Effective Landing Pages for WordPress

If you have absolutely anything you want people to do when visiting your website — be that subscribe, download, purchase,  whatever — you need a landing page.

I realised I needed a landing page earlier this year after I released my eBook WordPress Blogging Guide and nobody was downloading it! This puzzled me as it was, you know, free.

I figured I needed a landing page of sorts. The graph above shows downloads from July, when the eBook was launched, through October. I added the landing page at the start of October and it nearly doubled download rates.

What did I do to make this magical landing page? Not much, actually. I just cut out everything that wasn’t the content. That mainly just meant stripping out the sidebar and making the content area smaller by default. I also added an extra call to action and changed the copy around slightly. Below is a side-by-side:

It’s fairly simple stuff and by this point hopefully I’ve persuaded you you might as well give one a go, so I’ll show you how I did mine and then take you through the other options.

Simple styling; simple solution

My favourite bit about how I turned my normal post into a landing page is just how damn simple it is. All I did was create an extra category, “Landing” and add some styling that applies whenever that category is selected. If you use your categories more religiously than I do, the same thing works with tags or any other taxonomy you want to add.

I used that handy little WordPress function, body_class, which I’ve written about before. I then added a couple of lines of CSS I needed to think down the site and used body_class to target it.

The final product was a mere four lines of CSS:

.single-landing .container{ width:1100px; }
  1. .single-landing #sidebar{ display:none; }
  2. .single-landing #main { margin: 0 0 40px 5%; }
  3. .single-landing .entry-meta{ display:none; }

And that’s, uh, all there is to it. The .single-landing class is applied by body_class and targets posts which have the category landing, so there’s no worry about this showing up on archives or anywhere else. The best bit is that to use the same thing again, all I have to do is tick a category.

If and when I want to track stats, I don’t need them built straight into my dashboard; I’ve got Google Analytics to handle that for me.

It’s not a bad solution.

The plugin options

There are, however, vastly more complicated options and when I was first checking out my options these seemed to dominate the landscape.

Premise is a premium option… with a premium price tag.

Copyblogger Media’s Premise seemed to be the option that all the cool kids were using, and for your $165 you get some nice features like A/B testing, but for $165, you’d kinda hope it did more than just spit out some HTML with your logo on it.

It does some pretty handy other stuff too, including letting you securely sell eBooks and other digital downloads, so if you’re after something that lets you do that, it could well be worth the price tag.

Or MaxInbound is a slightly cheaper option.

Another premium option is MaxInbound, priced at a more reasonable $49 or $99, depending on the licence you go for. MaxInbound boasts email form integration — including Gravity Forms — as well as the standard MailChimp, Aweber and others.

If you’re after a plugin that makes landing pages for you and that’s all, MaxInbound might be the one to go for.

There is, of course, also a free option available in the plugin directory. Ultimate Landing Page is pretty basic, but if you don’t fancy coding yourself, it should do the job.

Take your pick

Those are your options, then, for creating a landing page. The way I’ve done is very simple, very easy and has undoubtedly been effective. The two premium plugins do, however, offer more. Premise’s A/B testing is pretty handy, but by no means is it the only way of A/B testing, should you want to go for that. MaxInbound looks like a solid option and Ultimate Landing Page is pretty basic.

So which one are you going to give a try?

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Hello, I'm Alex! I started WPShout in 2009, just before my 16th birthday. Get in touch with me, I'd love to chat. You should also follow me on Twitter :)

7 Comments

  • Thanks for the insight on formatting landing pages! I’ll give this a try on my client’s site who recently launched a book. Another option for those who use the Suffusion WordPress theme/framework is to simply choose the no-sidebar layout for their post or page. One more point in Suffusion’s favor that I will bear in mind from now on. Great post!

    • Alex Denning

      I should’ve mentioned frameworks in the post :) They’ll often come with options to select page layouts, so creating a specific page layout is always an option, as is using a pre-built layout and just adding some CSS on top using the same method I did.

  • Hi Alex,

    I like your solution but couldn’t follow what you did so, unless you expand your post to include a step by step explanation I’d have to go for one of the other options!

    • Alex Denning

      Hi Christopher,

      Apologies that wasn’t clear enough! I’ll break if down a bit further:

      We know from the body_class tutorial that we can target styling at specific categories only. I want to add the styling only to single pages with the category “landing” and body_class generates a class that can do that for me: .single-landing.

      So, once I’d written the CSS I needed to shrink down the site and put the content at the forefront, I just needed to add .single-landing beforehand and whenever I use the category “landing”, that class will be dynamically added by body_class and thus the styling applied.

      It’s a really handy function but takes a while to get your head round, so I hope that cleared things up for you :)

  • Ah, I was wondering was landing page meant :) I didn’t know they would be that effective, might as well give them a try!
    This process would be a lot simpler in Gantry, you would just create an override, make all the changes (remove the sidebar content, change logo maybe, add a call to action button, etc…) and then assign that override to whatever page you like. Double point to Gantry!

  • Landing page is awesome! :D