Ah, the illusive landing page.

You know you it’s important, but how do you get it right? How do you take those page visitors and get them to do what you want?

In the most basic terms, a landing page needs to combine three primary elements to have any chance of success—a great landing page needs to be visually appealing, persuasive and it needs to be easy for the user to take the next step, whatever that may be. Along with all of those factors, it also needs to be “found” by search engines.

That’s a pretty tall order, right? 

An Overview

Here’s what to know about landing pages:

  • They provide the opportunity to specifically target your customers and, when done well you have control over what they’re seeing and how they’re being directed.
  • Landing pages are a great way to enhance your other marketing strategies and be more robust in how you’re targeting customers.
  • Where the primary problem comes in with landing pages often relates to relevancy and specificity. The more relevant to the specific needs of the customer, the more of a success your landing page is going to be.

So how do you combine the necessary elements of a good landing page while ensuring it’s relevant, targeted and effective?

The following 6 steps can give you a pretty good idea of how to optimize your landing pages.

Step One: Understand the intent of your audience.

  • Take the time to get to know what your audience is looking for. Even if you’re able to attract lots of clicks, if they’re not clicks from the right people they’re a waste of time and money.
  • Learn about your desired customers and their general demographics, but also think deeper. For example, what’s going to emotionally motivate your customers to take a particular action? Why is it your customers come to you for over your competitors?
  • The more specifically you can answer the question “what is my customer looking for,” the more successfully you can optimize your landing page.

Step Two: Construct your headline.

Your headline is your first impression and you have to get it right.

Your headline needs to be attention-grabbing, exciting and enticing but simultaneously clear and concise. It’s a lot to fit into a short phrase, but if you can get your headline right you’re well on your way to an optimized landing page.

Write a headline that sounds appealing, in a specific sense, and position it where it’s easy to see and digest for visitors. This is your opportunity to not only get attention, but focus your visitor’s attention on exactly what you want them to see and take away from your page.

Your headline should also include keywords that are going to attract the attention of people and search engines alike.

Step Three: Cut the clutter.

Design often becomes the focus of creating landing pages and while it is important, the approach you take needs to be clean, simple and streamlined.

A well-designed landing page should take into account the following:

  • After creating a headline the page should naturally lead to the secondary headline. Continue to keep it concise and to the point, but define your case as to why your visitor should keep reading.
  • The best landing pages typically have an “above the fold” design—meaning your message remains in the first 1/3rd of the screen. When site visitors aren’t required to scroll, they’re more likely to follow your cues to take action.
  • Use things like lists and bullet points that are easily digestible, yet lay out the facts your visitor needs to know to take the next step.
  • In general, along with a 1/3rd approach, the less navigation the better. A landing page shouldn’t have the design aspects of a full website. Keep your visitors on-track and guided toward taking action by removing complex, cumbersome or unnecessary navigation.
  • The design should create a cohesive feeling—in fact, landing page design should reflect a sense of specificity just as the headlines and overall concept of these pages should. Every aspect you include on your page should be in-line with the exact action you want to be taken by visitors.
  • In terms of SEO, with landing pages there need to be elements that capture the attention of your customers as well as search engines. Remember this as you create your title tag—make it keyword centric. As with your headline, your text and your HTML tags and keywords are important throughout the text, but you also have to speak the language of your customers.
  • Don’t be afraid to include images and videos, as long as they’re relevant. Since they’re typically easier for a web user to digest, they can actually add a great dimension to a landing page.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to designing an optimized landing page? If it can be eliminated, it should be.

Step Four: Get to the action.

The goal of a landing page is conversion—you want as many visitors as possible to take the action you’ve defined.

Maybe you want your landing page to lead to a purchase, or perhaps a download of an eBook. Maybe it’s as simple as having site visitors request more information.

Regardless, your landing page’s call to action needs to be, as with the other elements on your page, clear and concise.

  • A good CTA shouldn’t employ a bait and switch tactic—this undermines the sense of honesty that we talk more about in the next step.
  • Don’t use ridiculous or over-the-top language. Overselling your CTA isn’t going to be as effective as keeping it clean, honest and appealing.
  • Use language and wording that’s customer-centric.
  • Place it somewhere highly visible, preferably above the fold.
  • Focus on only having one CTA per page if possible. This means every other aspect of your landing page design is focused on funneling attention and ultimately action to this place.

Step Five: Be trustworthy.

The point of a well-optimized landing page is to convince visitors you’re the best person for the job, whatever that job may be.

In order to do that, you need to be build a sense of trust.

  • Maintain branding consistency between your landing page and your other web pages.
  • Don’t try to build lots of gimmicks or exaggerated language and sales techniques into your landing page.
  • Limit the amount of information you ask visitors for.
  • Watch for grammar, spelling and other errors that could diminish your credibility.

Step Six: Test, test, and test again.

There are two primary routes you can take when it comes to testing your landing page—A/B testing and testing multiple variables.

  • A/B testing tends to be a faster route to letting you know what’s working and what isn’t, but when you test pages with just very minor differences you’re going to get a more in-depth picture of how small, specific changes can make a big difference in conversions.
  • You can test essentially any element of your landing page including: call to action, colors and typography, images and message.
  • Use your analytics, whatever they be, to determine your ROI—a simple comparison of the cost of each landing page versus the number of conversions it garners.
  • Once you get to this point of selecting your best performing landing page or pages, you can go back to the start of these optimization tips and begin refining and creating with the information you glean through your measurements and testing.

Here’s what to remember—the number one takeaway from this post is that the best landing pages focus on the needs of the customer first and foremost, and then you can build and optimize off of that.

What have you found to be the best steps to take in terms of optimizing your landing pages?

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