Have you written a new e-book and want to use it to grow your email list? Or are you planning a webinar and want to attract as many participants as possible? Or are you perhaps promoting your products directly via advertisements and are trying to increase your click & conversion rate?
Then you need a dedicated landing page specifically made for your campaign.
Hardly any other single page is as effective and at the same time efficient as a landing page – as long as it is designed “correctly”.
When creating Landing Pages, there is a list of important items you should consider – depending on their basic meaning and purpose as well as the target group. In this article, you will find the list for a perfect landing page design including tips that will simplify the design for you.
This article focuses on the basic creation of landing pages
What is a landing page? Definition, Benefits and Features
The feature of a landing Page actually comes from its name: It is a website that a user lands on after clicking on a link – for example in an advertisement, your newsletter, in a Facebook post, or in a search.
The big difference from other pages is that the landing page is built for one purpose only – it focuses on one specific action to be performed by the user. This can be clicking on a special link or button (we call it a “click-through landing page”), subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading a file in exchange for personal information (known as a “lead generation landing page”) or the direct purchase (then we speak of “Sales Landing Pages”).
Every page can be a landing page, but it’s rare that you’ll want to design your regular pages like blog articles, the “About Us” page, or product and service pages to follow landing page design principles. That would mean some restrictions that don’t necessarily make sense on these pages, but more on that later.
What makes the landing pages so effective is that you can take up the message communicated in the previous step (i.e. the advertisement, the newsletter or social media post) – also visually – and gain the attention of the user immediately.
This immediately recognizes the relevance of your page, allowing the user to orientate themselves more quickly.
Before we continue to talk about design principles, I want to go into the different uses of landing pages that I just mentioned.
Why should I use landing pages?
You can probably ask any company that uses landing pages why they use them and get a different answer each time. This is because there are many different uses for such pages. What they have in common, however, is that they have an above-average conversion rate and have thus established themselves as an important building block in online business, be it for content marketing or e-commerce…
If you want to serve a specific user problem, e.g. a direct search query: Then the landing page is not only suitable as an answer to the question but can also help to take the user one step further in his customer journey brings. Maybe he wants to start running and is looking for help in choosing the right running shoes. With a “running shoe guide” you could have great success here and lead them to your running shoe shop (and at best directly to a suitable pre-selection). That would be an example of a click-through landing page.
You can also sell individual products or services via a landing page in the same way. The advantage is that you give them enough space and thereby have more opportunities to convince the prospect of them (emphasis on convince, not persuade!). However, the requirements for sales landing pages are a bit higher in this respect.
Maybe this user is already looking for a training plan – which you can of course provide. You can offer this for download via a landing page and thereby collect personal data (or at least an e-mail address) from the user. Your page is therefore used for lead generation.
Depending on how extensive and ideally optimized for the important keywords your landing pages are, there is also a chance that you will rank with these pages in the search results and thus additional organic ones generate traffic. A lot of “free” traffic with a high conversion rate is a good combination!
Now comes the eye-opener: the more dedicated landing pages you use, the more keywords you can search for (especially if you don’t have a blog or similar), the more leads you can generate, and the more products and services you can sell directly.
If you are “a small freelancer” and your website only consists of a few pages anyway, then you could theoretically design them all according to the design principles of landing pages. But the larger and more complex a website becomes, the more difficult it is. Landing pages are often the “quick win” because they are more flexible and easier to handle.
In any case, you should know and combine the different uses of landing pages. Because with a view to the customer journey, they are all important.
What types of purposes of landing pages are there?
On a typical website, such as the homepage, the user has countless interaction options – various navigation points, different content offers, and maybe a sidebar, or links in the footer.
Even if the user can easily orientate himself on such pages, his attention is distributed, and not every user is active in the same way. This is not a problem in this case, as it corresponds to the intention of the site. The homepage in particular serves as an entry point and overview of the offer.
But what if you are pursuing a very specific goal with a page? If the user should actually only carry out a very specific action?
While freedom of choice is important, too much choice can overwhelm people.
For your landing pages, this means the following: Decide which specific need or problem of your target group you want to solve. Think about which of your products or services is the best solution and offer it on a landing page. If you reduce the options from the beginning, your users will find it much easier to make their decision.
For the purpose derived from this, you can now design landing pages differently, whereby we differentiate between two types in particular:
Click Through Landing Pages
Click-through landing pages act as a kind of filter and are particularly useful when a transaction in terms of lead generation or the conclusion of purchase is very unlikely at this point in time.
Especially if you need to explain your product or service in more detail to make users understand the added value. The focus of such landing pages is therefore on conveying information, creating demand, and motivating the user to deal more intensively with your offer.
Lead Generation Landing Pages
The main feature of “Lead Gen” landing pages, as they are called is the presence of a form. Finally, the purpose of these pages is to collect contact and other personal information from users as potential customers. This primarily includes the e-mail address and, if applicable, the name in order to personalize the subsequent e-mail, but in most cases, other information such as job position, employer, or even a telephone number is also requested.
Ultimately, however, the scope of the form depends above all on the equivalent value that a user receives for disclosing their data. This could be an e-book, a white paper, or useful checklists and templates for his professional work.
If it’s a “classic ” landing page, it contains a headline, a hero image, a short info list, and, of course, a form:
In addition to these two types of landing pages, it is also advisable to keep in mind the following basic rule and differentiate landing pages based on a user’s origin or type (keyword: personas):
Basic rule: One landing page per channel/platform or per user type
Inbound marketing or marketing in general is based on the use of more personas.
Other traffic channels such as organic search via content, email marketing, search & display ads, and other marketing channels may involve the use of different landing pages.
Doesn’t it make sense to design a separate, customized entry point for users from each of these channels and maybe even each individual platform or even each individual link?
Each platform has its own characteristics, for which it is valued by its users and which are most likely also reflected in typical user behavior. If you create a seamless transition to your own website through the look & feel, users will immediately feel comfortable.
“ With landing pages, it is important that they deliver a user experience tailored to the ad – the user must be made curious. From my point of view, regular testing is even more important, because the gut is often wrong when building landing pages”.– Nicolai Kuban, CEO contentbird
So when creating landing pages you should always ask yourself one question: With which (explicit ) Intention and what (implicit) expectations or hopes does a user come to my landing page?
With the answer to this question, we have to realize that “one size fits all” cannot be a sensible tactic and we need more than one landing page. Another advantage of many landing pages, by the way, is that we can measure their effectiveness in a much more targeted manner and optimize them accordingly. This saves time and money and, although it may not seem like it at first, gets us faster than trying to customize a landing page for “everyone”.
To meet this requirement, we can design dynamic landing pages, and images, texts, calls-to-action, etc. that are automated and vary depending on the origin of individual users.
Structure of effective landing pages: Which (graphical) elements are mandatory, and which are optional?
For the design of a working Landing Page, the following elements are essential and some others are optional. Basically, elements without a specific use (ergo function) have no place on a landing page!
The Heading (Headline) conveys the core message and at best the value proposition of a website and must be given to the visitor to assure that he has landed in the right place (keyword: relevance).
It is therefore advantageous to have a headline that is as short and concise as possible (to communicate relevant information as quickly as possible), visually striking (to attract attention as quickly as possible) and with regard to the wording or the keywords used, the headline is optimized for the language of the users and for search engines.
5 Landing Page Headline Formulas You Can Test Today
Pictures or visualizations are worth a thousand words, yes, but images should never be used on a landing page without a specific purpose. In the context of landing pages, the images are intended to visualize the offer as clearly as possible and give the user a preview or idea of what to expect.
A Call to Action (short CTA or call to action) prompts the user to take a very specific action and should therefore be clear – both visually and verbally. In addition, it makes sense to use only one call to action per landing page and thus to resolve the paradox of choice, i.e. the indecisiveness caused by too many alternatives, and to increase the probability that the user will do anything at all. However, that doesn’t mean the landing page can only have one CTA! There is nothing wrong with asking for the same action several times.
Symbols, arrows, and other trend-setting design elements help draw the reader’s attention, and also colors and contrasts can improve the flow of reading.
Earning trust is essential when it comes to converting visitors to subscribers or buyers. Trust-inspiring elements are, for example, test or quality seals, the use of customer opinions and reviews, and also the optimization of forms so that they are not too intrusive.
I have already mentioned that the design of effective landing pages is not only based on design principles but also on psychological behavioral principles. Let’s go more into detail on this.
The psychology behind successful landing pages
You may have heard of Robert Cialdini’s six “principles of persuasion”. These are so-called behavior patterns or cognitive behavior patterns that influence the perception, purchase (behavior), decisions, and motivation of people. As a result, we can use them in visual design and marketing communications – and also on landing pages.
Simplicity– The easier a landing page is to understand and navigate, the better. Less is more, as the saying goes. This applies to the content as well as to the visual design.
According to some experts, you have a maximum of 5-6 seconds to attract the attention of your visitors or, more precisely, to keep them on your landing page. By removing unnecessary elements on a page (ad banners, hyperlinks, text, image, or navigation elements) you reduce distraction, free up space for what is really relevant and focus on a good CTA. Forms on lead gen landing pages should also be as simple as possible (or at least appear so).
Along with simplicity comes the reduction of alternative courses of action. Underlying this principle is the paradox of choice I mentioned above. The fewer interaction options the user has on a landing page, the easier it is for him to make a decision. In this context, we speak of the highest possible “attention ratio”, ie the ratio of the total number of possible actions (e.g. links that the user can click) to the number of desired actions (e.g. filling out a form). Logically, a ratio of 1:1 is ideal for landing pages.
On other pages, such as the home page, this ratio is less important, to say the least, because the user should first orientate himself.
Authority (Authority)– Since we humans tend to follow the advice of authorities (e.g. doctors, bosses, or even “influencers”), it recommends himself to create this effect on landing pages. This works particularly well with the mapping of
Awards, for example, can be really helpful. In the mind of the user, they think “Ah, that means that a competent jury took a close look at it and rated this as the best product!”.
Partners or customers, for example: “Companies like Red Bull, Ford, and Facebook rely on our solutions” ( Thoughts of the user: I need what they have ! ).
Thoughts of the user: They seem to be really convinced of this product … and they know what they’re talking about!).
Social Proof: If other people like it, I will like it too. This is how we can briefly and concisely describe the effect of social proof. Basically, it is nothing more than proof that a product is good or that customers are satisfied with it (keyword: reviews, ratings, testimonials). The online version of Word-of-Mouth, so to speak, helps companies build trust.
Reciprocity: Who says no to something that doesn’t seem to cost anything? Giving users something without requiring them to pay or provide anything in return increases the likelihood that they will want to give something back to you. So, in exchange for a relevant ebook, they may be more willing to give you their email address and other personal information than if they get nothing in return. In general, words like “free”, or “gift” are very effective to convert users.
People, especially on the Internet, are at risk and are concerned about their privacy and the security of their data – not all to the same extent, but awareness of data protection is increasing.
To give visitors a sense of security, you can, for example, offer (money-back) guarantees for purchased products, address and clarify possible doubts of your users directly or allow them a free test phase in which they are able to test your product (or your service) without any financial risk.
Scarcity: In marketing, scarcity is a common way to ‘motivate’ visitors to make a purchase decision immediately. This often happens through deadlines for special offers or the prominent display of product availability. While I would generally recommend the use of scarcity, you should proceed experimentally with the implementation and always keep an eye on possible negative side effects apart from the measured conversion rate.
It could be the case, for example, that although more customers buy, they immediately regret the purchase (because they felt pressured and were actually not that far along with their decision) and consequently send a product back. A look at the return rate, for example, will tell you whether the shortage is having a negative impact on the customer experience or not.
Design concepts that can be applied to landing pages
In addition to the essential elements mentioned above, the structure of a landing page varies depending on the purpose. You can, for example, use the AIDA model from advertising psychology as a guide to guide users “through your information”:
Attention: The first impression must attract and hold the user’s attention (in most cases, they have already become aware of you via an advertisement or another touchpoint) and at best also draw attention to the “next important” element.
Interest: The next step is to spark the user’s interest. This can be done through a concrete offer or relevant information. Your goal is to get him involved and motivate him to continue interacting.
Desire: Through this involvement, the user should recognize a need and – implicitly or even explicitly – express the desire for your offer.
Action: The last step is obvious: the user should accept your offer and buy (or more generally: convert).
This model has evolved over time and has been supplemented by various phases. So you could also create landing pages for the post-purchase/post-conversion “satisfaction” phase through a landing page in the “Confidence” phase, and use rational arguments to support his decision-making (or encourage him in his decision).
This approach is about reducing visual complexity to make it easier for users to understand your website and thereby better direct their attention to the most important elements.
The best way to create simplicity and clarity is by:
Size: The larger an element is on your landing page, the more importance a user attaches to it. Individual elements within an area of your website are related to all other elements.
Distances: If several elements are very close to each other, they are perceived as belonging together, like those for the purchase-relevant information (price, size, availability, delivery terms, etc.) If elements are far apart, they are perceived individually.
You can even increase this effect by having elements touching or even overlapping.
Selection: As a means of selective attention, you can visually emphasize certain elements or text; by using bold, underlining, the use of a background color or even the use of spacing.
There are many more ways to attract attention. You can find more inspiration in this slide deck by Unbounce, which is very much based on classical gestalt laws:
With this approach, you concentrate all design and content elements on a specific – for you as a website owner lucrative – action of the user. For click-through landing pages, for example, this would be clicking on the next page, for lead gen landing pages, filling out the form.
The main difference to attention-driven design is that you don’t trust that the user will find “the important” elements themselves (because they are designed prominently) and react accordingly. Rather, you play it safe and lead him, so to speak, to the conversion by encapsulation of individual elements. You may, for example, draw the user’s attention to specific elements and thus get him to his goal faster.
You can also use a clear contrast for individual elements that differ from each other – by size or color. For example, use a clear signal color for a call-to-action button.
You can draw the attention of your visitors to certain areas of your website. Use arrows or arrow-like elements for this.
You can get a better overview by using Whitespace. The idea behind this is to create more space between individual components. A clear design helps your users to recognize and use relevant elements more quickly.
Few people can resist special offers. You can also use this fact for yourself. Just create the perception of shortages of your product. This arises either from a limitation of the availability or a limitation of the number of items. Urgency is an effective communication tool to get prospects to make a purchase or provide personal information faster. A deadline suggests to the user that the offer will no longer be available in its current form after a period of time has expired.
We feel a moral obligation to give back when we receive a gift. So go ahead and offer a free sample or trial of your product. Free initial consultation or registration for a free e-mail course would of course also be conceivable. Reciprocity is a good way to unobtrusively land on your users’ agenda.
In this third approach, the content and visual design revolve around the user and the experience they have on your website. The creative focus is on the user experience and above all on the usability of your landing page. The aim is for the user to be able to explore your website independently, as easily as possible, and not only receive relevant information but also be entertained. However, this “freedom” has a negative impact on the conversion rate (often, not always).
The process of user-centered design is a bit more strategic compared to the previous ones and includes the following four steps:
The first step is to collect and structure information.
Who will land on your page? Why and under what conditions does this happen? With questions like this, try to understand the motivation and expectations of your users so that you can serve them in a targeted manner.
In the next step, define all requirements for the landing page: What does the site have to do so that it is relevant for you as the owner as well as for your users (informative, entertaining, lucrative etc.)?
Design of your landing Page
Soon the first version is live and traffic starts coming in and you can see the interaction of your users (with a view to your defined goal) and generate optimization ideas accordingly.
What actually applies to every landing page, regardless of the design approach it is based on, becomes particularly clear here: consider the design of the page as a continuous process. Only in the rarest of cases (or at all…?!) is the first design optimal.
Therefore, you need to reiterate, improve, and revise the design consistently in order to optimize it and maximize its success.
The last approach that I want to present to you in this article is also the youngest:
Strictly speaking, this is not limited to landing pages but can be used for the design (conceptual and visual-creative) of the entire website. The core idea is the agile development of websites based on data. The procedure should therefore not seem unfamiliar to you:
Find out how your landing page can benefit your audience. This largely determines your objective.
Then develop and publish an “MVP” (minimum viable product) of your landing page. This is the smallest possible variant, so to speak, with which you can create a benefit and achieve your goals. Start collecting and evaluating user data.
Then continue to develop your site based on the data. This is the part that is typically understood as “Conversion Optimization”.
Finally, there is nothing wrong with looking for inspiration elsewhere. More importantly, you understand the principles of effective landing page design. Because you will not always find the supposedly perfect template that actually works.
Proven tools to create landing pages
There are numerous landing page tools and construction kits on the market and you can use all of them to create pages quickly and easily – that means above all without any programming knowledge. Almost all of them come with a wide range of various landing page templates that you can customize using a drag andn drop editor. In detail, however, there are a few crucial differences that I would like to draw your attention to.
Unbounce is most likely the most famous – and maybe even the best – landing page builder on the market, but it also has its price and only lets you try it for free for 14 days. Apart from a fairly intuitive editor, Unbounce also offers over 100 customizable templates, pop-ups, and sticky bars that you can combine perfectly with your landing page, a split testing function and an extensive range of integration options.
Unbounce also offers the Landing Page Analyzer, a pretty good tool to analyze your landing page. The page loading time, mobile friendliness, conversion-centered design, SEO, trustworthiness & security, message match, and social tags are taken into account and commented on in detail. It’s best to try it out for yourself!
Achieving conversions through conversations – i.e. personal dialogue via interfaces such as live chats – has great potential.
Paperform is easily customized to manage any type of project – from forms to onboarding automation, to special landing pages for products and events. Why bother with a whole page when a single form will do?
Leadpages and Instapage. Leadpages might be my favorite if I worked more with landing pages, mainly because the integration of content upgrades/lead magnets is extremely easy. As with Unbounce, there are countless templates available to you here, including for pop-ups, and you can integrate the tool with various others. Functionality wise, it goes a bit further than the other tools (offers heatmaps and personalization, for example), but costs more in the starter package.
At the end of this list, ConvertKit should also be mentioned, because this tool also has a landing page functionality. However, as I said, this is not the focus, rather it is about the entire automated workflow from the form on a landing page to e-mails to content upgrades and lead nurturing.
There are many other providers, such as Landingi or Varify.io, but more choice doesn’t necessarily make the decision any easier.
Choosing the right tools depends largely on your individual requirements and, of course, your available budget. For example, if you only want to build click-through landing pages, you can basically ignore drift and paperform. If you want to distribute content upgrades as easy as possible, then you probably need fewer landing pages, but more pop-ups and forms and are more likely to use ConvertKit or Leadpages.
Summary: Landing Page Design in a nutshell
Hopefully you’ve learned a bit about landing page design. Here is a summary of the most important things:
Any page can be a landing page, but not every page is intentionally designed with a specific, defined, and underlying goal in mind. But that is exactly what distinguishes landing pages: a target group (from a specific channel). A target. A message. Targeted design.
Landing pages can serve different purposes: Google rankings, clicks on another page (e.g. in your online shop), lead generation, and sales. Depending on the function, there are different requirements for the design.
Effective landing pages have a headline, a visualization of the offer or to create emotional resonance, and a call to action. In addition, eye-catching and confidence-building elements have proven their worth.
Good landing pages make use of various behavioral principles. This can be for example urgency and scarcity, free offers, simplicity, or social proof
Depending on the goal of a landing page, different design principles have proven their worth: a conversion-centered design for lead generation, user-centered design for click-through landing pages, or growth-driven Design as a general approach to website design.
There are countless tools available for building the landing page.
There’s nothing wrong with using templates to create landing pages, but make sure they’re proven to work for your goal.
Clicking a button is different than filling out a form… Your target audience should also play a role in choosing a template.
Those that are “fashionable” right now but may not appeal to your customers are unlikely to work. Just test as much as possible (and make sense). This is usually better than trying to constantly reinvent the wheel. And when you find something that works, just derive your own templates from it.