Landing Page Optimization Cheat Sheet

by 16 12/12/2013

In the fast-paced, highly competitive digital marketing world, few tools are as useful, versatile or necessary as the landing page. It’s a key part of the online marketing process.

Got an E-Commerce store? A great landing page can help you land more sales.

Running a B2B content marketing campaign? A properly set up B2B landing page can entice prospects to sign up for your next white paper or webinar, helping you move more traffic into the buying funnel.

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Done right, landing pages can be the “special sauce” that helps put a marketing campaign (B2C or B2B) over the top. Done poorly, they become a weak link in the online marketing chain that can cause your  results to plummet.

So how can you “do it right”? How can you set up a landing page that gets you the results you want, whether it’s a funnel full of eager B2B prospects anxious to devour your content or a bumper crop of E-Commerce customers? Keep reading this Landing Page Optimization Cheat Sheet.

Distractions Galore!

The online marketing process is fragile, and it’s very easy to lose a sale before it happens…

Your prospect is busy. He’s distracted. He’s got online distractions like email and social media competing for his attention and threatening to steal it from you. He’s got offline distractions like bosses, friends, family and the ever-present smartphone.

He’s probably got many of the hesitations that buyers, both online or offline, have.

Conversion is the end goal, whether it’s an E-Commerce purchase through your online store or a signup for your latest white paper. A properly set up landing page can minimize the level of distraction your prospect is dealing with and can focus his attention where you want and need it to be—on the buying process.

So what are some of the critical elements of a landing page, and how can you optimize each one? Glad you asked! Let’s discuss…

Key Elements of a Landing Page That Converts

1. Copywriting

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Your landing pages need persuasive copywriting. Without it, your online campaigns will probably crash and burn. Done right, it’s like jet fuel for the online marketing engine. And it’s something that many marketers do incorrectly.

They often try to impress readers by talking about themselves. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want to impress your prospects, if you want to grab and keep their attention and interest, focus the bulk of your messaging on them. Focus on their problems and how you can solve them.

And remember that copywriting is salesmanship in print, not an academic research project. Make your copy “conversational” and directed to an “audience of one.” Imagine you are having a free-flowing conversation over a cup of coffee with an old friend, and write your copy like that.

2. Message length

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There’s an ongoing debate in the marketing world about whether long copy or short copy should rule the day. The truth is that there’s no one right answer. It depends on the situation.

As a general rule, if you are trying to “sell” your prospect on downloading  your next piece of B2B content, keep your message brief and to the point.

If you are asking your reader to take his credit card out of his wallet and purchase your product, make your message longer. In this case, make it as long as you need to in order to make the sale.

Think of your landing page copy, in this case, as if it were a sales rep on a face-to-face call. Would you tell him to speak 300 words and then be quiet? Of course not. The very thought is absurd. You’d want him to take as much time and speak as many words as needed to make the sale.

Use as many words as you need to on your landing page, but no more, to make your sale.

As a general rule, the amount of copy you need to include depends on the size of the commitment you’re asking your reader to make.

Giving you his email address in exchange for a free white paper or case study download doesn’t require much commitment on his part. And you don’t need a lot of copy for this landing page message to be effective.

Making a purchase where he actually gives you money in return for your product requires a much larger level of commitment and a longer message. Here, use as much copy as you need to.

And remember to ignore the conventional wisdom that says that no one reads long copy. Not true. If your copy is interesting, engaging and focused on the reader, his needs and how you can solve a pressing problem he’s sick and tired of dealing with, he’ll read it. He won’t care how long it is.

3. Headlines

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This is the most important part of your sales message, according to some legendary copywriters. If your headline doesn’t get read, the rest of your message gets ignored, and it doesn’t convert!

According to Brian Clark of Copyblogger, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest… The better the headline, the better your odds of beating the averages and getting what you’ve written read by a larger percentage of people.”

If you have a strong headline, your message is much more likely to get read. If your headline is weak, count on the rest of your message being ignored.

So what makes for a strong headline? This article talks about a powerful formula—the “Four U’s” pioneered by Michael Masterson of AWAI, one of the world’s leading producers of copywriting training courses.

So what are the four U’s that can lead to such a powerful, eye-catching headline?

  • Urgency
  • Uniqueness
  • Usefulness
  • Ultra-Specificity

The greater the degree to which your headline reflects these four characteristics, the stronger it will be.

The same article talks about headlines that offer benefits and those that offer curiosity. Such headlines can be very powerful and effective.

But why not use curiosity and benefits together in the same killer headline? And then, to give it even more punch, why not add as many of the “U’s” as possible to it?

4. Images

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Marketers often don’t think about landing page images. Or sometimes they add them as an afterthought. Big mistake. The right image on a landing page can make your sales messages much more powerful and persuasive. The wrong one can bore or distract your reader and might cost you the sale.

So what are the wrong images to use? Any image that doesn’t contribute to your goal of converting your reader into your customer. This includes generic stock photos that have no relevance to your message.

And the right images? There are a number of ways you can use images to further the sales process. You can show images that

  • Demonstrate your product in action
  • Build trust in the reader’s mind and heart
  • Elicit the emotions you want him to feel

To drive this last point home: remember that readers buy, to one degree or another, based on emotions. Why not include images that cause your reader to feel the emotions most likely to persuade him to buy?

5. Forms

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Arguably, the two most important parts of your landing pages are

  1. Your headlines
  2. Your forms

Your landing page has to get noticed and your copy read. And at the “moment of truth,” you have to get the reader to convert, to take the action you want him to take.

And whether you are running a B2B content marketing campaign or an E-Commerce online store, you need to have a way to capture certain information from him. You need a form.

So how can you optimize your form to help increase your conversion rate? For one thing, keep it simple. Confusion kills conversions, and a long, complex form is almost guaranteed to drive potential customers away.

Have a call to action that tells your reader exactly what you want him to do. Don’t assume he’ll just do it.

Do you want him to “enter his name and email address and click the red “Submit” button”? Tell him that specifically.

Also, test and refine your forms. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Keep what does. Change the rest.

Comments?

If you think of online marketing as a chain, remember that landing pages are a critical link. If that link breaks, your campaign will come crashing down. If you make that link strong, your campaign will be that much stronger.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on landing pages. What do you recommend to increase conversions?  Please tell us in the comments section!

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About 

Fernando is Marketing Manager at Lander, the landing page platform. He’s an Online Marketer and Conversion Optimizer with focus on user experience. Fernando is always looking for new ways to make people’s landing pages convert better--including this exclusive 15% Off for 3 months on Lander.

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16 COMMENTS

Shoplet Promos

Thank you for all these useful tips!
I agree landing page is very important for the company websites.
Also I think that offering discounts on the landing page helps the conversion a lot

December 12, 2013 Reply

    Fernando Florez

    You’re welcome! Landing pages for special discounts are great, do you wanna see an example? Check out the link on my bio ;)

    December 12, 2013 Reply

Sam Korn

Excellent cheat sheet Fernando. Very concise and to the point hitting the important points.
Saving the info to use for my next landing page. Thanks for putting this together.

December 12, 2013 Reply

    Fernando Florez

    Thanks for your feedback Sam, let me know if you think I can help you with your landing pages. Have a great day!

    December 13, 2013 Reply

Kamila Gornia

Great tips, very useful for future product related landing pages :) Tweeting!

December 13, 2013 Reply

Dennis

Good post, thanks Fernando. Your readers might want to take a look at Which Test Won, which often shows the proof to back up your points :)

December 14, 2013 Reply

Reshu

Great read Fernando! You have made a great point here “The online marketing process is fragile, and it’s very easy to lose a sale before it happens.” Landing page plays a very important role in conversion. These pages will determine whether your visitor will be converted into customer or not, making it extremely important to optimize them fully to help you in generating more sales.

My 2 cents:
1) Call-to-action. It’s very important part of a landing page; it will help your visitor in taking a desired action. It should be designed in such a manner that it won’t confuse your visitor and will give them a clear direction. Usually, there are so many elements on a page that your CTA might seem lost in the page.

2) People are impatient, if any element of your landing page is slow and taking time to load than it will deter people from acting and they will move on. So, minimize your loading time if you want them to make a purchase on your site.

I have shared my views on landing page optimization here: http://www.betaout.com/blog/how-to-design-a-landing-page-to-maximize-conversions/#.Uqq1VeKkPt0 -would love your feedback.

December 15, 2013 Reply

Veronika

Great article!Thanks for these useful tips!!!
We’re definitely going to use the info for our next landing page concept for next week.

January 16, 2014 Reply

Spook SEO

For Blogging Websites, I think they should use the long copy and for realtors, must inlcude some pictures with short copy.

January 30, 2014 Reply

Christina

Hi Fernando, great article. From your experience should a campaign landing page be a page on an existing corporate website or not?

February 2, 2014 Reply

    Fernando Florez

    Hi Christina, sorry for the delay. I think landing pages don’t need to be part of your website necessarily, but there are some things you want to keep in mind for better results. I’d recommend you to keep your website’s branding (colors, fonts, etc) and URL to improve recognition. (Check this post for more information: http://blog.landerapp.com/how-you-can-choose-a-great-url-for-your-landing-page/) I hope I’m clear, I don’t mean every landing page should look the same ;) . Let me know if you have any other question.

    February 17, 2014 Reply


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