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Oct 1, 2010
by Kevin Zimmerman
Many online entrepreneurs are content with letting their websites' home pages sell their goods for them. But while a well-designed home page should encourage customers to come in and take a look around, and ideally make a purchase, an optimized landing page can be an even more effective tool. A landing page, also known as a lead capture page, is the web page that appears when a potential customer clicks on an advertisement or search engine result link. The landing page typically displays sales copy that serves as a natural extension of the original ad or link.
Landing page optimization (LPO) is an Internet marketing term for the process of improving the percentage of website visitors who become sales leads and customers, by making each landing page an appealing one for visitors. The keyword in the previous sentence is "each," as oftentimes, by the very nature of LPO, the landing page may differ from one customer to the next. Your company may decide to run ads featuring different offers or specials on several different websites. It wouldn't make much sense for a prospective customer to click on a "Buy One, Get One Free" ad and be rerouted to one of your landing pages trumpeting a "10 Percent Off Your Next Order" deal. (More on this below.)
Likewise, simply placing your special offers on your homepage, while likely to result in some click-throughs, isn't generally viewed as an efficient use of your homepage. Several offers can tend to clutter the homepage, and restricting your specials to your homepage doesn't necessarily do much to draw new prospects and customers.
Constructing an effective landing page doesn't have to take a lot of time or effort, but as with everything on the Internet, it should be done carefully. Correct spelling and grammar are always a good place to start. If you are not certain of the proper rules of English, put your copy into a Word document and use a spell-check and grammar-check program to make sure. A simple "Thank you for visiting us," or "Welcome to Company XYZ"-style message on the landing page (usually at the top) is always a good idea. Corny as it may seem, courtesy does count.
From your company's standpoint, the most important part of LPO is gaining information about, and insight on, each prospective customer. For that reason, you should ask some basic questions of your landing page visitors before allowing them to proceed to the offer or special. Name, job title (if applicable), home and/or business address is usually sufficient to give you a snapshot of where the customer resides. How he found your website will be tracked via the ad or link he clicked on. Age, sex, household income and the like can also be asked about as a means of collecting even more data for future segmenting and targeting activities, but the more a new customer is asked to input, the less likely he is to complete the process. If you feel this type of additional information is truly important, it's probably best to wait until the customer has entered your checkout process to ask.
Once the prospect has successfully filled out his form, he should be directly taken to a page relevant to the original ad, not your homepage or some other offer. Asking a prospect to click through additional pages before getting to what they're truly interested in looks too much like a scam of some kind, and will likely scare most prospects away. After the prospect has viewed the offer, downloaded the demo, or whatever it is that got them to your website in the first place, sending a "Thank you for visiting us" email is important, even if they ultimately did not make a purchase during their visit. Such one-to-one communications show that your company is truly interested in their business, and by taking the time to thank them, your company's name may tend to stick in their memories more than if you didn't follow up at all. One such "thank you" is sufficient, however; dogging a prospect with "Please come back soon" emails rarely works.
With that general outline in mind, there are several more specific questions to consider when thinking about creating a landing page or pages. Many marketing professionals encourage entrepreneurs to come up with a list of what they are offering, who they hope to bring to their landing page, why such people would be interested in the offer, and so on. These lists can go on for some time. After all, at this stage you're simply brainstorming, not dictating your landing page copy.
After you are satisfied with your list, edit it down to its main points (much as you've arguably done with your ad that's designed to drive prospects to your landing page), and try to use language that encourages prospects to click through, while being careful not to over hype what you're selling. Again, use grammar and spelling prudently. An overabundance of exclamation points!!!!!! is generally a turnoff. At the same time, there's nothing wrong with using a single exclamation point on the landing page to impress upon visitors just how special your offer is. "Act now!" or "Limited offer!" can emphasize the idea that this isn't an offer that's available 24/7 to everybody, and can help spur the prospect to continue through the LPO process.
Always try to keep the prospect's needs in mind when constructing your landing page. Brief mentions of guarantees, shipping policies, price points and the like can be attractive content, while not coming over as a hard sell. At the same time, keep in mind that prospective buyer who was attracted by your ad when designing your landing page. Making the page too generic may cost you a sale. You need to prove that your offer is just what this (so far) unknown individual is looking for. Since your ad was specific and targeted, so too should your landing page be.
Staying on target means forgetting about your homepage and other website pages. The prospect has come to you via a targeted ad, and that's what he wants to learn about. If you provide tabs that allow them to start clicking around on your site, they may find something else they want to buy, or they may forget all about the original offer, click a few more times, and move on to another site entirely. Keeping it simple is of paramount importance.
As previously noted, your landing page copy should be brief, and breaking it into paragraphs is always a good idea. No one wants to read a 1,000 word block of text on a computer screen, and not many want to encounter a paragraph that long in a novel. Using colors to highlight certain details, or to give the landing page a graphically smart look, can be helpful, as can images, but, make sure those images are limited to the product in question and (perhaps) your company logo. Most marketers advise that images should appear on the left of a given web page, as the eye is naturally drawn to images before words. By placing images on the right-hand side, an easier flow of image and copy is potentially disrupted. In addition, customer testimonials are always welcome. Again, employ short quotes, and if possible, a photo of the customer. Such elements usually appear at the bottom of the page. If there's a photo, keep it on the left.
Different Landing Pages
As noted above, if so inclined you may decide to make several different special offers at the same time, which will require different landing pages. The most common scenario causing such practices is the pay-per-click model, where your ad(s) may appear on a number of different sites. For example, one that appeals mainly to luxury or high-end consumers, and another that appeals to those with more "middle of the road" incomes.
While some basic information can be repeated in both landing pages' copy, you should use language in the two different landing pages that reflect the content of the two different ads. If the first ad is all about "quality" and the second about "discounts," then that information should be repeated on their respective landing pages. As a result, Landing Page 1 will likely focus primarily on the positive aspects of your products, the service you offer after a sale, and so on, while Landing Page 2 will concentrate on the savings or financial benefits of making a purchase from your company.
Topic: Web Tech Tips
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