Landing pages are web pages that people immediately see once they click an advertisement through banners or text ads. Building a good, attractive ad text is just one part of the buying cycle. Once our ad attracts visitors, we have successfully conquered this part. But obviously, the whole process doesn’t end there. We have to greatly consider the quality of our landing page. After all, this is another sales tool that will hopefully convince the visitor to perform certain actions like buying our products, inquiring about our services or downloading our white paper.
Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:
1. Are we managing the visitor expectations?
2. Is the content on our landing page consistent with our referring ads?
3. Did we promise something on our ads and fulfilled them on our landing page?
Search engines also pay attention to the quality of landing pages. In fact, Google’s AdWords service considers the quality of landing page as a factor of its Quality Score criteria. This means if your landing page is more relevant to your ad text than your competitor’s ad + landing page combination, your ad could rank higher that his/hers even if s/he pays higher cost per click.
Here are ten tips on building great landing pages, applicable to banner ads, e-mail or paid search campaigns.
1. Be consistent on ads you place and the target web pages you’ll bring your visitors to. If you promised to give 12% purchase discount on your ad, you must fulfill it. If you said you’re going to offer HK$4970 for a return flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver, stick to your promise.
2. Be clear with your goals. Arrange your content in a logical progression, from product information down to the payment process, for example. Don’t waste visitor’s time by placing unnecessary messages. If additional text is necessary to back up your claim, then place it in your landing page. Otherwise, you’ll risk visitors leaving the sites because of these elements could distract user experience. Examples could be your navigation bars and links to other pages that invite visitors to abandon fulfilling the call to actions.
3. Be a minimalist. Ask what’s only necessary so that users don’t have to fill up long forms or answer irrelevant information. The longer the form is, the less interested a visitor becomes and the higher the chances s/he will leave the page before finishing your intended goal. That is why for sites that require multiple inputs from users such as surveys, the whole exercise is divided into pages.
4. Give visitors some space. Spend time to balance your content into small sections: photos are reasonably placed, each paragraph size is about two to three lines to provide breathing space for visitors to digest information and avoid straining their eyes. Being too persistent by providing overloaded information will often backfire.
5. Use simple words. Selling something or inviting someone need not use “sophisticated” terms to impress. In fact, the move could backfire. Be straightforward. Explain in simple words or define terms that aren’t usually common but required to prove a case.
6. Learn to differentiate between long and short landing pages. Generally, it requires greater amount of persuasion to get someone buy a $100 book rather than having him/her sign up for weekly e-newsletters. While I said be a minimalist in item 2, it doesn’t mean you have a great landing page if you have little content. When more explanation is required, then provide them as necessary. No one will buy a product if your landing page will only contain “Buy this. This is good.”.
7. Speak to the visitor via second person form. Visitors need some form of affirmation that they are browsing through a page that will bring them benefits. Using second person “you” somehow makes them think it’s about them and not about the person who own the website. (There are exceptions, like thought leaders and respected people who get paid well for their speeches. But they themselves try to relate what benefits their ideas bring to their visitors.)
8. Always consider the placement of your most important contents. Are they located on top of the screen without the need to use your browser’s scrollbar? Place important points at the beginning of the paragraphs or within the first few bullet points. Some pages require very long explanations. So before the visitor gets too far, or even backs off before getting there, s/he is able to read through the important ones that help him/her buy the idea presented in the landing page.
These steps will never work unless we continue to test our landing pages, identify mistakes and learn from them and make necessary revisions to improve our campaign performance.