There are good landing pages, and there are landing pages that make millions. Learn how the industry's best set their pages apart from the rest.
One of the best case examples might be the changes that Dan Siroker, founder of Optimizely, made to the Obama 2008 Campaign's landing page. He later bragged that netted the campaign an additional $60 million in donations.
Most good marketers know to build their product’s value through good copy. They eliminate unnecessary text and don’t try to “oversell” their product by listing so many features that the product starts seeming suspicious. They show their product rather than just describing it, and they put a clear Call-To-Action above the fold. However, there are some tricks used by top landing page and web design experts that give their clients and the companies they work for a definite edge over the competition.
Psychology in Marketing
“As smart as we human beings are, we can’t resist certain urges.” says Derek Halpern on his marketing psychology blog Social Triggers.
We can’t resist the biological urge to see where someone else is looking. When we see a person staring at something, our brain sends a mental signal that there’s something important nearby, and we too should find out what’s going on.
For an industry’s best practice example, check out Netflix’s landing page. Due to the strategic placement of their Call-To-Action button, you can’t even follow the father’s gaze without being interrupted by the bright, eye-catching CTA button (arrow added for emphasis). The visitors’ eyes land on the CTA without realizing why. The picture’s colors are intentionally drab, so they don’t distract from where the page creators want your attention to be; the offer, the CTA, and Netflix’s brand. The reason why 32.7% of the Internet’s peak downstream traffic in North America is Netflix streaming, isn’t just because of the bandwidth required for streaming, it’s a result of building a user base of millions. It’s a result of good marketing.
On Match.com’s landing page, the models are all looking directly at camera to engage the site’s visitors. It’s as though they’re looking the visitors directly in the eyes. However, their faces are inclined towards the CTA, their noses or chins pointing at the form that Match.com wants the visitor to fill out.
They silently direct the landing page visitors towards the page’s goal without giving any cue of what’s happening. That’s subtle Match.com, very subtle.
Arrows can serve as means of directing attention. In the accepted standards of the web, they also serve as a cue to “see more”. This is especially useful if the call to action includes an opportunity to see more of a particular type of content that the visitor is seeking. Arrows can also signal a drop-down menu, a horizontal scroll, or signal media that can be played. A good rule is to use them strategically and with caution.
The Von Restorff Effect
In 1933, a German psychiatrist by the name of Hedwig Von Restorff, ran a series of memory experiments in which she gave trial participants lists of objects, written in black ink, and asked them to remember to remember as many objects in the list as they could.
When Von Restorff changed the ink of one of just the objects to blue, participants consistently remembered that one object even when they forgot all of the others. The phenomena has been called the Von Restorff Effect or the Isolation Effect for short.
In a research study on conversions, using a Call-To-Action Button whose color is starkly different than the rest of your page’s colors, nearly always raises conversions. It’s the simple page details that so often yield results.
“What stands out, gets clicked. What blends in, gets ignored.” advises Derek Halpern.
Good landing page design experts use this to create great CTA's and links that get clicked on and move page visitors in the direction that the experts desire.
Passive Colors and Action Colors
The best webmasters and web designers divide their text into passive colors and action colors. They don’t distract the users with colorful text that looks like it’s a link, but which goes nowhere.
Passive colors make up your general page layout. Apple uses a crisp white and black for their passive colors. This gives their page a clean and polished feel, free from clutter. This fits their overall brand. Every single color on the page except for white marks a clickable link.
Some webmasters use drab colors for their passive colors. This provides a with page with texture without stealing visitors’ attention away from the desired actions for page users. Soft pastels are useful when trying to create a distraction-free, warm feel to a page. Soft colors are used for images that the marketer uses to provide product examples (without diverting the visitor away from the purchasing funnel). This changes when it’s a link that the webmaster wants the visitor to click. In those cases it’s best to make an image count by making it pop with bright colors. This leads us to the other color type.
Action colors are used for links that marketers want users to click on, the CTA button, the area immediately surrounding a CTA button, or for drawing attention to brand logos and the strongest selling product features.
Your action colors will even vary in intensity depending on how strongly you want them emphasized. Let’s look at how JDate expertly does this:
The colors used are intentionally soft, with the exception of the bright maroon for the CTA button. The CTA is framed by an evening blue which surrounds the primary sign-up link. The maroon and blue colors used are naturally friendly and inviting. The couple photos light up in color in a rotating fashion to maintain visitors’ attention on the screen. The white and black colors give the site a clean feel. The color combination creates an impression that's almost elegant, but still welcoming to site visitors.
Ageless Master Tips
These ideas may have been employed for marketing success in recent years, they are not particularly new. Though they haven't always benefited from scientific names, like the Isolation Effect, these concepts have been used for hundreds of years.
In 1495, the Italian Master Artist Leonardo da Vinci began his work “The Last Supper” as a mural on a wall in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It took three years for da Vinci to complete the work. It’s now extremely well known and recognized throughout the Western World. Touropia calls it the third most famous painting of all time.
Da Vinci's Christus figure is clothed in bright red and blue. These vibrant colors take advantage of the Von Restorff Effect, eclipsing all else in the painting. The background, except directly behind the central character, is again intentionally left drab to enhance the effect. The viewers’ eyes are naturally drawn to the central figure. This isn’t only because of the subject’s position in the middle of the painting. It is also because the natural lines in the piece all point to a spot behind the central figure. Let’s look at it a second time.
Even in a painting from the Renaissance, the designer, or in this case the artist, uses mental tricks to focus viewers attention where he wants their attention to be. The tops of the tapestries and the edges, where the walls meet the ceiling, form natural lines that converge behind da Vinci’s Christus figure because that’s what he wanted viewers to see most. This effect is further enhanced by a light box that highlights the central figure with brighter colors that contrast with the general color scheme in the painting. The light box isn't so bright that it eclipses the actual subject.
The Last Supper creates a lasting image that has staying power in the eyes of those that view it. This is why it’s one of the most recognized art pieces of all time. Science explains why it has such a captivating effect. Other famous painters, such as Rafael and Salvador Dali, also took advantage of contour lines and light boxes to direct viewers attention and to frame the most important parts of their works.
The best industry experts build arsenals of landing page best practices to get the maximum conversion rate possible and to generate major returns for the companies they work for. Feel free to leave your best tips in the comments below.