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  1. 4 of the Best Landing Pages of 2014, and Why


    the best landing pages of 2014


    Is your landing page beautiful? Is it clean and clear and modern? More importantly, does it convert the people that come to it?

    Here’s the thing about landing pages:

    Knowing how to implement the tactics and strategies you’ve heard about and read about is what makes those strategies work, not just throwing them in haphazardly and crossing your fingers.

    Did you know, for instance, that putting an entry form on the left side of the page instead of the right can actually decrease conversion rates? People naturally view and read a landing page in an “F” pattern. If they see your page’s entry form and “ask” before they’ve seen your value they’ll immediately be put on their back foot. Now you know.

    It’s not just about knowing the variables, it’s about knowing how to use them.

    This article will give you four of the best landing pages of 2014. I’ll break each page down into the best practices it’s employing. But more than that, I’ll break each one down into how those best practices work to do what they do.

    Let’s get started.


    1. Mulesoft does Everything Right, Simply


    SaaS company Mulesoft has created an ebook focused on App builders interested in Enterprise and large-account integration. Don’t worry if that’s not your field and those words are gibberish. The best practices apply no matter what.

    Lets check out their lead gen landing page page:


    best landing pages of 2014


    What Makes This Landing Page One of the Best: 

    It can be very easy for a lead gen page to be dull, and quite difficult to make one visually appealing and actually engaging. Mulesoft manages it.

    This page has excellent execution of all the lead gen best practices that make an optimized landing page.

    We’ve got:

    • Visually appealing banner with standard ‘ebook’ image so we know what we’re looking at.

    • Light blue - A color that subconsciously calms us, making visitors less likely to bounce out before reading.

    • Great value proposition - “How to Make your App Enterprise Ready” is descriptive, accurate, and focused on the target market.

    • Market-Aware jargon/language - They don’t beat around the bush. Mulesoft knows that only SaaS execs (who they specifically name as targets) will be interested. They use niche language which excludes leads they don’t want and includes leads they do.

    • Short paragraph describing the general value of the book - A sentence (or maybe two) is necessary after the title/image to introduce the topic and value. Don’t break right into the “what this book has” list or the page looks unbalanced.

    • 4-point benefit listFour is my ideal number of bullet-points describing “what you’re going to get from this ebook”. Less and it sounds like there’s not enough value, much more and it sounds like you’re selling too hard.

    • Optimized entry form - 5 entry boxes is just about right - getting their business the lead info they need without pushing for too much that a visitor decides engagement isn’t worth it and bounces.

    • The CTAI’m a big fan of green CTA buttons and white text (especially on a white and blue color-scheme). If this page was more blue than white I would have gone with orange, but this feels better and highly optimized for visibility.

    • Social-Share IconsStandard, but still necessary. Be sure all your email-gated content is easily shareable. There likely won’t be much engagement, but any there is will be worth it to your business. And what do they hurt?

    All in all, a very solid lead gen page. What’s next?


    2. Home Depot’s Facebook Landing Page Is Full of Good Things


    Facebook Landing Pages are the bee’s knees. They can increase conversions on every campaign you’re running on the platform as they’re easy to share with friend of Fans. Keeping social media users on social media (instead of thrusting them off before they’re prepared for it) is always a good call.

    Home Depot’s is running a Spring contest and has created an awesome Facebook landing page right on their page.

    Let’s check it out and see what makes it the boss…


    best landing pages of 2014


    What Makes This Facebook Landing Page One of the Best:

    • Seasonal - Tapping into what people are thinking about in the real world can have a huge influence on the success of your social media campaign. Home Depot knows this and it’s no coincidence that their spring-focused contest is also based around lawnmower knowledge (something many of us have to start thinking about after this long winter).

    • The “Like-Gate” - Like-gated contests are an awesome way to increase your social media brand profile. They require Facebook users (who aren’t already your Fans) to Like you in order to get access to the awesome prize you’ve set. Incentivizing engagement is awesome, especially when you offer something related to your company.

    • The prize - It’s no surprise to me that a savvy company like Home Depot is giving away gift cards as the prize of this contest. Gift cards (or gift certificates, or store credit, or products themselves) are the ideal prizes for a Facebook contest, as they ensure that the Facebook users who enter are actually interested in your business’ products, rather than cash or totally unrelated prize. This means more engaged fans and fans with a higher chance of becoming customers.

    • “Share contest” - It’s so easy to increase the overall participation of your social media contest (or any contest, for that matter) by simply including a social share button. People want their friends to get in on the awesome opportunity they’re seeing, and it’s completely free exposure for your business.

    • “Prize winners” - It’s also best practice for any contest that has several rounds, to show the winner. This introduces peer pressure into the picture - something which has a huge influence on people (especially when they’re interacting on social media).

    Check out my article 5 Facebook Landing Page Template Examples Critiqued for more details of how to make a great Facebook landing page.


    3. Impact’s Ebook Landing Page gets Personal


    Inbound marketing company Impact delivers content curation and facilitation, and they’ve made an ebook about it. They’re using that ebook to generate leads.

    Here’s how their landing page has broken from tradition in an awesome way:


    best landing pages of 2014


    What Makes This Page One of the Best:

    The standard stuff:

    • It’s clean, I like the color scheme and general layout

    • I like the share icons

    • The number of entry boxes

    • The USP

    • I like the three bullet-pointed “what you’ll learn” points

    • The bolded focus-words, which help with skim-reading

    • Etc, etc, etc…

     

    The non-standard stuff:

    This page is full of it, and I think it’s awesome.

    • The Tone - Slightly sardonic, it’s refreshing and far more genuine than 99% of other pages. It’s in the video and it’s in the language above and below the video as well. We start out with “60% of marketers and business owners have adopted inbound strategies”. Standard. But then we get “This means nothing to you,” (and it doesn’t) “what matters is value”. At the bottom we get “No more fairytales. Just the facts.”

    • The Tone (Cont’d) - In the video, we hear “I could tell you that inbound marketing delivers an ROI 200% greater than traditional methods, but the average business owner would say ‘prove it.’” It’s this tone, of challenging the norm and defying expectations, that makes this landing page that much more effective.

    • The Video - Videos showcase not only your content, but your business as well. They’re also extremely effective at grabbing the eye of visitors and keeping them engaged for more than the five seconds you need to communicate value.

    • The Personal Touches - It’s clear that none of the actors in the video are actually actors. There’s no stock footage. In fact, it’s mostly a plain-shirted CEO describing how they’re not going to just claim things, but rather prove them, and it works really well.

    • Increasingly landing page visitors are becoming more and more immune (especially when we’re talking SaaS and B2B) to bog-standard landing pages. Adding personality and showing the “realness” of your business is more than worth testing.


    4. Contently’s Brand Page Keeps it Clean and Beautiful


    Inbound Marketing software company Contently designed a brand landing page focused on generating leads. They haven’t done anything particularly special here, but what they’ve done they’ve done beautifully. I’ll tell you exactly what it is in a second, but first…

    Let’s take a look at the landing page itself:


    best landing pages of 2014


    What Makes This Page One of the Best:

    • Simplicity - There’s no distractions on this page. Existing customers can Sign in with a barely visible link at the top right, but apart from that this page is focused intently on its message.

    • The Image - The background image (which awesomely spans the entire landing page) is understated, modern, and comfortable. It’s clearly not a stock image (increasingly becoming more and more important) and the faded beige and brown work well with the blue of the page’s text.

    • The Language - I could go on and on about how valuable language is in landing pages, but I won’t. I’ll just leave it at this: I absolutely love Contently’s USP and the sentences after it. They’re inclusive and inspirational, focused on reaching a goal with their customers, not because of them. Perhaps it’s because I’m a content marketer myself, but “a world where incredible content is rewarded[…] where marketing is helpful and businesses grow by telling stories that people love” is a world I want to live in, and a goal well-expressed.

    • The “Ask” - “Talk to our sales team about your needs” is, again, a well-expressed landing page Ask. Another way of saying “how can we help you?” but without being so cliche and pandering to their visitor, it’s to the point and doesn’t beat around the bush by putting “sales team” front and center”

    • Self-referential words - Recent studies have shown that “self referential words” increase engagement. Contently has used nine within only 53 words, including the CTA. Nice.

     

    Conclusion


    These are four of the best landing pages I’ve seen this year (and believe me, I’ve seen a few). They incorporate traditional best practices like imagery, short, punchy sentences and create USPs with strategies that increase social virality and showcase brand personality.

    For more on how to make your landing page stand out from the crowd, check out these other articles:

     

    What do you think? Will your next landing page make the list?

     

    By James Scherer


    landing page ebook