2.1 What are Landing Pages?

In digital marketing, a landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign. It’s where a visitor “lands” after they click on a link in an email, or ads from Google, Bing, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or similar places on the web.

Unlike web pages, which typically have many goals and encourage exploration, landing pages are designed with a single focus or goal, known as a call to action (or CTA, for short).

It’s this focus that makes landing pages the best option for increasing the conversion rates of your marketing campaigns and lowering your cost of acquiring a lead or sale.

A Landing Page explained in 50 seconds

Where Landing Pages fit into the Marketing Funnel:

As you can see, the landing page exists after prospects at the top of the funnel click a link in an ad, email, or anywhere else on the web. It’s where the conversion (like a purchase, signup, or registration) will take place.

The Key Difference Between a Homepage and a Landing Page (or Why Landing Pages Are So Freakin’ Good at Converting)

Below we’ve got a homepage and a landing page laid out side by side. See how the homepage has tons of links and the landing page has only one ? That’s pretty typical.

While the homepage has dozens of potential distractions—you can basically call ’em “leaks” instead of links—the landing page is super focused. Having fewer links on your landing page increases conversions, as there are fewer tantalizing clickables that’ll carry visitors away from the call to action. That’s why expert marketers always use a dedicated landing page as the destination of their traffic.

Sure, the homepage looks amazing. It shows off the brand, lets people explore a range of products, and offers additional info about the company and its values. From here, a visitor can go anywhere—apply for a job, read some press releases, review the terms of service, post on the community boards, etc.

But they won’t necessarily make a purchase. And that’s the point.

The landing page for this customer serves a completely different purpose. Paired with super slick ads that promote a single offer, everything about it works hard to turn these visitors into customers. It’s doing a better job to convert the traffic the brand’s already getting. That’s the power of landing pages!

The Anatomy of a Landing Page

Every great landing page is composed of a core group of elements. These building blocks, as you might call ’em, should be used as a guide when creating your content.

Some readers won’t like to hear this. After all, isn’t good marketing all about finding ways to stand out from the crowd? Why would you lock yourself into a pre-existing landing page format? Won’t your content end up being … formulaic?

We get you. But there’s an old maxim that applies here: Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.

It turns out that almost all landing pages that convert well do so because they’ve got the fundamentals down. No matter their conversion goal. No matter their intended audience. No matter the price point of what they’re offering. And no matter the type of campaign they’re running. This is largely because the structure of a landing page aligns to persuasion and there are elements that help persuade.

By understanding the anatomy of a landing page, and by making sure you stick to these rules, you’ll ensure you actually convert. Then you can find unique and clever ways to optimize the heck of it.

Take a look at the illustration. Though your own pages might look a little different, the same basic building blocks of landing page structure should be present. Below, we’ll discuss each in more detail.

No two landing pages are the same. That said, there are five core elements that every high-converting landing page must have:

  1. A unique selling proposition (USP)

  2. A hero image or video

  3. The benefits of your offering

  4. Social proof

  5. A conversion goal (Your call to action)

1. Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your unique selling proposition is the sizzle that sets your product or service apart from the competition. It’s the answer to the nagging question, “What makes this offer so special?” Don’t get hung up on the whole “unique” thing. Think of your USP as how you position your offering as different (and better!) from all the rest.

Landing pages need to communicate this proposition in a succinct way so that your visitors immediately understand what makes your product or service appealing. A series of page elements tell the story of why your offering is unique:

1a. The main headline

Your headline is the first thing that your visitors will read. So it’s critical that it very clearly describes what a visitor stands to get from your product or service. Keep your headline punchy and be direct about your USP—this isn’t the place to compose surrealist poetry.

Here’s a great one example:

1b. A supporting headline

Since headlines need to be short and sweet, sometimes you’ll use a subheading to provide a touch of extra info. Don’t get carried away here either, though. As with the headline, shorter is better. A supporting headline can take two approaches:

  1. It can act as a direct extension of the headline, essentially finishing the thought. (Your headline should stand on its own, though.)

  2. Or it can offer additional value or convey a secondary persuasive message that’s still related to your headline.

1c. A reinforcing statement (optional)

If your landing page runs long, it makes sense to remind visitors of your USP with a reinforcing statement toward the middle of the page.

When writing one, consider what your reader knows that they didn’t when they first clicked. What do they know now that they didn’t before? How can you drive your USP home now that they’ve been sufficiently primed and hyped?

1d. A closing statement (optional)

A closing statement backs up your unique selling proposition and gives your visitor one last chance to convert. It’s your mic drop, the climax of the story you’re telling about your offering, so make it count.

A strong closing statement might provide a little urgency or it could remind the visitor why they’re there in the first place. For a clickthrough page, it should also repeat your call-to-action (see below) to eliminate the need to scroll back up.

2. The Hero Image

First impressions are important, and the hero image (or background video) is likely the first visual element of your landing page that visitors will see.

Ideally, a hero image should show the context of use. If you’re running a SaaS company, this could be your killer app running on a sleek modern device. Or, if you’re in ecomm, it could be someone blowing a massive bubble of your vegan chewing gum.

PRO TIP: If you can convey emotion by using real people, all the better, but avoid using goofy stock images that’ll ring false.

(If you can convey emotion by using real people, all the better, but avoid using goofy stock images that’ll ring false.)

3. Benefits

Your landing page needs supporting copy beyond the headline to persuade most people. The key here is to describe specific benefits along with features.

What’s the diff’? A feature is a specific quality of your product or service, while a benefit describes a positive impact that the feature has. (Here’s a simple example: that lemonade you’re peddling may be ice cold, but it’s the fact that it keeps you cool on a hot day that’s a benefit.)

Sometimes you’ll hear people say you should write benefits, not features. If you’re looking to drive more conversions, though, it’s usually smart to show off features and benefits together—but lead with the benefit when you can. For example:

  1. Keep cool with an ice-cold Sunshine Lemonade.”

  2. “You can create landing pages by yourself, without help from a developer, using Unbounce’s drag-and-drop builder.”

4. Social Proof

Simply put, social proof is the influence that people around us have on the decisions we make. It’s the reason suddenly everyone buys an Instant Pot, or why you might regret that WuTang Clan tattoo that Cindy talked you into.

On a landing page, social proof takes many forms:

  1. Direct quotes from customers

  2. Case studies (or links to case studies)

  3. Video interviews or testimonials

  4. Logos of customer companies

  5. Review scores from sites like Yelp, Amazon, or Capterra

Social proof is arguably the most powerful tool at your disposal, but there are two best practices to keep in mind.

First and foremost, you can’t fake it! If people smell a rat, you’ll have a hard time winning them back. And, second, be specific. Whenever possible, give ’em the who, what, when, why, and how of your customer’s experience. A testimonial will be most effective if your prospect can identify with the person giving it.

PRO TIP: Be sure to make your testimonials a whole lot more convincing by including real customer names and photographs instead of stock photos and fake names.

5. A Conversion Goal (Your Call to Action)

Last but not least, a landing page should be focused on just one conversion goal—or else it ain’t a landing page (see the previous section). To your visitor, this is presented as a call-to-action (CTA), which can be either a standalone button on a clickthrough page or a form on a landing page designed for lead generation.

There are all sorts of advanced resources about creating the optimal CTAs, but here are two fundamentals to get you started:

  1. Avoid bland button text like “CLICK HERE” or “SUBMIT.” Use conversational language and let your visitors know exactly what they’ll be getting for their precious clicks (“START MY FREE TRIAL” or “GET 50% OFF YOUR PURCHASE”).

  2. Since small differences can have a big impact on your conversion rates, CTAs are always strong candidates for A/B Testing.

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