Website landing pages are powerful marketing tools which can turn a mediocre campaign into a highly successful one.
In this article we look at what makes a great landing page and how to brief your design agency to create yours.
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What is a landing page?
A website landing page is the first page that a visitor to your website arrives at, usually as a result of clicking on a search result, a link in an email or a social media post, or an advert.
Strictly speaking, any page can therefore be considered a landing page. However, when marketers refer to a “landing page” they usually mean a standalone page that’s been specifically designed to elicit a response from the visitor – for example, to send an enquiry, join a mailing list, attend an event or make a purchase.
Often these pages don’t feature in the main navigation of the website – they’re intended purely for that first arrival, not to be discovered while browsing it.
Landing page objective
The first thing you must be clear on is what you want your landing page to achieve. If your agency doesn’t understand this, your page will never be as effective as it could be.
Landing pages tend to be focused on a single, very specific goal and, therefore, a very specific target audience.
Example landing page objectives:
- Increase lead generation from Google Ads, through a tailored landing page which reinforces the messages in the advert and asks the reader to book a free consultation.
- Download a free eBook, often also capturing the visitor’s contact details (in return for the free download) so you can get in touch with them.
- Complete a purchase, perhaps with a Black Friday special offer discount code only available through that landing page.
- If you include a QR code in leaflets you hand out at a trade show, the landing page might have the objective of getting the visitor to sign up to your mailing list.
Landing page audience
Because your landing page is so targeted, it’s likely that you’re using it to only attract one (or possibly two) of your customer personas.
When briefing a company to create your landing page, it’s important to be very clear about who you expect will read it. Everything from the visual design, to the copywriting, to the choice of photography, should be tailored to appeal to that segment of your market.
Bear in mind that this might mean you actually need to create more than one version of your landing page, one targeted at each persona’s particular needs.
Another important piece of information is the device your audience is most likely to use to view your landing page. In the b2b market this is probably a desktop computer, so your landing page design should focus on this platform. However, in a consumer market, your users may be predominantly on mobile devices, so you should expect your design agency’s initial design proposal to be for a mobile view.
Landing page layout
There’s no hard and fast rule about what your landing page should look like and, when briefing a design agency, it’s important to give them a certain amount of creative freedom.
However, there are some elements which most landing pages should include.
Perhaps the most important component of your landing page’s content is the headline.
This is your first, and perhaps only, opportunity to grab your reader’s attention and get them to continue down the page.
Headline image or video
Accompanying the headline should be a strong image or video that reinforces the message.
Traditionally many landing pages use photos of people since a human face can be more engaging and draw your reader into the page. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and simply won’t be suitable for some landing pages objectives.
Call to action
This is the crux of your landing page, the Holy Grail, the focus of all your efforts – getting your visitor to do what you want them to do.
How many calls to action should you include on your landing page?
Generally you should have just one, very clear and specific type of call to action – so the only decision your audience has to make is do they take that action or not.
By incorporating more than one type of call to action you’re diluting the objective of the page and, by giving the reader too much choice, making it harder for them to decide what to do.
This landing page from Plann, for example, is nicely designed, however there are too many calls to action. Should we download their guide? Try Plann’s services? Read more scheduling tips? Create a free account? A single, focused call to action would achieve more of the results they’re seeking from this page.
In a similar vein, your landing page shouldn’t have too many links to other pages. You don’t want your users to browse your website, you want them to take the action which is the objective of this page. Therefore, you might not include your main website navigation or even link your logo back to your homepage. Your target call to action may be the ONLY link on the page, or at minimum should be the most prominent one.
What should your landing page call to action look like?
Your call to action can take many forms – but should be written and designed with your specific objective in mind.
Some example calls to action:
- A button to download a free eBook.
- A form to capture data about the reader.
- A button to click through to the checkout page.
- A calendar to schedule an appointment.
- A click to call button (being specific about why they are calling you).
Where should your landing page call to action be?
Ideally your first call to action should be “above the fold”, ie in the part of the page which you see when it first loads.
This isn’t always so easy, particularly when your reader is on a mobile device, but it should at least be as high up as possible.
It’s absolutely fine to repeat your call to action further down the page too. If you have quite a long page you might want to, for example, have calls to action at the beginning, middle and end of it. Just don’t overload the page, keep a balance between calls to action and other content, otherwise it will feel too pushy.
Explaining your offer
Depending on how complex your offering, and how knowledgeable your market, you might need to a little or a lot of additional explanation. This is a good opportunity to consider what questions your target audience might ask and make sure that your landing page answers them. This can be done with text, images, video, or a combination of all three.
Text should be kept simple and to the point. Use devices like sub-headings and bullet points to break up longer sections of text and make the key messages easier to spot.
Images and videos are particularly useful as they can help the reader to visualise themselves using your product or service. If using video, remember to add subtitles as many users will watch it with the sound off.
Having other people or organisations advocate for your brand is fantastic content for a landing page. It gives the reader the confidence that other people have used and liked what you’re offering, so they will too.
Social proof takes many forms, for example:
- Testimonials from happy customers or experts in your field – text ones are good, videos are even better.
- Logos of brands you work with.
- Star ratings from trusted review sites (such as Google, TripAdvisor or Feefo).
- Awards and accreditations you’ve received.
Don’t forget SEO
Your agency might be setting up your landing page with an objective that isn’t SEO-related, such as being a landing page for your Google Ads campaign or a destination from a trade show QR code. Nevertheless, it’s still important to do some basic SEO work on the page.
If you’re taking the time and effort to create this highly targeted landing page, it’s daft to not just do a little bit of extra work to also give it a chance of being found through search engine searches.
When considering which search terms to target, the highly specific nature of landing pages mean that they work well for ‘long-tail’ search terms. So, for example, instead of optimising your landing page for something quite generic like “double glazing” you should be more precise, for example targeting “double glazing for period homes in Sussex”.
What happens next
When briefing your agency you also need to consider what you want to happen next when the customer takes the desired action on the page.
For example, should any messages appear on screen once they’ve taken that action? Should they be redirected to another page? Are any follow up emails needed?
Landing page design
Perhaps the most important aspect of a landing page is its overall visual appearance. Conversely, this is probably the thing you need to be least prescriptive about in your brief. At the end of the day you’re paying a designer to create something beautiful and effective for you – so don’t stifle that creativity!
Creative freedom aside, there are some essential principles you should expect your landing page design to follow.
Overall look and feel
A good landing page will be pleasing to the eye and provide a “scannable” overview of your offering.
From a design perspective this means it should be uncluttered, with plenty of breathing space between each section, and make good use of images, videos, icons and other design devices.
We like the intention behind this landing page from the British College of Journalism. It has a single, relevant call to action, which includes a free download, which is great. The colours are strong and vibrant.
However, it’s just a bit too cluttered. Perhaps appropriately for journalists, there are too many words. For example, the list of key features next to the icons would each work just as well without the headings (e.g just “Professional & Personal Development”).
Plus, the main, and most important, heading “The Professional Freelance Journalism Course” is in a less prominent position than the rather vague “Follow Your Passion”, which could refer to anything.
With less clutter and a better headline this landing page could easily pack a bigger punch.
On brand … mostly
While it should adhere to the essential elements of your brand guidelines, you should also be prepared to allow your designer some flexibility.
A landing page has a lot of work to do in a fairly limited space, so don’t expect it to be a carbon copy of the rest of your website.
The visuals on your landing page have to do a lot of the heavy lifting. They need to instantly convey the benefits of following your call to action, encouraging your reader to take that action.
If you’re selling a physical product, your designer might feature a series of photos, showing it from different angles, including at least one with a person in it (or something else to show scale).
Lifestyle images are also a great addition to many landing pages. They tell a story about the benefits which your product or service can bring. A picture really can be worth a thousand words.
Make sure that your images are always relevant to what you’re offering, otherwise they’ll only serve to detract from your message.
Draw attention to your call to action
Your designer will create a natural visual hierarchy within your page, at the summit of which will be your call to action.
Much of this is done quite subtly. One example is to include a photo of a person which is positioned so they are looking at the call to action – your reader’s eye will be naturally drawn to look the same way.
For some landing pages you might want to throw subtly out the window and employ some big flashing arrows pointing at your call to action. So long as it suits your brand and your objectives, this brazen approach is fine.
There are many things to like about this landing page from IRIS, however the fact that the arrows all point away from their call to action is not one of them!
How to write landing page content
How to write your headline
You should ensure that your agency is using a professional copywriter to get the most out of every word that’s included on your landing page, particularly the headline.
A strong headline:
- Is relevant to what the reader is expecting to get from the page.
- Makes a promise about the benefits of reading on.
- Starts with a verb (probably) to give a sense of action.
- Includes compelling words such as “free” or “now”.
How to write your call to action
Your call to action should be specific to the objective of your landing page and the audience you’re appealing to.
“Contact us” doesn’t really cut the mustard. “Book a free 30 minute phone consultation” or “Complete this short questionnaire to receive our free report and recommendations” is much clearer, relevant and compelling.
We could write a whole article on creating the perfect call to action text (and perhaps we will) but here are a few things to check that your copywriter is delivering.
As with the headline, every word should be carefully considered. Active sentences and the use of verbs at the front give a greater sense of urgency.
Less formal language will appeal to some audiences, but if you’re encouraging your reader to download a medical report, for example, a more formal tone may be appropriate.
Here are some good examples:
- Download now – If they’ve arrived at the page expecting a free download, make it really obvious how they get it.
- Book a free… – Incorporating the word ‘free’ will always catch the eye.
- Get your discount code now – You’ll have seen this a few times on discount voucher sites! It’s a strong call to action, starts with a verb, promises a discount and uses ‘now’ to create a sense of urgency.
- Buy yours before they all go! – Another one creating a more obvious sense of urgency and ‘Fear Of Missing Out’.
- Subscribe to… – If the objective is to get them to sign up to your mailing list then make sure the call to action is obviously about this, and nothing else. Remember that subscribing to a mailing list is a less daunting first step in getting to know your business than making an enquiry.
- Join free for a month – It never hurts to repeat the premise of your offer within your call to action. It reassures your reader that they’re going to get what you’ve promised them.
How to write the other text on your landing page
Every bit of content on your landing page should focus on the benefits to your reader, not just the features of your product or service.
When we write we always ask ourselves “so what?”. For example:
“Our cloud backup services offer secure, 64tb capacity storage with easy access.”
“When something goes wrong, our cloud backup services will get your business back on its feet quickly and easily.”
The second option is much more compelling as it speaks to the reader’s needs, not the service’s features.
Needless to say, it should be well written and appropriate for your intended audience. But don’t let your copywriter get carried away and end up with great ‘walls’ of text for your designer to somehow incorporate in the page!
Great landing page designs
Here are a few landing pages content examples which we really like.
This Airbnb landing page is beautifully simple yet effective.
Its objective is to encourage new hosts to join Airbnb. The message is very clear – you could make a lot of money by doing this. The call to action is a simple and colourful button, right at the top of the page.
Scrolling down the page they include information on how easy it is to join up and a list of FAQs. The final call to action on the page is to chat to one of their ‘Superhosts’ for more support.
This Talkspace landing page is targeting people who suffer from insomnia. While not the only call to action on the page, their priority is clearly for you to take their insomnia test. This directs you to another page to complete the test, after which you’re given the opportunity to sign up to Talkspace’s services.
Reassurance is given from the two accreditation logos placed over the image. Further down the page is more information about insomnia, focusing on reassuring the reader that they are not alone in suffering from this. And the call to action to take the test is repeated at the bottom of the page.
Freshchat tick a lot of boxes with this landing page. It’s cleanly laid out, the headline focuses on the customer benefit, the explanatory text is brief and, again, benefit focused, and the call to action is specific and repeated.
Scrolling down the page you immediately come to a list of high profile client logos (social proof). This is followed by:
- More details on the benefits Freshchat can bring.
- A repeat of their call to action.
- The option to open a section with their pricing details (hidden until you click, to preserve the clean design of the page).
- More social proof in the form of testimonials.
- The final call to action.
This Go-Henry landing page is beautifully designed, with a large, highly relevant image, compelling headline and obvious call to action buttons. And underneath the call to action is a subtle piece of social proof, in the form of their Trustpilot rating.
One tweak we might be inclined to make is to remove the main website navigation and log in buttons – focusing the reader solely on the next step which Go Henry want them to take.
Like the Freshchat landing page, the Go Henry one continues with further examples of social proof (accreditations, testimonials and publications they’ve been mentioned in), additional information including an explanatory video and safety reassurances, all peppered with call to action buttons.
If you’re looking for more landing page ideas, then this article from Hubspot includes some fine examples.
A/B testing landing pages
A/B testing is the process of having multiple versions of the same landing page, so you can assess which are the most effective.
For example, you might try different photography, a different headline or differently worded calls to action.
This isn’t just about testing which version of the page gets you the most conversions. You should also look into the data in more detail, for example studying whether one page converted a particular type of visitor better than another. You might find, for example, that the page which is bringing in the lower quantity of conversions is actually delivering a far higher quality of customer.
If you’d like your agency to incorporate A/B testing then it’s important to include this in the brief from the start.
How to brief your landing page designer
As we’ve emphasised throughout this article, it’s critical that you give your design agency all the information they need to create the perfect landing page for you.
To make this a bit easier, we’ve distilled everything into a handy template for you to use.
Free landing page brief template.Download
An alternative to writing a brief – call us for a chat
If you’d rather speak to someone about your landing page then that’s no problem! Our web design specialists are happy to chat to you about your project.
Call us on 01273 814 019 to tell us what you need.