Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • “You need a landing page.”
  • “You need more landing pages.”
  • “You can do that with a landing page.”

You may have been told that a landing page is the miracle cure for low conversions on a marketing campaign. After all, they’re powerful digital marketing tools that drive web traffic towards a specific action.

All that is well and good, but how do landing pages actually work?

With a landing page you can:

  • Add subscribers to an email newsletter
  • Promote your online course
  • Sell a physical product
  • Give out a discount code or coupon
  • Boost attendance for a webinar
  • Encourage a free trial
  • Give away a consultation or demo

That question is best answered in 2 parts, which will be covered in this article:

  1. What do you need to build a landing page?
  2. How do you make your landing pages successful?

What do you need to build a landing page?

What is a landing page?

A landing page is a stand-alone web page created about a specific topic. The goal of a landing page is to convert visitors into leads by funneling traffic toward a call to action.

Landing pages got their name because traffic comes to them from other online destinations (like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, email marketing, or other marketing channels), and the visitor “lands” on this page.

Unlike a normal web page, a landing page usually has no website navigation – and directs people toward one possible action. By clearing out everything except the call to action (and copy leading up to it), landing pages reduce the chances of your reader getting distracted.

The process of creating a landing page looks like this:

  1. Create a landing page (using a landing page builder like Unbounce or the ActiveCampaign form builder)
  2. Link your landing page to your website OR embed a form on your landing page
  3. Link your offer to the page so visitors receive the offer after converting, and you receive their contact information

Once you have a landing page, the ideal visitor takes these steps to become a lead (or customer):

  1. Visitor lands on your landing page
  2. Visitor follows the call-to-action (CTA) by filling out a form
  3. Visitor receives offer, and you receive visitor’s contact information

After a visitor fills out a landing page, you send them the ebook, guide, checklist, product, email, consultation, or other offer that you promised them.

The best way to do that is with a marketing automation tool.

ActiveCampaign automation showing how to deliver an offer from a landing page conversionThis ActiveCampaign automation delivers your offer via email when a contact fills out a form on your landing page!

A key idea for landing pages: reduce friction. Landing page friction is anything that makes it harder for your visitors to take action on your CTA.

How can you reduce friction on your landing page?

  • Create a single column form. Single column forms are completed 15.4 seconds faster than multi-column forms
  • Use negative space. Negative space supports scannability and visual hierarchy (visual communication of the content’s order and importance)
  • Ditch the dropdown. Questions on a form that use dropdown menu options slow users down and people are more likely to leave your landing page without submitting your form. Opt for radio buttons instead.
  • Fewer form fields. Ask only for what you need. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “will a visitor question why we need this information?” If it’s not obviously relevant, don’t ask for it.

1 column of form fields simplifies the conversion process for your landing page visitors (Image source)(Meme source)

How do you make your landing pages successful?

Your audience won’t convert on your landing page at a high level if the process is too complicated. Simple landing pages are best for turning webpage visitors into leads.

The “Rule of 1” is a copywriting framework to keep your landing page simple. It states that your landing page should focus on:

  • 1 target audience
  • 1 key idea
  • 1 primary benefit
  • 1 offer

When it comes to landing pages, it’s best to have (at least) 1 unique landing page per campaign.

Keep it simple and keep it singular:

  1. 1 landing page per campaign
  2. 1 offer per landing page
  3. 1 primary benefit per offer
  4. 1 key idea per primary benefit (1 solution to 1 problem)
  5. 1 target audience per key idea

1. 1 landing page per campaign

“The NSAMCWADLP principle: Never Start A Marketing Campaign Without A Dedicated Landing Page.” — Oli Gardner, Co-Founder at Unbounce

1 landing page per campaign ensures that you match the message. This means that your landing page headline, offer, and message all match the marketing efforts that you use to get visitors on your page. Message match creates consistency and clarity.

If you use 1 landing page for multiple marketing campaigns, visitors to your page will:

  • Be confused
  • Leave without converting
  • Waste the money you spent on pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns

Oli Gardner clicked on 300 paid ads, and 98% of them led to a landing page that didn’t match the ad’s message. A mismatched message means wasted lead generation efforts.

Create 1 landing page per campaign and give your visitors some clarity. This case study from Moz shows that matching the message increases conversion rates by up to 212.74%!

2. 1 offer per landing page

Successful landing pages use the attention ratio to their advantage. The attention ratio is the number of things a visitor can do on a landing page in relation to the number of things you want them to do.

An optimized attention ratio for a landing page is 1:1.

This means there’s 1 link (your CTA or offer) for the 1 goal (converting visitors into leads).

Multiple offers don’t work to your advantage. Visitors hesitate and can’t make a decision.There’s even a term for it: decision paralysis.

Graph showing Hick's Law that the time taken to respond increases as the number of options available to choose from increasesHick’s Law states that increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time (Source)

This study shows what happens when patients were offered multiple medical treatment options:

  • When offered 1 treatment or surgery, patients avoided surgery 72% of the time
  • When offered 2 treatments or surgery, patients avoided surgery 47% of the time
  • More choices means higher likelihood of choosing the inconvenient option (in this case, surgery)

Anyone who has ever had to pick a place to eat dinner knows that decision paralysis applies to more than just healthcare choices. Psychologist Barry Schwartz talks about this in his TED talk, “The Paradox of Choice”.

The only thing that a visitor can click on your landing page should be the CTA button. But 96% of landing pages have at least 1 other link. This isn’t your homepage. Don’t give your visitors an out except for the ‘back’ button.

This includes navigation menus as well — in a case study by VWO, removing site navigation from the landing page increased conversions by 100%.

3. 1 primary benefit per offer

What do visitors get from converting? Why does it matter?

Landing pages work best when you give people who opt-in 1 thing that that they want.

When you include the benefit that visitors get from your offer, they imagine themselves in the future with your offer. When that happens, they view you in a positive light, and are less critical in evaluating your offer.

Landing pages work even better when the primary benefit is specific. A specific benefit helps your offer appear exclusive, and people want exclusive things.

Why only 1 benefit?

  • Too many promises looks like wishful thinking (and like you may be lying)
  • It’s easier to match the message of 1 benefit to your offer and your off-site marketing — consistency is a key component to how landing pages work

4. 1 key idea per primary benefit (1 solution to 1 problem)

What problem does your primary benefit solve? This is your key idea. Everything that you include in the landing page copy should support this key idea.

“The main takeaway: If you want people to actually read the value propositions you’re composing, limit other elements on the web page. Elements that stay on the page should be extremely relevant to the value proposition’s message.” – ConversionXL

Any more than 1 key idea and your landing page visitors have to switch back and forth in their heads.

Harold Pasher’s research shows that humans are terrible at multitasking. Cognitive performance suffers when we switch between tasks.Material is harder to understand. Further research by Mark Carrier shows we’re more likely to abandon a task when it’s difficult to understand.

Internet use is already linked to multi-tasking, so don’t ask visitors to multi-task further with multiple key ideas (Source)

“Human beings are a funny lot. Give them one idea and they nod their heads. Give them five and they simply scratch their heads. Or even worse, they forget you mentioned all those ideas in the first place.

Minimizing is the key to making a point stick. Though this is Common Sense, it may also be the most violated principle in marketing or any other business. Your point will be more quickly understood, and more easily remembered, if you don’t clutter it up with other points.” – Ken Segall in Insanely Simple

5. 1 target audience per key idea

Who experiences the problem that your offer solves?

Talk to them. And let them know you’re talking to them by using the word “you”.

“You” is attention grabbing and a proven persuasion technique. It’s the most important word in copywriting according to Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger. He writes,

“Every post should be purposefully aimed at the needs and wants of others. You only benefit when readers benefit first.”

People are interested in fulfilling their own needs. They’ll pay attention if you indicate that you’re interested in fulfilling their needs, too.

They’ll pay even more attention if you use the same words they use. This technique is known as “Voice of Customer” (VoC) and companies that do it well generate a 10x increase in annual revenue year over year.

Implementing a successful “Voice of Customer” strategy has positive revenue results across the board.

Copywriting expert Joel Klettke supported VoC in his presentation at Unbounce’s 2017 Call to Action Conference. He says to use the exact words that your customer uses to describe their problems. They don’t want “an affordable time tracking payroll software”, they want “the only time tracking tool that pays for itself”.

Harnessing the voice of the customer gets you inside their heads and speaks to them in language they understand.

“If your story describes their problem better than they can describe it themselves, they will automatically assume you have the best solution.” – Chris Orlob, Gong.io

You can find the language your prospective customers are using by:

For more information on how to write a landing page, check out this guide!

Conclusion: How do landing pages work?

On a technical level, landing pages are a simple exchange of information. You have something that your visitors want and they have something you want.

  • Use a landing page builder to create a standalone page with your offer on it
  • Drive website traffic to your landing page and convert them into leads

On a functional level, landing pages are a little more complicated:

  • Always have at least 1 dedicated landing page per campaign
  • 1 offer per landing page
  • 1 primary benefit per offer
  • 1 key idea per primary benefit
  • 1 target audience per key idea

If you understand how landing pages work on a technical and functional level, you’re much more likely to create a high converting landing page and run a successful marketing campaign.