There was a time when the landing page and the home page of a website were pretty much synonymous. But as we’ve learned more about the power of a website to work as the central hub of our client’s marketing plan, there isn’t a place for old “brochure-ware” type sites. And with this in mind, it’s important to understand the real importance of the landing page.
As a web consultant, I see a lot of ineffective landing pages that don’t have a chance of achieving the client’s goals. So let’s examine what goes wrong, and how you can avoid common landing page design pitfalls.
What is a ‘Landing Page?’
A lot of clients and even some designers confuse landing pages with the homepage or some other page within the site. But a modern landing page is a freestanding page with a single offer or message. And it has just one goal — to get people to take action. A website may have multiple landing pages, each linked to a different promotion.
A landing page has just one purpose, and that is to be persuasive as possible with the goal of gaining conversions. We make conversions when the web visitor does what we want them to do — make an order, sign up for a newsletter or whatever. Your landing page is like a little billboard pushing for that conversion. Get it wrong and you’ve wasted the effort and everything the client did to get the visitor to the landing page.
Five Mistakes That Can Sink Your Landing Page
Here are five common mistakes designers make when creating landing pages — and how to avoid them:
1. No CTA
Remember the goal of the landing page is to drive conversions. So, of course, the call-to-action is all-important. It needs to be treated that way in visual weight and hierarchy.
Designers who don’t include attention-grabbing CTA buttons on landing pages are missing the boat. The CTA button is not the place for subtlety; it needs to stand out. Here are some helpful design tips:
- Use a color that pops out from the background and isn’t used elsewhere on the page. A subdued color palette with a contrasting CTA button is a winning combination.
- Research shows that rounded rectangle buttons perform better than any other shape.
- Make it large. Small buttons are not as effective.
- Ghost buttons were a big trend last year, but they don’t work because they just don’t look clickable.
2. Distracting Elements
A well-designed landing page should engage visitors and head them toward conversion. So you want to avoid distracting elements, such as a header bar or contextual links.
Don’t think that a landing page needs to fit with the rest of your client’s website. Include just enough content within the landing page to entice visitors to convert. Don’t clutter the page up with other options.
Notice there is no navigation in Shopify’s landing page. Instead, the emphasis is on the offer:
3. Copy Problems
Your landing page needs enough information to be persuasive, but too much copy, or the wrong message, can have the opposite effect. Copywriting for websites is an art, and the words on the landing page can be more important than the design (sorry, fellow designers).
Hopefully, your client can afford a professional copywriter. But if they’re providing the copy, here are some things to watch for to help them out:
- Headlines and subheads should be succinct and benefit-driven. Benefits address what the end user will get and what it will do for them. Headlines should not tout your client’s offerings or accomplishments
- Short paragraphs and bulleted lists work better than large blocks of copy.
- Readability matters. Text should be clear and free of industry jargon. The point is to communicate with the customer, not try to impress them with your vocabulary.
4. Emphasize the Trust Factor
Whether you call it social proof or testimonials, research shows that comments from other customers are a big part of buying decisions. Perhaps they help build trust; maybe they inspire people to want to jump on the bandwagon. Bottom line, we know they work. So be sure to include something to inspire the trust factor on the landing page.
But you need to know that not all testimonials are created equal. Here are some tips for testimonials that drive conversions:
- The person delivering the trust message should represent your client’s target audience. You want site visitors to believe that if a customer like themselves is happy, they will be too.
- Adding a photo to a testimonial can increase believability by 100%. Adding video is even better. It doesn’t need to be a Hollywood production, but must be enthusiastic.
Remember you’re a web design professional. It is your job to let your clients know what to include on their landing pages. If they haven’t considered testimonials, share this advice with them so they will see what a difference social proof can make in building trust and conversions.
5. Forget Confusing Image Sliders
Image sliders are confusing. And the last thing we want to do on a landing page is to confuse the visitor. A landing page should have one single message. Period.
If your client wants to use more than one message or offer, each should have a landing page of its own.
You can boost the conversions your customers get with their promotions and improve their bottom line with a well-designed landing page. To do this, stay on point, be persuasive and make sure the call-to-action is clear and compelling.
You can establish yourself as not just a web designer, but a web professional, by supporting your client’s marketing efforts with an effective landing page following the guidelines offered here. It’s just this kind of added value, aimed at increasing your customer’s ROI, that will justify you charging future clients more.