Landing Page Design Tips
Over the course of writing tips and best practices in this blog, I have often written about SEO and PPC tips. It’s time to focus on a topic that can really make a difference in results: landing pages.
A landing page is a page someone clicks through to from search engine listing, whether it is a paid listing (a PPC ad) or an organic listing. In the age of long tail keyword marketing, it is important that we drive people to a landing page which is relevant, meaningful and (for heaven’s sake) simple, uncluttered and clearly communicates what the user wants!
Too many landing pages are too busy and confusing. What do you want me to do when I land there? Which section do you want to me read? And, how does it relate to the listing I just clicked through?
There are several factors that should be considered in landing page design and testing. In this post, we’ll focus on the landing page design. I’ll cover testing in a future post.
First, it’s important to understand that landing page design impacts your results. And, after all, results are what we’re after in search marketing, right?
The better your search marketing results, the more you can reinvest in search marketing because you can measure ROI (return on Internet). For those who have number’s oriented bosses, take note of these guidelines.
Begin with the end in mind. If your objective is a “conversion” have a clear definition of conversion. Let’s assume for this post that a conversion is when someone fills out a form to request information. In today’s web information overload, that’s not an easy task.
Once you have identified your objective, define your target audience. As in all marketing tactics, it’s important to understand your audience behaviours, likes and dislikes. For example, if you are marketing a technical product to a technical audience, you can’t give them a lot of fluff. That audience wants the facts and they want them quickly.
The layout of the landing page is very important. As stated above it should be uncluttered and clear. Use a headline which represents the main theme of the page content. So, if you are marketing a laptop carrying case, spell it out in the headline.
The opening paragraph should describe the product in short and clear detail. Don’t waste space and valuable time describing how handsome the user will look with the carrying case. Describe the attributes of the carrying case and how it is different than others. Use pictures to illustrate the carrying case.
Allow the landing page to have some empty space. Studies have proven that people read landing pages from the top left and down. If possible, have a picture or headline in the top left to immediately capture the attention of the visitor.
Now, here is a strange concept I want to get across….The main purpose of the landing page is to get them to click to another page. If you think the main purpose of a landing page is to fill out a form or to buy, then unless you are selling a commodity, low cost item you are in for big disappointments. When someone visits your landing page, they decide in less than 10 seconds if they are going to leave (bounce) or stay.
So your objective is to give the visitor just enough content, supported with a picture or two, a testimonial or two, maybe some pricing info (if that’s appropriate) and a hyperlink to click to another level of detail.
The click through should take them to another page which is designed to keep the visitor engaged and drive toward the desired action (the conversion).
Back to the laptop carrying case example (which is not focused on a lead but rather a sale), I Googled “laptop carrying case” and found no less than a dozen organic and paid results. I clicked on 10 of them, many of them from brand name e-tailers and the only one I found that didn’t distract me with too much detail and kept my attention was laptop carrying case.
Notice how this landing page has “Laptop Cases” in the headline. I just searched on “laptop carrying cases” so this headline speaks to me. Hint: a headline that matches the search query gets the best results. The rest of this landing page uses product photos and not too much other detail which can distract me.
For those marketers selling non tangible goods like software or services the same principles apply. Marketing a “contact us for more info” is very “me too.” It’s simply not compelling. Consider marketing a white paper or a webinar. The same headline principle always applies. Use a well designed graphic of the white paper or webinar event, or whatever you’re using as the hook to get people to click through to the next level of detail.
And, to those marketers with long sell cycles, remember that people who find your landing page are not there to make a buying decision. They are conducting research. Help them out! Don’t send the message “fill out this form so our sales team can hound you to death.” Feed them information in bite size chunks. You must know your target audience. Feed them the right amount of information. If it’s good information, they’ll eventually contact you, whether online or offline.
It’s okay to invite them to register for your white paper or webinar, just don’t be overbearing about it. One way is not to ask them to do it on the main landing page. Just feed them good content and invite them to click through to another page where they can register.
Of course, inviting people to sign up for a “free demo” is one of the favorites among software marketers. Depending on the industry, the product’s price point and the buying cycle, this can be effective on the first level landing page, or not. You must consider all the variables discussed here.
Tracking conversions is very doable depending on the tools you use which range from Google Adwords Conversion Tracker, Website Optimizer (Google), Google Analytics as well as tools such as Omniture and various other testing and optimization tools. The pricing on these tools varies from free to big bucks. Assess your needs and your budget to select the tools that best fit your landing page optimization needs.
In the next post on this topic, we’ll examine testing optimization tips for landing pages.