I use no-nonsense and established methodologies that I have tested for YEARS to improve the bottom line of my clients
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Like a well-built house, the perfect landing page starts with the perfect blueprint. You have to understand how everything fits together for maximum effect. You can’t just slap it up and hope it stays standing with curbside appeal.
The same goes for your landing pages. Throw it together haphazardly and your conversion rate will fall through the floor faster than you can say “wasted money”.
You need to take it apart so you can put it together.
All hail the humble perfect landing page! Not only is it a crucial part of your conversion funnel, but it’s also the internet workhorse. It’s responsible for driving conversions and online business like nothing else. Without it, we’d be lost. And its importance is only growing with each passing year.
Its popularity and prevalence in online searches has shown steady growth over the past decade. It’s had a few dips and valleys, but an upward trajectory overall. Landing pages were, are, and will continue to be a huge part of the digital landscape.
There’s still some lingering confusion, though, as to what exactly a landing page is and what it is not:
We use landing pages for a variety of purposes and campaigns:
I’m going to focus on the last one – PPC ads — today. You should have a custom-made landing page for each PPC campaign that you’re running. If you’re not yet doing that, you’re not alone. Only 48% of marketers build a new page for each campaign. So you’re in the slim majority. This is not where you want to be, so start designing your perfect landing pages today.
Landing pages – well-crafted landing pages – usually fall into a “the more the merrier” category. Hubspot found a 55% bump-up in lead generation when it increased its landing pages from 10 to 15. Businesses with 40+ pages see 12x more leads than those with five or fewer.
It makes sense, right? The more landing pages you use, the more opportunities you have to convert. The more pages you use – when each one is attached to a single campaign – the more targeted it is to your audience.
Your landing page needs to quickly tell visitors why they’re there, what the offer is, and how they can move forward. (via an opt-in form, phone number or link).
You may have seen the often repeated claim that people have an eight-second attention span. That’s not very long! However, I’m going to suggest that it’s even shorter online. It needs to be virtually instantaneous. Ask them to figure it out, and they’ll bounce. It needs to be staring-them-in-the-face-and-painfully obvious.
Try it for yourself. Does your page pass the one-second test?
But how do you build the perfect landing page for PPC campaigns? I’m glad you asked.
Most landing pages have a lot in common, but a PPC ad page in particular must be stripped down to the bare essentials. It’s all about conversions (opt-in, download, subscribe, purchase, click-through, call, etc.).
Any landing page attached to a campaign must reflect the style, tone, language, and goal of that ad. This is key. Visitors need to know they’re in the right place.
An ad for self-darning socks must immediately take someone to a landing page where they can purchase those self-darning socks. Plop them down on your homepage (a common mistake), for example, and they may or may not half-heartedly click a few links trying to find the socks they want. More likely, they’ll just bounce. Conversion lost.
If your ad promises “never suffer the embarrassment of sock holes again”, then your page had better repeat that benefit, show the socks, and present an in-your-face “Buy the Best Socks Ever!” button. That’s a conversion made.
I could talk a great deal about being mobile-friendly. I’m not going to do that today. Just remember that a lot of online traffic is mobile traffic – ~56% of it for top sites – so your perfect landing page better look and behave fantastic no matter the screen size.
Consider a responsive design, or even a dedicated mobile version. The choice is yours, just choose something. But that’s a topic for another time.
Landing pages have a few must-haves. Without them, it’s not really a landing page at all. In order to convert, it needs to have a compelling headline, a powerful call-to-action, and kickass copy. That’s the holy trinity of PPC landing pages.
It’s all about the headline. This is your offer. This is why people clicked your ad. Is it something they actually want, and something they’re actively searching for? Do a little homework with Google Trends and keyword research to find the language and words people are using “out there”. Your headline needs to grab them.
Create buyer personas to fully understand your target audience. Your headline must speak to them. Does it? It should be powerful and clear. Too generic or yawn-inducing and you’ve already lost them.
As a rule of thumb, your headline should take as much (or ideally more) time to develop as the rest of the page combined. It is not an afterthought. It should not be the first thing that pops into your head. Remember what the legendary David Ogilvy said about headlines:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
A strong PPC landing page headline is:
Make it crystal clear what the page is about. Speak to their concerns, pain points, wants, and needs. Experiment with different headline formulas. Unbounce.com, for example, recommends an “Action words + Product reference” equation, with a “Your exact offering + Promise of ease” sub-heading. Empathize with your target. And brainstorm at least 10 different headlines for each page. Then add another five to it. Finally, split A/B test headlines to find the best of the bunch.
Every landing page should have one concrete goal or CTA. No more. No less. Visitors are on your landing page because they clicked on an ad that promised one thing. Give it to them. That’s it.
Of course, finding the “right” way to drive that conversion is easier said than done. Landing pages utilize the CTA button to reach their goal.
The button itself should immediately stand out from the rest of the page through directed gaze, contrasting colors, and/or framing (more on those below).
The button copy should clearly explain why they should click it.
<Click Here> is weak, anemic copy. Why? What do they get, and what happens after they click?
<Get My Free Report> is strong, robust copy. The offer is explicit. What happens next is clear. The best copy often uses an “I Want [Blank]” or “Get My [Blank]” formula.
The call-to-action can make or break your campaign. One page = one exact CTA.
The copy is the rest of the text on the page. As a general guideline, less is more when it comes to landing page copy. Be sure and do the following: Explain benefits and features.
Avoid the temptation to talk about yourself or your company. That’s not why anyone clicked your ad. Talk about the offer, and how it benefits them.
Generate a list of important questions (i.e. those that would influence a visitor’s purchase decision) about your product or service, and include the answers in your text.
For those of you with a mathematical inclination, Unbounce provides the following formula for winning body copy: “Your best offerings (worded in the form of benefit statements) + appropriate sectioning.”
Break it up into bite-sized pieces for easy digestion. Even if you don’t have a lot to say, don’t just throw it all into one paragraph. Bullet points, small paragraphs, and white space can help attract readers to what’s most important.
Your page needs to explain your offer explicitly: its benefits to your target, why you’re better than your competitors, and how to get it. Does your page hit all those?
Sometimes you’ll need to say more, and sometimes less. There are pros and cons for each, and research to support both. Let the debate rage. For now, focus on telling the story that needs to be told, and worry about the length later.
You’ve got a hearty headline, a compelling call-to-action, and kickass copy. Now it’s time to put it all together on the page.
There’s a lot that goes into the perfect page. Your words of course – headline, CTA, and body copy – but also the design elements that don’t always get as much attention as they should.
The visual elements, colors, layout, and trust and authority indicators are just as significant. Try relying on a text-only page and you’ll quickly see precisely what I mean.
Ever encountered a landing page with too much “stuff”? It’s unappealing on every level. When it comes to visuals, opt for fewer images that resonate with your offer, audience, or both. Don’t crowd or make it too busy.
In fact, the effective use of empty or whitespace can be a powerful tool in your arsenal. For starters, it serves to highlight and frame the things you’ve chosen to include: your headline, your CTA, your body copy, and any image or graphic. Whitespace throws a spotlight on them. They pop off the page and stick with the readers.
It also makes the page easier to read, and that improves the overall user experience for your visitors. Whitespace is an active design element that deserves your attention. It’s not simply the absence of something.
Images obviously play a key role in everything we do online. Photos, illustrations, charts, graphs, and diagrams are wonderful at distilling something down to its essence for the reader (one picture = 1000 words). So use them.
Select high quality images that relate in some way to your goal, offer, audience, and/or CTA. Optimize those images for SEO (every little bit helps). Stock photos that we’ve seen dozens of times on other sites will diminish the power of your page. It comes across as amateurish and cheap. If you want to be perceived as high quality, you need to invest in high quality photos.
Show your product or offer. Show your target audience. Show your target audience using your product or offer. Show the emotional response you hope people will have to your product or offer. Show something.
You may want to include an explainer or introduction video. In fact, the addition of a short video can improve your conversion rate by up to 86%.
This one pulls a little psychology into the mix. The directed gaze – or line of sight – focuses our attention on something via visual cues and indicators. When something is looking or pointing in a particular direction, we automatically look the same way.
Have people looking or pointing at your headline or CTA. Other directional cues include lines, roadways, arrows, bridges, paths, and the use of images and text boxes to create a funnel. If you want your visitors to look at something, direct their gaze to it.
It’s human nature.
The colors you select for your page are important. Very important. Colors affect our mood and opinion of something before we’re even aware of it. Colors convey emotion on a visceral level.
Red is considered passionate, fiery, and powerful. Blue is much cooler, calm, and trustworthy. Color psychology is very real and very useful, but that’s not to say that everyone has the same reaction to color. Much of it seems to be universal (at least across a particular culture), but personal experience does play into it as well.
A University of Winnipeg study found that people make up their mind about a product or brand within 90 seconds, and anywhere from 60-90% of that is based on color alone.
Furthermore, the proper use of color can assist in highlighting and emphasizing the right parts of the page. By using contrasting colors, for example, you can make your CTA button jump off the page.
It’s worth the investment to learn at least a little about the color wheel and color psychology. Put those ideas and theories to good use in your landing page design.
This is a simple albeit powerful idea: frame the important stuff on the page. Framing – or encapsulation – refers to the use of boxes, frames, and other shapes (or even whitespace) to literally frame text, images, forms, or buttons.
It pulls our attention. It’s the wrapping paper on the gift (your offer).
We all want to trust that the product, service, or offer is and does exactly what it claims to do. But we’ve grown wary, and with so much choice online for every conceivable need, we need to be convinced right away that we can trust a company.
There are several ways you can instantly establish and build trust on your landing page:
Do you need all six indicators? No. But a few well chosen and well placed can make all the difference.
It’s wise to remove the navigation menu along the top of the page. Studies by Hubspot and Unbounce have both found that this generally increases conversions (resulting in a conversion lift as much as 28%).
Clicking or submitting should be the only way forward and off the page. Don’t give prospective buyers an option to simply navigate to another page on your website.
Too many options (menus, links, social media buttons) can lead to decision paralysis. Make it easy by giving them just one option (convert!).
Still with me? Once your page is ready, the work is still not finished. There’s more to be done.
Split test everything: headline (text itself, number of words, placement), subheadings (none vs some, placement, text), images (different photos, placement), body text, button (copy, color, placement, shape), color scheme, amount of whitespace, framing elements, trust indicators, layout, and more. Tweak slowly over time to end up with the “page to end all pages.”
In A/B testing, you start with version A (the control) and compare it to version B (the variation). Each page is seen by roughly the same number of people over the same period of time.
To be most effective, the test must:
Once you have the conversion rate for each version, you simply compare the two figures. Remember that a 3% increase (from 12% to 15%, for example) actually represents a 25% improvement. This is called conversion lift.
Your PPC ad will be assigned a Quality Score by Google. This number from between 1-10 is determined by the expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. The higher the score, the better. Work to improve it by making each landing page useful, relevant, and user-friendly. A better score ultimately means a lower cost-per-click in your campaign.
You’re almost done. It’s the home stretch.
Visitors have arrived with a specific goal in mind (from your ad). Does the page deliver? They need to instantly see they’re in the right place. The page must be integrated with the message, style, and tone of the PPC ad.
Support visitors’ decision with sufficient benefits, trust, and detail. Do they have everything they might need to make the right decision?
Can they quickly move forward? Is this easy and within one click? Do your forms request only the necessary information?