The main purpose of every landing page should be to drive conversions. That is, to get your visitors to act on something. And this something could be anything like the following:

  • signing up for a newsletter;
  • downloading a demo product;
  • starting a service trial;
  • enrolling in a webinar;
  • getting an ebook or some other type of content.

In short, you want your visitor to become a customer and engage with your offer.

So how do you achieve this? How do you turn your landing page into a conversion-generator? The following items are tried and true best practices—they have been tested once and again, and form the basis of an actually effective and highly converting landing page.

Pay close attention, this is what you need:

1. The Unique Selling Proposition or USP:

Also known as the "unique selling point", this is what differentiates you from your competitors, what your product or service offers in terms of benefits.

The folks at Kissmetrics define it concisely as:

"[...] what your business stands for. It’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about."

So there you have it again: the USP is what you have to offer that others don't. It's all about what your product or offer is, what its benefits are, and how these benefits positively affect your customers.

And your landing page needs to feature your unique selling proposition in a prominent way. This is usually done by placing it on the headline or subheading of the page. It should actually be the first thing your visitors see—you want their eyeballs there as soon as they get on your landing page.

Take a look at an example from MailChimp:

What are they offering? The chance to "Send Better Email". That's pretty clear to see once you land there. Then, just below the hero shot (more on this below), you have a subheading: "Join more than 7 million people who use MailChimp to design and send 500 million emails every day." This is strength in numbers. And you surely would like to try a product that's so good it's being used for what amounts to be the combined populations of Los Angeles and Chicago together, wouldn't you?

You get the idea: when you're designing your landing page, make sure your unique selling point doesn't only has compelling copy, but that it's also placed right up there, for everyone to see.

2. The Hero Shot:

The hero shot is the all-important, you-can't-afford-not-to-have-one, graphic element of your landing page, used not so much for decoration but rather to draw your customers' attention and provide a much necessary context.

If you're selling a product, the hero shot is a picture showing—you guessed it—that product. If it's a service you're offering, this should be a graphic descriptive enough of that service. But it doesn't always need to be a picture or a graphic: it can also be a useful video depicting your product's benefits in use.

Hero shots have to be placed up front on your landing page, above the fold, for them to be effective and to actually have an impact on conversions. But not only that: they must also be relevant to the content and match the design of your page. So as you can see, even though hero shots are not primarily intended to be ornamental, they still need to be eye-pleasant enough. They're a design element with a purpose after all!

Let's take a look at a couple of examples:

Stripe

Stripe features a streamlined heading with a hero shot consisting of two cell phones which convey the landing page's USP: "Web and mobile payments..." That way you instantly grab the idea: "this is something that has to do with mobile phones." Easy peasy!

Let's check another one, this time from GiftRocket, a personalized cash gifts service:

GiftRocket

This is an example of a hero shot made up a colorful, well-designed graphic, in the vein of their logo, a rocket with a ribbon and cool stuff around it which cleverly conveys the USP: "the easiest way to send personalized cash gifts"—you know, speedy like a rocket.

3. The Benefits:

The copy of your landing page needs to clearly state the benefits of your product or service. Over at The Landing Page Conversion Course they say regarding benefit statements that they:

"[...] explain how you are solving a problem that your prospects have. Ask yourself “What do my potential customers need?”, then write down one sentence solutions to those needs."

When you want to explain why your product or service is good, don't resort to features. Features can be boring. Instead, resort to benefits, what the product or service solves for the customer.

Take a look at this example:

As you can see, on CrazyEgg they don't skimp on benefits to make sure you know what you get with their service. Their landing page doesn't only lists six key benefits, but it also takes the time to answer two questions about ease of use and pricing.

Remember: do not list features (what your product or service does and how it does it), list benefits (what your product or service can do or solve for your customers).

4. The Social Proof:

What is this "social proof" thing? The folks at Hubspot define it as:

"[...] the positive influence created when a person finds out that others are doing something. It's like when you see a really long line outside a nightclub and assume that club is really good because it's in such high demand."

Positive reinforcement from the masses. Or just from authoritative voices or even regular people you can relate to. Social proof is a nice way to add credibility to your offer because somebody else has benefited from it before and is willing to share his or her opinion on it.

Again, let's see the social proof element in action, beginning with Hubspot themselves:

Four testimonials from happy customers provide enough social proof for Hubspot's offers: the Vice-president of Marketing & Communication from Yoh, the Director of E-Commerce from Tui Travel, the Marketing Sr. Project Manager from ABBYY and the Sr. Manager of Search & Analytics from ShoreTel. People with know-how and who are willing to recommend the service. Perfect.

But social proof doesn't only need to be testimonials: engagement from social media can also be used to show that your brand is sufficiently known and supported by your users and customers, as OpenShift demonstrates in their landing page by publishing not only testimonials but also embedding tweets:

So don't miss the chance to put all that engagement you've hopefully achieved to work for you on your landing page copy.

5. The Call-To-Action or CTA:

Your call-to-action button or CTA should ideally be on top of your page, above the fold. As it name suggests, it's where the action takes place, where the conversion begins. An effective CTA makes your visitor sign up for a trial or newsletter, request more info, download a freebie, even actually buy something! The call-to-action is the focal point of what you built your landing page for: conversion.

Call-to-actions themselves have their own best practices (as pretty much every other element mentioned above), but among the top features of a highly converting CTA we can mention:

  • A good CTA must stand out: use contrasting colors, button shapes, and/or graphics to make it stand out on your landing page.
  • A good CTA must be compelling: the "micro-copy" on the call-to-action button must be chosen carefully as to denote some urgency, using action verbs and—where possible—using the same verbs of the headline or, even better, aligning it with the offer to optimize your landing page.

Here's a good example of call-to-action from WordStream:

WordStream offers a "Free AdWords Grader" on their UPC's subheading. The CTA button is clearly visible with its contrasting orange tone, while at the same time it tells you to "grade your account" (an action phrase). You can also notice the smart visual cue from the arrow which seems to be part of the pavement but points straight to the CTA.

Now look at this final example, from Contently, using not one, but two call-to-actions:

You can see how the two CTAs are placed in tandem, with different colors so they differentiate well from each other since, of course, they have different reasons to be: the one on the left, "Learn More" takes you to yet another landing page with more info on Contently's business model; while the button on the right, "Talk To Us", is a perfect invitation to a contact form, which for Contently means lead generation.

In a subsequent series of posts here on Landings.io, we will be expanding on each of these elements and their best practices, so you'll get richer insights on how to make your landing pages soar.

Stay tuned for much, much more!