To create a high-performing landing page, you need to understand your target audience and design the right sections to communicate your value in a compelling way.
It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve finally shipped that new release of your SaaS product using the latest version of your favorite new SDK. It’s time to start signing up a ton of new users and watching your revenue soar ... right?
Wait ... Your landing page doesn’t actually have that important sign up form in the hero section that your marketing team said they needed. You’re also missing a few customer testimonials to show people what sort of results your product was producing. And after digging into your analytics, you see your bounce rate is sky high.
That Friday night out on the town is starting to sound more like a late night at the office.
So what should you do?
Define your goal
Before you can promote your brand or product to new visitors, you need to define your business goals. Are you looking to generate brand awareness, boost sales for enterprise customers, capture emails from new leads, or educate your audience in some way?
Each type of goal falls into one of 3 objectives:
You should determine what outcome you’re looking for before you start designing your page.
Because the goal you set will help you determine what type of page you need to build.
Thankfully, a common set of landing page patterns and best practices have emerged over the years, making it easier to get started and model your page after what’s working. Using these best practices, you can translate your goal into a familiar layout and structure that’s been proven to get results time and time again.
Identify your target audience
Before you start creating your landing page, you need to understand who your target audience is. Every audience has different characteristics and will need a different approach in order to increase conversion rate. You ultimately need to have “high relevance,” which means you are successfully positioning your page to a specific customer persona. That is: speaking to their concerns, needs, and viewpoints.
You should define key targeting attributes like:
Where is this visitor?
How old are they?
Do they have a family? Are they single?
What’s their job title? Are they self-employed?
What are they specific keywords this person would be searching for?
How might they phrase their queries?
Are they using slang?
What keywords would they never use?
What is this person interested in?
Do they like specific brands that might be related?
Do they dislike certain brands?
Are there products or people that influence this person?
Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can use those insights to make critical design decisions.
To go a step further, you should identify the competitors in the market that currently influence your target audience. You may be able accelerate your optimization efforts by building upon what your direct competitors are already doing on their own landing pages.
Choose the right sections
To choose the right sections for your landing page, you first might want to consider where this page will be hosted on the site. Not all pages have the same use case.
For example, if you’re optimizing your home page, which is the central landing page on your website, you’ll want to include elements based on your company value proposition or unique selling proposition.
However, if you’re building a campaign landing page, which could be on any unique URL, you’ll only want to feature elements and call to action buttons that relate to that unique campaign.
Let’s look at a simple example of a high-converting home page. We’ll select 10 essential sections that can be used to describe what your company does, tell a compelling story, and ultimately persuade your visitors to take action.
According to Nielsen Norman Group, people often leave web pages within 10-20 seconds of visiting. However, if you can clearly communicate your value proposition, and connect to the reader, you‘ll likely convert them from “first impression” to “scrolling the page” to learn more.
The hero section is one most important sections of your site. It’s where you’ll have the opportunity to grab your visitor’s attention and tell them precisely 4 things:
What you do
Why you’re different
What the key benefits are
How to get started
This is also where the visitor will most likely complete a conversion — or not. This depends on the visitor’s goal and how well your call-to-action responds. That might include informing them of specific results they could find by entering a search or updates they’ll receive after entering their email. Without having a way for visitors to complete a conversion, you’ll miss the opportunity to make effective optimizations to your page.
Airbnb has a simple hero section on their homepage which gives the visitor a clear understanding of what their core value proposition is and how to get started with the service.
The feature walkthrough
The readers who are actually a great fit for what you do and how your company creates value will want to explore your product in detail. They want to understand exactly what it does.
This is where the main features section comes in. Here’s your chance to display your product in action and how the features actually create a solution for your target customer.
Base is a popular CRM that helps customers see the benefit of their mobile app through a 3D infographic. Notice how they use the combination of an icon and graphic to visually communicate what the app looks like. You can read a short description about how they focus on enterprise functionality and enhancing the user experience. This immediately piques the interest of anyone looking for a great mobile CRM and prompts them to take the next step.
LeadPages uses the wildly popular three-column layout to display their most popular features side-by-side. You can quickly understand what the product can be used for and whether or not those features could help your company solve a problem. One of the best ways to showcase product features is to simply show the product being used and what the data would look like after a common use case.
The “how it works” section
When visitors come to your landing page, they have a very faint understanding of what your product does and how it actually works. For these new leads to perceive the real value of your product, you need break down the features even further.
How do you do that?
Show exactly how the features solve a problem or provide a desired benefit.
Buffer does a great job of showcasing the steps needed to use their product, which gives the visitor a clear understanding of how it works and what the benefits are.
You can think of this section as a subtle product demonstration or educational exercise. People like to see how things work and it’s a great way to “wow” your leads with your magic algorithm or creative solution.
Testimonials (aka, “social proof”)
One of the best ways to tell a story on your landing page is to provide testimonials from real people who have benefitted from your product. Share their unique situation, the problem they faced, and how they overcame it with your solution. The goal here is to inspire your visitors with stories of your past customers. These are real people, sharing real experiences, which your visitors should be able to relate to.
Shopify takes a very results-driven approach to their testimonials section by including the broad company metrics at the top, giving visitors a sense of their massive scale. They accompany these bold numbers with specific quotes from store owners, which provides a nice blend of power and personalization.
Note that who you feature matters too ...
Shopify highlights influential folks like Tina Roth Eisenberg (the Swiss Miss, to you designers) to add oomph to their testimonials.
Google AdSense provides a simple photo of a customer and includes a link to a video to learn more. This is a great way to cross-promote your YouTube channel or other social media by telling the same story through a different medium.
The signup form
Without leads, you don’t have a business ... period.
After you’ve built some initial trust with the visitor, it’s time to ask them to take action and sign up. (In a GDPR-compliant way of course!)
In the early stages of the customer journey, you might decide to collect information about your visitors to enter them into a process known as “qualification.” This is where you’ll explore specific attributes about the lead to see if they are actually a good fit for your business.
To boost your sign up conversion rate, you’ll want to offer some form of incentive to the visitor. What sort of value can you give away for free? A lot of marketers will create “lead magnets” which are positioned to incentivize visitors to sign up for things like a free trial, ebook, checklist, or case study.
Webflow has a simple signup section on their homepage that speaks directly to the price-conscious visitor who wants to test the product before they buy.
Okay, so you have a great product and people understand how it works, but do they actually know who you are?
Do they trust that you can deliver on the promise you're making? And can they depend on you to support their needs over the long-term?
Anyone who’s going to invest their hard-earned money into a new solution most likely wants to know who they’re getting involved with. While this isn’t always the case, showcasing how awesome your team is may set you apart from the competition.
Buffer has always done a great job of building a social presence around their team culture (which makes a lot of sense, given their product). They run a global remote business, allowing employees to work outside an office, and they visually describe this in a team section on their homepage. This helps visitors see where team members are based across a beautiful map.
Note that this amounts to a kind of feature section, as it reassures visitors that they’ll “get an answer, fast.”
Harvest takes a similar approach with a creative circle cloud showing each team member at their company to provide a playful visual design. This is a nice way of displaying the team and building trust with your site visitors.
The pricing section
One of the biggest objections that new leads will have as they near the closing stage of the buying cycle is price. If you are in the SaaS or ecommerce industry, you’ll save yourself a lot of time by handling those objections up-front.
Including a clear, transparent pricing section can help break down the specs for those visitors who are ready to buy. Even if they still have a few lingering questions, you should be able to get a conversion — if you detail exactly what they’re paying for.
Drift includes a clear three-tier pricing section which shows exactly what features you get on each tier. You can see the monthly prices for each tier and make a decision about whether you need more or fewer features.
Typeform adds an additional option for leads to set the billing interval before they commit to a price. For example, if you wanted to pay for a monthly Pro+ plan on an annual contract with 1 or more users, you’d pay 59 Euro per month. This is a simple way to evaluate different price points and features together.
Frequently asked questions (aka, FAQs)
Even with all the descriptions, demos, visual storytelling, and social proof, people will still have questions and objections to buying. They might have a unique problem they’re not sure you can solve. They might just want to learn more about the product in action.
The FAQ section provides a straightforward way to handle these objections directly. Think of this section as a poll. Over time, the questions that continue to come in become the perfect candidates for the FAQ.
Lyft shows a set of common questions about their self-driving project. You can click into each question to read the answer. This helps handle common objections about Lyft’s self-driving car project and makes it easy to see every question clearly.
PayPal takes a similar approach (and goes one step further) by segmenting their FAQ layout to help visitors discover relevant questions if they are indeed a cardholder.
The resources section
If your company provides a solution to a problem, it’s your responsibility to use it to help customers succeed. Providing valuable resources for customers to use not only helps them become better users and get the full value out of your product, but it also deepens their relationship with your brand. This inspires them to become loyal advocates and create a flywheel growth engine of referrals and new leads.
Resources are also a fantastic way to generate more leads (and increase conversion rate).
Baremetrics’ well-designed homepage showcases their publications and training on growth. They make it clear that they’re here to help startup founders learn about growing and measuring their business. This section can also include downloads, whitepapers, or resource toolkits which increase conversion rate and drive brand awareness.
The “trusty” footer
Slack has a well-optimized footer section including all the links a visitor might need. This section helps visitors build additional trust and feel in control of the page.
Consider your copywriting
Creating a great landing page is about more than just choosing the right hero section and showing your latest feature ...
It’s about connecting to the reader with a compelling story and influencing them to take the next step.
To tell a great story, you need great copy.
When a visitor scrolls through your page, they’ll experience each section as part of your brand’s story and experience. This experience needs to influence and persuade the user to take valuable actions promptly and simply. If the reader can’t understand what they’re reading, they’ll probably leave.
When it comes to copywriting, here are a few principles to keep in mind ...
Keep it simple and relevant: Avoid jargon and hyperbole. Focus on the message you want to send and use keywords your reader would use.
Speak to the benefits and create desire: People don’t want a thing — they want the outcome of that thing. Target that outcome with your copy and paint a picture that motivates your readers to engage.
Create contrast and bridge the gap: Your readers need to understand their current situation to clearly see how your counterarguments provide an obvious solution to the core pains, gains, and jobs they haven’t overcome yet.
Overall, you need to know your target reader better than they know themselves. Your content is only as valuable as its relevance to the reader …
Make optimization routine
When you think of all the things you could be doing to grow your business, it turns out that optimizing your landing page is one of those low-effort / high-impact activities that can have lasting dividends.
Keep in mind it’s not just about your design: split-testing to refine your copywriting will complement your section selection to make for a valuable, high-converting page.
It’s not always what you say, but how and when you say it. Hopefully each of these sections can give you new ideas on how to optimize your messaging and improve your timing and tone.
Overall, optimization should become a routine at your company — one where you continually run experiments and reposition your products, resources, and brand to reach your continually evolving market.