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[How To] Top Tips & Tricks to Optimize Landing Page Conversion

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Have you been looking for a single resource for landing pages? A comprehensive how-to on optimizing your landing page design for conversion?

Have you been searching the web for that one piece of landing page guidance that gives you everything, including:

  • A comprehensive introduction to landing pages?
  • A step-by-step, detailed analysis of the elements you need to be including?
  • Every aspect of optimizing for audience, traffic source and desire?
  • A complete breakdown of A/B variable testing, metrics and analytics?

Good. Because this took us a while to write.

Wishpond is a software provider based out of Vancouver. We make landing pages and online marketing campaigns easy for small businesses, cutting out hours of coding with easy-to-use templates and automatic integration of the latest marketing tips and tools.

You can find more tips and tricks about landing page optimization and online marketing at  The Wishpond Blog.

In this article, however, we’ll show you:

  • How to optimize the necessary elements of a landing page
  • Show you the three main landing page types (with diagrams to show you what they look like)
  • Give you optimization best practices
  • Discuss designing your landing pages for specific audiences
  • Dive into A/B testing
  • And much, much more!

We’ll also be offering a free download of our even more comprehensive landing page ebook , so be sure to watch out for that along the way.

Let’s get rolling, because we have a ways to go.

Introduction to Landing Pages:


So what is a landing page?

A landing page is a distinct page within your website that is built for a single conversion objective.

Basically, it’s a page that people “land” on when they come from a specific traffic source (search, online or social ad, social media platform, or anywhere else).

It is different, however, from your other website pages because this particular page should be designed with a single actionable “ask” as its focus. That ask might be filling out lead information, scheduling a sales call, a free demo, a trial, an immediate sale, or any number of other conversions.

However, before we get further into the world of optimization, we’ll have to first tackle the essential elements you need to be including in your landing page.

Section #1: 7 Elements involved in your landing page optimization:

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.25.05 AM.png

What you’re seeing:

1. Image:

The first thing people see, your landing page’s image should be visually appealing and relate to your product, service, or content. Especially important for a sales-focused landing page, images of people work very well. Remember to incorporate your image into the background of your page (rather than as a visually unappealing square).

2. USP/Headilne:

Your Unique Selling Point (USP) or headline is the single element that convinces your landing page traffic that they’re in the right place and should stick around to find out more. Your USP is a catchy, single sentence or phrase that communicates value, inspires, or simply details exactly what a visitor stands to get from engagement with your business.

3. Benefits bullet list:

Your list of benefits is where you communicate specific value to your landing page traffic. Made up of 3-5 specific things you’re offering or parts of your service, benefit lists add specificity and convince your traffic that you can provide what they’re looking for.

4. Form Fields:

Your landing page’s form fields (whether they’re for lead generation, registration, or purchase) need to be carefully balanced (this is more important than you might think). Form fields ask for personal information, something not given out lightly. Are you offering enough value to warrant the “ask”? See more on form fields in “7 Tips for Landing Page Optimization” below.

5. Customer Testimonials/Trust Symbols:

The landing page element that communicates legitimacy more than any other, customer testimonials and trust symbols are where your business stands aside and says “but don’t take our word for it!”

Reviews from previous clients, the logos of major business you’ve worked with, awards you’ve won, or official partnerships you have, all ensure your landing page visitor knows your business is trustworthy and worth engaging with.

6. Call-to-Action Button:

All the elements above convince your landing page traffic that a conversion is probably worth it. But unless you have an obvious place for them to do that, they’ll just leave. A visible call-to-action button (like “start a free trial” or “download the ebook”) tells people where to convert on their interest.

7. Under CTA confidence booster:

Short and to the point (“only takes 5 minutes”, or “no-spam guarantee”) your CTA confidence booster is a brief phrase or sentence that puts the cherry on engagement. Right as they have their cursor poised over your CTA button they’ll see this small print and will be more likely to click “yes.”

Section #2: Using the AIDA system to determine landing page layout


The AIDA system is as essential to remember when designing your landing pages as it was for the first ever automobile ad.

The AIDA system was originally coined in 1898 to describe the process that consumers go through. Each of us goes through these four steps in some manner every time we complete a purchasing action:

Awareness:

Your landing page traffic is a fickle person. They’re comparing you to your competitors as well as an investment of their own time, and they won’t stick around for more than a few seconds unless your page communicates quickly that you have what they want.

A great test for Awareness is to find a friend (who is as unaware of your business’ service or products as possible) and run a three second test:

  • Sit them at a laptop and have them close their eyes
  • Bring up your landing page and tell them to open their eyes
  • Allow them to look at your landing page for three seconds and then close the laptop.
  • Do they know what service you’re offering?
  • Do they know the product you’re providing or how you can help them?

If not, you may need to take another look at the elements we mentioned above (particularly your Unique Selling Point).

Interest:

Your landing page has to communicate value beyond simple need satisfaction. Your traffic expects your tool or product to cater to their specific desires, and you can’t always be entirely sure what those desires are.

As a result, you should base your landing page design on your Audience (I’ll discuss this more in-depth in section #5 below). This allows you to be as confident as possible about what your landing page traffic is looking for.

The interest stage is where your consumer determines if your product is for them. They’ll determine if you will be satisfying their personal or business needs:

  • Is it clear who this page is directed at/made for?
  • Are the available options clear and prominent?
  • If there’s only one option, is that one option obvious?

Decision:

The Awareness and Interest stages have proven to your landing page visitor that you can provide what they’re looking for. Now they have to determine if they’re going to actually engage.

Design your landing page so it provides as much value as possible. Cover your bases.

Are they looking for a specific characteristic of your service or product? An optimized landing page anticipates and provides.

Action:

Your visitor has now gone from being aware of your business’ product or service, understanding you can provide the specific value and characteristics they were looking for, to deciding they are going to purchase.

The question is, are they going to do it with you? Have you sold them on converting with your business, or simply sold them on converting?

The action step is where you convince them to engage with your business in particular. You do this first and foremost with a clean and professional page. Once you have that, you close the deal with customer testimonials, trust symbols, awards and recommendations, previous client logos, “about us” paragraphs, and other personal touches that ensure you’re a brand that they want to work with (instead of just a brand).

Section #3: The three primary types of landing pages:


Sales-Optimized Landing Page:

A landing page optimized for sales follows the AIDA system closely:

  • Features clear and distinct benefits written for its target audience
  • Showcases obvious value in the form of a USP and benefit list
  • Contains trust symbols like customer testimonials, reviews, brand logos and awards won.

It rarely features a social element, and is designed to focus attention on the CTA. This is why a sales-optimized landing page would be where you’d experiment and test eye-direction, linear focus and color psychology.

Lead-Generating Landing Page:

Lead-gen pages are far less visual, as it’s likely they’re based more on content promotion than they are on sales.

Lead generation landing pages have the highest conversion of any landing page because you’re collecting traffic from online advertising or search - people who have clicked on your content-specific links are clearly interested in your topic, and submitting lead information is far less of an “ask” than forking over real money.

As a result, your lead-gen page can focus more on describing your offer than your sales page might.

Here are the recommended elements of a lead-gen landing page:

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 9.36.38 AM.png

Relationship-Building Landing Page:

Relationship-building landing page are built for your already warm leads (people who have very recently engaged with your business, submitted details, or converted in some way).

Leads are at their most interested in the moments after you’ve given them something. This is the perfect time to further your relationship with a personable, engaging landing page.

Ideas for how to further your relationship with a warm lead:

  • Ask that they register for a free, one-on-one demo of your tools in which you answer any questions they might have and go over anything they want to know
  • Promote an upcoming webinar (which they’ll have to attend live) related to the content they just downloaded or the product trial they just started
  • Offer a related piece of content that adds value to their engagement with your business
  • Promote your social media accounts. Ask them to Follow you on Facebook (giving you more digital touch points for communication)

We used to recommend that people use a personalized letter format for relationship-building landing pages (with the entry form, of course), but I’ve recently seen success with video.

Either option makes your relationship (which up to now has been based on selling and purchasing - even if we’re talking lead gen) a personal one.

Communicating your brand as a friendly, communicative, even casual, one increases the chance of them engaging with you:

  • Make it clear you are always willing to help with any questions or concerns
  • Provide a “personal” email for them to contact you
  • Introduce yourself or your customer service/account management team on a personal level

Here’s are the recommended elements of a relationship-building landing page:

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Section #4: 7 Top Tips for Landing Page Optimization


1. Make it about the visitor, not about you:

Your landing page needs to focus on providing value to its visitor, not asserting how awesome your business is or how proud you are of something you’re doing. There are a few ways this best practice can affect your landing page:

  • Use personal pronouns : Use “me”, “you” in your copy and your CTA. Test which one your audience responds to more
  • Showcase benefits, not features : Speak to your audience in a way that resonates with them: rather than saying “This processor can run all four of its cores at a base clock frequency of 4.0GHz!”, say “The fastest computer processor you’ve ever seen! Surf the web at light speed!”
  • Make it easy to navigate: I’ll mention more about how to do this in section #6 below, but it’s important that your landing page is clearly laid out. You don’t want your visitor to be thrown off by excess distraction or too many stages of conversion
  • Don’t be pushy: Ease off the throttle (primarily in your CTA’s). Don’t push a possible lead too hard or they’ll run the other way. For more on how to be relaxed yet optimized in your own landing pages, check out my article “ Landing Pages: How to Sell without Selling” 

2. Weigh your form fields intelligently:

It’s essential to weigh the benefit of more lead information against the increase in disengagement that more lead information might cause. For instance, your sales or marketing team might get huge value out of knowing a lead’s location. However, asking for a zipcode might increase the chance of your landing page traffic disengaging. Is it worth it to your business to ask anyway because your close rate is that much higher?

In other words, should you optimize your landing page for a few seriously interested leads, or a bunch of semi-interested leads? Which one gives your business the best ROI? Test it for yourself! (more on this in section #6).

3. Optimize your Call-To-Action:

Your CTA button should be the focus point of your landing page. Everything is building up to your traffic clicking that single button. So yeah, it’s worth putting some time and energy into optimizing it.

Here are a few best practices:

  • Only one CTA on each screen section (one above the fold, one below
  • Make it stand out with color contrast: orange button on blue page, green button on grey page, etc.
  • If you have content below the fold, repeat the CTA. Always make it easy and compelling for the visitor to take the desired action.
  • Make sure the CTA is displayed in a visually distinct, centralized place
  • Make it clearly a button. Don’t make people guess at what they should click on.
  • Use visual cues, such as arrows or images of people looking at the button, to draw the eye.

It’s vital that your landing page offer no distractions: no secondary CTAs, no unnecessary text, and no top navigation bar.

Secondary, or tertiary, links and buttons do nothing more than decrease conversions on your focus CTA. By definition (check this out above), landing pages are a page designed with a single goal in mind. Anything that doesn’t help achieve that goal is unnecessary and should be skimmed off the top.

5. Customer Testimonials:

Customer testimonials are one of our favorite elements in sales landing pages, as they have more of an effect than many people realize:

  • They feature real and relatable people, increasing the personality of your page
  • They feature people similar to your landing page traffic, increasing the chance of that traffic trusting the rest of your message
  • They can showcase specific value points of your product or service you may not otherwise mention
  • They can be specific, offering almost case-study-like metrics, KPI’s and analytics in real-world and concrete terms (“We increased our site traffic by 74% in three weeks and had an overall ROI of 522%. Awesome!”)

Here’s how to optimize them:

  • Feature the full, real name of your reviewer (and job title and business name where applicable). This increases the chance of your landing page traffic relating to the customer on a personal basis
  • Feature the face of your customer. This has a huge effect on whether or not your testimonial is believable. A testimonial without a corresponding face next to it (your landing page traffic thinks) could easily be fabricated
  • Under-sell it: Something subtle like…

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 11.32.08 AM.png

  • Get specific: Don’t be afraid of asking, specifically, what a customer did at a certain point of using your service what the results were). This is awesome to get real-world insight and concrete numbers.

6. Social Follower Count Buttons

Social follower counts work as peer-pressure tools, encouraging your landing page visitor to engage with your business on social. Becoming a Fan of your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ gives you a new and valuable touch-point you can use to nurture your leads towards a final sale.

7. Show the Results (ROI)

Concrete numbers and real-world values are far more convincing than stock figures. For instance, stating an ROI of, on average, 187%, is far more effective than “most clients double their money!”

Section #5: Optimize for your audience, traffic source and desire


Your landing page is affected by the source of traffic coming to it. As we mentioned in the AIDA section above, unless you keep in mind the values, wants and needs of your landing page’s audience, you’ll struggle to find success.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any business:

  • E-commerce companies recognize that they’ll find more success promoting a winter jacket in late September than they will in July. This is nothing more than knowing your audience, recognizing what they’re thinking about, and acting accordingly.
  • B2B companies will recognize that exclusively posting product and service-related content on social media will lose you fans (and fast). This, again, is about knowing your audience, recognizing their mindset depending on platform, and responding intelligently.

Landing pages are no different. Here’s a few examples of how traffic source can affect your landing page design and conversion:

Facebook Posts:

Collecting landing traffic from Facebook is slightly different from any other source, and can actually be harder as many social media users aren’t going to be immediately comfortable being sent off-site to your landing page.

That’s why we recommend incorporating a Facebook landing page tab into your Page. Many 3rd party landing page builders have this capability, and it should be the matter of a simple click to translate your website’s landing page template for the Facebook platform.

This ensures that people can actually convert on your lead-generation page or a contest without having to be sent off-platform, hugely decreasing bounce rates.

Your Google Ads and corresponding landing pages need to be friends.

Creating a cohesive ad/landing page campaign increase conversions on both.

The most important effect that PPC Ads have on your landing page is in keyword matching.

Here’s what you need to be doing to your landing pages to ensure they’re optimized for PPC ad traffic:

  • Ensure your landing page copy is original content that matches the subject matter of your ad (for instance, if you have an ad that’s tested very well and has a high quality score, don’t decide to start using it to send traffic to an unrelated landing page)
  • Make sure your landing page header (which should be header 1) matches your Adword headline closely
  • Make sure your landing page’s subheaders (which should be header 2) match your ad’s keywords
  • Don’t keyword stuff your landing pages, as Google will see this and reduce your ad’s efficacy

Facebook Ads:

Facebook Ads are a fantastic way to drive traffic to your landing page, especially businesses looking to generate leads.

The targeting capabilities of Facebook Ads (something that is constantly developing) allow you to show your ads exclusively to people with a certain job title, income bracket, even car ownership. They also allow you to show your ads exclusively to people who have expressed interest in a certain subject (a subject you could write an ebook about, for instance).

When designing your landing page to collect traffic from a Facebook Ad, it’s important that you optimize that landing page for SEO when collecting traffic from Google Search. Here’s how that optimization looks:

  • 1 in 10-25 words on your landing page should be a keywords in headline and generally spaced throughout
  • Your URL path needs to have the keywords of your landing page offer
  • Meta-tag your landing page’s images with keyword offer (don’t overstuff, but include)
  • How fast it loads affects your SEO (don’t have heavy images, long videos, or complicated code)
  • Don’t use Flash or Javascript if possible (as Google can’t read it)
  • Use headers to prioritize keywords

Email Blast:

Email marketing still has one of the highest returns on investment out of every strategy we have at our disposal. Combined with optimized landing pages, we’re talking about a seriously effective campaign.

Here’s what we recommend:

Send audience-segmented emails that traffic back to segment-specific landing pages.

And here’s what that means:

Let’s say you’re a local pizza restaurant. You’ve recently run an online social sweepstakes giving away free pizza at three of your city’s colleges and universities. You’ve also been running Facebook and Google Ads directed at parents, promoting an email-gated coupon code.

This has given you a bunch of awesome leads in your area - leads that make up two clear and definitive audience segments.

Here’s how you use email and landing pages in tandem:

To your segment made up of college students , send an email blast promoting “student Saturdays” where you give a 50% discount coupon on all large pizzas bought with an active student card.

Drive traffic from the email to a audience-specific landing page with the headline/USP of “Munchies eating you up?” and copy “Students eat cheap on Saturdays! Get your 50% coupon free!”

To your segment made up of parents , send an email blast promoting “We’ve got dinner covered”, where you offer the same discount on large pizzas.

Drive traffic from that email to another audience-specific landing page with the headline/USP “Kids hungry and you’re out of ideas? AcmePizza’s got you covered” and copy “Make Thursday pizza night with AcmePizza’s 50% coupon. Coupons last six months and are usable only on Thursdays between 4 and 8 pm. Get yours before they’re gone!”

Something to remember:

It’s essential that nobody finds your campaign-specific/segment-specific landing pages through search (as this would be confusing to say the least) so we recommend you implement a no-follow strategy. Check out my colleague Krista’s comprehensive article on the subject.

Section #6: How to Test and Analyze your Landing Page to Maximize Conversion


A/B Testing

A/B Testing is where we take your existing landing page and we make it the best it can be.

Seriously - A/B testing is key element for landing page optimization to maximize conversions.

Here’s how it works:

We create two landing pages: one we’ll call your “control” and another we’ll call “variation”. The pages are almost exactly the same, except that the variation landing page has a single difference, an element we think will increase the chance of a conversion (for instance, an image of a smiling woman holding our product as opposed to an image of our product by itself)

We then use a third party software tool (like Wishpond) and send half the people who want to traffic to our page to the control, and half to the variation. Then we measure how many of those people converted on the control, and how many converted on the variation.

Once we (or the tool) has reached a statistically significant confidence that one page or the other has outperformed its competition, we make the winner our final landing page.

Make sense?

What about multi-variate testing?

Multivariate testing your landing page is the same as A/B testing except you’re testing more than one single element. We advise against it (unless you’re a huge corporation with unlimited resources). Not only does it take a lot longer to come to a statistically significant conclusion, but you can never be 100% sure of your results. 

This is because testing multiple variables gives you a convoluted result. Let’s say you’re testing your CTA button color, USP and customer testimonials together. If your variation page outperforms your control, you never know if it’s all three of those new elements working together to achieve results or if it’s just one of them increasing conversions massively while the others actually decrease conversions (but not enough for the results to be negative).

So stick with split testing your landing page for now, and get back to me when you’re a multinational corporation.

Heatmaps, Scrollmaps and Mouse Tracking:

Heatmaps (of which CrazyEgg is the most popular) are an incredibly useful tool, as they tell you exactly what your landing page visitors are clicking on. If you do have any extraneous links or buttons (which we don’t recommend) your heatmap will show how often those are being clicked.

Heatmaps are especially useful when optimizing your homepage for conversion:

  • Is nobody clicking on your “about us” tab? Test removing it.
  • Is your “product reviews” tab bright white (being clicked on constantly)? Test making it more prominent or featuring the most recent reviews in a sidebar.

Scrollmaps are also handy, as they tell you where your landing page visitors are spending most of their time:

  • Are they spending time focusing on your customer testimonials? Test bringing them up the page to make them more obvious.
  • Are they examining one particular benefit over another? Test replacing the one going unnoticed.

Mouse tracking (though one of the more creepy tools landing page optimizers have at our disposal) allows you to, essentially, look over the shoulder of your landing page traffic as they negotiate your website:

  • Is your traffic having trouble finding a popular product they’re looking for? Test cutting out steps and make that page easier to access.
  • Is your traffic interacting with a certain element of your page right before converting? Test placing that element closer to your CTA (or moving your CTA closer to that element)

Previously online marketers like myself would have recommended eye-tracking, but (for most small and medium-sized businesses), the tools are prohibitively expensive. Mouse tracking, on the other hand, is far more affordable and has  an extremely high (like 85-90%) correlation with eye movement anyway.

Conclusion


Feel free to cut and paste individual sections from this article and save it to your computer, as we recognize that 4,000 words is more than you can absorb in a single sitting. Please feel free to get in contact either in the comment section below or at @JDScherer on Twitter - I’d love to help you out.

This article, hopefully, has given you a solid basis from which to start your own landing page campaigns. Remember to design for a single “ask”, keep your audience in mind, and test relentlessly until you’re satisfied with your conversion rates (which you never should be!).

If you’re looking for related reading, or specific articles on the subjects covered here, check out blog.wishpond.com. Here’s a small selection of what you’ll find:

And don’t forget to check out my landing page ebook download, available exclusively to people who finished this comprehensive article!

What you’ll get in the exclusive bonus download:

  • A downloadable, saveable resource
  • More than 50 pages that break down landing pages into bite-size pieces
  • Advanced tools and strategies that your competitors don’t have yet
  • An explanation of how (and why) these strategies will work for your business
  • Real-world examples that help you understand each element of landing pages
  • Exclusive access only available to people who have read this article!

Here’s a sneak preview of what you’ll get:

Thanks for reading!