13 Steps to Perfect Landing Page Design

I’m writing this post from The Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland.  This is commonly regarded as the ‘birthplace of Harry Potter’…the spot where J.K. Rowling went to write the first book in the series.  Since I’m now on hallowed ground for many of the people reading this, I’ll do best to make to show a little bit of magic…

The heart of a successful online business is the landing page.  This is a single page where you offer a freebie, often called a lead magnet, in exchange for a prospect’s contact information. (If you’re unfamiliar with this concept then I recommend you read part 1 and part 2 of my posts about lead magnets)

Landing pages are highly effective because you have multiple chances to make a sale.  In fact if you’re good at building relationships people will stay on your list for years to come.  This means lots of repeat business.

As you can see, landing pages are extremely important.  What’s funny is I don’t see too many Internet marketers using them.  I think this is mostly due to the fact that there’s a lot of misinformation on this subject.

So today I want to describe what makes a good landing page.  Specifically I’m going to give a 13 part dissection of the landing page I created for my “41 Hot Internet Marketing Niches” Report.

As of today, this landing page gets a 46% opt-in rate.  This isn’t anything special.  But I feel it’s a pretty good start, considering I spent less than hour on it.    Okay, let’s talk about what you need to include…

Step 1- Focus on your Most Wanted Response (MWR)

The goal of a landing page is to build a list.  It’s not about educating people or making money.  Your only goal is to get the prospects name and email address.  That’s it.

A favorite concept of mine is something called the Most Wanted Response (MWR).  This means you’re giving prospects two simple choices- Yes, they’ll subscribe.  No, they’ll leave your site.  Every part of the landing page centers on the MWR.  If something doesn’t increase the likelihood of a subscription then you get rid of it.

Step 2- K.I.S.S (Keep it Simple Stupid)

Simplicity goes hand in hand with the MWR.  You don’t need a fancy landing page filled with graphics.  In fact, I’ve had better response with the basic text on a white background style.  Simple pages outperform   because they’re free from distractions.  There’s the offer, with a video and a few blocks of text.  If people like what’s there, they subscribe.

Step 3- Good Enough is Good Enough

I’ve never been accused of being a perfectionist.  I try to do my best.  But at a certain point I think good enough is good enough.

Don’t worry if your landing page isn’t perfect.  Sometimes it’s just better to get it out there and then make changes as time goes on.  Here’s an example of what I mean…

When recording the video, I didn’t notice that I was pointing to the right and saying the subscription box was on my left.  Unfortunately this wasn’t picked up till long I was miles away from the shooting location.  I felt the imagery was a critical part to the video, so I decided to keep things as is.

Yes, this is a minor detail.  But I feel a lot marketers would wait another couple of days to reshoot another video.  Instead of doing this, I simply had fun with my mistake and even put a block of text pointing it out:

At some point I’ll make another video.  But…I didn’t want to use this as an excuse for why I wouldn’t release my freebie for another week.  I feel the content of the report was good.  In my opinion, this is more important than a flubbed line on my part.

Step 4- Test and Track to Perfection

It’s important to get an exact count of your raw clicks versus number of subscriptions.  This gives you the opt-in rate.  As time goes on, you want focus on continuously improving your landing page to increase this number.  The program I recommend is a simple tracking script you can get through AdTrackZ.

You can see how this works, if you click on this link:

It automatically redirects to this link:

Furthermore, you can use AdTrackZ to split test the landing page.  This means 50% of people will see version A (the original) and 50% get version B (one change to the original).  Ultimately this gives you hard statistical proof of which page converts better.

Like I said before, you don’t have to start with a perfect landing page.  But over time… you should try to get split-test it toward perfection.   Keep tweaking it till you maximize the response rate.

Step 5- Important Information Above the Fold

One of the biggest killers of an opt-in rate is to put the subscription form below “the fold.”  The fold is that invisible line separating the top of a webpage from everything else.  The landing pages with the best conversions have all the important information above the fold.

For instance, take a look at a screen shot of the fold on my landing page:

You probably noticed that four critical elements are included:

1)      The headline (Attracts the reader’s attention)

2)      The video (Creates interest)

3)      The graphic (Shows the report)

4)      The subscription box (How they get it)

Everything a prospect would need lies above the fold.  Sure they get more information when scrolling down the page.  But this supplements the critical stuff they get with the four critical elements.

Step 6- Headline

I’ll admit my headline isn’t the greatest:

In all likelihood, this will be the first thing that’s split-tested.

With that said, there are a few things I like about the headline.  First it gives an action the reader needs to take- ‘WATCH this Video.’ Next, it describes a benefit the reader receives from watching the video- ‘Discover How to Build a Profitable Internet Business.’ Finally, it tells them when they’ll receive the benefit- ‘…Starting Today!’

This headline is a little different from the one I’ve used with my other niche sites.  Probably what I’ll do is adapt a variation of this headline and see which gets a better response.  Here’s what this would look like:

The headline is an extremely important part of the landing page.  So it’s important to keep tweaking it till you find one that does really well in split-tests.  Your ultimate goal is to craft the perfect headline that makes people want to subscribe without reading the rest of your page.

Step 7- Video Introduction

I learned a valuable lesson in the last year.  Videos get a much better response than standard text.  This is probably because putting a ‘face’ with the product creates more trust and credibility.

Although I’m not the greatest public speaker, I decided to go with a video introduction instead of the standard text.  But to make it stand out a little, I recorded myself talking while overlooking a sharp cliff on the rugged island of Inishmore, Ireland. (To see what I mean, you can watch the video here.)

It’s not really that hard to make a video.  All you need is a simple Flip Video recorder, a tool to reformat the file from MP4 to WMV, and the Windows Movie Maker to edit/add slides.  The whole thing took me less than an hour.

Don’t be scared to put yourself in front of the camera.  Trust me… I’m really not good at it.  But I’m not afraid to look like an ass if it increases my conversion rates.  Videos have become a standard with Internet marketing.  So it’s important to get comfortable with them!

Step 8- Graphic Image

Having an eCover image definitely increases your opt-in rates.  It’s a way to increase the perceived value of your lead magnet.   In a way, subscribers subconsciously feel they’re getting a valuable piece of property instead of a simple download.

To get an idea of what I’m talking about, you can see the eCover image here.  Also if you want have something that really stands out, then I highly recommend the services of Stephen.

Step 9- Email Subscription Box w/Spam Privacy Statement

The words you put around the subscription area is extremely important.  Here’s what mine looks like:

First this description gives instructions for what I want prospects to do.  In this case, I’m telling them to enter first name and email address.

Next, it has a button with the words, ‘Free Instant Access.’  This has been proven by marketers way smarter than me to be the best text to put on a subscription button.

Finally there is an anti-spam disclaimer.  These days it’s important to let people know you’re not going to bombard them with emails they don’t want.  I tried my best to add a bit of personality to this disclaimer….hopefully it made me sound friendly and like a real, genuine person.

Overall, it’s important to give simple, clear instructions around your subscription area.  Tell people what they’ll receive and how to get it.

Step 10- List Segmentation

My first lead magnet was called “Life Plan Mastery.”  This taught people how to strategically get what they want out of life.  The problem with this report is it’s kind of generic.  I wanted something that really stood out from the glut of freebies other people offer.  So I decided to cover a major problem in Internet marketing- Picking a niche topic.

What I’m trying to do is identify the people interested in an online business and get them on a special list.  They’re automatically removed from the “Life Plan Mastery” list when they subscribe to the “41 Niches” list.  This is known as list segmentation.

There’s a reason I remove people from the 1st list if they join the 2nd.  I don’t want to bombard a person with emails from two different lists.  This is the quickest way to destroy an email relationship.  Now, I’m not an authority on list segmentation, but here’s a screenshot of how I set it up in the Aweber email marketing program:

It’s not mandatory to segment your list. But I’ve found it’s a useful way to laser target a certain population of your followers.  That makes it easy to customize your content and give people what they want.

Step 11- The Text Area

Right below the video is a block of text which summarizes the main points of the video:

A text area is a great way to reinforce what you discussed and list the highlights for the people (like me) who hate watching videos online.  The text doesn’t have be anything too fancy.  Just give a quick description of what you’re offering and how it’ll help solve a major problem they’re experiencing.

Step 12- Use Personalization

There’s a graphic of my digital signature at the bottom of the page…plus I included a mailing address:

Both elements increase the trustworthiness of my site.  I’m not some random guy on the Internet.  People see my face and they see that have a real, legitimate address.

Step 13- The “Mini-Site” Concept

I want to really drive home this final point.  The best way to leverage your web traffic is to use a mini-site.  The idea here is to get people to subscribe to your mailing list and then push them toward your content or whatever makes you money.

As an example, I’m currently working with my brother on a variation of this page which targets a major keyword phrase.  The plan is to rank high for the keyword, and get traffic through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)/article marketing.

Once people subscribe, I’ll dump the traffic back to my blog by recommending certain posts and product recommendations.  This increases traffic to a blog because you’re training subscribers to read your blog on a regular basis.

To All the Bloggers Reading this Post…

Let me apologize in advance if I sound patronizing.  But a HUGE mistake I see with bloggers is they don’t take the time to create a landing page.  Most direct all their traffic back to their blog.  Yes, this is a great way to temporarily increase traffic. But the ugly truth is most people won’t come back to your site unless you have a way to automatically let them know about your content.

By creating a landing page, you maximize the return on your web traffic.  You don’t even need to promote a product in your emails.  Instead you can build relationships by sending messages, updating subscribers about the best posts on your blog.

The point I’m trying to make is you should finish this article and immediately start on your landing page.  Then direct certain types of web traffic to this page.  You’d be surprised at how quickly you build an email list with this small tweak to your online business.

Final Thoughts…

Whew… this has been an exhausting post to write.  I’ll admit Harry Potter is one of my favorite book series.  And since I wrote this in the place where he was ‘conceived,’ I tried to give my best to provide a little magic for you.

It’s my sincere hope that you don’t just read this article… you’ll take action.  I wasted over two years spinning my wheels till I discovered the importance of landing pages.  This one technique helped me create an online business that brings me all over the world, including this particular spot in Edinburgh.

Well…this has been a fun location to write a blog post.  In fact, it just might inspire me to start my first novel.  Here goes:

“There once was a boy named Harry Potter”

Oh wait. I think that’s been used already.  Maybe I should think of something else!

Take Action. Get Results.

17 thoughts on “13 Steps to Perfect Landing Page Design”

    • Glad you like it. Hope you try the split testing that I talked about. It really is the best way to find if your new attempt really is better. Just keep tweaking until it is “perfect”

    • Thanks Dia,

      It isn’t the FIRST thing you should be looking at, and now reason to delay content going up. But a good “look” is one of the first things you should think about to make it better!

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article.

    I’m currently testing a couple of landing pages so your advice was very timely. I think the K.I.S.S. method works well for most marketers, unfortunately, there are many that believe otherwise. I also feel that testing your landing pages is critical. After all, if you don’t test, how would you know what works best. 😉

  2. Hi Steve,

    It’s been a while… and this comment is a small attempt to get back on the track to catch up on the wealth of information that I have been missing while I’ve been away.

    This is a great post! And congratulations on getting your new free product out.

    I’ll be back to check out the other posts.

    See you around then…


  3. Steve, this is really good. No, correction this is really, really good.

    I’ve learnt lots here, I didn’t know I could do the removal thing with Aweber, the importance of the fold and doing a video.

    I did my first video the other week as intro to the site (you can see it on my about page) – I must have had 30 attempts at it. Is it my best work, no, but it’s a start and it’s good enough, oh I did remember to get left and right, right!

  4. I do landing pages for the corporation where I work. Most of your advice is dead on…except number one. Not all landing pages are attempts to build a list. Many, many, many are sales funnels from PPC or e-mail marketing or other links where it’s critical to continue the message that got them to click in the first place. The goal of that click could be a sign-up, but it could also be a sales conversion.

    It could also be a segmentation tool, allowing info seekers to take one path and shoppers to take another. That little trick alone has increased our conversions and reduced bounce rates!

    As for K.I.S.S. , I wish there was some way to pound this into marketers’ heads! Between the internal jargon and the writing-by-committee, it’s amazing what otherwise intelligent business people try to put on a landing page. (And then there is the legal department, who wants their own stamp on each page…but that’s another headache!)

    Thanks for the overall reinforcement of good design 🙂

  5. Lindsay,

    I guess you are right that there could be many viable other uses for a landing page. (particularly if you are using email marketing and you already have an address)

    I still say that for the MAJORITY of bloggers and people out there using landing pages list building is pretty essential.
    I have done pretty well and live off of a mostly passive income because I went with list building rather than simply funneling people to a product.

    Once you get people on a list if you consistently provide them with quality information rather than just spamming them with affiliate links, you have a great resource to reach people directly when you do find a great and useful product.

    Just my opinion from my experience, of course. I have ton of experience creating landing pages, but I have only ever done them for my own businesses.

    Thank you very much for your comment, you did make me rethink my position a bit.

    • Theresa,

      This is one of those yes and no questions. Yes, you can make it a page on your blog. I have done that with a few blog related topics and linked them to the top bar (for further traffic push through). But it is often best NOT to have it on your blog. That way you can have incoming links FROM your blog and even more importantly really tailor the title to what you are having the landing page for.

      So in short: Yes. But a little more detailed would be: It depends.

      But if the question is “no” landing page vs on you blog… go for it on your blog.

  6. Steve,

    can you recommend any particular WordPress theme to create landing pages? I know about OptimizePress, but I’ve never used it, or any other, for that matter. However, I will have to prepare a landing page very soon, so I’m wondering if such specialized themes would really be of any help. Your input would be appreciated.

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