Your website performance is only as good as the first page a visitor lands on. Whether it be your home page or other landing page, if visitors don’t like what they see, within that short 3-second window of visiting, they’ll leave and search elsewhere.
The landing page sets the scene and relays to a visitor whether you are right for them. It must impress that user enough that they’ll follow your invitation to view other information, opt-in in to an offer, purchase something or contact you – if they don’t, they’ll go down in your analytics as a bounce.
Landing Page Definitions
- Landing Page: The first page a person visits within your website after clicking a link from a Google Search result or perhaps a link in an email or referring website.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors that leave your website after viewing only the page in question. That is, those visitors don’t continue browsing other pages within your website. A high bounce rate might indicate that a page hasn’t offered the visitor what they were expecting or they are not compelled by your information to browse further through your site. Of course, they may have learnt all they need to from that single page visit.
- Hero Image: In web design, a hero image is the preeminent image on a web page, generally within the top cover area of the site. The hero image is often the first visual element a visitor encounters on the site; it presents a summary of the page’s USP or value Proposition.
- Cover Area: In web design, we refer to the visible area at the top of the page as the Cover Area. It’s like the cover of a book, giving an overview of what’s on this page and why you should keep reading and scrolling.
- Website Conversions: A website conversion is when a visitor completes a desired action on a website, whether that is to complete a product purchase, sign up for your newsletter, reach a certain page, download a whitepaper, or fill out a lead/contact form. Your Conversion Rate is the percentage of visitors who take a desired action. The process of improving the conversion rate is called Conversion Rate Optimisation.
- Lead Capture Page: A landing page with the goal of capturing a lead’s contact details for further follow up. Lead capture forms will be used to gather just an email address or more detail including name, location or answers to specific profiling questions. Incentives are usually offered to entice us to provide that information including free downloads, product discounts or valuable newsletters sent to our inbox.
So, what is the anatomy of an effective landing page or home page – one that delivers the wow-factor and encourages visitors to continue and complete a conversion or reach a goal. Here’s 5 crucial elements to ensure your home or landing page converts visitors into customers…
#1. A Compelling Value Proposition
When people visit your website do they immediately know what’s in it for them? A good business home page is one that is able to quickly and effectively communicate the purpose of your business.
A value proposition is more than who you are and what you do – it’s your argument of why your customers should buy from you. It has to go beyond what you sell and focus on why it matters to your prospect.
Your Value Proposition is like the 30 second elevator pitch you’d give to someone, explaining why your brand is so unique and compelling. But on a website, it’s not just conveyed in words – it’s the design tone and manner, the colours, the headline, the images and copy that make up the compelling proposition. Think of it like a clever billboard; design and copy all wrapped up to convey a quick yet persuasive message.
Your Value Proposition could well be explained in your marketing plan in 1-2 paragraphs, or perhaps a page or two, but on a web page we convey it over several page elements, collectively telling your story or conveying an offer:
a) A Captivating Headline
The headline is the first thing someone is likely to read on your home or landing page. It’s going to define the Value Proposition of the offer on this page, if not your entire business. So, it has to pique interest, grab attention and most importantly provide an immediate understanding of your product or specific offer.
b) Persuasive Support Statements
Often your main headline will need extra explanation through support copy following the headline or a fuller introductory statement clarifying your proposition or offer. We’re not talking about the detailed page copy but large and clear statements throughout the page that remind us of the principal Value Proposition.
These support statements will go into slightly more depth and detail than the main headline.
c) A Strong Hero Image
While no means compulsory for a great page, we can amplify the Value Proposition and support the headline with an appropriate hero image. Most of hero images are photographs which directly relate to the content but vector backgrounds, illustrated artwork, and even animated video could work equally as well.
#2. Supporting Benefits
Your prospects will have questions they want answered or a set or requirements they need addressed or a compulsion to read about the marvellous ways you can benefit them through your product or service. Benefits underpin the value proposition and summarise what’s in it for the prospect.
Benefits are conveyed on a landing page to convince a prospect that your product or service or offer is right for them and they should take the next step.
You could outline your benefits over 3-4 headlines with more explanatory copy for each benefit. Or you could summarise your benefit with a list of bullet points. Keep the copy easy to read and speak the language of your customer.
Remember, while features describe what it does, benefits describe the problem you are solving from the prospects perspective.
#3. Social Proof
Social proof involves the use of social signals to illustrate that other people have bought, visited, trialled, or used a product or service and endorsed it through their participation, continued use or reviews. It’s the inference that if they liked it, then there is a good chance you will to.
Social proof could be in the form of:
- Popularity by virtue of number of signups
- A count of customers or sales orders
- Personal testimonials from customers
- Client case studies
- Positive customer reviews and ratings
- Ratings from review sites
- Awards from reputable organisations
- Identification of business customers through use of their logos
- Trust seals to confirm information security
- Celebrity endorsements
- References to articles published in reputable news sites
#4. The Call to Action (CTA)
Almost all of your marketing content should have well-crafted call to actions designed to drive action. There’s little point in sending an email or running a radio advert unless you have a clear call to action.
A Call to Action (also referred to as a CTA) is a piece of content intended to persuade a user to perform a specific task — which might be purchasing your product, signing up for your newsletter, or clicking through to a landing page.
Perhaps the ultimate call to action is about completing a sale but often we simply want to move a prospect further though our sales funnel; from acquiring an email address by offering something of value, viewing a video or simply reading more about your over on another page.
In the most common online example, a CTA is a combination of words or phrases usually encapsulated within a button, that seek to stimulate action. A typical call to action example would like something like this:
#5. Optimised for Mobile
While not strictly an on-page feature, its now important than ever that you home or landing page is optimised for mobile browsing. Not only are mobile optimised pages better for SEO and page ranking with google but they also make for a better user experience.
Optimising for mobile isn’t just about reconfiguring headlines, copy, images and CTAs to fit a mobile screen. It might include changing, adding or removing content for the right mobile experience or including sticky CTAs, eg. an always present “Add to cart” button for an ecommerce page, or GPS functionality for a user to find the closest dealer.
Whether it be a home page, a lead capture page for a Adwords campaign or a special promotion page, a strong landing page is essential for an effective landing page.
The definition of effective will be based on your objectives for a particularly landing page; is it to convey your general business benefits, entice prospects to search for more information on your website, purchase a product or service, or perhaps to capture lead’s details?
Conveying a strong value proposition remains at number one spot for us – it can be expressed in headlines, images or design tone and has the purpose of telling visitors what is in it for them and why they should care about your solution, more so that competitors.
Much of the rest of a home page or landing page is supporting that proposition through items like features and benefits and social proof.
Every page on your website should have an objective that culminates in a call to action. That CTA could be an 0800 number, an Add to cart button, a link to more information or perhaps a submission of a free download form.
If you’re not happy with the performance of a landing page then check these crucial elements:
- A Compelling Value Proposition
- Support Benefits
- Social Proof
- Call to Action
- Optimised for Mobile