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How to Build Lead-Gen Landing Pages to Drive Marketing Leads

Largest recorded Inbound funnel. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Largest recorded Inbound funnel. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


To drive marketing growth I recommend what is now a classic Inbound marketing technique; Drive leads through identified “awareness” keywords and content matching, hosted on a variety of landing pages coupled with thank you pages which host links to gated content.

Therefore today I’ll be walking you through a step-by-step process of building landing pages and performing SEO and CRO (conversion rate optimization) on those landing pages using multivariate testing tools and techniques.

Now don’t let the buzzwords and acronyms scare you, I promise this will all become clear after your done reading this how-to article.


First thing’s first, why Inbound?

More and more Inbound marketing methods are becoming the go to approach for driving leads. Not just for small businesses with small marketing and ad budgets but larger advertising and marketing agencies.

“As technology continues to empower people, they will increasingly reject, bypass, skip, and avoid all forms of intrusive, interruptive marketing (looking at you, pop-ups, banners and TV spots). Our content practice is based on the belief that brands have stories worth telling that consumers will seek out, shape, and share. Those that interrupt, intrude, and talk about themselves won’t be asked back.”

—Scott Donaton Chief Content Officer, Head of Digitas Studios

Full disclosure. I’m a fervent believer in the combination of Inbound and Outbound techniques. It should never be a binary decision. Inbound is good for transactional marketing. Outbound advertising and marketing are great for relationship marketing. The kind of marketing where your building brand narratives and fostering emotionally driven relationships with your audience. But no matter how you slice it, each method requires three fundamental things, knowing your audience, writing a good brief and great creative.


Lead-Gen Landing Page Lesson Prerequisites

Now if you’re already an Inbound marketing “whiz” (please don’t ever say that at loud or admit to someone that’s what you call yourself because it sounds, well you know) this article is probably not for you.

If your just getting started with marketing automation and are using a marketing automation tool(s) like HubSpot and or Marketo you’ve come to the right place.

*This article presumes you have a working knowledge of the Inbound methodology and practices. That said if you don’t I’d highly recommend starting with HubSpot’s free Inbound certification course.

Step 1: Start by Developing Your Buyer Proto-Personas 

Before we start let me be really clear. These Proto-Personas are your best GUESS at who you think your buyer is. Proto-personas are informed by market research and stakeholders within your company and or your client’s company. That means your going to hear a lot of assumptions. Assumptions are just that, they’re a collection of biases informed by subjective observations from people other than your customers. So unless you’re a soothsayer you’ll want to launch, test, learn and iterate these personas over time. Thankfully landing pages are a good first start in this pursuit.


What is a Buyer Proto-Persona? 

These are your target customers. These are people identified as being interested in your product and or service. Each buyer persona you’ll create contains but is not necessarily limited to;

  • Core Characteristics
  • Yrs. of job experience
  • Risk Tolerance
  • Education Level
  • Ambition Level
  • Profile
  • Job Role
  • Age
  • Location
  • Marital Status
  • Income Level
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviors
    • Past and present wants
  • Goals
    • Future needs
  • Ambitions
    • Future wants


Proto-Personas are built through research

To derive your Proto-Personas I recommend a confluence of market research, talking to stakeholders and general secondary research (Reading industry pubs like Forbes, reports from research firms like Forrester, Think With Google, etc.) which helps you determine;

  • An understanding of what people will and or won’t buy
  • Provides business insights early on
  • Broad insight into a given market segment


Proto-Persona Customer Research techniques include but are not limited to;

  • Customer Surveys
    • 1x1 Contextual Inquiry
    • Focus Groups
  • Competitive Analysis


Persona Research Surveys

In your surveys, you’ll want to understand what drives your potential prospects through the Inbound funnel to make a purchase decision. From awareness, consideration, intention, to decision to buy.

Here’s the thing, surveys by no means are a one size fits all and therefore I have no prescriptive methods. Look for a forthcoming article from me on customer research and how to drive an organization's mindset in creating customer-centric solutions.


Customer Recruitment 

I’d recommend using the following services for recruitment. Make sure that you include incentives for respondents. For ex. A 25.00 USD Amazon gift card for each successful survey completed.


Synthesizing your customer research results into Personas

Once you’ve conducted your interviews look for common themes amongst them, and through this begin sorting out the prevalent ones. This sorting on its’ own typically produces particular Persona categories, giving you, on average, a range of 3 persona types with some potential outliers.

When done you should narrow your personas down to a minimum of three. Your Persona should look something like this.


Step 2: Buyer Personas and Identifying Keywords

With Personas in hand, you’ll want to analyze the keywords of your personas in three key areas.

  • Awareness keywords — Industry problem keywords
  • Solutions keywords — Product consideration keywords
  • Decision keywords — Keywords around a decision to buy

Not all keywords are created equal. Search engines have grown up a little. No longer do they do “exact keyword” matching. Rather you want to define long-tail keywords for “intent matching” searching. For ex. Your buyer might use a long-tail keyword search term “Expert video learning TensorFlow solutions”


Defining keywords

Using these tools below, you’ll use your personas to help you determine what kind of keywords your buyers are using.

Free Keywords Research Tools

Paid Keyword Research Tools

Best Practices for Keyword Matching: This is easy to do but hard to perfect. Here are a couple methods to easily get you started.

  • Use a customer mindset, what would they search on?
  • Keywords should align directly with the buyer’s wants and needs
  • Your not a robot, Google is, use natural language
  • Don’t repeat the same keywords again and again
  • Use keywords with a high search volume
  • It’s crowded out there, see who’s using the same keywords using Google analytics

Step 3: Crafting your landing page and content within around your keywords

Landing pages work best when you have gated content that is applicable to the primary keywords you’ve identified.

Allow me to demonstrate, for instructive purposes, using the following hypothetical scenario.

  • Persona and primary keyword matching; For instance, if you’ve identified one of your primary long-tail keywords for one of your Proto-Personas “CTO Leader that’s driving the future”s “Expert video learning TensorFlow AI solutions”

  • Keyword and content matching; If that’s the case you might offer up a gated how-to video course for “How to use Tensorflow to create a computer vision coupled with deep neural-network-processing that is required by self-driving cars along w/ massive amount of computation required to be able to take these harvested pixels and figure out, “is that a truck?” or “is that a stationary cyclist?” or “in which direction does the road curve?”

  • Lead-Gen Form; Now that you’ve gated the content how “big” are you going to make the gate. Meaning how much are you going to ask in return of the potential customer lead for giving them “free” content? Because you see a buyer’s personal info, which helps you turn them into a marketing qualified lead, should and does have a price. Therefore the number of questions you ask in the lead-gen form should be commensurate with the content value their getting. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all, that’s a balance you’ll have to iterate against after getting testing results. At minimum, your lead form should contain the following

    • Title
    • Size of company
    • Industry
    • Email Address
    • First/Last Name
  • Call to Action; The Call to Action on your page might seem like a benign item when it comes to driving conversions but you’d be mistaken. It’s size, location and, nomenclature all matter. Here are a few good rules to start from when creating your CTA.

    • Make secondary to content
    • Use the primary keyword in the CTA
    • Short and to the point
    • Situate it in a fixed position, at the bottom of the screen
    • Think mobile first
    • Use active verbiage; get, request, download, etc.
  • Creating as many variations to test as possible; Companies with 30+ landing pages convert 7% more visitors than companies with 10 or fewer landing pages. For your purposes start off with 15 landing pages. And on these landing pages I’d recommend trying many different variations of keywords and content matches, forms, CTAs, and imagery to determine, through sign-ups and viewing and or download of content offers, which landing performed the best using quantitative (What happened) and qualitative (Why did it happen) methods. And if your thinking A/B testing, don’t, this creates a “garbage in and garbage out” data set. Why? It presumes that one of the two solutions you have is THE solution.

Step 4: Design your landing and thank you page

Combining the elements derived from Steps 1 and 2, it’s time to lay them out into a simple two click-thru scenario.

Design your pages with purpose

  • Craft a clear, concise, action-oriented headline

  • Provide a clear explanation of the gated offer

  • No navigation on the main landing page

    • Drive prospects to the singular CTA

  • Social sharing icons to help spread the word on the Thank You page only

  • Get the user to fill out the form

  • Arrive on a thank you page with links to;

    • Download and or view the gated content.

    • Links to upsell related content

    • Offers to schedule a demo

Here you can see a mobile example we created for driving conversions to O’Reilly’s Artificial Intelligence conference.


This is just one example of many. Beyond following basic heuristics and generally established design patterns there is no “right” way IMO to design your landing pages other than “design for the customer.”

Step 5: Testing your pages

You’ve created your landing pages, multiple types of varying CTAs, forms, content offers, and thank you pages. Now to test to see if it’s working

How to conduct a multivariate test; It’s time to conduct tests against the variations present on your 15 different landing pages. Depending on the nomenclature used, placement of content, offer type, keywords used and or from submission required the success of your conversions can vary greatly. You want to find that sweet spot.

  • What to multivariate test
    • Keywords driving more landing page visits through organic search
    • Click events for CTAs
    • Placement
    • Nomenclature
    • Volume of form submissions
    • Best performing forms based on length and depth
    • Content download and or viewing volume


  • Benchmarks for test
    • Keywords driving more landing page visits through organic search

      • 20% who arrive at the landing page eventually fill out the corresponding form

    • Click events for CTAs

      • Good = 1-2% click-thru rate on CTA

    • Volume of form submissions

      • Good = 10% CTA clicks to submission goals, e.g., after clicking the CTA the user fills out the form

  • Quantitative tools
    • Google Website Optimizer
    • Visual Website Optimizer
  • Duration
    • You want a large enough data set to make determinations about what’s working and what isn’t. I recommend for your first test no less than 14 business days.
  • Synthesize results
    • Review your benchmarks, hit or missed, and make refinements to the pages and elements showing more promise.
  • More information;
Jeremy BradyComment