4 Psychology-Driven Ways to Structure Your Landing Page

4 Psychology-Driven Ways to Structure Your Landing Page

Do you know what’s most valuable on your website?

Your landing pages

It’s where you’ll convert passive visitors into active subscribers, buyers, or fans. It’s where your business grows.

A good landing page is the make-or-break moment for your site. Which is why to write a truly great landing page, you must understand the laws of persuasion.

The rules that determine how we think and act are valuable for every type of marketing, of course. But it’s especially critical when every click counts.

Research has shown that more landing pages lead to more conversions.

But it only counts if you’re doing it correctly. If you’re building a landing page that needs to appeal to the most people, you’ll want to include these ideas.

They’ll help you structure your page in a way that grabs attention and pushes people to act.

Let’s get started!

1. Organize Landing Page Elements Correctly

At its core, a landing page is a series of blocks. How you organize these blocks can make or break the success of what you’ve built.

Put the call to action too late? You won’t get the conversions you’re hoping for.

Include testimonials too early? People won’t understand the offer and will leave.

That's why ordering elements is the first psychology-driven way to structure your landing page.

Primacy Effect—We Remember What Comes First

Quick—name a woman who flew across the Atlantic Ocean.

Did Amelia Earheart come to mind?

She’s not the only woman to have performed the feat. But she sticks with us because she was the first to do it.

This is the Primacy Effect. It's the well-known psychological concept that we remember what comes first.

Bonjoro’s home page is a great example. They show their product’s personal touch with a video at the top.

When you’re setting up the pieces of your landing page, start with what’s most important:

  • A key headline.

  • An eye-catching graphic.

  • A powerful, engaging video.

Whatever it is, choose carefully. It’ll be one of the most memorable parts of your landing page.

Recency Effect—We Remember What Comes Last

It might sound like the opposite of the Primacy Effect. But in truth, it’s a concept that explains the shortcuts the human mind takes.

Maybe this has happened to you—a friend asks for a movie recommendation. But what comes to mind? The last movie you watched … not the best movie you’ve ever seen.

Why would we do that?

It’s the Recency Effect at work. Along with what comes first, what comes last takes special importance.

To use it on your landing page, make sure you end on a strong note.

(Pro tip: This is almost always a call to action.)

The Recency Effect doesn't just apply to the last part of the landing page, but to the last part your visitor reads.

If a lot of visitors leave a certain place, try to fix it. But if you can’t, at least make it worth remembering.

Von Restorff Effect—We Remember What Stands Out

Read this list:

Blue. Orange. Green. Red. Elephant. Yellow.

Now, name one word from that list.

Did "elephant" come to mind? Researchers have performed similar experiments again and again.

The findings are clear—most of us remember what stands out.

Just like those Sesame Street segments, the Von Restorff Effect says: “one of these things is not like the others.”

In the context of a landing page, there are thousands of ways to apply the Von Restorff Effect.

But one of the simplest is to add variety to long sections. So if you have a list of features, add a captivating image to draw attention to the most important.

(Research indicates this effect diminishes as we age, so this is less important on landing pages for older visitors.)

The Von Restorff Effect is all about breaking up the monotony.

Here’s another example of this concept in action—once you get to the conclusion of this article, you’ll probably remember this concept best.

It’s the only one on the list with a fun German name.

2. Limit Choices (But Not Too Much)

Humans are funny creatures.

We crave options. Yet at the same time, we’re startlingly bad at making good choices with the freedom we’ve been given.

The Internet has brought millennia of knowledge to our fingertips … yet there’s so much of it, we’d rather just watch Netflix.

Using landing pages, how can we leverage human tendencies with choices?

Freedom of Choice—We Prefer Multiple Options

The first concept is the one we all know: more options are better than fewer options.

Which bakery is better—one with two types of pastries or one with twenty?

Options give us a sense of comfort. When we choose, we're in control.

So when you’re designing your landing page, keep that comfort in mind.

We’ll get into more nuts-and-bolts depth about pricing strategies in just a minute. But for now, remember that providing some options is better than none at all.

For example, there are only two options to subscribe to The New Yorker: print and digital.

Yet The New Yorker subscription page expands this to include a three-month option.

Many times, we only have one offer. But don’t miss the chance for more choices.

Let the prospect use a payment plan, or pay all at once.

Offer a basic plan or an upgrade.

The choices are endless. Speaking of which, they shouldn’t be.

The Paradox of Choice—Too Many Options Paralyzes Us

Months ago, I started a simple search for a better charging cable for my phone. Amazon proudly informed me there were more than 40,000 items.

They all looked more or less the same, with almost indistinguishable differences.

It was confusing. I didn't know where to go, and the options froze my decision-making ability.

I still haven't bought a new charger. After all, my current cable connects to my phone ... most of the time.

What's going on?

You see, we love options, but too many choices are bad for us.

This is especially critical for e-commerce landing pages. Chewy does a great job of showing lots of categories without being overwhelming.

But be careful—it’s easy to fall into the trap of showing every option.

Instead, as you structure your landing page, stick with a smaller number. Research shows humans best remember seven things, give or take two.

To err on the side of caution, stick with five. Peloton does a great job simplifying its dozens of products into a short list of five.

But what if you must display more than seven? That’s the place Amazon finds itself in.

When you have 40,000 products, it’d be a disservice to only show five. So Amazon has taken advantage of the next concept.

Social Proof—Highlight Choices Based on Popularity

The classic example of social proof is something like, “9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne.”

But there are thousands of more subtle ways social proof surrounds us. As Amazon’s catalog has grown, they’ve added social proof to help sort through the noise.

For example, Amazon now flags best selling products.

Products with more (and more positive) customer reviews are likely to drive more click-throughs. Which of these two knives are you more likely to buy?

And Amazon even helps us choose with their “Amazon’s Choice” label.

They’ve also partnered with review sites for third-party recommendations.

(This is a variation of social proof known as Appeal to Authority. After all, a third party sounds more objective than Internet strangers.)

The most common usage of social proof like this is on pricing landing pages. You’ve seen it before—the website highlights one pricing plan as being more popular.

Use the same ideas on your own page.

And speaking of pricing, let’s look there next.

3. Structure Your Pricing Correctly

Pricing seems so simple.

Yet it’s one of the most complex areas of marketing.

You see, there isn’t an exact formula for pricing. Sure, there are all kinds of recommendations online.

Add a percentage to your cost.

Look at what your competitors are doing.

And so forth.

But the real secret to pricing—the gold your competitors are missing out on—lies in psychology.

Here are the three principles you need to know.

Anchoring Effect—State Higher Prices First

Have you noticed how we all spend more on cell phones now?

Before the Smartphone Age, most of us spent a few hundred dollars on a new cell phone.

But today, it’s common for us to spend $1,000 or more on a device.

Why?

Because of the Anchoring Effect. When we see $1,000 cell phones, we begin to think that’s the norm.

Even if we’re thrifty, spending $500 now seems like a deal—even if it’s double what we would have paid just a few years ago.

When you’re designing your landing page, you want to take anchoring into effect.

The simplest way is to show high prices first. So if you have more than one plan, list the most expensive first, then in descending order of price.

Casper does a great job of this by positioning their premium Wave mattress first.

(It’s also a beautiful example of providing choices, with guidance.)

Only have one plan?

Then use a technique copywriters have employed for decades—list comparisons.

You’ve seen it before:

“In-person training for this would cost $10,000. Hiring a coach would be $500 an hour. But with my course, you can get the same information for just $99 …”

They use it because it works.

And you can use it, too.

Loss Aversion Principle—Focus on What We’re Losing

It’s your birthday, and a friend gives you a $100 bill.

Later that day, you withdraw another $100 from an ATM. But when you get home, you realize you left the money in the machine.

Do those two events even each other out?

Research says no. The ATM loss will be more painful than the birthday gift was enjoyable. About twice as painful psychologically, in fact.

We all love to win.

But more than winning, we want to avoid losing. This is known as the Loss Aversion Principle.

As you create your landing page, keep this principle in mind.

We’re all tempted to list the great features and benefits we have to offer. But psychology shows that losing is more powerful.

To do this, start off by explaining what problems the prospect is facing right now.

Show that they’re already losing something, whether that’s money, time, status, or health.

Show that your offer can change that, and they can stop losing out.

Then—and only then—should you show the benefits.

Contrast Effect—Small Differences Can Stand Out

Remember the Von Restorff Effect?

It stated that in a list of similar items, we notice things that stand out.

(Like elephants among color samples.)

The Contrast Effect is its visual counterpart.

There’s a reason most call-to-action buttons aren’t the same color as the page background. There’s a reason “for sale” signs on car lots are bright pink and yellow.

Colors that stand apart catch our eye.

The Ahrefs home page is a great example of the Contrast Effect. The bright orange call to action is immediately obvious.

Every landing page needs to draw attention to one or more items.

The best way to do this? With contrast.

Give a section a brightly-colored background.

Add a border that pops.

And start grabbing attention.

4. Improve Actions with Cognitive Fluency

Humans are, in our hearts, very lazy creatures.

It’s not our fault!

Our bodies have been finely-tuned over millions of years to conserve energy.

We’re built to make split-second judgments to assess situations.

It’s great on the prehistoric prairie. But in the 21st century, it means we have a few biases.

And you need to take them into account when selling.

Cognitive Fluency—Easier Content is More Trustworthy

Imagine you’re studying for a test in college, and two friends offer to share their study notes.

One friend hands you a bulging pile of dog-eared scribbles.

The other friend gives you a typed report broken down by subject. Each section has summaries and bullet points with key facts to remember.

Which would you use to study?

The answer seems obvious, but the better-organized student might be flunking the class. We judge credibility based on what's easiest to read.

As you design your landing page, make the content seamless. One section leads to another, all the way to the call to action.

This is the idea of Cognitive Fluency. Essentially, we choose what’s easiest for the brain to process.

Take it to heart in your landing pages, and keep the structure simple and easy to follow.

Deictic Gaze—We Obey Indicators to Where to Look

This is one of the silliest shortcuts in the human brain, but it works.

Before I explain how, look at the following image:

Did you look to the right?

Congratulations, you’ve seen the Deictic Gaze in action. It’s one of the most obvious examples of Cognitive Fluency.

Our brain will follow arrows, other people’s line of sight, and other cues when deciding where to look.

The brain’s laziness is a great way to improve your landing page. You’ve seen it a thousand times, and it's worth adding yourself.

Place small arrows, pointers, and even photographs of people facing the right direction.

Halo Effect—We Assign Good Design with Positive Traits

Take a quick glance at the website below. Is this someone you’d want to do business with?

If you’re like most people, you’d think twice about this company. Its 1990s-era website doesn’t look like a credible business venture.

But you’d be mistaken. It's the home page of billionaire Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway.

You see, first impressions influence our perception. We assume a site with bad design is a bad site. Likewise, we assign positive traits to sites that appeal to us.

This “halo” of positive traits leads to the name of the concept, the Halo Effect.

Every landing page you create should look as great as possible.

Nothing sells like a halo.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how Warren Buffett still succeeds with a site like that?

Simple: When you’re a world-famous billionaire, your personal halo extends to your website, not the other way around.

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Book a free call to learn how our team of marketing experts can help you create a high converting landing page today.

Conclusion

What’s the difference between a good landing page and a great one? It often comes down to the level of persuasion you decide to use.

A serious landing page creator will consider every user’s action and build their page around it like Wishpond’s Canvas.

And the best way to do that? Psychological triggers. By using proven persuasion techniques, you can influence the viewer to act.

Oftentimes, the difference between a casual visitor and a ready buyer comes down to specific techniques that influence him or her to act.

You’ve learned four psychology-based ways to structure your landing page. Plus, you've seen twelve of the most common principles you can put in place.

Which will you use first?

About the Author Emil Kristensen is the CMO and co-founder of Sleeknote: a company that helps e-commerce brands turn their website browsers into buyers—without hurting the user experience.