The 7 Pillars of a Converting Landing Page

by Idan Cohen August 5th, 2013 

7 pillars

Your landing page is the most critical step in your funnel because this is where expensive leads are often lost.
The average conversion rate ranges between 1-10%, so you are losing 90-99% of your visitors -- painful to think about!

Testing and optimizing your landing page can make the difference between a negative and a positive ROI, between getting 10 leads/day and getting 50 leads/day for the same advertising dollar. So why do most advertisers spend their time optimizing campaigns instead of optimizing landing pages?
I think most advertisers don't know what to test, plus testing requires the additional resources of a designer and developer.

Hopefully I've motivated you to start planning your first (or next) test, so let's discuss the 7 pillars of a successful landing page, the elements that determine your landing page's success.

1. Headline

The headline is perhaps the most critical component of your landing page. A good headline grabs the visitor's attention immediately and intrigues him to continue reading. It includes the main benefit for the visitor (what's in it for me?) and is somewhat memorable.

Avoid "clever" headlines; straight to the point ones outperform the clever ones 9 times out of 10.

2. Sub-Headline

The sub-headline supports the main headline and compels your reader to continue reading.
Here you can expand a bit on the benefit included in the main headline or introduce a new benefit.

3. First Paragraph (or Bullets)

This is where you go "all in" with details about your product's benefits, why it out-performs competitors and how it solves the visitor's problem(s). Make this part as short as possible without losing any valuable information.

4. Image, aka Hero Shot

The purpose of the image is to get your visitor to empathize with the image, hence the name "hero shot".

Real world example: In a landing page for a downloadable product, we tested a screenshot of the product versus an image of a happy person using a computer. The second one won by a whopping 23%!

5. Proof

Proof that your product actually works can be communicated through customer testimonials, press clippings or any other reliable material.

6. Social Proof

Social proof is all about showing that you (or your product) is socially recognized. It can be your facebook's like box (if you have an impressive number of followers), praise-heavy quotes from respected blogs or the famous "As seen on" button.

7. Call to Action

Your call-to-action encourages people to try/purchase your product. This is typically one of two items: your lead generation form and/or your main button.

Simple is best, so make any call to action bold, prominent and above the fold. As for the text on the button, it's definitely worth testing. Just remember that it should clearly represent what will happen once that button is clicked.

What should you test?

The three elements with the most potential to impact conversion rate (in order of importance):

1. Headline + Sub-headline
2. Image (Hero shot)
3. Call to Action

What not to test?

Don't waste your time testing graphic elements like background color, button color or fonts. There is only a very slim possibility they would make a difference.

Closing Thoughts

A/B testing your landing pages can result in dramatic improvements to your performance. It's crucial to understand the key elements of a converting landing page and to systematically test them one by one until you reach perfection.

Now to you do you have success stories or conclusions from testing landing pages? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below.

Idan Cohen

Idan is the co-founder of Website Planet, with over 5 years of experience in online marketing. He masters all things PPC, and has a great passion for Analytics and Testing. His motto is "Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself".

Website Planet

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13 Responses to “The 7 Pillars of a Converting Landing Page”

  1. Craig says:

    Great article Idan, some really handy points to take away from this and test out.

    As people use their phones to browse this is going to be a big factor on conversion moving forwards. I was just wondering what are your tips for making a mobile optimized landing page? and do you think this should be a priority in 2013?

    • Idan Cohen says:

      Glad you liked it Craig.

      I think advertisers should definitely put some resources into creating mobile optimized landing pages rather than just using their desktop optimized LP.

      I would recommend using as few elements as possible on your mobile LP and to make sure each element (image, headline, call to action) is big and prominent.

      And of course, A/B test it until you reach success

  2. Seffy says:

    Quick question, in the past few months i come across more and more LP's with no Hero Shot. I started thinking that it might be better since most hero shots are these generic suit wearing smiling models which no one believes anymore.

    Do you think running with no hero shot could work?

    BTW – great article, thanks

    • Idan Cohen says:

      Hey Seffy,

      Using a hero shot is a best practice, which means that more often than not it would work better.

      I suggest testing all options in order to "know" instead of "guess".

  3. Eliran says:

    Great article Idan, as usual,
    Really easy to perform for anyone.

    Just a question, do you recommend using any A/B testing tool in particular or just normal analytics tests?

    Keep it up, thanks.

  4. Joe says:

    Good post about landing page optimization, you hit a lot of the key elements for a page. I agree with you, that the headline is a key element and I have found success by including the top keyword in the headline.

    • Idan Cohen says:

      Thanks Joe!

      Headline is indeed a key element in your landing page and I've found that from all other elements it has the most chances of making an impact on your conversion rate.

      Using a keyword is very important if you're driving traffic from Google Adwords since it will also affect your Quality score. If you're using other channels as well I recommend testing non-keyword headlines as well.

  5. Monster Sam says:

    Thanks for this Idan.

    It's great to have a checklist like this you can work through when testing a page.

    What would you say is the most important aspect of the call to action? Position or Copy?

    • Idan Cohen says:

      Hi Sam,

      I'm glad you find the post useful.

      Regarding the call to action I would say the most important aspect is the position, it must be above the fold.
      I even recommend that you make sure it is above the fold for all the popular screen resolutions.

  6. chris says:

    making sure your navigation is easy to use, that your site design is as clean and uncluttered as possible, and that big actions are highlighted in clear and effective ways. Consider hiring a professional UX designer to help you evaluate your site if you’re having trouble breaking through on this point.

  7. Idan Cohen says:

    Hey Ruud,

    If we're talking about a landing page that serves paid traffic visitors than multiple call to actions would probably negatively affect your conversion rate.

    The only exception is in cases where you have multiple call to actions that serve the same purpose (e.g. three "buy now" buttons along the page), in which case that can actually boost your conversion rate and is definitely worth testing