the next element you should include in all of your landing page layouts.
5. A succinct form
Depending on the goal of your landing page, you may or may not require your prospects to hand over information about themselves in exchange for what you’re offering.
If you do, you’ll need a lead capture form, like the one below from Salesforce:
These usually contain a combination of optional and required fields, allowing prospects to submit more information about themselves if they want to, but forcing them to at least give you the bare minimum your marketing team needs.
There’s usually a trade-off here. Include a lot of required fields and you’ll get more information from the prospects who convert. More information allows you to deliver highly personalized marketing messages, on top of giving you greater insight into your target audience.
But, the more you ask for, the less likely your prospects are to fill out your form completely. They may not have the time to finish a long form, or may not believe your offer is worth the information you’re asking for.
On the other side, the less you ask for, the more likely it is your prospects will finish filling out your form — and the more leads you generate. However, they won’t be as high quality as the leads you generate from a longer form.
So what’s a marketer to do?
Here are some factors that should help you decide between a longer form or a shorter one:
- First, decide what kind of leads you want to generate. If you need more, go short. If you need higher quality, go long.
- Second, figure out the value of what you’re offering — because prospects will be willing to give up more to get more. If you’re giving away a 30-page ebook filled with original research that will help your audience make better marketing decisions, you’ll be able to ask for more than if you’re offering a short tip sheet.
- Third, decide what information you really need to qualify your leads. Do you truly need to know their biggest marketing challenge? Do you absolutely have to have the name of their company? Getting rid of even one or two fields will make things a lot easier on the people who have to evaluate your offer.
Once you’ve decided on the information your team needs, determine where to position it with these two tips:
- If your offer is low-cost, low-commitment (like a free ebook), it likely won’t be highly scrutinized. In this case, position your form above the fold so visitors know right away what it is they have to do to claim your offer.
- If your offer is high-cost, high-commitment (like a $500 copywriting course), it’s likely your prospect will need some extra persuading. In that case, try positioning it below all your persuasive elements (headline, copy, testimonials, videos, etc.).
Remember — these aren’t rules by any means. The only way to know what works best for your page is by testing. Also keep in mind that studies show if your content is interesting enough, people will scroll past the fold to read your page all the way through.
6. A compelling call-to-action (CTA) button
This is it — the main event. Without a great call-to-action button, your landing page is doomed to fail.
Remember, the entire purpose of a landing page is to get your prospect to take action, and this is how it happens. Your visitor has to click this button to convert.
Here are a few things you can do to boost the chances that happens:
- Instead of using words like “submit” or “download,” opt for more creative alternatives that are tailored to your offer. For example, instead of Five Four Club’s “Get Started,” why not use something like “Prepare Your First Box”?
- Write the CTA in first person. Now “Prepare Your First Box,” becomes “Prepare My First Box.” When your prospect sees your CTA button, they’ll better identify with the copy.
- Instead of stressing what your prospect needs to do to claim the offer, stress what they stand to gain by claiming it. In this case, “Prepare My Box” sounds like work, doesn’t it? What your prospect really wants to do is get their first box. So how about, “Send My First Box”?
- Use color theory to pick a button color that’s complementary to the rest of your page, so it “pops” to grab user attention.
If you have a form, position your CTA button below it, and (depending on your page’s length) consider adding one to the bottom of your page. That way, if your visitor isn’t convinced to act on your offer immediately, they can do so once they’ve scrolled all the way to the bottom, after seeing the persuasive elements you placed below the fold.
Below the fold…
The best landing page layout, below the fold.
Below the fold is where your prospects will head to if you don’t convince them to press your CTA button right away. Don’t worry, it’s not uncommon for visitors to scroll down until they get to the bottom of your page, or until they’re convinced to redeem your offer. These are the people you need to work extra hard to convert.
7. Concise, benefit-oriented copy
“What’s in it for me?”
That’s what your prospects want to know when they read your landing page copy. Don’t waste any time getting to the point by fluffing your page with verbose language. The more direct, the better.
Something else to keep in mind when crafting your landing page copy is that people don’t like to read block text.
Almost 40 years ago, a study from Siegfried Vogele, dean of the Institute of Direct Marketing, showed that big text blocks were the last thing people looked to on a printed page after headlines, images, and short bolded copy.
Separate yours into smaller, digestible chunks, the way Five Four Club has on their landing page:
8. Social proof
If you’re unfamiliar with a product or service, odds are you’ll ask around for recommendations from your group of friends. If that fails, you’ll do what most of us do, and hunt for online reviews.
These online reviews, studies show, carry more weight than you’d think.
According to research, 80-95% of Internet users make purchasing decisions based on online reviews, and 79% of people trust them as much as personal recommendations.
Adding testimonials from satisfied clients means your prospects won’t have to look elsewhere to find reviews of your product. They’ll be right on your landing page, and they’ll be the ones you want to display.
Take control of your online reputation the way Five Four Club has, and add testimonials to boost the persuasive power of your landing page:
9. Minimalistic footer
We said it before in the “No navigation” section, but it’s worth mentioning again:
There should only be three ways off your page: the back button, the little “x” in the corner of the browser window, and your CTA button.
When it comes to adding a footer to your landing page, it shouldn’t include a sitemap, other offers, or links to your social media pages. The only thing you should consider putting in your footer are:
- Terms & conditions: let your prospects know the rules they need to agree to in order to claim your offer.
- Copyright information: convey exclusive rights to your content.
- Privacy information: be transparent about what you’re going to do with the information you get from your visitors.
Here’s an example of a footer from mindSHIFT that doesn’t distract prospects from the offer:
Remember that any link that isn’t your CTA button simply acts as another way for prospects to escape your page without converting.
10. Contact information
If your landing page has done its job, your prospect will be able to decide whether or not to convert on your offer right then and there.
But the reality is, it’s not always easy to anticipate all your prospects’ objections and questions. Sometimes they’ll want to talk to a real person about your offer, and contact information helps them do it.
Add yours to your minimalistic footer, or even to your header, like mindSHIFT has done (bonus points if your phone number is click-to-call):
To create any great web page you need to first determine its goal, and then optimize it to provide the best user experience possible.
On your landing page, the goal is to drive action, and its layout will determine how positive or negative your user’s experience is.
Does your landing page layout contribute to its goal? Or does it hinder it? Are there any tips here you disagree with?
Ted Vrountas is an east coast transplant living in San Diego, whose background in psychology set him up for a career in persuasive copywriting. When he’s not teaching people how to build killer landing pages on the Instapage blog, he’s running, supporting his New England Patriots, and battling his addiction to California burritos.