The four steps to the best landing pages come with a history of attempted murder. Over a hundred years ago, E. St. Elmo Lewis, the creator of the original four steps, was twice targeted by an unknown suspect. First with arsenic, then with fire.
Being a successful businessman has its risks, after all.
Lewis devised the marketing acronym AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action; the four steps in the process of selling. For landing pages, specific elements are applied to these four steps to achieve one objective.
A landing page can cause only one of five actions: to get your visitor to buy, register or sign up (which includes giving permission to follow up), click to visit a targeted page, learn something, or tell a friend.
Determine which of these five desired actions you want and stay focused on that one alone. Like a dog with its bone, don’t distract your readers with anything else.
You have three seconds. Your visitors will choose to stay or go in this length of time, according to The Three Second Rule.
Convert your visitors toward your goal by attracting their attention with large font and captivating visuals. Make your landing page fertile ground by using web design that keeps the important elements above the fold, or in the visible screen without scrolling.
The three seconds begins with an attention-grabbing headline. Create a headline that matches the one from the place that drove your visitors to your landing page. This way your visitors will know they’re in the right place.
Instead of talking about the features of your product or service, talk about how it will benefit your visitors. Maintain their interest by using “you” and “your” instead of “we.” This helps them to identify with what you’re offering.
Your design will communicate this with simple and clear elements, just like your copy. Try a one-column format that includes plenty of white space in the copy with small paragraphs and wide side margins.
There should be no more than five lines – not sentences – per paragraph. The first paragraph should be one to two lines. By varying the size of paragraphs, you make your copy easier to read.
Remember the dog and its bone. Keep the focus on one thing.
How do you make your visitors want to buy, register, click, learn, or share? Answer this question: What do you want them to do?
When they land on your landing page, it should be clear what they’re being asked to do. Everything on the page is there to support the one goal you chose. Remove all distracting elements and visual clutter, including navigation bar, widgets, and extra links.
Don’t lose their interest by veering away from your chosen goal. Write copy that is absolutely clear, beginning with an eye-catching headline followed by the benefits.
Tell them why. When you include “because” you’re giving them a reason to choose your offer. Keep them on track. Everything on the page is steering the visitor to the next and last step.
This is a direct call to people to do what you called them there to do. There should be a minimum of two call to actions, unless the copy is long, then more is required.
Include a graphic button or hot-linked text that stands out. If your copy goes below the fold, then don’t neglect to include one there as well. Use direct writing on the buttons to encourage action. “Buy now,” “sign up free,” “get the ebook,” or “get started” make their expectations obvious.
Your landing page is a goal-oriented tool meant to accomplish one thing only. Stay single-minded. Don’t confuse it with your home page. Make it uncommonly good.
(There is one inconsistency with this post. I used a dog analogy instead of a cat. I hope it doesn’t throw anyone off too much.)