The psychology of high converting landing pages

Landing pages as we know them have been used since 2003 but, there is still a fair amount of confusion on what a landing page is and how to create high-converting landing pages. In this post, I’ll try to clarify what a landing page is and how to use psychological biases on landing pages to take your conversions to new levels.

Landing page definition

A modern landing page, aka sales page or squeeze page, is simply the first page where someone lands following their click on an ad, a post, a link, or a search result. Although any page on your website can be a landing page, in my view, landing page is the first page a visitor sees following paid advertising, therefore it must achieve a clear goal.

The classic landing page was born in late 2003, when Microsoft created the concept in response to poor online sales of Office due to a clunky and confusing sales process. Microsoft realized that the buying process had to be smoother and more direct, so they created a separate mini-site designed specifically for buying its flagship product.

Creating a landing page these days is really easy, especially with page builders and landing page tools but creating one that actually converts well is not an easy task.

Average landing page conversion rates

According to Wordstream, the average landing page conversion rate in 2020 is 2.35%. Which means that for every 100 clicks you get 2.35 conversions on average, with average CPC currently hovering around $1.86 on Facebook and $3 on Google, you’re are paying $80-128 for a single lead.

The top 25% were converting at 5.31% or higher. The top 10% of the landing pages had conversion rates of 11.45% or higher.


High converting landing pages narrative

I love borrowing successful patterns from other disciplines, such as the classic fiction plot.

Remember, your landing page is telling a compelling story and you have to take into account many elements such as the design, visuals, what message your copy is sending, and how the whole experience is going to affect each visitor. Using a familiar narrative will help improve the fluency and readability of your landing page and ultimately lead to higher conversion rates.

Classic fiction plot Lexiconic

Use psychology to create high converting landing pages

You landing page is a well-designed document that was meant to lead your customer to make a decision to make the action you want them to make. Therefore, landing pages should be designed to follow the classic route in decision making process, strategically leading the customer through a journey to close the gap between their current state and their desired state. 

If you want someone to arrive to a decision, problem recognition is the first step, resulting from a gap between a desired state and an actual state that is sufficient to arouse and activate the decision process. An actual state is the way an individual perceives their feelings and situation to be now. A desired state is the way an individual wants to feel or be at the present time. And there is always a gap between the two.

Our goal is to convince your visitor that your solution will indeed close this gap and help them arrive to the desired state. One of the most effective ways to help your visitors to so so, and you to improve conversion rates, is by implementing well researched psychological triggers (or cognitive biases) that affect our decision-making process.

“A cognitive bias refers to a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion.”

High converting landing page template

You can use the template as a storytelling narrative flow or use images and graphs instead of text.  

high converting landing page template
High Converting Landing Page Template

Landing page best practice: Rule of one

There is just too much information our brain needs to deal with every day. According to researchers at the University of California-San Diego, we receive 105,000 words (23 words per second) during our awake hours, every single day through mobile phones, online entertainment, blogs, email, TV, radio, text, newspapers, books, and social media. After adding pictures, videos, and games, we reach the volume equivalent to 34GB of information per day on average. No wonder most landing pages almost never convert. We simply don’t have any attention capacity left to even try to read them, let alone to make decisions.

Information overload and analysis paralysis

Our brains need to skim and filter large amounts of information and quickly and effortlessly decide which details are actually important and call those out. Then we need to construct meaning from those pieces, by filling the gaps and mapping it all according to the relevancy to our existing mental models. And we need to do it very fast, make split second decisions could impact our chances for survival, security, or success, and feel confident that we make the right decision.

When we are presented with too much information or choices, we experience what’s known as analysis paralysis, and our brain essentially shuts down. The constant information noise makes it very hard on our brains to make a decision. As a result, the action (the conversion) is either postponed or never happens because avoiding making any decision is easier.

In this complicated world, you can help your prospects by making your landing page as simple, clean, and clear as possible while supporting our natural processes for making decisions.

Your landing page should only have one single goal, one call to action, one solution to one problem and ideally target only one customer persona. Write for one reader only, have one offer, one call to action, one message and one promise.

Avoid asking for more than one action, instead, have one clear call to action button and be very specific on what they need to do.


State the problem and show the solution

Start by showing your customers what they’re going to get, it can be an image or a video. I recommend starting with the image/video on the left if you’re targeting English-speaking audiences or any language written from left to right. The reason? We read from left to right and you want your customers to see the visual first and get a clear idea of your offer. Bonus points for matching the visual to your ad to carry the scent of your advertising to the landing page and create a sense of familiarity.

In fact, the Obama Administration tested headline copy on their campaign’s landing pages and found that by relating headlines to previous pages and marketing campaigns, they were able to increase their conversion rate by 21%.

After seeing your image, your customer’s eyes will naturally wander to the right to get some details on your offer, and here you’ll present your big idea distilled to a clear single sentence that will serve as your headline and your unique selling proposition. How does your solution help customers achieve their desire without their biggest pain?

Rising Action

Amplify the problem

Remember the gap? According to Ray Edwards (How to write copy that sells), The first step to a high converting landing page is identifying the person you are trying to reach. What problem you are solving for them? What is the pain that problem causes? The simplest, most effective way to do this is to describe the problem in great detail. It’s a psychological principle identified by the marketing wizard Jay Abraham: the more accurately you can describe your reader’s problem in terms they relate to, the more they instinctively feel that you must have an answer to that problem. Use the reader’s own language, the very words, and phrases they use to describe the problem they want to solve.

Once you have identified the problem, you’re solving you must then amplify the consequences of not solving it. The goal here is to help the customer to understand the cost of not buying your solution. The amplification technique effectively widens the gap and helps people realize that their existing state is farther from their desired state than they thought helps instill a real and legitimate fear that induces people to take action to close the gap and improve their state.

The problem in numbers

The confirmation bias is based on finding that people tend to listen more often to information that confirms the beliefs they already have. Through this bias, people tend to favor information that confirms their previously held beliefs. You can harness this by sharing how many other people or businesses experiencing this problem/pain as well.

You can also boost your perceived authority by citing well-known, reputable sources.

Our natural tendency is to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure (unrelated to its content) and be more influenced by that opinion. By association, you also become a perceived authority in the minds of your landing page visitors.

Take advantage of this effect yourself by including quotes, testimonials, and other resources from experts in your industry on your landing pages.


Amplify the solution

Now that your prospects fully recognize the gap between their current state and what they want and feel the pain of the problem and the cost of not solving it, it’s time to get positive and offer your solution.

The expectancy theory of motivation explains the cognitive processes of why people chose to behave one way or the other. In short, people can be motivated toward their goals if they believe that there is a positive correlation between their actions and the positive outcome of the result. Your prospects will be motivated to convert according to their perception of the result so your job here is to help people envision and experience the desired outcome before they say yes.

The closer your solution is perceived to close the gap and bring them closer to their desire, the more likely your prospects to convert. One of the ways to achieve this is a transformational story.

“Karen, the frustrated business owner who had suddenly become an internet celebrity which almost drove her business to the bankruptcy, whose family had lost faith in her and whose clients left, who had no freedom and no time, and who decided one day to try your solution and that last resort idea saved her business”.

The more your prospect believes that your product can actually solve their pain and create the transformation they desire the more likely they are to convert. Such a personal story will be much more powerful than simply stating how awesome your product is.

What’s in it for them: The benefits.

In this section, you will be stating all the benefits and strengths of your solution, both objective and perceived focusing on explaining your benefits using the power of the word “because”.

In 1978, Dr Ellen Langer discovered that people tend to act mindlessly and automatically in most of the things they do. She conducted a study to understand how people react to being given a reason. Dr Langer’s researchers asked to break in a line of people waiting to use a busy copy machine by using three different, specifically worded requests:

“May I use the copy machine?” was effective 60% of the time while adding a reason to the interruption: “may I use the copy machine because I need to make copies.” and “may I use the copy machine because I’m in a rush.” were effective 93% of the time. Dr. Langer found the specific reason given after “because” didn’t matter which led her to believe that we are biased to automatically respond to two-part statements that resemble a reasoned argument.

Your customer is always asking “What’s in it for me?” and you can answer this question by harnessing the power of the word because, and giving them a reason, any reason. Such as:

“Our eBook will save you time because it’s easy to implement and use right away”

“Our course is great because it teaches you the skills you need today”

“Our software is great because it helps you stay connected with your prospects and you never lose a sale”

“Our weight loss solution is great because you can see real results in 8 weeks”

Falling Action

How your solution helps others

As humans, we have an inherent need to be part of a social community, especially in the context of solving our personal or business pains when the outcome is unclear. Here is your chance to help your prospect feel welcome and be part of something bigger and invite them into a community of others, just like them, who already solved their pain with your solution. 

Helping people become part of a community will make them feel more comfortable and inspire them to take action to achieve their desired results. And ultimately convert into becoming your customer. You can achieve that by showing in detail how your solution helped others reach their goals. But don’t just use any random customers, tell the stories of customers who are similar to your customer persona as we are inherently drawn to identifying with those who are like us. Being around people who share our traits, quirks, pains, and goals and care about similar things makes us feel more secure, builds our self-esteem, and enhances confidence in your solution.

Happy Clients

At this point, your prospects deeply understand the gap between what they want and where they’re now and understand your solution and how it can help them. If they haven’t converted yet, they need some more proof that your product really lives up to your claims. These prospects need more social proofing.

Call it peer pressure, social influence, or social proof, the truth is that we’re all susceptible to the bandwagon effect (or bias) and oftentimes we’re all doing something just because others are doing it, the larger the group, more of us will follow. That’s why we stand in line for popular restaurants, wait for hours to purchase a new mobile phone and follow trends. 

How to implement?

Highlight the number of customers you have, number of users, number of subscribers, or any large number related to your solution. Large numbers here will also be used for price anchoring purposes (see more in the pricing section below).

Highlight well known clients or partners’ logos and mentions in well-known magazines, newspapers, blogs, publications, and books.

If you want to enhance this section, even more, you can capitalize on our tendency to trust figures of authority, what’s known as the authority bias. Highlight high authority figures that project trust, famous logos, well-known influencers, images of doctors, professors, etc. 

Personal testimonials

Personal testimonials and reviews, similarly to personal stories, create a sense of belonging and community and make us feel secure and confident in making decisions.

You can enhance the feeling of belonging by emphasizing that your solution is made for certain audience by using personal testimonials of people similar to your ideal customer persona and using their images. Use testimonials that mention similar concerns to your prospects and why they chose your solution.

Who are you?

Remember, people don’t care about your company, they only care about themselves and how you will solve their problems and help them. Therefore, talking about yourself should be one of the very last things you do on your landing page, just before mentioning your price. Here you have a chance to make it more personal by showing the faces behind your company or adding a personal video of the owner talking about the product and your business.


Price anchoring is our tendency to rely on the first piece of numerical information to make judgments and decisions about price. When a higher number presented first, it becomes the benchmark against which consecutive numbers are evaluated. You can this phenomenon used often in pricing simply because showing higher prices first makes following prices look lower in comparison. You can see many landing pages use this bias by presenting the original price as opposed to the sale price available only today. However, there are many less common and more sophisticated ways to use anchors for your price.

Dan Ariely discovered in 2006 that it doesn’t matter what number you use to anchor ant it can be any number, such as a social security number in his experiments. Moreover, people don’t need to be aware or consciously take notice of the numbers to be affected by anchoring. One of the ways you can use these findings is mentioning any large numbers throughout your landing page before you mention the price. Mention number of clients, number of users, number of people dealing with the same issues, large statistical data numbers.

If you’re targeting an audience that reads left to right, you can use anchoring by placing the higher package first on the left of your pricing table to ensure they see the higher price first, and the cheaper plans right after. This helps people easily compare prices and helps you direct attention towards a certain plan (usually the one in the middle).

You can also use your pricing section to answer our need for community and belonging by naming your pricing plans in a way that categorizes people in groups, such as beginner/growing/advanced, silver/gold/platinum etc. Categorizing people in groups can also give them a sense of prestige and a desire to belong to a certain group.

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Nice to meet you

Helen Evenchen

Digital marketing strategist, wanderer, insighter, foodie, a mom. I’m also the marketing psychology geek behind Insightout Digital.
I have an MBA in consumer behavior and have been helping businesses big and small and teaching MBA students since 2004. I love helping entrepreneurs and eComm businesses just like you grow exponentially using systematic methods rooted in real human psychology and behavioral economics research.