As marketers strive to improve online lead generation, they are learning that directing traffic to customized landing pages instead of homepages results in more conversions.
One of advertising’s most powerful online tools is the ability to segment customers and appeal to each in the most effective way. The use of landing pages allows them to essentially make variations of their own website that appeal to different customers – each with a different reason that brings them there.
A Landing Page is NOT a Home Page
In practice, it can be easy to mistake a homepage for a landing page. However, these two pages each serve quite distinct purposes.
A homepage seeks to provide the visitor with a navigation tool. If compared to a book or magazine, the homepage would consist of both the front cover and the table of contents. It aims to first make a positive impression on the visitor and capture their interest. This is best achieved through a visually appealing layout that clearly expresses how the company brings value to their customers. It then directs them to product and service information, an online store, customer testimonials, company history, philosophy and mission statements as well as tools to help visitors dig deeper, such as contact information.
A landing page, however, is designed solely to turn a visitor into a lead. Rather than provide them with ample resources to browse, a landing page creates a narrow funnel to bring them one step closer to initiating a transaction. It may even be inaccessible to a visitor browsing other pages on the website.
Landing pages are usually bridged to links and advertisements placed on external websites. Because of this, they must differentiate between a visitor who was brought by an ad and one who was simply doing some open-ended browsing.
The Goal of Landing Pages
Landing pages are designed to fast-track prospective clients into becoming sales leads. Since other sections of the website provide many distractions, a landing page cuts down on the noise and tunes a simplified interface to the needs of a customer drawn in by a specific advertisement. Depending on the nature of the link that brought them there, landing pages typically fit into two categories: “click-through” pages and lead-generation or capture pages.
A “click-through” page essentially warms up the visitor before taking them to a page asking for a bigger commitment. Many advertisements will overwhelm a viewer by taking them straight to a checkout page before they’re ready to make a purchase. By educating them about the product or service on the “click-through” page, users can get comfortable and become informed before being confronted with the decision to spend money.
In contrast, a lead-generation page aims to obtain the visitor’s contact information rather than stress the need to make an immediate purchase. Even if a purchasing decision is delayed, the company benefits by securing a way to contact a visitor who has conveyed interest – thereby successfully converting them into a lead. A resource such as an e-book or coupon is frequently offered in exchange for one’s email address.
Less is ALWAYS More
Since a landing page exists solely to guide visitors from point A to point B, simplicity is absolutely vital. A typical homepage, for example, may have 50-100 links prominently displayed to provide organized navigational tools. Because a landing page seeks to convert visitors, every single link provides a diversion from reaching the finish line. Therefore, there should be as few extraneous links as possible.
Landing pages should be shaped around the user in order to be effective and should only display as much information as is relevant to that reader. A company’s value pitch should be concise to avoid losing the user’s interest. The whole process should not require much time or energy on their part.
The same principle applies to data collected from visitors. Only ask for as much information as is necessary. For example, customers are not only very reluctant to provide their phone number, but may be so turned off by the request that they decline to give out any information at all. It is usually best to settle for email addresses as they are much easier to obtain because there is a level of familiarity in providing this information online.
Trial and Error
Since landing pages are isolated from the rest of the website – and are minimalistic – they can easily be tweaked and critiqued to analyze the effectiveness of outreach campaigns. A company will ideally tie different landing pages to different Web placements. Each landing page may be unique to cater to the type of customer reached through each respective channel. By collecting statistics in every possible area, website owners can determine the success of different methods and fine-tune the focus of existing pages.
Experimentation can prove useful to see how visitors respond to changes. Variable testing can be implemented over time to measure if alterations coincided with changes in conversion rates. However, over-testing can result in distorted results. A rule of thumb is to divide the number of daily conversions by 10, divide the weeks of your testing period by two, and then multiply these “two results to get the number of versions you can confidently test in your testing period.”
Landing pages utilize the power of targeted advertising to better serve the customer and therefore gain more leads and higher conversion rates. By breaking out of the one-size-fits-all approach, companies can hone in on prospective customers by filtering out details that are irrelevant to the decision making process. This method saves the customer time and energy and ultimately results in more transactions.
About the Author: Sandra Donovan is a digital marketer with 15+ years of business-to-business marketing experience of technology-based products and services. She is Director of Marketing at IntelliConnection, a lead generation and marketing automation service that enables businesses to focus on closing sales instead of searching for prospects.