From effective design elements to optimization tips, here’s what you need to know to create successful landing pages.

Here, you’ll find:

When it comes to paid search, the ad itself is only part of the equation. Once you get that coveted click, there’s more work to be done.

That’s where your landing page comes in.

Landing pages can make or break your campaigns. While effective landing pages can offer impressive conversion rates, not-so-effective ones garner little more than a high bounce rate and wasted marketing spend on clicks that don’t convert.

In this guide, we’re giving you everything you need to know about landing pages and how to create ones that get results.

What is a landing page?

A landing page is a page on your website designed to get the user to take one specific action — whether that’s to provide their contact information, make a purchase, or something else meaningful. People most often arrive on a landing page by clicking through an ad or an email.

Website page vs landing page

The main difference between a website page and a landing page is that the landing page is designed with a single goal in mind. Website pages often have multiple goals and encourage users to explore; while landing pages focus on a single call-to-action (CTA).

Landing pages are generally designed with a more targeted audience in mind than the rest of your site. That means you won’t find them through the home page or navigational menu.

Types of landing pages

There are generally two types of landing pages—lead generation and click-through.

Lead generation landing pages

Lead generation landing pages are designed to get visitor contact information in exchange for a free resource. This can be a free ebook, webinar, whitepaper, private podcast, template, or any other kind of lead magnet.

Here’s a great example of a lead magnet landing page from HubSpot:

Lead magnet landing page

Notice that it has one goal—to get you to enter your personal contact information in exchange for a download of a business goal-setting template.

Click-through landing pages

Click-through landing pages are a type of page that is designed to get visitors to click the CTA and be taken to a new page to follow through with the action. The action might be to place an order, schedule a consultation, or something more.

This click-through landing page from meal kit delivery subscription service Hello Fresh has a button with the CTA “Explore Plans.”

Click-through landing page example

When you click the CTA button, you are then taken to a page where you can sign up for a subscription.

Hello Fresh checkout page

Why are they important?

Landing pages are important because they can help you get better results with your marketing and ad campaigns. With a focus on one specific goal, landing pages help you improve conversion rates and support your lead-generation efforts.

Here are just a few ways that landing pages can benefit your online marketing campaigns:

  • Drive better results: Overall, landing pages help get you better results as they are focused on one primary goal and optimized for conversions.
  • Simplify campaign measurement: It’s easy to measure and track the performance of your landing pages.
  • Get audience insights: As you test your landing pages, you’ll get important insights into what messages and designs work best for your target audience.

How to create high-converting landing pages

You won’t know exactly what works best for your landing pages until you test them. However, a few key elements can help ensure your landing pages are as targeted and effective as possible. Use these landing page best practices to get started building your own landing page:

  1. Start with an eye-catching hero image
  2. Write a compelling headline
  3. Craft concise supporting copy
  4. Add a lead form
  5. Create one strong call to action

1. Start with an eye-catching hero image

The hero image is the main image at the top of your landing page located above the fold, or the area that can be seen without scrolling. Some companies will use this area to showcase their product, while others will use graphics or illustrations that represent their brand.

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your hero image:

  • Keep it simple to avoid overwhelming the user or making the page feel cluttered.
  • Use high-quality images or graphics. If you don’t have someone on your team to handle design, consider outsourcing the work.
  • Choose images that compliment the design of the page and align with your branding.

Semrush’s hero image for this landing page incorporates both a high-quality image and a graphic that highlights the information you can get from the tool. It’s simple and clear while using the company’s branding.

SEMrush hero image

2. Write a compelling headline

Your headline is one of the most important elements on the page. It’s the first thing that a visitor will read, so it will play a major role in whether or not they read the rest of the page.

The headline should highlight the benefits of your offer and tell the user exactly what they will get when they hand over their information. Often, the heading will be followed by a subheading that provides additional context.

Here’s a great example from Netflix:

Netflix headline example

The headline and subheading tell you exactly what the streaming service is and the benefits it provides. It’s simple and to the point but effective.

3. Craft concise supporting copy

Sometimes, the heading and subheading are enough to convince the user to take the desired action. However, you can use supporting copy to provide additional context that encourages the user to take action.

If you decide to use supporting copy, you need to make it clear and concise. Use bullet points to highlight the important details, and make any statements you want to stand out bold so that people scanning the page will get the point.

“Writing high-converting landing page copy is a science and an art. The single most important thing? Clarity,” says James Wilkinson, CEO and co-founder of Balance One Supplements.

“Your landing page needs to immediately communicate who you are, what you offer, and why this offer matters to the user who just clicked on the link. If you confuse the visitor, you’ve lost that conversion.”

The Balance One marketing team recently created a landing page for their sleep-support supplement. Wilkinson shares that while the initial version was well-written, it used a lot of industry jargon, and there was no clear call to action.

Through A/B testing, they found that the conversion rates jumped from 2% to 8% when they used a landing page version with more concise copy, a benefit-focused headline, and a big “Buy Now” button. It’s the power of clarity in action.

4. Add a lead form

If you’re using a landing page for lead generation, you need to include a lead form where users can enter their information.

While you can ask for whatever information you want, it’s best to only ask for the information you absolutely need. The more form fields you have, the longer the form takes to fill and the less likely visitors are to fill it out.

The form fields you use will depend on what you’re offering and what information you need from your leads. But in many cases, just an email address is enough (or a first name and an email address).

5. Create one strong call to action

Since the goal of your landing page is to get the user to take a single action, you should have just one call-to-action button.

If it’s a lead generation landing page, the CTA button will come at the end of the form. Once the user fills out the form, they’ll click the button to submit it. The CTA copy should tell the user what will happen after they click on the button.

Here’s a great example from SEMrush. Once the user fills in the form, they click the orange button to download the report. The CTA (“Explore the full report”) is concise and clear.

SEMrush lead gen landing page
If it’s a click-through landing page, the call-to-action will be a button that takes the user to the final step, whether that’s to make a purchase, schedule a consult, or start a free trial.

Here’s an example of a click-through landing page from Arcade. The CTA — “Try Arcade Free” — is simple and clear.

Arcade landing page example

After you click on the CTA button, it takes you to the next step where you enter your contact information to start the free trial.

Arcade landing page 2

How do you design a successful landing page?

When designing your landing pages, experience tells us that the most important word to keep in mind is “minimalism.” That’s because, more than anything, you want your page to be free from distractions.

Anything that could divert the visitor’s eye from your CTA will only do your page a disservice. 

“One of the biggest mistakes people make with landing page design is cluttering the page with too much information or unnecessary design elements,” says Jenna Adams, CEO and founder of Avenue Perth.

“A cluttered layout can overwhelm visitors and distract them from the primary message and call-to-action. Keep your landing page clean and focused, with a clear hierarchy of information and minimal distractions.”

Because people are often pressed for time, you don’t want the viewer to have to do a ton of scrolling to complete the desired action. Along with a clean, minimal design, it’s wise to keep things short and to the point.

One easy way to stick to a less-is-more aesthetic is by excluding elements that appear on your regular site pages. Think: your header navigation or subscriber box for your newsletter.

These are great to have on your regular pages, but they can potentially make your landing pages cluttered, depending on what other elements are in play.

Instead, you could simply hyperlink your logo to your homepage, where visitors can find these page elements if needed.

Each design element should serve to tastefully draw the reader’s eye to your CTA. This includes things like whitespace and thoughtful imagery, such as stock photos, color blocks, or informative charts.

(Whitespace doesn’t necessarily mean “white” in color — just free from text, images, or graphics.)

What are some common mistakes to avoid?

There’s almost always room for improvement when it comes to your landing pages. However, we’ve seen companies repeatedly make a few common landing page mistakes.

These include things like:

  • Neglecting to test your forms
  • Too many design elements on one page
  • Boring, generic CTAs
  • Clunky, jargon-filled copy
  • Slow page speed

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes we see with landing page design is a lack of mobile responsiveness. Given that 63% of organic search visits come from mobile devices, you need to design landing pages that can be easily navigated from smaller device screens.

“A pivotal element when designing landing pages is prioritizing usability and visual hierarchy to guide the user effortlessly towards the CTA,”  says Brian Kratt, head of design at Plumb Development. “One glaring mistake I’ve observed is the lack of emphasis on mobile responsiveness, which can alienate a significant portion of the audience.”

“In a specific project at Plumb Development, by focusing on a mobile-first design approach, we ensured that key elements like CTAs were prominently displayed and easy to interact with on smaller screens, resulting in a 30% increase in conversions from mobile users.”

The good news? Once you know to look for these issues, any that you come across can usually be addressed and fixed quickly.

How do you optimize for conversions?

Conversions are the goal of most landing pages. Because of this, any optimization tweaks or tests conducted should aim to increase those conversions.

For starters, spend time brainstorming a handful of attention-grabbing headlines that you can then test to see how your audience responds.

From there, make sure your copy highlights the value you can provide your visitor or what problem your product or service can solve, using proof points such as client testimonials or badges if you have them.

These elements are often more effective than when a company simply brags about its greatness.

Basically, focus on what value your company can bring to the visitor, not on your company itself.

Other conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies for landing pages include:

  • An easy-to-complete form
  • Proof points that illustrate your credibility
  • A special offer of some sort
  • A mobile-friendly experience
  • Social share buttons
  • A plan for consistent element testing and analysis


Heatmapping tells you a lot about how your audience interacts with your landing page. This tool shows things like scrolling behavior, where on the page people gravitate to most, and how activity might vary on different devices.

Heatmaps give you insightful data that you can use to improve your landing pages for conversions. For example, if you find that users are spending the most time on a certain area of the page, you might put the CTA button there.

“A key to landing page optimization is using a data-driven approach,” says Robert P. Dickey, President and CEO at AQ Marketing. Utilizing heat mapping to track user interactions can significantly inform design adjustments.”

Dickey describes one project where his team used heatmap data to determine they needed to move the CTA button. They moved it above the fold and increased conversions by 25%.

A/B testing

A/B testing is another way to get data that can help you optimize your landing pages for conversions. With A/B testing, you can test different elements of your page, one at a time, to find the variants that work best.

For example, you might test two different CTA buttons to see which one gets the most clicks. The key to A/B testing is to only test one variant at a time while keeping the rest of the page exactly the same. This is the only way to determine if the variant you’re testing is the element impacting conversions.

“Never settle on your first version of your landing page. Instead, test as many elements as possible to identify which features resonate the most with your audience and drive the most sales,” says Colt Agar, organic marketing lead at Red Stag Fulfillment.

“Your headlines, photos, color schemes, and calls-to-actions are all fluid for the first few weeks or months of launching your landing page. Iteration will help you strengthen your conversion strategy, so be open to trying different combinations of ideas until you find one that works best.”

What are some examples of effective landing pages?

Just like there’s no single path to increase landing page conversions, there’s no one right way to design your landing page.

With that in mind, here are a few landing pages for brands we’ve worked with that not only ended up paying for themselves, but that saw results like more time on site, increased conversions, reduced bounce rate, and more.

zephyr landing page

What makes it successful: This landing page for test management software company Zephyr gets down to business. The offer is clear, the design is minimal, and the claims are backed up by impressive proof points.

rokitboost landing page

What makes it successful: This landing page for Bluetooth headphone brand RokitBoost leans heavily on the visual to show the specific product it’s selling “in action.”

From there, it uses minimalist navigation if the visitor wants to know more before purchasing. Otherwise, they can go ahead and add to the cart, with the added perks of free shipping and a money-back guarantee.

proven landing page

What makes it successful: Proven’s goal is to help businesses hire better and faster. This page targets restaurants with a simple design, strong CTA, and thoughtful use of color to draw the eye where it needs to go.

See more examples of successful landing pages and their results here.

The takeaway

Landing pages deserve a prominent place in your digital marketing plan.

They can be a significant value driver for your business, whether you leverage them as part of your pay-per-click (or paid search) campaigns, email marketing, or elsewhere.

You’re bound to see positive results when you create well-thought-out landing pages with the right mix of elements, a clear message, and an easy way to complete the desired action.

And if you need support creating high-performing landing pages for your marketing campaigns, we’re here to help. Reach out for a consultation.

This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2020.

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