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Landing Pages Drive Conversion

Mar 1, 2011

Effective landing page design can drive ecommerce conversions, as every online retailer wants to convert browsing consumers into paying customers. Some shoppers come to an ecommerce site wanting to research and buy a product, and those shoppers are easy to convert, if your site offers the basics. The potential customer probably typed the retailer's base Internet address into a browser, or used a bookmark to find the site. On the other hand, what about the shoppers who are really just browsers, who enter a site through search engine results or by clicking on an ad or an email offer? Those shoppers will not even see the site's home page. They have landed on some other page, and the design of that landing page is crucial to their experience and to the retailer's success in converting them to customers. If browsers are bored, confused, or uninterested, they click away, maybe never to return. It may seem impossible to know what these shoppers want or how to keep them onsite, but in fact there are best practices and strategies retailers can use to convert this group, despite their short attention spans.

Experts say that on a well-written website, every page is a potential landing page. Search engines are increasingly aware of the difference between keyword-oriented text and natural language text. Google and Bing are giving higher rankings to internal site pages that have actual written content and meaningfully written sentences that are created for people, rather than machines. According to ecommerce retail consultant Kevin Gibbons the best way to convert visitors on your site into paying customers is to make a connection. "A company that creates a likeable corporate persona will find it easier to build and maintain customer loyalty," writes Gibbons. Not all companies are suited to a personal tone, he says, but those that can show a human touch have an advantage.

Gibbons offers several tactics for achieving this. First, the text on site pages should be engaging, friendly, and open, but not marked by marketing and press release language. "Well-written copy is created with a clear corporate personality in mind, and should mirror the feel of your page design," he writes. "Safe, boring, functional copy is unattractive. It doesn't create a personality that any normal human would want to be near, and it doesn't drive sales." He suggests adding an active blog with engaging, conversational posts, in order to show that there are people behind the brand. Gibbons also suggests a strategy of engagement. "By replying to comments on Twitter, your Facebook page, your blog, even other people's blogs when you notice them, you show you care; that you're not a big, bland brand which is above talking to individual customers."

Web Wholesaler sought out an online retailer that has put effective landing page tactics into use. Edward Luong is the vice president of marketing for Mrs. Beasley's, a baked goods company with a strong online presence. Luong says that his team creates two kinds of landing pages; one for shoppers who find the site through search engines, and one for those who enter through a bargain coupon offer, such as those offered by Groupon. Some potential customers come to the Mrs. Beasley's site as a result of a Web search, or by clicking on a Google Adwords link. Because the page designer knows the search terms that drive traffic, Luong strongly advises that the designer should, "make the landing page related to those search terms. Make sure that whatever they're looking for, you take them to that landing page. You don't want to frustrate customers." When shoppers come to a site in order to find a particular product, give that product to them. "These landing pages are basically product-based," he says. "You can buy right on the landing page. Include a picture, a short description, the price, and a button to click for purchase. These people are searching to buy something. They don't need six paragraphs of text."

A different approach is needed for shoppers responding to daily coupon offers. "A lot of people who come from Groupon are tech savvy and bargain oriented, but they don't know about particular brands," explains Luong. "What we wanted to do was provide these customers with information about us. Converting a person who does not know us requires telling them who we are." He reiterates the terms of the offer, such as a "half-off" deal. Then he pushes some vital information about the company, such as the premium ingredients Mrs. Beasley's uses. He says that it is important to make users feel comfortable and show them that this is a legitimate website. "We always mention our 100 percent satisfaction guarantee," Luong adds.

Web designer and landing page expert Alex Harris, who writes at LandingPageWebDesign.com, says that the right landing page design is the center of an online ad campaign. "The most interesting part of creating landing pages is that these pages really define the product being sold. Once you have a successful landing page, you can build your whole marketing plan around it," he says. "The design of a smart landing page will quickly introduce your product in a professional way, engage the user with a compelling offer, demonstrate credibility, and ultimately give them something in return for their time and effort." According to Harris, there are several stumbling points that trip up online retailers. These include:

  • Designing for larger resolution monitors.
  • No clear focal point.
  • Trying to collect information before earning trust.
  • Using flash.
  • Not optimizing for speed.
  • Not using the right copy.

So how does a landing page designer know if a page is maximally effective? Even if traffic is good, could it be better? There is a way to answer these questions, familiar to scientists for hundreds of years, and that's by testing. The idea goes under a few trendy phrases of jargon, such as "A/B," "split," or "multivariate" testing, but according to analytics expert Meta Brown, there is an easy method. "Prepare two versions of a landing page," she says. "Ideally the two will differ in only one element, such as two different images in the same spot, two alternative versions of copy in otherwise identical layouts, or perhaps 'Buy Now' buttons in two different colors. The advantage of varying only one element is that after the test, you will have a clear understanding of what element affected the conversion, and how."

Once the test is set up, make sure that a random set of Web browsing customers visit each version. "Serve each alternative design to a randomly selected sample of visitors. If you don't use random samples, then you may end up with a misleading conclusion," Brown warns. "Track conversions resulting from each of the alternative views. You will need to know how many views occurred for each version of the page, and how many conversions.

If you can obtain more detailed data, such as purchase size, items selected, or time to complete the purchase, you can perform even more sophisticated and useful research. For example, if one landing page resulted in a moderate number of sales, but the purchase size was large, that might be more desirable than an alternative which yielded many more sales, but for lower amounts." Through cycles of testing and refining, landing pages can get better and better. After mastering this landing page strategy of careful design and improvement after statistical feedback, ecommerce retailers can be sure that their sales are being supported by the most effective conversion practices available.

Topic: Web Tech Tips

Related Articles: ecommerce 

Article ID: 1424

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