Every advertisement, be it a billboard, email, newspaper, TV, or digital, should go to landing pages that convert because you have specifically piqued their interest in a particular product or service and are likely ready to buy now. You can send them to your home page, but they are very likely to wander off and not take the next step in your sales process. If the person needs to see the actual link, you can get a simple and memorable domain name for a page and still have it as part of your regular website. (Just work with someone who knows how to set that sort of thing up.)
Since people could “land” on your website on any number of pages, it is tempting to call a landing page any place that people “land on” from outside the website such as incoming links and Google. However, a landing page is a type of website page whose purpose is to get the visitor to take the next step in your sales process, such as buying directly or setting an appointment. Landing pages that convert have simple sales objectives and a typical structure.
If you are selling shoes, camping gear, or other retail items, a landing page that converts might have a “buy now” button to get them to make an immediate online purchase. If you are selling a more complex service, the purpose is likely that they will call you or fill out an online form requesting your assistance. Pages like About, Our Staff, Contact, Terms, Privacy are not landing pages, but they still provide valuable information. Helpful articles and blog posts may be crucial to your marketing and sales to build credibility, likeability, and brand awareness, but they are not usually landing pages either.
Your Home Page Is Not a Landing Page
A website in general can use different pages to fulfill multiple purposes: making sales, scheduling appointments, providing contact information, creating a good reputation, providing important information so that credit card companies will process payments for you, creating a “brand” and much more.
You home page is there to introduce you to the world and help people figure out how to get to all that great information. It is a foyer or a jumping off point, that gives them a sense of just how unique you are and what problems you solve. Yes, my home page contains a call to action for someone to schedule time with me; it is still not a landing page. If someone arrives at my home page, they have likely “wandered in” like one does while on vacation in a cute downtown or business district somewhere. If I were a clothing store, would they see signals we have women’s dress cloths, men’s athletic cloths, hiking apparel, baby cloths, formal wear…? A home page has links to the rest of your website and maybe to collections of pages. It should invite the visitor to look around and should help them find where in your website they can find what they are looking for.
Some people want to treat their home page as a “sales page” or a landing page. If you essentially have a well designed one page site, then it is appropriate. Otherwise, you likely come across as the digital version of the store clerk or car salesman who introduces himself the minute you step in the store or across the lot and then follows you around like a puppy dog. It is better to come across as the sales clerk or car salesman who warmly welcomes you and politely lets you know how they can help without the puppy dog treatment. For instance, a recent clerk wanted me to know that they could get customized sizes for everything on the floor–often in the back room. He made an initial test pitch in case I was ready to buy right now, but didn’t push me.
Educational Pages Are Also Not Necessarily Landing Pages
So you have created a great page to show off how much you know about a topic or to show off an attraction. You may even be getting great brand awareness from it. You likely created it with SEO in mind (that is the notion that Google will find it and rank you well.) Technically, these are not landing pages. However, reality is you want someone to see how valuable you or your location or service is and you want them to contact you or buy from you. Digital Ocean does an amazing job of creating educational articles related to running and managing a server, and I eventually setup a server with them as a result of their diligent work to create branded educational pages. Those pages served as their technical guide and gave them a ton of links from Google that built brand awareness among a specific type of customer base; but they aren’t landing pages.
Very few truly educational pages are setup as landing pages. You might have some calls to action in there, but the main purpose of these other pages is to generate SEO clicks and build trust with the visitor (much like I hope I am building trust with you right now.)
The Most Critical Step for Landing Pages that Convert
The first and most critical steps to creating landing pages that convert are deciding what your sales process is precisely which step of that process is the landing page. How they arrive at your landing page is part of your sales and marketing process. Is it word-of-mouth, a billboard, a digital ad, a TV ad, Google Search? What you want them to do when they land on the page is your “Call to Action,” and it needs to be plainly obvious and lead directly to the next step in the process. What happens after they affirm your call to action is also part of your sales process. Maybe they go to a shopping cart; maybe you call them and schedule a meeting.
I sell services. In order to do that effectively, I need to have a conversation with the actual person to see where they are in the process and if it makes sense to work together. Therefore, my preferred option is for people to call me for a 10-minute appointment. So my call to action is generally something about scheduling a 10 minute conversation and my landing pages need to reflect why that should be a no-brainer. (As I am writing this post, I am also in the middle of revamping my website, and so there is a lot to be done on that topic.) Maybe you want them buy a product or service directly, download a brochure, schedule time, or just browse to see what they can do.
Why Landing Pages Are Critical
Landing pages that convert are for people who are buying something now! Do not treat them as though they are just researching the products or services.
They have arrived for one of two reasons
- Google thinks the visitor performed a search with the intent to buy now and provided them the link to your page.
- You sent them there to buy from you via an advertisement, an email link, another link, or you verbally told them something
Google assigns to each search term or phrase an intent, such as buying or researching. When Google assigns a “buy intent” your content needs to make it clear how someone buys your product–even if that just means calling you. If Google thinks the person is ready to buy and the term that is searched for is “How much does XYZ cost?” then you probably need to include some good information about the cost of the product or service, or you won’t get ranked. The SEO requirements of that task may mean that you may bend some of the rules below.
Do not allow them to wander away! They might not find their way back and they may purchase somewhere else. However, if they do, you may want to have tools in place to encourage and help them to return.
What Should Ideal Landing Pages that Convert Have
Your objective is to keep them on the page until they buy or until they just go away. If they wander off, they may never come back and they may buy while they have wandered off. (We are all so much more like absent-minded grandpa’s than we ever want to admit.)
- A unique selling point to weave throughout the copy, especially the headline. What is the deepest pain and/or benefit your product or service addresses. It will be extremely helpful if it has some drama, but it must be truthful.
- A headline that speaks to the pain of the desired audience or to the big benefit of the service. (The best writing finds a way to do both.) This headline must grab their attention. Consequently, it can take a lot of work to create this one line of text.
- A single conversion goal, such as a schedule now or buy now button. It may be in multiple places, but it still relates back to your unique selling point.
- Company logo
- A hero image or video that either shows the product or fits with the unique selling point and headline for the service.
- The benefits of your offering or product. A brief synopsis should be above the fold–that is the part of the screen people see before they scroll.
- It could include who the service will not benefit. This could save you responding to unnecessary calls or even be a back-handed way to emphasize the benefits. For instance, if you were selling investment services to first time investors, do you really want to take a call from a sophisticated investor 10 of millions of dollars and interests in estate planning, hedge funds, and unique business opportunities? Also consider a roller coaster, “If you don’t like knots in stomach from steep drops, don’t ride this roller coaster.”
- Some form of social proof. Have others bought from you and seen success? Have others had success with similar products from other places?
What Should an Ideal Landing Page NOT Have
- A Navigation Menu. They might wander off to look at your other information and not bother to come back to buy from you, even if they are impressed.
- Links to other parts of your website. Again, they may wander off and never return.
- Links to your newsletter subscription. If they are buying now, they do not need 5 more newsletters from you to make up their mind.
- Hard-to-read text
- Scary forms with unnecessary fields and information. Every extra field cuts your conversion rates.
- Pictures, images, or videos that do not relate directly to the product or service.
More Information about Landing Pages that Convert
What we have described is the ideal landing page. There are always exceptions–but they should be exceptions, not the general rule. Be confident in your selling purpose and only include the information you really need.
Here are some links to some additional information and approaches to landing pages. While they all look different, I think the above information is a good compilation of the advice of these experts.