As humans, we know first impressions are important. As marketers, though, we know they are vital to our business.
Turning your website’s landing page visitors into customers requires a good first impression — studies show you have just 50 milliseconds, in fact — and that’s why the best landing pages serve not only as a gateway to the rest of your site but as a résumé for your brand as well.
And if you do get your audience’s attention right away, your success or failure will depend on driving users through to your call-to-action — which is the business purpose that got you there in the first place.
Landing Page Best Practices
In general, the landing page should have an organized layout and logical flow. A visitor should never have to navigate a maze to get to the point. Landing pages should be easy to read —less is always more, so stay away from the temptation of clutter, distracting pop-ups and easy exit opportunities. And your landing page must be designed first for mobile viewers; half of all online traffic comes from mobile, and that number is only going up.
Here are a few more best practices for effective messaging on landing pages:
Your ‘why’ must be obvious right away.
Why should this visitor invest in you rather than others? Why should they keep scrolling?
This typically consists of the headline (think of it as a pickup line) and a subhead (that additional dialogue to persuade someone to go out with you).
Picture someone scrolling a feed on the phone. You have one swipe from the bottom of the screen to the top to get their attention. That means you need fewer words that deliver more impact, quickly.
You need a big, beautiful hero image.
If you are relying on words alone to deliver your message, you may be missing out on a chance to create instant engagement. Because humans typically process photos 60,000 times faster than text, a welcoming photo can help your potential customers see themselves being included in your messaging — or even invested in what you are offering.
It’s important to make sure the words and images work well together so your visitors want to keep scrolling. When you write a headline that doesn’t complement the photo, you end up confusing your readers. And confused readers won’t stick around long.
Consider the following examples. Which does a better job of getting your attention (and making your mouth water)?
The top hero moment speaks to the user more directly, in a more conversational way. It assumes a common understanding — in this case, the notion that fast food doesn’t look or taste as good as the photo would indicate — and therefore requires less cognitive effort on the part of the reader.
The bottom moment is the product of the text being written in a silo. In this case, the text delivers a value proposition alone, without having the reader’s contextual use of the page in mind. It’s factually correct, but it’s not effective as a marketing tool.
(By the way: No, we can’t believe this is fast food.)
You need a brief, convincing spiel.
If your hero moment is like a billboard, the rest of your landing page should be like an elevator pitch. But even then, you have just a short elevator ride to make your point.
This is a good place to create FOMO. Show your visitors how they will be missing out if they don’t invest in your brand. This appeals to a person’s instinct to avoid loss and the natural desire to pursue gains.
Word of warning: In creating this section, companies sometimes may muddle their message when trying to balance creativity with functionality. If you’re trying to be too clever, you may miss getting your point across, but if you lean too heavily toward being clear, you risk sounding too dry — or worse, boring.
You must put in the work to create your brand’s voice and tone so you can showcase it properly. Your landing page should not read like a flyer that’s been stuck under a windshield wiper.
How can you prove you’re trustworthy?
Think about the people in your life. The ones you trust most are the ones who are consistent. They say what they mean, and they do what they say.
The signals your landing page sends can make or break the relationships you are trying to build. Is your messaging aligned with the campaign that drives traffic to your page — or will it end up feeling like clickbait? Do the testimonials feel meaningful and sincere, or are they shallow and disingenuous?
Spend time making sure the way you vouch for yourself is in alignment with your brand promise — and with your follow-through.
What did you want visitors to do, anyway?
Before you build any landing page, you must make sure you understand the objectives of the page. Do you want someone to buy something? To sign up for something? To subscribe or share?
Your call-to-action is the payoff, giving your visitors the nod to do something about what they’ve just read or seen. It should be clear and concise, with an active approach and not a passive one. It shouldn’t say “CLICK HERE,” even if that is what you want them to do.
If your call to action is a form, keep the fields brief and simple. Nobody wants to fill out dozens of fields or type in their mother’s maiden name. Make sure you have a low barrier of entry so you can get this budding relationship to continue.
Don’t stop there. Measure your landing page results — and adapt
Your website isn’t a crockpot; don’t just set it and forget it. Make a small investment so that you can conduct A/B testing of various messaging or different campaigns.
Or employ heat-mapping analytics to show you which parts of your page draw the most clicks — and how far down your users will scroll before they move on to another corner of the Internet.
Then, rethink the pieces of your page that need the most attention, make strategic changes — and start the process all over again. Because while you won’t get a second chance at a first impression for every visitor who comes your way, you do have the ability change the first impression your next visitor will see.