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.