Your landing pages should be exceptional. Why? Because they’re where your marketing dollars become real ROI as leads or transactions, or don’t. This may seem like an obvious truism, but I’m constantly finding landing pages that just don’t cut it. What’s going wrong is a fundamental misunderstanding of what landing pages can do well and what they can’t. In this post, I’ll explore what makes a successful landing page, and give you a framework for analyzing your own landing pages to see if they’re fully optimized.
I’ve heard the term “landing page” used in reference to a wide variety of web pages, from home pages to press releases. Wikipedia defines a landing page as “the page that appears when a potential customer clicks on an advertisement or a search-engine result link.” All of the pages of your website, blog or anything you’ve posted online anywhere for any reason could fit this loose definition, but only incidentally.
When I hear this kind of broad application of the term “landing page,” I almost always find a lack of attention to the fulfillment piece of a client’s marketing and advertising efforts. An effective landing page is a final destination; there’s no more searching to be done because it is specifically designed to be the end of the marketing program it serves. If you or your vendor are using generic web pages as landing pages for demand generation, you aren’t getting the maximum potential return from your marketing efforts.
This type of landing page is also referred to as a transactional landing page, which, according to Wikipedia, “seeks to persuade a visitor to complete a transaction such as filling out a form or interacting with advertisements or other objects on the landing page, with the goal being the immediate or eventual sale of a product or service.” No matter how much you dress it up, if you’re focused on accomplishing something other than converting web traffic into leads and sales, like building brand awareness or qualifying leads, you’re diminishing your landing page’s effectiveness as a lead capture mechanism.
To put it plainly, it’s all about the offer. I’d say at least 80%. Since your landing page’s purpose is to encourage a transaction, it’s critical to create a perception of even exchange. You need to offer your visitor something of equal or greater value to what you’re asking them to give you. For this to happen, your offer should line up to your visitor’s needs and where they are in the buying cycle. Free trials and product demos can be very effective for prospects late in the buying cycle, close to making a purchase decision. Conversely, ebooks and white papers may work well for early-stage prospects still investigating products or services in an effort to make an informed decision. What will work for your target audience and your buying cycle will undoubtedly be unique, and testing is really the only good way to know for certain.
Once you’ve found a good offer, it’s time to focus on the other 20% — how well you present the offer and how easy it is for the visitor to take the plunge and transact. Though the quality and relevancy of your offer is key (see my last post on CRM Software Integration), even a small change in conversion rate can mean a huge uptick in your marketing campaign results, so this last 20% is definitely worth going after. Ask yourself the following to determine if you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your landing page and taking full advantage of your offers:
- Is your offer aligned with the needs of your target audience? Is it compelling to your prospects in consideration of where they are in the buying cycle?
- Is your offer overly self-serving in subject matter? Does it promise real value to your visitor with highly relevant, current and useful information or functionality?
- Are you asking your visitor for too much information? If you have more than eight form fields to fill out, are those extra fields necessary? Are there questions that are potentially irrelevant or unnecessary (remember that a landing page is a bad place to do lead qualification)?
- Are you conveying the full value of your offer, with images of the offer, call-outs and examples of the important information or functionality it contains? Does the offer look appealing and of high value?
- Are the headlines, copy and graphics arresting and persuasive? Could they do a better job of selling the visitor on the offer?
- Are the critical elements of the page including the form, offer image, key value proposition and call-to-action easy to find and above the fold?
- Is the copy written so it is easy to scan with bullets and call-outs? Is the most important, offer-focused copy on top?
- Is there a clear and legible privacy statement?
- Is there a single, clear call-to action? Does it compete with other interactive elements of the page such as navigation?
Despite the best-practices implied by these questions, there’s really no single template that can be applied to every landing page to make it perform better. Innovation is critical in both your offer and landing page. If most of your competitors offer a white paper about a particular topic, offer an ebook that gives a fresh perspective on the subject. Experiment with changing the information you require in order to access your offers, or try adding an incentive. Above all, test what works best for your target audience. Respect the principal of even exchange, and you will reap the reward of eager potential customers in your sales pipeline.
Note: This is the final post of a nine-post series entitled, “Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation?” To read more of Justin’s series, just follow the links below…
For more information on website optimization, check out Nowspeed’s eight chapter eBook “Is Your Website Optimizated for Demand Generation and High ROI?”