07 Jan 7 Elements of the Best Landing Pages
We’re marketers, and we love data, so let’s start this article off with some statistics to whet the appetite. Did you know that, according to HubSpot, websites with more than 10 landing pages yield 57% more conversions?
Interestingly, according to Marketing Sherpa, 62% of B2B companies have six or fewer landing pages in total. In fact, they also say that 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each marketing campaign. So what gives?
The power of landing pages is sadly underestimated, and because of this many of us are leaving a whole load of opportunity on the table.
Whether you’re using landing pages or not, I want to give you 7 elements that the best landing pages all share. If you’re getting started with landing page creation then this will put you ahead of the curve, and if you are then you might find some great takeaways here, too.
Element No. 1: Removing navigation
There’s an old phrase in direct response marketing known as “unsupervised thinking”, and it applies directly to our websites. If your prospects aren’t guided through a process or need to figure out what to do for themselves then they’ll often bounce.
To help ease this anxiety, the best landing pages remove several common website elements from their landing pages completely. The most common of these is the navigation.
We do this because when we get our visitor on to our landing pages we want them to take a specific action, not to be directed elsewhere and get distracted. Landing pages are fairly middle-of-funnel, and to direct them up the funnel with links to the home or other pages can harm conversions.
Instead, we want to focus on the key call-to-action we offer them. For most landing pages this is usually filling out a form, with emphasis on the button, which we’ll cover shortly.
Sometimes removing this one simple element can mean a massive lift in conversions. Take Yuppiechef, for example, who increased their conversion rate from 3% to 6% – a 100% lift! Or SparkPage, who managed to change their conversion rate from 9.2% to 17.6% over a month.
If you’re still using the navigation in your landing pages then this should be the first thing you test. Removing distractions = increasing conversions.
Element No. 2: The Hero shot
Humans are visual creatures, and when it comes to landing pages it’s sometimes hard to illustrate what the user will be receiving. We need to use a relevant hero shot to fill in the visual void.
With eBooks, whitepapers and other forms of downloadable or streamable content this can be quite easy. All you need to do is put the cover of the book or a still from a video on the page and you can turn digital content into something perceived more tangible.
When offering something like a quote or a consultation however, and this can become more difficult. We’ll need to get more creative with how we illustrate the value here.
One current trend is using a photographic background with bold text in front of it, as seen here on the Kapost pricing page. This helps add something more “real worldly” into the page and solve the lack of visuals.
Whatever you use, if you can make it relevant and in context with the offer, then you’re more likely to increase conversions.
Element No. 3: Benefit-driven value proposition
When a visitor lands on your landing page, it’s said you have about 7 seconds to get their attention. Realistically these days, that’s more like half a second. You need to grab attention and communicate exactly what your offer is about fast.
What is it that differentiates you from everyone else, or separates you from the competition? Your value proposition is what will get attention in the first instance and compel a visitor to continue their journey on your landing page.
A value proposition can be displayed as a headline and sub-heading, displayed above the fold and the first thing that your visitors see when they land. It should be concise, set expectations and give a “reason why” they should stick around and care.
The headline alone should communicate the benefits to your visitor. It’s the first thing people see, and so you should put a lot of time and effort into crafting one that will help you gather conversions.
Take a look at the example above from Vonigo. The headline shows exactly what the offer is all about, and the sub-headings list out the benefits; increasing sales, reducing costs and improving efficiency. It even lists out some feature-based bullets, too.
Here’s another great example from SendGrid for one of their guides. They could have just put “Email Deliverability Guide” in the headline, as this is what they’ll be getting, but instead they focused on a more psychological sales copy.
Spend time crafting a headline that both explains what the visitor is getting as well as the benefits of doing so. There’s not one-size-fits-all solution but there are some best practices you should follow. Check out this guide on headlines to learn more.
Element No. 4: Test with video
We’ve talked about using various images as a way of illustrating and visualising the offer, known as the hero shot, but another way of doing this is to use video.
Video allows people to consume content with very little effort. Thanks to TV, it’s a format we’ve all become used to, and can really help in reducing friction and increasing conversions. Many of the best landing pages are using video to communicate their value propositions and benefits of their offering with great success.
Video has been proven to increase the length of time that people stay on your home page for, which allows your message to sink in deeper. This is because people find watching video easier than reading content. There’s less effort.
What should you put in your video? That all depends on what you’re offering. You can quickly create good quality videos by filming PowerPoint or Keynote presentations, or by giving a quick overview of your product “in the flesh”.
Featuring your employees or happy clients, direct to camera, can really help to build the trust factor. People do business with other people, and by creating a relate-able message through video you can gain credibility far quicker than you would with copy alone.
If you’re going to take video seriously then you should test different elements to see what your audience prefers. Try a short and long version of your video to see what inspires engagement and yields a greater conversion.
You can even use certain technologies to put a call-to-action straight into your video. Test with where you place them and how frequently throughout the video. YouTube allows you to do this right off the bat, not to mention the added SEO benefits.
Element No. 5: Limiting offers & calls-to-action
Remember what we said before about removing navigation? Distractions hurt conversions, and having more than one action or offering on the same landing page is the same.
It can be tempting to give your visitors more than one option or offer, but a confused user does not a conversion make. You need to make the journey through your landing page as linear as possible, making the only obvious option the one action you’ve laid out for them.
The format of your calls-to-action are therefore very important. Testing button size, colour and the copy used on them are all things you should try to optimise. Using a button colour that contrasts from the rest of your page will help it to stand out.
Testing button copy can also help boost conversions. Many marketers are still using copy like “Submit” for their forms, yet it’s been proven time and time again that meaningful, offer-driven copy such as “Get Your Ebook Now” is much more effective.
At Seraph Science we’re currently running a test on our Ebook’s landing page to improve conversions by amending the call-to-action copy. The original, which says “Get Your Free Ebook” is being tested against a more time-based version, which says “Download Instantly”.
This is where testing can often trump our own assumptions. While the original copy consistently yields a 24% conversion rate, the new variation is currently converting at 41%. That’s 67% lift in conversions on a statistically significant test!
The original copy, which was reward based, would not appear to be as effective as the new copy, which is more focused on instant gratification. This just goes to show how important a call-to-action can be.
Element No. 6: Social proof
What someone else says about you is 100 times more believable about what you say about yourself. You’ve heard it a hundred times it’s almost a cliché, and that’s because it’s still true. Yet when it comes to landing pages this age-old marketing tactic goes out of the window!
We touched upon this briefly under the section on video, but it gets its own section simply because of how important and effective it is.
It’s important that you get testimonials right, as around 90% of people tend to assume that they’re made up. This issue can be overcome if we gather endorsements that use specificity.
When you see a testimonial that simply reads “Service X is great and I’m very happy with what they’ve done for us”, it can appear as if it was made up or that the person has been paid to give it. However, something such as “Seraph Science generated 7 figures worth of sales pipeline in 8 weeks for our company” it gives specific numbers and time frames on those results.
Including a decent photograph of the client that has given you the testimonial will help add to the credibility. Putting a face to the name really helps because, again, we’re visual creatures.
Sometimes getting a testimonial or endorsement from a “celebrity” in your market can supercharge these efforts, especially when you use exact figures and time scales. Look at your best clients and find who has the most influence within your market.
Element No. 7: The perfect form length
There are two things you want to avoid in your landing pages, and they are friction and anxiety. Friction are the things that make taking an action laborious and slow, often causing a user to bounce, while anxiety is just that – making your prospect feel anxious about taking an action.
Most of the time, these two psychological restrictions are found in the same landing page element: the form.
Too many fields in your form can cause friction, while asking your users for something such as a phone number at the wrong time can cause anxiety. This anxiety is usually because they don’t trust you enough yet, and that sensitive information will get into the wrong hands.
To combat this, you need to make sure you get the right fields at the right stage of the funnel. For example, if you’re offering something at the top-of-funnel then just asking for a name, email address and perhaps company name will be best.
Middle-of-funnel offers, such as a demo, call back or quote, will require more details from the prospect. Usually they are ready enough to hand over these details and are aware that this is what it takes to take the conversation further, so friction and anxiety will be lower.
If you’re unsure on how many fields you should be including then test different variations until you get to the sweet spot. You may be wondering how your sales team is supposed to follow up on a prospect with such minimal information, and the answer is: they don’t.
Having a good nurturing system that uses email and social media channels will help guide these prospects further down the funnel and eventually provide you with this information. It’s what makes inbound marketing so great, and the best landing pages compliment this.
These 7 elements are not a be-all-end-all, but they are what make the best landing pages so effective. We use them as often as we can and are part of our checklist.
What I really want you to get out of this are some ideas that you can begin testing. Maybe you can see some gaps that can be filled, or things that aren’t being done at all.
The word “test” is the operative word here. Nothing we say is the Holy Grail, but they work tremendously well for us and many other marketers. Just doing a Google search on any of the above elements will show some terrific examples and articles that advocate the same.
But you should still test, because despite our assumptions, that’s what will show you what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your landing pages.