What Is a Landing Page in Digital Marketing?
Landing pages need to be highly customized to drive conversion rates and decrease your customer acquisition cost. Read on to discover why you need landing pages, what types of landing pages are most effective, and how you can optimize your digital marketing landing page to increase conversions.
In this landing page guide, you’ll discover:
- What is a landing page?
- Why landing page design matters?
- Why do you need landing pages?
- Differences between a homepage and landing page
- Types of landing pages
- How to use landing pages to increase conversions
- Key elements for great landing pages
- How to create your own landing page
- Frequently asked questions
What is a landing page?
In digital marketing, a landing page is defined as the webpage visitors land on immediately after clicking links in:
- Email marketing campaigns
- Search engine results
- Social media advertisements
Though Google and other search providers define a landing page as the first page viewed in a session, the digital marketing definition is more specific.
Each of these generally falls within the category of either a lead generation landing page or clickthrough landing page. These are the two main types of landing page.
Why landing page design matters.
Landing pages should contain compelling information and a clear call-to-action, or CTA, with explicit next steps. This helps visitors quickly assess whether what you are offering meets their needs.
While this concept seems straightforward, choosing the right copy and images to drive conversions through your digital marketing landing page requires skill and effort. In fact, the average landing page only converts somewhere between 2 and 5 out of every 100 visitors.
On the other hand, well-designed landing pages can generate significant traffic and act as the leading paid channel for businesses. High-performing landing pages demonstrate value, an understanding of consumers’ needs, and a clear explanation of how those needs can be met.
Why do you need landing pages?
If you aren’t using landing pages in your campaigns, you’re missing out on significant opportunities. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Meeting user expectations. Every digital campaign needs a landing page to convert visitors into customers. If visitors click on your advertisements and are directed to pages unrelated to the promotion, they might be confused and less inclined to purchase or convert. Each landing page needs to match the associated campaign messaging to meet user expectations.
- Promoting action. Landing pages allow you to emphasize a single action you want visitors to take. Whether you want prospects to download a gated asset, sign up for a newsletter, or purchase items on sale, focusing on one goal per page encourages visitors to make decisions.
- Boosting site performance. Google can discern how well your site anticipates visitors’ needs. Vague messaging on your landing pages will drastically change your ad rank, cost-per-click, and position in the ad auction. Your landing pages can help algorithms recognize your value and boost your SEO with relevant keywords in headers, URLs, alt text, and content.
- Lead generation. Landing pages are handy for collecting valuable contact information. You can require visitors to enter their names, work emails, and job titles on contact forms in exchange for gated assets like webinars or eBooks. This allows companies with longer sales cycles to send email campaigns later.
Differences between a homepage and landing page.
Marketers often struggle to understand the distinction between the homepage and landing pages, and the considerations required when developing each. We define a landing page and homepage as below:
- Landing pages. Single webpages or small hub sites focused on getting the user to take a specific action, such as sign up for a report.
- Homepage. Main navigational page of your site. From the homepage people can access various content and view FAQs using nav bars.
Homepage vs landing page.
Types of landing pages.
Overwhelmed by the thought of creating a landing page for each campaign? Fortunately, there are a few go-to types of digital marketing landing pages that can be customized for your campaign.
Lead generation and clickthrough are the two main types of landing page. But you may hear of a variety of related types, including squeeze pages, sales pages, infomercials, splash pages, viral landing pages, and microsites.
Lead-gen landing pages.
One of the most popular types of landing page. Lead-gen pages are all about generating sales leads. Ads will be hosted on social media, in Google, or through an email campaign — urging the user to follow a link to the landing page to get some exclusive content, for example a whitepaper.
When the user lands on the landing page, it’ll be geared towards them sharing their details through a form, in order to download the exclusive whitepaper content. The CTA of the page is the data-capture form.
The user gets a helpful, insight-packed piece of content while your brand gets a valuable new lead, who it will continue to serve relevant content and offers to over time, known as lead nurturing.
Single-offer landing pages.
A single-offer digital marketing landing page only has one asset. While these pages rarely generate as much traffic as hub-style pages, they typically result in more conversions due to their specificity.
Single-offer landing pages are most effective later in the customer journey when a consumer is aware of or experiencing an issue that the content directly addresses. Even if these leads do not convert right away, you have contact information and can send them more content related to their pain points.
Clickthrough landing pages.
Clickthrough landing pages are a more immediate form of a lead-gen landing page. They are often used by eCommerce sites which are focused on making fast, high-volume sales, more than building a sales pipeline and nurturing leads.
These pages are a little riskier than hub-style or single-asset pages since they lead prospects straight to a subscription or direct sale. On this landing page type, customers can simply click a CTA button like ‘Buy now’ to move forward with a transaction.
The buttons and links will direct you to a page where you can purchase the goods or services. The aim is to get people to convert there and then, as opposed to nurturing the lead over a longer period.
Hub-style landing pages.
Hub-style landing pages cater to visitors looking for educational material. This type of page organizes your videos, eBooks, and infographics in a digestible way.
- Help to establish your business as an industry expert or thought leader.
- Are best for engaging top-of-funnel prospects.
- Educate prospects on your brand value.
- Gather contact information.
You can later review data from the page to understand what your prospects are interested in.
How to use landing pages to increase conversions.
Creating diverse landing pages can drive more traffic to your site. Incorporate them into your paid, organic, email, and retargeting campaigns to get the most from your pages. Explore the below examples of how landing pages can benefit campaigns.
Paid campaign landing pages.
Paid social media ads allow you to be precise with your audience targets. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram attract people with very different attributes and preferences.
Social media platforms aggregate these characteristics so you can target particular groups — even before they know they would be interested in your products.
Paid social media advertising gives you the flexibility to refine your targeting and retargeting strategies over time, but those features are wasted if your traffic is funneled to irrelevant webpages. Highly targeted ads require highly targeted landing pages to achieve maximum ROI.
Search engines also offer paid advertising based on:
- Browsing history
- Search terms
- Demographic data
Similar to social media ads, pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns guide prospects to landing pages too.
Landing pages are especially important for PPC ads because they contribute to Google’s ad Quality Score. Campaigns with poor landing pages will have a lower Quality Score, causing a stark decrease in site traffic.
Start by designing landing pages for PPC campaigns on Google or Bing. These landing pages should:
- Be hyper-relevant and reinforce the promise of your ad.
- Simplify the CTA to a single next step the visitor should take.
In the end, this type of landing page can decrease your cost of acquisition, increase conversions, and lower cost-per-click costs.
Email campaign landing pages.
Email campaigns are still one of the most popular forms of marketing, delivering $44 in ROI for every $1 spent. Email marketers may not have as much detailed data to work with, but email campaigns have tremendous reach.
Email lists include both new and existing customers, so landing pages can be tailored to those unique audiences.
If you are looking to generate more ROI, write personalized emails and landing pages. Landing pages for existing customers consider products they may have purchased previously. Try suggesting new products that complement the ones they already have.
Those that address prospects should consider other hub-style or single-asset landing pages they may have seen, and the problems they are looking to solve.
Retargeting campaign landing pages.
Sometimes customers cancel their subscriptions or go months without purchasing. Retargeting campaigns can get these former customers to resubscribe and/or make other purchases.
Retargeting campaigns have high stakes, so they often include discounts and highly persuasive landing pages to convince people to return. This customization pays off — optimizing retargeting campaign landing pages can double or even triple your conversion rate.
When planning a retargeting campaign, research where your customers are hanging out. Are they:
- On Facebook?
- Reading your blog?
- Checking out emails?
Try to meet them there and create a landing page that encourages engagement. This could mean asking for feedback or sharing what they could gain from joining a loyalty program.
Organic campaign landing pages.
Search engine optimization is key for organic campaigns. Creating competitive content that lands at the top of Google drives organic traffic. To get there, your content needs to be exceptionally valuable to your target audience.
Often, your homepage might be what ranks in search engines. Unfortunately, many homepages are not laser-focused on conversions.
Be sure to:
- Research the needs and questions your prospects might have.
- Explore the keywords they use to locate answers.
- Address these questions in your organic landing pages.
This can help you rise higher in the search engine results. But update these landing pages as your customer demographics and product offerings change.
Key elements for great landing pages.
Landing pages will differ based on their corresponding campaign, but each must contain key elements to increase conversions and capture lead information.
This is your first chance to hook your audience in. Although people scroll vertically more than they used to, eye-tracking data shows that they will still look more above the page fold than below it.
- Personalize your message to stand out from the crowd.
- Address your target customer by name.
- Add relatable videos or images.
- Acknowledge prospects’ concerns related to their profession.
Grab the visitor’s attention and communicate your message with a clear headline, supporting headline, and hero image.
Although this will technically be found above the fold, the CTA deserves some individual attention. Your CTA should align with an action you want visitors to take. As much as possible, the CTA should remain consistent throughout the page.
Demonstrate your unique value to your visitors right away with clear, compelling, targeted copy. Some landing pages do this by adding an ROI calculator. This allows prospects to immediately predict how they could use a product to save time or money.
Another way to demonstrate benefits is to include a bulleted list of what someone will learn if they download a piece of your content.
Incorporating social proof in a landing page can improve users’ confidence in your offerings. Things to consider include:
- A banner of your biggest customer logos to validate your company.
- Testimonials to help potential customers answer: ‘What’s in it for me?’
- Links to press articles and other earned coverage.
- Stats showing the number of new customers.
You could also conduct A/B testing to identify what social proof generates the most respect and interest from your readers.
Closing or nurturing.
Reiterate your message and give your visitors another clear pathway forward. Obviously, you want visitors to follow through on your call-to-action. However, they may not be quite ready to complete that action.
Give them an out by suggesting something else that could help them make a decision, like:
- Requesting a demo
- Joining an email list
- Downloading a report
If the prospect isn’t ready to make a purchase or sign up for a service, it’s all about continuing that conversation by providing something of value.
How to create your own landing page.
There are best practices every site should follow when creating landing pages. Here, we break these down into a few simple steps.
1. Do your research.
Research your competitors. What headlines do they use and what is their writing style? What images do they use? What can you learn from them in the way they have structured their pages and CTAs?
2. Be clear on the purpose.
Why are you creating this page? Landing pages are generally designed as a place for users to ‘land’ when clicking through from an email, ad, or social post. Are people trying to retrieve an offer or signing up for more information? What do you want them to do next?
3. Focus on the user.
Understand who may be arriving at this landing page. Refer to your user personas and ask yourself what that person will expect to see and how likely they are to engage with it. This will affect how you write the copy and structure the page.
People land on webpages, scan quickly and then leave. Make it easy for them to see what you’re offering, and simple for them to access it. Whether that’s a form to complete or a code to access.
4. Write strong headlines.
Headlines are crucial to ensuring the user understands the purpose of your page and how it can help them. A good headline will be concise, active and speak directly to the reader with a hook to make them read on. In fact, 90% of visitors who read your headline will also read your CTA. Without a captivating headline, visitors will simply click away.
Here’s how to write headlines for specific campaigns:
- Informational content. Use a ‘how to’ headline to show the reader they will learn something by engaging.
- Commercial campaigns. Use the word ‘you’ to speak directly to the reader, and stress what they will gain.
5. Concise copy and structure.
Online, people scan rather than read. The Nielsen Norman Group found only 16% of people read word-by-word when looking at a webpage. Your landing page content needs to be short and sweet, with the language plain and easy to understand and always focused on the reader.
Here are some top tips to follow:
- Perfect the headline and opening paragraph
- Break up the page with sub-headings
- Use bulleted lists to detail steps or benefits
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short
- Prefer short, simple words to long, complex words
- Use bolded important phrases to catch the eye
Again, A/B tests are a fantastic way to find out what works and what doesn’t.
6. Select eye-catching images.
The best ads sell a feeling. Images are a wonderful way to evoke an emotional response. In fact, the human visual system collects up to 80% of all the sensory data received from the environment.
Use this natural tendency to your advantage. Rather than picking a dull stock photo or an unexciting image of your product, think about what your readers want to feel. Select an image that conveys how your product or service can recreate that feeling.
7. Favor clean, clear UX design.
Sloppy, over-crowded landing pages are just inviting your prospects to click away.
Disorganized landing pages communicate chaos to your readers. Choose clean, simple designs to keep the reader concentrated on your copy and CTA.
Usability expert Steve Krug outlined some key principles in his totemic book, Don’t Make Me Think:
- Use design conventions
- Create visual hierarchy
- Break the page into clear sections
- Make it clear what’s clickable
- Cut the copy by 50%
Also ensure that your landing page complements your ad. If the design and messages are drastically different, the reader will be confused, and it can lead to doubt in your brand’s quality and value.
8. Test, test, test.
Customer preferences are ever-changing, which means your landing pages must evolve too. A/B testing allows you to measure the performance of two landing pages with slight differences (such as headlines or CTAs).
The winner of an A/B test can become your new default page. After a few weeks, test this default against another variation, and continue doing this to improve your conversion rates over time.
In contrast to the A/B test, which is very specific, multivariate testing gives marketers a broader idea of what is working. This might help if you are trying two drastically different landing pages to see which version to continue using as a template.
Attract customers with killer landing pages.
Getting visitors to your landing page is one thing. Getting them to respond is quite another. Now you’re equipped with the basics, you can focus on driving conversions and cutting customer acquisition costs.
This is not as easy as it sounds — keeping leads interested is both an art and a science. Experimenting with various campaigns, layouts, navigation, and copy takes time and effort.
Luckily, Marketo Engage has already tested hundreds of different landing pages as a trusted advisor to companies like CenturyLink, Charles Schwab, and General Electric. Marketo Engage has nearly a decade of leadership experience in lead management, and specializes in email and consumer marketing.
Learn how the experts lure the most valuable customers by downloading our Landing Page Optimization eBook today.
Frequently asked questions about landing pages for digital marketing.
What is a landing page in digital marketing?
A landing page in digital marketing is the webpage that you direct your user to from an email, social post or PPC ad. Its aim is to expand on or fulfil the promise of what was detailed in the email, post or ad. They’re generally used to encourage readers to further their journey with your brand by, for example, filling in a form to get an exclusive whitepaper or access a discount code for a seasonal promotion.
What’s the difference between a landing page and a website?
A landing page is a webpage you create specifically to drive traffic to from online ads, email campaigns or social media posts with the aim of achieving a specific goal related to that campaign, such as sign-ups or downloads. Whereas a standard website is designed to be found through organic search and directly through its web address. While a landing page is generally a single page, a website is made up of multiple pages.
What is a good landing page definition?
To define a landing page, you could say it’s a single webpage created with a specific goal, generally to support a digital marketing campaign or competition, and accessed via links in emails, social media posts and PPC ads. Its aim may be to get the user to sign up for something, download an asset or apply for a service.