Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with four new best practices and refinements to previous best practices mentioned.
Do you have the stamina for a sky-high ride through these landing page best practices?
Let’s do some conversion lifting and soar through these 34 practices that are proven to work time and time again. I promise they’re not full of hot air and are worth the read.
Landing page best practices aren’t as badass as Samuel Jackson, but at least you don’t have to read through stacks of standard operating procedures to get some good usable stuff.
Best practices help us avoid reinventing the wheel and they can play a big role in saving us from some brutal missteps, too.
Uncommon Landing Page Best Practices
Best Practice #1 – Use the Affordance Advantage
Even though this one’s a subliminal one, it could be a game changer. When things look like they should function in a certain way, it helps the visitor intuitively know what to do (aka click on your CTA).
Sometimes, even without a button. In this example from Leadpages, the opt-in rate increased by 35.69% after removing the CTA button at the bottom.
Why? Look at all those piano keys you can press on. The CTA button was actually a distraction from the main goal, because of the affordance in pressing on all those keys.
There’s even hot little hands on the piano just playing away.
In case you’re not in the business of jazz piano education, in more practical terms, make your CTA buttons look like actual pressable buttons.
Best Practice #2 – Shoot for 1:1 Attention Ratio
Focus on a single goal for your landing page and go for a 1:1 attention ratio.
Oli Gardner of Unbounce defines attention ratio as:
“The ratio of links on a landing page to the number of campaign conversion goals. In an optimized campaign, your attention ratio should be 1:1. Because every campaign has one goal, every corresponding landing page should have only one call to action – one place to click.”
This means no extra links, no nav bars, no footers, and no social shares (save social shares for your Thank You page) to distract your visitors from your one goal of having them click on your landing page call-to-action (CTA).
When you don’t keep distractions down to a 1:1 ratio, you run the risk of overwhelming your visitor with too many choices, making them question what it is you want them to do. Take this landing page, for example, which has 4 different CTAs with 4 separate goals:
The lower your attention ratio, the higher your click-through-rate (CTR). Here’s an Unbounce example of how going from a 10:1 to a healthy 1:1 attention ratio increased CTR by 31%:
Plus, it makes your testing process that much easier. Similar to Johnathan Dane’s Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) idea in creating ad campaigns, when you have granularity, you can pinpoint the culprit and improve things with more flexibility and accuracy.
Michael Steele at MemberUp says about 1:1 attention ratio:
“It makes your testing much simpler, and eliminates other variables that could complicate your results. Straightforward data, more confident results in less time. Hallelujah.”
Best Practice #3 – Add Form Fields
The counterintuitive best practice: add more form fields to make multi-step forms on your landing pages.
I mentioned this one in a Landing Page Mistakes post where removing form fields was listed as Mammoth Mistake #1.
The tip: increase your threat level on each step as you move through the form.
Start off with non-threatening form fields, even if you don’t necessarily need the information, like asking for a zip code, event date or a question about the visitor’s project.
Here’s what we do in our own KlientBoost proposal form:
Warming up your audience first with micro-conversions helps them feel comfortable enough by the final step to give up their contact information (which is the most threatening information).
Our CRO- and PPC-obsessed Johnathan Dane explained in a webinar with Unbounce how going from a one-step to four-step form increased conversion rate by 311%. Boom.
Best Practice #4 – Consider the Space Below the Fold
We’ve been trained to think above the fold is where we need to squeeze in all the good stuff. Might be time to reconsider.
Think about it in terms of marriage proposals. Would it make sense to ask someone to marry you before the first date? No way. The proposal-ee needs to be convinced first that you’re someone they want to take the plunge with. Sometimes, that requires a little more convincing, and just like the fold, sometimes your visitors need a little more info. before they’re ready to commit.
Paul Cheney explained in his Long Ugly Page Marketing Experiments post how sometimes people need to be front-loaded with information first, so they even understand what you’re asking for.
Here’s his example of how an NPO increased their copy to a super long length before including a CTA, which resulted in more higher quality conversions – a 74% increase in donor conversions and 274% increase in revenue.
It could also be because of our increasing mobile habits, where we’re used to heavy scrolling on our phones, that this might be a trending thing.
Regardless, sometimes a CTA below the fold converts better.
Refrain from cramming all your actionable info. at the top of your landing page and test out having your form and CTA below the fold.
Tip: Consider a CTA below the fold and below the benefit info. when your visitor has to pay for your offer. Here’s an example of a 20% increase in conversion after moving the CTA below the fold, when the goal is to get the visitor to buy tickets:
Best Practice #5 – Evoke the Right Emotions
Sure, we‘ll have our chosen messages, product shots, branded PMS colors and company image standards that we need to adhere to–but whenever possible, consider what emotion you’re giving off.
Wherever you have wiggle room in choosing color, image or content, consider what vibe you want to give off and appeal to the emotions you’re going for.
If you’re faced with color options, refer to these:
Going for happy? Things are in your favor. Using happy friendly faces can increase your CTR.
Alwin Hoogerdijk split tested the power of a smile:
What about content? Your tone says it all so suggest an attitude.
By suggesting an attitude, visitors will likely behave in the same way as the attitude.
Roger Dooley at Neuromarketing has an Upworthy example of how emotion and tone urge you to hit the agree button:
Also, make it a serious habit to focus on the benefits of your offer. Showing, specifically, how you can improve your visitor’s life will help to evoke the right emotion.
Here’s one that uses both images and verbiage to evoke emotion:
Notice how they didn’t focus on the organization’s mission statement or the way in which they place their rescues (aka features).
They go straight to how this rescued pet will bring you the warm and fuzzies everyday from here on out (aka the benefit).
Best Practice #6 – Segment Your Audience
Can’t stress this one enough, since there are so many ways to do it.
Not all of your visitors should be treated equally. They’re going to want different things and different info.
A quick way to segment is to differentiate between your visitors as soon as they reach your landing page with an initial micro-conversion.
Here’s a couple examples from Anna Talerico at Online-Behavior:
Not everyone is in the same decision-making stage of the sales cycle.
This is our way of looking at audience segmentation:
Even if you’re not doing the initial micro-conversion, you have options to cater your landing page content to each audience bucket.
Knowing that visitors are coming from different stages in the sales cycle, be sure to practice this:
Best Practice #7 – Appear Local
People are more likely to convert if they think you’re local.
Here’s what happened when local area codes were listed in lieu of 800 numbers according to an Engine Ready test:
So, address your visitors using their own states, cities and local area codes. Better yet, address them using their own name (once you have this captured, of course).
You can do this by inserting dynamic text replacement (DTR) into your landing pages in a variety of spots – your headline, sub-header, CTA copy, description copy, keywords, titles… it goes on.
Here’s an example of using DTR in the headline:
The advantage: keyword specificity. Your landing page will show more relevancy and continuity with the keywords a visitor used to find your landing page.
Bonus Tip: Go a step further and adjust your ad campaign bids for different regions at the state or even city level. If you see that ads are doing better in a certain area, ramp up your ad spend and vice versa.
People in different regions are going to behave differently across locations. Having geographic granularity in your ad campaigns is another way to segment your audience and control your ad spend.
Best Practice #8 – Use Hidden Field Sales Tracking
Mistake #4 in a previous post was not doing this, so naturally the best practice is to:
What do all your ad CTRs mean for your business? Yeah, your ads are working in generating traffic, but are all those clicks translating into sales?
Not knowing what your landing pages are doing for you in terms of sales success just sounds silly.
Or, if you’re using Facebook ads, use regular UTM parameters, too. This will help you track your sales progress.
It will help you get granular. With hidden field sales tracking, you can find out things like when a lead comes through and converts, where they came from, where they’re located, what keyword they typed in, which URL they came from, etc.
By knowing which keywords and audiences within your PPC account are moving that needle, you can boost your ad spend on those keywords, placements, and audiences that are actually making you money.
Sidenote disclosure: if you’re an eCommerce site, the conversion is the sale, so this doesn’t apply to you. Using these stats and linking to your CRM system is useful for SaaS tools and companies trying to generate leads.
Best Practice #9 – Include Multiple Paths to Your CTA
You don’t have to rely solely on your form’s CTA button for your conversions. You can add a phone number and pop-up chat box to increase conversions, too.
Why? This addresses the different stages of your segmented audiences.
People are coming from different stages in the sales funnel, so the different options will appeal to your visitors’ different decision-making and action levels.
Some people may be in the consideration stage and ready to phone in a purchase. Others may not be so far along in the cycle and prefer a safe anonymous online chat box.
Plus, online chats have been known to increase conversion rates. According to Internet Retailer, online apparel retailer ScottVest engaged in 160 chats per week, 25% of which turned into sales.
Another example is when Intuit started to see a 190% conversation rate increase when they included this chat box:
Phone numbers help conversion rates, too. Just by having your phone number listed, it builds trust – and trust is important to converting people.
Best Practice #10 – Prioritize Conversation Momentum
Continuing the momentum of a conversation is another way to be more relevant and real to your visitors.
If you ask a question in your ad and someone clicks through, then answer the question (and don’t ask the question yet again).
Simply, continue the conversation and, of course, consider where they came from right before they clicked. Back to the Upworthy example:
Some words of wisdom from Oli Gardner’s Moz Blog:
“A big portion of this concept is respect. Respecting the click, respecting the time you want your visitor to invest.”
He made three changes to a sample page related to conversation momentum, which resulted in a 77% increase in conversion rate.
So, it went from this:
To this (after updating header and headline and adding a personal message):
It’s because he’s injected his landing pages with conversational elements, and even goes as far as including questions and an answer.
It’s almost like you’re reading a script. The personal message and mugshot seal the deal.
Best Practice #11 – Use Directional Cues
Surprisingly, this simple one isn’t commonly executed maybe because of limited image options.
Whether it’s an obvious or subtle one, try to incorporate a direction cue. You can help draw your audience’s attention to an intentional spot on the page.
Both an obvious and subtle example here:
Best Practice #12 – Consider Proximity
Things that are close to your CTA should instill confidence in your visitors, so be sure to keep things that may invite negative thinking away from your CTA button.
For instance, having the word “spam” near your form button, even if trying to ensure your audience that you never spam, will trigger negative thinking. Your visitors weren’t even thinking about spam until you mentioned it.
Instead, include a click trigger near your CTA to help encourage the conversion.
Blogger Daniel Melbye gives us his insight on click triggers:
“For greatest impact, a click trigger should a) neutralize a key anxiety that is likely to keep your prospect from moving forward or b) amplify the value of proceeding, which is all about reminding your prospect of what motivated them to seek you out in the first place, what value you offer, what benefit they’ll derive.”
Oli Gardner ponders in his Unbounce blog post:
“What if a psychological trigger could be positioned in close proximity to the CTA to increase the motivation?”
Oli recommends adding a “sales closer” right below the CTA button as a click trigger, like this button for a webinar registration goal:
Best Practice #13 – Up Your Mobile Game
Having a dedicated mobile-only landing page is the surefire way to make sure your mobile user experience is up to par.
Simply having a responsive landing page does not mean your mobile page is automatically optimized.
People behave differently on their mobile device vs. their desktop and are most likely out-and-about with lower attention spans while using mobile.
So, tailor your mobile landing page to the mobile experience.
HubSpot’s Lauren Hintz explained how they went through a super thorough testing process to get their mobile page right.
They first worked on simplifying their content and getting their images optimized:
Then, they refined their mobile form:
With the growing mobile usage stats, it’s super important to try to perfect the landing page experience for your visitors.
Best Practice #14 – Match Conversion Intent with CTA Threat Levels
This has to do with (again, just to drive it home) knowing where your audience came from and where they are in the sales funnel.
Make sure a visitor’s conversion intent matches the conversion threat level in your landing page CTA.
What do we mean by this?
Match what you’re asking the visitor to do (CTA) with what they intended to do (aka consider where they came from) as best you can.
Paddy O’Neill at CrazyEgg gives tips on increasing conversions by mapping content to the buyer journey.
Here’s a top-of-funnel example where awareness is the goal:
Here’s a mid-funnel example where someone is considering the different solution options.
Best Practice #15 – Use the Information Hierarchy
Having a priority list of which items should take prominence over others can be super helpful when mapping out content for your landing page content.
Unbounce’s Oli Gardner recommends following the hierarchy of persuasion in Episode 10 of Landing Page Sessions. He breaks it down into a 5-step hierarchy of info:
- Pain point or problem
- How it works
- Who does it
- Social proof or testimonials
Also, Unbounce’s Corey Dilley had this to say about the hierarchy of persuasion:
“Information hierarchy is the practice of laying out your information, so that it answers all your prospects’ questions in a logical order. And once you get a hang of it, you’ll be weaving a tale on your landing page that has your prospects nodding ‘yaassss’. ”
Here’s a sample of Logi Analytics using the information hierarchy principle:
Best Practice #16 – Optimize the Thank You Page
Similar to using hidden field sales tracking (Best Practice #8), don’t forget about what happens after the click.
It’s all part of the experience, so let’s keep the continuity going.
I mean, they actually opted into your offer, so make your Thank You page as seamless as possible and deliver the goods.
It’s a taste of what it’s like to do business with you so make the experience count.
Acing the Thank You page is an art in itself. This is the place where you tell your visitor exactly what to expect, how and when. The more specific, the better.
As always, don’t forget where they came from.
Here’s a sweet example of how NatureBox thanks their visitor, tells them when to expect the delivery and oh remembers they came from Facebook–so the social shares are simple and relevant.
You can also add your exploratory links to your Thank You page – social shares, nav bars, windows to more info on your products, or even another offer.
Here’s how HubSpot aces it:
Another example of perfect Thank You “Pagieness” is how UpWork gives its visitors avenues to new offers after they’re done converting:
Bonus Tip: Go one step further and link all this post-click behavior up with your CRM, so you can find out what’s working best and actually making you money. Which post-click actions are converting into sales? Where are people going on your Thank You page and which of those exploratory clicks are turning into purchases?
If you’re looking for some more examples of optimizing your landing pages, here are 10 thank you page examples for you to check out. For the most part, however, the logic stays the same:
Spend more time and money on nurturing those behaviors that are converting into sales.
Best Practice #17 – Use Effortless CTA Copy
Is your CTA button copy value-focused or is it effort-focused?
Value-focused CTAs use words that appeal to the lazy – receive, get, view, enjoy, discover, see, or play. Effort-focused CTAs use action words that subliminally make you think you have to work, such as submit, start, activate, learn, pay, earn or go.
Who should you appeal to? Yes, the lazy.
Make it as effortless and easy as possible for your visitor to receive your offer.
Entice them by appearing to do all the work for them, so they have basically nothing to do.
Here’s an exercise snatched from ion interactive’s Landing Page Toolkit that helps you create specific value-focused CTA buttons:
Best Practice #18 – Test Videos
This one takes no explaining, but it’s on the unusual list–because it takes up more time, effort and resources to produce explainer videos.
If you have the budget and opportunity to do so, use video to explain what your company offers.
A study done by EyeView shows that using video can improve conversion by up to 80%. Plus, if you have that play button overlay, it will increase your affordance (ref Best Practice #2).
Crazy Egg recognized that not everyone knows what a heat map is, so they featured a short video that explains the concept further:
Best Practice #19 – Test Out Removing Your Headline
That’s right, you heard me. Headlines are definitely important, so don’t make any rash movements before testing it out.
However, there are instances where your headline can potentially detract and distract from your CTA, especially when you have video or a compelling image that takes center stage.
Here’s an example where removing a headline actually increased CTR by 28%:
Best Practice #20 – Ace the Blink Test
There’s not much to this one. Just flash your landing page in front of a new set of eyes for about 5 seconds and ask your subject some basic questions about it.
If they get your questions wrong, go back to the drawing board and design with even more obvious intentional elements (and refer to this Best Practices list).
Repeat with new subjects until they start to answer your basic questions correctly.
The purpose: get your audience to know what the heck your landing page is asking for within milliseconds. Make your content as easy as possible to digest.
Best Practice #21 – Be Different
Stand out and be unique. It’s a competitive world out there, so be sure to let your visitors know why you’re better.
Why should they pick you over someone else offering the same thing?
The classic route: be very obvious about your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), aka your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), aka your benefits (not so much your features). How will your badass offer make your visitor’s life that much better?
The contemporary route: be weird, entertaining, hilarious, interactive, mind boggling, creative or cutting-edge. Whatever gem you choose, make people remember you. The trick is to have your audience not only remember you, but also remember what it is that you do.
Some good interactive ones:
More Common Landing Page Best Practices
Best Practice #22 – Always Be Testing
Go beyond the blink test and always be testing. Whether you’re A/B split testing or using multivariate tests, as long as you’re testing intentionally and with specific goals in mind, you should be able to consistently improve your landing page.
Tip: Test out everything and do it systematically while keeping your end-goal in mind. This includes the headline, subheader, colors, hero shot, CTA copy, CTA location, messaging, benefits, USP, offer copy, thank you pages, DTR spots… the list goes on.
Oli’s insight from his Buffer Chat:
“Most A/B tests fail. That’s okay, as long as you are testing based on a hypothesis that teaches you something if it fails.”
So, don’t be afraid to fail – get up and test again.
Best Practice #23 – Have a Clear Headline
Speak in your audience’s language to be even more clear and always include your unique value proposition (UVP). Oftentimes, we think we’re being clear in the headline, whereas the subheader offers more specifics.
Be aware of this and make your offer super obvious, even if it means swapping out your sub-header for your headline copy.
See how Avast clearly communicates the value their visitors are getting from their SecureLine product:
Bonus Tip: Break it down even more and test out question, benefit and loss aversion variances on your headline.
Here are some results from Unbounce’s headline formula test case study:
Best Practice #24 – Clear CTA Button Message & Design
Be specific and refrain from using generic copy, like submit. Remove uncertainty, any ambiguity and certainly any extraneous options that might confuse your audience or make them do any extra thinking.
HubSpot’s Brittany Leaning references in her 31 CTA examples, a Netflix CTA, where they preemptively answer any anxiety-ridden questions of what happens next, how to cancel, and whether or not you’d be trapped in the offer.
The CTA message is super obvious and specific:
Make the most important part of your landing page stand out and have a super obvious color, location, clickable look, and purpose.
Even if it’s at the end of a long landing page, you can still make it visually stand out from the rest of your landing page. Unbounce’s Michael Aagaard goes into great length, providing case study after case study to show how to create CTA buttons that convert.
Tip: Save one color for your CTA button and use that color sparsely on the rest of the page, if at all. If you’re so inclined to use the same color anywhere else on your landing page, try the CTA offer copy–so it acts like an extension of the CTA button.
Best Practice #25 – Message Match
Match keywords, personality, tone, conversation momentum, typography, look and feel of your brand, and any other remnants from your ad.
This will help you keep your promise.
Otherwise, your visitor will feel confused, lost, and like they clicked on the wrong ad.
Unbounce’s Oli has a solid message match example.
In this ad:
The ad message matches the landing page, to a T:
Best Practice #26 – Build Credibility
Include your badges, achievements, testimonials, phone numbers, and other social proof. Just don’t be distracting with it (remember Best Practice #12 and the inviting negative thinking example?) and don’t exaggerate. If you’re realistic and believable, people will find you more relevant and relatable.
Here’s a solid example of credibility building:
You can also use money-back guarantees as a way to build credibility, like here:
Tip: Using exact numbers and real people in your testimonials will make your offer more believable. Econsultancy’s Vikki Chowney even suggests including bad reviews to help with credibility.
Best Practice #27 – Shrink Your Loading Time
Try to diminish the loading time on your landing page as much as possible. This will help you secure your visitor’s attention before they decide to abandon your page (but they won’t scurry off with all these best practices, right?).
Here’s the significance of load time according to a Walmart.com test:
Unbounce’s Brad Smith gives us 11 Ways to Accelerate Page Load Time. Here’s the short and skinny:
- Clean up your code
- Minify HTML & CSS
- Use GZIP compression
- Use less redirects
- Relocate scripts
- Don’t use as many WordPress plugins
- Upgrade your hosting
- Resize images
- Compress images
- Use Content Delivery Network for images
- Use external hosting when possible
Best Practice #28 – Use KISS
…but the “Keep-It-Simple-Stupid” KISS. When you write your landing page copy, just get to the point. Use minimal copy and strip your content down wherever possible.
The reasoning again has to do with catering to the lazy and making things effortless for your visitors. Steal your visitor’s attention by making things easy and obvious on your landing page.
Best Practice #29 – Deliver Easy Readability
In addition to keeping your content simple, make reading it a breeze.
Some Tips: break up copy with numbers, use minimal copy, segment your copy into visual side-by-side chunks, use bullets when appropriate, use large and legible fonts, use images wisely and don’t make people read too far across the page.
In Landing Page Sessions Episode 7, Oli suggests keeping your paragraph widths between 60-75 characters.
Extra Tip: We read in an F-shaped pattern, so map out your hierarchy of information accordingly. Here’s a heat map study done by Nielsen Norman Group’s Jakob Nielsen:
Best Practice #30 – Use Clean Design
Use your white space principles and remove any clutter. Visually, this will help your visitors focus on your offer.
Here’s an example of a clean landing page that does a great job of leading you through their process.
Best Practice #31 – Be Choosy with Your Image
Using that golden image is so important, since the perfect hero shot can do wonders for your conversion rates.
Nikole Dieker deep-dives into 41 Hero Shot Secrets for us. Some quick tips that I gleaned:
- Always use a caption since the copy around image has a high readability rate.
- Use non-distracting relevant images.
- Compress your images to help with shorter load times.
- Use real people that are relevant to their locations.
- Use simple design, white space, single products, one USP.
Here’s an excellent hero shot image example:
Best Practice #32 – Pre-Empt Objections with Benefits
Answering any questions your customer might have about your offer in your Benefits section. This is a great time to use FAQs or talk to your sales team to find out which prevailing questions that are commonly can be incorporated into your landing page copy. It helps assure your visitor you know what their needs are and your offer is well-tailored around those needs.
Henneke Duistermaat suggests you should start with your end goal first, and work backwards from there. In short:
- Figure out the goal for your visitors and write the CTA button text based on it.
- Think about the buyer and tailor promises that will be relevant.
- Gather together objections a potential customer may have.
- Address and overcome those objections by communicating the benefits about your offer.
SumoMe leaves no doubt about whether their web traffic tools will work on anyone’s website:
Best Practice #33 – Use impeccable Grammar and Spelling
We live in an age where spell-check and browser extensions like Grammarly are a click away from communicating to your visitor that you’re professional. Proper spelling and grammar build credibility, especially when they’re giving out sensitive, personal information.
How much harder will it be collecting a visitor’s credit card info. when they’re too distracted noticing you misspelled ‘credit card’? Let’s convert as many leads as possible by practicing proper writing habits.
Best Practice #34 – Create a Sense of Urgency
Oli Gardner says it best:
“People need deadlines. Build some urgency into your landing page to nudge them toward conversion.”
Using scarcity tactics that make it seem like a deal is soon to be ending or last only while there’s still supplies left makes it seem like the visitor needs to act now.
Consider this CTA from Groupon:
You don’t always have to use copy either to communicate a sense of urgency to your visitor. Try changing the color of a button to a more urgent, alerting color like red or yellow. HubSpot performed a study where they tested changing a green button into a red one and saw a site’s conversion rate increase by 21%.
Wrap Up on Landing Page Best Practices
So, there you have it…
Some common and not-so-common best practices that should help you increase your conversion rates (and hopefully avoid some lethal mistakes).
Any best practices you think should have been included? Do you have examples of success with any of these best practices? We’d love to hear about them and potentially include them in an upcoming post. Don’t be shy.