Landing Pages 101 for Selling Online Courses

Screen shot of lead magnet landing page example

Lead Magnet Landing Page Created with Thrive

Landing Pages 101 provides a brief introduction and “how to” for a tool I emphasize in a number of places in Leading the Learning Revolution is landing pages. These are the pages where you convince your Web site visitors to actually do something.

It may be the sales page for an online course or membership learning community.

Or, it may be a page where you persuade a prospect to sign up for an e-mail list – usually by offering some sort of special content as a “lead magnet.” Whatever your particular end goal, it’s a place where you communicate value as effectively and efficiently as possible and convert anonymous site visitors into identifiable individuals with whom you have a relationship.

A landing page is where the action is when it comes to selling products online. It’s usually the last place a visitor “lands” on your site before clicking the “Buy” button, and often it is the first place as well. If a user finds a particular course offering through a Google search, for instance, she may go straight to the page in your site with information about that course – i.e., the landing page for that course – and never see anything else in the site.

The stakes are high – you need to get that user to click “Buy,” or “Subscribe,” or something similar while she’s on that page, or you may lose her forever.

So what’s to be done? Here are ten “landing pages 101” tips for making sure your landing pages convert:

Landing Pages 101

1. Use concise, benefit-driven headlines

Point # 1 – A good landing page will have a heading at the beginning of it – i.e., large, bold text – that gives the visitor an idea of what she will find on the page. If this is a course sales page, don’t just use the title of the course for this: state concisely a major benefit the visitor will receive from the course. Speak to what you feel your prospective learners care most about.

2. Put the important stuff “Above the fold”

“Above the fold” simply means the area of the screen that most people see in their browser without having to scroll. People tend to focus on what is at the beginning of a page, and to a lesser extent, what is at the end – they are likely to skim most of the rest. If you offer credit or some other form of validation for the course, make sure that is obvious. A testimonial and picture above the fold can also be highly valuable (see below).

3. Have a clear call to action

A “call to action” is simply your request that that the visitor do something. In the case of a course sales page, this means clicking a button to make a purchase. For a lead magnet, its a click to gain access to whatever you are giving away.

On some types of landing pages – particularly lead magnet pages, on which you are not actually asking for payment – it makes sense for the call to action appears above the fold. You probably won’t get the reader’s attention for too long no matter how good your copy is, so move them to action quickly.

For a sales page, you will likely need some “runway” copy to build the momentum that will lead to action. The call to action, in this case, may be further down the page or even at the end.  If the page is relatively long, you should also repeat the call to at least once on the page – generally following any copy in which you have made key selling points.

In general, whether the call to action is above the fold or further down will vary according to factors like the complexity of the product, price of the product, and how users arrive on the page. The more costly and more complex the product and the “newer” the visitor, the more likely the call to action will need to be further down the page – after you have provided the visitor with compelling reasons to take action.

4. Lead with a strong value proposition

I find that many learning providers simply launch into a description of course content at the beginning of their landing pages. It is important, of course, to have good content, but a potential purchaser cares much more about the value he will derive from the content.  And the same is true even when you are giving something away as a lead magnet. These days, people want some evidence of value before handing over an e-mail address. What problem does it help the prospect solve? What new doors will it open? Make that clear – and make it clear above the fold.

5. Focus on the buyer

You (or your company/organization) are great. Your expertise is unquestionable. But those are secondary considerations for the buyer. She wants to know that you understand her situation and have created something that really meets her needs. Use the second person when you write your landing page copy. Forget the “we’s” and the “I’s” and focus on the “you’s.”

6. Provide social proof

One of the best ways to convey the value of an offering to a buyer is to provide testimonials from past buyers with whom she can identify. If you are not in the practice of gathering testimonials from people who participate in your learning offerings, start today, and start putting a high-quality testimonial above the fold on each of your landing pages. While this practice is often not critical for getting e-mail list sign-ups, it certainly can help. And, in the case of course sales pages it is critical.

7. Include pictures of people

Pictures are a good thing in general on landing pages.  In the case of online learning products, which may prompt some prospects to worry about lack of communication with an instructor or other learners, pictures of people can be reassuring. When possible, get pictures of the actual customers who give you testimonials. Be sure to put captions on your pictures that identify and reinforce the types of benefits the people in them have received from your offerings. Again, this is less critical for lead magnets, but it is definitely something I recommend for course sales pages.

8. Use sub-headings

I note above that visitors to a page will generally skim most of the content below the fold. Using sub-heading – i.e., larger, bold text – to call attention to key areas of your copy throughout the page can help make sure that key points that do not merit a place above the fold are noticed. This is particularly important for creating the momentum that will ultimately lead a visitor to take action

9. Don’t send visitors away for more information

The only reason a visitor should leave a landing page is to take the action you want them to take. If you feel you have to provide additional information that might make the page copy too long, do it by using pop-ups or rollovers. In general, your landing pages should be very easy to scan, and every heading should lead logically to your call to action.

10. Keep it simple

This rule applies first and foremost to the call to action. Don’t list five different pricing scenarios with a “Buy” link for each scenario. Use a single “Buy” button, or possibly a member and non-member button (if this applies to your situation). If you really have to offer more pricing scenarios than that (and think long and hard about whether you really do!), then do it on a screen after the landing page. In general, keep your language simple throughout the text on the landing page, and don’t present the visitor with extraneous options.

Remember, your goal is to get visitors to take a single action. To the greatest extent possible, anything that interferes with that should be removed.

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Address each of the points above, and you will be well on your way to selling much more of your online training and education products.

Jeff

P.S.Bonus Tip: Consider including both a bonus/incentive and a guarantee – particularly for sales pages. The prospect should feel he has nothing to lose (the guarantee) and something to gain (the bonus/incentive) above and beyond whatever other value you are offering. For a brief look at a landing page that uses incentives and guarantees well – along with most of the other tips above – see “A quick case study in promoting a highly successful virtual event.”

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