Here are 8 tips to help you turn an underperforming landing page into a star player.
 
1. Create a unique landing page. The first rule of thumb for PPC campaigns is: NEVER send your PPC campaigns to your home page, NEVER. Got that, NEVER! (Pardon the all caps, people.) By itself, your home page isn’t designed to convert. Its primary purpose is to be a brand entry point and navigational hub for your website. Depending on your conversion goal for your unique landing page, your landing page should provide users with the most direct path to the conversion event, whether it’s a page view, click-through or form submit.
 
2. Capture attention. The headline is the first thing visitors will see when they come to your landing page. So it’s important that the headline capture attention by stating clearly why your visitor should continue reading, scanning and viewing the page rather than exiting your site. Adding a subhead can help provide further clarity and give you another chance to hook your visitor into wanting to learn more or take the next step in engaging with your company.
 
3. Don’t just pick pretty images – make sure they support content. Many companies blow it when it comes to images on their landing pages. They pick a generic business image or one that the web designer personally likes. Instead, the image should work with the content to tell a story. You need to think about how that image helps convert and less about the artistic merits of the graphic.
 
4. Know your target audience. Most organizations think they have a pretty good understanding of their target audience. But how many of them have really taken the time to really get to know their target audience’s challenges, their decision criteria and their perceptions of your products or services – by actually talking to a few prospects or customers? By building buyer personas, organizations can finally connect with what really matters to their target audience, how best to reach them with the right messages, and how to overcome resistance and turn a suspect into a prospect.
 
5.  Don’t let your landing page be the online equivalent of the boring, self-absorbed guy who talks endlessly about himself at the party. Keep your audience in mind. What do they care about? What trends or case studies would they be interested in viewing or reading? Your content needs to address exactly what matters to your audience. Whether it’s in the form of a video or text, your landing page’s content is your golden opportunity to convince prospects, in a clear and concise way, the reasons why they should engage with you. Also, your landing page should have a single goal or call to action, so keep all of your copy on track with that objective in mind.
 
6. Don’t forget the next step. The call-to-action is what you want the user to do on the landing page, whether that action is to purchase, to sign up, to download – or even call a phone number. Often, the call-to-action is placed on a graphical submit button. You can also use hyperlinks within the copy to give visitors – who aren’t quite ready to respond to your offer – some valid alternatives to engage with additional content and keep them moving along in the buying process.
 
7. Establish credibility from the get-go. Any good relationship – even an online one – must be built based on trust. Your landing page is no different. In order to keep your visitors reading or viewing your content on your website or filling out a brief form, you must establish credibility with your visitors immediately. Client testimonials, guarantees, trust or security icons, and placement of privacy statements are ways that you can build trust and credibility with visitors right away. Be careful not to overdo it, though. Too much bragging and boasting or guarantees might have the opposite effect of triggering doubts in visitors’ minds.
 
8.  Test, test again, and test some more. You may have created a great landing page, but are you sure that it will convert – or convert better than sending visitors to your home page (It had better!)? The fact is, you will never know until you test it.  Don’t set it (your landing page) and forget about it. Instead, use your favorite testing tool – Google Conversion Optimizer (free), Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce, to name a few – to perform split tests, A/B tests, multivariate tests and more on your landing page(s). If you do, you will gather the intelligence needed to tweak your landing pages and improve conversions.
 
So what do you test? The answer is anything and everything. It depends on which variables are present and what action you are trying to get your visitor to take on your landing page.  It might be you want to test the headline, the content, the calls to action, or the images and layout.  Check out Scott’s conversion optimization guide for a more complete list.

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