Landing Pages - A Crucial Part of Internet Marketing Success
By Gregory Smyth
Landing pages are the first point of contact on your website for customers who have clicked on an advertisement, or typed in a URL and who expect to be able to complete a specific action with a minimum of searching. They are an essential part of your website design; however do not have to be accessible from your main site. Landing pages can be varied for different campaigns (for example, to test whether you get more traffic from a print ad in the newspaper, or a magazine), according to which search engine result was clicked on, or which banner ad a person clicked through from. In fact, it is advisable to create landing pages that cater to different audiences, match the creative for different ads, and have different content depending on where traffic is sourced from. Landing page design is completely separate to website design in general - we look at why online marketing agencies believe so strongly in the power of landing pages, as well as some basic design tips for creating them.
It is rare to find a perfect landing page. The fact that there are several versions of them often limits budget, and the small time frame often allotted to their development usually means there are more technical problems than standard web pages. The landing pages that work better than others for internet marketing purposes has usually been extensively examined by web analytics packages in multivariate testing environments. If you want your landing pages to work to their potential, building up a portfolio of them is essential. Undergoing extensive reconnaissance on your landing pages using web analysis tools will help you get a feel for what works best for your particular suite of products and services.
The importance of having landing pages is clear - but a badly designed landing page can actually work against your campaign. Landing pages require customers to do all of the things that most are loathe to do on the internet. Entering personal information which may possibly be misused, spending the time typing out names and addresses over and over again, read terms and conditions or privacy statements, and actually paying for something are people's least favorite activities online. Therefore, your landing page website design should be as professional as possible, make it easy for people to enter the required information, and reassure them about the safety of their information - all ideally without going below the fold.
Non-website designers are often confused about what constitutes a landing page. Splash pages (with a photo or Flash intro before the main site), jump pages (usually full page ads that grey out portions of the screen behind them), and micro sites (where information about a specific thing is explored in more detail), are not landing pages.
Extensive use of web analytics packages on landing pages has given internet marketing services an excellent idea of how to use landing pages to their advantage. Copy is the basis of most web pages (it is the easiest, most credible and complete way to convey information). The copy on your landing pages should consist of no more than three lines to a paragraph. As part of your web marketing strategy, ensure that the copy of the page matches the creative copy of the ad that was clicked on to arrive there. Landing pages that are inconsistent with their lead-ups, creatively, often cause fast bail-outs. Use bullet points where you can, for scanability, and bold text. Make sure that your call to action is clear - tell people to do something, and do it now!