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Best Practices for Building High-Converting Landing Pages

Ian Blair

When you meet someone new, what do you do?

You reach out for a handshake, right?

The other person may also extend their hand and shake yours.

Or, they can do a 180 and walk away.

Handshakes are often the beginning of relationships.

And on the internet, the landing page is a website’s first handshake with a visitor.

They may give you a click. They could also just hit that back arrow. Some even close the whole window if the landing page is particularly….unpleasant.

Often, this virtual handshake comes with an agenda: getting visitors to subscribe or sign up to something, convincing them to buy a product, asking them to download content, or even just getting a simple engagement like a Facebook like or a retweet.

each engagement = conversion

And these pages mean nothing if they’re not getting conversions.

Is it going to be a

handshake

or a

landing page fail

 

Landing pages are a mainstay in online marketing—it converts traffic into leads. It’s the single best way to get leads out of your SEO, social media and outreach efforts. You don’t start a marketing campaign without a landing page.

But a lot of people are still in the dark as to how to create and launch a landing page that actually does its job. Lots of people are still lost when it comes to building a high-converting landing page. Sure,

In this post, we put together the best practices for building landing pages that deliver.

These may seem so simple— but a quick look at landing pages out there, you know a lot of people need all the help they can get.

Resist the urge to put everything above the fold

The portion of the page that’s visible when it first loads up is referred to as above the fold.

It’s easy to get excited about what to put above the fold. You want give visitors the full package when they arrive so you cram in multimedia, a couple of buttons and colors everywhere.

Inviting.

Not really.

Landing pages are dedicated to one thing and one thing only: conversions.

If there are unnecessary elements present above the fold that (1) shouldn’t be there in the first place, and (2) distract from your call to action, they you’re failing at the landing page game.

Wouldn’t it be great if your visitors get ushered toward your call to action straightaway?

Distractions don’t even have to be other button or links—cramming content above the fold can really hurt your conversion. Images, text, space, borders. Anything that doesn’t contribute to your call to action and makes it harder for the user to  realize what the page is telling them should be eliminated from the site.

Traditional businesses are notorious for poorly designed landing pages that just have too much going on above the fold.

Here’s an example:

country bank above the fold
It’s a familiar story and it usually goes like this.

Bob wants to open a bank account so he goes on Google and types in “savings account.” One of the results say Country Bank. This appeals to Bob since he doesn’t really like those big city banks and he supports smaller establishments.

It doesn’t take long for Bob to click out of the page and look for another bank. Why?

The page is just too cluttered to make sense.

He thinks, “There’s a lot going on in this page. And what’s the tree doing there? I know it’s called Country Bank, but why is the tree so big? I’m not sure this is a bank. Just looking at this page tires me. Do I need to read this all first for the page to make sense?”

country bank above the fold 1

Look at how many calls to action is on this page. Not only are they too many for the landing page, they are all inconspicuously placed on the page. The text is of varying colors and sizes. The images are not standard. The navigation menu and the whole page is a smorgasbord of colors.

The idea of a high-conversion landing page is when a visitor comes to your page, there is very little friction between intent and the actual engagement.

Examine your above the fold design and copy. Is the page pushing a single CTA? Is it substantial but not cluttered?

Many argue that what’s above the fold isn’t a important as many marketers, designers and conversion rate optimization specialists say. A Nielsen study found that despite these claims, there is good evidence that users put more value on content above the fold than the rest of the page.

How much more? “The average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold is 84%,” according to their findings.

So, what should you put above the fold?

The design, look and feel of your landing page depends on many factors. The whole page should always be considered.

In this era of responsive design, the “fold” might not even be applicable to many websites.

However, here are some guidelines for creating solid above the fold design and copy, or just basically what content people need to be looking at when they land on your site.

Some examples of good above the fold design and copy:

In a post, Redditor /r/illminstrel tells the tale of his startup Plot Guru and how it increased its conversions by 52% after a series of redesigns over seven months. This is the current form:

plot guru

AppSumo’s Chief Sumo Noah Kagan runs his own website called OkDork.com and it has one of the simplest, straight-cutting and no-clutter landing page designs out there. And, he doesn’t really redesign it a lot—meaning it continues to work!

Noah Kagan

Make Copy a Priority

If you want to grow your business, you must learn to write good copy.

If not, hire a professional.

[thrive_lead_lock id=’15037′]Hidden Content[/thrive_lead_lock]

Because great copy converts.

But when you’re bootstrapping, that might not be doable. Copywriters have one of the most lucrative careers in the world of business. Well, for good reason. Imagine getting tenfold sales for a business just through words. It’s an inch away from black magic!

So, this is exactly what you need for your landing page copy—some magic, some mojo.

And that mojo comes from where? Your target audience.

Know what’s the single most useful advice anyone writing copy can get?

Talk like your audience—then write it down.

If you’re running a business, knowing who your customers are is the most basic thing you should be figuring out. Besides, customers drive sales, customers drive growth, customers spark business!

So, make sure you can answer these questions: What are their interests? How do they talk? What is the tone that appeals to them? Are they a formal bunch? Do they like butt jokes? Do they live on the edge therefore appreciate borderline offensive humor bits?

Nev

This is the landing page for Neville Medhora’s KopywritingKourse.com. He’s arguably one of the hottest copywriters of the startup world.

I’ve followed Nev for a while. He really puts an emphasis on doing things the practical way—don’t get confined by what you think is “business” writing or how you think things should be done.

Like his tagline says: Learn how to write like you speak and sell like hell. Isn’t that what you want for your landing page to begin with?

This tagline obviously works for Neville because it’s exactly what he does. He does a great job of explaining what it is exactly he will be teaching you if you opt-in.

So how do you formulate a tagline for your landing page?

Guess who’s going to teach us? Yeah, you guessed right. Still Neville.

Here’s his three-step approach in coming up with a tagline for a business, website or anything with a landing page:

3 steps tagline

Neville makes it clear, though, that if you want one of those sexy taglines like Nike’s Just Do It and Adidas’s Impossible Is Nothing, you’d have to grow a multi-billion dollar enterprise first.

The point is that when you’re just starting out, it’s best to keep your tagline as descriptive as possible. Something that will serve as super condensed value proposition for your website, business, app or whatever you’re building landing pages for.

SumoMe is a company that offers a lot of free tools that help grow your website’s traffic.

Nev works with SumoMe and here he shares how they came up with SumoMe’s tagline:

sumome

How about the rest of the page?

Whether you’re selling a super serious product, a government program or for a huge enterprise, people understand you when you write like a human. The formal robotic business language is a thing of the past—I think, officially!

Just in case you forgot how to speak and write like a human, here are some pointers:

1. Keep sentences short.

2. Don’t try to sound smart or important.

3. If you had to look it up in the dictionary, don’t use the word.

Keep in mind that your customers are human. Also, never lose track of keeping the language as close to how your audience thinks and speaks. Knowing how those exactly are is of course a matter of market research, social listening and some marketing ninja techniques.

Quora, Reddit and niche forums are a great place to find customers “in the wild.” What’s the best way? Talk directly to them!

Social Proof: Let Others Sell Your Product

Online-savvy entrepreneurs and marketers know that social proof is the hint of humble-brag on your page that’s just become necessary to push conversion up.

People don’t trust you if you’re talking about yourself. So, let others talk about you.

It’s required.

Today’s customers are informed like never before. They don’t just go and buy off of a stranger. They look for proof that this service, product or whatever it is has worked for someone else before.

Social proof is how you take control. Why don’t you host the reviews on your own site? Testimonials on landing pages are not negatively received. They’re not seen as overly promotional IF they are real.

Almost all high-traffic sites have social proof somewhere on their landing pages.

Here are some:

little bird

Little Bird showed off all the enterprise level companies that use their software. They also know their audience! Since they cater to marketing needs, they included photos of renowned marketers on their landing page.

workflowy

There’s nothing subtle with the way Workflowy used social proof. They straight up posted how awesome they make the companies that use them. The credibility of companies mentioned carries the value in this type of social proof.

Use with Caution

Look: Social proof is awesome— and it helps both you and the visitor. However, you must not give in to the temptation of overstating testimonials, or worse, making stuff up.

Ready to Create?

There is no formula for creating landing pages that convert like crazy. But, there’s a way to get to that point.

Test!

Landing pages are not plug-and-play. You need to monitor what works and what doesn’t. Traffic isn’t easy to come by—so you want it to convert like a madman after you hit publish.

Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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