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5 Essential Elements of a Winning Landing Page

Written by Oli Gardner


If landing pages didn’t exist and you were designing one for the very first time, what landing page elements would you need to make your new creation a success?


Let’s take look at the anatomy of a landing page, and we’ll define the building blocks of a successful online marketing campaign.¹



The five essential landing page elements every page must have


There are five must-have core elements on any landing page, which can be broken down further into a more detailed list of building blocks:


1. Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

  1. The main headline

  2. A supporting headline

  3. A reinforcement statement

  4. A closing argument

2. The hero shot (images/video showing the context of use)


3. The benefits of your offering

  1. A bullet point list summary of benefits

  2. Benefit and features in detail

4. Social proof (I’ll have what she’s having)

5. A single conversion goal — your Call-To-Action (CTA) (with or without a form)


The diagram below represents a sample layout with the five elements placed in locations determined by their hierarchical importance in terms of the story you are telling your visitors. Your specific landing page may vary from this layout, but it’s helpful to look at this for reference as we walk through each element.




1. The Unique Selling Proposition (USP)


The starting point of a marketing campaign revolves around your ability to define a point of differentiation. What is it about your product or service that sets it apart from the competition? You need to communicate this in a succinct way on your landing page. Try to break down your offering to its most basic level, to describe the specific benefit your customers will get by choosing your product/service.


A classic example comes from Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”


A well crafted USP (Unique Selling Proposition) sets clear expectations for your customers and allows them to understand why they should care.


The USP can be broken down into four-page elements, which collectively tell the story of your offering throughout the landing page:


  • The main headline: the Domino’s example above is a perfect illustration of a page headline.

  • The supporting headline: Sometimes you will need a secondary headline (typically smaller in size) that provides some clarification about the primary headline. Most commonly, this is used to allow the primary headline to be very short and punchy.

  • The reinforcement statement

  • The closing argument



1A. The main headline


Your headline is the very first thing that people will see and read. It’s critical that it very clearly describes what a visitor will get from the page (its goal) and that the message match is strong enough to show the visitor that they are in the right place.



1B. The supporting headline


Your headline can only say so much if you want to keep it succinct and easily digestible. The best way to keep your headline short and sweet is to add a supporting headline.

This can be used in two different ways:

  1. As a direct extension of the headline, where it follows the primary headline in such a way that it’s like finishing a sentence.

  2. To extend the message by applying an additional persuasive message to support the primary one.



1C. The reinforcement statement


People will scan your page when they are reading it. This makes it critical that any titles you use — such as your main headline and feature/benefit titles — throughout your page stand out to a reader.


There is another page title that you can use to drive home the purpose of your page. This is the reinforcement statement. It sits about halfway down your page, and serves to add a mid-experience message that you want to communicate to your visitors. Essentially it’s like a second headline.


Here is an example:


Main headline

The Easiest Way to Build, Publish, and Test Landing Pages Without I.T.


Reinforcement statement

Create beautiful landing pages in minutes with no HTML



1D. The closing argument


As your landing page comes to a close, you have one final chance to communicate the benefit of your offering. Similar to the reinforcement statement, it backs up your main value proposition. For a click-through page, it should be coupled with a repeat of your call-to-action.


Note: For a very short page, this isn’t always a requirement as your headline will still be visible.



2. The Hero Shot


The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true in the short attention span world of the landing page. The hero shot is the visual representation of your offer and can help people to gain a better understanding of what it is or what it looks like. For maximum effect, it should show the context of use². This means showing rather than telling how it will be used by a customer.


The idea here is to get your customers to empathize and place themselves in a scenario where they are using it. There are many ways in which to achieve this, including:

  • Photo(s): Consider an example of a collapsible step ladder. A standard white-background photo of the item would work for the hero shot, but to add the extra effect you could provide supplementary photos of someone unfolding it, using it to reach somewhere high, and placing it neatly into a small cupboard afterward.

  • Video: While the camera never lies, video is an even more compelling way to showcase your product. Think of the common Shamwow and Slapchop info-commercials. While cheesy, they impart a sense of need by illustrating direct benefits to everyday life.



3. The Benefits


Following the USP is a more detailed description of your offer’s benefits and features. By crafting an effective headline you gained the attention of your customer, and now you have to provide a little more detail to the offer to answer any questions they may have. Try to focus on answering the question “What will this do for me?”, as this will help you to write copy that speaks directly to your customer's questions.



3A. Benefit summary bullet points


It’s important to strike a balance here and not get into so much detail that your landing page feels like it’s full of text. Write a brief one-paragraph summary and three to five bullet points for clarity. Come back to this section many times and edit the copy to remove any bloated or unnecessary verbiage.


An example for a phone might be:


Bad (feature-based) Our new battery is twice as powerful as the competition.


Better (benefit based) Our new battery means you’ll only need to charge your phone every couple of days.



3B. Detailed benefit and feature descriptions


To support your brief benefit statements, you want to extend the bullet point descriptions into a more detailed overview of their purpose and benefit. A good way to approach this is to expand upon the benefits first, and then if needed, add some feature details below.


The important point to remember here is that you need to communicate the benefit of your offering first. Then, and only then, do you start to add features – which are typically directed towards those who require more detail in order to make a decision.


The benefits describe the problem you are solving, and the features describe what it does.



4. Social proof


Social proof ³ is a powerful persuasive concept. Simply put, it’s the use of social signals to illustrate that other people have bought/consumed/read/participated in what you are offering. The concept is that you are more likely to convert if you see those others before you have, and are glad they did.


Basecamp does an excellent job of showing social proof on its homepage:



There are two key examples of social proof here:

  • The headline that points out how popular they are by virtue of the number of signups in a week

  • The personal testimonial from a customer, including a link to her company for added believability

Other examples of social proof are:

  • Customer testimonials

  • Social signals — how well received is your offering on public networks?

  • A count of how many customers you have

  • Trust seals to establish the security of information

  • Awards from reputable organizations

  • Customer reviews — which are very powerful when prospects are comparison shopping



5. The conversion goal


Your conversion goal is a term that describes what the purpose of the page is to you. It’s purely a label intended to keep you focused on this page element when designing your page.


To a visitor, this is presented in the form of a Call-To-Action (CTA), which can either be a standalone button on a click-through page or as part of a lead gen form.


Your CTA is critical to conversions as it’s the target of your pages’ conversion goal — in other words, it’s what you want people to interact with on your landing page. How you design it, where you place it, and what it says are all important considerations.


It’s common — especially in the B2B marketplace — for the main purpose of your landing page to be lead generation. Usually, this will involve asking the visitor for their Name and Email in exchange for a piece of content such as an ebook. If you are requesting data from your customers, keep the form as short as possible and include a privacy statement near the button or email address field.


Poorly written CTAs are the standard CLICK HERE or SUBMIT. A good example would be “Get your $50 spa coupon” which clearly articulates what you will be receiving in exchange for your precious click.



Wrapping Up


By now you should have an understanding of what a landing page needs in order to function. As I mentioned at the start, you can use the 5 elements of a landing page to quickly construct an effective landing page for your marketing campaigns. One particularly good technique for visualizing landing page design potential is to create a paper prototype. Do a quick sketch of the 5 landing page elements on a piece of paper, cut them out and move them around on a new piece of paper. Try to lay it out so that they tell a fluid story with a strong focus on the CTA.



Written by Oli Gardner


¹ Campaign

A series of marketing activities designed to achieve clearly defined goals within a specified time frame. Whether the ultimate goal is to acquire new customers, launch a new product, promote brand awareness, or generate leads, smart conversion marketers think in terms of campaigns.


RESOURCES

  1. How to Develop and Run a Marketing Campaign

  2. How Marketing Agencies Use Landing Pages to Run Successful Campaigns

  3. 8 Killer Online Marketing Campaigns



² Context of Use

Clearly demonstrating how your product will be used by real people in real life. Classic infomercials like the ShamWow or the Magic Bullet were so effective because they demonstrated context of use, showcasing the products in action.


RESOURCES

  1. The 5 Essential Elements of a Winning Landing Page

  2. Why Context is the Future of Inbound



³ Social Proof

The positive influence that’s generated when people find out that “everybody’s doing it.” Building social proof into your offer in the form of testimonials, reviews, or trust seals is a great way to generate interest, increase credibility, and drive more conversions.


RESOURCES

  1. The Science of Social Proof: 5 Types and the Psychology Behind Why They Work

  2. 3 Excellent Ways to Make Your Landing Page Social Proof Actually Prove Something

  3. 10 Ways to Deliver the Social Proof You Need to Win Business

  4. [SLIDESHARE] Social Proof Tips to Boost Landing Page Conversions

  5. The Psychology of Social Proof and How to Build Trust in Your Business



Testimonials

Written, verbal or video quotes from a customer talking about their experiences with your brand. Testimonials bring powerful social proof, but you still need to test; even testimonials from real customers can appear fake to visitors.


RESOURCES

  1. Why Your Customer Testimonials Are NOT Working

  2. 10 Quick and Simple Ways to Power Up Your Customer Testimonials

  3. Why People Don't Trust Your Landing Page Testimonials

  4. 12 Posts to Perfect Your Customer Testimonials

  5. Landing Pages: 3 Types of Customer Review That Don't Work

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