For successful landing pages, best practices are mandatory
At Mequoda, we never guess. Over many years of testing, we’ve developed proven best practices for just about everything. In fact, when it comes to landing pages, we have 12 of them. You can test these elements over and over, removing some or adding others, but in the end this even dozen will help you create landing pages that consistently deliver the desired results, whether it’s a sale or a conversion of some kind to gain an email address.
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #1: Write an urgent, compelling headline
Here’s a winner from The Motley Fool:
Discover the world’s most profitable stocks before Wall Street gets its hands on them!
It includes the power words “discover” and “profitable,” and creates urgency.
I just did a lightning check of some landing pages at news websites I frequent, and here’s a big loser from Slate:
Welcome to MySlate!
MySlate is a new tool that lets you track your favorite parts of Slate.
Get started with MySlate.
There’s absolutely nothing there whatsoever to compel anyone – let alone someone who’s not already familiar with the brand – to sign up. Fail.
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #2: Tell an interesting, personal story
Matthew Bennett at FirstClassFlyer.com has a fantastic tale to tell.
I am one of those lucky people who managed to turn his hobby into a career. My hobby’s not all that unusual, mind you – I’m just a collector. What’s unusual is what I collect.
… I collect anomalies and loopholes. I collect ambiguities too, and incongruities, and oversights. Even what might be mistakes. All in the one highly specialized area: commercial air travel.
This interest – compulsion, really – all started when I was a minor league pitcher for the Gulf Coast Royals. I’d organize the travel for the team and soon found I had the much sought-after knack of getting upgrades. I was an okay baseball pitcher but an all-star upgrader. Soon I was given the nickname Mr. Upgrade. I never got people upgraded by asking, let alone begging, I got us upgraded by digging. Discovering anomalies, loopholes, etc. that no one even knew existed.
Even if you think you don’t have that fun kind of story to share on your landing pages, you can talk about something in a dramatic way on your landing pages. Recently I was writing a letter for a free report about Best Alternatives to a Negotiated Agreement, or BATNAs, for the Program on Negotiation. Think the art of negotiation is dull stuff? I opened up the letter with the entertaining story of the Boston Red Sox negotiation to acquire Daisuke Matsuzaka, supposedly the trade of the decade … which years later has turned out to be a flop for the Sox, but a great deal for Matsuzaka’s old team.
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #3: Make sure text and graphics are designed to work on the Web, and use the technology the Web makes available
Matthew Bennett has an image of himself on CNBC with a voiceover promotion. Others use actual video. Bennett’s method saves bandwidth and has been tested over and over to be incredibly effective at improving conversions.
Landing pages best practices bonus tip: Some fonts are better for reading on a screen than others. Try Georgia or Cambria for serif fonts, and Tahoma, Verdana and Geneva for sans serif.
All Mequoda.com landing pages, for example, carry logos of the Better Business Bureau, FIPP, the Magazine Publishers Association, the Association of Business Information & Media Companies, and the Special Information Publisher’s Association, plus a certificate from Site Lock Secure.
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Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #5: Include user testimonials on all landing pages
If you don’t have any, you should be asking for them any time you have a transaction with a customer. And testimonials with full names – plus title and company if you’re a B2B publisher – are exponentially more valuable.
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #6: Include prominent order/sign-up buttons and text links, all of them contextual to your copy
Here’s text from a letter I wrote for our fictitious publication that we use as a teaching tool:
You get gardening advice like this and much more when you subscribe to Hidden Gardens!
The word “subscribe” should be a link if you have an actual landing page (remember this is a fictitious product!). I do find that many very good marketers who have plenty of order buttons on their landing pages aren’t using text links anymore. If you never have, test them. If you have and tested out of them, we’d love to hear about your test!
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #7: Use clear language and lots of power words, while avoiding jargon
From one of InvestingDaily.com’s landing pages comes this little gem:
Inside your free special report you’ll uncover…
- A simple strategy that will help you take advantage of Wall Street’s mistakes
- The 7 laws of becoming a Jedi value investor
- Why a company’s earnings are less important than you think, and what you should focus on instead
- Why Warren Buffett thinks you can beat him in the market
- How a Harvard professor’s little-known discovery has completely turned financial theory on its head, and what it means for your portfolio
I love the compelling copy (what investor wouldn’t want to know how to beat Warren Buffett in the market?), the power words like “discovery” and “simple strategy” and bullets that make the copy easy to read.
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #8: Make the page uncluttered and easy to read, with adequate white space and careful use of graphics
You can’t get a page that’s easier to read than this one from the Program on Negotiation, with plenty of white space, social media lined up neatly, and bullet points. One of my pet peeves on many landing pages: Having to search for a Print option. Here it’s easy to find!
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #9: Keep your content fresh and convey this freshness prominently
Even if some of your best blog posts and landing pages are old, you can still update the text and convey a recent date in the headline. This one was recently tested on a Mequoda blockbuster post, and even though it appeared immediately beneath a 2008 date, it handily beat the original headline:
Do you want to become a more profitable publisher in 2013?
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #10: Tune the load time to “instant gratification.”
Check your landing pages at Pingdom.com. Anything under three seconds is great. If it takes more than nine seconds, start over and rebuild.
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #11: Make sure the aesthetics supports the product or service, and are consistent with users’ mental models.
Don’t try to be hip if your product is a newsletter for 50-something women. And vice versa. And note the headshot images on this businesslike header from Radiology Today:
Radiologists are presumably of both genders, and different ages and ethnicities. Other audiences, such as C suite biopharma executives – to whom I once wrote sales copy fulltime – are almost exclusively older white men, and using this image on landing pages at my former company would be completely wrong.
Landing Pages Best Practices, Tip #12: Make it easier than easy for users to order your product or sign up!
Include plenty of OFIEs (order form in editorial), buttons and text links on our landing pages. Be sure to include an 800 number, and even offer an option to have a sales rep call the prospect for the order.
When it comes to landing pages, best practices are fairly well-defined. Of course, there are always folks thinking of new ways to optimize their landing pages, so we’d love to hear from you if you’ve tested anything we haven’t listed here!