The Perfect Landing Page. Landing page examples and 12 tips

Landing page examples and best practice advice

Most discussion of web design in companies who don’t know the power of landing pages still tends to focus on the home page. But, for companies who are running a lot of online marketing campaigns, the effectiveness of the different pages deeper within the site is vital to getting returns from these campaigns.

So this prompts the question, which factors make for the most effective landing page? Is a ‘Perfect Landing Page’ possible? This post gives a summary of my top 12 tips and places to look to find more examples.

Salesforce.com – an example of the Perfect Landing Page?

To illustrate these tips, I’m going to use an example I’ve used in training for a couple of years – it’s the Salesforce.com lead generation page for its CRM service (click to enlarge).  I think it illustrates many good practices such as removing the main nav which can be a distraction. I’ve marked up what I see as good about this format. It’s maybe not perfect, but much better than most! Let me know what you don’t like about it! Or how things differ for consumer sites!

Defining landing pages

First, of all, what is a landing page or microsite? Not everyone knows this jargon and actually, there’s no simple answer.

My definition is that landing page or microsites are: “Specific page(s) on a web site created for visitors referred from marketing campaigns which are designed to achieve a marketing outcome.”

Anything referred to as a landing page is intended to maximise conversion of visitors to this page or series of pages to a particular marketing outcome – sale, lead or change in brand metrics.

Most typically, the outcome is conversion to action, typically data capture where a site visitor fills in an online form to generate a marketing lead.

Landing page goals

Effective landing pages are those that meet their objectives, so let’s start with typical objectives. Often it is thought that response is everything – so objectives are not though through, but that this can lead to data capture pages that are too simple.

Typical communications objectives in order of importance are:

  • Achieve registration typically to generate a lead (such as a quote for insurance in our example) which leads ultimately to sale
  • Profile and qualify the site visitor in order to deliver more relevant follow-up marketing communications
  • Explain the value proposition offered by the company to differentiate from other sites the visitor may visit during the buying process i.e. Answer the visitors questions.
  • Communicate the brand values of the organisation running the campaign
  • If the visitor doesn’t want to disclose their details right now, provide contact details for traditional sales channels such as a phone number, or give the visitor reasons to return to the site or engage them through other relevant content or offers

It is important to run through these objectives since sometimes it is just the two primary objectives related to data capture that mainly determine landing page design and not the secondary objectives which are equally important. The majority of the visitors to the landing page won’t actually convert, so it is important to give them a favourable experience also.

Different types of landing page

We have to bear in mind that there are different types of landing pages that work best depending on the campaign objectives and whether it is a short-term or long-term campaign. There are three main choice. The first is a landing page integrated into the sites stucture and consistent with standard page templates and navigation for the site. The second is a single landing page specifically created for a campaign with a different look and feel, typically with the top navigation removed. The third is a tabbed landing page or microsite that provides more information

Here are some of the pros and cons.

Landing page option 1. Landing page(s) integrated into site architecture and style

It is most efficient in terms of effort in content creation to make landing pages part of the main site information architecture. The downside is that they may not work so well in terms of converting both direct referrers and browsers navigating from elsewhere on the site. They also need to be search optimised, which may add to costs of the campaign. This is an example of integrated pages for annual travel insurance (http://www.norwichunion.com/ travel-insurance/ annual-travel-insurance).

Such landing pages in particular category or product pages use what is known as deep linking.

Landing page option 2. Bespoke landing pages that are not part of the main site structure or style

These are used where a more “stripped down” page than standard content is required which focuses on converting visitors from an online ad campaign. Alternatively, if it is a short-term branding campaign then it may be more straightforward to create a microsite separate from the main site with a different look and feel. This often happens where resource cannot be found to create a microsite within the main site, or it is felt that the existing site look and feel cannot deliver the brand impact required.

So this approach is used since it can potentially produce higher conversion rates or produce a microsite more consistent with the campaign goals and style. The disadvantages are that this approach requires more effort and maintenance and often result in a poorer user experience since the page will look and work differently to elsewhere in the site. If it is a completely separate site with a separate domain, a big disadvantage of this approach is that due to the Google sandbox effect, it is not likely to be included in the search results for several months. Given this it is really essential that the site is incorporated within the same domain – for example www.quotemehappy.com redirects to the main Norwich Union site.

Landing page option 3. Microsites with several pages or tabbed landing pages

There is an obvious problem with option 2, many visitors to the page will not be at the right point in the buying cycle to convert. Yes, such a landing page will often increase single visit conversion rates because of its simplicity – limited choice and simplified messages, but it doesn’t offer sufficient information for site visitors not in “buying mode”.

Scott Brinkler, a specialist on Landing Page Optimisation puts it this way in this post where he argues for death to the “cliche” landing page.

“The analogy of these types of landing pages is that they’re like pick-up lines. They’re shallow, optimized simply to “close the deal.” And, frankly, most people don’t respond kindly that to that approach. Which is why, more or less, the bounce rate on landing pages is typically around 95%.”

In his post he gives this example of a tabbed landing page/microsite. You can see that it’s very similar to the approach I’ve recommended from Salesforce at the start of this article.

Companies need to work out whether the cost of producing landing pages is offset by the potentially higher conversion rates and better campaign results. Although this approach is surpisingly quite common, I think the approach is often taken for convenience eventhough it is more expensive in the longer term. I know of one E-commerce manager for a multi-national technology vendor who tries to educate their hundreds of web and traditional marketing specialists to not use the bespoke landing page approach, but to always try to integrate into existing site structure.

Often though there is not one right or wrong approach and a hybrid can be used, i.e. you create tailored landing pages only for high volume/high expenditure generic Adwords pages or for major offline ad campaigns.

The home page can be a landing page

Note that a landing page can potentially be the home page although this is not traditional best practice. But, if a company has a limited range of products or the main campaign objective is to generate awareness rather than response. We’re seeing more of this type of home page as landing page – see these four examples.

Different referrer types

To make the landing page effective, we also need to think through the full range of places the visitor may originate. There are 3 main origins we need to design the landing page to accomodate:

  1. Online media placement. Visitors can be referred by clickthrough from any online referrer such as a search engine, online ad, affiliate site or e-mail campaign. There are two main types of landing page for these placements:
  2. Offline media placement. Offline ads or direct mail may have a specific campaign URL (CURL) such as www.quotemehappy.com
    This is the landing page for these offlin referrers.
  3. Visitors that navigate from elsewhere on the site. Such visitors are not using the page(s) as a “landing page”, but still need to be accomodated if you are using a deep linking strategy.

Landing page success factors

To be effective, landing pages need to combine the following:

  • Usability
  • Accessibility
  • Persuasion
  • Develop trust in the brand

My Twelve landing page success factors

Before I run through the success factors, remember that guidelines are only guidelines, they of course, have exceptions. The only way to be sure of what works for your audience and your market is to conduct tests such as usability studies, A/B testing or multivariate testing. Having the right web analytics tool is vital to this.

As a minimum, you should readily be able to view data on bounce rates (the proportion of visitors who leave the page without visiting more pages) and conversion rates (the proportion of visitors who complete the intended outcome) for different referral sources (e.g. paid vs natural search vs online ads). Ideally, it should also enable you to complete A/B testing where different visitors are served different pages so differences in bounce and conversion rates can be assessed.

Second, remember that the guidelines are dependent on the users typical viewable area of screen. While many still design for a minimum of 1064X768 or even 800 by 600, the latest data on screen resolutions shows that over three quarters are now higher than 1024 by 768 although this is skewed by the designer audience of that source! So check your own analytics!

However, if browsers open a new window, for example from search results page, the new window may be smaller than full-screen.

So finally! these are my top 12 guidelines for landing page effectiveness:

ONE. Deliver RELEVANCE.

Unlike casual visits by browsers, visitors arrive on landing page with a directed goal or intention in mind. So the first thing you have to do is instantly show relevance to help visitors achieve that goal.

A clear headline should show relevance and also engage the visitor to scan down the page. You need to show the visitor they have selected the right place to find the brand, product, deal, information or experience they are looking for, so the headline must clearly indicate this.

Other key “relevance messages” should be readily scannable through chosing the right headlines and with panels drawing the eye to the different areas as in the Huggies example. Tests tend to show that larger fonts give better response.

Since hitting the landing page is often the first experience of a company, we have to answer basic questions that the customer has about the company such as “Who are you?”, “What do you do?”, “Where are you?” “Do I trust you?” You may have these message on the home page, but does the navigation on the landing page allow these questions to be answered. Standard menu options such as “About Us” or “Contact Us” can achieve these.

Here’s another recent example landing page showing the importance of relevant copy and testing it to get the best result. I recommend taking a look at this post from Kissmetrics for the other copy examples too.

TWO. INTEGRATE with referral source(s).

The customer journey to your web site started elsewhere. To deliver relevance also requires consistency with what they have already read and seen to meet their expectation.

So in terms of message, branding and creative the landing page needs to deliver an integrated communication. This applies particularly to offline ads, interactive ads and e-mails.

The key message on the landing page needs to be consistent with the key message of the referral source. So again, you need to show the visitor they have selected the right place to find the brand, product, deal, information or experience they are looking for, so the headline must clearly indicate this.

THREE. Provide sufficient DETAIL to support the response decision.

The whole experience and content needs to be right to generate response. For me, one of the most important aspect of landing pages, and one that is often not right, is that there isn’t enough detailed information on which the visitor can decide to signup.This is why I recommend the Option 3 above.

To help determine the right-level of information, best practice is to use personas to identify typical information required and the gap relative to what you deliver. Also think about the level of “domain knowledge” the user has – do your technical product descriptions make sense. Also think about “tool knowledge” – where your landing page requires using additional tools what knowledge is required to use them effectively and are you providing the right explanations.

FOUR. Start the user on their journey.

The design should make the next step clear and minimise the number of clicks required for response since every extra click required in response will generally reduce response by 10%. It is best practice to include the initial data capture on the first page as shown in the Salesforce.com example.

If the response mechanism is on another page use multiple calls-to action to gain response since some visitors will respond to images and some text hyperlinks. Make all images clearly clickable, for example by making them look like buttons.

Form-related approaches to improve the journey:

  • Limiting the options on each page is an effective technique.
  • Grabbing attention in first 30 seconds through a headline and lead that reflects ad copy and “isn’t too clever”, i.e. be direct.
  • If it is a multi-page form, then draw users in with easier initial questions.
  • Allow the form to be saved part way through the quotation
  • Use dynamic headlines related to referrer including search keyphrase to help deliver relevance
  • Use focus groups to decide what to test – marketers who are too close to the problem may disregard factors that are important to customers

This charity landing page example, provided by Liam in the comments ticks many of these boxes!

Charity Landing page example

The words used to form calls-to-action are critical to create a scent trail that users of the site follow. An effective scent is delivered where the words match what the user wants to know or achieve.

FIVE. Use the right PAGE LENGTH.

This is a difficult one to give guidelines on. The right copy / page length is one that minimises the knowledge gap between what the user want to know and what you tell them.

Some designers would suggest that content must fit on one page that doesn’t require scrolling at 800 by 600 resolution. But short copy is often inconsistent with Guideline 1. Also tests have shown that page can be scrollable – users will scroll if they appear scrollable. However, it is best if key information include response mechanism are above the fold.

To summarise, I would say, make it short (for impulsive readers) AND long (for readers who want to read more).

Of course, the only way to get the length right is to test. This Marketing Experiments test
suggested that long-copy outperformed when driving visitors to a product page from Google Adwords.

SIX. Use meaningful graphics.

Graphics must be consistent with the campaign and generate empathy for the audience. Don’t understimate the importance of quality graphics – stock graphics rarely work. It is difficult to assess how graphics influence conversion rate, so the implication is test.

SEVEN. Remove menu options?

Another guideline that causes disagreement. Removing menu options will often increase conversion rate since less choice of where to click is offered, but for those who don’t respond will give a poor experience and prevent them browsing other parts of the site. Often a compromise is best with a reduction in menu options to top-level options only.

EIGHT. Consider using a “flowable” or liquid layout design.

This maximises real estate at a given resolution on different devices. These days it’s also called responsive design.

Although this can work well for a retailer to show more products above the fold in a category, this is achieved with a loss of control of design. For landing pages, a controlled, fixed design will often work best.

NINE. Remember search marketing.

There are three aspects to this. First an offline campaign will lead to people searching on your brand or the campaign strapline.

Make sure you are using paid search to direct visitors to the relevant pages particularly during the campaign.

Second, if the page is integrated into the web site and will be used in the long-term, optimise it for relevant search keyphrases using the search engine optimisation techniques described here.

Three, Google sends out a robot “Adbots Google” to test landing page for relevance and speed, so make sure your <title>, headings and body copy include the keywords you’re using to trigger your ad and including in ad copy.

TEN. Remember the non-responders.

Provide a choice for those who don’t respond despite your carefully crafted landing pages. Provide a reasonably prominent (trackable) phone number or perhaps a call-back/live chat option. Also provide some options for them to browse or search elsewhere on the site.

ELEVEN. TIMITI!

TIMITI is a term coined by Jim Sterne, author of Web Metrics

It stands for Try It! Measure It! Tweak It! i.e. online content effectiveness should be reviewed and improved continuously rather than as a periodic or ad-hoc process. Because the web is a new medium and the access platforms, user behaviours and competitor approach all change continuously, what works at the start of the year will certainly not work as well by the end of the year.

Today, using AB or Multivariate testing tools like Google Website Optimizer is an essential part of Landing Page Optimisation.

TWELVE. Consider landing page longevity

Landing pages are often used for short-term campaigns. If so, you need to carefully manage when they and links to them from within the nav are expired. Risks include out-of-date offers and visitors typing in URLS which are no longer valid. Use of a custom 404 Error page is essential to manage these problems gracefully.

If you’re researching landing page examples, I also recommend this excellent post, deconstructing 10 landing page examples.

Finally, remember that there are always exceptions to guidelines and some have suggested that many of the commonly held usability guidelines are myths. See also Bryan Eisenberg’s ten unwritten Internet design rules.

So that’s my guidance, as always, tell me what you have found. Share the approaches you have found effective. TIA! Dave

  • http://www.hotlinemoneys.com mamu

    I think it is hard for me to find a effective way to creat a good landing page for my CPA campaign,i have got enough traffic,but I juts can not convert them into money.
    thanks for the good tips

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  • http://www.lamseo.com/ SEO Vietnam

    Thanks much. This post is really useful for me. :)

    “Accessibility”, what do you mean? Is it a/b crawlability of spiders? Could you please provide more clues on this? :)

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  • http://uk.linkedin.com/in/simonthomas2010 Simon Thomas

    I’ve just used the same landing page (customised to the source) for Facebook ads and Google Ads. The Google one immediately decreased the bounce rate from 70% to 40%, while the Facebook one slightly increased the stratosphercially high bounce rate. It seems to indicate that Googlers are serious about what they’re looking for while Facebookers are much more casual clickers (in this case anyway). The Google one led to very good engagement, while the other was a write-off. Very striking results.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Simon, thanks for sharing – yes that is a huge difference on Google.

      When you say you customised, did you change the messaging to welcome visitors from that location (as some blogs do) or tailor it in some other way? What type of product/service was this?

      Thanks, Dave

      • http://uk.linkedin.com/in/simonthomas2010 Simon Thomas

        It’s a leisure product (tickets for a show). Yes, I tailored it to the source, to reflect the ad. The only real variable was the source, although of course you can’t influence the profile of respondents with Adwords quite as closely as you can with FB. It seems to show the difference in intent between a proactive and reactive searcher. The results are startling though. Today the bounce rate on the Google ads has dropped even more, though I expect that will change a bit by the end of the day. I have had much more positive results with a similar product very recently on Facebook. Frustrating that it’s so unpredictable.

  • http://www.trancosoportal.com/ Karen Messer

    Thank you for these valuable informations on how to build a prefect landing page! I’m allready implenting this on a new site of mine.

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  • Kamal2006ster

    Hi, such a fruitive information ! great… It is very essential for the beginners and it helped me to great extent for me as a beginner.

  • sswuzi

    I am concerned about landing pages for email campaigns being linked from the homepage of our company website. It seems to me these links should not be on the homepage front and center. Visitors get derailed instantly to a landing page with a lead form. Where can I find information which may verify what my gut feeling is about this???

    • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Dave Chaffey

      Hi Simon, thanks for your question. That doesn’t sound like it’s the best approach. You could review Google Analytics to see the Navigation Summary for the home page – are people really following those links and what’s the drop out from the form.

      Then you could use AB testing to assess the best approach.

      Alternatively pop a question to our Linked In group and you can get some feedback.

  • http://www.esparkinfo.com/ Arun Nair

    Salesforce
    is really a great example for great landing page optimization. I also
    love to tell that You have covered great points & I agree with all
    the points mainly the point with navigation. :)
    by esparkinfo.com

    • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Dave Chaffey

      Thank you for your comments Arun. I originally wrote up the steps around 2005, but have updated the examples including Salesforce more recently.
      The principles don’t change so much.

      These days, social sharing is another element which the guys at Hubspot exploit well thanks to the shareability of their content.
      Dave

      • http://www.esparkinfo.com/ Arun Nair

        Hey Dave, I have seen your blog & great tips over there. Even if inspire with your blog I have decide to jump in to social sharing & other marketing techniques which will, hopefully, helpful to me.
        Thanks Dave,

  • http://www.thedsmgroup.com/ Jason Diller

    well done

  • James

    Great insights, Dave. What are your thoughts on more responsive landing pages coming into the scene? Isn’t it really a lot of work? Is it worth the trouble? For example, http://gosillk.com breaks on retina display machines, yet responsive for non-retina display machines.

    • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Dave Chaffey

      Thanks for adding that warning James!

      If it’s a consumer LP with >> 10% visitors this is a big issue so needs to be considered. If it’s B2B and <10% then less of an issue, but need to make the offer good enough it's redeemed on a desktop.
      Problem is, responsive designs mean compromise is needed – they aren't always "upwardly responsive" and don't work so well on the desktop which is the majority. Maybe a case for a mobile optimised version based on detecting the res rather than responsive.
      Dave

  • Dustflo

    You can build unlimited LP’s by landing Page Pro, plus required traffic generating techniques. I found it worth sharing. http://www.onlinetrafficboom.com

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  • http://www.buraq-technologies.com/ ambreen11

    Your landing page needs to be properly optimized in order to attract visitors to it and convert them into your customers. This is exactly where the key to your Landing Page success lies;with smartinsights.

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  • http://crybabynews.com/ Shelby wallace

    Landing pages seem to be so popular in 2013 and I am going to use the advice here to see how it changes sales and returning traffic. Thank you for another great article.

  • http://twitter.com/joey89924 joey

    I found it interesting to create a lot of extra pages about the Saint-Tropez region.
    ICL7107CPL

  • Christian

    Hello. I’m the owner of a small food catering company, we deliver also to several other cities surrounding the local town. The Google Page Ranking for the homepage, which exists already since more than 10 years, is quite good for the small city where the business has its main operations. As I would like to enhance our business engagement in the other surrounding cities and hence improve the SEO for each new city, I thought about using landing pages for each city. In order not to risk the current good Google Ranking of local search results of the headquarter by changing the current successful content of the main homepage. Each landing page would be specifically targeted with key words to its target location. Do you think this would be a recommendable strategy?

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  • Keith Mc Manus

    Hi Dave, great article. We recently launched a very successful digital marketing campaign in Oxfam Ireland. The optimised landing page we created generated hundreds of new leads for us, so I thought it might be worth sharing.

    The page consisted of a strong piece of visual content, a short sign up form and an incentive to sign up. Here’s a link in case anyone is interested: http://www.oxfamireland.org/trek

    • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Dave Chaffey

      Thanks for recommending a not-for-profit example of a landing page Liam – I appreciate it!
      I like the clear benefit and minimal data entry.

      I wasn’t so sure about the Euro/Sterling links since the user wouldn’t be thinking currency, but would be thinking location?
      Dave

  • http://www.facebook.com/insurin.us.9 Insurin Us

    I plan to implement a lot of this at https://www.Insurin.us right away! Thank you!

  • ivan

    After reading this article, I came to a solid conclusion: do research…nice!

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  • erikazen

    Thank you so much for your helpful post!

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  • http://FiverrTutorial.com/ fiverrtutorial

    would anyone have good landing pagetemplates that converted well for sale?

  • BeaconHillGlass

    Nice Article! What about redirecting domain names? I have 5 domain names pointing to 1 website? Will this hurt my ranking? http://www.beaconhillglass.com

  • Tyson Quick

    I’m curious if anyone has tried http://Instapage.com to build landing pages before?

  • http://www.infiniteconversions.com/ Infinite Conversions

    We found the section about landing page goals to be especially beneficial. In order to have a clear, effective landing page you need to think about what you want it to convey. You need to consciously craft your landing page to convey a message and you need to do it well. Consumers like brevity and clarity, after all.

    We recently tested for a company and came up with this response: http://www.infiniteconversions.com/casestudy/ffl123

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  • Akash Agarwal

    Landing
    page is just what it sounds like: it’s the page your website visitors arrive at
    after clicking on a link. It could be your home page, or any other page in your
    site.

  • Kps

    Thanks for the landing page tips.

  • http://www.theclippingpathindia.com/ Clipping Path

    Thanks for your all information.

  • tore

    Thanks for this wonderful marketing plan
    کرکره برقیدرب اتوماتیک

  • tore

    With free membership the best options are affiliate and advertising revenue. Many use Google Adsense for simplicity although the models above show that the revenue isn’t great until you have high volume of visits. Anne’s site – see comments above – shares more info on this.
    دستگاه حضور و غیابدرب اتوماتیک شیشه ای

  • wunmi

    having attended a digital marketing training at http://www.wdc.ng.com i discovered that apparently the landing page featured on an ad has a whole lot to do with increasing or decreasing the quality score of an ad. Google is definitely after quality.

  • daryan

    I love the content. thank you.
    تست خاکتست جوش

  • shiva
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