What’s your goal?...for your website, I mean.
What is the purpose of your website and are you using landing pages to achieve your goal?
Your goal may be;
- Generate Leads for your offline activities
- Sell a widget
- Deliver a software download
- Sell an online course
Whatever it is for you, there is the task of building leads, signups. We’ve got to offer our visitors a reason to engage with us and keep coming back. We’ve got to convince them we are a good fit for their needs.
So How Do We Convince Them?
In short, we need to convince our visitors to join our mailing list, and the vehicle that we use to do the convincing is The Landing Page. But not any old landing page will do, you need a high converting landing page.
The key to building your email list is that the first point of contact and so the effectiveness of your landing pages becomes very important. A poorly designed landing page or none at all, will mean no signups, no downloads, no leads, no sales…. Tumbleweed.
So we’re gonna take a look at how to build a high converting landing page, but first let’s look at why email marketing is such a good channel.
There are of course other online marketing channels, but none are as effective as the email channel.
Because people generally are very protective of their email address. They will only give it up if they think they will gain (or not lose) in some way by giving it to you.
How Do I know?
I Ran A Little Survey...
You know, probably not unlike you, I have read buckets of email marketing articles explaining why the email channel is the best channel for online.
But those surveys are not particular to me so I wanted to know how the people closest to me, the people I’d done business with in the past, used their email.
I decided it would be a good idea to run my own survey.
I created a Surveymonkey Survey with 10 questions and fired it out via my gmail account to about 600 people, and also posted it to Facebook.
Here’s some of what I got back.
Question; Do you tend to use a business or private email when signing up for a newsletter?
As you can see, almost 80% of respondents use their private email address. This means they want a personal relationship with you, and for me, it reinforced Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing philosophy.
When someone gives you their email address it’s like they’ve just opened the front door and welcomed you in.
Once you “get in the door” it’s good to keep in mind, how you would like and expect someone you just met to behave if you invited them into your home.
If words like respectful, pleasant, helpful, courteous, friendly, grateful, etc. come to mind then you’re on the right track.
Overbearing, forceful, salesy, hard selling, spammy content to our inboxes over the years has given email a bad rap in some quarters and that’s obviously not the way to go.
Treat your email subscribers as you would if you entered their home for the first time, remain respectful of their privacy, be helpful, and you’ll nurture a strong relationship.
Here’s the first question I asked; How eager are you to sign up for newsletters online?
2% of respondents to this question said sharing their email was not a difficulty for them. (That’s tiny!)
60% said they are choosey about sharing their email.
24% said they will share it if they feel the source is reputable or of value
14% said they don’t like sharing their email at all.
So from these results I could see that with 84% of people who were likely to visit my newly built website, I’d have a bit of work to do in presenting them a valid case for subscribing.
None the less, email marketing is still perfect for small business. Your subscribers want to know you and email allows you the opportunity to do so.
Watch Out For The Gmail Promotions Tab!
A little while ago Google introduced a system of email categorisation for Gmail users. The new categories were;
Personally I don’t like using them because I want to filter my mail personally. I want to ensure that the email I want to read get to me first time.
The Primary tab is where I want my newsletter delivered, but it doesn’t always work out that way. If your subscribers use the Gmail categories than chances are your newsletter emails may end up in a category other than Primary.
To make sure your email has a better chance of ending up in the Primary Tab of Gmail subscribers inboxes, there’s a few things you can do;
- Avoid using RSS Newsletters.
- Use no, or few pictures in your newsletter
- Use Merge Tags to name your subscriber in your email
- Don’t write spammy headlines
- Write in a conversational tone
- Number your emails in your Autoresponder series i.e. etc.
- Ask your subscribers to add your emails to the Primary Tab. Do this in your “Confirm Your Subscription” Page.
There are other steps you can take to avoid the Promotions Tab. Check out this advice from Copyblogger on how to avoid the Promotions Tab in Gmail
Enter The Opt-In Landing Page: Your Opportunity To WOW Your Visitors
Landing Pages are the front line in Email List Building, and how well you deliver this first impression to your website visitor will determine whether or not she gets on board with you.
There’s all kinds of Landing Page for all kinds of products and services, so understanding which type is right for your offering is important.
We’re gonna stick to the Opt-In Landing Page here, given that building an email list is the primary goal.
The Opt-In Landing Page
The Opt-In landing page can take various forms, but generally you would use it to offer a free download or a direct request to subscribe to your list.
Most advice will advocate a “Subscribe” link to your Opt-In page in your main navigation, and I’d go along with that.
If well established brands like James Clear can use this simple tactic then it’s good enough for me too.
When you click that link and go to James Clear’s Opt-In Landing Page you will see a very simple but obviously effective layout.
He has a couple of key elements that I want to break out for you.
James Clear’s headline is a very simple one, but it has that all important word “Free”. Everyone wants a good deal. They want to feel like there’s overwhelming value in what’s on offer.
They want to benefit.
James Clear is a go-to man for many high profile business people so in this case when he offers his thoughts and words for Free, it becomes compelling.
The Sub Headline
The Sub Headline builds on the Headline and offers the reader a little more insight into what’s on offer.
In this case the offer is “Honest strategies and proven science for living”. It’s James Clear for crying out loud! I’m in already!
In the case of the introduction, it’s as short and sweet as you are going to get. He merely demonstrates that there are only a couple hundred thousand list members that receive his updates.
If benefits are needed, he breaks them down for the reader and you should too. Outline what your reader will gain in terms of benefit to them, from joining your list. Don’t confuse benefits with features though. They are not the same.
James Clear includes a bonus in his outro and you can too. What’s happening here is that he is taking you to the realization of a promise. The vision of you in a better place.
Taking your reader to the realization of the promise you made is an important element in your closing statement. and you should include it not only in your landing pages but your articles too.
The Call To Action Title
The Call To Action Title basically gives the visitor a direct instruction for what to do next. It’s important because believe it or not, without it you can lose subscribers. Be clear (pardon the pun) and concise about what you want people to do on your page.
The Opt-In box should be kept to a bare minimum as can be seen above. All that James Clear has is an email address field and the button to subscribe.
This type of Opt-In Box is known as a “Single Step” Opt-In Box and is where the opt-in form elements are immediately on the page. (I’ll show you a two step opt-in later).
If you must, add a field for “First Name” but leave it at that. I like to include the “First Name” field because it adds a bit of a personal touch when sending out my newsletter.
Don’t add a whole pile of fields like “surname”, “phone number”, “address” etc because you’ll reduce subscriptions.
You’ll also note in the Opt-In box there is a small anti-spam notice. Include this too, as it helps to show your subscriber that you care about their security.
James Clear also includes a link to send him an email directly which shows he is approachable. Allowing yourself to always be approachable makes you human, and shows you care.
So when you hit the Big Time make sure you remember this one!
Appreciation & Acknowledgement
This one is not always seen in Opt-In forms but here it works well and serves to show that James Clear appreciates everyone on his list (in his community) and demonstrates his experience and expertise working at a high level. It also demonstrates further value to potential subscribers.
This one plays a vital role in convincing your visitors it’s a good idea to join you. People don’t want to get a raw deal or seem stupid, they need security. So providing them proof from others that you are sound as a bell is important.
Testimonials from clients will also work well on your subscribe page. If you don’t have clients yet, then get some friends or other advocate to offer a testimonial.
The Opt-In Landing Page With Sign-Up Incentive
Also know as an Ethical Bribe, an Opt-In Bribe, or a Lead Magnet, it’s basically a free download in exchange for an email address.
This free download could any one of the following;
- An eBook
- A Checklist
- A White Paper
- A Report
- A Software Trial
- A Set Of Design Files
- A List Of Recommended Tools
- A How To Guide
You’re really only limited by your own imaginations. Just make sure it’s something that your target audience value.
The better you make it, the better it will be received.
I’m building better and more valuable free resources right now, but when I began I decided to get something simple out there to test the water. You should do something similar.
I’m a bit of a nerdlinger, so when I started building my Landing Pages I decided that I’d try offering a Free Google Analytics Implementation Checklist to those who came to my site.
It proved reasonably successful and at the time of writing this I’ve managed 35% conversion rate from that page.
It’s not a very complicated page, and you’ll see that many of the elements I highlighted on James Clear’s Subscribe Page are present on that Google Analytics Download Page.
- The Brand Logo
- The Headline
- The Sub Headline
- The Introduction
- Product Image (An image really helps sell your offer)
- Benefits to the subscriber
- The Opt-In Box. This is a Two-Step opt-in box. That is to say, when you click the “Download Now” button you are presented with a popup in which you then enter your details.
- The Outro. I could have done a better job with my outro on this page, but the principle remains the same regardless. The job of the outro to place the reader in the place where they’ve completed the task that your information promises them.
Tips For Building An Optimized Opt-In Landing Page
Keep a 4:1 or 3:1 layout ratio These ratios are popular and are effective, so when you're building your pages make sure to use them. Tools like LeadPages have this already built into the templates which means we don't have to start from scratch.
However, if you are building your landing page with the WordPress editor, use column layouts to achieve this.
Leave Plenty of White Space
White space is your friend. Plenty of white space makes the elements of your page stand out better. Keep it simple, don't add too many elements overcrowding the page. Overcrowding with too much info creates indecisiveness on the part of your visitor. Less is more peeps!
Don't use a busy Homepage as a Landing Page
Busy blog or homepages don't work as landing pages and are very poor at converting for the very reason stated above. Create a homepage like this one which has only two options- subscribe, or go to the blog.
Remove Site Navigation
Keep your visitors options to a minimum. Remember, you want them to give you their email address, not navigate all over your site. Remove the any navigation from your landing page and leave only 1 or 2 options. These extend to “Signup” or exit your site.
That’s the way you want it. Less is more.
Keep CTA Form info to a Minimum
Use a name field and an email field only where possible. This is the most effective call-to-action (CTA) combination. The more info you ask for in your CTA Form, the more likely your visitor will leave without converting. Keep it simple.
If you are building the page yourself directly within the WordPress editor then you’ll need to grab a small piece of code for your CTA form from your newsletter provider and embed it in your new page.
I use Mailchimp. You can check out how to create and embed your CTA form using Mailchimp right here.
Keep your CTA above the fold
In other words, don't make your visitor have to scroll down the page to take action. Make the call-to-action (CTA) button visible immediately they arrive to the page so they can see exactly what they need to do next.
Place the CTA on the right hand side of the page. You’ll want to do this because the reader’s eye will travel left to right, and then to the bottom right hand corner. Just like it does when we read a book.
Redirect to a Thank You page
This is an opportunity that you may be missing. Redirect your user to a thank you page after they convert. Apart from simply being courteous, you are placing yourself in a place of appreciation and that has enormous positive effects.
You can set up links to your own Thank You pages from within your Newsletter provider, but you’ll need to build them first from within WordPress.
Include Social Share options on Thank You page
Include social share buttons to allow your converted visitor to share your landing page with their network as I mentioned above. Make it easy for subscribers to share your content. Trust me it works, and gives you a real lift when you get a mention on Twitter.
Include an image of you on Thank You page
If you are your brand then include an image of you in the thank you page. An image of you makes it personal and shows your subscriber that you are a real person. It helps you make a further connection with your subscriber.
Brand logos are fine however, you’ll need to make it personal even if you are a big brand. Corporate is sterile and impersonal. Remember, you’re trying to connect with people and form a relationship so let them know who you are.
Give Away A Free Resource
Creating a free resource, as referred to above, is a great way to attract subscriptions. Compile a checklist and use a tool like Canva to create a tasty looking pdf.
Give your subscribers an ebook or an audio download. Or how about offering a bunch of free video lessons?
Test Your Landing Page!
Test the landing page and download delivery flow. If there is an error anywhere you want to find it! Holes in your flow is a bad buzz and will lose you conversions.
Premium Landing Page Solutions
There are many providers to choose from, from free WordPress Plugins, to Premium Service providers.
I tend to go with the old adage; You Get What You Pay For.
Cheap can be expensive, know what I mean?
I use LeadPages and I’ve got to say it’s brillo! I’ve used other providers and I’ve also tried free options, but these guys make it so easy.
It integrates with all the major newsletter providers and it’s super simple to set up the integration. If you can afford the monthly subscription then go for it. It’s a no brainer in my opinion.
The basic LeadPages package is $25/month paid annually.
Like LeadPages, Unbounce is one of the big players in the Landing Page creation space. I’ve not used Unbounce but from the research I’ve done it seems to be an equally good option to go for.
Any of you guys use Unbounce? Let us know how you found it in the comments below.
The Unbounce basic package is $49/ month, and it comes with a 30 day free trial.
Instapage is another one of the big players. The good thing from a user perspective is that you can sign up for a free account and test things out.
They offer a free starter account however the features are limited, but at least it allows you test drive the product on your own time before committing.
Paid accounts start at $29/month
Landerapp is the new kid on the block. Their templates are basic compared to LeadPages or Unbounce but may be more suited to simple Opt-In pages that we have detailed above.
Just like the others, Landerapp integrates with most of the major newsletter providers.
You can get a 14 day free trial and prices start at $22/month for the basic plan paid annually.
Thrive Themes is very popular and seems to offer some really good value. They have an upfront fee of $97 and then $20/month. What I like about their offer is that you get to use the application on an unlimited number of websites.
All templates are customizable from directly within WordPress. If I wasn’t with LeadPages I’d definitely give these guys a go.
Like the others, Optimizepress is a popular choice. However I evaluated their offer a while back and I decided against it.
Installing and editing templates are done from within WordPress. Pricing starts at $29/month.
Landing Page Evaluation
I’m only touching on some of the more popular landing page solutions here. There are many other providers to choose from. Check out these resources to help you decide what landing page solution is right for you;
- Bloggingwizard; 5 Powerful WordPress Plugins That Make Landing Page Creation Easy
- Razor Social; Landing Page Software: LeadPages Versus Unbounce
- Crazy Egg; 7 Best Services For One-Click Landing Pages That Convert
- Incomemesh; The Ultimate Guide to Landing Page Builders (Review & Comparison, Hands-on)
- Autopilot; 6 Best Of Breed Landing Page Builders
FREE Landing Page Solutions
If you are on the ball when you first build your website, you’ll select a theme that includes landing pages as a feature. Check out this list of WordPress landing page themes, or this list of suggestions from Elegant Themes.
If your theme doesn’t have landing page functionality build in, then you’ll need to add a plugin. I’m not a fan of any of the free landing page plugins out there because they mostly don’t have the functionality required.
I just never found one that was any good. If you want to use a free landing page solution check out this evaluation from wpmudev.
A word of warning; with free themes and plugins you rarely get any kind of support, so if things go belly-up then you are on your own. Free plugins from unreputable sources can also break your site, and critically, can also allow malware script access your installation.
Trust me, it’s not cool when this happens. Any of the free plugins available that are even worth talking about only have basic functionality which can be upgraded at a price.
In this other comparison post from wpmudev, they offer an evaluation of both paid and free plugin solutions.
Every page on your site essentially is a landing page, and as such you must endeavor to optimize them for your visitors. Keep it simple, don’t over cook it.
Too much information on too many topics on a single page confuses. Ever see the plumber driving down the road with so much information on his van you can read none of it?
Well, your website is the same as the plumbers van, only it’s your visitors that are moving fast. They’ll be off you site quicker than a toupee in a hurricane.
So you’ve got to make it easy for them to see what you want them to see. If they choose not to opt in then fine. That’s a result too.
Understand your customers’/visitors’ needs acutely, and offer them what they are looking for. Be as focused in your delivery as possible and use a quality landing page solution to showcase it and you’ll capture the qualified leads you are looking for.
You will eventually build a strong list of members who value what you’ve got to offer.
As a final take away, I’d suggest that you not be in a hurry to build a big list. A small list of qualified members who value your offering is way more valuable than a big list full of junk.
Take your time and focus on quality not quantity.
What’s been your experience with Landing Pages? Have you used any of the above solutions, or maybe one I’ve not mentioned?
Let us know in the comments below.