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4 Principles for Designing Landing Pages That Actually Convert

If I had to choose a mantra for the Brandfolder marketing team, I’d go with “Leads, Leads, Leads!” Because Brandfolder is a B2B company, our team primarily focuses on attracting new prospects, nurturing interested leads, and passing potential opportunities to our sales team to ultimately add more customers to the Brandfolder family.

One of the key ways we’ve been attracting more leads is by creating landing pages for different industry verticals. Each landing page is tailored to its audience — we present the problems that industry faces when managing digital assets, show how Brandfolder is the perfect solution, provide testimonials of current Brandfolder customers from that industry, and finally ask if they’d like to request a quote.

These landing pages give prospects more opportunities to interact with our product in a personalized way. And, guess what? It’s actually working! We launched a “Nurture Drip” this month, which is an 8-step email marketing campaign that pushes prospects to customized landing pages. Just 12 days into February, we’ve already surpassed our entire January lead count by 46%. And, 63% of our total monthly leads for February are directly attributed to this Nurture Drip.

Because we’ve been investigating the best ways to create persuasive landing pages, we thought it’d be helpful to share what we’ve learned. Here are our four principles for designing landing pages that actually convert.

1. Don’t skimp on your research.

A fundamental tenet of creating a killer landing page is to focus on the customer.

People don’t visit your landing page because they want to know how amazing your product is. (And if they are, please reveal your marketing secrets!) Most likely, they’re visiting your landing page because they have a problem, and something pointed to your page to find a solution.

In order to convince visitors your product is the ideal solution to their problems, you first have to do your research. Browse the web, reach out to people in your target demographic, and interview current customers to figure out their personalities, pain points, and motivations. Then, use this information to define who your buyer personas are. These buyer personas will help you tailor the messaging and content of your landing pages. If you show that your business is tailored to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of specific groups, those groups will be more likely to convert to customers.

Another benefit of creating buyer personas is that you’re more likely to have empathy for your users. “Empathy” has been seen as a design buzzword lately, but its importance still rings true. In a nutshell, when you truly understand the real problems of real people, you’re more motivated and better able to create solutions that help them. In this case, empathy allows you to create landing pages that focus on your customer, not your product.

Creating buyer personas is a topic that warrants a full blog post on its own, but this Hubspot guide is great place to start.

2. Start by crafting compelling copy.

Now that you’ve identified your buyer personas and have a better understanding of how to customize your content to their needs, it’s time to start designing your landing page.

The best way to start designing? The copy.

Amy Hoy of 30×500 has a great formula for crafting compelling copy. Essentially, aim to convey your customer’s pain, dream, and the fix for that pain. Only after you’d done that should the call-to-action come into play.

  1. Pain: First, you want to sell your customer on their own pain. Using the findings from your research, show that you understand what’s keeping them up at night. The more vivid, detailed, and urgent the pains are, the stronger your persuasion is. The landing page for Freckle, Amy Hoy’s time tracking app, does a great job of illustrating their target audience’s pain. Freckle uses an actual customer quote to show the frustration with time-tracking as its landing page headline. Then, the copy goes on to further describe how complicated time-tracking can get, and why it’s so crucial to the success of your business.

  2. Dream: Once you’ve laid out the problem, show what it’d be like without the pain. Describe what it would be like if your customer has everything they need to succeed. In Freckle’s case, the landing page describes a world where every business knows how their time is spent, leading to good data, better business decisions, and more money.

  3. Fix: Show your customer that they can achieve that dream! Here’s where you explain how your product will bridge the gap between the customer’s pain and dream. Freckle explains why they built this product — because they were experiencing the pains of time-tracking themselves. Then, the landing page lists Freckle’s benefits and features.

  4. CTA: Finally, present your call-to-action. Ask the customer: “Wouldn’t you like to try it yourself?” It’s important to note that CTAs are especially powerful after the pain, dream, and fix have already been presented. You must create value for the customer before you can extract value, or ask something from them. Freckle’s pricing module and CTA for a free trial is one of the very last sections on the landing page.

Following Amy Hoy’s pain, dream, fix formula will ensure you’re designing with empathy, avoiding scammy or sensational language, and creating a flow that will make people want to click on your CTA.

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3. Design for the wandering eye.

After you’ve written your landing page copy, you can move onto the design.

When laying out your landing page, keep in mind that people skim.

Most people won’t read every single word, or consider each design element. So, focus on what’s essential and keep it simple — eliminate any unnecessary elements, streamline the reading flow of the page, and make sure the most important elements stand out.

Here are a few design tips collected from the InVision Blog and Nathan Barry’s blog.

  • Make sure your design doesn’t break up your reading flow. In this case, multiple columns make landing pages harder to read. Stick with a simplified, one-column flow that ultimately leads to the CTA.
  • Keep your headline bigger than 42px, and your base font size at least 16px for the rest of your copy. Remember, the copy is the star of the landing page!
  • Your CTAs should stand out. Use contrasting colors, and make sure your buttons look like clickable buttons. A “squint test” is a great benchmark here — can you point out the CTA even when you’re squinting?
  • Change up the rhythm of your landing page to keep viewers engaged. You can do this by alternating two base colors for the background, or inserting a testimonial to break up a wall of text without sacrificing the overall flow.
  • Don’t overdo your design. Its purpose is to make the customer feel comfortable while they proceed to the CTA. Use a simple color scheme with different grades of importance: a primary color, a secondary, a suitable black (that is not #000) for your copy.

Here are a few well-designed landing pages to inspire you.

4. Test!

So, you’ve done hours of research for your buyer personas. You’ve written persuasive copy that shows you truly understand and can solve your reader’s problems. You’ve designed a clean, simple flow to ease prospects into your CTA.

Now what?

Now it’s time to test your landing page.

You’ve done a lot of great work to get to the first version of your landing page but unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re an optimist), the real work has just begun.

Here’s where you A/B test to your heart’s content, and tweak different elements of your page to see which versions are more effective. Try out different headlines, images, messaging, layouts, and even different colors for your CTAs. Just remember to test each element one at a time, so you can attribute which element made the actual change in conversions.

Remember: what works for one company may not work for yours.

Each business has a different audience with unique motivations and concerns. So, it’s important to always be testing, and to discover the elements that work for your individual business.

Building landing pages is no easy feat, and because people and problems are constantly evolving, the work never really ends. Just be sure to focus on your customer, and follow these four principals with a grain of salt — because you’ll only know what works for you once you test it yourself. Good luck!