A Proven, 5-Step Process For Creating Effective Landing Pages

How to create an effective landing page

This blog post is a summary of my talk at the 2021 annual Wynter Games.

Landing pages are one of the most valuable tools in a business owner’s arsenal.

You can use landing pages to drive awareness, educate, capture leads, build trust, motivate, drive conversion, and yes, make more money — so it pays (literally and figuratively) to get them right.

But how do you know how to build a landing page that works?

How long should the page be? What should be on it? And what messaging will work best?

Today, I’m taking you through my proven, 5-step process for creating effective landing pages, from getting clarity on your goals to writing the copy (and everything in between).

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Know the Basics

Before you can start thinking about the components of the page, you’ve got to do a little bit of preliminary planning to make sure you’re crystal clear on your audience and goals.

Identify your target audience

Who are you building the page for? Is it an existing segment of your customer base or a totally new type of customer?

No matter your answer, it’s important to keep your target audience as focused as possible.

Remember, a landing page is a sales experience built for a specific type of customer — not multiple customers — so don’t try to make your page a “catch all” that could work for anyone who stumbles upon it.

Identify your goal

What do you want to accomplish with the page? And what do you want visitors to do once they arrive?

For example, if your goal is to collect email addresses for an upcoming launch, your page should be focused on exactly that.

Don’t try to add additional goals or CTA’s, as it will only dilute your offer and the overall effectiveness of the page.

Once Step 1 is complete, it’s time to move on to Step 2: Considering your target’s position in the sales funnel.

Step 2: Consider your target’s position in the sales funnel

Think of your landing page like a sales presentation — in order to create an effective presentation, you need to know everything you can about your audience, and that includes the audiences’ position in the sales funnel.

The sales funnel is essentially a spectrum of “readiness” to buy.

At the top you have people who are totally unaware of your brand/product and are unlikely to buy, and at the bottom, you have people who are more likely to be aware of your brand/product and actually have a need for (or interest in) whatever you’re selling.

While this is a very simplified explanation of the sales funnel, the point is this:

If you know where your visitors’ are on that spectrum, your pitch becomes more effective and the probability of them taking a desirable action increases exponentially.

To help you better understand the relationship between the sales funnel and your page length, content, and offer, take a look at the visuals below:

How to map out your landing page content

While these visuals are somewhat oversimplified (i.e. – there is overlap between stages, there isn’t always a clear cut “direction” in terms of how someone moves through the sales funnel, etc), hopefully you can still see the connection.

If you don’t know where your target is located in the sales funnel, start by asking yourself a few questions, including:

How are you driving traffic to the page?

Knowing the referral source(s) of the majority of your visitors will help you to infer their position in the sales funnel.

For example, if you’re using a YouTube pre-roll ad to drive traffic to the page, you can infer that most of the visitors will be at the top of the sales funnel (meaning they’re not searching for your product and may not even be aware that your product exists or that they have a need for it).

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re using your email list to drive visitors to the page, you can infer that the majority of your visitors are closer to the bottom of the sales funnel, as they already know you, your products, and are more likely to be interested in whatever you’re selling.

How much do they know about your product category?

Another avenue to explore is your visitors’ level of Market Sophistication, or how familiar they are with your product category.

For example, if you’re selling socks, you don’t need to waste time explaining what socks are or how they work. But if you’re selling a new type of technology no one has ever seen before, then you know your landing page is going to need more educational information and explanation.

How much do they know about your brand and/or solution?

With this question, you’re trying to get a better sense of your target’s stage of awareness as it relates to your brand and products.

For example, are you a household name like Apple? Or are you a new startup no one has heard of before? Or perhaps you’re somewhere in between?

If you’re a household name like Apple, there is already inherent knowledge and trust associated with your brand (which often translates into a shorter landing page with less “educational” or “sales-y” type content); if you’re completely unknown, you’re probably going to need to create a multi-touch sales experience (i.e. – multiple landing pages with different goals) and use more copy in order to win trust and move leads toward the point of conversion.

How likely is the visitor to take action?

Another point to consider if your audiences’ level of intent, or how likely they are to take action once they arrive on your page.

For example, are you communicating with an audience who is currently “in pain” and looking for solutions? An audience that doesn’t even know they have “a pain” yet? Or somewhere in between?

For this question, it can be helpful to return to your referral source(s) to help you make informed inferences.

For example, if you have a “comparison landing page” that gets visitors from organic search, you can infer that this person is actively searching for solutions (and can be considered either in the middle or toward the bottom of the sales funnel). But if you’re driving traffic from Facebook ads (to people who are not searching for solutions, but just scrolling through their feeds), the leads are more likely to be “cold,” or located toward the top of the sales funnel.

Once you have answers to the questions above, you should have some ideas about the core components of your page, including:

Number of Pages and Page Length

Based on what you know about your visitor’s position in the sales funnel, you should have a good idea of how many landing pages you’ll need, and a general sense of how long each page should be.

Content + Messaging

Based on what you know about your visitor’s position in the sales funnel, you should have some ideas about what kind of content needs to be on the page and a general sense of the messaging.

The Offer 

Based on what you know about your visitor’s position in the sales funnel, you should know what kind of offers make sense for your target’s level of awareness and intent.

Step 3: Conduct some research 

In Step 2, you made a lot of educated assumptions about your target audience, including their stage of awareness, level of intent, level of market sophistication, and more.

Now it’s time to use research to validate your assumptions and capture Voice of Customer data.

To do this properly, you need to invest in some kind of customer research, whether that’s interviewing or surveying the audience you’d like to target, gathering information and ideas from online forums, conducting a competitive analysis, and so much more.

If you’d like to learn more about the basics of customer research, check out my free download here which will give you some ideas.

For the purpose of this article, I’m just going to focus on customer interviews, as they can sometimes yield enough data to both validate your assumptions and give you lots of copy ideas (this is typically true for smaller businesses; with larger businesses, more data points are typically needed).

When prepping for your interviews, you want to come up with questions that will elicit specific information from the audience, which in turn will give you the information you need to create an effective and persuasive landing page.

Here are a few things you should probably know about your target audience and some ideas for how you can phrase the questions to elicit a valuable response:

  • You want to know: What do they want (but don’t have)?
  • How to ask in an interview: “When it comes to _____, what is your #1 goal?”
  • You want to know: What’s holding them back from achieving their goal?
  • How to ask in an interview: “What kind of challenges have held you back from achieving that goal?”
  • You want to know: What are their current solutions?
  • How to ask in an interview: “What kind of tools or resources have you used to help you _____?”
  • You want to know: Why don’t their current solutions work? Why are they lacking?
  • How to ask in an interview: “What about _________ is frustrating to you?” or “What about ______ could be better?”
  • You want to know: What will nudge them toward your offer?
  • How to ask in an interview: “What would you need to see from us in order to buy today?” or “What was it about _____ that motivated you to try it?”
  • You want to know: What’s pushing them away from your offer?
  • How to ask in an interview: “What is the #1 thing holding you back from buying today?”
  • You want to know: What are they wondering about?
  • How to ask in an interview: “What are your top 3 questions about _______?”

Keep in mind, the way you phrase the questions depends entirely on the kind of customer you’re interviewing (which is why there’s some variation in the examples above).

Once you have your transcripts (or other research completed), you can begin to verify your assumptions and highlight any words/phrases you’d like to return to when writing the copy for the page.

When you feel confident in your learnings, you can move on to Step 4: Creating the Information Architecture for your page.

Step 4: Create the Information Architecture

After going through Steps 1-3, you should have a fairly good sense of your target audience and some ideas for your landing page.

While you may not have all the answers just yet, you should have some general ideas around the following:

  • The number of landing pages you’ll need
  • The general length of each page
  • A general sense of the content that’s appropriate for your target audience
  • A sense of which offer will work best for your target audience

This information alone is enough for you to start creating a skeleton Information Architecture, which is essentially an outline of your page, from hero to final CTA.

From there, you’re going to use your knowledge of your target audience, PLUS the following tools to flesh out the remaining components of your page:

Choose your copywriting formula

If you’re not familiar, a copywriting formula is essentially a tool that helps you frame your “sales pitch” on your landing page.

While there are many well-known copywriting formulas (i.e. – PAS = Problem, Agitation, Solution or AIDA =Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) there are many others you can leverage when creating the structure for your page.

When choosing a copywriting formula, think back to what you know about your target audience to help guide your choices.

For example, “PAS” might would work best for a newer brand/product that’s targeting top-of-funnel leads (not yet brand/pain aware), while “SLAP” (Stop the prospect, Make them look, Make them act, Get the purchase) might work better for a product you’re offering to an already warm audience that’s closer to the bottom of the sales funnel (i.e. – doesn’t need to be reminded about their pain and should focus more on grabbing attention + persuasion).

Using a copywriting formula will not only help you strengthen your pitch, it will also help you overcome that dreaded “staring-at-the-blank-screen” feeling a lot of people get when they sit down to write.

Choose your persuasion techniques

Persuasion techniques are science-backed methods that influence people to say “yes” more often than “no.”


They are “shortcuts” or rules of thumb that help us quickly and confidently make informed decisions in a world of information overload (more on that here).

Leveraging persuasion techniques will not only help you flesh out your page content, they will also help you enhance the overall effectiveness of your page.

Below are some of the more well-known persuasion techniques, plus some examples to show you how you can use them on your page:

  • Reciprocity – Adding a “free bonus” with purchase
  • Consistency – Remind them of something they’ve told you about themselves, i.e. – “As someone who is committed to fighting climate change, Clean Energy is the best way to put your commitment into practice”
  • Social proof – Adding in testimonials, ratings, reviews, etc
  • Authority – Leveraging a quote from an expert, scientific reference, etc
  • Liking – Weave in copy that compliments your reader
  • Scarcity – “Only X left!”
  • Urgency – “Hurry, this sale ends tonight!”
  • Consensus – “You’re not alone. 90% of our customers also _____…”
  • Add a guarantee – Stand behind your offer with a money-back guarantee

When choosing your techniques, think back to what you know about your audience.

For example, if you’re speaking to a highly educated, skeptical audience (like in the example below), you probably want to incorporate social proof, demonstrate authority, and maybe add in a guarantee, which is exactly what I did for my client, TaxExact.

This Information Architecture was used for an “opt-in” landing page that was used by TaxExact to collect email addresses in advance of their 2020 product launch:

information architecture example

As you can see, each component of the page was chosen for a specific reason, and all of the choices were based on information we knew about the target audience.

Once you’ve gone through this process for your own landing page, it’s time to get into the last part of the process: Writing the copy for your page.

Step 5: Write the copy 

While most people find “writing the copy” to be the most challenging part of the process, it should be much easier for you if you’ve followed the formula above.

Here’s what I do when I get to this part in the process:

Start with your Information Architecture

Before you write any copy, review your Information Architecture to familiarize yourself with the content and structure of the page.

Doing this one simple step will minimize any feelings of “writer’s block” that might get in the way of you completing your page and increase your feelings of confidence, knowing you have clear direction on the page content.

Use Voice of Customer data

Next, return to your interview transcripts, chat logs, survey data, reviews, or wherever you used to collect your Voice of Customer Data.

Go through everything with a highlighter tool so you can begin pulling out words and phrases that you can use directly in your copy, or as inspiration for headlines, descriptions, and more.

If it’s helpful, start lining up those key words and phrases alongside your Information Architecture so you have a bunch of ideas to help guide your writing process.

Remember, if the words come from your customers, the copy will be more persuasive and effective than anything you’ll “make up” or pull out of thin air.

Incorporate conversion best practices

As you’re writing, try to keep a few “best practices” in mind to really take your page to the next level, including:

Focusing your message

Try to keep your messages as clear and focused as possible. Cut out any words that feel repetitive or unnecessary. And don’t try to cram too much information into any one section.

Break up long copy 

Instead of using long, clunky paragraphs that 90% if people won’t read, try breaking up your text with attention-grabbing headlines, bullets, images, or anything that makes your copy easier to read and more scannable.

Use clear CTA’s

A landing page is nothing without a clear call-to-action, so don’t weigh yours down by (a) forgetting it, (b) using competing CTA’s, or (c) using convoluted messaging that doesn’t clearly explain what you’re offering or what you want visitors to do.

Once you’ve written the copy, it can be helpful to take a break and return to it a day or so later for editing with fresh eyes.

And remember, you don’t have to write it all at once; sometimes it can be helpful to spread out the writing across several days or weeks, giving you the mental space you need to clearly and effectively express yourself.

And if all else fails, you can always hire a professional to help you through the writing process or through the process as a whole.

Ready to create more effective landing pages?

I hope this guide gave you more clarity into the process for creating more effective landing pages, while also giving you ideas you can use for your own business.

If you have any questions about landing pages (or you’re interested in working together), you can always reach out to me directly: annie1maguire@gmail.com.

Best of luck!

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