Whether you are looking to convey a very specific message to your audience, increase your conversion rates and get more phone calls or emails, or increase the effectiveness of your email campaigns, a strong landing page can help.

Homepage vs. Landing Page

  • Homepage — The first page of your website, a place where people arrive after clicking on or typing in your root domain (for example, www.website.com). This is an umbrella page with navigation buttons and menus that link to every other page in the website, including instructions on contacting the company or how to follow it on social media.
  • Landing Page — Targeted to the user’s original search, a place where people “land” after clicking on an ad or an email campaign. This is a focused page with a call to action (CTA) that usually doesn’t feature any navigation buttons. It may be part of your website, but more likely stands alone.

You Can Never Go Home Again

Most businesses we encounter will send all their traffic to their homepage. Usually, this is NOT the best solution. The homepage (not in all cases, but in most cases) is probably one of the worst places to send people. In many ways, you’d be better off sending people to the About Us page. For most businesses, if you’re looking to get any sort of return on investment (ROI), you’re going to want a hyper-focused landing page.

Visualize the End Goal

First ask yourself:

  1. What is the purpose of this landing page?
  2. Who am I speaking to?
  3. What action do I want them to take?
  4. How do I want to convey that message?

Until you can clearly answer those questions and visualize your goal, don’t start building it.

Use Your Head(line)

The headline is probably the most important element to a landing page because it’s going to be what determines whether the user is going to click back and look for something else, or if they’re going to continue to read on. Think about it: Imagine you were about to read a magazine, or a newspaper or a blog post, and it didn’t have a headline. What’s it about? And why should you care to read on?

  1. Words Have Power

Using vague headlines such as, “Sign up for our newsletter” or “Get the latest deals” — those days are long gone. You need to start with an attention-grabbing, engaging headline.

  1. Get to the Point

Convey the story and explain to them, “This is who we are. This is what our brand is all about. This is how we can solve your particular issue.”

  1. Simplify

Good headlines should be very clear and easy to read. People are not looking for gimmicks or looking to be sold.

  1. Change the Font

You want the font to be larger and bolder and to stick out. You can italicize it or you can make it a different color, but you really want it to be easy and to have significant contrast from your background image or background color.

Stop with the Bad Stock Images

Oftentimes people overlook the importance of images. Make sure your images relate to your brand and convey the right concepts. When you use generic, tedious stock images of five people in a boardroom or people shaking hands, you completely miss the chance to inspire your audience. There are plenty of sites that give you free stock images that can elevate your brand. Unsplash.com is a good one. I found one recently that I really like: twenty20.com. They convey a higher standard of quality, not the kind of cheesy image you see on a bad website.

The Almighty Call to Action

Whether you’re asking someone to:

  • Sign up for an event
  • Join your newsletter
  • Download your PDF
  • Request more information
  • Call the business
  • Come to your location
  • Fill out a form

Whatever it is, you need to have a very clear call to action (CTA) where the customer or the user is going to have no questions about what they’re supposed to do. So, if you want them to your call you, that needs to be the clear point of contact throughout the landing page. Don’t muddle the message with more than one CTA.

“Hide” the Navigation Buttons

You want to hide the navigation buttons because that’s going to keep the focus on the content. It’s fine to make a way for people to navigate away from the landing page into your website if they want to (say, by clicking on the logo) but don’t make it obvious. In many cases, we will hide navigation buttons entirely and not even give the option to navigate away from the landing page. Then the only step possible to take is to follow the CTA.

Get in the Flow

If you can’t easily guide your customer through the landing page, they’re going to end up abandoning it and most likely exiting your site. Instead, try to reduce friction and move them along the cycle. We’ve seen people add social proof, testimonials, videos, a bio about the owner or whatever it is, and there are a lot of good solutions out there. But we recommend making sure those elements are aligned in such a way that the user is going to feel that it flows well together. You don’t want them all to just be in a lump at the bottom. People need to be able to see in two or three seconds — without scrolling — exactly what the landing page does. Don’t try to surprise people halfway down or put it in a sales pitch at the bottom. It needs to be very straightforward because people are coming to this page on purpose.

It’s Not Brain Surgery

If you try to build a landing page from scratch, what likely will happen is you’ll end up building out a micro site or a full-blown website because it’s so easy to get carried away. This is not necessary and could be a waste of time and money. Landing pages are just to introduce people to the brand or to the product and to have them focus on a single item and to take a single action. Nothing more.

How to Tailor Your Landing Page to Your Goal

If someone’s looking for a website and they do a targeted search, we want to make sure that they “land” on a page that answers all their questions and gives them exactly what they’re looking for. A landing page is a good place to answer a whole bunch of questions that are hyper-focused on this exact person who we’re trying to attract. It’s about creating a tailored experience.  So, what is your business goal?

  1. Capture traffic from a paid search
  2. Sell more products or services
  3. Get your product or service out without investing in a website
  4. Grow your email list
  5. Save time and money by testing the waters

It’s important to adapt your landing page to help achieve that goal:

  1. Capture Traffic from a Paid Search

Here at Sage, we use landing pages as a place to capture traffic from a paid search. If someone is searching for our services, why would we send them to a page where they might not easily find what they’re looking for? For instance, if someone clicked on the Sage website and we sent them to the homepage, they could spend their time navigating around the case studies or the testimonials, or they could keep clicking around to try to see if we have what they’re looking for. However, if we send them directly to our Services page instead of the homepage, they will clearly see the email marketing, web design, paid search, SEO, and other services we offer. Then they could start drilling down and navigating deeper to get more information. Our conversion rate will then be much higher.

  1. Sell More Products or Services

Landing pages will certainly help you sell more products or services because you’re able to drive focus to a specific item, rather than people just entering your website through the homepage by default. For example, if you provide a specific service, maybe you’re an electrician, then creating a landing page about kitchen wiring or HVAC or something to that extent would be very valuable.

  1. Get Your Product or Service Out Without Investing in a Website

We think one of the biggest advantages of landing pages is the ability for rapid deployment — to be able to get your product or service out quickly and efficiently without needing to invest in a website. A product page, category page, or search results page could be enough to convert curiosity into profit. You might be able to leave the website for later.

  1. Grow Your Email List

If I go to a website because I searched for something and it gives me exactly what I want, there’s a good chance I’ll give them my email address because I’m going to want more info on it, or because I want to stay in the loop about the other services or products they offer. Now, if I go to a website and I can’t really figure out what it’s about, or I can’t find what I’m looking for, I’m probably not going to type in my email address. If somebody’s doing a search and they come to your landing page which is hyper-focused, and it is about their specific search (not just your company in general), your chances of them joining your email list goes way up.

  1. Save Time and Money by Testing the Waters

For a startup, landing pages represent a low barrier to entry to test something, to see if it works. If you’re trying to get a new business off the ground (or even if you’re an established business), a landing page is something you can easily throw in the water to see what bites. You can put everything out there and track the data. You can run analytics on how people are responding, how much time they’re spending on the site. Are they coming to the page and leaving? What are they doing afterwards? Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars building out a full website for something customers may not want, you take all the analytics and you figure out, “Okay, maybe this is a good idea. Maybe it’s not” If it is valuable, you can then continue to input resources to build it up.

Before You Go Live

If someone can’t take a three-second look at your landing page and understand exactly the first image and text they see, it’s not optimized correctly. Take a step back, look at your completed landing page, and ask yourself:

  • Is it easy for my users to determine the single most important element?
  • Who is this page designed for?
  • Who is it speaking to?
  • What exactly is it saying?

You can have the best website in the world or the best landing page in the world, but if it doesn’t convert well, it’s rather worthless. Conversion is king.