Startup Marketing for Beginners: Introducing Landing Pages

Once you’ve gone through the playbook for establishing a strategy for your landing page, your next step is selecting a design.

Designers and marketers are two overlapping but distinct groups: the former builds for user experience (UX), the latter for conversion. These two perspectives overlap in Conversion Centered Design, a topic expertly coined by Unbounce.

A great landing page is beautiful and delightful, but at the same time able to guide and convert. The designer’s quest needs to serve your desire to generate reactions from prospects, turning them into leads, and your mission to convert needs to serve as the designer’s guiding voice.

Startups, however, rarely have the luxury of budgeting for a designer’s time creating landing pages, and that’s where ready-made solutions and templates come in.

There are thousands of templates to choose from, which can be difficult to properly assess.

In this article we’ll cover the three building blocks you need to look for when selecting a landing page design, and the six expectations you can quickly test to determine whether to investigate an option further.

1. Clarity

Landing pages are the last station on the line of marketing stops: you need to summarize instead of explaining, which means snappy, quick text and lots of visual triggers.

Tip: use the same, or visually similar images you’ve used before. They’ll act as triggers and establish a non-textual sense of familiarity that act as backdrop for your text.

Clarity means relaying the most information through the least amount of signals possible. Avoid long sentences: build on the keywords and triggers you established earlier in your marketing funnel.

Tip: save your visitors time, and say everything they need for a decision above the fold. All consequent parts of the page can have additional information, but everything a prospects needs to know for a ‘yes’ should be visible on first sight.

Once you established the purpose of the page above the fold, let them make a choice between moving forward (scrolling) or jumping in (complete the call-to-action).

Tip: if you’re using a parallax template, make sure each section reveals additional information and has a CTA, or "call to action," on it.

2. Communication

Different tools have different needs: a white paper or blog post can run several hundred or thousand words, while an email uses a fraction of that. Your landing page needs to be the dot on the ‘i’ and cross on the ’t’ - there’s no need to explain anything.

Tip: use the same headlines and keywords you used in your previous assets.

When writing copy for a blog or white paper, it makes sense to pose questions, cite external sources, compare solutions - on the landing page, not so much. Use language to your advantage, and speak with an active voice: say “use” instead of asking what they use, state that your product solves their problems instead of explaining how.

Tip: on your landing page, write everything as if saying ‘yes’ is implied and already done.

By the time they arrive at your landing page your prospects are familiar with your voice and you are with theirs. Use visual and textual contrast to direct and guide attention, but keep your tone and language the same.

Tip: subverting expectations (to create a surprise effect) only works if used sparingly. Its purpose is to direct attention to a specific spot - such as textually to emphasize a keyword, or visually to call attention to a button - but the effect will wear off and become confusing quickly.

3. Conversion

Landing pages have one purpose, and one purpose only: creating actionable, identified leads. The journey, however enjoyable it is, only worth something if it results in a conversion at the end.

Tip: don’t be afraid to ask for information such as email addresses. If you make your CTAs obvious it signals honesty, and builds trust.

Clarity and a single purpose means navigation (even if it’s your regular website’s menu) poses a distraction that should be eliminated. The time to make your prospects think is over: now it’s time to get them to make a decision.

Tip: you can install controlled loopbacks that lead back into a campaign, but as long as you can avoid it, don’t.

Think of your landing page as a two-part sentence: above the fold is your premise, below it is your reasoning. Because you start with the premise, your reasoning should accumulate toward the same.

Tip: think of the above-the-fold area as the only mandatory element of your page. If your visitors only have time for one thing, it should be a complete overview with a positive action they can take.

Landing page design cheat-sheet

As you saw, selecting a good design isn’t just about beauty - it’s also about the mechanics you as a marketer need to keep front and center. 94% of first visitor impressions are design related.

To make your job easier, we created a simple checklist that you can use (in conjunction with our playbook) to quickly sort out landing page designs before creating your short-list:

   * uses visual cues instead of textual ones
   * offers a straight, clear path from start to finish, and 
   * has no navigation
   * has a front-and-center call-to-action
   * allows you to use quick and active language
   * uses contrast to direct and guide attention within your existing design framework

Test every landing page template or design proposal against these expectations, and once you found a few, dive into customization.