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Landing page targeting

It's an emotive debate this long vs short landing page one. I have read a lot of tirades against annoying sale pages that scroll and scroll forever.

However, I have seen enough of these long form pages (Here's Econsultancy's landing page) to know that people are using them for a reason. It can't be coincidence. 

And some of the companies using long form are respected brands (e.g. Amazon) with digital pedigree, so why would they contravene the basic tenets of usability and user experience?

This blog looks at the approaches and tools you can use to optimise your landing pages and take the emotion out of design and decision making.

There is no right answer

Let's start with me putting my balls on the block and stating my professional opinion. There isn't a definitive answer. The optimum design and length of a landing page is dependent on several factors:

1. The audience you are trying to reach.

2. The products/services you are trying to promote.

3. The goals for that page.

4. Your brand and its reputation/heritage.

OK, that's not an exhaustive list but it covers the key influences. You should never start a landing page project with a fixed idea about what to build. Use your experience, intuition and opinion but be open to change because it should be an iterative process.

Why do long landing pages sometimes work?

 There are many reasons but the most logical are:

1. You need to tackle potential objections that can't be done by face-to-face communication.

2. Some products and services are complicated sells, you need to give all relevant content to cater for a diverse audience.

3. Some people like detail and have time on their hands, leave them satisfied.

4. Your brand will be unknown to many visitors, you need to convey credibility and reliability and content can help achieve this by giving reassurances.

Getting the basics right - logical hypotheses

To help devise logical hypotheses (i.e. assumptions for what content you need to create to satisfy the needs of visitors) for your landing page, use the following indicators:

1. If it is product based, what are the most popular/fast-selling products in your catalogue that can be highlighted?

2. What are the current site search patterns related to the subject of the landing page?

3. What are the market search patterns related to the subject of the landing page.

4. What questions does your Customer Service team frequently get asked related to this subject (helps tackle barriers)?

5. What are your competitors doing in this area?

For example, re: 3. above, if you are creating a landing page for home fitness machines such as exercise bikes and rowers, use the free Google External Keyword Tool (or access it via your Adword account) and Google Insights to identify the most relevant trending keyword combinations. This will help you match content to popular searches to increase relevance.

This also helps identify keyword targets for SEO optimisation.

Google Insights for search

Visualising where people scroll to

Web analytics data will tell you which buttons and links visitors click on and the % of visits clicking on each on-page element, but it won't tell you how many people are viewing each section of the landing page.

This additional information is really helpful as it demonstrates the propensity to scroll and absorb your content.

If people are scrolling and seeing everything but engagement and clicks are low, your data is telling you that your landing page is not strong enough at driving action.

This can help you modify content to encourage greater engagement, such as testing stronger calls to action and more prominent visual signs.

I love the Crazy Egg scrollmap and confetti tool for visualising landing page activity. You can integrate with your GA account to refine the display based on traffic source, great for working out how landing pages cater for different audiences.

You can also get this sort of info from companies like Clicktale.

Crazy Egg scrollmap

Crazy Egg confetti

Testing short v long form

And this is the crux of it. Not even Smarties have the answer. If you want the best results, or at least to know that you have stuck with the optimum solution (that is the landing page that gives you the best set of results based on your KPIs), you need to test.

Testing often makes people look away to a far off happy place - its implied complexity hurts. However, A/B testing doesn't need to be complex or prohibitively expensive.

You can use tools like Google Website Optimizer to do this and create a few creative treatments for the landing page. Depending on traffic volumes, you can have readable data within a few days.

Testing doesn't have to be finite. Each time you find a winning page version, set-up another test for a specific component of the page (e.g. style of buttons for calls to action) and refine further. It's an iterative process reflecting the changing needs of your visitors.

There's a great case study from Conversion Rate Experts on Sunshine Holidays: "How we made an extra £14m a year for a travel company".

Detail via web analytics

The challenge with your testing is to find relevance. If you simply compare top-level KPIs for landing page versions based on all visits, you miss out on the golden nuggets.

For example, you may find that your search visitors behave differently to email visitors and within search, brand behaves differently to generic.

This type of analysis can reveal interesting patterns that might lead you to creating multiple versions of a landing page to suit different audiences. The marginal cost of doing this can help drive your ROI and give you pay-back.

If you're opting for the more straightforward A/B testing route, you can use web analytics tools like Google Analytics to measure this.

  • Compare KPIs like page engagement and conversion based on traffic source.
  • Compare performance for new v returning customers.
  • For search traffic, drill down to keyword level to see how landing page performance varies at keyword level.

As far as I know, it's also possible to use GA to do this for MVT testing but it's more complicated and you would need to use custom variables. That's not my expertise so would welcome comments from those in the know.

Drilling down into the data will give you insight from which you can make decisions. You might find that short tail keyword traffic responds better to a long form page because the in-depth content satisfies the research needs.

You might not. But if you don't do the analysis, you might be missing something important and compromising results.

Simple techniques to encourage visitors to scroll

If you're opting for a long form landing page there are some cool tips for getting visitors to get past first base and go deep:

1. Ensure key selling points and calls to action are above the fold - yep obvious but not always adhered to.

2. Use links to other sections of the page to fast track people to content lower down the page.

3. Avoid horizontal blank space on or near the fold - this gives the impression there is nothing below and impacts scrolling.

4. Use levers in the content to encourage scrolling (Wiltshire Farm Foods found a neat solution for this - see bottom right of the page).

5. Use technology to surface deeper content without the need to scroll or open new pages e.g. product carousels.

The best article I've read on scrolling tips comes from Conversion Rate Experts: "How to make users scroll down your page" and its thanks to them that I found the Wiltshire Farm Foods example.

To check what content appears above the fold for different browsers, you can use the Foldtester.com free online tool (see below).

Via your web analytics you can identify what % of traffic comes from different browsers/resolutions (including mobile browsers) to determine how best to optimise display.

Foldtester.com fold visualisation 

Still don't think long form landing pages can work?

I love a sceptic. If it really didn't work, then why would some of the most successful digital brands use oh so long product pages?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying lets all rip up the concise approach and go nuts. There's a time and place for everything, just don't exclude long form because you have a personal issue against it.

It really can work and your landing page design should be based on what visitors want; let the data make the decision.

There's a neat visualisation of one of Amazon's product pages on the Conversion Rate Experts blog (see above link) using the Hoff as a scroll barometer. It's mighty big.

So what do you think? I'm pretty much agnostic when it comes to the question, "Should my landing page by short or long?" I don't really care. All I care about is finding the best solution to drive KPIs, provide good user experience and achieve the goals for that page.

Please drop by with comments to fuel the discussion. 

James Gurd

Published 22 August, 2011 by James Gurd

James Gurd is Owner of Digital Juggler, an ecommerce and digital marketing consultancy, and a contributor to Econsultancy.He can be found on on Twitter,  LinkedIn and Google+.

49 more posts from this author

Comments (22)

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Clare Evans

Really interesting article - I'll definitely come back to it when I'm rewriting my web pages.

I don't like the formulaic long-form pages but as you say - if they didn't work, people wouldn't use them.

It's good to see that people are getting more creative with how they present the information and I'm not seeing quite so many of the identical cookie cutter long-form sales pages that I was seeing a few years ago, so things are improving.

It's useful to try different things and see what results you get.

about 5 years ago


Alex The Wordpress Lover

Great article. It's always an interesting topic. I agree with what you say, it really depends on what your selling. Short pages tend not to give much away and usually force and opt-in whereas some of the long pages go on for ever.

One of the biggest retailers, Amazon, has really, really long pages. So i guess the long ones must work for them!

There is no right and wrong answer. Testing on your own website is the only way to work out what's best for you.

about 5 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

It really comes down to your brand and your audience and what works best for those two segments. Clearly long-form pages work or they would have been abandoned a long time ago. I don't think there is a "magic" length that will increase conversions. It comes down to what works best for you.

about 5 years ago


Nicklaus Deyring

You also should probably nod to all of those over-selling sites that are a bit of a grey area. The fly-by-night pyramid scheme sites often use very long landing pages, filled with convincing quotes and story-based reasoning for conversion. Has to be a good reason they do so, right? With pretty frequent calls to action throughout. I would wager they are successful in delivering a convincing story argument, even if they're a bummer deal, the logic is weaved cleverly for the user to digest.

about 5 years ago

Matt Clarke

Matt Clarke, Ecommerce Director at B2B

Nice post, James. Like Crazy Egg, Clicktale is also really handy for assessing scroll depth and assisting in winning arguments with those who want to include every possible item on a landing page.

I'm sure in many cases long pages work better than tabbed content, which arguably requires a bit more effort to get at the content than a quick click of the mouse (or swipe of the finger.)

about 5 years ago



From an Seo standpoint long pages are the only way to go. The more relevant content on your landing page the higher and easier it is for search engines to recognize and accredit you as a legitimate site. Like you said you need to understand what catches the eye of your target audience and lead them where you want them to go. Many Seos never get that balance and it then leads to high bounce rates, the goal is to get them to the page and keep them there, which a lot of Seos forget. Love the article thanks for the insights.

about 5 years ago


Matt Chandler

I clicked through to the econsultancy landing page that you've included in the article and I'm surprised it does work as well as you claim - it's very long and pretty ugly! But, the key point is: testing, testing, testing, so if you have the data to back up that particular design then fair enough.

about 5 years ago



Good article. For me, it all comes down to the psychology of the user and the point at which you ask them to proactively click another link. If they are not very sold on what you've said on your short page, what are the chances of them clicking on another link to get their questions answered?

I don't think the focus should be on long vs short. Instead, it should be on whether you have answered the user's questions and overcome their objections. If you can do this on a short page then great. Otherwise you need to keep persuading them without asking them to make another click - and this often leads to a long page.

about 5 years ago


Paul Colquhoun

Completely agree, the length of a landing page should be determined by the target audience, product/service and goals. The buying process also needs to be considered. Say if the benefits of product or service is not generally not fully understood by the target audience, it's well worth dedicating a longer page to educate the audience ir order to convince them to convert. However, if a product or service is quite complex with a long buying process, for instance there's a lot of technical info that a particular target audience would potentially be interested in finding out more about, rather than put it all in a long page, I'd put that info in a brochure or whitepaper behind a form. General perceptions of a product/service is also a factor, if the product/service has perceived dodgy connotations, it's often beneficial to write a lot of benefits driven copy to convince the audience otherwise. There's definitely no set length a landing page should be.

about 5 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Morning all,

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your comments.

I think we're pretty much in agreement that the length of page and depth of content depends on the needs of the visitors and the goals of the page. I'm a big fan of optimisation and using testing to improve page engagement.

I had a meeting with a Client yesterday where i was asked "What should we put on the page?" and my answer was" I don't know". I'm sure that some people would consider that consultant suicide but it's the truth - I can give people a steer based on my experience and good practice, but in reality it's your customers you need to ask that question. A/B testing is like running a survey - you let your customers vote.

Andrew - you're spot on with the psychology element, an incredibly important factor in influencing visitor behaviour, especially when you start to look at complex buying cycles for B2B. And I'd also agree that short v long isn't the right question to be asking (I used it to illustrate the point) - it has to be what will my visitors need to help them make decisions and take actions?

The technology exists now to surface lots of content intelligently and sequentially based on individual needs, so it's more a case of understanding user needs and journeys and matching the solution.


about 5 years ago



CRO and SEO both have to work with one another when it comes to this and they have to both be planned very extensively. What is also important is how they level of structure on the page. All in all, to perfect this you need to test test test!!!

about 5 years ago

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

A fantastic blog post James.

This short vs long copy debate is really an 'old chestnut' in both traditional and digital marketing. As others point out, the only solid answer to how long a page should is, "I've no idea. Shall we test it?"

However, on the Web, we must not see our Landing Pages out of context. Where the visitor has come from and what previous messages and influence they've been exposed to will all impact on how long a landing page should be. As will age, gender, culture and so on.

Brand awareness and perception will also play its part.

For example, a landing page promoting a book on 'How to be successful in business' by THE Steve Jobs could consist of a few lines of text and a credit card form.

Whereas 'How to be successful in business' by someone unheard of...like me for example...would need a LOT more influence and persuasion elements contained within it (and therefore would be longer) to have any chance of success.

Which reminds me, does anyone want to buy a book?

about 5 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

Great article James. Broadly speaking I've operated on the principle that when people are actually considering spending real money they'll take the time to read the detail i.e. you need long copy. Up until that point they tend to flit around/scan and want short copy.

One has to be quite aware of 'average' results/conversion rates for testing, including things like scroll depth. We use Clicktale on the long page you link to and if you look at the average scroll depth it isn't very deep so the page would appear 'too long'. However, if you segment by those who actually end up buying that scroll depth is much longer. So what do we conclude? Maybe that there a bunch of people who have a 'quick look' - like some of those reading your article - but who never really had any intention of buying?

Likewise over the years I've generally found that 'ugly' designs outperform less ugly ones ;)

about 5 years ago

Paul Rouke

Paul Rouke, Founder & CEO at PRWDSmall Business Multi-user

Echoing many of the earlier comments, thanks for publishing a very detailed and thoughtful piece James.

I'd just like to pick up on a few of the points raised by either yourself or people commenting as a way of sharing some my views on this fascinating area of online marketing.

The importance of brand credibility

Picking up on some of Andrew Lloyd Gordons points, this applies across all touchpoints that a user has with a brand including end-to-end buying journeys, and to demonstrate this point I wrote an article on here with the 'controversial' title of 'Amazon relying on brand credibility instead of good usability' - http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/3777-amazon-relying-on-brand-credibility-instead-of-good-usability.

You could argue that Econsultancy are a reputable brand so why do they need such a long selling page, although a key part of this landing page is the regular calls to action - as if to say, once you've seen enough (note of different types of persuasive elements) you can click this big red button and join us. As Ashley points out though, most visitors who actually convert do scroll down much more, demonstrating that even reputable brands sometimes have to work very hard at convincing prospects to take action!

The importance of answering visitor questions

As Andrew explained if you key landing pages don't answer key visitor questions, then how can you expect them to be confident of clicking your call to action button. I've recently used the phrase 'visitors have to take a leap of faith' in a user testing report which underlines the fact that if this is the case, you can be sure that your visitors will not be clicking with as much confidence as they would if they could get access (either on the page, through lightboxes or through downloads) to their key questions.

If anyone is interested in reading about this in much more detail I've previously written this post on 'Answering users questions to improve conversions' - http://www.smartinsights.com/blog/conversion-optimisation/questions-answered-increased-site-conversions/

Why transparency is fundamental to improve conversions

This is very much tied in with the above point on answering questions, but another way for businesses to look at landing pages (and again other key site pages, such as product page, basket, the start of an application process) is whether or not they are making their proposition (and any downsides) transparent. Again an article that demonstrates the importance of transparency is this one on 'ASOS shopping basket best practice' - http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7106-asos-shopping-basket-best-practice

The importance of moderated user testing

To add to the list of 5 basic ways to determine the approach and focus for your landing pages, moderated user testing can provide invaluable customer and prospect insights on what would motivate them to convert/click/do on a landing page or other key site pages. Moderated user testing doesn't have to be just about the usability of a website but also to focus in on users behaviour, attitudes & perception of of the brand/product/service etc. A term and approach to encapsulate how landing pages should be designed is PET (persuasion, emotion, trust).

So, back to the question on landing page depth - long or short I don't care either providing it is appropriate to the target audience and ultimately delivers improved commercial results!

about 5 years ago

Martin Dower

Martin Dower, CEO at Connected-uk.com LLP

Quote from Ashley:

"Likewise over the years I've generally found that 'ugly' designs outperform less ugly ones ;)"

I cannot agree more. The crux, as covered above, is that testing will tell you the answer. If you are not testing then you are potentially making huge mistakes driven by ill-formed knowledge and opinion. One fact is worth a thousand opinions.

Not covered above is that excessive page load-time / page weight has a negative effect on conversion and, naturally, long pages will tend to weight more than short pages.

Finally, no mention of infinite scrolling pages. Potentially a better solution to the long vs short as each page is, effectively, sized to the needs of the visitor.

about 5 years ago



For me... personally... the landing page should be articulately designed so that no long-form page is required. The prime example for me is the Harvey Nichols landing page, designed by pod1. The most prominent navigation tool is centred in the middle, keeping your eyes close to the prize, which is rotating product images in high resolution.

The only con, you cannot click to access the product you see and quite a few other things, but then I am very meticulous in what I expect from an online shopping experience. I'm sure if HN fully analysed where people are clicking, they'd quickly realise a LOT of viewers are clicking the nice, big, high resolution images they see.

Concerning infinite scrolling pages, highly irritable, get them on facebook feed and twitter, a slight jolt and you find yourself in no mans land.

SEO strategy, surely more effective applications to generate traffic than dumping a load of content onto a long page?

about 5 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Morning all,

Thanks for the additional comments.

Jda - the challenge for web owners is to cater for a diverse audience. For every visitor who like you wants a short page with limited scrolling, there will be someone who is happy to scroll and wants to access lots of information. Data and research proves this to be true.

Re SEO, the aim is never to just dump lots of content on a page. The aim is to provide visitors with the content they need to achieve the goals for their visit and direct them to where they want to go. Alongside that is the keyword optimisation to support SEO. Keyword targeting should be a by-product of producing helpful content for visitors.

The depth of content depends on the purpose of the page. A homepage will have very different goals to a product page. For example, in B2B if you have a complex product/service then it may be prudent to have a long landing page to be able to adequately address questions/objections.

In reality there is no perfect solution. That's why, as most people above have agreed, testing is the best way to optimise landing pages.


about 5 years ago



Excellent writeup. It's good to be reminded of the basics of delivering a proficient landing page. So many useful tips and great comments from others.

about 5 years ago



Fantastic article. It's entirely too easy to focus on the keywords, the tags, the search engine results, and completely ignore what the page looks like. #3 on Google doesn't mean anything if no one converts off the page. This is one of my chief projects now, and this was perfect reading for that. Thanks!

about 5 years ago


Anthony Mangia, NYC SEO Expert

Great article! I've never seen anybody go into this level of detail about short vs long form content. I'd love to see somebody publish their test results pitting short form content up against long form content with the same purpose/goal. Aside from conversion rate in terms of sales, it would be interesting to see how it correlated to Twitter follows or Facebook likes. Is long form content more engaging?

about 5 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Morning all.

Thanks for the additional comments and glad you found the article useful/helpful.

@AccessDirect - as this is a focus for you, please come back and share any learning you get as it's always interesting to hear what works.

@Anthony Mangia - I might have a new landing page optimisation project starting soon, so will see if I can share results. The answer to "Is long form more engaging" is yes, no and maybe! It's not black and white, it depends on the purpose of the page and the audience coming there, amongst other things. That's the beauty and frustration of e-commerce - you have to work to get the answer.


about 5 years ago

Mark Patron

Mark Patron, Consultant and non-exec director at Patron Direct LtdEnterprise

Great article James. Direct marketing copy writers are long time advocates for long copy, for example John Carlton wrote in Early to Rise (20/6/09) “If I woke up tomorrow and realized the universe had changed in such a way that a decent sales pitch no longer required persuasion, proof, credibility, offers, and all the other classic ingredients, I’d be the first one writing short copy.”

about 5 years ago

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