Reeling ’em in: Best Practices for Landing Pages

Written by: Drew Lyon   Austin, Texas

Posted on: February 5, 2013


You’re getting traffic to your website but nobody is taking the bait. They nibble, they poke around, then they’re on their way to the next shiny object. If you want to land new customers, you need to hook them immediately. Eye tracking software has shown that you have about two seconds to grab a website viewer’s attention.

That doesn’t sound like much time, but you’d be surprised just how much information the human brain can process in a few seconds, especially if the information is well organized and to the point. Throw in a powerful visual cue, and you’re on your way. Let’s start with a few landing page basics…

What is a landing page?

First things first: a landing page is any page on a website where visitors START. By default, most new visitors will land on a website’s homepage. However, depending on the different methods you use to generate traffic, such a Pay-Per-Click Advertising, visitors may be sent directly to the URL of a special promotion, a location page, a service page, or any number of other pages with targeted content.

What do they look like?

Most of the time landing pages look like a hybrid homepage/contact page. They feature large graphics, blatant emotional appeals, targeted information, clear call-to-actions, and very basic forms, all appearing above the fold* when possible.

*The fold is the visible portion of a web page upon arrival, before scrolling down.

Here’s a classic example of a landing page:

Large Graphics – Cocktails! – Check
Blatant Emotional Appeal – Money – Check
Targeted Information – Location – Check
Clear Call-to-actions / Basic Form – “Unbeatable Deals” / One Line Form – Double Check

Here’s a more general, universal example:

Embedding video on a landing page is a good way to pack more information into limited space. Now how does all this apply to you?

Do you need landing pages?

That is a good question. Determining if you need a landing page or just regular subpages on your website depends on whether you have control over the traffic to your website. If you are running a Pay-Per-Click campaign on Google Adwords, for example, then you are able to choose the “Destination URLs” of your ads. This would make your site a great candidate for landing pages.

The more targeted your ads are, and the more targeted your landing pages are, the more effective your ads will be. If every ad goes to your general homepage, you’ll likely miss out on conversions, because visitors will have to hunt around for what they were looking for. In the process, they may lose interest.

The same is true with any Internet marketing campaign: social media, display ads on other websites, email marketing. Anything that allows you to pick the page where traffic arrives will be much more effective if you have targeted landing pages.

Quick Landing Page Tips

Be Specific – The whole point of having a landing page is so you can make a targeted appeal. You know how the visitor got to your site; you know what the ad said, so make sure the content of the ad is immediately backed up by what they see on the page.

Keep it Simple – Blank space on a landing page is your friend. The more space you leave empty, the more your headline, form, and graphics will stand out.

Write a Spectacular Headline – Whether it’s funny or a deal that’s too good to pass up or just damn catchy (Got Milk?), you only have a few words to grab the visitors’ attention. Try to do it in one line.

Offer a Deal – The deal may be part of the headline or it may be attached to the form. Either way, make it something that encourages them to take action immediately.

Keep the Form Short – Only have visitors fill out one line, two lines max. So many conversions are lost to long or invasive forms. Let submitting the form be a compulsive activity, something a visitor can complete without even thinking about it.

Bold Contact Info – Maybe you don’t need visitors to submit a form. Get them on the line right now; make your phone number big, bold and unmissable.

Monitor Effectiveness in Analytics – If you have multiple landing pages, site analytics is a good way to gauge what’s working. Experiment with a few different landing page formats. Compare bounce rates and rate of conversions, and update pages accordingly.

The homepage will always be your most commonly landed upon page

Not all of these tactics apply to your homepage, but many of them, such as writing an awesome headline and implementing a simple form, definitely do. Every page can be optimized to encourage visitors to complete an action. That’s what we call “Conversion Science,” which is a topic for another post.


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