Computer technology has had a huge impact on the economy and education, and the number of online transactions is escalating. This makes competition tough, although there are endless opportunities. The Internet is a world of opportunity where flowers of success grow on the trees of conversion.
The Internet certainly is amazing; anyone can reach almost anyone else. The only hitch is that competitors abound. If you don’t manage to float to the top with online charisma, millions of potential buyers will ignore what little waves you make. Today’s customer is free to select, compare and analyze your products and services against those of your competitors.
There are plenty of effective tactics you can apply to get the best out of your website traffic. When a targeted visitor hits your website, you need to demonstrate brand identity and hook that visitor into the company’s profile. The landing page requires a bunch of marketing approaches and a ton of creativity to make the sale. A landing page tells your visitors the details of your proposition, and its design is important and can affect your success.
The landing page is not necessarily the home page. It is the page by which visitors enter your website, so it’s also known as an entrance page. It’s the first thing visitors see when they arrive.
Outline: Purpose and Marketing
Most business website owners attempt to ensure that their landing pages generate sales. Online marketing is by far the most important aspect of any Internet business. Top entrepreneurs earn extra money every year by promoting other people’s products to their contacts and then selling their own products.
The purpose of a landing page is to present a product or group of products and provide as much information as is required to secure a sale. The primary reason for creating a landing page is to elicit some sort of action, or “conversion.” Almost every Internet marketer understands the significance of a landing page. A good landing page helps you sell your product and builds your list of customers, among other things. A badly designed landing page can cost you business, so take heed!
Every landing page design must be furnished with care and built with the user experience in mind. A click on your promotional ad before reaching the actual page should satisfy the needs of the visitor; only then will they stay and give you the chance for a conversion. Your goal is to get a high percentage of visitors to take the desired action.
Landing pages are a critical part of any online marketing strategy. As a website accumulates content, the number of pages grows, people link to various pages from your website, and search engines rank them. Thus, the subject-specific page becomes your landing page—and your most crucial page if you want traffic to translate into profit. Landing pages are crucial for businesses that sell products online, and they are also used intensively by associated vendors.
Basically, a landing page is a web page that is highly optimized. The effectiveness of a landing page is measured by its conversion rate: how often visitors take the action desired by the company. In marketing terms, it’s a specialized page that visitors are directed to once they’ve clicked on a link, usually from an outside source such as a pay-per-click ad. The page is usually sharply focused on a particular product or service and aims to get the visitor to buy or take some form of action rapidly that will ultimately lead to a sale.
A Different View of Landing Pages
A landing page can also refer to every other page on your website. Many website owners believe that the arrival-to-sale process works like this: a visitor arrives on the home page, selects an option from a menu or an offer on the page, arrives on the page with the offer or product, and then purchases it.
Of course, this does happen; there’s no harm in considering every page on your website as a “home” page. Many will enter the website via search engine listings of pages other than the home page or links from other websites to particular sections; in fact, they outweigh the number of people who hit the home page first. Many landing-page strategies are relevant to all pages of your website and are worth considering in general for writing and development.
Two Schools of Thought
Some marketing experts believe that a landing page should be solely dedicated to one offer and nothing else. Others say that it’s good to provide easy access to other areas of the website and to mention other offers in case the visitor isn’t interested in the main offer.
You’ll have to experiment to figure out which is best for your website, but my general view is that if you are using PPC advertising to drive clients to a specific offer, then creating a dedicated page with little mention of anything else is the best strategy. After all, PPC ads are usually targeted, so traffic from this source will be focused.
Developing Landing Pages: The Basics
As you create your landing page, ask yourself a few questions:
- What are you offering?
- Who is your target audience?
- Why would they be interested in your offer?
- What do they need to do in order to participate or purchase?
Collect all your ideas, and pare them down to their core elements, making them as motivating as possible without overhyping them. Think of your landing page as a summary of all the other pages connected to the product or service.
Types of Landing Pages
There are seven basic types of landing pages.
This is the simplest type of landing page. Its purpose is to provide details about an offer or product and explain its benefits and features to visitors, who should then feel informed enough to make a purchase.
2. Lead capturing
Also known as a “squeeze” page, this gathers personal information, such as the visitor’s name, email address or phone number. Normally, there are no links or navigation, only a form for submission. Often, there is an incentive to submit this data.
These tend to be narrow and extremely long so that visitors have all the information they need, all on one page, to make an informed purchased. The more a person reads, the more they get sucked into the sales message, which leads to a call-to-action button (”Buy now!”).
Large companies that want to create online buzz about a new product or service create these pages, which build brand awareness and usually include flashy games or funny videos.
5. Microsite (or minisite)
A microsite is a small supplementary website that provides information specific to a large campaign or business segment. It’s usually more than a single page but is still considered a type of landing page. It is often used by car manufacturers and movie studios.
6. Product information
This is the main page of a website, which houses all information related to a product for sale, and it is commonly used in the retail industry. This page usually comes with navigation, links and well-designed graphics.
7. Website as Landing Page
This is the least effective type of landing page. There are way too many distractions, and it can confuse first-time visitors. It often has links, videos, features, graphics, advertising and maybe even a few interactive elements. When a new visitor arrives, it’s easy for them to become overwhelmed and leave before grasping the message.
The Role of a Landing Page
Think of a landing page as a fantastic opportunity to grab the attention of a person seeking your particular product or service. The page on which visitors arrive after clicking on your promotional ad is the landing page of your website. Its role is to induce visitors to take concrete action; you don’t want them departing from your website until they do what you want them to do (click on the “Buy” button, sign up for an affiliate program, download an e-book or free software, subscribe to your free newsletter).
A landing page should also answer the user’s questions:
- Is this the correct place?
- Is this what I imagined it would be like?
- Does this seem trustworthy?
- How much time will this take?
- Should I click the “Back” button?
Your landing page should provide visitors with exactly what they’re looking for. When keyword searches direct traffic to specific pages on your website, they lead to conversions because visitors see exactly what they searched for. Makes sense, right? If the visitor can’t find what they’re looking for on the gateway to your website, they’ll stay only a couple of seconds and then go “Back”—to find your competitors. Lose the customer and you lose the sale.
Your landing page should provide a customized sales pitch. The best way to customize it is to consider where the person has come from, who they are, and what they are looking for. With this information, your chances of engaging visitors go up, as should your conversion rate. For instance, if a Los Angeles-based web design company has a landing page for web design services, then a potential client searching on Google or Yahoo for “web design services in Los Angeles” will probably find that company and begin a relationship with it via its website.
Don’t have too many distractions (such as unnecessary images or links) or you’ll lose visitors before they read your whole message. Provide visitors with what they want and you’ll have a spellbound audience and loyal customers.
Tips for Effective Landing Pages
A good landing page provides steady income for the Internet marketer, which is why some marketing gurus refer to them as online ATMs. A good landing page captures sales leads and converts them into paying customers. Here are some tips for creating a good landing page with a high conversion rate.
Figure out what visitors are looking for and what offers will draw them in. Build a profile of your ideal visitor. Do not construct the page for anyone else—generic pages have been proven to fail. Keep everything on target.
The landing page should be all about the product or service. The sales pitch should be simple, with no hype. You’ll establish credibility, and visitors will be curious to learn more.
The landing page should be easy to scan. People don’t have time to read long sales letters. That’s why they shop on the Internet: they want a convenient, fast way to purchase what they want. I recommend a bullet list of benefits of the product.
Include only relevant content
Use facts and figures instead of generalizations, and deliver a message. Cite as many referral sources as possible
Don’t replicate the home page
Yes, it’s a gateway to your website, and yes, your branding is visible, but the landing page should be unique. It should demonstrate that your company has depth and wants to provide targeted information.
Consider multiple landing pages
Many make the mistake of using their home page as the only landing page for their website. If you do this, you risk running into duplicate content issues, which could prevent these important pages from even showing up in searches.
Unless you’re in the entertainment industry or real estate or you’re a travel agent who pushes holiday destinations, don’t go overboard with visual effects. Graphics and images serve only to enhance the message in the text. For direct marketing, remember that it’s the words that sell.
The visitor knows what to do. Just make the conditions favorable and make their next step clear. They will be most motivated when they reach the landing page. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Lead the visitor’s eye along the page toward the conversion exit. A smart use of white space and typography, along with color, will draw attention. Be careful, though: an eye-catching image demands a lot of eye time and, if misplaced, could ruin the flow of the message. Impressive large copy and relevant graphics can make a long page seem short. Put important stuff near the middle, and don’t distract users from that focal point. Avoid putting interesting material in sidebars; it pulls the eye away from the main area.
Check your text thoroughly, and correct all grammatical and spelling errors, otherwise visitors will get a negative impression of your company, and it won’t be easy to convince them to stick with you.
No one wants to spend more money than they need to. Make sure your prices are reasonable and are comparable to products or services of similar quality and quantity. Know your competitors. Don’t sell yourself short, though; if your product is more expensive than the competition’s, explain why. If people see that many others are carrying out a landing page’s call to action and getting positive results, it will give them the incentive to follow along.
Issues Surrounding Landing-Page Success
Certain issues will inevitably arise during the creation of a landing page. Unless you tackle these issues early on, you’ll likely run into many conversion problems that will cost you a lot of time—and potentially a lot of cash.
The landing page should be:
- Designed with your goal in mind.
Are you trying to get more subscribers, or do you want people to buy a product? Do you want visitors to return to your website again and again, or do you want them to click on one ad and leave? Each of these goals requires a different landing page design. Make sure you are well aware of your goal before you start.
- Accessible to all sorts of visitors.
Who is coming to your landing page? Are they male or female? What is the age group? Do your visitors have a college education? Have they got children? Are they Internet-savvy? These considerations are vital; if you fail to consider how Net-savvy your visitors are, you could miss out on a lot of earnings. Consider demographics in advance.
Say your landing page is converting traffic into sales, and you’re making some money, so you’re thinking of scaling it up. Hold on a second! How do you know what percentage would be best and what kind of money this page and product combination could be making? What if, say, you changed the links from black to blue? Do what Internet marketers call “split testing”: run several different versions of the same ad, and see which version converts higher numbers. I recommend Google Website Optimizer. This amazing, robust and free tool lets you run different versions of your ads to see which elements of each one are helping or harming your campaign.
There is no particular formula that ensures each of your landing pages achieves the maximum number of possible conversions at all times. But, fortunately, there are several guidelines that even a newbie can follow to make sure landing pages deliver results!
Key Features of a Perfect Landing Page
Landing pages for products are everywhere. Marketers are always investigating new techniques for mastering e-commerce, but it takes a designer’s eye to create something extraordinary. How successful a creation is depends on the nature of the business and its goals. Some argue that sending visitors to a home page is less effective than sending them to a separate landing page. I say that the product you’re selling and your audience should be the deciding factors. Let’s look at some key features of landing pages (in the form of tips and instructions) that are required to increase sales.
• Ease of access is a big factor in any landing page’s success. The sign-up process should appear simple, even if it’s not. Provide a full sign-up area on the front page, and offer some sort of incentive or benefit to persuade users to fill out the form. Even an image can act as an enticement and illustrate the benefits.
• A well-crafted unique selling proposition (USP) sets clear expectations for customers and helps them see why they should care. Break down your services to the basics: describe the specific benefits customers will get by choosing your product or service. The USP should be delivered on the landing page via the perfect combination of page elements: primary headline (an eye-catching headline that grabs the visitor’s attention instantly and compels them to read on) and sub-heading (a secondary headline, typically smaller in size, that provides clarification or expounds on the primary headline).
• Know your visitors. Understand the motivations, desires, fears, and concerns that customers have with your product or service. Only then will you be able to create a landing page that focuses on converting visitors into customers.
• Eliminate distractions. Do not crowd the page. Keep it simple. Even a navigation bar could undo a conversion by providing a way to click away from the landing page. Don’t give visitors too many navigational choices. On targeted landing pages, remove navigation tools and, instead, provide only links that lead to completed sales. The average web surfer can concentrate for only so long (getting distracted on the Internet is so easy!). One click on an unrelated link and the visitor is out of reach! Focus them on the landing page. Don’t distract them, even with invitations to the rest of your website. When visitors complete a purchase, send them to a “Thank you” page that provides links to the rest of the website.
• Encourage visitors to proceed and call them to action by including an action link or button (that says something like “Buy now” or “Subscribe now”). Use action words that clearly convey what you want the visitor to do and know, such as “Buy now,” “Sign up,” “Download” and “Add to cart,” and place the words where they will be noticed. Many people ignore the top 60 pixels of a screen because they expect to see a banner ad there. Make buttons large, graphical and bright, and put them in the middle of the landing page. A call to action tells the visitor what they are supposed to do on a particular page. Big shiny buttons make actions seem comfortable, and clear comprehensible text helps to secure sales. Provide such buttons and links after every important detail, or after every paragraph or two, so that visitors don’t have to scroll up or down to click. This might seem repetitious, but you never know which word will cause a visitor to click, and every second counts. Even during scrolling, a distraction could come up and cause a visitor to leave.
• Communicate a consistent message. A landing page’s design should match the promotional ad as much as possible. Use the same words or expressions on the landing page that brought visitors there in the first place. If a user clicks on an ad, they will expect to see the same content, but fleshed out, on the landing page. The visitor clicked the link because they found it attractive, and so another expression could confuse them. For example, if a user clicks on an ad that shows a tall model wearing a red dress, the user expects to see that same model when they arrive on the landing page.
• Give visitors what they’re looking for. Make sure that customers arrive at the exact information they seek. That’s why your promotions should lead visitors to the relevant landing pages and not the home page. Don’t risk distracting visitors by forcing them to search for information.
• Thank readers for responding. Open your landing page with a brief thank-you note. Let visitors enjoy the personal attention and pride in their association with you. Show them that they’re in the right place, that they’re at a special page created just for them.
• Capture crucial data. The whole point of landing pages is to get people to express some level of interest. When they identify themselves by responding to an offer, they enter the sales funnel, at which point your job of converting prospects into buyers begins. Before they get to download your white paper or demo, they should provide some information about themselves. Use forms to collect personal information. Online forms are typically the first step of the sales process. Start by asking for the person’s name and email address, and hang on to these for future use. Don’t ask too much. Make the conversion as easy on the customer as possible. With purchases, this might mean not requiring people to register but instead allowing them to order as guests. If there are online forms to complete, filling them out should be quick and easy. For example, have the input cursor jump to the next field in the form on its own. Focus only on the absolute essentials. Request only the information that is necessary for your purposes. The less time users spend on your conversion activity, the less time they have to change their minds.
• Put critical information at the top. The landing page does not have to be short, but all the important information, such as benefits and the order button, should be visible without scrolling. Web developers call this “above the fold.” Visitors have different screen sizes and different browsers, so test information placement. Your landing page might look great at a 1024 × 768 screen resolution, but if most of your visitors are still using 800 × 600, they won’t see the “Buy” button without having to scroll. Plus, studies show that visitors leave a page within the first few seconds if the actions seem too confusing.
• Put the product in context. Show your product or service being used in real life. The idea is to get customers to empathize and imagine themselves in a scenario where they are using your product. There are many ways to achieve this:
- Photographs, for the “hero shot” (I’ll explain in a moment);
- Video, a compelling way to showcase a product (the camera never lies!);
- Testimonials (i.e. praise and commentary from past and current customers), which show that you already have customers;
- Client lists, which provide context and create an atmosphere of trust.
The most interesting part of any landing page is the testimonials: the social proof. People always avoid being first, so share testimonials (real ones!) to convince them that many other people use and like your product. Share figures and facts to impart a sense of security. As for the hero shot, it is the visual representation of your product or service. From it, people gain an understanding of what it is or looks like. It can take the form of a photograph of the product in action, a diagram that illustrates how the service solves an existing problem, a chart that compares the product to the competition’s, or a graphic that reiterates concrete advantages of the offer (”100%,” “Bonus,” “Free”).
• Go easy on links. Links are great for the average website, but on landing pages, all information should be displayed without having to click away. Links, if there are any, should direct visitors to internal pages for questions or order placement. Placing external links in the footer would be clever, perhaps to affiliate websites, friends’ pages or anything else you want to share. They can add dynamism to the landing page, but they should be used cautiously and only if relevant.
• Incorporate media. Each part of the landing page should be used to its fullest to present your message. A landing page should be simple yet seductive. The first thing anyone notices about it is imagery, so select images that people will respond to. Images strongly affect where people’s eyes land and where they look next. People relate easily to images; they put themselves in the situation they see. Defining page images well is a special craft. Use them to direct attention to a call to action or to preview what happens when a visitor signs up (as Lavalife does). Make smart use of related media on your landing pages; include any audio, podcast, video or infographic that explains the process or benefit of your product.
• Inform more to sell more. Share as much information as possible. Users want to find answers to their questions and have their doubts allayed. Provide enough information to persuade them and make them feel ready, firm and reassured enough to make the purchase.
• Personalize the message. Copy on landing pages should seem to address the individual. It should be conversational and speak to people’s emotions and desires. Landing pages are successful when they get visitors to purchase, revisit, share or discover what they normally would not have thought of. Help them to discover why they need what you’re offering.
• Give something away. The best way to get users to act immediately is to grab their attention. Offer a free e-book or trial download before purchasing. This can be a great way to gather email addresses and then update people about releases and products. Landing pages that include tantalizing offers, especially time-sensitive offers (a free product, newsletter or guide in exchange for an email address), see increased purchases. It’s not essential, but it can turn a banal commercial proposal into an occasion. The better the offer, the bigger the response will be.
• Keep the layout simple. Page layout is critical; it’s the first thing by which visitors judge a website. Landing pages attract attention when they are have a simple appearance. Make headlines useful; don’t put everything in bold. Write compelling web copy, and break pages up into bite-sized pieces by adding headings and sharing bits of news between headings.
• Provide access to support. Give customers an easy way to get support for errors or broken parts of the website, as well as for answers to their questions. Many software companies offer online chat support for clients periodically, and this is a great way to connect with customers and solve problems remotely. Offering an email address or phone number is an alternative. If you are running a large operation, put contact links in the heading. Or display contact icons mid-page or even in the footer. If you are online and a visitor asks about pricing, you might be able to push a sale right there!
• The product is the protagonist. Don’t waste a single pixel on anything unrelated to the product. Every sentence, image and piece of multimedia should be used solely to sing its praises. Anything else is a waste of time for you and your users. The product should not only be the protagonist, it should be the only character.
• The value proposition is the message; it’s what differentiates your product from the competition’s. List key benefits, and emphasize those that your competitors lack and those that make your offering superior. If you offer particular packages, let customers know that they are exclusive to your website. Create limited-time offers or deadlines for purchasing (based on trial periods or projected price hikes) to encourage customers. The value proposition is short and direct, but it can be saturated with value. After reading the copy, visitors should feel that it is a great offer.
• The landing page ought to be social and dynamic. It should get people involved. Make visitors feel that they’ll miss out on something if they don’t sign up. To do this, highlight the features and benefits of signing up. Don’t just describe them; offer a free trial or incentive, or show a live preview of what’s going on inside (as Twitter does, for example).
• Write distinctive headlines and copy, and edit for spelling and grammar. Big bold text can attract attention immediately and can entice visitors to scroll down for more information. In the copy, keep the message clear and to the point. There’s no reason to use complicated language; in fact, it will only confuse or annoy visitors. Put essential messages in bold to stand out. The landing page speaks volumes about your product, so use exquisite language. You need to come across as trustworthy and build strong connections, even if you don’t meet with clients in person. Use proper spelling and grammar to convey that you mean business and can be trusted to deliver quality.
• Reinforce promotional messages. Users understand and remember messages if they are repeated several times and reinforced in various ways. Carefully chosen graphics and colors, for example, can enhance the design of the page. Use graphics and colors that are similar to, if not the same as, those used in all promotional material. Changing the aesthetic or color scheme could cause confusion and lead visitors astray.
• Minimize risk, maximize profit. Give customers a warranty for products or a trial period for services (say, for 15 days), and give full refunds to customers who are not satisfied. Let them cancel at any time, and tell them they can do so. You could also offer free consultations to new clients so that they get a feel for your service without spending anything. And make sure visitors can easily find and understand your warranty or satisfaction policy.
• Establish credibility. It’s a complex task, but it’s worth it. Take advantage of testimonials, recognizable icons (logos, etc.), mentions by third parties (as in reviews) and everything you have that could help (such as press releases). If your message is consistent—that is, if what you say about your product and what it really is match up—then you’ll build credibility.
• Be trustworthy. Give customers good reason to believe why your product and brand are worth buying into. Describe things clearly. What science has helped you develop your product? What technological innovation or recent discovery does it exploit? Use a handwritten signature, which builds trust and makes the experience personal. And make sure your signature is legible. Illegible signatures subliminally suggest that the author has something to hide.
• Keep testing. A landing page is never perfect. Split testing, or A/B testing, is a great way to determine whether you’re on the right path. Consider reaching out to fellow designers to see which techniques are shaping the market. Carry on practicing new ideas and pushing boundaries to see what can be done and what’s still out of reach.
• Track results. Implement an analytics program, such as Google Analytics (which is free). With programs like this, you can learn how your website is performing. You’ll get an eagle-eyed view of who has visited your website, what pages they’ve visited and what links they’ve clicked on. Based on this information, determine which areas of the page need improvement.
Landing pages are a critical part of any online marketing strategy. Each element on a landing page, by itself or in combination with others, could influence a customer’s perception and decision. Yet the page must act as one voice, so integration is important. The wrong combination of elements, or too many elements, could kill sales.
Landing pages offer fantastic insight into psychological marketing techniques. They can be used to support marketing or sales or to brand communications, and they can contain branding, messaging and data-gathering tools. When just a small market segment is involved, the rules for landing page design can change.
A great landing page is key to turning visitors into buyers. Find a balance of beauty and effectiveness. Optimize the landing page as much as possible. It has the power to make or break your online business.
A good landing page can provide steady income for the Internet marketer, but not many companies take the time to experiment with offers. The climate in most businesses is conservative, so running different ads to test their effectiveness is difficult. There are legal and marketing-related reasons why certain statements can’t be made in isolation or as part of an offer, but if no testing is done, there is no way to find out what works and what causes problems.
Online marketing is a skill that takes plenty of time to develop. Work intelligently and use good design tools, and you’ll be all set for making a decent living online. Hang in there. The money will flow with passion and hard work.