Elements of a Successful Landing Page

By Wolfgang Jaegel and Gregory Smyth

Campaign landing pages have to achieve a lot of things. They need to be attention grabbing so that visitors don't immediately click away. They need to reinforce the campaign message or offer so that visitors know they are in the right place. They need to direct visitors into appropriate conversion scenarios and persuade them to complete forms, submit personal information or make a purchase. And they need to do all this as directly and efficiently as possible.

There are many elements to creating a successful landing page, and which combination of design, copy and calls to action is most effective will very from campaign to campaign. However, most good landing pages have certain elements in common, which I will discuss here.

Clear focus on objectives - Before starting on a landing page design, it is essential to have a clear understanding of what it needs to do - and then focus on that. This may sound obvious, but one of the most basic mistakes a lot of people make in landing page design is trying to force the page to do too much. If the goal is to get visitors to purchase a specific product, focus on that and don't try to educate them about other products. If you want to get visitors to sign up for a demo, don't also try and get them to download a white paper. Focusing on a single clear goal will increase your conversion rate.

Consistent copy and design - If visitors have clicked a link or ad that details a specific product, offer or promotion, they will expect to see that in the landing page. If the landing page isn't immediately relevant to the ad they clicked, they will most likely click away. If there is an offer in your ad copy, restate it in the landing page so that visitors know they are in the right place. If a banner uses a particular colour scheme or layout, replicate that in the landing page. Staying on-message will draw visitors further down the road to conversion.

Clear calls to action - Attention spans are getting shorter. Many people click links before they have finished reading the copy on a landing page. If you keep your calls to action clear, concise and in prominent locations then more people will click them. An important point to remember here is that if your landing page involves any scrolling, then calls to action should be duplicated below the scroll line so that they can always be seen and clicked.

User-friendly design - Understanding how visitors read landing pages is essential. Heat maps show that visitors tend to look at the top of a landing page first, and that the eye is naturally drawn towards vibrant images and large, bold text. Associating calls to action with images can increase their effectiveness, as can putting key copy in the areas visitors are most likely to look at.

Concise copy - When it comes to landing page copy, less is usually more. Research by MarketingSherpa shows that half of all landing page visitors click away within 8 seconds. That means they aren't going to wade through paragraph after paragraph of copy, no matter how beautifully it is written. They wouldn't even make it past the first sentence of this article. Copy needs to be short and sweet to work well, with bold headlines to help visitors understand what's on offer.

No unnecessary links - It may be tempting to include links to other areas of your website in your landing page, after all, your products and services are compelling and useful. Don't. Remember that the purpose of your landing page is to attain a specific conversion from every visitor. Sending visitors to other web pages outside of your conversion scenario will cause your conversion rate to drop.

Optimum web form fields - It's a fact of life that most people don't like filling out forms. And the more complex the form, the more they don't like it. Certainly, you want information from visitors, but when creating a web form you have to ask yourself how much you need each individual piece of information. Each field you include is another opportunity for the visitor to decide they can't be bothered. Keeping required information to a minimum means more forms submitted. Of course, there is a flip-side to this, if you are giving away valuable information, or if answering enquires costs your time and money, then a complex form can help weed out time-wasters.

Flexibility and changes - Landing pages are never perfect, but they can evolve towards perfection (and higher conversion rates). Test your landing pages with a web analytics solution such as Webtrends, and be prepared to make changes to copy and design based on your findings. A bit of extra effort during a campaign can really pay off in your bottom line.

Landing pages are often neglected by marketers, with more time and resources put into ad copy and design. This is a mistake. Landing pages play an absolutely vital role in the success of online marketing campaigns, and by designing them well and testing them thoroughly, they can greatly increase the effectiveness of all types of online marketing campaigns.

More revealing facts in Part II...