Welcome to The Smart Marketer’s Landing Page Conversion Course

In this 11-part course landing page expert Oli Gardner and 10 renowned conversion rate optimization experts (including Rand Fishkin, Peep Laja, Michael Aagaard, Copyblogger, Hubspot and more), will walk you through how to create high-converting landing pages. The course includes step-by-step instructional videos so you can follow along, creating your own landing pages as you go.

For full course details, visit the main course landing page.

Part 1: Landing Page 101

Let’s start things off with an important statement…

Never. Start. A. Marketing. Campaign. Without. A. Dedicated. Landing. Page.

Otherwise known as the NSAMCWADLP principle. Got it? Good.

Today’s Course Outline

Today’s all about the fundamentals, so you’re not allowed to pass go until you understand the following:

  1. What is a landing page?

  2. Landing pages vs. homepages

  3. What can landing pages be used for?

  4. Message match

Estimated time for lesson

Today’s lesson should take approximately 20 minutes including the video.

1. What is a landing page?

A landing page can be any page that someone lands on after clicking on an online marketing call-to-action. Dedicated, promotion-specific landing pages are what we’ll be focusing on. Dedicated landing pages are standalone pages that are designed for a specific marketing campaign.

By standalone I mean that it has no ties to your website, like global navigation. In essence it floats alone, only accessible from the link you’re providing in your marketing content (the call-to-action in an email for example).

The purpose of a landing page falls into two categories:

  1. to capture leads that enable you to market to people in the future, or

  2. to “warm up” potential customers to the product you are trying to sell to them before sending them further into your sales funnel.

This creates the need for two types of landing page – a lead generation page and a click-through page.

Lead generation landing pages

The most valuable piece of information you can get from a lead gen page is someone’s email address – which gives you permission to continue talking/marketing to them.

Once you have a lead’s permission, you then try to convert them into a customer by combining the two most powerful 1-to-1 communication tools a marketer has – email and landing pages.

Here’s an example lead gen form, that’s designed to capture user and/or company data in exchange for something – in this case an ebook.


Click-through landing pages

Click-through pages (sometimes called jump pages) are designed as a conduit between a marketing ad and it’s final destination. The goal of a click-through page is to “warm-up” the visitor to the product/service you are trying to sell.

Commonly used for ecommerce, click-through pages provide enough information to inform the buyer, making them ready to purchase, before pushing them further down the funnel – probably to a shopping cart or checkout.

Here’s an example click-through page. Videos or product images paired with a description and product benefits help to persuade the visitor to click the call-to-action.



Landing pages live separately from your website and are designed to only receive campaign traffic. As we’ll see, this separation allows them to be focused on a single objective and makes analytics, reporting & testing a simpler task.

2. Dedicated landing pages vs. homepages

If you compare a homepage vs. a landing page you can see why landing pages are so important to your marketing’s success.

Your homepage is designed with a more general purpose in mind. It speaks to your overall brand and corporate values and is typically loaded with links and navigation to other areas of your site. It’s designed to encourage exploration.

Your landing pages are designed for one purpose only.

Think of the links on your page as leaks. Each link on your page that doesn’t represent your conversion goal is a distraction that will dilute your message and reduce your conversion rate.


Consider the example below that shows the WebTrends homepage which contains over 60 links. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great homepage, just not a good landing page.


What would you do here?

Landing Page

If we look at an example of a WebTrends landing page, which is focused entirely on a single campaign objective, you’ll notice that it has only one call-to-action. Perfect.


It’s immediately clear what you are supposed to do on this page, complete the form to download the data sheet.

Landing pages should have all navigation and extra links removed so there is only a single action for your visitors to take. Click your call-to-action.

3. What are landing pages used for?

The potential uses for landing pages are almost limitless but here are the more common examples of how landing pages are used:

To collect personal information (generate leads) in exchange for:

  • Reports/Whitepapers with important industry facts and statistics.
  • Ebooks for comprehensive guides about different aspects of your business vertical.
  • Newsletters with tips related to your area of subject matter expertise.
  • Podcasts for people who like to listen & learn during a commute or workout.
  • Checklists/Scorecards for people that like to see how well they are doing and/or benefit from a to-do list.
  • Blog subscription to receive ongoing content via email or RSS.
  • Webinar registration for live online sessions, often with Q&A with experts and special guest presenters.
  • Presentations or recorded sessions including video or slides.
  • Consultation services or booking meetings for someone to request your time or services.
  • An ecourse delivered over a period of time – just like the one you’re reading now!

“Warming” prospects up to your offering before you push them deeper into your sales funnel to:

  • Purchase your product or service online.
  • Become a customer or subscriber of your online business.
  • Or any of the lead capture uses listed above, if you want to use an introductory page before sending them on to the landing page with your lead gen form.
Landing pages can, and should, be used for all of your campaign needs. Remember – Never, I repeat — Never start a campaign without a landing page.

4. The power of message match

Message match is an essential part of why landing pages can be so successful. Message match is the ability of your landing page to reinforce the messaging presented on the link that was clicked to reach the page.

Most visitors are impatient and will leave your page within a few seconds of arrival if you don’t reinforce their intent with a matching headline and purpose (quickly and clearly).

This example shows a comparison of good and bad message match on a landing page used for a pay-per-click campaign:

Call-to-action message Landing page headline
Bad message match Get 50% off a Dell Inspiron 9000 Welcome to Dave’s Computer Store
Good message match Get 50% off a Dell Inspiron 9000 Get 50% off a Dell Inspiron 9000 at Dave’s Computer Store

By ensuring a strong message match, you are letting the visitor know that they made a “good click”.

A weak message match will result in a higher bounce rate and thus a drop in conversion rate.

Another example of good message match

Here’s an example of a banner ad and a landing page, that shows excellent message match.

Ad source Target landing page
full-sail-lead-gen-purple-ad full-sail-lead-gen-purple-th
Primary ad copy Primary Landing page copy
Secondary ad copy Secondary landing page copy
Web Design & Development
Degree Program
Web Design & Development
Bachelor’s Degree

Not only is the copy perfectly matched here, but there is also a very strong “design match”, where the visual treatment of the landing page has been incorporated into the banner, helping to further reinforce the connection between banner and landing page.

Maximizing conversion scent – a.k.a. message match

Conversion scent, or information scent, is another way of describing the connection between your source ad and your landing page. The scent begins when the ad is seen, and is maintained or ended when the visitor sees your landing page (depending on how strong your message match is).

In this short presentation, Rand Fishkin – CEO of MOZ.com, uses some examples to illustrate this concept perfectly, showing how to do it right and also how to do it very wrong.

The more contextually related your page headlines are to the calls-to-action people clicked on, the more likely those prospects are to make the connection that your landing page is for them. A great way to ensure your message match is strong is to write your ad CTA on a piece of paper and your landing page headline on another piece of paper underneath. Then look at your ad copy and turn the page. Does your paper click lead to a matched experience?

Let’s see today’s course in action!

To round out the first day of the course, we’ve got a video for you so you can observe just how bad message match can be. You’ll witness firsthand the impact it can have on the experience of your visitors.

We’ll also show how quickly and easily you can fix the problem if you’re using landing pages.

Remember to follow along with a free Unbounce landing page account

If you’d like to follow along with the course videos and build your landing pages as we go, you can open a free Unbounce account (60 seconds to sign up – no credit card required). This will let you create landing pages for the examples we use throughout the course.

Watch this video to see bad message match in action – and how to easily fix it

Filled your boots with marketing goodness? Tell the world!