Monday, March 9, 2009

Creating the Perfect Landing Page

A landing page is the first page a visitor sees upon clicking a link to your site, either from another site, through organic search results or a PPC link. The landing page MAY be the home page, but not necessarily. A visitor can land deep on your site based on the search words that were employed or which link was clicked.


So, in effect, almost any page can be a landing page, though some SEOs contend that a landing page is always a sell page. Not true. In fact, a landing page that makes a strong sales pitch isn’t a good landing page and you’ll see a high ratio of bounces as visitors determine, “This isn’t what I was looking for!”


The Characteristics of a Good Landing Page

There are quite a few, so let’s look at the characteristics of a quality landing page in detail. This is worth knowing. Most site owners slap together a home page with a dash of information, a bunch of sales copy and a “BUY” button that takes the visitor to the checkout. Bad. Very bad. You don’t sell the product or service before the visitor even knows what that product or service is.


Also, it’s important to bear in mind that a landing page should appeal to the visitors needs, NOT your wants. You want to sell something or obtain an opt in. The visitor doesn’t care what you want so keep landing pages targeted at visitors, not making the sale. That’s comes later.


Easy, Straightforward Navigation

If visitors land in site zones that don’t meet their needs, it’s a good idea to provide a navigation bar to take them to the zone or home page, archives or checkout so they can conduct their business and move on to the next item on the day’s agenda.


You don’t always know where a visitor will land so provide easy navigation on all pages. A site map is useful and a big “HOME” link will keep visitors on site longer.


Meet the Visitors’ Expectations

Regardless of how visitors reach your site, they have certain expectations when they access a landing page. They clicked on the link to your site for a reason – to meet a need or want.


If your landing pages consist of opt-ins, a log-in (Sign Up Now) or a bunch of links to affiliates, that visitor is so long gone you won’t have time to see the dust settle.


Define Your Business

On every landing page? Yep. Every page has the potential to be a home page – the first page the visitor sees – so every page should be constructed with information in mind.


Now, this doesn’t mean you post your three-page company mission statement on every page. That’s a waste of good pixels. Instead, use taglines, headers and product pictures to define quickly what your business is about. We’ve mentioned in previous posts that the average time visitors spend assessing the value of a site is a whopping six seconds. SIX SECONDS! If visitors don’t know what you’re about in six seconds, you lose them.


Perform All Aspects of Sales

From quality materials to free overnight shipping, a well-designed landing page must serve as a primary sell page within the site without sounding like a heap of hype. That means visitors learn about the benefits of your products or services (use bulleted text instead of long paragraphs), manage any visitor objections and describe the “iron-clad, 30-day, no-hassle, money-back guarantee” in six seconds or less.


Large headlines grab attention. Headlines should describe benefits to the user instead of product features. For example, selling a paper shredder, which is the grabber?


The Acme 5000 comes with a 1.5 horsepower motor. (feature) Or;


The Acme 5000 is so powerful, it’ll shred a Cadillac. (benefit)



All landing pages must also be designed to convert visitors to buyers. That means easy access to product descriptions, shopping cart and check-out. Or, in the case of services, the landing page needs complete contact information IN BIG TYPE, not in six-point type at the bottom of the page. Visitors have questions before they convert. Provide every means available to answer those questions and establish personal contact.


Provide a toll-free number on every landing page and staff client care 24/7. You never know when a call will come in, and often, a client care call turns into a sale – once all questions are answered, all objections addressed.


Build Trust

Man, that landing page has to do a lot!


In this case, however, trust is more a perception than a reality. Trust builders include:


  • impartial product reviews from journals and periodicals;  


  • customer testimonials (real ones, please);


  • customer-generated  reviews (it works for Amazon, it’ll work for you);


  • logos from web security companies like VeriSign and Hacker Free;


  • assuring text that you don’t sell buyer lists and all information is confidential;


  • a guarantee.


Impress with Quality Design

Does the look of your site reflect industry standards? If you’re the marketing director for a large accounting consultancy, a site that employs “spray paint” text won’t fit the image you’re trying to project to a gaggle of CPAs. Instead, quiet, confident professionalism is what you want to project in the look of your site. Save the spray paint for the “chopper shop” sites.


The look of your site should reflect company values – cool and hot or sedate and conservative – the look of every site page makes a subliminal statement about your business image.


Keep Body Text Industry Appropriate.

If you’re main demographic is teens, the body text can be “like OMG totally casual 4U.” However, if your target demographic wear three-piece suits, they won’t appreciate being called “dawg,” or “dude.” Your site’s body text, from home page to check-out should be comfortable reading for that target buyer.


Be Straight With Visitors

No bait and switch, no added fees (restocking fees??), no hidden extras that’ll cost the visitor more. The fastest way to lose a hot prospect is to deceive so if the landing page says FREE SHIPPING, that shouldn’t just apply to “orders over $100,” on interior pages, it should apply to all orders.


Forget Branding. Who Cares?

Branding is important to you. It isn’t to potential buyers who come in through a side door landing page. Visitors come to your site for solutions and benefits, not to see your really clean logo and clever catch phrase.


Save branding for the “About Us” page. Visitors who click on this link are expecting a little self-congratulatory back slapping here. On landing pages, the product or service takes precedence over branding your business, at least in the customers’ eyes.


The key to a successful landing page is simple: provide what the visitor wants, not what you want, which is a sale. Visitors need time and they must feel secure and comfortable before the sale is made.


Put your needs aside. Save it for the “Order Now” page. That’s where you can sell. Otherwise, meet visitors’ expectations wherever they land.


Then, once they land, they may want to check out some of the scenery as they work their way to the checkout.

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