We’re all obsessed with getting more website traffic…
But how does that contribute to your bottom line?
Increasing your web traffic is a somewhat pointless exercise unless you have a way to convert that traffic into email subscribers and eventually paying customers.
It’s simple, email is the best way to communicate with people beyond their first visit to your website. It’s the best way to build trusting relationships with prospects and turn them into loyal fans of your business.
The average online conversion rate for eCommerce shoppers, as of the 2nd quarter of 2017, is only 2.62%. That means that for every 100 people that land on your site, less than 3 of them are becoming paying customers.
Find more statistics at Statista
So what happens to those other 97 people that showed interest in your business?
We spend so much time, money and effort attracting new people to our websites, that we forget about conversion optimization. It’s far more cost-effective to improve your conversion rates on the traffic you are already acquiring than it is to get more traffic. For example, imagine if you could increase your conversion rate from the average of 2.62% to something more like 5%. You would double your sales with half of the traffic.
Now, that’s interesting.
By optimizing your website to capture email addresses, you are finding a way to communicate with a big chunk of those other 90% of people that otherwise may have never returned, and inevitably finding a way to convert more of them into paying customers.
“Ok, but how do I convert more visitors into email subscribers?”
These days, people aren’t just going to sign up for your email list without a fight. They already get a ton of marketing messages in their inbox every day, and the last thing they want is one more email to delete.
You have to convince people to join your community by selling the benefit and enticing them with a compelling offer. In the end, what they care about is how you can make their life better, or help them achieve their goals.
This is where landing pages come into the equation.
A landing page is the very first page on your website that a visitor lands on. Whether it’s from a search result, social media message, banner ad, or something else – they click, and ‘land’ on your site.
Typically, the primary goal of a landing page is to get a new visitor to take action and progress down the funnel – whether that’s getting a quote for your service, buying a product, signing up for a free trial, or opting in for your email list.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on that last objective, when the goal of the landing page is to encourage more visitors to sign up for your email list.
This style of landing page should be designed to build immediate trust with your prospects, so they feel comfortable enough to hand over their contact details – without any other distractions such as hyperlinks or menu items.
Landing page best practices include a number of different elements, that in combination increase your chances of conversion. The great thing is, you don’t need to be a conversion expert to implement these elements and start converting more traffic into subscribers, because we’ve wrangled them up and written this post for you.
Landing page best practices
If you are looking to improve the performance of your landing pages, or simply want to convert more web visitors into email subscribers, below are 11 landing page best practices backed by research and examples from industry leaders.
Let’s get into it.
1. One primary call-to-action
The key to a high-converting landing page is to remove any unnecessary distractions so that visitors to that page can take the action or next step you want them to. For example, one study found that removing the navigation menu increased conversions by 100%.
You can do this by designing your landing page with one primary call-to-action in mind. If your visitors need to make a decision about which option they will take, it will reduce the amount of people taking the action you want them to.
By minimizing the amount of decisions they need to make, optimizing your copy and design to focus on that primary outcome, and removing distractions, you increase the chances of someone taking the bait.
Your call-to-action should be extremely clear, visible towards the top of the screen, and easy to act on.
If you look at the landing page below from ConversionXL, you will see that the action they want you to take from this page is very obvious – download a free e-book – and there are almost no distractions:
2. Relevance from last step
People don’t usually like surprises…. Unless of course it’s a new Porsche Carrera in their driveway!
Sports cars aside, if someone clicks on a link to your website that is inconsistent to the landing page they see in front of them, chances are they will pack up their things and move on.
That’s why there needs to be a natural progression from the last step a user takes before landing on your website, and the experience they have once they show up. Your goal is to create alignment and ease with this journey.
Let’s say for example you are using banner ads to generate traffic to your landing page. The design, branding, copy, and value proposition of the banner ad, should match the elements of your landing page.
3. Page loading speed
Did you know that something as small as a 1-second delay in page loading time could reduce conversions by up to 7%?
People are impatient. They have short attention spans, and they want things immediately. Whatever enticed them to click through to your page was a moment of impulse, that same impulsive feeling will take them away from your landing page in a heartbeat if it doesn’t load quickly enough.
Page loading speed can be significant for improving your landing page performance and conversion rates. For example, Walmart observed a 2% increase in conversions for every 1-second increase in page performance:
If you want to increase the speed of your landing page, it’s probably best to work with a developer who understands the inner workings of your website, because most of the improvements you can make to page loading speed are technical.
Alternatively, you could use a third party landing page creator such as MailMunch – we have already put in the effort to test and optimize our templates for speed.
4. Irresistible offer
All of the landing page best practices mentioned in this article are somewhat irrelevant if you don’t have a compelling and irresistible offer on the table in exchange for people’s contact details.
Exactly what this offer is will depend on your business, industry, and the goals of your campaign, however here are a few ideas for the things you can give away for free in exchange for someone’s email address:
- Checklists, cheat sheets or templates
- Ebooks, white papers, research reports or industry guides
- Workbooks or swipe copy
- Instructional how-to videos or mini-courses
- Free consultations, trials, coupons or an exclusive offer
Of course, the offer itself is only as good as the copy that supports it, as well as the other elements discussed in this article.
5. Speak to the heart and then the head
As consumers, we make decisions with our hearts and justify those decisions with practical data and functionality.
The first thing someone sees on your landing page is the top headline – which makes it an extremely important part of the conversion equation.
Your primary headline needs to catch the visitors attention within a matter of seconds, speak to their emotional desires, and in a few simple words outline the benefits of your offer.
Supporting your primary headline, should be a secondary headline or sub-paragraph that is an extension of that primary point. If the main headline talks to the visitors emotions, then the secondary headline talks to their head. It’s practical and articulates more specifically exactly what they will ‘get’ if they opt-in to your list.
The home page for Tim Ferriss’ website The 4-Hour Workweek is a great example of a landing page that uses emotive language to encourage people to sign up for his email list. He taps into the desire of people to “10x” their per-hour output and provokes thought by asking “how would your life and business change?”
6. Customer-centric copy
The success of your landing page isn’t about how good your offer is, it’s about how well you can articulate the benefits of that offer in a language that your customers resonate with.
That’s why your copy, be it in the headline, subparagraph, or anything else on the page needs to be customer-centric.
It’s very easy (and common) for marketers to sit down and write copy for a landing page without ever really thinking about the customer. The copy is all about them. The features, practical outcomes, and tangible elements of the offer.
Your copy needs to go beyond this style of writing and help prospects understand why they should care. What pains do they face that your offer will help them overcome? What is the transformational journey your offer will take them on? How will they feel on the other side of that journey? Who else has been on this journey in the past that they can relate to?
An interesting way to capture customer-centric language and phrases is to read product or service reviews on comparison websites of both your offering and that of your closest competitors.
For example, let’s say you are a web hosting provider. A site like G2 Crowd has hundreds of customer reviews for a long list of web hosting providers. They ask important questions such as “What do you like best?”, “What do you dislike?”, and perhaps most importantly, “What business problems are you solving with the product?”.
7. Engaging visual cues
Even with the best copy in the world and an amazing offer, if you present a landing page as a wall of text, just about no one is going to engage with the content.
You need to break up your copy with engaging visual cues that draw people’s eyes to the most important information on the page, and inevitably persuade them to take action.
For example, using videos on landing pages has proven in some cases to increase conversions by 86%.
Here are some more examples of visual cues you can use on your landing page to increase engagement and conversions:
- GIFS to illustrate the offer
- Text formatting such as bold text, italics, headers, and different color fonts
- Images of people, products or abstract scenery
It’s very common to use an image of a trusted figure on a landing page, just like this from OkDork:
- Contrasting colors for calls-to-action
Like this red button on a predominantly white background from FlypChart:
- Graphics telling people where to look
Digital Marketer use this tactic once people scroll below the opt-in form to remind them where the call-to-action is:
- Whitespace to draw a visitor’s eyes to key areas on the page
The thing to remember with visuals is not to over do them. Pick the visual elements that will have the biggest impact on drawing your visitors eyes to the areas that will help them convert.
8. Features tied to Benefits
There is a lot of debate about the value of ‘Features’ when compared to ‘Benefits’ on a landing page.
Most people will tell you that feature-driven copy is typically uncompelling because it appeals to the head, not the heart.
Benefits on the other hand are very customer-centric messages that closely align to the feelings and outcomes a prospect can expect to experience.
As I mentioned before, consumers make decisions based on emotion and justify those decisions rationally. If this is true, then you need features on your landing page to help justify a prospect’s decision.
The key to well-constructed features for your offer is to tie each of them to a benefit or alleviation of pain that your prospect will experience by opting in for your offer.
Features by themselves may appear dull or boring, but when they are tied to benefits they become compelling and interesting.
If we take another look at the Digital Marketer landing page I mentioned earlier, you will see that they mention a feature followed by a benefit with every point on the page. They even use bold text to emphasize the benefit:
9. Social Proof tied to Benefits
Depending on where your website visitors come from, they may be apprehensive about your offer if they haven’t had contact with your brand many times before.
Well-positioned social proof can help you bridge this trust gap.
Essentially social proof is just as it sounds, ‘proof’ from independent third parties that your offer will do as you say it will. Because unfortunately the things you ‘say’ aren’t necessarily believable unless you have the backing of other people. In fact, research by Nielsen found that 83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising.
Social proof by itself won’t convert a visitor into an email subscriber on your landing page, however it will reinforce their decision at the final hurdle – after they have read the benefits, seen the offer, and are ready to take the next step.
Here are some examples of social proof you may choose to use on your landing pages:
- Testimonials or case studies
- Subscriber counts or social sharing numbers
- Respected brand logos where you have been featured
- Reviews and ratings from sites such as Google or Product Hunt
Taking another look at The 4-Hour Workweek home page will show you just how powerful certain elements of social proof can be to encourage sign ups:
10. Form Fields
It’s pretty simple, the less form fields you require someone to fill in, the more chance that they will do so.
For example, one study found that by decreasing the number of form fields from 11 to 4, it increased conversions by 120%.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that every industry, and every type of business should remove all of their form fields and just collect email addresses. Because that may not align with your objectives.
Yes your conversions will increase, but the quality of those conversions will likely decrease with the less information you collect. So in some instances, where you actually need certain information for leads, such as a phone number or address, those fields are going to be important.
The key is to strike a balance between the number of fields you ask someone to fill in, and the information you absolutely need to progress the relationship. Eliminate as many unnecessary fields in your forms as possible – there may be more than you think.
One example of a form that asks for a few additional pieces of contact information, due to the nature of the customer they are looking to engage, is the one below from Kissmetrics:
And this one from NetApp which asks for more specific product-focused information:
11. Split testing
Split testing is when you drive traffic to two different versions of a landing page in an attempt to see which performs better. It usually involves changing just one or two small elements at a time, updating the optimal page once you have enough data, and testing again.
Quite surprisingly, only 52% of companies that use landing pages run split tests to optimize those pages for conversion. Of course, if you are running a short-term campaign to increase email subscribers, you may not have the time to generate enough data to produce a reliable split test, change the landing page, and continue to optimize until the end of the campaign. However, if your landing page is going to be used multiple times over a longer period, testing the key elements of that page is critical to its overall success and conversion rate.
Optimized landing pages play a critical part in building a list of prospects for your business, and improving the overall conversion rate of your website.
A well-designed landing page will quickly build trust with your website visitors, and entice them to give up their contact information.
The landing page best practices discussed in this post will help you build a high-converting opt-in page, but for quick access here is a summary of the key points from above:
- Limit distractions and and focus in on one primary call-to-action
- Create alignment between where someone clicks and where they land
- Ensure your page loads quickly
- Offer something of irresistible value to your prospects
- Speak first to the heart with emotive language, and reinforce those feelings with tangible outcomes
- Use language that mirrors that of your customers
- Draw visitors to key elements of the landing page with visual cues
- Tie social proof and the features of your offer to compelling benefits
- Limit the amount of form fields used to capture information
- Regularly test elements of your landing page for optimal performance
What are you currently doing to communicate with those 97% of people that don’t convert? Think about it.