A happy landing for your website

A new twist from an old client on an old topic. What is the difference between a ‘home’ page and a ‘landing’ page?

No, he did not want me to design a site for him but he had a new venture partner who was using terminology he did not understand. Therefore, could I please enlighten him even though his partner had committed their venture to another web designer. Since there was nothing yet to see, it was easy for me to deal with his question in a broad-brush style that may also help you when you decide to refresh your site.

Just like a loaf of bread, websites also become stale and rather more quickly these days with the change in platforms and marketing techniques. Demographic changes are also not to be ignored: new word, millennial generation!

So, what is a landing page? A landing page is any web page that a visitor can arrive at or ‘land’ on. However, when discussing landing pages within the area of marketing and advertising, it’s more common to refer to a landing page as being a standalone web page apart from your main website that has been crafted to serve a single intent. Usually the arrival page from an advertising link that you may have on Facebook, etc.

Common practice is to avoid global navigation to tie it to your primary website. The main reason for this is to limit the options available to your visitors, helping to guide them toward your intended goal.

Generally, there are two types of landing pages. One to cater for those who are in the process of committing to your product, while the second version is usually intended to collect contact information so that you can then expand your marketing push via another medium. Using the jargon, ‘click through’ and ‘lead generation’ respectively.

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Consider, for example, sending traffic to your homepage as compared to a standalone landing page. Your homepage is designed with a more general purpose in mind. It speaks more about your overall brand and corporate values and is typically loaded with links and navigation to other areas of your site. Every link on your page that doesn’t represent your conversion goal is a distraction that will dilute your message and reduce your conversion rate.

A critical feature of conversion aimed design is message match. That is the ability of your landing page to reflect the message presented on the upstream advertising link.  Unless you clearly and concisely reinforce the punters mission with a matching headline and purpose, most visitors will most probably leave your site within a few seconds of arrival.

Once they land, they need to be presented with a single clear call-to-action and how to follow it. Present your offer and what they need to do to get it. If they can’t understand what you want and what they’ll get immediately, they’ll leave your page behind.

Avoid distraction. Cluttered and unclear landing pages do your visitor no favours. Don’t put up links to other offers or stuff your page too full of branding and other marketing material. The landing page has one job, which is to generate leads. How often do we hear the advice, keep it sharp and simple?

The abbreviated essential features of your landing page, as defined by Google, are to ensure the primary headline of your landing page matches the ad visitors clicked to get there; make your call to action big and position it above the page-fold.

A landing page should have a single purpose and thus a single focused message. Every element of your page should be aligned conceptually with the topic and goal of the page. Show your product or service being used in context. The use of video has been shown to improve conversion by up to 80 percent. Remove unnecessary content, be succinct. Provide real testimonials for authenticity and/or social media status.

Offer guarantees to reduce the sense of risk and importantly, show your phone number so people know you are real and can interact with you on a personal level. Particularly important because of mobile use. While we are considering guarantees, they can be as simple as offering to pay for their dinner at the best restaurant in town or whatever else is appropriate if they are disappointed with your offer…  Above all, do not forget to include social media links to Facebook, Twitter and thereby increase your spread.

A fundamental marketing tip is to never let them get away without offering something else, like a newsletter sign-up, perhaps about your next special. However, don’t be too pushy with your tactics and make sure that they don’t violate Google policy, namely trapping people on your website with fancy JavaScript. That is almost a guarantee to get banned.

One way you could lead them further is offering a “thanks, but no thanks” button on your first offer that goes to a new landing page. Your landing page is the anchor between a curious visitor and a converted customer. Make sure the quality of your landing pages are as good as you are able to make them. Take these tips to heart.

Cluttered and unclear landing pages do your visitor no favours. Don’t put up links to other offers or stuff your page too full of branding and other marketing material. The landing page has one job – generating leads. Keep it sharp and simple. And unless you are universally famous and recognised far and wide, please leave photos of yourself out too. That is very much part of the use of logos too. Only global brands benefit from these.

But before you start, do some important homework and research your competition. Find out what people are reading and talking about, and emulate that kind of content to bring traffic to your website. I have mentioned the tools for this in a recent article.

Some of the oft forgotten aspects of all web design is page speed, proper meta tags and the text tags to images and make use of the mostly forgotten 404 page. I could go on but the editor would not give over the whole magazine to me.

There are a number of tools, which will give a fair analysis of your website and flag many of the errors commonly present. These sites will allow you to evaluate your own as well as your competitors web design. Every flag these tools generate should be immediately attended to.

So, there you have an enormous amount of material to go by. But please do not sack your webmaster if some of the referred to reports are less than glowing. At least give him the chance to rectify any shortcomings, after all it could be me.

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