What are landing pages and how to make them work

“Store windows are like landing pages on the website.” – Angela Ahrendts


Websites have followed a general rule of thumb for the last 25 years – make them like a brochure, explain in detail about your business, your products / service, explain why people should choose you and provide visitors with methods to get in touch.

The problem with this ‘brochure’ approach is that it generally doesn’t work very well in converting the number of visitors to actual enquiries – yet why did they visit in the first place?

Most marketers now accept that you need different elements for an online approach to work – you still need your brochure website for when someone is checking you out (and for developing your search engine optimisation content) but you could also probably benefit from effective landing pages that are more direct, which attempt to convert visitors into prospects more quickly.

Firstly, think about the customer journey … if a prospect is aware of you and wants to ‘check you out’ then they will search for you by name.  However, if they don’t know ‘who’ to deal with then they are more likely to be searching for options or responding to your marketing efforts in some way (responding to adverts for instance).  When this is the case, you can direct them to more specific landing pages that will increase your conversions.

Landing pages follow some basic psychology – so start thinking about that ‘customer journey’ and you’re halfway there.  So, what are the components of an effective landing page?:

Your goal

As with all marketing advice, you need to have a goal in mind and this should, ideally, have been formed as part of your strategic marketing planning which has the customer at its heart!

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Headline

Make it large, bold and vital – it needs to grab the attention of your visitor, gain their interest and start their journey towards understanding that YOU are the solution to their problem!  Marketers often try to be clever here by coming up with innovative word combinations but, actually, blunt and simple headlines that get straight to the point are often more effective!  Another trick is often to use a short bold headline as a question with a sub-heading providing the answer.  Think ‘Ronseal’ (i.e. it does what it says on the tin) and you won’t go far wrong!

Persuasion – part 1

Your headline and sub-heading should contain persuasive language to encourage the visitor to find out more – we all want it to be for ‘our benefit’ so make sure you’re making the actual benefits to the visitor crystal clear.  Keep following this persuasive approach throughout the content!  Include the words ‘you’, ‘imagine’ and ‘because’ and you won’t go wrong!

Persuasion – part 2 – Pain is persuasive

Remember that humans really don’t like ‘pain’ so make sure you highlight the ‘pain’ you’re resolving through your persuasive text – mention what they will lose as well as what they will gain.  Make it clear that your products or service relieves the pain though!

Pictures

Rule 1 for the picture is to make it large and bold – the brain processes images much quicker than text.  If you’re selling a physical product then show the product beautifully (take a look at the Apple website for an example), if you’re selling a service then think about an image that reflects the benefits to the client.

Rule 2 is to us high quality images – not smartphone shots or pictures grabbed off Google (it is completely illegal!).  There is a place for video here … but only if you promise to keep it short and to the point.

The Pitch

At some point you’re going to have to explain things … so this is it.  The best advice we can offer is to keep is simple!  Your pitch should ideally be a combination of the headline, sub-heading, image and a single paragraph and no more.  If you can’t get things across with this then you need to rethink your approach – you’ve only got between 6-8 seconds to engage a visitor so don’t put them off with too much content!

List the benefits

The benefits list is to support the pitch – it should be totally focused on what benefits the visitor will gain by choosing your product or service.  Benefit statements should never start with ‘we’ but instead with ‘you’!

Justify the pitch

Provide ‘evidence’ to compel your visitor to trust you – customer testimonials, independent reviews, awards won, guarantees, etc all help to provide confidence in the decision.

Leading the logic

All the elements of your landing pages should flow naturally to someone interested in your product or service – it shouldn’t be hard work to be persuaded.

End with a CTA

Your call to action (CTA) should be a logical step for the visitor to take if you’ve got all the other elements right.  There’s no reason why you can’t have multiple CTA’s throughout the landing page but you MUST position your primary CTA at the end of the pitch.  MAKE THE CTA BIG … there’s simply nothing to be gained by being subtle at this point so make your call to action large and proud – keep using persuasive language here too – don’t use ‘Send’ for your form, use something like ‘Take action now’.  Use a colour contrast for your form to make it stand out and catch the eye.

Say thanks

If someone completed your online CTA form then make sure there’s a strong ‘thank you’ message following submission. Here’s where you can add in more information or additional links elsewhere if you need to.

Don’t be a stranger

Don’t only rely on a contact form – some people simply don’t like them!  Provide all your contacts including telephone, address and email too and let the visitor choose how they want to get in touch.

Don’t lose them

Don’t be tempted to provide ‘more information’ links or options to visit the rest of your website – the landing page should be sufficient if you’ve targeted it correctly.

Test and improve

Remember, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect landing page’ – different clients want to see different things. What we’ve provided above are the dominant factors that build up an effective landing page.  Trial ‘variations’ using something called ‘split testing’ where half your visitors are presented with one version and half with the other – allowing you to then judge conversion factors and refine things over time.

Landing pages are an effective marketing tool when used strategically and in line with other pro-active marketing methods … use expert help from marketing and web developer professionals to make sure you’re getting it right.

Blunt thinking on Landing Pages from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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