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A landing page lesson from Basecamp

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Basecamp is the world’s most popular online project management tool. Every month, 28 million people land on Basecamp’s home page. Tens of thousands of them sign up for a Basecamp trial. That’s a lot of traffic and conversion.

Today I’ll guide you through a few landing pages Basecamp launched over years and we’ll see what we can learn from them.

Focus

Describe your product in one, brief sentence. No cheating. Just one sentence.

That’s what Basecamp did in 2012, when their landing page was focused on describing product functionality. One sentence explained a product: “Basecamp keeps your to-dos, documents, projects, decisions, feedback, team together.”

Basecamp home page 2012

In this one sentence explain which problem does a product solve. How does it help a person?

If you’re building a landing page for a sharp knife, you can say: “It’s a very sharp knife” or you can say “A sharp knife lets you slice a tomato, cut a bread and chop a beef.” The first sentence tells you what a product is, the second one informs you how a product can help you. The second one is better.

Use social proof

Social proof is a very strong social mechanism that helps people make decisions. When I see you eating an ice-cream and smiling, I take a clue from you that an ice-cream is yummy. So if I’m up for an ice-cream, I will likely try the one that you are eating.

In 2013, Basecamp used a landing page with three strong social proof messages: 6139 companies signed up for a Basecamp last week, Joy, a designer at Pitchfork, uses Basecamp for all her projects and 97 % customers recommend Basecamp.

Basecamp home page 2013

When I see many companies running a trial, I will try it myself. When I see a happy Joy using Basecamp, I want to experience the same joy with a product as she does. And when I hear that almost all customers recommend Basecamp I rest assured knowing it’s a good product.

Use social proof like personal success stories and big numbers of satisfied customers. Use true data because only true numbers are reliable in the long run.

Use more social proof

There are certain places on a website where people may feel reluctant to take an action like signing up or providing credit card details. Help them decide by letting them know that others have already taken this action successfully.

Basecamp places a short sentence with social proof under each CTA button:

Basecamp social proof under CTA

Use social proof in places where people hesitate to make decisions. Show them that it’s safe to decide on the action.

An open or a closed sign-up

There’s no golden rule for using an open or a closed sign-up form. An open sign-up form lets users type in all the details right on the landing page. A closed sign-up form requires from a user to click a sign-up button and then fill in the form.

Basecamp used both forms at different times:

Basecamp open and closed signup

Check what works better for you. Maybe they both are.

Long or short

As your product grows, it can be tempting to say more and more about it. That’s what Basecamp did in 2014 and at the beginning of 2015. They put a very long landing page full of text and art. You had to do a lot of scrolling to get to the bottom of the page. Now they’re back to a short version. Why? My guess is that a long landing page lets you tell more about the product, but the more you talk the less focus you get.

Basecamp short and long landing page

However, if you decide on a long landing page, remember to put a call-to-action every few page-scrolls.

Basecamp call-to-action on home page

Come back to Basecamp for more inspiration

Basecamp’s home page is worth looking at when you need inspiration for a product landing page that works well. Hundreds of thousands of people hover over it each day and sign up successfully. I will add nothing more. See for yourself.

Take a look at landing pages for any online advertiser, sign up for a BoxOfAds free trial.

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Anna Tomalik

Anna Tomalik

Blogging for BoxOfAds about ads and beautiful design. Loves simplicity, everywhere.

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