A website’s homepage usually provides a general overview of a business. But if you have a specific, short-term goal, a landing page is a valuable online marketing channel that can help you reach that goal in the buyers journey.
What is a landing page?
Once they’re on your landing page, users are encouraged to take an action, such as joining your list or buying your products. If the user takes the specific desired action, then your landing page has succeeded in getting them to convert.
Typically, landing pages only encourage their users to take one such action, like to fill out the custom signup form on the page. Why?
It’s because of what researchers call the “paradox of choice.” In simple terms, that means that the more options you give people, the harder it is for them to make a decision and act.
Imagine you're offering a free ebook. But on your landing page, you also invite your users to visit your blog and buy a product and check out your social media channels. With each ask, the chances of your users downloading your new ebook grow slimmer because you've directed their attention away from your primary objective.
On the extreme end, too many choices can overwhelm your users, causing them to stall and take no action at all. This is why it’s critical to focus on a single call to action (CTA) rather than 3 or 4.
This is why a landing page should have a clear visual hierarchy and value proposition, and should be tested for the best conversion optimization.
What makes a homepage different from a landing page?
There are a handful of things that set homepages and landing pages apart. Homepages have:
- More links. On a typical homepage, you can find at least 10 links. There's often a navigational menu at the top, links in the footer, and many in the page’s content. On a well-optimized landing page, though, you'll usually find fewer links, and sometimes only one—the link that allows your users to convert.
- Broader CTAs. Your homepage introduces your business and serves as a hub from which users can navigate to other corners of your site. Because your homepage has so many jobs to do, its content is often broad and has less specific CTAs (e.g. "learn more"). Since landing pages have 1 goal, they have tailored CTAs (e.g. "download our free ebook").
- A different audience and purpose. Many of the people who visit your homepage probably haven’t decided what they want yet. On the other hand, users who end up on your landing pages have already shown interest in what you offer. They’ve ventured deeper into your customer journey and are more ready to convert.
Landing pages aren’t all the same. They can be sorted into 2 broad categories.
The 2 main types of landing pages
As far as structure goes, landing pages are generally built to serve 1 of 2 functions: generate leads or direct users to the next step.
Lead generation landing pages
Also known as “lead gen” and “lead capture” pages, this type of landing page focuses on collecting lead data. In other words, it collects information about your customers.
The trademark feature of a lead capture page is a form, which serves as the CTA. In exchange for a product or service, it asks users for data like their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. You can even ask for more specific details like their age ranges or job titles. That way you can contact leads and nurture their interest in your business.
This data serves another purpose as well. The information you collect can teach you about your contacts. You can then focus your marketing efforts and target the people who match them and are consequently more likely to convert. This can increase your return on investment (ROI), especially if you run paid advertising campaigns.
In this way, the data that lead generation pages capture helps improve your marketing strategy and make it more efficient. It allows you to tailor your ads to your audience so that you won’t spend money advertising to people who aren’t likely to convert.
Lead-generation landing pages are a valuable asset to your business because they provide insight on who your potential customers are as well how you can reach them. If lead nurturing is a priority for you—or you need to understand your audience better—consider adding one to your site.
Click-through landing pages
Unlike lead gen pages, which use forms, the focal points of click-through landing pages are CTA buttons. Clicking the button redirects your users to a page where they can complete your desired action.
For example, a button that says "schedule a demo" might take the user to a scheduling page, “order X now" would redirect to a checkout page, and so on.
You’ll often find click-through landing pages on e-commerce websites or other sites that are more focused on making sales immediately rather than collecting user information. Besides the CTA button, these landing pages generally include persuasive information like product details or user testimonials to further intrigue and engage prospective customers.
The importance and benefits of a landing page
Landing pages are different from other pages on your site because they focus on specific, short-term goals so that you can get the results you want. Besides increasing conversions, improving paid ad campaigns, and yielding new audience insights, landing pages can:
Boost your credibility. Users typically appreciate clear, simple messaging that explains the value of what you’re offering. A well-planned landing page shows your customers that you have their best interests in mind. They’re also places where you can insert testimonials about your product or service, which are an element of social proof. Social proof has been shown to increase conversions.
Reinforce your brand. This is the result of maintaining consistency in your website’s appearance, tone, style, and copy. Having a clear and strong brand has several benefits. When your users don’t convert immediately, a strong brand identity can help them remember you in the future, respond to your remarketing efforts, or recommend you to their friends.
Clearly, landing pages are essential to your marketing strategy. And the more optimized landing pages you have, the better. But that raises 2 questions: how should they be optimized, and what should they be optimized for?
16 landing page best practices
Of course you want your landing pages to be well-oiled conversion machines. But it's also important that you design them for search engines, a practice known as search engine optimization (SEO). This will make your pages more visible in organic search results, which can help increase traffic and conversions.
Building SEO-friendly landing pages
SEO is an industry in itself, meaning there is a lot to explore. However, you can get started on boosting your landing pages’ SEO with these best practices:
1. Target long-tail keywords.
These are highly specific keywords or key phrases that tend to be 4 or more words. For instance, “best copywriting tips for landing pages” is a long-tail key phrase, unlike the much simpler keyword “landing pages.”
As a rule, it’s much easier to rank for long-tail keywords than short-tail keywords because long-tail keywords are less competitive. And because landing pages feature very specific CTAs, it’s easy to place long-tail keywords on them naturally.
2. Segment your traffic.
It's likely that your target audience consists of more than 1 persona. For example, if you’re selling reusable water bottles, you’ll want to market to several kinds of buyers: athletes, travelers, hikers, and so on. Because these buyer personas are different, you’ll need several approaches to appeal to them.
Consider creating separate landing pages for each segment of your audience. This will require researching the keywords each persona would use to find what you're offering. When you segment your traffic, you can boost your visibility in search engines and tailor your message to appeal to people with different needs.
3. Improve page loading speed.
It’s hard to hold a potential customer’s attention when so many other companies are competing for it. Users can be impatient and easily distracted, so if your landing page loads slowly, your chances of them converting get smaller.
To maintain a high conversion rate, landing pages have to load at lightning speed. Fortunately, because they only have 1 purpose, it’s easy to optimize them. Reducing image sizes is just one way you can speed up your page’s loading speed.
4. Earn backlinks.
These are links that point from other sites back to yours. They send traffic to your landing pages, essentially acting like votes of confidence in the eyes of search engines. When they come from well-established, high-authority websites, backlinks show that what's on your page is valuable. As a result, your site’s rankings on search engine results pages will increase.
Consider contacting other websites for guest posting opportunities to build backlinks, but beware of any site that asks for payment—Google frowns on link-building schemes of this nature.
5. Make your content shareable.
That means making it unique or novel in some way. Remember, all of your potential leads are connected with others who might also want what you have to offer. When you allow them to share your landing pages, you can tap into these larger networks. Besides driving more leads to your page, this added traffic will boost your search engine rankings.
Optimizing landing pages for conversions
SEO is only half the battle. It’s also important to optimize your landing pages for conversions. Here are 11 tips on how to do that.
1. Write an enticing headline.
Reel users in with an intriguing and well-written headline. You can draw attention with specific keywords like “free” or “now.” Couple your engaging title with strong copywriting to keep your users on the page long enough to convert.
This reassures users that they've landed in the right place. Doing otherwise can damage your reputation and your search engine rankings, because both readers and search engines tend to regard inaccurate meta titles as deceptive and misleading.
3. Try to position your CTAs above the fold.
Your CTA should be one of the first site elements that visitors see. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, especially when you’re designing for mobile users. In such cases, refer to tip #4.
4. Use directional cues to guide users to your CTA.
Good examples include arrows or a picture of someone looking toward your CTA. This is especially important if your CTA isn't above the fold. Skillfully placed cues encourage visitors to scroll, keep reading, and convert.
5. Show your product or service in use.
A video or product demo can provide context if you offer something uncommon or not widely understood. This information also helps potential customers picture themselves using your product or service.
6. Provide social proof.
Do you have testimonials from happy customers? If so, include them in your landing page copy. If your product or service is popular, you can also note how many people have already taken advantage of your offer. Providing social proof can convince others to hop onto the bandwagon and try your product or service themselves.
7. Use bullet points.
There's likely more than 1 feature or benefit to what you’re offering, so list them out using numbered lists or bullet points. This is more reader friendly because it’s easier on the eyes and more scannable than a large block of text.
8. Repeat your CTA.
If your page features a heavy amount of text, it can help to place your CTA at the beginning and the end—and even in the middle. Presenting more conversion opportunities to your readers increases their chances of taking action, but be careful not to overwhelm them. Here are some more landing page design tips to consider.
9. Provide your contact info.
Giving your leads the option to reach out to you with questions or concerns will put them at ease, even the ones who won’t actually do so. Why? Providing your contact info is a sign of legitimacy, telling customers that you’re there to help should they need it.
10. Deliver your message via video.
Not everyone will stick around to read the copy on your landing page, which is a part of why video content is rising in popularity. This doesn't mean that your website should be free of text, though. Pairing text with video content can be an effective way of capturing and maintaining users’ attention. Because many users don’t turn on their sound, it’s also a good idea to include subtitles whenever possible.
11. Test several variations of your pages.
Different headlines, visuals, calls to action, and more can produce different results. Conduct A/B tests to experiment with variations of your landing pages and see which ones perform the best. This can help you optimize your landing pages for the most success.
Create must-click destinations
Because they help convert leads into paying customers, landing pages are a critical part of your digital marketing strategy. These pages help guide users further along your customer journey because they act as a nudge to take action.
Every unique landing page is an opportunity, and there's no limit to how many landing pages your website can have. Most studies show that the more landing pages a website has, the more conversions it sees, so long as its landing pages aren’t competing with each other. To ensure that your landing pages aren’t competing for traffic, make sure that each one targets a different demographic or encourages your users to take a different action.
Now that you know what landing pages are and how to optimize them, you’re ready to create one.