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Ten Key Elements to Successful Landing Pages

First let's go over some quick background about landing pages. A landing page is a Web page specifically designed to promote or sell a product or a service. Generally, the landing page is a link the user can click on from a direct marketing e-mail campaign or a pay-per-click ad relevant to the ad campaign in order to receive more information on the products or services being offered.

A successful landing page functions as a funnel-point for users. It is a step towards persuading a user to become a client or customer. The landing page is the most important persuasion point for the user for several reasons. The landing page must persuade users through relevant copy and content, and it must build trust and increase a user's confidence on the page. It must also engage the user by providing answers to their questions about your product or service. But, most importantly your landing page must increase the conversion rate.

Landing pages appear after an online ad, e-mail link, search result, or a specific promotional URL. It is the first chance to convince a motivated prospect (a user who clicked and has shown interest) to continue the purchase process. For this reason, creating the right one is crucial to any campaign. The effectiveness of a landing page is measured by its conversion rate, meaning how often people who visit the page take whatever action you want them to take. You may want them to order a product, sign up for your services, or just fill out a form. The goal is to get the highest percentage of your visitors to take the "desired action".

So, how do you create a successful landing page? Here are ten key elements necessary for effective landing pages:

1. Make sure your landing page loads quickly and provides relevant content. Keep it simple. If your landing page takes too long to load (because it is loaded with Flash or other animations), odds are the page will not rank as high in the various search engines as another page might. There is nothing worse than clicking on a paid ad for a product or service you really need; only to be navigated to page that doesn't carry a relevant message to what you are looking for. Make certain to maintain the relevancy through a continuous and consistent message 'from ad to landing page to checkout' . If the landing page content doesn't follow up on the promise of an ad or other content that brought the user to the page, that user will quickly click away. This raises the page's bounce rate. (Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who enter a website and then leave without viewing other pages on the site.)

2. Avoid rotating ad banners : If you give the landing page visitor multiple messages it will cause confusion and obscure your 'call to action'. A big rotating banner ad will distract the user and confuse your call to action even more. It is better to stick with one image that is clear and compelling and that supports the call to action. Also, rotating banner ads are animations that can drag down your pages load time.

3. Call to Action: Do not underestimate the power of your 'call to action'. Test this with colors, placement, size, and text on the 'call to action' throughout the page.

4. Add any awards and/or credentials: by adding awards, credentials, etc. to your landing page you will build trust and confidence in your page visitors. You can also accomplish this by adding employee and owner photos on your landing page.

5. Make images relevant : Does the image (or images) on your landing page directly support the important conversion actions you want visitors to take? If the answer is no, get rid of the photos. A pretty picture conveying nothing about your business or call to action is wasted space and a lost opportunity to convert a prospect. The landing page should have very clear call to actions that guide the visitor to do what we want them to do.

6. Use testimonials from satisfied customers whenever possible : This builds visitor confidence in your business. You may want to include how many customers your business has served. A high volume of customers can give prospects confidence in a product or service.

7. Keep text to a minimum, and make it easy to read: Most people on the web do not want to read a lot of content. Convey what you need them to know as concisely and as compellingly as possible. The text on your landing page should be easily legible. Don't use all caps as most users find this annoying, it's like carrying on a conversation with someone who's shouting the entire time. Never put bright text over a bright background because it is very difficult to read.

8. Avoid extra scroll bars: Some sites put a box of text on a landing page with its own scroll bar to keep surround images or content in place as the reader scrolls through the text. Visitors may take this as a sign that you're trying to control their experience too much. Stay away from iframes!

9. Do not link your landing page to your Facebook Page : There is a risk that your Facebook Fan page will distract visitors. A visitor would see how many fans the company's Facebook page has as well as pictures of the fans. Your fan photos may be of interest to the user which will distract them from your call to action or may not convey the image you want the user to have.

10. Design a landing page for visitors and for search engine optimization (SEO ). Landing pages are designed for humans, but this page must to be highly optimized. This is very important due to the fact that this will increase the visibility of your landing page on the web. For example, if you are using an AdWords campaign to drive traffic to your landing page, it will actually improve the AdWords campaign if the landing page is designed and built with SEO in mind. The best definition of an effective landing page is a highly optimized page designed for humans and built for search engines. When you add keyword-rich descriptions or other text for SEO purposes, put them at the bottom of the page. Remember the goal of the landing page is a 'call to action' and 'conversion' . It's very specific. Keep it simple!

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Brian Groce is the Senior Technical Partner of Erickson Groce Agency. He has been helping clients in Houston and other cities across the nation optimize their Web sites for higher placement and better ROI.
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