7 Tips For Creating Brilliant Landing Pages
Let’s talk about landing pages (“landers”). This is another topic that multiple readers have emailed about over the last month, and one which I haven’t focused on too much to date.
Candidly, that matches the experience I’ve had with a number of brands over the past ~year: tons of thought and effort put into ads, accounts and offers, but comparatively little dedicated to landing pages. That simply must change.
From a digital advertising perspective, landing pages present a wonderful, oft-overlooked opportunity to tilt the scales in your favor, in three primary ways:
- They make a clear, direct connection between the creative + the brand – it isn’t a secret that relevance is a key component of how platforms determine non-financial components of digital advertising placement (i.e. Ad Rank (Google) / Total Value (Meta)). While the common strategy of dropping a user onto a PDP or Services Page (please not a home page) is fine, it certainly is NOT as relevant an experience as taking that user to a dedicated, tailored-to-the-creative-and-offer landing page. The latter simply makes the connection between what captivated the user on Google/Meta/TikTok/LinkedIn and what they now see on your site crystal clear – which, in turn, drives your expected action + conversion rates up. And in today’s hyper-competitive digital advertising ecosystem, any advantage you can get is an advantage you must take.
- They provide the user with a higher-quality, more engaging experience – landing pages do more than drive relevance; they also increase your capture-able audience. Let me explain: a PDP or Services page tends to appeal to a very specific segment of your audience: the ones who want to do the thing. But the reality is that only 5% to 15% of your paid traffic are likely in that frame of mind; the remaining 85% to 95% are likely in various stages of discovery + exploration – which means that the content on a PDP is unlikely to fully answer their questions. A well-designed landing page, on the other hand, can be a “full maze” solution – offering unique value for the first-time visitor looking to discover more, the repeat potential buyer comparing options, and the ready-to-buy user who can’t wait to hand over their information (or credit card). The second benefit of this holistic/full-funnel approach is that landing pages can be self-contained experiences that focus the user and minimize distracted clicks/rabbit holes, even if they aren’t traditional squeeze pages. All of this adds up to a more focused, higher-quality experience for your visitors.
- They drive improved financial performance across your ad accounts – if the first two points appeal to the “CMO” in you, this third one should appeal to the CFO: in almost all of our tests, our landing pages deliver higher conversion rates, lower CACs and more efficient scaling across paid search and paid social.
Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you of the importance of including landing pages as a component of your digital marketing efforts, your next question is probably something along the lines of, “Well, how do I execute a successful landing page?”
In my experience, this comes down to doing 7 things brilliantly well:
- Clear Audience & Offer – the foundation of great marketing is a great offer; and a great offer is every bit as much about the audience as it is the actual content of the offer. To that end, you should: (1) actively seek out insights from your target audience + offer for each lander; (2) conduct competitive research on what your peers are doing – there’s no need to reinvent the wheel (check out this issue for some tips on spying); (3) test offers using an “entire maze” strategy – your offer, landing page & creative should be tested together.
- Design For People, Not For Marketers – one of the things many brands are guilty of is “over-marketing” landing pages – you know the ones: fancy headlines that don’t say anything, way too much content for a normal human to read and way too little of what actually matters to your audience. Best resolution: the 10x10s test. It goes like this: show your landing page to someone who is completely unfamiliar with the brand/product. Give them 10 seconds to review the page. Then close it and ask what it’s about. Repeat 10x. If 7/10 people can’t succinctly communicate back to you what you wanted the page to convey, the page needs additional work.
- Balance Emotion & Logic – According to Daniel Kahneman, ~95% of mental time/energy is spent on System #1 (reflexive/emotive/”gut”) thinking; only ~5% is used on System #2 (slow/rational/deliberative) thinking. Organize your landers accordingly: lead with emotion. Justify it later. We don’t make rational decisions; we rationalize emotional decisions.
- Eliminate the Guesswork – big images + fancy elements are nice; fast answers are nicer. Your lander should make it easy for your audience to find exactly what they’re looking for, then use that information to make an educated decision on what to do next (buy/submit/book demo/whatever). Ensure your lander has the content (note: this doesn’t have to be logical; emotive content is still content) necessary to enable the user to take the next step.
- Focus Attention – one of the major selling points of good landers is that they are self-contained experiences, which reduces “leakage” across the rest of the site. Great landers take this a step further, and focus the experience on exactly what the audience needs. That means linear design, straightforward functionality and (where appropriate) clear directions on what to do next. I love, love, love pop-up forms at key points (no, just arriving on the page isn’t a “key point”) on landers because they focus the user’s attention directly on what to do next. Keep your audience laser-focused on what to do next.
- Maintain a proper content balance – your lander should have a solid mix of content, all of which should support and reinforce the offer. Some examples of content types to include: (1) “authoritative” credibility – media or press features; (2) reviews + ratings; (3) crystal-clear benefits of your product/service to the lander’s target audience; (3) value-driving content (i.e. ensure that your offer is appealing from a total value standpoint); (4) use cases and results (statistics, studies, experiences, etc.); (5) trust building / risk-reduction content (free returns, certifications from trusted third parties; awards; money back guarantee, etc.); (6) scarcity; (7) clear, directive next steps. Just as a great sports team needs a balance of stars, role players + systems, or a great dish requires a balance of flavors, so too does your landing page. Depending on your product/service, audience and offer, you might lean into one or more of these content types more heavily; but all should be present in some way.
- Continual Testing – In addition to following the 10% or 10x Testing philosophy (read about that here), I encourage you to test different landing page TYPES – the faux homepage, the listicle, the product/service specific lander; the advertorial, etc. Don’t assume that because one type of lander worked for a specific offer/product/service, it will work for others; test, test, test.
- (Bonus): Make the copy brilliant – My parents used to say, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Well, they were wrong. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing brilliantly f*&$@%^g well. Take the time to write compelling, captivating, sublimely simple copy. To borrow a phrase from Aaron Orendorff, your words must save your audience from the hell that is life without your product/service. And to that end, invest in your copy. In a world increasingly chock-full of ChatGPT sameness, dare to be the brand that stands out. Spend the time honing your words until each is perfect. Write a lander that delights each time you read it.
Finally, and above all else: ensure you’re giving your landers time + traffic. I can’t begin to count the number of times when one lander appeared to be thriving after the first days/weeks, only to crater a few days later. Likewise, I’ve seen landers completely bomb with Meta traffic, but the same page thrives on Google or Twitter or Pinterest traffic. Be patient. Don’t rush to judge.