Landing page optimization: full guide to increase conversions

Updated: Aug 26

You have a landing page, but it doesn’t get enough conversions?


Why?


In this full guide, I’ll explain what elements make a landing page great for conversions and how to increase conversions by making key improvements based on actual users’ data.


I’ll teach you the most important metrics to monitor for understanding the performance of your landing page and what freemium tools you can use to improve the conversion rate (CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization).


Let’s start from the beginning.



Table of contents:

  1. Attention: the real goal of a landing page;

  2. Digital marketing strategy for landing pages;

  3. Workshop: optimize your landing page funnel with a Service Level Agreement;

  4. Landing page copywriting for a killer conversion rate;

  5. Design elements for a successful landing page;

  6. Landing page builders;

  7. Metrics to audit a landing page performance;

  8. On-page optimization strategies;

  9. Off-page optimization strategies;

  10. A/B testing: dos and don’ts.


Landing page guide for a killer conversion rate by Alberto Carniel.




ATTENTION: THE REAL GOAL OF A LANDING PAGE




You build a website to achieve three main goals:

  1. Inform;

  2. Generate leads;

  3. Sell.


If you don’t include one of these three key objectives, you actually don’t need a website.


But if you include all of these three goals, you need landing pages to focus users’ attention on each specific objective.



What is a landing page?

Expecting a high conversion rate from a web page designed to achieve multiple goals is foolish.


While your website should give a general overview of your business and guide users through different sections, a landing page should focus on them completing an action.


In fact, a landing page is a web page that prompts users to take one specific action.


Everything on this page should be built and optimized to increase the conversion rate, whatever it means (sale, event registration, subscription and so on).



The origin of landing pages

The term landing page was first used by Microsoft’s IT department in 2003 when they started developing a strategy to remedy poor online sales of their core product: Office.


At that time, landing pages were very different from what you see today.


The images below represent two examples of old landing pages that Greg Edwards, CTO at EyeTools, inserted in his presentation: Landing page eyetracking study published by MarketingSherpa Store in 2005.



And these are examples of old call to action buttons used in the same year, can you believe it?


Examples of old landing page CTAs (Call To Actions).

In 2005, Dave Chaffey’s, co-founder of Smart Insights, shared an article (now updated) with the immutable laws of a successful landing page.


Chaffey defines a landing page as a:


Specific page(s) on a web site created for visitors referred from marketing campaigns, which are designed to achieve a marketing outcome.

Two main global factors have affected the way we build landing pages today:

  1. Technological development;

  2. Short attention span.


Landing pages were stand-alone. It means they were hard coded by a developer within the main website and weren’t usually connected with third party apps or tools.


Only in 2009, startups like Unbounce allowed people to create landing pages with external integrations and easy to use editors.


Ah, by the way, I hate Unbounce and I don’t recommend it. Keep reading to see what I recommend in its place.


The second reason why we felt the irresistible desire to jump out of the window after seeing the previous landing page examples is because we have a short attention span.


In the past, there wasn’t a lot of competition for online content. Now, online content is overwhelming, because everyone can easily publish it.


So, we need fewer words, more space, better design, proper colors and other elements to help us digest content and keep focused.





DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY FOR LANDING PAGES




Now, you know why you should create a landing page, but what digital strategies do you use to market it?


A digital marketing strategy for a landing page is composed by four phases:

  1. Generating traffic: what happens before the landing page;

  2. Conversions: what happens on the landing page;

  3. Secondary conversions: what happens in the thank you page (up-sell, cross-sell, other subscriptions and so on);

  4. Retention: what happens after the thank you page.


In the image below, I’ve outlined an example of a digital marketing funnel for landing pages.


Landing page funnel example.

A marketing funnel is the result of a flowchart. If you want to learn how to design your company’s processes to strategically guide users in their buyer journey, read my guide about the service blueprint.



Driving traffic to a landing page

If you noticed, I used the word “drive” and not “attract”. A landing page is mainly created to support outbound marketing strategies where you use advertising and other forms of paid promotions to bring your target audience on that page.


SEO doesn’t work.


I will explain why in the following paragraphs.


Use whatever paid channel you want as long as it allows you to reach your target audience.


In fact, the major factor for landing page success is traffic quality.


So, how does it work?


Use the targeting options in each advertising platform (Facebook Ads, Brandzooka, LinkedIn Ads, Google Ads and so on) to place your message in front of people interested in your offering.


Your message should communicate a “promise” that you are going to keep on the landing page.


It means users, after clicking on your ad, have certain expectations. The landing page must match those expectations.


Otherwise, visitors will exit your web page after a few seconds and you will achieve nothing.


That’s why click baiting and other shady techniques are useless.


Your objective is to convert on the page. You are not interested in page views.



Landing page example: Slack launch campaign (case study)

At the end of 2015, Slack launched its first marketing campaign, Make work better, in Cleveland, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.


The following image is one of their ads promoted with Facebook Ads.


First Slack's Facebook Ads campaign launched in 2015.

They used a few different creative variants for men and women, and let Facebook Ads’ AI rotate them. In this way, the AI showed the most performing version.


I picked this ad as an example, because you can see several well designed elements:

  • It is eye catching. Thanks to the bright colors, unicorns and rainbows, it stands out from Facebook’s news feed and the bubbly style reflects Slack’s brand;

  • The CTA is clear. You can understand what their promise is: they give you a reason why you should click the ad;

  • You understand what the app does. The link description is informative and, in one phrase, summarizes what Slack does. Users perfectly know what it is all about.


In November 2015, AdWeek interviewed Brad Morris, Slack marketing director, who said:


If you run a large company, it's almost impossible to make a change that improves productivity 30 percent*, so that kind of result can be transformational. We wanted the campaign to express the very real benefits of Slack to people who have never heard about us, while also addressing the aspects of working life that everyone can relate to in a playful way that was in keeping with our brand.

*They published another ad version where they claimed Slack was able to increase productivity by 32%: “What it feels like to be 32% more productive”.


Now, let’s see where they drove the traffic.


Here is Slack’s landing page (this is a 2017 version, I wasn’t able to retrieve the exact screenshot from 2015).


One of the several Slack's landing pages in August 2017.

As you can see, they kept the promise and matched users’ expectations with the content (copywriting and design).


I like three key elements in this landing page:

  1. The CTA is one and clear.

  2. There is no friction in the onboarding process. They allow you to try the product for free (they also have a free forever version) and getting started requires just an email address. Removing friction in each step of the buyer journey is the priority number one for modern inbound marketing strategies;

  3. Each section is well defined. It takes a blink to perfectly identify every part of the page and understand what there is in it. In other words, users’ attention is guided and facilitated.


I will not dwell on other design aspects, since I’ve dedicated an entire chapter in this article to describe the successful elements of a landing page. Keep reading.



Why does SEO NOT work for a landing page?

Billions of content is published everyday worldwide. As the volume of content increases, so does the competition.


According to the Annual blogging survey by Orbit Media, the average length of a blog post was 1,236 words in 2019. This number grows year after year.


Length in words of a typical blog post. 2019 Annual blogging survey by Orbit Media.

Content creators have already set the minimum amount of words at 1,500 in their 2020 guidelines. If you want to win with SEO, you need to write pieces at least 3,000 words long.


Are you able to write 3,000 words on your landing page?


Are you sure that a 3,000 word landing page is also efficient for conversion rate?


The same survey by Orbit Media discovered that 55% of bloggers reported strong results with articles that pass 2,000 words.


Percentage of bloggers who report "strong results" based on length of a typical article. 2019 Annual blogging survey by Orbit Media.

Now, do you remember the 2005 landing page example of MarketingSherpa Store inserted before?


Let’s face it. It’s improbable to focus users’ attention and successfully prompt them to take an action with long text in a landing page.


Does it mean that SEO is not important at all?


No, SEO is still important.


For example, you don’t want to publish a landing page without a meta title and description. Similarly, you want a landing page to load fast and possibly to be an AMP (Accelerated Mobile page).


The bottom line is that a landing page is made for paid channels and not for organic search. Unless your landing page is about a super specific topic with low competition, but in that case, that is the (very rare) exception to the rule.


Different is the case when you attract visitors with a blog post and use scattered CTAs to direct users to a landing page. The latter will receive traffic indirectly from SEO.


Maybe, the only advanced SEO activity I would invest in is structured data. I would generate custom Schema markups to help search engines contextualize and better understand the landing page content. Above all, if you have reviews, FAQs or other elements that can prompt a rich snippet.


Thank you page and secondary conversions

After converting on a landing page where do you direct users?


A best practice is to land them on a thank you page.


A thank you page is important for two main reasons:

  1. Analytics. You can insert a tag to track conversions with different analytic tools like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Ads, Facebook Pixel and many others;

  2. Secondary conversions. You can prompt users to move forward in their journey by up-selling/cross-selling products or services, suggesting blog posts to read, subscribing to a newsletter and so on.


I didn’t mention the fact that a thank you page can be used to deliver the content or material promised on the landing page, because, in my professional experience, it’s not a good practice.


If you exchange users’ contacts with premium material and deliver it on the thank you page, you risk giving it away for free when users lie about their contact details.


For this reason, I usually prefer to deliver the promised material via users’ contact points (e.g. email, text message and so on).


The following image is an example of a thank you page I have on my website.


Thank you page example from Alberto Carniel's website.

As you can see, you don’t need amazing design or secret copywriting techniques. Being clear, simple and convincing is enough to achieve great results.


The image below is another example of a thank you page where users are prompted to share an invitation to join an app.


Thank you page example from Moneycado, created by its co-founder, Oliver Mitchell, with Kickoff Labs.

Let’s understand how you can use a thank you page for monitoring purposes.


Hide the thank you page from search results by inserting a noindex tag.


In this way, people will reach this page only after converting on the landing page.


Insert a tracking tag to measure goal completions and conversions. For example, if you use Google Analytics:

  1. Click on the gear icon at the bottom left of the page (Admin);

  2. Click on “Goals” in the third column called “All Web Site Data”;

  3. Click the button “+GOAL” to create a new goal to track.





WORKSHOP:

OPTIMIZE YOUR LANDING PAGE FUNNEL

WITH A SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT




If your organization has a marketing and sales team working together, this workshop will give you the right input and resources to align them and reach a shared revenue goal.


If you want to succeed with your landing page digital marketing strategy, you need an agreement between the sales and marketing team.


Your marketing team has to deliver a certain number of leads to sales and the latter commits to contacting those leads within a given timeframe. This agreement is called SLA.


Ellie Mirman, marketing leader at HubSpot, defines an SLA (Service Level Agreement) as:


A contract that establishes a set of deliverables that one party has agreed to provide another. This agreement can exist between a business and its customers, or one department that delivers a recurring service to another department within that business.

When you have a landing page with the objective of generating leads, a SLA formalizes the sales and marketing goals to ensure the company is set up to reach its target revenue.


Download my free Service Level Agreement worksheet to start the workshop!



How to reach your revenue goal

Let’s start explaining each section of the worksheet.


Funnel stage. Page 1 section of the SLA (Service Level Agreement) worksheet by Alberto Carniel.

The image above represents a funnel stage. To fill it out, you can consider data from a marketing funnel to a specific landing page or from all of your marketing funnels to your website.


All the white boxes represent data that you should know and find in your Google Analytics account or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.


The first half of the funnel is the responsibility of the marketing team:

  • Prospects/visitors represent the traffic driven to your landing page (or website);

  • Leads are users converted by your landing page. In other words, they represent people who have openly expressed interest in your business, for example, by giving you their contact details;

  • MQLs are Marketing Qualified Leads. You don’t need to use this sub-category if your company doesn’t have an advanced lead generation methodology. They represent the most engaged leads that are ready to meet with the sales team.


The second half of the funnel is responsibility of the sales team:

  • SQLs are Sales Qualified Leads. They are leads marked as worthy to be contacted by the sales team for a follow up;

  • Opportunities are SQLs marked as potential customers. The sales team has decided to pitch at them;

  • Customers are leads that have completed the buyer journey and purchased from your business.


If this partition is too complex for your business, just use:

  1. Visitors;

  2. Leads;

  3. Opportunities;

  4. Customers.


Revenue goal. Page 1 section of the SLA (Service Level Agreement) worksheet by Alberto Carniel.

Here is the first part of the agreement.


What is the shared revenue goal of your sales and marketing team?


Fill the white boxes with:

  • The shared revenue goal. It’s an estimate that usually managers calculate to motivate their team and bring the business to the next level;

  • The average deal size. The average value of a sale;

  • Customers. How many customers do you acquire in a given period of time? You’ll write the timeframe in the grey box. Hint: it’s the same quantity you have placed in the Customers section of the Funnel stage table.


In the grey box write the timeframe to consider and the conversion rate between each stage of the funnel.


If you have properly set up your goals, you can find all this data on Google Analytics. If you don't know how to do it, read the next chapter called Metrics to audit landing page performance.



Service Level Agreement (SLA) example

Use my worksheet to create your SLA. You’ll need:

  1. The average conversion rate (e.g. from lead to opportunity, opportunity to closed sales…);

  2. The average value of a sale.


Now, let’s say:

  • Average conversion rate = 50%;

  • Average sale value = $1,000;

  • Timeframe = 1 month;

  • Shared revenue goal = $100,000.


How many new customers do you need to meet your shared revenue goal?



Revenue goal ÷ Average sale value = Customers needed



In numbers: 100,000 ÷ 1,000 = 100 (new customers per month).


How many opportunities do you need to meet your shared revenue goal?


Customers needed ÷ Conversion rate (opportunity-to-sale) = Opportunities needed


In numbers: 100 ÷ 50% = 200 (new opportunities per month).


How many leads do you need to meet your shared revenue goals?


Opportunities needed ÷ Conversion rate (lead-to-opportunity) = Leads needed


In numbers: 200 ÷ 50% = 400 (new leads per month).


How to determine how much traffic you need to meet a marketing and sales team shared revenue goal. SLA (Service Level Agreement) example.

The image above depicts this example. With this worksheet, you are able to know how much traffic, how many leads or customers you need to achieve the shared revenue goal.


In this case, the SLA between marketing and sales could be something like this:


Every month, marketing will deliver 200 qualified leads to sales and the latter will contact each of those leads within 24 hours of receiving it.



How many sales reps do you need to meet your revenue goal?

You know what an SLA is and how to use it, but how can you know how many sales reps you need to reach your business revenue goal?


When you launch a landing page, the marketing team does everything possible to promote it, drive traffic and generate leads.


But time kills sales.


The sales team has to jump in and deal with potential customers in the first hour of contact!


A study published by the Harvard Business Review (The short life of online sales leads by James B. Oldroyd, Kristina McElheran and David Elkington, published in 2011) showed how companies spend billions of dollars on internet-generated sales leads, but most are far too slow to follow up on them.


Based on 1.25 million sales leads received by 29 B2C and 13 B2B US companies, those who reach out to customers within an hour are nearly seven times more likely to have meaningful conversations with decision makers than those who wait over 60 minutes.


This data demonstrates that the conversion rate of a landing page, in terms of actual revenue, is affected by the response time of the sales team.


Do you want to maximize the results of your landing page?


Let’s finish this workshop, then.


Individual sales rep weekly capacity. Page 2 section of the SLA (Service Level Agreement) worksheet by Alberto Carniel.

The image above represents the first part of the second page of my worksheet:

  • In the first line, write how many Marketing Qualified Leads a sales rep is able to review each week;

  • In the second line, write how many MQLs usually pass the review and become Sales Qualified Leads. For example, this number will be the half of the sales rep review capacity when your conversion rate is 50%;

  • In the third line, write how many MQLs a sales rep is able to contact every week and make them convert into SQLs. Sometimes, even if an MQL has passed the review in the previous phase, they can be moved back to the marketing team when a sales rep feels they still need to be nurtured;

  • In the fourth line, calculate how many Sales Qualified Leads become opportunities;

  • In the fifth line, calculate how many SQLs a sales rep is able to close weekly.


Sales SLA. Page 2 section of the SLA (Service Level Agreement) worksheet by Alberto Carniel.

The image above represents the final part of my SLA worksheet:

  • On the first line, write how many Marketing Qualified Leads you need to meet your revenue goal. You can find this number on page one;

  • On the second line, write how many working weeks your organization considers in a year;

  • On the third line, calculate how many Marketing Qualified Leads sales reps need to review each week to meet the revenue quota;

  • On the fourth line, write how many Marketing Qualified Leads a sales rep is able to review each week;

  • On the final line, calculate how many sales reps you need to meet your revenue goal.


Example.


Use a SLA (Service Level Agreement) to calculate how many sales reps you need to meet your revenue goal. This example was created with the SLA worksheet by Alberto Carniel.

I already explained the first page of the worksheet, so here I’ll show you the calculations made on the second page.


Individual sales rep weekly capacity:

  1. Let’s say your sales rep is able to review 50 MQLs per week. You can find this number in your CRM system or simply by interviewing your sales rep and making an average;

  2. If the conversion rate is 50%, half of those 50 MQLs will pass the review. So, let’s write 25;

  3. To make it simple, let’s consider that all the MQLs are confirmed to be SQLs. So, let’s write again 25;

  4. Since the conversion rate is 50%, half of the SQLs will convert into opportunities. So, let’s write 12 (the exact number would be 12.5);

  5. At this point, the number of weekly closed customers per each sales rep should be 6: 12 x 50% = 6.


The bottom line is that every sales rep in your company should close 6 deals every week to meet the revenue quota.


Sales SLA:

  1. As we discovered on page one, 800 is the amount of MQLs needed to reach the target revenue. You can find this number in your Google Analytics account or CRM system;

  2. Let’s say your employees are hard workers and your business considers 52 working weeks per year;

  3. Now, we need to transform 800, which is a monthly value, into a weekly value: 800 x 12 (months in a year) ÷ 52 (yearly working week) = 185 (about 184.6);

  4. We already discovered that sales rep weekly review capacity for MQLs is 50;

  5. Let’s divide the weekly MQLs quota by the sales rep weekly review capacity: 185 ÷ 50 = 4 (the exact number is 3.7).


The bottom line is that you need 4 sales reps to achieve your revenue goal. To be precise, you need to hire 3 full time sales reps and 1 part time.


You can verify the final number with a different process:

  1. If a sales rep closes 6 deals per week, they make $6,000: 6 x $1,000 (average deal value) = $6,000;

  2. Every month is composed of about 4 weeks, so each sales rep must make $24,000 every month: $6,000 x 4 = $24,000;

  3. The monthly quota is $100,000, so: 100,000 ÷ 24,000 = 4 (about 4,1).



Workload analysis calculator for sales reps

If you don’t have the time and think my previous SLA worksheet requires too much time to be filled out, I’ve prepared for you an automated asset.


Workload analysis calculator for sales reps.

Download my free workload analysis calculator to figure out how many sales reps you need to match your revenue goal!





LANDING PAGE COPYWRITING FOR A KILLER CONVERSION RATE




There’s a moment from high school I remember. My teacher made us read an essay and then summarize it.


“Alberto, you must learn how to select information”, she said.


You have to do the same when designing a landing page.


Before even thinking of patterns and design elements, you need to define the text to place on the landing page.


Select the relevant information to include and outline the titles of the different sections and paragraphs.


I usually structure the information in this order:

  1. Value proposition. What is it all about? Why should users keep reading? Be clear, informative and prompt users to take action;

  2. Benefits. Describe your offering and its benefits;

  3. Results achievable. Objectify your offering and show the numbers or data supporting the value proposition;

  4. Social proof. Outline a section for reviews and testimonials validating your offering;

  5. Demo, trial, examples. When possible, insert an example/demonstration of your offering or let users try it.


There isn’t a standard for text sections.


The only way to know whether your text is effective or not is to launch the landing page and check its performance (I’ve explained how to do it in the following chapters).


To mention the words of Dan Lok, a Chinese-Canadian businessman and global educator:


Copywriting is a form of writing that is designed to sell.

He usually structures a landing page with these blocks (The magic building blocks of persuasive sales copy that sell products like crazy by Dan Lock, 2019):

  1. Heading. State the claim as a question to attract prospects' attention. The only goal of the headline is prompting the audience to read the first paragraph;

  2. Opening. This is where you explain what the page or website is all about. Empathize with the audience, put yourself in their shoes and connect with them by starting from their common questions or frustrations. For example, if you launch a landing page about a real estate course, you can write something like this: “how can someone like me with no prior education in real estate, no skills and no experience start earning THIS year?”. Then, you answer the question in their mind;

  3. Credentials. Establish credibility: why should they listen to you?

  4. Offer. When you make your offer, show them how exactly you are going to solve their problem;

  5. Bullets. State the benefits of your offering. Each bullet corresponds to a benefit;

  6. Testimonials. This section provides third party validation by showing what other people think of your offering;

  7. Value justification. People are always weighing multiple choices when it comes to spending their money. Their question is: is it worth it? In this section, you need to write a few statements to justify the price and convince them to take action;

  8. Risk reversal. Prospects are afraid the solution you offer may not work for them. Dan Lock recommends giving a guarantee or refund policy. He basically argues that when you sell a high volume of products or services, the return or refund requests won’t affect the bottom line. Since sales should be ridiculously higher than refunds. If you have more refund requests than sales, it means your product or service isn’t good enough. But depending on the product, I personally don’t agree with this vision. For example, if you schedule a strategic digital marketing consultancy with me, I don’t have any refund policy. Once my consultancy is delivered, there is no way for me to get it back from you. Again, if you sell apples, people can take advantage of you by requesting a refund. But there is no way for you to get the apple back once they have eaten it;

  9. Call to action. Prompt users to take action (I usually insert more than one CTA button in a landing page);

  10. Urgency. Time kills sales. Give your prospects a deadline or a reason why they should convert now.


Before I show you some examples, let’s see some general best practices.



Know your audience

The first copywriting principle is to know your audience.


In fact, you want to spend the majority of the time researching your public:

  • What are their frustrations?;

  • What are their pain points?;

  • What are their goals?;

  • Where do they want to get to?.


After this homework, it’ll be easier to craft a message that speaks directly to your audience.


If you want to learn more about targeting, you can read my guide on market segmentation.



Write the way you talk

The second copywriting principle is to make your words resonate with the audience.


The best way to do so, is to connect with people through a simple and emotional form of language.


Ditch academic rules for once and write as you speak.


Your prospects should almost hear your voice resonating in their head while reading your piece.


Enter Bandman is an excellent example of effective copywriting.

As you can see from the example above, the author communicates directly with the reader by establishing a personal “me and you” conversation.


They preferred using “you” rather than “we” and “our”.


The more personal the message is, the more powerful the copy is.


Another example that I love is Ricola’s 2014 ad campaign where they blended phonetics and writing together.




One word paragraph

Write short paragraphs.


One word paragraph means that you should express concepts in maximum one line and then start a new paragraph.



Copywriting example: Cards Against Humanity (case study)

I want to show you how Cards Against Humanity has used copywriting to engage with its audience and reflects the brand's traits and personality.


Cards Against Humanity uses copywriting to personally and directly engage with its audience. The excellent use of humor and sarcasm sends a clear message to the audience that perfectly identifies brand's traits, personality and values.

While the screenshot represents the homepage and not a vertical landing page, you can see how visitors are guided through each section with colors, design elements and text.


Visitors are also prompted to take action through different buttons scattered on the page: buying the game, downloading the free PDF version, signing up for the newsletter and suggesting new cards.


This funny and sarcastic copywriting brings Cards Against Humanity alive and the distinctive brand voice appeals to their target audience.


They don’t want to appeal to just anyone.


In fact, someone could find their text offensive, but who cares, at the end of the day, those people would have never bought their products anyway.


This is fundamental if you want to build a great brand identity.


The image below represents a product page copywriting example.


Example of effective copywriting for products: Cards Against Humanity's Ass Pack.

How funny can shopping online be?


Cards Against Humanity also realized a landing page for each product and take a look at the FAQs of the Ass Pack:


Example of funny FAQs by Cards Against Humanity.

Hilarious and extremely engaging, right?


With this kind of copywriting you are excited to read each paragraph and can’t wait to know what comes next.





DESIGN ELEMENTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL LANDING PAGE




Did I already mention that landing page design is all about attention?


If you are not design-savvy, I have a trump card for you.


Look at this image and tell me (comment below), where would you click?


A peacock with a fanned tail is like a bad landing page. The eyespots on its feathers distract viewers and move their attention away from the main body.

Now, same question. Well?


A peacock without eyespots on its tail is like an effective landing page. Viewers can finally focus on the main body.

The bottom line is to focus users’ attention on one single CTA.


Whenever you or your team design a landing page, remember a peacock tail: you have to poke all its eyes out before launching it online.



Select the information

Brainstorm the content you want to insert on your landing page.


I recommend using Google Docs (that you can find in G Suite), since it has a free version. This tool allows you to collaborate simultaneously with other team members and easily share the work during the approval or revision process.


Select only the most relevant details. You don’t want to overload visitors with too much information.


Reorder the final selection and you are ready to create a wireframe.



Craft your landing page wireframe

Take a piece of paper and start drawing the layout of the landing page’s elements.


No, you don’t need fancy tools, above all if you are not a professional designer and don’t know how to use them.


All you need is a piece of paper and crayons.


Web design wireframe example (desktop version).

In the web page wireframe above, each element has a specific color. Green represents images, blue text boxes and orange CTAs.


Are colors important?


No, you can make a wireframe and represent elements with the colors you prefer.


What is the objective of wireframing?


A web page wireframe is fundamental to define the UI (User Interface). It is also known as a page schematic or screen blueprint.


In web design, a wireframe is a 2D page layout focused on space allocation, prioritization of content, functionalities available and intended behaviors.


Wireframing is also very important to define the above-the-fold and below-the-fold content.


What does above-the-fold content mean?


Users will land on your web page with their phones, tablets or desktops. This means they have different screen sizes according to their device.


A website loads first the content that a device screen is able to display without scrolling the page.


All the not visible content is loaded later, in the background.


The content that a device is able to display without scrolling the page is called above-the-fold content.


The content that users are not able to see without scrolling the page is called below-the-fold content.


Difference between above and below the fold content.

These two concepts are fundamental in web design, even more so when you are crafting or optimizing a landing page.


It is very wrong filling the above-the-fold content with elements that don’t help users understand what the page is all about.


Once visitors land on a page they should understand its promise/value proposition in a blink.


Let’s understand what I mean with an example.



Bad (awful) example of landing page

The image below represents a bad landing page created by a New York digital agency (when digital experts are not so expert).


Bad landing page example.

As you can see, the above-the-fold content is filled by a huge hero image.


In web design, a hero image is a large banner usually placed in the header (at the top) of a web page.


This old school design doesn’t work anymore.


The image doesn’t help users understand the content of the page and what their device will display is nothing but the site’s menu and hero image.


If they want to see what the page is all about, they need to scroll down.


Visitors need to get to the point fast: make your messaging loud and clear right at the start to maintain audience engagement.


According to SimilarWeb’s 2020 Digital Trends Report, the growing usage of mobile devices has led to shorter web visit durations.


Visit duration on desktop and mobile web: slide 7 of SimilarWeb's 2020 Digital Trends Report.

As you can see from the graph above, you have about 11 seconds to catch users attention.


When you waste the above-the-fold content with non-relevant information, the attention span gets shorter faster.


The landing page shown above has many other ineffective design elements.


For instance:

  • The images don’t help users understand the content. Don’t insert images just for the sake of having them on the page;

  • The different sections are not distinguishable. You can’t understand what each section is all about in a blink;

  • The text paragraphs are too long and flat (they didn’t use formatting styles like italics, bold, quote and so on);

  • The CTA is only at the beginning of the page;

  • There is a link (at the end) that directs users to a different website. The last thing you want to do is to give free traffic to other websites, right? After all the effort you put into driving traffic to your landing page;

  • There is a newsletter signup form randomly placed at the end of the page. It screams, “Hey there! Who wants to receive some spam?”.


I could go on and on.



Example of effective landing page

For the same digital agency mentioned above, I coordinated a project to build a new landing page based on the principles explained in this article.


Effective landing page example that I managed the development of. Project manager and copywriter: Alberto Carniel. Designer: Raynal R. Reyes.

This time, the above-the-fold content is filled with useful information, the CTA is one and each section is perfectly distinguishable.


If you notice, the design elements help users digest the content.


For example, the patterns behind the woman and man look like arrows and point to the text.


The woman is looking directly at the viewer and creates a pause by engaging with users’ eyes.


The man is looking at the text encouraging viewers to follow his eyes.


I would have added other details like results achieved and adjusted the tone of voice in a more distinctive way, but when you work for somebody else, you need to reach compromises.


Do you want me to create highly converting landing pages for your company? Meet me in a free 15-min video call!



Minimal design landing page example

Sometimes, you don’t need a lot of text and magic copywriting formulas to fill a landing page.


Depending on your marketing objective, you might opt for a minimal design solution.


Wix landing page.

As you can see from the image above, Wix claimed the object of the page in the above-the-fold content and then listed all its benefits.


The artwork prompts users to scroll down and viewers’ eyes follow the waterfall direction.



Get inspired by thousands of landing page design examples!

It doesn’t make sense inserting hundreds of landing page examples here in this article.


If you want to unleash your creativity and get inspired from thousands of international landing page designs, you can visit the great Lapa archive.


Lapa is one of the greatest archive to get inspired from thousands of landing page design examples.

Lapa is a free archive that gathers over 3,000 thousands landing page examples from international companies worldwide.


The best landing page design inspiration doesn’t strike you like a lightning bolt from out of the blue.


Use design aggregators like Lapa, Dribbble, Behance and Awwwards to get started with your landing page.





LANDING PAGE BUILDERS




Although other blogs keep promoting Unbounce as the king of landing page builders, I hate it.


I found its editor counter-intuitive, extremely complicated and time-expensive. Above all, when it comes to setting up the mobile version of a page, the editor keeps changing the layout of the desktop version.


Ughh…


Never again.


I recommend two tools: HubSpot and Wix.



HubSpot as a landing page builder

In reality, you could seize HubSpot’s potential to basically manage all of your company’s activities, from sales and marketing to customer management.


For this reason, the price is on the higher end.


If you have a bold budget and want to grow fast, I really suggest using this software.


HubSpot landing page builder is represented by an easy to use drag and drop editor which you can use to design responsive web pages.


Example of HubSpot's landing page editor.

If you decide to use HubSpot servers infrastructure, your page load speed will skyrocket.


In addition, you will be able to create a unique dynamic user experience.


HubSpot continuously gathers data from your users and exploits it to adjust page content accordingly.


For example, if a user has already visited your landing page once, but they didn’t convert, HubSpot can show them a different version when they come around again.


In addition, you can create different content for the same sections of a landing page and let HubSpot AI display it according to users’ preferences.



Wix as a landing page builder

The second tool you can use with a low budget is Wix.


Why do I like this website builder so much?


Because it is so easy to use and its editor guides you for SEO optimization.


Example of Wix's website editor.

The drag and drop editor doesn’t mess up the layout of the desktop version when you work on the mobile one (as opposed to Unbounce).


The real advantage is that you can create infinite landing pages for the same fair monthly fee.


You can even build a full-fledged website with the same editor.





METRICS TO AUDIT LANDING PAGE PERFORMANCE




The performance of a landing page is not only related to the page itself, but also to the quality of the traffic driven.


It means you can divide a landing page audit into two parts:

  1. On-page optimization. Improvements made on the page itself;

  2. Off-page optimization. Improvements made on other channels and platforms that somehow affect the landing page performance (e.g. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, blog and so on).


In this chapter, I’ll deepen a few of the most important metrics to evaluate on-page performance (see the next chapter for off-page optimization).


I want to underline that the following metrics are the most important to me, but their priority may change according to a company’s objectives.


In fact, metrics, dimensions and KPIs vary from business to business and must be decided before you launch a landing page.



Traffic

Does your landing page receive enough traffic?


It goes without saying, but traffic is the fuel of a web page.


In other words, traffic means money.


What does traffic mean?


Traffic represents the amount of users who landed on your website or a specific page through different channels that can be, for example:

  • Direct: when users type your website URL into a browser or click on a browser bookmark;

  • Organic: when users come from the organic (free) search. In other words, visitors that come from SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and don’t click on sponsored ads;

  • Paid search: when users come from sponsored ads in the SERP;

  • Social: when users come from social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and so on;

  • Referral: when users come from other websites. In other words, they click a link on another website that heads to yours.


Different sources of traffic in Google Analytics.

If Google Analytics doesn’t automatically name other traffic sources (e.g. traffic from email campaigns, other UTM campaigns...), you can do it manually.


How can you monitor the traffic of a specific page?


Enter your Google Analytics account and click on:

  1. Behavior;

  2. Site Content;

  3. All Pages;

  4. Use the search on the top of the table to find the URL of your landing page.


How to check traffic volume on a specific page in Google Analytics.

The Pageviews (first column) is the total number of pages viewed (repeated views included). This value can be considered the volume of traffic received by your page.


After launching your landing page, I recommend waiting for at least 1,000 to 3,000 pageviews before you evaluate it.


A high volume of traffic is the only way to gather the necessary data for an audit.


With lower numbers you wouldn’t have enough statistics to prove a web page’s performance.



Average Time on Page

In Google Analytics, the Average Time on Page is the average amount of time users spend viewing a particular page or screen (or set of pages/screens).


This metric gives you an idea if users spend enough time on the page in order to decide whether taking action or not.


A lower average time on page (e.g. a few seconds) is a sign of poor performance.


But also a higher average time on page can be a sign of poor performance. Since it means users may not understand what to do or find the information on the page difficult to comprehend.


So, how can you say when the average time on page suggests a good performance?


There isn’t a standard formula.


You have to estimate how much time a prospect needs to read the page and take action.


Use this estimate as a benchmark to evaluate the negative or positive impact of your average time on page.


I usually ask friends, colleagues and relatives to visit my landing page and time their activity. I also use their feedback to improve a landing page user experience.



Bounce Rate

Google Analytics defines Bounce Rate as the percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page.


This metric has to be examined carefully.


In fact, a user who lands on a page, spends 10 minutes reading the content and then exits the website is counted as “bounced” by Google.


I would have considered this example a success, since the user had found what they were searching for.


That’s why, sometimes, a high bounce rate is not equal to poor performance.


This metric depends on what Google considers an interaction.


Let’s go back to my previous example. Reading is not considered an interaction by Google, but reading means that users spend time on your website, right?


So, you can set Google Analytics to trigger a goal completion whenever a user spends more than (for example) 2 minutes on a page. In this way, Google will consider the time spent on page as an event which is nothing but an interaction!


I’ve already explained before that you can set goals in the admin settings of your Google Analytics account.


To understand whether the bounce rate indicates poor performance, you need to compare it with the Average Time on Page.


If the average time on page is low and the bounce rate is high, probably, your landing page has a performance issue.


If you want to compare your bounce rate with a benchmark, head to your Google Analytics dashboard and click on:

  1. Audience;

  2. Benchmarking;

  3. Channels;

  4. Select your industry vertical from the drop down menu;

  5. Head to the metrics compared section and select Bounce Rate from the drop down menu.


How to compare your website data with industry benchmarks in Google Analytics.


Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

To calculate the conversion rate, you must divide the number of conversions by the number of visitors (web traffic) and then multiply that number by 100 to get the percentage.


Conversions ÷ web traffic x 100 = Conversion rate percentage


If you are calculating the conversion rate of your landing page, you must consider the web traffic on that specific page and not on the whole website.


In Google Analytics, after setting up your conversion objectives, head to:

  1. Conversions;

  2. Goals;

  3. Overview.


Goal Conversion Rate in Google Analytics.

As you can see from the screenshot above, you can view the overall conversion rate of your website.


If you click on the tab Goal URLs, you should see the list of your thank you pages.


This dashboard allows you to measure the conversion rate of your landing page and speculate on its effectiveness.





ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION STRATEGIES




Now, I’ll show you how to make data-driven improvements to boost a landing page conversion rate.


First of all, you need a tool that monitors users’ behavior on your landing page.


In my professional career, I’ve used Lucky Orange and HotJar, but I only recommend using the latter (keep reading to discover why).


In anycase, to perform a user experience audit, you need to install the tool’s tracking code in your website.


When you do this, remember to update your privacy policy, above all, if you operate in the European Union.


Let’s say you have launched your landing page for a while and reached at least 1,000 visits (you can’t optimize the design before you reach at least 1,000 - 3,000 visits).


Now, it’s the time to check on your UX (User Experience) performance.



How to increase your landing page conversion rate with HotJar

Even though Lucky Orange offers cheaper fees, HotJar offers a broader range of features and a free-forever version that is useful to get started.


HotJar homepage. HotJar is a freemium tool that helps marketers analyze users' behavior and web experience.

If you don’t need to analyze more than 2,000 recordings and 1,000 visits per heatmap, you don’t have to switch to the paid version at all.


You can eventually install the tracking code in one or two specific pages, so you don’t waste the monthly recordings and visits cap.


I also prefer HotJar’s UI (User Interface) and dashboard.


Alright, let’s cut the chatter and head to the HotJar dashboard (if you use a different tool, their dashboards will be very similar).


The first powerful tool I use to analyze the user experience of my landing pages is HotJar Recordings.


HotJar's Recordings dashboard.

From this dashboard you can literally watch what users do on your page.


Based on their recordings, you can understand whether they find navigating your page difficult or not.


If you are new to UX audit, try to follow this basic checklist:

  • Stop points and bottlenecks. Where do they stop? Check for bottlenecks or parts of the video where they pause. How long do they stop? For what reason do they stop? Is there a barrier or some issue on the page?;

  • Time spent on contact forms or conversion forms. How much time do they spend completing the contact form? Is the process smooth? When users make a mistake in the form, is the error message clear? Is it clear what they have to do to correct the error?;

  • Clickable elements. Are they trying to click on non-clickable elements? If so, you need to correct the elements’ design and make clear they are not clickable. It happens with shapes or boxes that seem buttons, but in reality they are not linked to anything. Is the CTA clicked? What else do they click on the page?;

  • Exit triggers. Is there something on the page that triggers their exit? If users drop the session in the same point of the page, maybe there is an issue that prompts them to exit.


The second feature I use is HotJar’s Heatmaps.


HotJar's Move Heatmap example.

Here, I mainly evaluate where the hotspots are located and if they correspond to key areas for achieving my marketing objective.


It is interesting to verify if users’ attention is focused on strategic areas of the page or if they are distracted by other elements.


For example, if you make the mistake of inserting different CTAs, let’s say buying a new pair of sneakers and subscribing to your store newsletter, you’ll see multiple hotspots.


The hotspot around the newsletter subscribing button indicates that users are distracted from the main CTA: buying the sneakers.


In this case, you have to eliminate the source of distraction, so remove the newsletter signup.


The bottom line is to verify and remove any source of distraction for your users.


Another interesting feature is HotJar’s Scroll Heatmap which you can select from the menu in the top right of the dashboard.


HotJar's Scroll Heatmap example.

This heatmap allows you to understand if users are scrolling the page and, above all, if users understand to scroll the page.


If you check my previous example of Wix minimal landing page, they used wonderful artwork of a waterfall to help users understand the vertical flow of the page.


If you don’t have the budget or skills to draw such artwork, you can simply use a curly pattern like Intercom did in the image below.


Intercom landing page example.

The above-the-fold content is delimited by that purple curly line that disappears at times in the below-the-fold content.


So, it prompts users to discover what’s next in the page flow.


Another design technique to let users understand they have to scroll is to show a cut image or video in the above-the-fold content.


Google G Suite homepage screenshot (above-the-fold content).

The image above represents the above-the-fold content of G Suite homepage. As you can see, the three images beneath the CTA are cut.


This technique makes you think the images extend down in the page, so you are prompted to scroll and uncover them.





OFF-PAGE OPTIMIZATION STRATEGIES




Landing page off-page optimization strategies are mainly connected to advertising optimization.


Basically, bad ads drive low quality traffic to your landing page which doesn’t convert and you waste money.


Every ad platform is different and has its own dashboard, metrics and optimization rules. Since this is not the main point of this article, I’ll focus on general tips for audience targeting.



Remarketing (or retargeting): how to do it properly

In this section, I’ll use the terms remarketing and retargeting interchangeably, since their difference is so subtle that it doesn’t matter.


After installing the tracking codes and pixels on your landing page (usually, each ad provider that offers retargeting options has a tracking code to set up), you can generate a remarketing audience.


How remarketing (or retargeting) works in advertising.

The image above outlines how retargeting works:

  1. Users visit your web page;

  2. The pixel registers their cookies and tracks them while surfing on the Internet;

  3. Users exit your website;

  4. Your provider’s AI chase them with promoted ads about your offering;

  5. They are prompted to come back on your website.


The biggest mistake marketers make is retargeting landing page visitors who didn’t convert.


If users land on your page and don’t complete any action (e.g. adding a product to the cart, subscribing and so on), it means they are not interested in what you have to offer.


Since retargeting is by definition more expensive than targeting, you waste your money trying to bring back people who don’t care about your offering.


So, how can you exploit the remarketing potential?


Method 1: use a bait to engage with your audience first, then remarket them.


Let’s say your landing page’s objective is to sell tickets for a conference on climate change.


You can attract users’ attention by sponsoring a video about climate change.


Then, you use another ad to retarget those who watched more than 50% of the video and drive them to the landing page.


This strategy allows you to send only highly qualified traffic to the landing page, since they confirmed the interest in your business two times: by watching the video and clicking the second ad.


Users will already know your brand before landing on the page and this is the reason why the conversion rate will increase.


Method 2: retarget the half-conversions.


A half conversion is like when users add products or services to their cart, but they don’t complete the purchasing process.


In this case, you should retarget the abandoned carts.


Another example can be when you have a multi-step subscription form.


It’s a good practice to ask for contacts in the first step, so if the user doesn’t finish the whole process, you are able to reach out and prompt them to complete the form. See the image below as an example.


Example of multi-step contact form.

Method 3: retarget website visitors.


Retargeting all website visitors may not be efficient to drive traffic to a landing page.


Instead, remarketing users who explored website sections relevant to the landing page’s object can positively impact the campaign.


For example, if you visit a blog post to learn more about goji berries, the website owner can retarget you with ads that prompt you to buy goji berries.


Method 4: use retargeting for up-selling, cross-selling and down-selling.


If your landing page is related to other products or services in your catalogue, you can retarget customers that have already purchased and show them a similar offering.



Use lookalike audiences

Many ad providers (e.g. Facebook Ads) allow you to create an audience from a list of email addresses or other contacts.


For example, you can feed the provider’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) with your business’s customers emails.


It will automatically generate a broader audience with similar characteristics (e.g. demographics, behavioral traits and so).


This targeting method is usually more efficient than just segmenting users by demographics or interests.


You can also use retargeting to create a lookalike audience.


For instance, you can use data on users who visited your website within a given timeframe to create a wider audience with similar characteristics.



Use behavioral data to drive the right traffic to your landing page

76% of marketers fail to use behavioral data in segmentation analysis and targeting execution (The state of always-on marketing study by Razorfish Boost and sponsored by Adobe, 2014).


The majority of our analytic platforms track only a single category of data, for instance Google Analytics tracks traffic, Mailchimp shows emails open rate and Facebook Ads keeps track of your advertising campaigns performance.


You need an aggregator that pulls together all the data from other platforms and depicts the full buyer journey.


The image below represents a typical buyer journey report based on behavioral data.


Behavioral analytics example.

Tools like HubSpot are capable of registering and using behavioral data to deliver the right offer in front of the appropriate buyer segment at the perfect time.


In other words, behavioral analytics doesn’t only track data, but people. They are able to rebuild the entire customer journey.


Do you want me to set up behavioral analytics for you? Meet me in a free 15-min call.





A/B TESTING: DOS AND DON'TS




When it comes to landing pages, marketers and entrepreneurs get excited for A/B testing, like it is a sort of secret formula to skyrocket conversions.


Where do they make a mistake?


The reality is that A/B testing should be done only after matching the ROI (Return On Investment) and not right after publishing a landing page.


You experiment by selecting a dimension (page, audience or time) and changing only one element at a time.


It allows you to study changes in consumer behavior and the impact of each solution on a specific metric.


This is why it is categorized as an optimization method.


You start from a page that already converts and, through minor changes, little by little, you are able to increase its conversion rate.


If your landing page doesn’t convert and your ROI is not matched, it means you need major changes and split testing is futile.


If your page doesn’t convert, would you invest time and money in creating a similar version?


Don’t be foolish.


You can use this technique for everything. You can split test products, services, processes and much more.


In this chapter, I’ll focus on split tests for landing pages.



Same landing page, same audience, different times

One way of conducting a split test is to expose the same audience with the same landing page at different times.


This method allows you to compare the seasonality of the offering.


Let’s say you sell heart-shaped chocolate cookies through a landing page.


You will discover (drum roll) better results in February than October, since heart-shaped cookies are more appealing during Saint Valentine rather than Halloween.



Different landing pages, same audience, same time

A second method consists of exposing the same group of consumers to different landing page versions at the same time.


A/B test strategy for landing pages.

The image above represents an example of a split test where 50% of the public is directed to version A and the rest to version B.


To perform this type of experiment, HubSpot has already integrated a feature that allows you to A/B test landing pages. Instead, if you use Wix, install Visual Web Optimizer (VWO) or Crazy Egg.



Same landing page, different audience, same time

This last method takes into consideration the audience dimension and it’s useful in off-page optimization.


In the previous chapter, I explained different targeting strategies, because, most of the time, it’s the wrong audience that causes low performance.


Many ad providers offer split testing options where you can compare variables against others. For example, different ads against the same audience or different audiences against the same ad.


Before optimizing the landing page, that requires more effort (you eventually need a developer, analyst, designer, marketer and others according to the project), I always recommend to optimize the traffic channels.


In other words, be sure your ads are optimized, before you touch the page.





CONCLUSIONS




Make sure to focus users' attention on one single CTA.


Remember that the landing page optimization process is formed by on-page and off-page optimization activities.


Use data-driven decisions to improve the landing page UX and optimize ads to drive high quality traffic.


Don’t forget to align your marketing and sales team with a Service Level Agreement to squeeze money out of your leads, otherwise your efforts will be useless.


Comment below, what challenges bother you most when it comes to optimizing a landing page?



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