A great landing page can lead to more clicks, more qualified leads, and more paying customers. But what makes a landing page great? Is it the graphics, headlines, copy, call to action—or some mystical combination of all these elements, plus a liberal dose of luck?

Read on for some of the secrets to a successful landing page. As you implement these, remember to analyze as you optimize. Adobe Target includes powerful testing tools to monitor and measure results.

What a Landing Page Is—and Isn’t

Landing pages are special online sales tools with a single purpose. Your landing page might be designed to collect email addresses for your mailing list, give away a free resource to boost your authority or market your paid offerings, or even sell a product or service (usually at a discount).

A landing page is not:

  • A longer version of a banner ad
  • Another page of your business website
  • A digital work of art
  • The place to list your entire catalog of products or services, in the hopes that visitors will just buy something

Highly effective landing pages are clean, precise, and focused on a single target—your unique call to action (CTA).

What Belongs on Your Landing Page

To create a high-conversion landing page, start by pinpointing exactly what you want your visitors to do. This is your all-important CTA, and it will determine what makes up the rest of your landing page. Your CTA may be a deep discount on a popular or newly launched product or service, or simply an incentive to sign up for your mailing list. Whatever it is, all other elements on the page should contribute to that goal.

Once you’ve identified your CTA, make sure to include these must-have elements.

Catchy and relevant headlines. As a marketer, you know your headlines have to grab attention—but too often, landing pages try to cram every detail into the headline, only to end up with a convoluted, unattractive mess. Keep it short and snappy, leaving people wanting to learn more. Additionally, make sure your headline is relevant to your marketing message. Whatever was advertised to get people to click through should be reflected in your landing page. Your banner, pay-per-click (PPC) ad, or promoted social post is a promise that your page must keep.

Compelling copy (with bullets). Just as with your headline, it’s important to keep the copy on your landing page short, sweet, and to the point. Briefly explain what you’re offering, and use bullet points to highlight the benefits of taking action. Consider using different messaging for various segments; this targeted content will connect more effectively with audiences.

An amazing deal. If you’re offering a discount, make sure it’s enough to make it a real bargain. If you’re giving away a free resource, such as a white paper, report, or case study, ensure that it’s truly valuable. The better your deal, the higher your conversion rate. Again, it’s best to test various offers to determine which appeals most to your audience.

Prominent call to action. Make it impossible to miss your CTA. Your landing page is the place for the Big Red Button—but skip the bland “Get Offer” or “Click Here!” text. Instead, use a few well-chosen words to reinforce exactly what your visitors will receive when they click. Consider testing multiple CTAs with A/B or multivariate testing (MVT) to determine which gets the most clicks and conversions. For example, you could do a simple MVT on your CTA button, to gauge the effectiveness of its placement or design.

What Not to Include on Your Landing Page

Just as there are some elements that will boost conversions on your landing page, others will drive visitors away. Avoid these common landing page blunders.

Displaying social media buttons. Imagine this: A visitor arrives on your landing page and sees the familiar blue “Like us on Facebook!” button. They click through and like your Facebook page. Then they see a notification from a friend, decide to respond, and your landing page becomes a distant memory as they meander through Facebook.

Unless your landing page’s CTA is to get more likes on Facebook, it’s a good idea to avoid linking to social networks from your page.

Making visitors jump through hoops. Some marketers go nuts on the required information on landing pages in order to get the deal. Complicated forms ask for the visitor’s full name, job title, company, address, and phone number, and might even require a survey, or the creation of an account with a username and password.

The trick to an effective landing page is to request as little information as possible.

Most people don’t want to give out their personal information online, even in exchange for something free. If possible, require only a name and email address to maximize conversions.

Showing your website’s navigation bar. Even if your landing page is hosted on your business site, it shouldn’t contain a navigation bar. Links from your traffic campaign should lead directly to your landing page, and the only link on that page should be your CTA. The more distractions, the more likely you’ll lose visitors.

Creating a high-performing landing page is about including the right elements and avoiding the wrong ones. When you understand your audience, target the content accordingly, and test throughout the entire process, your page will become a conversion machine.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about using A/B testing to optimize various components of your landing pages.