You’ve done it. Months spent hunched in front of the computer have finally culminated in a minimum viable product. Phew. Time to unleash it on the world.
You launch the site and fire up the marketing machine. You tweet. You share. You email “influencers.” You set up ads for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Adwords.
And nothing. Crickets. Your analytics app shows a dismal conversion rate: 5 new users from 10,000 visitors.
What happened, you wonder. People could definitely benefit from your product, but they aren’t signing up.
The answer’s in your landing page. Maybe it’s confusing, or boring, or downright scary. Whatever the cause, it’s broken. Let’s see how you can fix it.
7 elements of successful landing pages
If no one’s signing up for your killer product, the problem lies in your landing page. Thankfully, millions of landing pages built by thousands of companies—paired with careful analysis—have led to something of a formula for success.
Here are the elements of high-converting landing pages:
1. Detailed, but concise copy – be specific about what your product is, does, why it matters, and how it will help your visitors. People won't pay for something they don't understand. But they don’t want to have to read an essay first.
2. Clear calls to action (CTAs) – your calls to action (buttons and links) should be both visually prominent and clear in meaning, so people know what you expect them to do.
3. Genuine tone – sounding like a keyword-spewing robot can scare people away and make your product sound cheap. Write like you speak.
4. Engaging content – people get bored and intimidated by large blocks of text. Keep their attention with engaging and easy-to-read copy, lists, imagery, and data visualizations.
5. Social proof – have big-name or really happy customers? Show them off. Nobody wants to use an app nobody else uses.
6. Carefully considered pricing – the right pricing display can sway people’s decision-making.
7. Logical progression – the most convincing arguments rely on precise timing. If you dive into price before covering the benefits, you could intimidate people. That said, if you have a free trial or price is a big differentiator from your competition, it’s worth mentioning early.
It doesn’t matter how many visitors hit your landing pages if they don’t convert. So let’s dive deeper into each of these elements of a killer landing page so you can start capitalizing on all the traffic you’re breaking the bank to get.
1. Tell people what you offer
Too many landing pages make it impossible to figure out exactly what the product does. They’re filled with pithy, generic statements that emphasize emotion over clarity.
How many times have you seen a headline like, “Fakia will revolutionize how you do business!” and thought:
You never want visitors to ask that question. You know what your business is and does, but your customers have no idea. So explain:
- What your product/service is: is it a desktop app, a mobile app, a social network?
- What it does: and be specific, even if it is revolutionary.
- Who it’s for: designers, lawyers, hungry people, CPAs?
- Why it matters: what sets it apart from similar products?
Be clear, descriptive, and concise. Write as if you’re speaking to someone who has no idea what your product does—because 99% of the time, you are.
A word on jargon
In most cases, you want to explain your product as simply as possible, using everyday language. But it’s okay to use industry-specific terms if you’re selling to a niche audience. Just don’t assume every person who visits your page will know what you’re talking about.
For example, rather than saying you offer a “natural language search-optimization platform,” you could say: “Bring more people to your website by using the search terms they’re actually using.”
2. Use prominent and clear calls to action. Often.
Whether you want people to sign up for your newsletter or to buy your product, you need to give them a clear path to that next step.
So make sure your calls to action (CTAs) stand out from the rest of the page. Instead of a plain text link, use a button. Then make it pop with a strong, high-contrast color.
And be sure to spread your calls to action throughout the page. After all, some people will want to dive right in, while others might need to scroll through the entire page. Some will even check out your page, then leave to look for reviews or social media chatter, only to return and convert later. So feature at least two calls to action—one “above the fold” and another at the bottom of the page. You could also try making a “sticky” CTA that follows people as they scroll down the page, so they’re never without an easy way to convert.
3. Don’t be an infomercial
Avoid being spammy, or you’ll scare people off and make your brand and product look cheap. What’s “spammy?” Sounding like a used car salesman. Or an infomercial.
So don’t shout at people. Don’t randomly all-caps copy (especially the word “free”) or promise things you can’t deliver. Be real. Talk like a person. Write as if you were explaining your product to your mother, significant other, or best friend. If you’re real with people, they’ll be much more likely to trust you and what you’re telling them.
And please, no pop-ups, takeovers, or strobe lights. Those just infuriate people. And angry people don’t become customers.
4. Keep people engaged
If people get bored or lost, they’ll bounce, off to check out cute kitten GIFs. Here’s a few ways to keep your audience engaged from page load to conversion:
Be clear. Make sure your content is clear and easy to read or people will get frustrated.
Use visual content. Long blocks of text can turn reading into a chore. So break up your copy into digestible chunks with bullet lists, images, and data visualizations like charts, graphs, and infographics. This will not only help keep people reading, but also engage those who learn better through visuals.
Be entertaining. People are more likely to keep reading if you make them smile. Throw out the odd joke. But not too odd.
Touch close to home. Speak to your audience’s challenges and goals. They’ll keep reading if it sounds like you’re not only aware of their problems, but aiming to solve them.
5. Don’t forget the social proof
Ever avoid a nice-looking restaurant just because it was empty? Or wander into a crowd just to see what they’re gawking at? We all have.
If other people have decided that something is entertaining or useful, we’re more likely to give it a try. Saves us having to do the homework ourselves.
So highlight people already enjoying your product with quotes, testimonials, Facebook likes, and even case studies. Show the real people behind the quotes to make them more impactful and credible. Include names, faces, and company logos (if you’re selling a business product). And choose testimonials that match your message so it’s not just you saying your product’s amazing.
Just make sure you get these people’s approval first. There’s little weirder than stumbling across your face or words on a website when you never approved it.
Lastly, if you have high-profile clients, such as Fortune 500 companies or celebrities, ask if you can highlight them. If Facebook or Barack Obama use your product, people will be more inclined to trust it.
6. Play with pricing
Pricing is key not only to the health of your business, but also your conversion rate. And it’s not just about what your prices are—how you display them matters too.
For example, you’re probably well aware of the $19.99 trick (it sounds smaller than $20!). But what about a price with fewer syllables? Believe it or not, a price you can say faster sounds cheaper.
Even the relative size and position of a price can influence people. A smaller font size makes the price seem smaller (opens PDF). Putting the price at the bottom left of a box rather than the top right affects perception too.
The psychology of pricing deserves a gigantic list, and luckily, someone else already put it together: check it out and craft your perfect pricing strategy.
Give people options
Ever head to a store because you saw an extremely low price on a product you’ve been itching for, then learn that for just a little more money, you could get so much more? Sometimes you end up spending twice what you meant to, but feel okay about it because you saved on the extras.
That’s exactly why so many startups and software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies offer free tiers and trials, but restrict the power features to premium tiers. The cheap option gets people in the door—and it’s a lot easier to upsell them when they’re already half-invested.
Plus, some people just like to have the best of the best. Offer a premium version and they’ll jump at the opportunity. Just don’t provide too many options, or you’ll leave people stuck with analysis paralysis (the inability to make a choice that stems from having too many things to choose from).
7. Do it all in the right order
If someone walked up to you right now and asked you to sign up for something called “Fakia,” and started with, “it only costs $5 per month,” would you do it?
No. Which is why your landing page not only needs to be informative, but also needs to inform in the right order. Selling something requires a well-crafted and perfectly timed plan of attack:
1. Set up the problem. People bounce if a page is slow to explain itself, just like they do if it’s slow to load. So hook them with an interesting headline and image combo that makes it clear what problem your product solves, and offers a solution.
2. Detail the solution. Explain exactly how your product or service fixes addresses the problem you set up.
3. Use your social proof. Sway the unsure with a few words from happy or famous customers.
4. Introduce pricing. Make people want your product before you involve money in the process.
5. Leave them thinking. If readers aren’t convinced yet, end on a point that’ll stick so they come back later.
Now go forth and convert
Now it’s time to put that knowledge to work. Fire up one of your landing pages and make just one change right now—don’t close the tab and tell yourself you’ll do it later.
To make the most of your landing pages, start running A/B tests to find the combination of words, images, colors, and layout that converts people best. I recommend Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer. They’re both powerful, easy to use, and don’t even require coding. Kinda like Webflow.
Finally, use analytics software to help you track your conversion rate and identify areas for improvement. I’d also recommend tracking the performance of each call to action to determine exactly where people convert.
Need inspiration? Check out Land Book for some beautiful examples.
Do you have a landing-page success story, or a great trick you’d love to share? Let us know in the comments!
Master the fundamental concepts of web design, including typography, color theory, visual design, and so much more.
6. Networking and word of mouth
The number-one way to find quality clients is to get out and meet people (figuratively and literally) at non-design events.
Once up a time, I’d spend all day at home, applying for mechanical engineering jobs in isolation. I was unsuccessful for months.
I did, however, make serious headway on my Netflix backlog. Serious progress, people.
Eventually, I gave up and focussed on pursuing a career in web design and development (which I was much more passionate about), and started getting out and socializing.
Within weeks, I had job offers coming in from my loose-knit network of new acquaintances. It’s not rocket science: People prefer to hire people they already know and like — not the faceless folks clogging their inbox with links.
Notice how I didn't specifically describe who the people I met were? That’s because you need to meet all kinds of people. You have no idea who your next client will be.
But they probably won’t be at a web design meetup — those are filled with jobless designers.
All of this is worth repeating: Go to any and every meetup that matches your interests, and simply tell people you’re a web designer. Watch what happens. Everyone needs a website, or knows someone who does. That's what’s so great about freelancing in this industry.
Some places to start meeting people:
- Sports events and classes
- Abroad (for some reason, people are a lot more open to talking to strangers while traveling)
- Slack groups
- Conferences and conventions
Just keep in mind that, no matter the event type or place, you have to actually talk to people you don’t already know.
Tip: Don’t be the typical “business networker.” Don’t bounce from person to person shaking hands, fake-smiling, repeating first names every sentence, and handing out business cards. Be legitimate. Make real connections.
The other side of the networking coin — word of mouth — comes from building up a client base, having lots of contacts, and building your personal brand (with your blog, portfolios, and templates). This takes time. Do great work, treat your clients with respect, keep in touch with past clients, and follow the rest of the advice in this article, and you'll absolutely be fine.
With networking and word of mouth, you can easily reach a state of having more work offers than you can sustain—without ever actually working for it. When this happens, you can increase your rates. Ka-ching.
Personally, I turn down contract offers on a weekly basis. And they’re all the result of word of mouth and networking I did months ago.
It honestly doesn't take long to get to this point if you produce quality work and put yourself out there.
Hustling is the art of working extremely hard and extremely smart. In the context of freelancing, hustling involves going out and finding work directly. For example: finding websites or businesses that desperately need your services.
Does your favourite pub have a terrible site? Why not talk to the owners and convince them they need you to fix it?
If you have the right personality, and the drive, this can be an extremely effective way to whip up some initial work. It just isn’t particularly glamorous. It also requires your repeated, hands-on time and energy. (In contrast, writing blog posts or setting up a portfolio one time can attract customers for years to come.) The success rate of in-person contact, however, is much higher. The trade-off is lower volume.
Fresh out of the studio (or maybe his cool van) Dann Petty released Freelance.tv. It’s a series of 10-minute interviews with freelancers that explores how they find, work with, and keep clients (and much more).
As you may have noticed from reading this post (or maybe not), hearing from other freelancers about their experiences can be extremely helpful. Check out his new episodes and also his upcoming documentary, Freelanced.
Now get out there and find your next gig
If you’re sitting at home, desperately hoping clients will come to you, I have news for you: They won’t.
You have to put yourself out there to start, and show prospective clients that you have tangible, valuable skills to offer.
Luckily, this is an industry where skill and contacts trump all — education is irrelevant. So take advantage of that.
So to summarize, here are your next steps for getting clients and building your freelancing business:
- Build your portfolio. Make it gorgeous. Share it everywhere. You can use Webflow to do it yourself without coding.
- Create profiles on Behance, Dribbble, and Webflow to connect with other designers and potential clients. Use their SEO advantage to drive more traffic to your website.
- Create a profile on Upwork and Design Inc, and bid on contracts. Be confident, and don’t be scared by inexpensive competitors. Also use AngelList to find contracts with promising or established startups.
- Start meeting people. Get out, meet, and befriend as many non-designers / developers as possible. Be legitimate.
- Start a blog to complement your portfolio. Write thoughtful, useful content to establish yourself as an expert in your discipline. Let your personality shine through.
- Convert your websites designs to templates, and release them on sites like Webflow, CreativeMarket, and ThemeForest to earn passive income and awareness.
- If it’s your style, start hustling. Find people who legitimately need your services and tell them why.
But most of all:
"Do something! Even if it's wrong."
– My friend's dad
When you’re starting out, it can be better to do the wrong thing than nothing at all. In the process, you’ll learn, and you might just stumble into something that works beautifully.
Just try to not to be so wrong nobody will ever work with you again. Ever.
Now, stop reading, and get out there and land some clients!
Oh — and If you’re a freelancer, how do you find clients? Is there anything I missed?