How the best landing pages drive content conversion

Apr 3, 2017 | Convert Competently

The science and art of getting a response

To be effective at content marketing, you need to provide your audience with useful, helpful information (content). But you also need to compel your contacts to do something to move them toward a relationship with your business. The best landing pages do just that.

In the broadest view, a landing page is simply any web page that a visitor “lands on” after following a link. It could be your site’s home page, a product page, your blog or a sales page. But from a content marketing perspective, a landing page has a much narrower definition: it’s a page whose sole purpose is to get the visitor to take a specific action, a process called conversion.

The best landing pages combine science with art to increase the chances of getting a conversion. Let’s take a closer look at how they do that.

Why home pages aren’t the best landing pages

Many new content marketers make the mistake of linking their call-to-action (CTA) in emails, social posts and other messages to their home page. While this might seem like a good way to drive website traffic or to tell your business’s story, it’s not the best way to drive conversion. Why is that?

1. A page for many reasons

For one, your home page is a multi-purpose page. It provides broad content about your business and guides both first-time visitors and returning followers to explore other pages on your site.

By contrast, the best landing pages have only one purpose: to compel a specific action.

2. Menus don’t squeeze

Second, your home page (and every other page on your site) contains a menu. Menus are great for helping visitors navigate the many pages on your site. But they’re a terrible way to get a visitor to do just one thing because there are just too many choices.

The best landing pages don’t offer a menu. Instead, a visitor has only two choices when they land on your page: take the action you desire (convert) or exit the page. That’s why landing pages are sometimes called “squeeze pages.”

3. Design distraction

Third, home pages often have eye-catching banners and rotating images that highlight your most important messages. They’re great for getting attention but can easily distract a visitor from taking the one next step you want.

Instead, good landing pages use images and text to do just one thing: focus the visitor on taking a single desired action.

best landing pages

Purpose-built is best

To drive content conversion, it’s better to build a dedicated landing page designed to get the response you want than to use an existing web page designed for many things.

This is especially important when you’re promoting an e-book, training course, webinar or other high-value content. The extra effort will pay a big return when it comes to results.

Here are some best practices to follow in your landing page design.

Two kinds of conversion

Before you begin, determine what specific action you want your visitors to take on your landing page. This will likely fall into one of two categories:

  1. Click through to another web page
  2. Generate a lead

A click-through response allows you to present information in sequential bite-size pieces, leading a visitor down a logical or emotional path toward some ultimate action such as a purchase. When done well, each click-through conversion increases the engagement and commitment by the visitor.

A lead-generation response collects data in a form that you can use to market further to that person. This action is often used for content downloads and event registrations.

The best landing pages tell visitors they’re in the right place

To increase either type of conversion, it’s helpful to reassure visitors that they’ve landed on the right web page once they’ve clicked your CTA link.

Do this right and visitors will stay on your landing page and continue with confidence toward your requested action. Do it wrong and they’ll hit the back button before you even get a chance to ask for a response.

The content at the top of your landing page is the key to this reassurance. It needs to immediately remind the visitor how they got to the page (clicking a link in an email, social post, etc.).

The best landing pages use both message matching and image matching to make this mental connection for a visitor.

Message match

A message match occurs when the headline on your landing page matches the content in your original CTA.

For example, if the hyperlink in your email uses the text, “Never lose your keys again” then the headline at the top of the landing page should also say, “Never lose your keys again.”

You can take this even further by using the same font in both places.

Image match

An image match occurs when the primary color, photo or illustration used in your CTA is repeated at the top of your landing page.

For example, if your social post has an image of an idyllic beach scene, your landing page should use that same image to reinforce how right it is for the visitor to be on your page. The image makes the mental connection easier.

The best landing pages have killer headlines

It’s no secret that the headline in a post or the subject line in an email can make or break the success of your content.

Landing page headlines are just as important.

Besides matching the original CTA, the best landing pages use headlines that offer a clear, compelling benefit. It pays to spend time to craft the very best headline you can.

Consider these two headline examples:

  1. Get our latest e-book about sushi
  2. Don’t make these 10 deadly sushi preparation mistakes

They’re both factual, but only #2 is clear about the specific e-book topic and the benefit of reading it.

The best landing pages are conversion-centric

If the one job of a landing page is to convert, then absolutely every element on the page must work hard for that result. Anything that doesn’t is superfluous.

Put the CTA above the fold

The primary action request (form submission or click-through) must be high above the fold so that no scrolling is required. It’s okay to repeat the CTA farther down the page, but don’t miss the top spot!

Make the action button stand out

Use color, contrast and other visual effects to make the action button stand out from the rest of your design. Blending in or color coordination won’t help you convert!

State benefit in button

Use value-oriented language on the CTA button. Avoid over-used or neutral text. For example:

  • “Save my seat” versus “Register”
  • “Show me how” versus “Download”
  • “Join 10,000 others” versus “Submit Form”

Ask a little to get a lot

If your requested action means filling out a form, keep the required fields to a minimum. A first name and email address gets you in the game with your prospect. Additional data might be great for sales follow-up, but is likely to turn your visitor away from the form entirely – meaning no conversion at all.

Don’t get greedy: ask for as little information as possible and you’ll increase your chances to get a lead.

Use large type and minimal graphics

Emphasize headlines and subheads with large type for a quick read. Keep body copy short and use an oversize font size. Keep graphics to a minimum to avoid visual distractions.

Make sure the main elements clearly stand out on first glance at the page: headline, core image, benefits, and CTA. Place supporting information (testimonials, offer details, etc.) below the fold.

Use video to support conversion

Even better than text or static graphics, a short video can quickly engage a visitor and urge him or her to take the next step. Keep the video around 30 seconds or less.

best landing pages

Use layout psychology

The very best landing pages use design and visual clues to lead the visitor’s eyes toward the CTA.

  • Place the form and action button in a spot that naturally flows from the headline to the main benefits to the requested action.
  • Choose an image that “points” a viewer toward the action button (natural triangles, the direction of a person’s eyes, literal finger-pointing, etc.).
  • Make it really obvious how you want viewers to consume the page by using arrows or connectors between the sections, always leading toward the action section.
  • Set off the form or CTA area visually from the rest of the page so it’s very obvious.

The best landing pages have no leakage

As tempting as it might be to give landing page visitors the option to visit your home page, read your latest blog post, or learn more somewhere else… DON’T.

Any link choices other than the primary action button are called “leakage.” They “leak” visitors away from your conversion objective and steal your results.

Keep your landing page focused on one thing only: your single desired action.

Make your landing pages among the best

These basic tips will get you started with effective landing pages that drive content conversion. While there are many more subtleties and advanced techniques, you’ll do well if you follow these essential guidelines.

Yours will be among the best landing pages around. And your business will benefit with the content marketing conversion results you deserve.

I want to hear your landing page stories! Tell me what works, what you struggle with and what else you’d like to learn.

Thanks for your interest!

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