How To Design A Landing Page That Converts

As marketers, getting quality traffic to our websites has never been easier. We have SEO, PPC, social media, email marketing, display ads, photo marketing, mobile ads… and the list keeps growing.

Consumers, however, are learning to automatically tune out anything that isn’t interesting. This drives businesses to spend even more, becoming more creative and pulling out every tactic they can think of to capture consumer attention.

So, with all the above tools at our disposal, why do we still have terrible conversion rates, hovering between 1 to 3% on average? The largest culprit I see? The landing page.

The purpose of a landing page is to convert visitors coming from marketing campaigns as quickly as possible. The problem is that business landing pages generally fail to meet the expectations of the visitor. In many cases, businesses are simply driving people to their homepage, which is simply a bad idea. Landing pages have a different purpose than your homepage. So let’s look at what makes up a good landing page.

Layout Of A Landing Page

We’ll start with the landing page header, which is its most critical element.

1.0  The Landing Page Header

The header has to capture visitor interest within the first 3 seconds of hitting the page. The rest of the page doesn’t matter much if the heading doesn’t match visitor expectations.

The header must absolutely match what the visitor was promised in the campaign creative they clicked, bringing them to your page. If there is any mismatch, most of your audience is going to bounce from the page almost immediately.

People don’t waste their time with sites that don’t meet their needs, and a landing page disjointed from the original ad causes enough confusion for the visitor to bail. Below is a great example of a heading matching the original ad from Ion Interactive.


The header should be creative, use large text that matches the ad as well as matching your brand image. Keep navigation to the rest of your website off of the landing page unless it’s critical. You generally don’t want visitors to leave the page. Remember, the primary purpose of a landing page is to drive a conversion action.

2.0  Landing Page Body

As marketers, we know that most people visiting our websites are skimming through our content. This is even truer with landing pages. Your body copy should complement your header, but provide more details that motivate people to take your desired conversion action.

Use headlines as guides to break content apart. Use lists, colored sections and graphics to highlight features and value propositions. Again, the body copy should be designed to drive the conversion. That is the primary purpose of almost all campaign-driven landing pages.


3.0  The Landing Page Conversion

The conversion action of a landing page can be any number of things, but in most cases it is either a form or a call-to-action. A form is used when you want to collect information about your visitor, and in return, give them something of value (white paper, ebook, webinar, newsletter signup). A call-to-action (CTA) could be a button to add a product to a shopping cart or a link to more information.

When your conversion is a form, request only the information you need to move the visitor through the sales funnel. While asking for additional information can help improve what you know about the visitor and improve lead quality, I personally prefer to capture additional information in future interactions with the customer.

Calls-to-action are usually a button or an interactive element on the page. These should be very obvious — not necessarily “used-car-salesman” obvious, but try to use contrasting colors and prominent locations that people can easily see without scrolling down. Don’t force visitors to have to think about what the next step should be if they are interested. Below is a good example of an effective CTA from a GetResponse campaign.


4.0  Trust Elements

Trust elements are the often overlooked component of a landing page. They can include customer reviews, testimonials, privacy policies, business certifications, awards and so forth.

Most people visiting from a campaign other than email will likely have never heard of your business. These trust elements help them establish a comfort level that doing business with you is OK, that their decision is a good one and they can trust you. Every decision a person makes is weighed internally on how it will impact their lives. The more fear you can take out of that decision, the more visitors you can convert.

Design Of The Landing Page

There are obviously many ways a landing page can be organized. Most landing pages are single step, but a two-step design can be very effective as well. A two-step landing page will usually have a call-to-action on the first page and a form on the second page.

The length of a landing page depends on the purpose of your page. There are short and long landing pages that can be equally as effective for different audiences. The highest converting landing pages are the most traditional that have body content on the left and a form on the right.

With landing pages, you can get really creative and try new things since they are not typically integrated in with the rest of your website. So give yourself some creative freedom to try new and different ways of communicating your message.

1.0  Testing For Effectiveness

Landing pages are usually good at getting a significant amount of traffic if you are running great campaigns. This makes landing pages a wonderful playground for doing A/B testing and learning more about your audience. If possible, always run tests on landing pages, testing each of the landing page elements discussed above. Additionally, try new creative designs that adhere to your branding.


2.0  Responsive Landing Page For Mobile Devices

Landing page traffic usually comes from marketing campaigns, especially PPC and email campaigns. As we all know, email is being viewed more often on mobile devices now, so you need to be sure that your landing pages are mobile friendly.

In fact, if your website isn’t mobile ready, creating mobile-friendly landing pages is much easier to accomplish. By marketing to a mobile audience, you can improve ROI.

3.0  Measuring Your Landing Page Effectiveness

There are several metrics you want to look into when measuring the effectiveness of your landing pages.

  • Bounce Rate. Take a look at your overall bounce rate, but try and filter it down so you can see the bounce rate by campaign and by source. You may have a great ad running that delivers a lot of traffic but low conversions. When you can see which campaigns are driving a better conversion rate, you’ll know what is working better and can adjust your other campaigns.
  • Unique Visitors. Unique visitors is a simple metric telling you how effective the campaign is at delivering traffic. It doesn’t tell you how effective the landing page is. But you need this info to determine conversion rates. Just because you have a lot of traffic, doesn’t mean it is the right traffic, and you may need to adjust your ad copy.
  • Conversion Rate. This is the rate of unique visits/completed conversions. Remember that a completed conversion isn’t necessarily a form fill. You need to determine what the goal of the landing page is and use that to measure the conversion ate.
  • Time on Page. If you have a lot of people spending a lot of time on the page, it could be they are interested, or it might mean they had trouble figuring out your message. Less time spent on the page before converting is your goal if you want the conversions. Someone who has to scroll around for information will be distracted and less likely to convert. Keep your landing page message simple.
  • Lead Generation Effectiveness. This is really a measure of the campaign’s effectiveness to deliver leads. If you are running multiple pages during a campaign as an A/B test, it will give you insights not only on what page is driving conversions, but what page is actually delivering leads. I have seen it more than once where one page converts better, but another delivers more qualified leads.

4.0  Personalizing Your Landing Page

When possible, try to get personal with your audience. If they are coming from a specific state or country, adjust the messaging to reflect that. Or, if they are previous visitors that have converted, try to reflect that by asking questions you haven’t asked before on the form. When you can, personalize the landing page to be more relevant to visitors based on history, demographics, goelocation, etc., which can significantly impact your conversion rate.

Great Ideas For Landing Pages

There are lots of great ideas for landing pages out there. Because there are many different designs and concepts that are uniquely tailored to various type companies, I’d recommend analyzing the experts.

Companies that provide landing pages and optimization tools use their own products in a very competitive market. For them, creating the best landing page is critical. Search for [landing page] as well as [conversion optimization] on Google, and check out companies like Ion Interactive, Optimizely and GetResponse for landing page management tools that can make your marketing life a little easier.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Analytics & Marketing Column | Channel: Analytics | Conversion Rate Optimization | How To Guides | How To Guides: Marketing Analytics


About The Author: is Click Laboratory's Chief Scientist, where he leads the company's engagement and optimization teams. He has 20 years of experience in web design, online marketing, customer analysis and lead generation.

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  • becca

    Awesome article! I feel like so many people design “pretty” websites but can’t convert! This explains a lot on why.

  • John Paul Mains

    Thanks! This is very true. I used to be in the camp that if it was “pretty” and you had a lot of traffic, then everything was great. When I was introduced to A/B testing many years ago, that all changed. Made me rethink (and test) every best practice out there.

  • PlaquesandPatches

    Do you find that even when all of these items are addressed well that conversions can still be low if the product pricing is at a premium vs. what competitors offer?

  • Georgiana Laudi

    Nice post John! I’m curious if you’ve ever had the change to try unbounce dot com? The landing page platform is built specifically for marketers (no dev) to build pages really quickly, it also has really easy to use a/b testing built in. Would love to hear your thoughts on it!

  • Georgiana Laudi

    That’s a really great question, raises the really important point that if the quality of your traffic isn’t great, no landing page, no matter how optimized will convert well.

    I find though that if you’re marketing to the right people, and your landing page communicates what *they* are looking for, you can’t really lose.


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