In the past, the majority of the landing pages look awful and boring.

Ever wish you could understand the evolution of landing pages?

If yes, then I’ll walk you through the transition phases in this article.

Truly, we can’t talk about lead generation and conversion optimization without taking a deep dive into the world of landing pages. It’s impossible.

In today’s competitive digital marketplace, you need high-converting landing pages to increase sales.

The role of a landing page plays is sometimes misunderstood by marketers. Hence, only 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each marketing campaign.

Where are the remaining 52%?

Marketing Sherpa Statistics

Smart marketers not only create new landing pages, they’re also optimizing for performance.

Through these landing pages, they study buyer behavior, split test form lengths and positions, test page load times, and do more to improve conversion rates.

As you read further, your perspective about landing pages, the most popular methods to generate leads and sales to your business, will change.

But first, a quick definition.

What is a landing page?

Sounds like a common question, right?

Yes, I know. But seriously, can you clearly define it? Don’t skip the essential aspect of your business – all in the name of looking for advanced techniques.

It’s possible that 75% of the things you’ve been told about landing pages aren’t true. So, my question remains:

Do you even know what a landing page is, in relation to your goal?

For better clarity, here’s how Brian Massey, founder of ConversionSciences.com defined it:

What is a Landing Page

If you look at the definition closely, you’ll find three key phrases:

  • “Single-minded page”
  • “Keeping the promise”
  • “Take action”

When you’re looking to improve conversions, you need to ensure that your landing page adheres to these 3 rules.

Though, you may not find all three rules in the landing pages of the past. Because, at the time, it’s easy to see several multi-purpose marketing pages that don’t keep the promise made.

The origin of landing pages

Website design has come a long way. And standalone web pages have been used by direct response marketers to sell products.

However, the idea of landing pages started way back in late 2003 when the IT departments of Microsoft looked for a way to remedy poor online sales of their core product – Office.

Microsoft

In 2005, Dave Chaffey shared exclusive insights on the principles of building a landing page. The article continues to be relevant because the principles remain the same.

It’s pretty easy to launch a new product now and generate sales as quickly as possible – because of the tools available online.

Prior to 2003, the process was time-consuming, boring, and ineffective. To give you a clearer picture, here’s how landing pages looked like in 2005.

Old landing pages

Funny enough, in the same 2005, you would have seen CTA buttons like these ones:

Old CTA buttons

The traditional landing pages were truly standalone in every aspect. I mean, they didn’t require a third-party software to function optimally.

But the modern landing pages are designed to easily integrate with other solutions such as email marketing tools, lead nurturing and customer relationship management systems. More important is the fact that they have the “perfect elements“.

Elements of a Landing Page

Principles of a high-converting landing page

Today, the landing pages that convert are designed based on certain principles. Let’s briefly examine 6 of them in a tactical manner:

a) Be relevant: People who visit a landing page have a definite purpose. If I visit Moz’s web page, for example, it’s obvious that I want to improve an aspect of my SEO campaign (e.g., local listings).

MOZ Local Landing Page

That being said, being relevant is the only way to prove your expertise, and build trust with your target audience.

Since the headline is the first element that stands out on the page, you should make it clear and relevant.

If it’s ideal, use power words (e.g., free, easy, generate) to draw people in – engage the visitor to scan down the page. See how relevant this headline is, in respect to the offer.

Landing page example

It’s your responsibility to show the visitor that your brand, product, information or expertise is what they have been looking for – a clear headline will truly help.

b) Message congruency: You’ve got to be consistent with the key message of your referral source.

In other words, make sure that you don’t send visitors to an irrelevant page – with a different message from where they came from.

Matching message

You already know that your visitors are coming from somewhere. For example, if they came from Facebook, which topic did they engage with before viewing your page?

The practice of making your ad copy and landing page match each other should be observed here even if your visitors are coming from organic search or native advertising networks.

c) Get people to make decisions: Do you know your target audience very well? Do they have enough knowledge about your topic/product/offer to make quick decisions?

To clarify my point, I know it’s actually difficult to gauge the visitor’s experience. However, you can help them make smart decisions, by identifying the gap (pain points that led visitors to your page).

You should use bullet points to highlight the core benefits of your offer. That way, you’ll persuade visitors without sounding too pushy.

d) Use compelling visuals: If you’ve been marketing online for close to a decade, you’ll agree with me that the landing pages of the past don’t boast of great visuals.

Blurred-looking images would suffice.

On the other hand, compelling visuals are vital in modern landing pages. Though, you should make sure they’re consistent with your campaign and create empathy for users.

Stock graphics rarely work. Try to use real images of the offer. To be sure what type of visuals work for your business, test, test, test.

e) Get rid of menu options: If you want to increase conversion rate, then eliminate distractions from your landing page.

You don’t want people to navigate away from your page.

Remove menu options – and put the headline, visuals, and, more importantly, the call-to-action on the spotlight. Here’s a typical landing page with zero menu options.

Dodo Gas Landing Page example

f) Have a clear call-to-action: One of the essential principles of a perfect landing page is the CTA. People will not respond to your offer, no matter how great it is – you’ve got to tell them what to do.

The wordings of your Call To Action button is important. Don’t assume that “Add to cart” will outperform “Buy now.” When you split test, you’ll be amazed by the results.

CTA buttons compare

The Evolution of web design for landing pages

A lot has happened in the web design world. In the past, web designers wanted to show off their creativity through animations and flashy illustrations.

Unfortunately, these web pages didn’t help the user. Eventually, new terms like UI and UX emerged and totally changed the way people consume content and use products on the web.

  • UI – User interface
  • UX – User experience

The focus on users, and designing web pages that truly helps them gave rise to flat designs. Again, Microsoft was at the forefront of the flat design trend with Windows 8.

Windows Flat Design

For better understanding of flat design, here’s an excerpt screenshot from Creativebloq:

Minimalist design

The modern landing pages

Landing pages as we know it today are beautiful.

They’re clean, simple and have a friendly look. Most of them have very little text, lots of white spaces and irresistible images or videos. In many cases, a standalone page is used to promote a single offer.

In 2009, several American startups were formed to simplify and streamline the process of sales. The rise of cloud computing and eCommerce around 2009 provided ideal conditions for these startups to flourish.

However, when Unbounce launched in August 2009, landing pages were little more than a marketing buzzword.

Since that time, Unbounce has pushed landing pages into the mainstream by empowering marketers to quickly build and publish pages without the help of the IT department.

If you compare landing pages of the past and that of today, you’ll discover that the principles remain the same, but a few things have changed:

  • Single-minded: The landing pages of today are designed to meet one purpose at a time (e.g., get people to download a free ebook).
  • Seamless integrations: Yes, you can integrate third-party solutions (e.g., Aweber, live chats) into your page to improve its functionality.
  • Strong Call To Action: No more boring “submit” buttons that look ugly. You can now use clear and persuasive copy, like “Download now” , “Free instant access,” and also test their impact on your conversion rate.

Here are great examples of modern landing pages:

i) Unbounce

Unbounce-LP-768x2098

I could go on and on to highlight the amazing features of this landing page, but here are two that I love:

  1. The catchy headline that stands out on the page
  2. The call to action button’s color that’s in contrast with the rest of the page
  3. The compelling and well-crafted information below the form

ii) WebDAM

WebDam Landing Page

At a glance, you can see how the form’s background stands distinct from the hero image behind it.

To learn more, here are 16 professional landing pages designed for conversions.

Conclusion

Do you think that landing pages are static and boring?

Well, think again. Because, with the right tool, you can make your own landing page interactive and use personalization best practices to engage with your visitors.

The more you understand your audience, the better your landing page conversions will be because you’ll know which elements to optimize.

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