Landing pages are the crux of any inbound marketing campaign - the page which turns a visitor, into a lead and ultimately a customer. If overlooked or thrown together haphazardly, your landing pages could cost you valuable opportunities by driving visitors away, rather than guiding them down the sales funnel. Before we even talk about optimization, we have to address the question, "what is a landing page?". By definition, a landing page is the page a visitor lands on, when clicking through to the site from a search engine result, paid advertisement, or by any other means of referral. This is their first interaction with your website from another source.

Ask any digital marketer though, and they are likely to say a landing page is a specific type of page built to convert the visitor to a subscriber or lead. These types of landing pages are often used in inbound marketing when attempting to get a visitor to convert at different stages of the funnel and eventually become a customer. With that in mind, let's review some of the common best practices of a landing page as part of an inbound marketing campaign:

  • Your headline matches the CTA they clicked on.
  • Succinct content on the landing page that can be scanned easily.
  • An image of your offer, service, or even an explainer video [link]
  • A clear next step – call to action button or form that is visible above the fold

Best practices are a great launching point when you’re just starting out. However, as your campaign becomes more evolved you well begin to recognize opportunities where you stray from the best practices in order to grow your conversion and engagement rates. Often when making these changes, you are not going to be certain what will work, so testing is always key. Being open to changes and testing can result in growing your conversion rate another 1% or more.

Call to Action Copy and Tone

It is a common recommendation to have your call-to-action (cta) include action packed, urgent and value based proposition text, in 1st person tone with a contrasting color to your website. This has been tried time and time again. It works for most marketing campaigns and is a great place to start.  But sometimes the best practice isn’t what will resonate with your audience and entice them to click, and because we’re talking about call to actions, click rate is the only metric worth optimizing for. When your goal is to improve click through rate consider the action you want them to take and the stage in the funnel the visitor is in. Adding a sense of urgency might work for your wildly popular webinar or event that is about to sell out, but it could be alarming to someone who is simply looking to sign up for your newsletter.

Stripping Out Navigation

I’d consider this a good one to follow in almost every landing page with an offer behind it. Removing navigation elements has been proven to focus the visitor on the action you want them to take next, and at this stage in the conversion process they are already familiar with your brand and content. But, what if your landing page was created with the strategy in mind to rank well in search results? Let's say you create a dense on-site guide with other call to actions strung throughout the page copy similar to the solar galaxy strategy we wrote about yesterday. How do you approach the navigation then? If the page you’re hoping to have people convert on can be found within search results, it may not be the best option if the only choice they have is to fill out a form to download an e-book. In these cases, there is a good chance that they are unfamiliar with your business or products; so having the navigation available would allow them to browse your website and interact with more of your content. By allowing them access to this information, they will begin trusting you enough to submit their information and convert to a lead.

Style Formatting & Copy Length

Trust is a huge factor when setting up conversion paths for your offers and how you format the text on each page plays a role in this. Matching the title of your page to the call-to-action is incredibly important in earning the trust of your visitor and keeping their attention on the task at hand; as opposed to wondering if they landed on the right page. Once they are certain they've landed on the right page to receive the content, they're looking for short, concise, straight-to-the-point copy.. Keep their attention and increase the ability of your copy to be scanned by using h1, h2, bulleted and strong styling throughout your landing page. Although styling is important there are situations where your page content could be longer form. Take case studies for example, you’re unlikely to entice someone to download a full case study or book of case studies without showing them some results prior to their download. In this instance, you could get away with 300-400 words of copy and a couple different graphs, and then include a form they can submit to download the full report.

Content & Call-to-Actions Above the Fold

Keeping your page short and simple reduces the amount of barriers between the visitor and the submit button. A request a demo page has no real reason to push things below the fold because the next action you want them to take is very clear. Sign up for a demo. But if your landing page is a service page or free consultation there is likely going to be more copy that forces some content below the fold. In this case you can choose to keep your form on the side of the page so it is always visible, or you can test the form at the bottom of the page so as not to interrupt your visitor when they are trying to learn more about your business. In the end, I think the same argument I made for formatting and copy length applies here. Don't go adding unnecessary content to the page in addition to the conversion you want them to take. If the layout of your landing page and the place the visitor is in their buying process cannot contain all of the content above the fold, then start testing.  Find other ways to insert call-to-action buttons if you want more exposure on the form at the bottom of the page. Slide in forms and ctas are becoming more popular as they are considered to be less intrusive than a pop-up window.

Form Length

Common best practice for your form length is to match the stage of the buying process of your offer.  For instance, if your offer is mid-funnel and bottom of the funnel content, the visitor probably won’t mind giving you their phone number. But if this is something top of the funnel meant to gain awareness and attract leads, it might actually hurt conversions to ask for more personal information. Often a simple name, email and one other identifier like job title, company name, or company size is enough in this case. This is most certainly going to evolve as you set up your inbound campaign. Which questions you choose to ask evolve as you get better at segmenting your lists for sending targeted content. Or maybe the end goal, meaning what you're planning to do with the list of submissions from one offer might be different than another, which again can alter what you ask and how long the form is.

Video Converts Better

Does it? Well yes in fact, having a video on your landing page has been shown to convert 80% better than a landing page without one. But video isn’t always appropriate. For instance an explainer video about how fun your company is and how creative the content in your newsletter is could be a unique and valuable way to get people to sign up for your email list, or it could be overkill. In our experience video is often surprising because it is looked at as a more difficult medium for businesses to use. If something is surprising and it is done well of course it is going to convert better. When it comes to video we think it is best when it is useful and adds value to your offer, as opposed to following best practices.   For me the bottom line with best practices is that, no one understands your business as well as you do. Hopefully we’ve outlined some ways in which you can change, update and test your landing page to convert your ideal customer, but going with what is appropriate for your content, the user, and the point at which they are in the buying cycle is always best. Knowing what will work for your potential customers, whether you’re following best practices or not, is hard when you still aren’t sure who they are and what makes them tick. Which is why we have a customer profile template that will help you outline the traits and behaviors of your ideal customer so that you can start building call to actions, landing pages and content specific to their needs right away.

Download our guide to creating customer profiles