What is a landing page? As you may know, a landing page is a custom web page designed to “land” people into a specific environment, usually one that will entice them to buy. Using these special landing pages can also enhance your ability to track and measure your marketing tactics because you can count how many people “land” on that page and with appropriate software you can even track their online behavior after they have visited that specific page. In an ideal world, a custom landing page is a win-win for you and the visitor. You get more measurability, they get more custom content regarding something in which they had expressed some interest.
Many companies talk about landing pages but I am not sure landing pages get the thorough analysis they deserve. I recently watched a webinar presented by Scott Brinker called The Next Generation of Landing Pages. Brinker, president of Ion Interactive, a company that includes Citrix as one of their clients, suggests that landing pages have gone through three generational shifts. Brinker says the first generation is what may come to mind when you think of a landing page. Big header image, a form to fill out, and maybe some links to other relevant pages on the website. The second generation got a bit more complex. The forms got a bit shorter or hidden behind links and the calls to action became more prominent. The third generation, according to Brinker, is much more attuned to social media and content. Brinker talks about the “social proof” aspect of these new pages – a section that tells you what other companies or people use that product or service. There are social media buttons for more sharing. There seems to be a lot more content, with each bit of content tied to a call to action.
In short, landing pages have gotten more interactive, more complex, and less “cookie cutter’ over the last 2-3 years.
The webinar was very good, but it raised a few questions in my head. For example, in an era when all companies, it seems, are calling for more measurable marketing tactics, why don’t more company websites use customized landing pages? Beyond that, how many people still think of that first generation of landing page when it’s suggested that landing pages could be useful?
In order to guide you to perhaps more productive thinking about the landing page concept, I’ve come up with five questions that I think will help form your thinking about this often-mentioned, often-underused tool. After answering these five questions, you should have a better idea of how your landing pages could evolve so that they could be of more use to you.
1. Do your landing pages make sense based on what you are using to drive people there?
Imagine you are traveling the aisles at a trade show and you come upon a company that has a pretty neat product. You want to learn more about it and the company happens to have a special URL on their give-away that takes you to a specific landing page. You remember to go back and check this page out when you get home, but you are shocked and even dismayed to find that the product they were featuring at the show does not appear anywhere on the page. Instead, this page emphasizes the company’s services and history.
Now, this is an extreme example and one would hope a company wouldn’t make a mistake like this, but it’s easy to forget how you are driving traffic to a specific page. I think this is how some companies end up with a QR code on a website – the thought process was not carried all the way through. Consider the environment where people are seeing that landing page URL and make sure their journey to your page carries them further into your website rather than driving them away in frustration.
2. Are you using the same landing page for everything?
This issue is rather closely tied to the first question. It seems some companies create a single landing page and then they use all marketing tactics to drive traffic to that single page. This can have a lot of negative ramifications, not the least of which is that it will be very difficult to tell which tactics are most responsible for the traffic to that page. Additionally, one assumes that each of your marketing tactics will have slightly different messages, especially if you compare, say, a press release with an online banner ad. This again leads back to question 1. Will your single landing page make sense to everyone and anyone who sees it?
3. Is it clear to visitors what you want them to do?
One of the examples Brinker uses to illustrate the new generation of landing pages is actually (interestingly) the homepage of IntuitGoPayment, an iPhone technology that allows you to swipe credit cards. Here is a screen capture of the page.
There is a lot to learn from this page. The large header image clearly shows the product in action. Images are used to illustrate the value proposition. And of special note are the two bright yellow buttons that say, “Give it a try.” It’s clear that Intuit wants you to click those buttons to take you further into their website (and hence closer to a sale).
Does your landing page show your product or service clearly? Do you clearly tell visitors what other pages on your website they may find useful?
4. Is your landing page “us” or “you”?
Whether you are working on a full website or just one page, it’s important to ask, “Do we want to frame this as an “about us” page or do we want to speak directly to our customers and prospects?” The Intuit page above clearly is a “you” page. [You] Will Never Miss A Sale. [You] should give this a try. [You] will benefit from this product and here’s how. If a landing page is sort of like a virtual salesperson, it’s probably a good idea to frame it in this fashion. A person clicked to your site, so they must be at least somewhat interested. How can you nurture that interest? Talking about yourself may not be the key.
5. Is your landing page mobile-friendly?
One reason why landing pages may be steering away from the long form is that on smart phones and tablets, doing a lot of typing can be challenging. Typing in a lot of contact information is probably not the sort of thing a mobile visitor wants to spend time doing. What are other ways to capture visitors’ information? Maybe just have them enter an email address and ask permission to email them with more information. It’s also important to make sure that your landing page doesn’t include any flash elements, because those will be lost for iPhone and iPad users. Think through the needs and desires of the modern mobile user and make sure your new landing page caters to those needs.
What other questions can you ask about the landing pages you have? What questions has this raised for you? We’d be happy to talk to you about your website if you’d like opinions or assistance.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/5866038566/ via Creative Commons