I think this is the best place to post this, but if not, feel free to move it.
Recently I've been attempting to streamline and standardize my business and all the work that goes into it. Part of this was attempting to define what exactly goes into creating a successful landing page. Though I'm sure the list still needs some work, I think I've covered most of the big stuff.
As I was turning my notes into something more usable, it dawned on me that this may be of valuable to some of you here. I've added to the list, so that it makes sense to people other than myself. I think it will help the beginners here in particular, but I hope some of you more seasoned pros can gain something from it too.
Background and Research
Before you jump into creating your landing page, you need to do your research. Here are some things to consider beforehand, so the rest of the process can go smoothly.
__ Define your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Without going into too much detail, your UVP is a brief description of what you have to offer, and why it is better than all your competitor's. This is probably the most important step, and will be one of the main focuses of your landing page. If you are unable to define your UVP, it's probably a good idea to go back to the product development phase and figure out a way to make your product better than all the others.
__ Define your offer and benefits. What exactly will you be offering to visitors of this page? In what specific ways will readers benefit from your offer?
__ Define your audience. Who are the people that will be receiving your message and what are they like? You can shine some light on this question by either analysing your own traffic, or using a service like Quantcast to see the demographics of authority sites in your niche.
Creating Personas. One extremely helpful exercise for me is to create a number of personas to whom you'll be selling to. This helps to visualize your customers and get in their heads a little bit more. While you're writing your copy, try to imagine how your various personas will react. I've included an example persona for a skin care product below. It's stupidly simple, but it does help.
-24 year old
-Has had bad skin for a long time now, and was teased about it in high school.
-She has yet to find a solution to her skin care problems, but due to tuition costs, she can't afford to try new products very often.
__ Define buyer objections. The whole point of your copy is to help the buyer mentally progress from wherever they are in the buy cycle, to the point of conversion. A big part of doing this includes breaking down any objections they may have to making that purchase or entering their email. Define them early on so you can uncover other possible objections as the copy develops.
__ Define the purpose of your landing page. You probably know what you'd like to accomplish at this point. It's still a good idea to write it down now, so you don't lose focus once you dive in. Go for the direct sale, or offer them something in exchange for their contact info, but don't attempt to accomplish both with a single landing page.
The Headline and Subheadlines
It's no secret that a strong headline is essential to the success of your campaign. So important that I often spend more time on the headline than I do on all the rest of the copy. A good headline will grab the reader's attention, and will evoke an emotion that entices them to read on.
__ Is your landing page's headline relevant to the ad/source they arrived from? You want to make sure there's a smooth transition between the ad and your landing page. Don't entice them with a story about a 34 year old mother of two, that llost 40 lbs., and then direct them to a review of the product.
__ Does the headline include your product's primary benefit?
__ Does the headline tie into the first paragraph of the main body of copy? Most of the hard work is drawing the reader in with your headline. Don't waste it all by throwing them off at the very beginning with some irrelevant point.
__ Do your subheadlines help the reader transition between paragraphs/id0eas?
__ Reading through the headline and subheadlines, from start to finish, does the offer/pitch still make sense? Many visitors will skim through your landing page, paying attention only to headlines, and largely ignoring the copy in between. This is especially true of long form sales letters. Copy that can be basically understood, with the headlines/subheadlines alone, will help keep skimmers engaged through to the final call-to-action.
After the headline, your CTA is arguably the next most important element on your landing page. Its purpose is to gently nudge the visitor to convert into a customer. CTA can refer to the button or link itself, or more generally, anything the prompts the user to take action.
__ Is your CTA above the fold? It may be more appropriate to have your CTA near the end of your long form landing pages. However, when it comes to short form (and sometimes long form) formats, you should almost always place the CTA above the fold, so the visitor can start mentally preparing for the next step, right away. Be sure to keep the action itself consistent throughout.
__ Is your CTA repeated throughout your landing page? I'll often include multiple instance of my call to action, particularly when dealing with long form sales letters. If you're utilizing a short form lander longer than a single page, it's a good idea to include a CTA at the end of your page as well, in addition to the CTA above the fold. The saves the visitor from having to scroll back to the top.
__ Is your CTA free of generic verbs? Action words like "Submit" or "Click Here" are so cliché that many readers are likely to subconsciously block them from their minds, resulting in a lower CTR. Substitute these duds for more descriptive actions like "Get Your Free eBook" or "Claim Your Free Trial Now"
__ Does your CTA promote a sense of urgency? You want your reader to convert right now, so don't readily give them the option to come back later, while they think about it. Give them an ultimatum such as "only 300 copies left" or "On Sale for Only 24 Hours!"
__ Does your CTA accurately represent the action that follows? People hate to feel like they've been deceived, so tricking your visitors into clicking isn't likely to do you much good. If your product is going to cost something, don't be afraid to claim so.
__ Does your CTA focus on what they'll receive, rather than what they'll need to get it? Although you want to be upfront about the price of your product, that doesn't mean you have to remind them that they'll be forking over their money. The CTA, if effective, is the last thing they'll see before buying. To put it bluntly, the final thought you want running through their brain is how they'll be benefiting, not what it will cost. Try "Get the Solution To All Your Acne Problems" instead of "Buy Your Copy Now for Only $19.95".
__ Is your CTA graphic sufficiently eye-grabbing? Bigger is almost always better when it comes to the size of your CTA image and/or text. Increase the size of your CTA until it's almost too big, then make it 25% bigger.
Social Proof and Credibility
If you want your visitors to take your offer seriously, and trust you enough to give you their payment information. You can contribute to your credibility by incorporating symbols that carry authority into your design. But when it comes to credibility, social proof is king.
__ Are there any authority symbols that you can include in your design? Verisign, credit card logos, Consumer Reviews, awards, etc.
__ Are there any testimonials already available? If not, are there buyers that testimonials can be elicited from?
__ Are there photos that can be paired with your testimonials? Given that testimonials can be so easily fake, photos add a great deal of credibility. Stock photos work, but real photos are better.
__ Do you have a large social network following that you can utilize? Showing off your 5000 Facebook fans lends a lot to social proof. Facebook also epitomizes distraction, so be careful with this one. You probably want to test the benefits of adding such proof, to make sure you aren't just bouncing all your traffic off to Facebook.
Put your money where your mouth is.
__ Does your offer include a guarantee? Though not required, backing your offer with a guarantee shows you have faith in your product.
__ Are you offering more than a 100% guarantee? 100% guarantees have become the standard, so your offer will need a little more zing in order to stand out. This can be done by dressing up your guarantee with simple adjectives like "Iron-Clad" or "Unconditional". Another popular tactic, often utilized when selling info products, is to let the buyer keep the bonus products, even if they request a refund. This show that you have so much faith in your product that you're essentially willing to bet money on it.
- Some people like to use conditional guarantees like "Give our supplement an honest try. If you aren't 100% satisfied with the results, tell us why, and we'll send you a refund." Though this may reduce returns, it also gives the impression that they will have to explain themselves to you in order to receive a refund. I prefer to employ a "no questions asked" return policy, as it isn't as likely to bring rise to any new buyer objections.
__ Is lead capture the primary goal of your landing page? If not, don't include a form. Directing your visitors towards two separate points of conversion will dilute the effectiveness of both. That said, I do believe capturing a lead, and then selling to them (multiple times) is generally the best way to go, rather than going for the upfront sale. However, both should be utilized.
__ Are you offering them something valuable in return for their information? Asking visitors to enter their information, so you can contact them is all fine and dandy. But, obviously, offering them something in exchange can be quite enticing. A full eBook, free white paper or consultations will suffice, but the more unique the offer, the better.
__ Are there any unnecessary fields that can be removed from your form? If you're slinging local services, you may need to ask for a location. Nine times out of ten, getting just their ZIP code will suffice, so can probably remove the fields for their full mailing address. The same goes for email collection. You need their name and email, AT MOST. Sometimes just the email will do.
__ Is your "submit" button descriptive? "Submit" and "Send" area as boring as you can get. Add some excitement and remind them again why they're filling out their information. Try something like "Yes, send me my FREE eBook!" instead.
__ Is your form headed by a strong call to action? This should be somewhat of a hybrid between call-to-action and headline. It should call the reader's attention from the rest of the page, inform them of the main benefit, and tell them what to do next.
__ Are you calling attention to your capture form? You want to call attention to your form, so it's reader knows what they're expected to do next. A simple change in background color or adding an arrow could work. Or you can really step it up, and position stock photos of people that appear to be looking/pointing at your form.
__ Have you assured your viewership that you won't share their info? Assuming you won't be sharing their info, let them know that their info is safe. This may be the only thing keeping visitors from converting, so help eliminate this objection for them.
Landing Page Copy (General)
__ Is your copy short, sweet and to the point? Long form sales letters aren't successful because of their word count. In fact, long form sales letters that ramble on without purpose are almost guaranteed to be failures. Get to the point, move on, and don't repeat yourself too often. Every word must serve a purpose. Remove any that don't.
__ Are your paragraphs short? I always try to keep my paragraphs down between 1 and 3 sentences. Great for skimming.
__ Have you backed up your claims? Making extravagant claims about your product is fantastic, but only if you have the facts to back it up. Consumers will take mental note of claims that you have failed to back up, and is likely to hurt your credibility.
__ Have you avoided cliché one-liners? Lines like "Once-in-a-Lifetime opportunity" and "But wait, there's more...!" aren't going to do your sales pitch any justice. They are tacky, and are likely to be ignored by readers, or worse, turn them off altogether.
__ Is your voice/tone in sync with your audience? This one is hopefully obvious, but here it is just in case. Starting off your letter with "Hey bro" isn't likely to hit home with jewelry shoppers, though it may be exactly what you need for your NO2 workout supplement offer. You want to appear to be "one of them" and speaking to them in a familiar language will accomplish just that. Using industry-specific phrases and slang that only a true enthusiast would know helps in this regard as well.
__ Can you personalize the visitor experience? A personalized message can grab their attention and entice them to read more. You see this often when people sub in city names with dating and local lead gen offers.
Landing Page Design (General)
__ Do all elements of the design serve a purpose? Remove unnecessary clutter to avoid distracting your visitors from the path to conversion. Plain, monochrome designs can perform just as well their bubbly, web2.0 counterparts, if not better.
__ Are there any unnecessary links or navigational elements that can be removed? The purpose of your landing page is to direct your visitors to conversion. Unless you have an unusually complex offer, a single page is ideal for maintaining their focus down the path to conversion. If you must link to additional information, consider including the info in something like a jquery popup or blending the links so much that they're barely visible.
__ Have you edited your copy?
__ Do all your links work?
__ Have you sought feedback from peers?
__ Have you have installed tracking software? (Google Analytics, Piwik, P202, ClickTale, etc.)
__ Do you have variations of the landing page copy lined up to test?
__ Do you have variations of the landing page design lined up to test?
__ Have you completed the above checklist?
Congrats, there's a good chance you just created a killer landing page!
As I said, this is a work in progress, so please let me know what you think, and I'll try to keep this updated with new suggestions.
Also accepting criticisms and questions.