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The LPO handbook: understanding the basics of landing page optimization

Landing pages are a key component of a successful online business. 

Improving landing page performance—also known as landing page optimization—helps create an experience that resonates with visitors and converts them into paying customers.

Last updated

16 Jun 2023

Reading time

11 min


Whether you’ve just created and started to promote a landing page or yours has been up and running for a while now, a good landing page optimization (LPO) strategy helps you attract more prospects and convert more users.

This guide teaches you how to design a high-converting landing page experience. From best practices and examples to landing page optimization mistakes to avoid, learn how LPO will help you reach your goals.

Make the most of landing page optimization

Hotjar’s digital experience insights tools reveal what’s really happening on your landing pages, helping you identify issues and increase conversions.

What is landing page optimization?

Landing page optimization is the process of improving web page design and layout with the goal of increasing conversions, elevating the user experience (UX), and turning more visitors into loyal customers. 

As a subset of conversion rate optimization (CRO), LPO aims to improve landing page performance by making them more targeted and engaging, increasing their effectiveness.

An optimized landing page presents your visitors with relevant information alongside the right balance of design and functionality to persuade them to convert.

The benefits of optimizing your landing page

When it comes to digital marketing strategy, landing pages hold significant value—both for the marketers that create them and the audience you're trying to reach. 

With a few tweaks, you can maximize your landing page's efficiency and unlock the true potential of your marketing campaigns. By leveraging actionable landing page best practices, you fuel the funnel with people who can find value from and solve their jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) with your product, app, or the offer on your landing page. This leads to:

  • Enhanced user experience: optimizing your landing pages to provide more useful, well-structured, relevant content and interactions with visitors leads to a more satisfying and delightful experience for them

  • Conversion optimization: LPO ensures you achieve the highest possible conversion rate—reflected in ecommerce sales or lead generation—from the visitors who arrive on that landing page

  • Lower customer acquisition costs: by providing more value for targeted visitors and an optimized user experience, LPO also contributes to a lower cost-per-click (CPC) and a decrease in your overall customer acquisition costs (CAC)

How to maximize ad spend value with LPO

Not only can landing page optimization generate more revenue, but it can also help you cut advertising costs.

Landing pages are often the main destination of paid online marketing campaigns, and a lot of money and resources are spent driving traffic to these pages. Since they’re focused on conversions, optimizing a landing page’s performance can significantly improve ad costs (and results).

As a senior Performance Marketing Specialist, Hotjar's own Kayleigh Dibble saw significant improvements in ad spend on a recent landing page optimization project:

“We began by A/B testing a variant against the control for the landing page that drives the most traffic. The variant was a cleaner page, with a nicer flow and condensed navigation.”

The results speak for themselves: a 24% reduction in cost-per-click and a 28% increase in landing page conversion rate from the initial test. When Kayleigh extended the experiment, repurposing the design of the variant for other landing pages, the team saw a further 66% increase in conversion rate for those pages.

5 quick tips to optimize your landing page for more conversions 

An optimized landing page ensures that the combination and order of page elements persuades visitors to engage and convert.

Follow these tips to get started with landing page optimization, and bookmark this guide to learn from more in-depth chapters.

1. Get to know your audience

The best way to improve your landing page performance is to get to know and understand your customers. The more insights you have about your audience, the better your chances of creating and optimizing landing pages that are meaningful for them.

Define the purpose of your landing page

Knowing the purpose of your landing page matters for LPO—it helps you adjust how you optimize your landing pages to meet the needs of that audience. Common landing page conversion goals include convincing users to:

  • Purchase a product 

  • Sign up for a newsletter (or some other sort of email capture)

  • Start a free trial

  • Contact the sales team via chat or by filling out a form

Think about the customer journey

A landing page's target audience greatly influences your goals for the page and how you optimize it. The success of a landing page can look very different depending on where your visitors are on their journey to becoming a customer. 

Here’s how Kayleigh describes adapting both the way we at Hotjar speak and what we present to people when we think about the customer journey:

👆 Top of the funnel (TOFU)

"TOFU marketing campaigns, while often still product-centric, are educational and thought-provoking, and they consider that the person seeing that campaign could be problem- or solution-unaware."

Try this: give these visitors an introduction to the company or product in a way that will be memorable to them without the intensity of seeing sign-up buttons all over the page. 

👉 Middle of the funnel (MOFU)

"Further down the funnel, we need a page with more convincing factors, showcasing why they should choose our product over others."

Try this: now would be a good time to feature webinars or free downloads on your landing page to make your product shine. 

👇 Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

"If someone at the BOFU is actively searching for a product-related term, we serve their needs with product-centric, conversion-focused landing pages. They are likely to be either problem-aware, solution-aware, or both."

Try this: at this stage, there’s less need for educational content, and more focus on driving conversions. This is the time to include more trust anchors and social proof—such as case studies, ratings, reviews, and testimonials—as there is a good chance that the audience has also been exposed to competitors.

Understand what drives, convinces, and persuades users to take action

Knowing your audience doesn’t merely involve knowing basic demographics like age and gender—you need to dig deeper to find out:

  • What drives people to your website: understanding why visitors arrive at your landing page gives you a better sense of your target audience and what your customers need

  • What might stop potential users from converting: without knowing where and why visitors encounter barriers, you can’t meaningfully improve their experience and (ultimately) your conversion rates

  • What really persuades visitors to act: knowing what convinced your existing users and customers to act gives you a clear picture of what you need to double down on—or stop doing—to convert even more of your future visitors

By identifying their problems, their motivations to buy, and the reasons your product is the best to solve their problems, you can develop a unique optimization plan for stellar results.

Pro tip: use Hotjar to fully understand your target audience’s personas and unique needs, and tailor your landing page messaging accordingly.

Use surveys and interviews to talk to real people, and ask them questions like:

  • How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

  • What’s the main reason for your visit today?

  • What are you using our product for?

  • Are you considering any alternatives? Why?

When you find out the answers to these questions, you can create detailed user personas and craft landing pages that your particular audience responds positively to.

Hotjar Engage helps you automate the entire user interview process 

2. Identify potential problems

Landing page optimization isn’t just an excuse to flex your design abilities. It’s about connecting with visitors and communicating value as quickly as possible. The more you accept that connection is on their terms, not yours, the better your landing pages will be.

Don’t base your LPO on guesswork. Instead, actively seek new, actionable insights about your landing page using continuous discovery

Key continuous discovery activities include user interviews, focus groups, or using tools (like Hotjar 👋) that give you a constant stream of information on what your customers are thinking, how they're experiencing your product, and what their specific needs are:

Single out specific problems that contribute to low conversion rates 

On-site surveys are a great way to uncover issues with your landing page or offer. 

By asking for feedback in an exit pop-up, you give visitors a platform to explain why they’re taking their business elsewhere. This opportunity to comment directly on your landing page is another avenue for learning about your visitors and what makes them commit. You’ll also get valuable information that you can use to make adjustments and run landing page tests.

Using Hotjar Engage to interview your users is another insightful way to identify problems with your pages. Present your landing page to participants and ask for in-the-moment feedback. This is especially useful when you’re testing a new landing page: you can ask for feedback on the variant versus the control to find out which one they prefer and why.

#An exit survey gives your audience a chance to tell you why they said no
An exit survey gives your audience a chance to tell you why they said no

Track website visitor behavior to see what isn’t working

Heatmaps are visual data reports effective for landing page optimization: a well-placed heatmap shows you where people click on your landing page. Do they ignore your call to action? Are they focused on a relatively unimportant element, like a stock photo?

Scroll, click, and move heatmaps provide valuable information about user activity on a landing page:

  • Scroll maps: show scroll depth, no matter the time users spend in any one area

  • Click maps: indicate where users clicked their mouse on desktop or tapped their finger on mobile

  • Move maps: highlight attention-grabbing areas on the page where the highest percentage of users hovered or paused

This is also a great time to analyze recorded visitor sessions to refine your user experience, tweak CTA button placements, adjust headline copy, and make other changes to optimize your landing page and improve your conversion rate.

#A scroll map (left) and a move map (right) on the Hotjar homepage
A scroll map (left) and a move map (right) on the Hotjar homepage

Listen to your visitors and collect in-the-moment feedback

Getting user feedback is a great way to discover your landing page's strong and weak points. Use Hotjar Ask tools (Surveys and Feedback) to gather insights directly from your page visitors to learn what they find useful—or not so useful—or if anything put them off taking the desired action. 

Page-specific feedback delivers great LPO opportunities: a feedback widget gets you real-time opinions from users while they're still on your landing page, and lets them highlight the parts of your page that they like or don’t like, so you know exactly what needs to be addressed.

#Hotjar’s Feedback tool allows you to get inputs from website visitors in real-time
Hotjar’s Feedback tool allows you to get inputs from website visitors in real-time

3. Keep conversions in mind

If you aren’t clearly laying out the steps people should take when they visit your site, you’re missing out on big conversion and sales opportunities. Take the time to implement CRO best practices and optimize crucial landing page elements like:

  • Value proposition: craft a clear and compelling headline relevant to your pay-per-click (PPC) keywords and ad text to encourage the visitor to stay with you

  • Copy: does your copywriting make visitors want to read more? Write concise and convincing landing page copy that communicates the value of what you’re offering.

  • CTAs: an eye-catching, clickable call-to-action button with contrasting colors and a clear message helps achieve the inherent purpose of every landing page—getting visitors to take action and increase your conversion rates

  • Images: the right visuals can reinforce your landing page message with a clean, attractive design that looks trustworthy, professional, and consistent with your branding 

  • Trust indicators: customer testimonials, ratings, trust seals, and a link to your privacy and security policy help address common trust issues visitors have with landing pages

Pro tip: use digital experience insights from Hotjar to leverage the benefits of conversion rate optimization.

Where optimized landing pages are the desired result, CRO is all about understanding what inspires your users and what stops them from taking action.

With Hotjar Observe tools like Heatmaps, you understand what users do on your landing pages—where they click, how far they scroll, and what they look at or ignore. 

Is your value proposition clearly stated on the page? Are your CTAs enticing and obvious? Viewing actual user activity on your page gives you insight into what parts of your landing page aren’t resonating with your customers so you can address them in the best way possible. 

And for even more insights, turn to Hotjar Funnels, one of the best conversion rate optimization tools out there. Use it as part of your LPO strategy to identify where and why users drop off in the conversion funnel you’ve outlined on your landing page. 

If you spot a worrying drop between two steps, watch a session replay of users who didn’t make it to the next step and fix the issue to optimize and improve your landing page’s conversion rate.

Hotjar Funnels in action

4. Optimize for search engines

Even if you’ve designed your landing page for a paid marketing channel, it still needs to be optimized for organic search—that is, search engine optimization (SEO). People find landing pages via organic search all the time, helping drive up conversion rates and engagement metrics.  

If you want your landing pages to stand the test of time for long-term projects, they need to be search engine optimized like any other page on your website. Find the best keywords for your landing page and incorporate them into:

  • Meta elements like your title, meta description, and URL

  • Landing page copy like headlines, body text, and image alt text

Let Google and other search engines know exactly what your page is about, and analyze organic user behavior with tools like Google Analytics or Mixpanel (complemented by insights from Hotjar), to start understanding different types of traffic and how to tailor your landing page to that audience.

5. Keep testing and optimizing the user experience

Designing a good-looking web page is great, but landing page optimization isn’t just about visuals—it’s about creating an engaging and effective user experience. An optimized landing page provides your potential customers with a persuasive, visually appealing, easy-to-navigate experience. 

Leverage UX research tools

Even when you think your landing page is optimized, keep digging deeper to see where you can improve. UX research never ends, and with the right tools, it can be an incredibly powerful strategy for website optimization.

Use insights from Hotjar Heatmaps and Recordings to continuously discover what’s making visitors stick to your page and where they drop off, letting you spot issues you might otherwise miss. 

A/B test your way to success

Spending months analyzing user behavior on your landing page won’t do you much good if you don’t take action. Use A/B testing to find out what works, and remember it’s a process of trial and error. 

The more A/B tests you run, the more accurate your data becomes. We recommend using a tool like Google Optimize to test out different elements and designs on your website—change things like headlines, page copy, page length, structure and element positioning, and navigation menus to discover what resonates with your visitors. Then, apply what you learn to a redesign and verify that it improved your conversion rate.

Next steps to landing page optimization

Landing page optimization is a continuous process, not a one-time marketing tactic. There’s no finish line for an ongoing LPO process. Follow up on the LPO basics you’ve learned here by diving into more in-depth chapters on:

Don’t forget that basing your optimizations on real user data can make conversion rates soar. Use visual data and user feedback whenever possible to collect more information about your website visitors.

With these strategies in place, you’re positioned to better meet user needs and encourage more people to interact with your business again and again.

Make the most of landing page optimization

Hotjar’s digital experience insights tools reveal what’s really happening on your landing pages, helping you identify issues and increase conversions.

FAQs about landing page optimization