As you dive into the world of digital marketing, SEO, and paid search advertising, you’ll likely encounter a whole new vocabulary and set of concepts. If you haven’t already, you're bound to have questions about how landing pages fit into your digital marketing strategy. Developing a landing page sounds like a simple task, and it can be, but we want to stress that landing pages are vitally important to lead conversion.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated with additional content about different types of landing pages.
What is a Landing Page?
A landing page is any web page that a consumer can land on, but in the marketing realm, it’s usually a standalone page, distinct from your homepage or any other page, that serves a single and focused purpose. A landing page is a follow up to any promises that you’ve made in your content. Essentially, it’s the next step toward a visitor becoming a customer. Your landing page lets you make a trade, some sort of special offer, piece of information or a deal, in return for providing contact information.
Landing pages can be click through, leading to another page such as your e-commerce site, or lead generation based. Lead generation landing pages typically offer items like an eBook, free trial, contest entry or webinar registration in return for the submission of contact information. A good landing page will do its job by convincing a potential customer that it’s worth it to provide personal details in return in exchange for whatever you have to offer. Landing pages can be found through a general search or via your company website, increasing the likelihood that a potential customer will end up there.
There’s no need to have just one landing page, or even just one landing page at a time. In fact, experts in the marketing would probably suggest that you maintain multiple landing pages, targeted toward segmented customer populations.
Different Types of Landing Pages
As a general rule, using landing pages enables you to complete a post-click sequence with a dedicated page that shows the visitor they have landed in the right place. Busy homepages or product pages have the potential to muddy the waters, whereas landing pages make it very clear what outcome will result from the visitor’s click-through. By making a landing page, you refine and improve your visitor interaction and thus increase the chances of conversion. You also ensure that you get more from your PPC spend - you’ve already paid for this click, and a landing page helps you make it worth your while. You can increase the possibility of conversions even further by ensuring that you use the right kind of landing page. Let’s take a look at the landing page varieties and what they are used for.
Landing Page vs. Website Homepage
First of all, some people may wonder why they should bother with landing pages when the primary objective is to drive visitors to their homepage? The answer is that, while getting traffic on your home page is undoubtedly a good thing, it is less likely to result in a conversion than a landing page. Home pages contain a lot of information and invite users to navigate to a variety of different locations. If a visitor reaches your homepage with one specific goal in mind, they might be turned off if they have to look through several different services and product options first. The homepage’s main objective is to direct users to other pages where they will find the information they want. Landing pages eliminate the intermediary step by being the page the user wants - and stating as much in no uncertain terms.
Your homepage is general where a landing page is focused and specific. While the homepage draws visitors further into your website by presenting all the options your business has to offer, a landing page offers one simple and clear call to action.
Lead Generation Landing Page
A lead-generation or lead-capture landing page is primarily intended to collect leads by means of a data capture form. These pages are very versatile but are most often used in the middle of the sales funnel, at the point where customers are evaluating your offerings and are on the cusp of moving towards the intent to either convert or walk away. It presents both a request and a reward simultaneously. The reward is the specific offer you are promoting in order to capture leads, and the request is the information you ask for in your form. The request and the reward should be well balanced. Whatever you are promoting must be worth the customer offer you their details and being added to your mailing list.
Click-Through Landing Page
In contrast to the lead-generation page, which relies on the use of a form, a click-through page is, by definition, one that does not require a form at all. It is a simple middleman between your advert and the page to which you ultimately wish to direct your customers. It is often used to link an ad to a shopping cart for example. It requires only a simple and short explanation of what the visitor has found by clicking through and a bold and unmistakable call to action with a link to the final destination.
Like a lead-generation page, a squeeze page is used to collect data. Unlike a lead-generation page, however, it is generally employed near the top of the sales funnel and its only goal is to gather email addresses to add potential leads to a general mailing list. They are short, basic landing pages with bold headlines and minimal content. A clear call to action leaves the reader in no doubt as to what to expect from the click-through. In addition to the short form, there should also be both a link to take the reader to the next step and an exit option if the visitor does not wish to proceed.
A sales page is often the most difficult to design. With this page, you are no longer simply prospecting for leads. It is one that you would use right at the bottom of the funnel, and it has to convince people to buy, which is an entirely different proposition to a basic request and reward combination. The creation of the page, from the copy to the design, requires a touch of delicacy and a complete understanding of your customers’ needs and their position in the sales journey. You could either sell too hard at this point and turn your client away, or you could undersell and lose the sale anyway. This is where good old-fashioned salesmanship must be incorporated into your design and communication tactics.
The length of the page depends very much on your product and how much you need to say to explain its value to your customers. Regardless of the length, there needs to be a detailed pitch that clearly demonstrates this value, with the aim of getting them to click that button and make the purchase.
You may think infomercials are a relic of the 1990s late-night television advertising, but many businesses incorporate their sales techniques very successfully into their digital strategies, particularly in the form of specialized landing pages. Infomercial landing pages contrast sharply with squeeze or lead-generation pages in that, whereas these two varieties are characterized by their brevity, infomercials tell your readers a long, elaborate story, using copy that recalls the emotive and excitable mannerisms of those late-night sales masters. The aim is to keep readers scrolling and get them to commit to a purchase.
Splash pages can be used at any point in your sales funnel and they are possibly the most basic type of landing page. They typically have very little copy, one or two bold images, and very simple communication, usually an announcement or a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ request. They may ask your reader to verify their age or choose their language preference before proceeding to your website. They are not intended to collect data or generate leads and serve only to provide very basic information to your visitors before they enter your website.
Viral Landing Pages
Viral landing pages are intended primarily to build brand awareness. While they will usually contain links to a company website or other web page, these are usually presented subtly and unobtrusively. The main keys here are the content, which should be informative and/or fun enough to engage a reader and hopefully get them to share the page, together with the ability to share the page via social media. The content could be written copy or could involve videos, images, or even games.
A microsite is, as the name suggests, a dedicated, miniature website. It is created for a specific campaign or with one targeted sales goal in mind. It is more than a single page, but it is still described as a kind of landing page since it is set aside for one specific aspect of sales and promotional efforts. Microsites are often driven from online ads or work alongside TV ad campaigns.
Why Use Landing Pages?
You’ve done a great job building your brand and creating a website that represents it. Now you have to make sure that all of that hard work translates into sales. If you are looking for an effective lead conversion tool, landing pages are definitely the way to go.
A landing page is a great way to drive traffic, improve your SEO and build your brand. It can also form part of an effective PPC strategy. Approximately 68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to generate leads for future conversion. Fortunately for you, 44% of these clicks are directed toward home pages, which, as we’ll discuss, is not a good strategy. Landing pages lead customers to a specific product, service or offer and encourage them to take action. This is your opportunity to create conversions and build your customer base.
If landing pages are so important, why isn’t every business using them? Well, there is a misconception that they are hard to create and maintain. Fortunately, that simply isn’t true. Building an effective landing page is less about flashiness and more about getting the consumer what they’re after.
What Makes a Good Landing Page?
First off, your home page should not be your landing page. You need to send prospective customers to a page that will let them take advantage of whatever special offer you’ve promised them. Since they are tied to something specific, your landing pages have a better chance of capturing attention for a longer period of time. Good landing pages do several things:
1. They zero-in on the offer, not the company. Your future customers are clicking for a reason, and duping them by not giving them what you’ve promised is not going to form a good first impression. Now is not the time to give a detailed history of your company. This isn’t to say that the landing page should not be tied to your company brand. Just the opposite. They should serve a separate function, yet it should still be an extension of your brand.
2. They are focused and free of distractions. The content on your landing page should have the end-goal of getting the user what they want while completing the registration process.
3. The forms are not intimidating. Lengthy forms can be daunting to visitors and may encourage them to move on, rather than take advantage of whatever opportunity you are offering. If you simply can’t shorten your form, break it into steps, and let the user see exactly where they are in the process. For example, listing their name and address may be step one of four.
4. They speak to a specific audience. Segmenting your customer base helps you to target specific consumers through customized campaigns. If you have a base that’s drawn to a particular offer, such as an eBook or discount, your landing page can serve as a built-in segmentation device, allowing you to nurture these leads effectively going forward.
5. They collect specific information about your prospective customers. Speaking of specific audiences, even if you draw the right crowd, they can’t be converted if you don’t collect the right information. The collection of demographic data should include more than simply a name and email address. It should also give you some idea of why a person clicked and what their long-term connection to your company might be.
6. They provide your special offers with a home. Unless they are tied to landing pages, your online special offers will do nothing to benefit your business. Creating landing pages provides a place for your offers to reside.
7. They provide a thank you. Your landing page should always be followed up with a thank you. This is not only polite but assures the consumer that they have completed the registration process.
8. They allow users access to other marketing channels. A customer likes what you’ve just offered. Now you can provide links to other offers, your social media profiles or an email list sign up.
There is no doubt about it, we are certainly living in a digitally connected world. Moving boldly forward with a digital marketing campaign can easily be one of the best investments that you make for your business. As you build your digital marketing toolbox, including landing pages is a smart move, and both you and your customers will reap the benefits.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of landing pages, or want to get in touch with an expert who can improve your landing page and SEO strategy, we'd love to chat with you right now!
Here's a rundown of all WSI's content on landing pages: