14 Instant Landing Page Upgrades

Ian Lurie

Landing pages are a great way to generate sales from pay-per-click ads and e-mail campaigns. Folks click the ad and get a page tailored to their exact needs:
You get more conversions, the customers are happy. Unless, of course, your landing page sucks.
A few tips to make an instant improvement:

  1. Remove unnecessary fields. If you’re getting signups for an e-mail newsletter, why do you need their mailing address? Or their phone number? Remove those fields and your conversion rate goes up, I promise.
  2. Make a clearer button. For whatever reason, the Big Red Button works better than the little ‘click here’, every time. Replace that default ‘submit’ button with something big and graphical.
  3. Put the call to action in context. Instead of a button that reads ‘click here’ or ‘submit’, try one that reads ‘Sign Up Now’, ‘Buy Now’ or whatever else might be relevant.
  4. Get a better hero shot (the cute kid in the page above). If you have a photograph on your landing page, take a look at it. Is it directly relevant to the page? Or a cheesy stock photo? If the latter, remove it.
  5. Make sure your hero shot faces the right way. If you have a person in your hero shot, they should face towards the page or out at the audience. Not off the page.
  6. Compress your image. Back to the hero shot again. Last time, I promise. Make sure that image is compressed to as small a file size as possible. Faster load time means more folks stick around.
  7. Check your heading. Is your heading a great call to action, or a painful reminder of your C- in high school English? If you write your heading on a blank sheet of paper, it should instantly tell the reader what you’re selling and why they want it. If it doesn’t, try again.
  8. Use bullets. Pick the 5 most compelling reasons for the visitor to take action. Write them into bullets and put them at the top of the page, next to the hero shot or above it.
  9. Use short paragraphs. Never have a paragraph longer than 3-4 lines of text. Don’t argue, OK? Just trust me on this one. Folks don’t want to read War and Peace. These days, folks don’t even want to read USA Today. Keep your message short and sweet.
  10. Avoid long words. I’m really glad you know what supercilious means. Now replace it with ‘annoying’ or ‘patronizing’ or just ‘jerk’.
  11. Move everything up. The hero shot, bullets and headline should all appear ‘above the fold’ – visitors shouldn’t have to scroll down to read them. Make room.
  12. Test in all browsers. Make sure your page looks OK in Internet Explorer 6 and 7 (not 8 yet, thank God), Firefox and Safari.
  13. Validate. Make sure that, if someone leaves a field on the form blank, it’s easy for them to fix it. Clearly indicate the field they left blank, and explain what they need to do. Don’t wipe the whole page blank and make them start over.
  14. Set up testing. Use Google Website Optimizer to test different headlines, copy and graphics. Find the best combination. You’ll be amazed at the results.

[Bonus: Use analytics. I mean, you should be anyway. But this is your chance to nod vigorously, then slink off and get analytics set up. I won’t tell.]
No landing page is ever perfect. But make a few changes here and there, and see how much you can improve performance.

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Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Thanks for the great article, Ian. I am still surprised how many well crafted PPC-Campaigns have bad landing pages – some don’t even have a landing page, but head to the homepage.

  2. Ian – thank you. I mean, I wish I’d written that first, but thanks for putting all the main points in one easy to get to space.
    I’d add:
    by all means have more detailed text – but below the fold.. for those 10% that actually scroll
    add a privacy link (next to the email field & possibly again in the footer)
    add 2-5 links in the footer to other relevant content, preferably on the same domain – esp if using ppc traffic
    make the font size bigger. go on. bigger. especially the form fields
    & lastly a new one thank to Luke Wroblewski’s new book. Better to actually write (optional) next to say the phone number – rather than the usual ‘*’ next to required fields
    yep it’s harder to fit in & keep the design looking great, but it works

  3. Great post! I would have put your last one first: Use Google Website Optimizer everyday. It’s better than flossing.
    I will say that you have finally pushed me over the edge…I am going to have my design person build me some nice big RED buttons.
    cheers! – Ryan

  4. Hello
    Good article, covers the basics of landing pages well, and i don’t mean that in a patronising way – landing pages should be simple and not complicated.
    Do you have any stats available for how landing pages have uplifted campaign metric such as email sign-up, average order value, conversion rate etc?

  5. @James really hard to say as it varies widely from campaign to campaign, but I’ve seen amazing results: 3-4x increase in conversion rates…

  6. This is a great list. Once you’ve got the visitor there, making sure you have all elements in place to increase that chance of a conversion is key. It’s amazing how closely we have to “lead” our visitors to the checkout process – almost like hand holding, but well worth it.

  7. Great post! I agree to you. I also agree to “Ryan”. I myself improved landing page design conversion rate by using “Google Website Optimizer”
    All your points are very easy to understand and detailed as well.
    Russell W.

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