Crafting a high-converting landing page is indeed an art and a science.
An art and a science that is important to perfect since landing pages influence an impression of your business, how users interact with your site and whether they choose to return. Whilst there are intersubjective best practices which generally improve conversion rates, best practices can also vary depending on industry, the objective of the website (lead generation vs. sales), the audience that is targeted, and many other – sometimes uncontrollable – factors such as competition, time of year and even PESTLE factors.
However, in this short guide we run through a series of best practices which have proven to work universally well. The following sections will cover:
Finishing with General Tips.
We recommend taking our insights on board in stages and test, test, test! Be clear on what works best for your site by continuously A/B experimenting; sometimes trialling even unconventional ideas can lead to great results if the change(s) are accepted by your audience. The only way to find that out, is to try. Keep this in mind for the upcoming sections.
#1 Design & Navigation
Your branding plays a huge role in landing page design. Not only can it determine the ‘feel’ of a website, but a brand’s colours can also instil trust or distrust on a site (think green vs. red; green indicates safety, red is an alarming colour). Use the colours wisely; a cleverly chosen colour scheme can actually point users towards the desired action to be taken on a site. Call-to-actions for example should contrast the background colour to stand out; picture the basic colour wheel, the opposite colour of the general hue on a website will convert higher. In an example study by Hubspot, they saw a huge uptake in conversion rate when a red button was used on a website with a green hue.
Modern, interactive design
Nothing holds users back from converting than a landing page that looks like it originated in the early 2000s. Research from Stanford University shows that one of the top ten reasons someone trusts a website or not is whether the design looks professional and up-to-date, and appropriate for purpose.
Set expectations on the site
Confusing the user with complex navigation and unclear directions will lead to a drop-off in conversion rates. If a user doesn’t immediately understand what a website is about, then the chances are the user will lose interest and divert elsewhere.
Repeat a call to action multiple times on longer landing pages
This simply increases chances of click-through. On longer landing pages, the more cautious may venture further down the page than most and so a repeated CTA will be available when they need it.
Do not distract the visitor
Unnecessary buttons, popups, footer links and the like will scare off users. Also avoid external links throughout the landing page until the user reaches the bottom. You want as few people to click away from the landing page as possible.
Carefully consider placement of images
Images catch the eye of users first, and could distract from the CTA/signup box – users generally read a page in an F-shape, so keep this in mind when considering placement. Whilst imagery can distract and work against the UX, when considered well, images can act as a cue and draw attention to content and CTAs. The example below from Neil Patel, shows the effect the baby’s face and direction has on the content which discusses taking care of the baby’s skin. Since faces draw the longest gazes from visitors, the baby was commanding all the attention. Turn the baby to the side and he/she acts as a cue for the copy.
With CTA’s and directional cues, size matters in landing page design. If you have a series of USP’s called out on your landing page, i.e. Free Delivery, ensure these don’t hog all the attention. Whilst it’s important to share this information, decrease the size, and place more focus on the important elements of your landing page i.e. CTA’s for higher conversion rates on-site.
Follow Hick’s Law
The time it takes for an individual to make a decision is directly proportionate to the possible choices he or she has. In other words, the more choice a person has, the longer he or she takes to make a decision. Hence, make your CTA and number of offers brief. The solution is simple: make the choice for the consumer, don’t let the consumer make the choice.
Use negative space
This can greatly help to get the user to focus on the content he or she is supposed to digest.
Leverage the Rule of Thirds
This is a popular web design principle which visually divides a web page into thirds. The rule states objects placed where the lines intersect receive the most attention. Use this rule with the addition of negative space and it can be a powerful tool to call things out without the need for repeated exaggerated sizing.
#2 Above The Fold
Clear CTAs above the fold
In line with the points mentioned in #1, it’s important to include clear CTAs above the fold so that the visitor knows straight away what action he or she needs to take on the site; managing expectations and maintaining a user’s interest.
Place the most important information and the USPs of your business above the fold
Again, this sets the right expectations and increases the chances of conversions. NN Group, world leaders in research-based user experience summarise that “to gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds”.
Your logo becomes a homepage link
Ensure a clear logo is displayed in the header of your website. Users expect to find logos here and for logos to link back to the homepage. When logos don’t link back to the homepage users assume there are development issues with the site.
If phone calls are valuable to your business
Place the phone number prominently above the fold. Be generous with the size and colour of the number – make it stand out. On mobile, make it a click-to-call button with a corresponding CTA (i.e. “Call Us”), and/or place the phone number on the top right so it can be easily tapped with the thumb. As a rule it is always best to include contact information prominently in the head for ease of access to allow users to make an enquiry at any time.
#3 Homepage Hero
Must be relatable to your business/product/service
Seven hero persuasion factors are keyword relevance, purpose/clarity, design support, authenticity, added value, desired emotion and customer “hero”. Most often after clicking an ad the hero will be the first protocol for users landing onsite, so relevance is key.
Content above the fold is king!
Further research carried out by NN Group shows the viewing time percentages of areas of the landing page. It is clear that content above the fold is most important with an 80% decrease in views passed the fold.
Use faces where appropriate
Research shows that friendly faces in homepage heroes help conversion rates. You should, however, decide on your homepage hero design based on what you offer. As mentioned in the design and navigation section, consider the placement of imagery and its relevance.
Use visual cues
Again, as mentioned in the design and navigation section, using visual cues (see the baby example) can help greatly to engage users with your content, as research into landing page interaction shows.
Content needs to be easily digestible
Not too much text, but enough text to explain the service/product. You can use bullet points and short paragraphs to convey more information.
Remember the 8 second rule
According to a study from Microsoft, the average human attention span is only 8 seconds. Your landing page content needs to hit home quickly to maintain interest, if the first two sentences don’t make you want to continue reading – change them.
Keep your products/services simple
If you offer multiple products or services, consider breaking it down to just one or into a bundle to avoid confusion.
Unless you’re sure your target audience understands the jargon. For example, ICYMI (“in case you missed it”), baes or FOMO (“fear of missing out”) are slang lots of retailers are using to target millennial’s.
If you’d like to tap into FOMO, we have put together a blog explaining the most effective uses in marketing here.
Make information easy to verify
Site third party references for information you share, especially when the evidence presented is research based. Even if the links aren’t followed, you’ve acquired confidence in your material.
Be persuasive and relevant
Don’t think of persuasion as a form of begging or deceit, persuade your users with actionable benefits, create a knowledge gap and promote exclusivity. Provide further reasons to convert.
To boost conversion rates and increase social proof. Infrequent promotions with time constraints are alluring to users landed onsite.
Include an FAQ section on your site
For complicated products/services, a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section at the bottom of your landing page with (at minimum) the 3 most asked questions can reduce buyer friction.
Use quality images
The better the quality of an image, the higher chance a user is convinced of your product.
Update content regularly
Keep content timely and fresh, it assigns credibility for a user and makes it known that a website is active.
Avoid errors at all costs
False information, spelling errors, or language/translation errors will limit your chances of conversion success.
Use emotive language with CTAs
Buzz words such as ‘Free’, imperatives of verbs (think ‘shop now!’), words indicating urgency, and emotive language addressing the user directly such as ‘you’ or ‘your’ increase your chances of success.
“Keep it simple.”
Apple’s landing page hero is a perfect example of simple done well whilst grabbing a user’s curiosity.
Have a responsive website
A website which adapts to all devices generally converts higher, and also boosts Ads Quality Scores and Google rankings. People expect websites to be mobile friendly and will bounce if it isn’t.
Make sure that any telephone number, whether in the header, footer or contact page can be clicked to call on mobile.
Page loading time is one of the biggest factors in conversion rates. A study by Google found that if a mobile page loads just 1s faster, it increases conversion rates by 27%. To aid loading time, compress image sizes and use other features like lazy loading and optimising scripts. It’s very helpful to use Google’s own Page-Speed Insights for this: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Make sure the page works on all browsers and networks.
A good tool to check this functionality is https://www.browserstack.com/. It is especially important to ensure a page works on device-specific networks like Safari for Mac and iPhone, or Chrome for Android.
Include a Search functionality.
A search functionality allows visitors to easily find a product/service they are looking for. If unsuccessful, a ‘no results found’ page should be displayed, offering the visitor an alternative, relevant page they can navigate to.
#6 Social Proof
The top 3 trusted sources for consumer buying decisions, also online, are recommendations from friends, online consumer opinions, and editorials:
This is partly the reason why many invest in what’s known as “influencer marketing”. Paying someone with the power to influence, to share your product or service with their loyal followers is a powerful tool because people trust people. Especially those they admire and look up to.
Testimonials are an easy way of creating social proof on a landing page.
- This could be:
- from businesses the company worked with;
- video testimonials from real customers;
- online reviews;
- review badges;
- accreditation and awards;
- celebrity endorsement;
- This could be:
Use Social Media?
If you have active social media accounts make these visible. Whilst you don’t want to divert users away from a landing page, embedding social feeds that are regularly updated shows the business isn’t stagnant and if a user has a question there are alternative contact methods.
If you’re regularly active, add a comments box to a blog/product landing page.
Whilst most will shy away from opening a comments box up to the public it can be a great way to show off your customer service. If a user can see that another user’s issue has been dealt with quickly and effectively it builds confidence. You can regulate comments with captcha’s and review comment options.
Add an ‘About Us’ page for company background
To show a real company and real people exist behind the website. This enhances your brand and reputation.
#7 Signup Forms
As a rule of thumb, make a signup as easy as possible.
The less information the person has to provide, and the less ‘personal’ the information is for the user (e.g. telephone numbers are less likely to be put into a form than email addresses), the smaller the conversion friction.
Don’t ask for too much
Make it short and sweet – eliminate all optional boxes.
Add a thank you page!
Every form needs a thank you page. This page receives 100% visibility and needs to set all the expectations from the outset as to what is going to happen next; explaining all procedures from that point onwards.
Add clear call to actions in the sign up forms
How can someone convert if there is no visible sign up button?
One-page checkouts or on-page signup forms convert best
The less clicks, the better. And, if fields can automate – even better.
Don’t force users to create an account
There’s plenty of research indicating that forcing a user to create a customer account will significantly lower the conversion rate.
Use autofill on mobile
An automatic switch to autofill on mobile is an easier way for the customer to enter their contact details. Also, switching the keyboard to make it easier to enter email addresses is helpful.
In order to understand what works on a landing page, installing tracking is essential to learn how users engage with a page, use the navigation, where they came from and to A/B test and measure the success of landing page optimisation.
Install website interaction tracking
Free software like Hotjar can give insight into how people interact with your site, and even encourage website users to leave constructive feedback. It also creates videos of how people interact with your landing pages, and highlights how users move their cursors/scroll across the screen and which parts are clicked or tapped.
Run A/B tests all the time
Tracked A/B tests, e.g. with Google Optimise, will continually improve your website. An A/B test is a way of testing a hypothesis about what onsite change will result in higher conversion rates. The secret is to test small changes rather than to test too many things simultaneously.
Analytics is a must
Consider tracking events, such as button clicks, link shares, social shares etc. on the page, and see if on-site changes result in any uplifts or downswings with these events. Note: If the landing page is built with a separate subdomain, then consider setting up an additional analytics plugin – your web developers will guide you through this.
Use multiple landing pages
Ensure each of your products and services has its own unique landing page. For example, if you offer multiple services then make sure you have landing pages that are relevant to each individual offering, rather than one simple catch all page.
Popups on exit intent can work for some industries
When a visitor hasn’t converted on site, an exit intent pop-up can appear before the visitor exists the site. This popup appears as the user moves the cursor towards the ‘x’ on their browser window. This popup will catch their attention and can encourage them to stay on site, particularly if you push a good deal, and motivate them to convert.
The URL should mimic your business/business name
In a world of spam and fake news, domains are looked to for confirmation. Imagine being on a sales page, and the URL states www.example.com/trial-website, it confirms the business has no reputation and suggests the page is still in development. Another example might be when you’re researching aesthetics and find yourself considering procedures on www.moneymonster.co.uk, there is no direct connection between the content and domain and suddenly there’s no trust.
SSL is a must for every URL
An SSL certificate is a security protocol for encrypting links between a web server and a browser. SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer and is a requirement of Google.
And lastly, put yourself in your audience’s shoes
The best advice is to try to remove yourself from your business bubble and to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Go through and questioning every single element of the landing page to find what needs to be worked on, or could be done better.