With all the work that goes into crafting a great AdWords campaign, it’s easy to forget about what happens after a user clicks your ad. Sadly, this is PPC suicide because paying for traffic that doesn’t turn into customers puts you out of pocket right away.
The first thing someone sees after they click your ad is a landing page. This is where they decide whether to take a giant step closer to buying or click back and forget about you altogether. That’s a lot of responsibility for one web page – which is why you need to get the design spot on. Here’s how.
Create a separate landing page for every campaign goal
The most important thing in landing page design is to have one for every campaign goal. Each campaign you create in AdWords should be designed for a specific action – eg: buying a product, starting a free trial, downloading your eBook, etc. Which means each of these campaigns needs its own landing page with a specific message.
Never link to your homepage from any AdWords campaign because that’s not what it’s designed for*. When a user clicks on your ad they want to see a message that matches it – something specific that tells them they’ve arrived at the right place. Which leads us onto our next point.
* If your website is a single product page like an app then you’re the exception to this rule.
Match your ad and landing page message
The reason every campaign should have its own landing page is because people need a relevant message to inspire action. If your ad promotes a half-price sale, then that’s what gets people excited in the first place. And it’s precisely that same message that’ll get them buying once they land on your site.
This selling point needs to be the focus of your landing page design. You’ll want “half-price sale” sprawled across the top of your page, maybe an end date to create some urgency and other signals that play on the same desire that made people click your ad. As soon as you deviate from that, your message loses its focus and you’ll lose potential sales as a result.
Get your content and layout spot on
Once the message of your landing page is clear, it’s time to start thinking about content and layout. This will vary depending on the goal of your campaign/landing page so don’t expect one template to work for all your landing pages. For example, here’s a look at more of the landing page from our shoe example:
There’s almost no copy on this landing page whatsoever. The sale message speaks for itself and they’ve chosen to provide three links to specific product categories. Notice each option has its own emphasis on the sale message. Even with this minimal copy approach, the original selling point features strongly throughout.
Things get a little more complex when you’re promoting a specific product. Unlike a half-price sale, where the benefit speaks for itself, a product landing page needs to work a little harder.
Take a look at this example from Wishpond, which happens to be a landing page builder. First, here’s the ad that popped up when I typed “landing page builder” into Google:
And here’s the first thing I saw after I clicked on the ad:
Notice how the message in that first view is spot on with the ad? The ad even says “Awesome landing pages in minutes” and the first thing you see after clicking is “create your landing page in minutes”. That’s how closely you want to match your messages.
You’ll also see two call to action buttons for users who are ready to take action now. They can either sign up to create an account and get started or request a demo. This concise message with two clear actions is perfect for users who are ready or close to buying now.
For those that aren’t quite there yet, a little more information is needed:
As soon as users scroll down the page they get an explainer video that shows how quickly and easily you can create landing pages. Once again, this reinforces the message of the of entire page (speed) and ad that came before it – everything that made people click in the first place. What the video does is prove the platform lives up to its promises by showing users how fast and easy it is to use. Countless studies have shown how effective explainer videos are on landing pages so give that some thought. The key is to highlight the key benefit(s) of your product in a visually compelling way.
After the explainer video, Wishpond goes into some visual/text copy explaining some other key benefits of its software. This is designed to reinforce the main message of the page by showing the product has more to offer than pure speed.
Finally, we have the last three features of this landing: testimonial, trust symbols and one last call to action.
The testimonial proves to users that people have used this product and it truly is as good as it promises to be. In this case, the testimonial comes from Huffington Post – a publisher thousands of people know and trust. Next, you have a collection of other brands who have used the product, further convincing users that it must be worth a try. And to wrap it all up there’s one last call to action to prompting users into completing the desired action.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a firm selling software to build landing pages gets the copy and layout of its own page spot on. This is a great example of a product landing page for SaaS firms and one worth taking notes from.
Note: the key point in this section is how the goal of your landing page dictates the design. The half-price sale and product examples we’ve looked at couldn’t be more different. But they’re equally as effective for the goal they’re trying to achieve.
Understand the power of visuals
We’ve already touched on a few visual elements in the examples above but there’s plenty more to cover. Good landing page design uses a lot of visual techniques to encourage action – many of which users will never notice. We can’t cover the full manual on visual design in one article but here are some essentials for you.
This is arguably the most important visual element of your landing pages. Contrast is one of the most powerful ways to highlight the key points of your message. While a good understanding of colour contrast has become absolutely vital to call to action design.
Netflix goes for a bold red CTA button and white text against a dark background. You can’t miss that thing – your eyes are drawn to it and it’s perfectly clear what your supposed to do next.
Images that tell a story
What story are your images trying to tell? This can depend on the kind of product or service you provide but it’s generally the experience that comes with buying. Not so much what your product or service does but the joy people get from using it. Take a look at this section from Airbnb’s landing page designed to get new hosts signing up:
Instead of going into too much detail about the benefits, you get images showing the experience of hosting. The copy alongside it doesn’t talk about how great hosting is either. Instead, it leaves people wondering what “world of opportunity” awaits them. It’s pretty hard not to click a CTA button that says “see what you can earn”.
Whitespace is one of those truly wonderful design elements most people never notice – at least not if you get it right. Let’s start off by making it clear that whitespace doesn’t have to be white. It’s simply the space between different elements on the page, used to break up content and enhance the visual hierarchy. Think of it as blank or empty space if that works better for you.
Here you can see Zendesk using a ton of whitespace on its registration page. This is for people who know what the app is all about, they’re ready to sign up and there’s no place for messing around.
We could go on and on about the visual elements at play on a good landing page. However, there are some other points we want to cover today so we’ll have to leave it here for now. But, seriously, read up some more on the visual design of landing pages. There’s plenty of info a quick Google search away and it will absolutely improve your PPC profit margin.
Nail your calls to action
At last we come to the single most important element of your landing page. This is where the magic happens (or doesn’t if your CTAs suck). That modest button with a slither of text inside it is all that stands between a visitor turning into your next customer. So what makes a good call to action?
Well, a good CTA can’t do it on its own. Your landing page up until this point is designed to get people craving your product/service. The call to action shows people how to get their hands on it and makes it impossible to resist.
That final part comes down to the copy in your CTA button and any text around it. Think back to the Airbnb example we looked at earlier. Look at how well the copy in and around the CTA button creates a strong desire to click:
There are other key elements to a good CTA as well – many of which we’ve already mentioned:
- Contrast: Contrast is vital for making your CTA stand out on the page.
- Colour: Colour not only sets contrast and tone it also has a variety of psychological effects.
- Placement: Where you position your CTAs on your page, and in relation to other content, is imperative.
- Size: Bigger isn’t always better but size is always important in CTA design.
Given the importance of CTAs this is another subject worth doing more research on. Take a good look at your competitors’ landing pages to see what CTAs really stand out. Also check out pages for products/services similar to yours and see what kind of design choices they’ve gone for.
And finally, test like crazy
Like any part of your website, that’s designed to convert, your work is never done with landing pages. You’ll want to test all the elements we’ve looked and more to help you improve the performance of your landing pages as time goes by. This is where you’ll need to delve into split testing – an essential skill for landing page design.
Everything we’ve covered today are great guidelines to get your started but the best landing pages are fine-tuned to get better results. There are plenty of platforms that will help you set up and run split tests (or A/B tests) for better conversion rates. So don’t feel you have to get your landing pages spot on the first time and always be ready to test out new ideas.
Okay, so that’s the lowdown on landing page designs to turn AdWords traffic into paying customers. Not all landing pages have to be used for paid advertising but those clicks don’t come for free so these are the ones you really want to perform. And great landing page designs really can transform your business so it’s worth putting in the extra work.