Time to read: 6 minutes
With this post I want to show you the bigger picture and give you an idea about how all the elements of a landing page work together.
How landing pages work
Landing pages are meant to request something in exchange for access to your software (when it comes to software companies, that is). What you want in exchange can be money or an email, or a phone number, or something else.
That exchange is a “sale”, in a sense.
So, to make your landing page convert, you need an idea of how selling things works.
How selling things works
Have you ever found yourself purchasing a new type of coffee grind from those promotional stands in the department store?
How did that person even convince you to give up on your Green Mountain Vermont Country Blend?
The answer is long and complex, but, generally, they know what to say to attract your attention, they know what to say to spike your interest, they know what to say to make you want to try out the new product and they know when to ask you to take action.
Selling both online and offline works generally the same way.
Your landing page has to be your trained salesman.
The recipe for a basic landing page
Step #1: Attract attention
The first message that you send with your landing page, the first impression of people about your product, company and service is formed in the first 8-10 seconds.
And the first impression has to be that this landing page is about something that can help your potential customers.
That’s what will make them pay attention.
It’s the job of your headline + subheadline + hero image to grab the visitor’s attention in the first few seconds of visiting your landing page.
For example, here’s Unbounce’s landing page that manages to give you quite a lot of information and benefits of using their app in as much as 10 seconds:
But getting attention is the easy peasy bit.
Step #2: Spike interest
After you’ve got their attention, you want to spike interest.
The problem is that people don’t read on the internet, they scan. So, they won’t start reading your copy word for word even if you managed to get their attention.
To get a better overview, your website visitors will likely scroll and scan the page.
To spike their interest and make them read in more detail about your offer, you have to make your landing page scan-friendly.
Here’s what people notice while scanning:
- Bolded/italicized text
- Bullet points
- The bottom line (last sentence, P.S., last call to action)
Put your main benefits in these positions.
For example, here’s a very scan-friendly page. Basically, you’d read 90% of it while just scanning:
Step #3: Pique desire
If you manage to get people’s interest while they are merely glimpsing at your landing page, the next thing you want to do is make them want to get your product. You have to explain exactly how you help them.
That’s the job of your benefits + features. They form the meat of your landing page.
For example, here’s again a piece of Unbounce’s landing page:
Few rules of thumb for presenting the benefits + features to help you do a brilliant job like Unbounce:
- Use benefits as headings. This way, people are more likely to read the paragraph below
- Mention the feature that provides the benefit in the paragraph
- If there is a picture that illustrates the desired result (benefit), include it.
Step #4: Inspire trust
Most people are wary of even giving up their email on an unknown website, not to mention their credit card details.
To convert your website visitor, you have to give that person a reason to trust you.
Trust indicators are social proof (comments, testimonials), previous experience, mentions by influencers and so on. Anything that qualifies you or your product as fit to solve the problem the potential customer is having.
The more proof you have of the authenticity of your testimonials, the better.
Bringing another piece of Unbounce’s landing page to your attention:
Note how they included a picture of the person who gave them the testimonial. Yes, it could be staged, but, at least, you’re certain that a living and breathing person said these things.
Note: If I were you, I’d avoid adding that strip of logos of big brands on my landing page, unless I have actual proof that I worked with these brands.
If I’ve worked with them, I would ask them for a testimonial and publish that.
Step #5: The call to action
You can read about naming your call to action in detail here. In summary:
- Your landing page should have one and only one goal.
- After you’ve grabbed attention, spiked interest, piqued desire and presented trust indicators, you can ask people to take action
- the name of your call to action is very important. A lot of people will back off in the last minute if the call to action text suggests that they have to put in a lot of effort (e.g. “Register now” suggests that you have to fill out a long boring form. Not sexy.), or to give up something, etc. The name of the call to action has to be benefit-oriented. It has to emphasize what people will get or what they can do after they click on that button.
Here’s a call to action that satisfies all of these requirements:
Step #6: Tackle objections
A lot of the people that visit your landing page will be skeptical, especially when you’re selling something.
If you were a salesman doing this live, it would be easier for you. Some people would state their worries and objections, or at least make a face. But since you’re building a landing page, your potential customers are behind screens. You have to guess what their concerns might be.
By tackling objections, I simply mean that you should make a list of FAQs and publish it at the end of the landing page, right before your last call to action.
At first, you’ll have to guess what the FAQs are. With time, when people start contacting you and asking real questions, you will be able to refine this list of questions.
Step #7: Spice it up
Now that you’ve prepared a nice tasty landing page, you can afford to spice it up a bit to increase your conversion rate.
Use these “spices” with caution, though. If your goal is only to trick people into giving up their email so that you can spam them, you will still get exactly 0 sales. If your goal is to sell a crappy product, you will still get refunds and rants all over social media.
So, please use these responsibly.
Everyone loves being different and special in some way. We seek ways to feel more successful, more skilled, more experienced in comparison to other people. On a deep level, this is our need for self-actualization.
Now, in terms of sales & marketing, this means that, generally, people like it when they have exclusive access to some content or an app.
Startup beta landing pages rely heavily on exclusivity to make more people sign up.
But exclusivity is not just about saying “Hey, get exclusive access to SomeUnknownSaaS”. Nobody actually wants that.
To employ exclusivity, work on your offer first. When your potential users actually want the product, saying that you’re giving exclusive access to a select few will in fact boost your conversions.
Here I’m going to use an example a startup beta landing page that is all spiced up and a piece of copywriting art:
Another trick you can use to make people act right away is urgency.
Urgency is usually about time limits, e.g.:
This offer is valid in the next 3 hours
Urgency takes advantage of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). If you don’t act right away, you miss the deal. It’s over.
That’s why a lot of Groupon offers are time limited.
But this trick works very well on startup landing pages, too:
The landing page recipe in a nutshell
- Attract attention. Use your headline + subheadline + hero image to do that. State the main benefit in the headline. Use the subheadline to clarify and support the headline. Convey your message visually through the hero image
- Spike interest. Make your page scan-friendly. Place your benefits on the easiest to notice spots—headings, bullet points, bolded/italicized text, bottom line.
- Spark desire. Now that your reader is interested in learning more about your offer, you can afford to tell them a bit more about your product. Present the benefits + features in small paragraphs.
- Inspire trust. Tell people why you are fit to tackle the problem that your product is solving.
- Call to action. It’s important to ask your visitor explicitly to take action after you’ve done all of the above.
- Tackle objections. Make a list of FAQs to help relieve your visitor’s anxiety and encourage them to take action now.
- Spice it up. It doesn’t hurt to add a little bit of exclusivity or urgency on your landing page.