You’ve spent hours upon hours preparing to launch a new product, service, or lead magnet—and your success or failure all comes down to how well your landing page performs. That means that a lousy landing page design could easily derail your debut.
Landing page design is the Achilles heel of many magnificent lead generation campaigns. Why? Because it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of, ‘I’m not a designer!’ or ‘I don’t know what works!’ And the result is a messy looking page, crowded with content that sends web traffic turning on their heels rather than running to grab your offer.
The truth is, you don’t need an inherent sense of style in order to sculpt a high-performing landing page, you need a winning strategy that guides your design. That’s it. And - maybe a checklist to make sure you’ve kept everything on the right track.
This article is designed for the non-professional designers of the world. We’ll cover the top 10 absolutely must-know landing page design tips that will make sure your page (and—most importantly—your lead generation campaign) is set up for success.
So, polish your shoes, freshen up your lipstick, and let’s learn how you can put your best foot forward with drop-dead-gorgeous landing pages.
Get up-close and personal with your target audience
Seth Godin, an American author, and former dot-com business executive, famously said: everyone is not your target audience. And he’s right. While most entrepreneurs and marketers assume they know who their target audience is, most haven’t done the long, arduous work of getting freakily familiar with the people on the other side of the computer screen.
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In other words, most small businesses make the mistake of addressing an audience that is far too (too, too, too) broad. And as a result, they reach everyone and convert no one.
For example, if you’re focusing on people who are freelance writers or business owners who need bookkeepers or anyone who wants to lose a few pounds, your audience is way, way too broad.
Effective landing pages resonate. They resonate because they are carefully crafted and specifically speak to a single (narrow) audience.
When the audience is narrow, you’re better able to tailor every aspect of the landing page to meet that audience’s unique needs.
Let’s take that last broad audience as an example: anyone who wants to lose a few pounds.
Now let’s narrow that down to any one of the following:
- College students who have put on the dreaded freshman 15
- New mothers who want to lose their baby weight
- Single, 20-something men who’ve always struggled with obesity — and are tired of it
How do you narrow down your audience? Start with a general audience and then ask yourself a few clarifying questions to help make it more specific, step-by-step.
- Are you selling to women or men?
- How old is your target audience?
- Are audience members single, dating, or married?
- Do they make a lot of money or a little?
- What is the challenge or frustration that your product or service delivers a solution for?
Each question will help you narrow down your audience until you have a specific group for your landing page to target.
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Once you’ve niched-down your audience, check out this resource:
Struggling to Find Your Audience? First, Be Where Your Audience Can Find You.
Decide what results you want
What exactly do you want audience members to do on your landing page? After all, there’s no point in just having them read the copy and poke around. You want them to take action. You want them to:
- Fill out a contact form
- Join an email list
- Make a direct purchase
Too often, landing page layout used by small businesses is objective-less. Here’s the thing about objective-less landing pages: they are guaranteed to get zero results.
Define your clear objective at the start of the process. Maybe it’s one of the 3 listed above, or maybe it’s something else entirely. And then build every aspect of your landing page design around meeting that objective. You’ll get results, and you’ll also be able to accurately measure your landing page’s overall success.
Make sure all your messages match
Put yourself in the shoes of one of your audience members. Imagine for a moment that you (the audience member) are cruising around Facebook when you see a message that really captures your attention.
“Have you ever wanted to leave your day job and start your own business?”
“Yes!” you think. “I have!”
You click the link, awaiting insights into how to leave your day job and start your own business — and then you find a landing page that offers a program for finding a new job. You wanted info on starting your own business and leaving the traditional workplace, but this site seems to offer anything but that.
“Did I click the wrong link?” you wonder.
No, you didn’t. It’s just that someone created a landing page and didn’t check to make sure that inbound channels were totally aligned on messaging.
Look, many businesses have multiple products and serve multiple audiences. Just make sure that you silo your landing page projects so that every part of the audience experience is completely aligned. If you’re selling a product that helps people find better jobs rather than start their own businesses, make sure your inbound channels are sharing a message that is completely in sync.
Become a formatting master
When someone lands on your landing page, you have mere seconds to convince that person to stick around and hear what you have to say. If your landing page is poorly spaced and formatted, that person will immediately feel overwhelmed — and click away.
“Why is my bounce rate skyrocketing?” you might wonder. It could be any number of things, but it’s likely that your formatting is so poor that it scares away otherwise qualified visitors. How do you fix it? Start by:
- Proper Branding
Add a simple logo at the top of your landing page. Let your audience know who you are.
- Avoiding Clutter
That’s a “simple” logo, right? Don’t add a bunch of junk and clutter at the top of your page. White space is your friend.
Headlines are more than just words
Headlines aren’t just words at the top of the page. They provide essential structure to a landing page, and they also help your readers quickly scan your copy to see if it’s worth their time.
And you need more than just one headline. Sub-headlines are of the utmost importance, too. Scan your copy and look for key ideas or concepts that are grouped together. Separate those ideas and concepts with really focused and engaging sub-headlines.
As a rule of thumb, try to keep the copy after each sub-headline to about 3 paragraphs and no more than 300 words. Also, if you can include some bullet-points within each section under a sub-headline, they make each section much more digestible and attractive to your readers.
Break out bullets
As alluded to above, paragraph after paragraph of text grows tedious. A reader should be able to scan your landing page and get a general idea. Bullet points are helpful in making a web page scannable, and they can also serve as entry points for reluctant readers.
Add some bling
What’s bling? Anything that spices up your landing page. Embed a video or GIF. Create a relevant infographic. Even a beautiful image can help. Add some bling, and your landing page will be that much more attractive.
One warning: Don’t overwhelm your reader with graphics. Keep in mind your formatting and hierarchy. Select a few pieces of relevant bling, and include no more than one piece per section of your landing page.
Let your copy sing
This is your time to shine. This is your chance to explain why your product or service is can’t-miss. This is your opportunity to turn words into cash.
Don’t mess it up.
That’s a lot of pressure, though, right? Just as we’re not all designers, we’re not all writers either. You have two options then:
1. Put in the time, effort, and energy needed to create compelling copy, or …
2. Hire someone.
If you’re going to go with No. 1, here’s the best tip: make every word earn its way onto the page. Start by writing out everything you’ve ever wanted to say about your product or service — every feature, advantage, and benefit.
Then start slashing. Analyze every last sentence and word, and make sure that each is pushing an aligned message that naturally leads your reader toward a call to action. If you need a little help, you can find all sorts of free online tools that will improve your landing page’s text.
If you go with No. 2, remember this: You often get what you pay for. Your landing page will (literally) be at work for your business 24/7 - it’s worth investing in to get it done right.
Give them a sneak peek
Building trust is one of your major goals when crafting a landing page that converts. At every turn, you want to build more with your audience members. And one great way to do that is through a preview or sneak peek of your product — that is, give your readers a taste or sample of what you’re offering.
For example, if you’re selling an e-book, let them read a chapter before making a purchase. If you’ve truly put in the time and effort needed to create a product worth selling, this preview should help to increase conversions.
Of course, be strategic in the preview or sneak peek you provide. You want it to be one of the best portions of your e-book or product, and you want it to serve as a teaser. That is, try to craft a preview that is a half solution rather than a full solution — something that will leave your audience members itching to get their hands on the rest of it.
10. Social proof always sells
What is social proof? It’s using the words of real people to indicate to audience members that your product or service is well worth the money. Reviews and testimonials are the best ways to add social proof to your landing page. You can add reviews and testimonials in writing. It’s always a good idea to add the name and photo of the person giving the testimonial. But video testimonials are also a highly effective way to increase conversions. Remember how you need some bling to make your landing page structure as digestible and effective as possible? Videos are a great way to do that, and video testimonials are a natural and relevant way to inject some life into your landing page design.
Use beautiful images as attention grabbers
You have to break up all that text with some pretty pictures. Where can you find pictures that are free to use? The Internet is full of sites offering royalty-free images at no charge. Start by checking out:
Each of these options features a wide range of images that you can browse to find relevant options. In addition to still images, you can also add in humorous GIFs or embedded YouTube videos to help break things up.
Anytime you add images or videos, you’re giving the audience something enticing to consider — something that should help keep them on the page longer. The right image can even help boost landing page conversions.
Use contrasting colors in your landing page design. For example, you may have a prominent brand color that’s included in your logo. That’s great. Just don’t let that be the only color present on your page.
Choose photos that include bright colors — reds, oranges, etc. And then use colorful buttons for your calls to action. For example, if your brand’s color is green, choose a contrasting color that helps your call to action button stand out in the crowd — purple, red, or blue.
Need some help finding contrasting colors that look professionally paired? Visit Paletton.com, which lets you enter a hex value and immediately find colors that balance it.
Call to action
Ah, here’s where your landing page either converts or doesn’t. At some point, you’ll need your audience members to choose to take an action or click away. Your call to action can be a button or an image with a link or something else entirely. No matter what it is, though, the call to action serves as the vessel that carries audience members to the next step.
Here’s a tip: Place more than 1 (of the same) call to action button on your landing page. Make sure there’s a clear call to action “above the fold,” which simply means visible on the landing page when it first loads for your audience. Some of your audience members will arrive locked and loaded to make a purchase or take another action — this first button gives those eager visitors what they want.
Add more calls to action at the ends of different sections on your landing page. The length of your landing page will determine how many calls to action you need to include. The design energy on your page should flow toward these calls to action.
Of course, include a big, can’t-miss call to action at the end of your page, too. This is the last chance. If you’ve followed the tips on this checklist, a large portion of your audience won’t be able to help themselves — clicking your call to action will come naturally.
A/B split testing
Always, always, always test your landing page.
Create 2 (or more) different versions of your landing page, and let them go live for a short period of time. When you have enough traffic from which you can glean actionable insights, see which one is performing better and leave that more effective landing page up and running.
A/B testing (comparing early results from A and B options) is such a simple way to ensure you’re getting the best results. Even subtle changes and differences can lead to huge increases in revenue. Don’t miss an opportunity to drive more conversions by testing your landing pages.
Key takeaways to improve your landing page design
Don’t be intimidated by landing page design. You live in a day and age when online tools make this task easy. You can use any number of landing page design templates to get started, or simply visit sites you admire to get a little landing page design inspiration.
Just make sure you focus on making your landing page as effective as possible. A landing page can serve as a revenue creator for your business. If you only put half-effort into the creation of your landing page, you’re only going to get middling results.
Download our landing page design checklist, and make sure your pages are getting the results you want.