If your New Year’s resolution has anything to do with growing your bottom line, there’s one thing every business needs to get there: more landing pages. These company workhorses help you earn more customers and keep current ones, making them an indispensable asset.
To help you meet your goals for the coming year, we’ve pulled together a list of 21 landing page best practices that will take your return on ad spend (ROAS) to new heights.
1. Create one landing page for every audience
Marketers segment because every audience is different. Each segment may respond differently to certain headlines, persuasive styles, offers, images, etc. And that’s why savvy marketers don’t use the same ad on two different audiences.
However, many of these same marketers are okay with sending all their paid traffic to the same landing page. This impersonalized approach completely negates all the hard work of segmenting in the first place. If you wouldn’t run the same ad for all your audiences, you shouldn’t use the same post-click landing page on all of them, either.
Each marketing asset—ad, landing page, offer—should account for the differences between audiences, and control for those variables within the content. The bottom line is this: Every audience needs a unique post-click landing page.
2. Message-match your ads and pages
When your prospect clicks your ad and arrives at your post-click landing page, they’ll make a snap judgment about whether you have what they’re looking for before they even get into the bulk of the content.
They’ll look for:
- Your logo at the top of the page
- Brand colors that match the ad
- A headline that offers the same thing the advertisement did
- The same media that was in the ad
You need to convince visitors the rest of your page deserves their time and trust. If it seems like you’re pulling a bait and switch—advertising one thing but delivering another—they’ll abandon your page for another. To keep this from happening, you should aim to
message-match your PPC ad and landing page. Keep copy, colors, and branding consistent, and the appealing elements that got your prospect to click your ad may also get them to convert on your page.
Here’s a good example from Winc. First, the ad:
Now the post-click landing page:
3. Personalize your messaging
Relevance drives high ROAS. To achieve relevance, you must personalize your messaging to each audience segment.
That means more than using tools like dynamic keyword insertion or tactics like message match. Though message match provides a foundation of trust and relevance, it doesn’t provide the level of deep personalization you need to persuade an audience to convert on an offer. With simple word substitutions, neither does dynamic keyword insertion.
Personalizing ads and pages is about delivering content that forms a meaningful narrative—one that speaks to audience motivations and personal circumstances, and also overcomes buying objections. You can only accomplish this with a strong understanding of your audience and the resources to personalize at scale.
4. Focus on benefits, not features
Features are only as powerful as their benefits. Your audience doesn’t care if you’ve overhauled every aspect of your product, upgraded to a next-gen processor, or invested in 100% cotton. They care about what those features will do for them.
If a next-gen processor means faster loading speeds for their favorite entertainment, say so. If cotton is softer and better for more delicate skin, mention that up front. Don’t fall into the trap of selling your product; sell your prospects on an enhanced version of themselves. What will your product help them become? Happy? Healthy? How will it improve their lives?
5. Write compelling copy
Advertisers are over-reliant on phrases like “sign up” and “register”. Most body copy is dry and dull, with headlines that fail to pull the reader in. When writing ad copy, it’s essential to remember that there are two powerful opposing forces working on the prospect:
- They DON’T want to read marketing copy. Marketing copy is not for pleasure reading. It’s often tedious, salesy, and self-important.
- They DO want to learn what a product or service can do for them. Marketing copy, though boring, is necessary to read to understand whether an offer can improve your life.
So, if they don’t want to read your content, but still need to evaluate your offer, be considerate. Concisely deliver the information they need to make a quick decision.
Compelling copy is:
- Conversational. With a few exceptions, writing like you talk is the best way to convey concepts quickly. Imagine your prospect is sitting across from you. What would you say to them to convince them to convert? Write that.
- Chunked. Paragraphs should be short. Try not to exceed four lines to keep your readers from bouncing at the sight of an intimidating wall of text.
- Skimmable. Separate sections of copy with headers and subheaders. That way, a “skimmer” can jump around to the parts of your content that interest them. Use bullets whenever possible to break up the text, especially when you want to share a list of benefits. This approach will help call attention to the information while also breaking up the text.
- Personalized. Generic body copy won’t provide a relevant narrative. Personalize your copy on every post-click landing page to its target audience.
- Positive and promising. It’s okay to push on your readers’ pain points, but you had better promise to solve them (and be able to deliver on that promise with your product). Few people will respond positively to a page that doesn’t focus on highlighting the benefits of owning the product.
Don’t settle for mundane copy like every other ad and landing page. There are lots of ways to make your content readable and engaging. Taking the extra time to use strategies like these can have a major impact on conversion rate.
6. Keep prospects focused with a single conversion goal
When you create a post-click landing page for a particular offer, that offer shouldn’t share the spotlight. Some advertisers think several offers per landing page can help draw more visitors into their funnel. Really, though, this approach only distracts the visitor from your main offer, and it can decrease conversion rate.
In the same way that writing content for multiple audiences can muddy the persuasiveness of a page, so can writing for multiple offers. To be optimally persuasive, your content needs to focus on one audience and one offer. Make the copy specific to the product or service you offered in the ad, highlighting benefits and overcoming objections unique to that one offer.
7. Remove navigation links
We live in the age of distraction. When a prospect lands on your post-click landing page, countless things can take them away from it: other open tabs, incoming emails, mobile push notifications, chatty coworkers, etc. The last thing you want to do is offer them another distraction.
That’s why links should be non-existent on your page. There should be no in-content links, no navigation links in your header, and no sitelinks in your footer either. These only serve as escape routes from your landing page—additional distractions to your audience who is already dealing with far too many.
This Geico page does a great job of keeping visitors focused with no navigation links and only one conversion goal:
8. Use responsive web design
More people access the internet via mobile than desktop. And today, there are more ways than ever they can access your pages via mobile, too.
We’re long past the days when visitors were okay with pinching to zoom and scroll. Now, they expect content to be readable and usable across any screen. Images need to adjust to device sizes, copy needs to be big enough to read, buttons have to be the right size for your visitors’ finger pad. These are just a few qualities that make for a well-designed mobile responsive post-click landing page.
9. Optimize for search
Many landing pages have an expiration date. Once your promotion ends, the landing page fades into obscurity. But that’s not the case for every landing page.
Some promotional pages get reused. For example, if you do a monthly giveaway or have an annual Black Friday promotion, you can use those landing pages more than once. If you’re someone who reuses post-click landing pages, optimizing them for search can help you earn qualified traffic organically.
Using the right keywords, putting those keywords in strategic places, and optimizing for user intent are all ways you can improve the likelihood you earn traffic from search engines. And the longer your post-click landing pages are, the more likely they are to rank well in search engines.
10. Optimize for page load speed
Page load speed has a major effect on conversion rate. If it’s too long, visitors won’t wait around to evaluate your offer. They’ll click the back button and find another page that will give them what they want faster.
Google recommends improving page load speed to boost landing page experience—a factor for determining success in Google Ads. There are several ways to do this. A few of the most popular and effective include:
- Removing images with big file sizes.
- Building your landing pages with AMP.
AMP is a framework for building pages with a lightweight version of traditional HTML. And though it was once very restrictive in what it allowed creators to build, today AMP can help you publish interactive landing pages, progressive web apps, and even entire websites.
11. Use principles of persuasion
As an advertiser, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion—probably many times. And there’s a reason for that: They work.
Cialdini spent years studying practitioners from some of the most persuasive industries, and he came up with six principles that anyone, including advertisers, can use to persuade people to claim an offer:
- Reciprocity. People feel obligated to give back to someone in the form of a behavior, gift, or service when they have received one first. Giving away useful content can earn you some reciprocity points as a marketer.
- Authority. People trust those they perceive to be experts, which is why badges can be so useful on your post-click landing pages. Badges that show logos of well-known clients, awards won, or publications that have featured your business can prove to your visitors that you’re an expert.
- Scarcity. People crave rarity. Entice prospects with “exclusive groups” and “little-known secrets.” The same goes for items with small production runs, promotions with an expiration date, or limited webinar seats, for example.
- Liking. This principle states that people are more likely to respond positively to someone they like. This is why modern brands go beyond selling products. Many champion social causes, uphold specific values, educate prospects, and emphasize customer service more than businesses have in the past. The goal, of course, is to get people to feel connected to the brand. The more connected you feel to a brand, the more likely you are to buy from them.
- Consensus. This principle states that, when unsure of what to do, people will look to their peers for guidance. That’s why social proof is so valuable on post-click landing pages. When people see glowing testimonials, or a high number of customers served or products sold, it indicates that the product is popular and therefore valuable.
- Consistency. People crave pattern, routine, and habit. If they say they’re going to do something, most feel obligated to do it. As marketers, getting someone to commit to completing a survey before sending it out may improve the likelihood that they complete it.
Learn more about the principles of persuasion in Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
12. Use directional cues to capture attention
In a perfect world, visitors would arrive at your page and behave exactly the way you want them to. They would read your headline, look at your images, evaluate your body copy, and decide whether to take advantage of your offer. But that’s not how it works in the real world.
Often, visitors overlook pivotal elements that could help them decide whether an offer is worth claiming. For whatever reason—design flaws, real-life distractions, etc.—missing these elements means visitors haven’t seen the whole picture.
Directional cues can help ensure that doesn’t happen. Successful directional cues can be anything from a model’s gaze in a photo (people will follow the sightline to whatever they’re looking toward on the page) to an arrow pointing in the direction of an essential element.
These cues take any uncertainty out of design. No matter how well you lay out a page, there’s always a chance your visitors could miss something, but that chance is much slimmer when you have a prominent arrow pointing to your CTA button.
13. Adhere to design principles
Exceptional design makes a landing page easy to understand and use. It also creates the best possible chance of converting a visitor. Assuming that each element is effectively designed, text is in skimmable blocks, and the page is distraction-free, the best thing a landing page can do is present elements in a way that leads visitors through them in the correct order. That’s where visual hierarchy comes in.
Gestalt psychology is particularly helpful for designers who want to create a page that effectively directs attention. Its founding principle, “the whole is other than the sum of its parts,” states that we don’t perceive things equally. With some insight from early Gestalt psychologists, we can design a page that effectively gets visitors to go where we want, when we want.
- Size. Bigger elements attract more attention. Headlines should be larger than body copy, featured images bigger than logos, etc.
- Color. Some colors attract more attention than others. On landing pages, color is crucial mostly as it relates to contrast. There should be contrast between your CTA button color and its surroundings, and the same goes for other key elements, like forms, so visitors won’t miss them.
- Density. The more elements you have in a particular space, the more the eye is drawn to that space. If you have an exceptionally busy photo, for example, or many icons in one area of the page, they’re likely to attract the attention of visitors.
- Value. Darker objects command more attention than lighter ones, which is why bolded text draws more attention than regular body copy.
- White space. Positive space is more eye-catching than negative space. If you have a CTA button with a lot of space around it, your visitor will look at the CTA button instead of the surrounding space.
For more on visual hierarchy, including real-life examples, see “Creating a Visual Hierarchy: The Art of Capturing Attention.”
14. Choose visuals that reinforce your messaging
Choosing visuals for post-click landing pages is never easy, but it’s vital. The right visual can mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce. So, how do you know which visual you should choose for your content?
First of all, it’s always a good idea to test different types. But some visuals are better suited than others to communicate various ideas:
- Infographics are ideal for putting data into a visual format for comparing and contrasting.
- Hero shots demonstrate at a glance how a product can transform a visitor’s life for the better.
- Explainer videos are particularly valuable for breaking down new or complicated services.
- Introductory videos are excellent for businesses that rely on the reputation of a particular person (personal brands).
- Product shots can show a product from every angle, or how it works in action.
- Video testimonials add credibility to your offer.
- Icons can help visitors understand a concept while breaking up the text.
Each of these visuals has an individual strength, but there’s no rule saying you can’t use more than one. There is one cardinal rule about visuals you should always follow, though…
15. Make sure your visuals add value
What do you think when you see an image like this on a web page?
Do you learn anything from it? Does it enhance the content in any way? Or the page design?
When you’re adding images to your post-click landing pages, always make sure they add value. Icons, for example, can not only make a page more readable by breaking up text, but they can also make body copy easier to understand with visual representations of copy.
You don’t want to shoehorn in an irrelevant graphic because you think every page needs an image. Every element of your content affects the perception of your brand and offer. That’s especially true of images, since they tend to attract a lot of attention.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use a high-quality stock image to support your page design. But an image like the one above doesn’t add value, conceptually or visually, and it will make your brand seem amateurish. If you can’t find anything that contributes to your overall messaging, don’t use an image at all.
16. Keep crucial information above the fold
The most effective landing pages get to the point immediately. Use the inverted pyramid technique of communicating information: Get to what’s important first.
Research has shown that visitors do scroll past the fold, but they’ll abandon your page little by little the longer you force them to keep scrolling. Brevity is essential, but so is organization. Communicate your value proposition in content above the fold. The information you put there can mean the difference between encouraging people to read more or clicking the “back” button.
17. Make a compelling offer
B2C consumers are drowning in coupon codes for 10% off, while B2B consumers are up to their eyeballs in tip sheets. You can do better.
That’s not to say coupons and tip sheets don’t work. It’s just that they’re a hard sell because, unless the author of the tip sheet is from an acclaimed figure, or the 10% coupon is for a high-priced product, they don’t offer much value.
Instead, consider your audience. In fact, ask them. What kind of resources do they need to succeed in their industry? Tip sheets and 10% coupons are good, but industry reports and personalized promotions are better. People can tell when you go the extra mile to make your offer valuable, and so will you when your conversion rates start to rise.
18. Ask only for what you need
Forms require a delicate balancing act. Too many fields will scare visitors away, but too few will result in a mass of unqualified leads that aren’t likely to ever become customers.
For optimal form size, marketing and sales need to collaborate to define “marketing qualified lead” and “sales qualified lead.” When you know the exact information you need to capture to predict whether visitors will become customers, you can ask for these details with lead capture landing pages throughout the funnel.
The forms on these pages should contain no optional fields. If it’s optional, it’s not necessary. Every field you add decreases the likelihood someone fills it out completely. So do your best to determine what you need to know, and ask for no more than that on your lead capture pages.
19. Test, test, and test again
To boost conversion rates, you have to consistently analyze data and test new approaches. A/B testing has become more popular over the years, but misconceptions still surround this strategy. Many businesses still use A/B testing for frivolous tests on button colors, when its ideal purpose is identifying the highest-performing version of your page. Testing a few drastically different designs against each other can reveal the global maximum.
From there, multivariate testing can help you discover the optimal arrangement of elements on that page. It’s best for fine-tuning—finding the local maximum, the highest-performing version of the global maximum.
However you test, you should follow a very specific set of steps. Be thorough, test often, and always start with data.
20. Update regularly
Sometimes, converting a visitor takes time. Your prospects aren’t always going to download, sign up, or buy the first time they visit your landing page. You may have to retarget several times before you see any positive results.
At the same time, showing your audiences the same landing page over and over can lead to fatigue. The more often you see an ad and page, the easier it is to ignore. If your analytics show a decrease in ROAS, it could be due to campaign fatigue. To combat this, refresh creative with new images, headlines, and copy, and see if it revitalizes your campaign.
21. Follow up with a thank-you page
In digital advertising, a little show of manners can go a long way. Remember Cialdini’s principle of liking: Make people like you, and they’re more likely to buy from you in the future.
One way to do that is by showing genuine appreciation for someone who converts. Thank-you pages are perfect for this.
The best thank-you pages are personal, genuine, and original. They show a little personality. They don’t merely say, “Thank you.” They say something like this:
Even if it’s not much, it’s more than what most thank-you pages do. That sets you apart. It also gives you the opportunity to drive the lead further into the funnel.
What else might they be interested in that relates to the offer they just claimed? Tell them. There’s a chance they’ll click through to a related landing page and convert again.
Start building your best landing pages in 2021
If your New Year’s resolution involves anything related to earning more business and keeping it, you need more landing pages. Specifically, you need at least one for each audience segment. It sounds daunting, but with the right resources, it’s possible.
Instapage is the only platform in advertising that can scale personalization in the post-click stage. Built on four pillars of technology, it allows users to create hundreds of landing pages at once, personalize them for each audience segment, and it even automatically optimizes page layout with the help of machine learning and AI. Find out all the other ways Instapage can help you build more landing pages faster in 2021. Get a complimentary demo here.