How To Create A Landing Page From Scratch

by Jacob McMillen

Last updated on July 3rd, 2018

A while back, we discussed ready-made landing pages in some detail. We evaluated how to customize lading pages “out of the box” and even reviewed the top landing page providers.

For many businesses, ready-made landing pages are the way to go. You don’t have the time, expertise, or team to lear how to build landing pages without help, and with tiered pricing, you can afford to keep paying for a landing page service as your traffic and sales increase.

But there are two glaring problems with ready-made landing page services:

  1. Your ability to customize is limited.
  2. You have to keep paying every month for the same landing page… forever.

Landing page services are following the software-as-a-service model, and the SaaS model typically makes sense because you replacing massive upfront expenditures with a much smaller monthly cost. You are eliminating the risk that your massive software investment will be obsolete in a few years, and you are gaining valuable functionality before you could afford to purchase a full system.

But with landing pages, this model doesn’t really make sense unless you need a bunch of landing pages, and you think you’ll probably scrap them all in a year and get new ones.

How much does a landing page cost?

Landing pages don’t really cost that much to hire out (cough, fiverr), and it’s a one-time cost. The main expenditure is the copywriting, which ready-made landing services don’t even handle for you.

How to Create a Landing Page from Scratch

If you’re so inclined, there are plenty of great reasons to create your own landing pages from scratch.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Start With Landing Page Design

If you look at any landing page service, you’ll notice that while there are hundreds of pages to choose from, they are all simply derivatives of a few basic templates. The 3 most important are included below.

The Lead Generation Page: A home page or landing page designed to generate warm leads.

lead

The Optin Page: A page used to offer a lead magnet to customers, often in exchange for their email address.

optin

The Webinar Signup Page: A page used to promote and take signups for an upcoming webinar.

webinar

These are the pages where the action takes place, and consequently, they are the moneymakers — the pages you are willing to invest in.

There are a 1,001 variations of these pages, but at the end of the day, every landing page consists of three thing:

  1. a value proposition
  2. a CTA
  3. some form of visual media

That’s pretty much it.

The companies selling you these templates have the data to constantly analyze each on-page element, but you are never (okay, hardly ever) going to find a successful landing page without a value proposition or CTA. And a text-only page would just be really, really boring.

To design your landing page, you can either grab someone else’s landing page and copy it, with a few branding changes, or you can make up your own design around the 3 elements mentioned above.

Thinking about it like that, why wouldn’t you consider making your own? It’s not rocket science, after all. And with some smart A/B testing, you’ll be able to create a design that works well and gets good results.

You have two options for creating the page:

  • Code it yourself (if you can).
  • Hire someone to code the page for you.

2. Write the Copy

The copy is the most difficult part of any landing page. You need to grab your readers’ attention. You need to cut through the endless noise they’re experiencing online and create a connection. And you need to build on that connection enough to elicit action (or at least keep them on the page).

As I mentioned before, your page needs a value proposition and CTA. For more on crafting a unique value proposition, click here.

If you’d like to keep it standard, your value proposition will consist of a headline and a description, perhaps including a numbered list breaking down your offer’s benefits.

The point isn’t the format. It’s the value communicated. Think more in terms of benefits than function. Customers don’t really care what you do. They care about what you can do for them.

Square’s old homepage is one of my favorite examples.

square

Are you a small business owner looking for a solution to accepting credit cards? Well, if you want to start accepting cards today, you’ll probably like square.

Worried about the cost? No digging. It’s right there: 2.75% per swipe. There’s even a picture showing exactly how it works.

If your in Square’s target market, everything you need to know is right there.

And that’s how your copy should be. If you can’t describe it all in the hero shot, tell your readers enough to make them scroll down. Then tell them enough to keep them scrolling.

Want to learn more about copy? Click here for a list of headlines that convert well.

3. Give Visitors Options, But Limit Those Options

Not every visitor to your site is created equal . Different visitors will be at different points on the buying cycle.

purchase-cycle

If a visitor finds you in the Awareness, Research, or Comparison stages, you want to give them the ability to learn more. You want to make it easy for them to research all you have to offer.

This can be accomplished by hyperlinking listed features to additional info pages.

For example, if I was telling you about my legal services:

  1. Experienced consultation
  2. Personalized service
  3. Effective representation

I’d want to hyperlink #1 to my attorneys’ bio pages, #2 to my testimonials, and #3 to descriptions of past wins.

I’ve seen too many landing pages where they only clickthrough option is the CTA. When that happens, I just leave, because I’m not ready to purchase. I immediately forget about the website.

At the same time, your landing page is supposed to be the entrance to a funnel, not the door to a department store browsing experience. Each available option should be an intentional cog that attracts customers in the research phase and moves them forward in your funnel.

If someone appears on your real estate landing page looking to find a house, you want to take them straight into a call.

If, on the other hand, they are in research mode, make it intuitive for them to click through to a more research-geared page, where you can offer them a lead magnet tailored to people in research mode. This way, you are giving them an option other than “buy now,” while still moving them forward through your sales funnel.

Conclusion – Start Building Landing Pages

Ready-made landing page services have a permanent place in today’s eCommerce market, but they aren’t for everyone. If you want avoid paying monthly fees for a simple template, use these guidelines to create your own page “from scratch.”

Find a design that works and then customize it for your brand. Write great copy and then give visitors a handful of limited options, each moving them forward in your funnel.

While landing pages are important, they really don’t have to be complicated. And that’s good news for those of us who aren’t ready for a SaaS solution for landing pages.

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to landing pages?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Jacob McMillen.

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Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is a website copywriter and content strategist. He helps businesses stop playing around with content marketing and start seeing tangible ROI. Download his free guide: 2 Fail-Proof Marketing Strategies For Businesses On A Budget

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  1. Mark Feldman says:
    May 25, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Hi Jacob – thanks for the article. One thing that I just realized because of my SEO efforts is that Leadpages and other landing page providers you have to “rent” your landing pages from have another major drawback…. SEO!

    These outside companies host the landing pages usually, and that is a problem. Traffic matters and sending traffic to a page that is not physically on your website can hurt your SEO efforts. Once I realized that, I knew I had to get out of that game and I’m working on that now….
    Mark Feldman

    • Jacob McMillen says:
      May 25, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      That’s a great point Mark. I actually just dropped my landing page service and moved over to the Divi builder from elegant themes. It’s a much better page builder than Leadpages now has, and it’s $250 for lifetime access to all ET products, so hard to beat on price too. My site is built completely in Divi now, so feel to check it out if you want to see what you can do with it.

  2. Matt Fenn says:
    April 17, 2017 at 4:11 am

    Hi Jacob,

    I think there is another massive opportunity here that is worth mentioning.

    If you use a SAAS system that has marketing automation features you can track your converted leads over time and use progressive profiling to ask personalised questions of subsequent conversion forms or landing pages.

    You can also use the landing page conversion to trigger a personalised email autoresponder follow up. Within the same service.

    If you just want a landing page, build a landing page. If you want to convert and then nurture and track and personalise, you might need something more!

    Matt

  3. Aman Thakur says:
    April 14, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Awesome way to explaining the landing page from scratch. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It’s really very Informative Information.

  4. August 20, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Good Precise explanation specially reagarding SaaS.
    I ideally follow 3 step approach .Capture — Maintain — Convert.
    One thing that is VERY important is To Retain attention is to ensure your Landing page is inline with what’s promoted to user so Landing page is PROMISE to what was marketed.
    Way you have highlighted Step 2 & 3 what I call as Maintain and Convert part is really cool. Thanks again!

  5. July 30, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Informative post ! IT suggested some good methods and tools to create a good landing page from scratch. Well, the hard way takes some effort and time to complete and look good. Building it up from scratch using HTML, CSS and JS is tough, especially for those who have not much knowledge of coding. I’ll prefer the easy method described in the article. The templates made by Unboune looks cool, by the way. The tools mentioned, apart from unbounce also seems oromising. They must have some stuff in them to be mentioned here! 🙂 A good read. Some useful tools suggested in it. Worth giving them a try.

  6. CAROL says:
    July 28, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Very helpful tips for landing pages

    thanks for sharing this

  7. July 26, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    A very informative tutorial Jacob,
    I’ve been planning to design a good landing page for lead capturing for awhile now and i always get confused on the process and this post is indeed very timely.

    However, one of the things that usually confuse me is deciding the best and affordable landing page creator to use as I’m not really good in coding. I know there are lots of them on the internet but the ones I’ve seen are either too complex to use or very expensive especially, i don’t like that monthly subscription stuff.

    I’m going to print out this page Jacob, it will be very handy.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. July 24, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    In theory yes – maximum flexibility when you do your own landing pages. But the services like LeadPages give you extras that make it really fast to create a new variation for an A/B test. I wish they were more flexible but what they’ve got is better than what most people get with a designer. Fiver is usually good but if your person gets behind or goes on vacation, you’re screwed.

    As you said, the copywriting is what’s *really* important anyway, so for me it makes sense to get the design part out of the way and leave time to write copy.

    • July 26, 2015 at 12:51 am

      Well said Cathy. If you are needing more than 1 or 2 landing pages, a service like LeadPages is definitely the way to go. It’s better to invest in the copy if you are on a limited budget.

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