Characteristics of landing pages that convert

Apr 02, 2012

Table of contents:

  1. Beautiful photography and design
  2. Explain how your product will benefit the customer
  3. Break complicated products down into understandable chunks
  4. Explain how your service works
  5. Give potential customers a tour of your product
  6. Offer a live demo of your product
  7. Detail current user experiences
  8. Have an extremely obvious first step
  9. Always have clear purchase options
  10. Have a clear features vs pricing table
  11. Media coverage or customer testimonials
  12. Use video to sell your product
  13. To conclude

In previous weeks I’ve talked extensively about the importance of converting traffic to customers for your product or service. Today I’d like to show you some fantastic examples of landing pages, sales pages and home pages that I believe embody the vital characteristics for converting traffic to customers. I’ll also explain what particular features of the examples I think work well and hopefully I’ll be able to inspire you to make the best possible landing pages for your business website.

There are many different aspects to a high converting sales or landing page, and for each product or service the right combination will be unique. If you are looking to create sales or landing pages that have a high conversion rate, remember the following characteristics should only be your starting point, you need to constantly test and experiment to find the right design, copy and features that works for your company and your product or service.

Beautiful photography and design

The first impressions of a landing page are critical to the rate of conversion. I can’t really under estimate the importance of good design. Within the first few seconds of landing on your website, the potential customer will already make a decision on whether they want to engage with your company or purchase your product. The design is so critically important to your success that accepting anything less than perfection is doing your whole company an injustice. The entire future success of not only your online campaigns, but also the entire embodiment of your business has a foundation in the design principal your choose.

Square is a mobile payment service that has been built on exquisite design. Square aims to make the process of accepting payments through their system as simple, easy and as elegant as possible. Their minimalist design, beautiful photography and clean website embodies the aims, goals and vision of the company.

If you are not a designer, then hire the best one you can find. The ROI of a good designer is off the chart and will be the difference between success and failure!

Explain how your product will benefit the customer

It is very likely that the majority of your traffic won’t completely understand your product or service and so it is your responsibility to guide them through the benefits to them, and not just a list of features. You will want to explicitly explain how your product fits into their current system or routine and how it will benefit and improve their work or lives. Many sales pages completely miss this point and only explain who the product is for and what features the product boasts.

OptinSkin is a premium WordPress plugin that allows any person with a blog to capture their readers email addresses. The value of email lists is well known and OptinSkin allows even the least technical blogger to quickly and easily attach and customise an email capture form to their website. OptinSkin will most likely appeal to non-technical users, and so it is important to fully explain how the product works and how it will benefit them.

You need to make the benefit of your product as obvious as possible to someone who is quickly scanning the page!

Break complicated products down into understandable chunks

It’s important to remember that many of your potential customers won’t understand the product or technology you are offering them. An inability to understand the benefits of your service will mean potential customers will leave your site without realising how great your product really is. For many products or services, it is essential your break it down in to logical chunks to fully explain how those pieces fit together to deliver your whole product. Breaking a concept down into 4 or 5 smaller chunks will make even the most daunting product offering a lot more understandable and approachable.

Heruko is a cloud platform application that allows a customer to build and deploy web applications. Even for technical users, Heruko’s product offering is complicated and so it is important to break it down and show exactly how it can be used.

Don’t confuse your potential customers with complicated and daunting products. Break everything down into it’s simplist form!

Explain how your service works

Despite the huge advancements of the Internet in recent years, consumers are still apprehensive about online purchasing. In order to convert potential customers into paying customers it is important that you break down your service and explain how it works at the very beginning of the relationship. If you can instill confidence in your customer’s purchase they will be far more happy with parting with their money or personal details.

Graze deliver a regular healthy snack box to your home or office filled with a selection of different foods. Graze does an excellent job of breaking down their service into 4 clear steps that show exactly what the customer can expect if they sign up.

Be open with how your service works and exactly what the consumer can expect from your business!

Give potential customers a tour of your product

Software as a Service (SaaS) now means that you can offer customers comprehensive applications straight from a browser. Often the full extent of your product will be too much for a list of benefits or features and so you must show detailed screenshots of your product in action with captions to show how things work and how your product can be used. Whilst you may be wary of opening your product up to potential competitors, a product tour of some kind is now a standard aspect of a good Software as a Service website.

Basecamp is a Software as a Service project management application that aims to take the complicated business of managing projects and teams and transform it into an easy to manage process. Basecamp’s product tour displays large screenshots of the applications with arrows and captions to explain exactly how the product works.

Take your potential customers on a tour of your product to explictly show them how it works and how they would use it!

Offer a live demo of your product

Taking the product tour one step further, you could offer a live demo sandbox area that allows potential customers to actually experience what using your product feels like. There is really nothing better than getting your hands on something to experience it for yourself, and no matter of screenshots or descriptions will ever be able to match it. But offering a live demo should only be used sparingly. Decide whether your product will benefit from having a live demo. Often very complicated products need to be in a very specific environment to really be useful. If you take your product out of that context, it might confuse your potential customer more than highlighting the benefits.

Wufoo allows business owners to add a comprehensive contact form to their website to track customer engagement. Wufoo prides itself on it’s easy to user form builder and takes full advantage of a live demo to show potential users just how easy it is to use.

Use live product demos for simple products that aren’t context specific and only where it is appropriate!

Detail current user experiences

Most products appeal to very specific niches rather than the mass market. By targeting those niches, and showing how those people are already using your product, you will be more likely to recruit potential customers in that niche. It’s very appealing to try to aim your product at the mass market. But by casting your net at everyone, you reach no one. Pick one or two user personas to explicitly target, and show how your product fits into their lives or work flows.

TaskRabbit is market place for odd jobs and services that are submitted by users and completed by other members of the community known as TaskRabbits. TaskRabbit does a good job of detailing their current user experiences by highlighting some of the TaskRabbits who are already doing jobs and earning money. By highlighting these TaskRabbits, potential customers will feel more at ease about submitting a task and having a stranger from the community work for them. TaskRabbit’s aim of their homepage is to gain the trust of the potential customer so that they feel at ease with joining the TaskRabbit community.

Target very specific niches and explain exactly how they are using your product!

Have an extremely obvious first step

If you manage to convert a cold prospect into a potential customer, you should now make the initial step as easy as possible. The on-boarding process of a new user is critical to your website’s success. Even after a user has been convinced to try out your product or even purchase it, you can still lose the sale by confusing them. Ensure that the first step of your sales process is incredibly obvious. This might be a call to action, a sign up button or an add to cart link. This is such an important stage that you should be split testing various designs, positions and copy to ensure you have the best possible set up. Don’t just assume that potential customers will realise they need to click a specific button to buy your product.

Carbonmade make good use of their homepage by explicitly saying what the product is and having the first step button slap bang in the middle of the page. Within seconds you know exactly what Carbonmade are offering and how to take the first step to signing up.

Now that you’ve convinced a user to try your product out, don’t lose them by having a confusing first step!

Always have clear purchase options

If your products is available at a number of different price points, it is very important to display this information in an easy to understand format. A lot of online companies try to hide this information on a second or third page of the sales process, but I believe it will be one of the very first considerations of the user and so should be displayed on the initial landing page.

The Larder Box do an effective job of explaining their purchase options by detailing their pricing model, contract length and potential savings with call to action buttons for each option on the very first page.

By being open with your pricing model and explaining the customers options at the first opportunity, you will be seen as a trust worthy company to engage with!

Have a clear features vs pricing table

If your product is available at different price points depending on the amount of features, it is extremely important to have a features vs pricing table to show exactly what each level of the product can do and how much it will cost. Your users probably have very specific requirements and so you will be making their lives a lot easier by displaying your feature list and pricing options in this way. It also gives you the opportunity to showcase a spefic package to highlight the benefits of chosing one of the higher end options. These tables have been around for years so there really isn’t any excuse for not having one.

SendGrid do an excellent job of displaying their different levels of service and their pricing models. They also pick out a package that they would recommend to the typical user.

If you offer a product that is available at a number of different price points depending on features, there is no better way of displaying this data than with a features vs pricing table!

Media coverage or customer testimonials

If you are lucky enough to have had major media coverage or reviews by well known influencers or publications, have an image of their logo and a link or summary of their review on your landing page. Landing cold onto a sale page is daunting, but if a well known media outlet has given your product a glowing review you are far more likely to warm them up to a sale. If you are going to include logos of newspapers or magazines that have featured you, don’t just include the logo, always link to the article or at least offer a summary of their review. A well known logo out of context is worthless and looks suspicious.

If you are choose to have customer testimonials on your sales page there is a couple of things you need to bare in mind. A testimonial with just a name is as good as not having one at all because it proves nothing. It’s comparitve to only having good reviews on a product on Amazon. If you only had good reviews, the reviews aren’t worth much at all. Obviously you aren’t going to display bad testimonials of your product or company, but you do need to give context to the testimonial.

At a minimum you need to link the company name to a website so people can do their own reference checks and to show that your testimonial is from a geniune customer and not just a random name. Secondly, you should aim to either have a case study, a photo or a video of testimonial to really give weight to what the person is saying about your company or your products.

If all you have is a quote and a random name, there isn’t much value to your testimonial. Testimonials aren’t really that valuable if you don’t put a lot of effort into showing the context and the person behind that review. Reach out and try to get a professional photo or even better a video interview with the customer to really show show that your testimonial is geniune. do a good job of showing media coverage by having a selection of articles and videos that have been featured by large media outlets.

Ensure you add context to your testimonials and link to aim to get coverage by large media outlets to add weight to your sales pitch.

Use video to sell your product

For the last couple of decades, television adverts have been one of the best ways to advertise a product. Humans love to watch videos and it makes it increadibly easy to explain the benefits of a product through video rather than text. A video is far more likely to hold a users attention than a body of text, and video allows you to highlight the magic of your product like no other medium can.

Producing high quality video is now not that far out of reach with the plethora of affordable high quality devices and editing software at a reasonable price. Better still, hire a company to professionally produce your videos and give them an air of quality.

Path do a great job of explaining their product and how it is used through video. Path highlights how the application works and what kind of people are already using it.

Invest in video and produce arguably the best sales material to explain and sell your product to potential customers and really show why your product is so good!

To conclude

There are many different techniques and features of a good sales or landing page. Each different product page should have unique aspects that highlight the benefits of the product or service to the potential customer. I hope this post has given you some inspiration for designing your own sales and landing pages. I believe these types of pages are the most important pages on a business website and so they should have your highest priority. It’s also extremely important to be constantly testing your sales page and optimising them for high conversions. Don’t base the design of your sales pages on assumptions, always test and iterate to find what works for you.

What are some good sales or landing pages that I’ve missed, and what features do you find work the best?

Philip Brown


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