Beginners Guide To Landing Pages For PPC
One of the best tools you can use if you want to boost your conversion rates dramatically is the landing page. Dubbed the powerhouse of online marketing and e-commerce in general, landing pages offer marketers a rare opportunity to engage potential customers in a straightforward manner.
An estimated 48 percent of successful online marketers rely on highly-optimized landing pages to increase conversion rates. The nature of a landing page makes it a useful tool for turning visitors into leads or conversions. By creating little room for distractions, most landing pages deploy the strategy of "convert or leave" to turn prospective customers into buyers.
What that means, simply, is that anyone who arrives at a landing page has two choices: they can follow the call to action, or they can exit the page. There are no other choices involved.
To understand why it is such a practical conversion tool, we have to take a step back and look at the definition of a landing page.
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Definition of a Landing Page
There are a number of ways to describe what a landing page is. It could be:
- The first page in which a visitor lands on after he clicks on a product link from your social media page, your website, an email link, or an online advertisement.
- A single-page website created with the sole aim of turning visitors into either leads or sales.
- A page that's designed to push visitors into action, whether that means buying something, providing information, or clicking through to another website.
Perhaps the best definition of a landing page is that it is a page made for a precise audience with a single, specific conversion goal. This definition captures the essence of what a landing page is, and most importantly, why it exists in the first place.
Be careful not to mistake landing pages with product or sales pages. The most effective landing pages contain information about ONE specific product or service and promote ONE specific call to action.
The aim of any landing page is to make the visitor confident enough about a product or service that they want to take action. Clarity and conciseness are the two most important traits to observe when providing information about the product. You don't want to ramble on and on, but you also must provide enough information for the customer to act upon.
Since landing pages are tied to specific promotions or advertisements, there is a great chance that the visitor already knows why they're there. All they need is that final nudge to make a purchase, subscribe to your mailing list, or click through to your website.
We will talk about strategies that you can use to lure the user into following the call to action later on in the article. First, let's look at the elements of a good landing page.
Elements of a Landing Page
For a landing page to be effective, it must have the following features:
1. A Unique Selling Proposition
The main challenge is to engage the visitor from the moment they click through to your landing page until they decide to take action or leave. The unique selling proposition (USP) on your landing page determines whether or not you get the conversion.
A USP has four main elements:
- A headline
- A description
- A list of benefits
- A closing argument
The headline is the clincher. It's what the visitor sees first, so it will likely determine whether they read on or leave the page. It has to be catchy, informative, and enticing enough to make the visitor want to learn more. Here is a tool that can help you create a compelling headline to grab the attention of prospective customers.
The description can be in the form of a supporting headline. For example, if your headline is "The Most Powerful Weight Loss Formula You've Ever Seen," your supporting headline can be something like "Here is the weight loss industry's best-kept secret, a weight loss formula that works for everyone!" A good description is one that explains the headline in more detail. It should be in simple language, and it should also be straightforward, attractive, and provoking enough to inspire further reading.
Next is the list of benefits, which is also considered the reinforcement statement. This section contains every reason why the prospective customer will enjoy the product or service on offer. It highlights the key benefits of the object of promotion. A visitor who has reached this point just wants to know what they stand to benefit from following your CTA, so it is imperative that you keep it short and sweet, but highly persuasive.
Finally, there's the closing argument, which serves to drive the point home. It's a sort of recap on everything the visitor has already seen. It touches briefly on the main benefit of the item on offer and recaps why they should follow your call to action. The best closing arguments are brief, clear, and emphatic.
2. Intriguing Copy
Content is king on the internet, and the quality of copy on a landing page can make or break its effectiveness. People on the internet want something that educates and entertains. Businesses need copy that can turn leads into conversions. The balance is struck when the text does it all in one fell swoop.
A useful landing page keeps the visitor engaged from start to finish. It convinces them to follow the call to action by highlighting how they stand to benefit from doing that. It also answers their questions and addresses their concerns.
If landing page copy doesn't do this, it can stifle the page's ability to bring conversions.
3. Enticing Visuals
The quickest way to relay information is through the use of visual media. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and because brevity is a requirement of any good landing page, enticing visuals are instrumental for closing the sale.
The terms "money shot" and "hero shot" in relation to online marketing refer to images or videos that grab the attention of prospective customers. Not every product can be summarized in a few words, which is why videos and pictures can be powerful tools.
A successful landing page uses words sparingly to describe the benefits but allows the visitor to get the full picture using visual representations of the product being marketed. It's a simple strategy for grabbing the attention of prospective customers and giving them an idea of what they will be spending their money on or trading their information for.
The most critical task a landing page has to perform is to answer the question �why.' Why should I buy your product and not that of your competitors'? Why should I provide my information? Why should I register for an account? Why should I visit your website?
These questions, as asked by prospective customers, require short, straightforward, and convincing answers, which is why every landing page must tell the visitor how they stand to benefit by doing what the page asks of them.
For a product page, you must list the important benefits in a brief but concise manner. Bullet-point lists are excellent for this task. They are easy to scan, quick to read through, and often have a more attention-grabbing format than prose.
Though the need for brevity is essential, what's more important is to create understanding. Benefits must have brief descriptions next to them for the landing page to be effective. Rattling off the perks of a product or service without explaining them in detail does not provide enough information for the visitor to act.
5. Social proof
In today's extremely digitized business landscape, nothing carries more weight than social proof. People trust reviews and testimonials as much as they believe word of mouth. It's tough to convince anyone to buy anything online without social proof that other people have bought it and benefited from their purchase.
As such, it is a key element of a successful landing page. A new customer has no clue whether they can trust a brand or not until they see evidence that other people trust it. The internet is a strange place full of strange people with unknown motives, so it's not exactly wise to spend money on anything without a guarantee that it is not fake.
The two types of social proof required in a landing page are:
- People who have subscribed to or purchased from a brand, and benefited from it, will not hesitate to wax poetic about how it has changed their lives. These testimonials are powerful influencers, especially when they come from an authoritative voice, such as an industry leader or a famous personality.
- Reviews are the bread and butter of online shopping. Not one customer is willing to spend a dime on a product or service that has yet to prove itself as legitimate. What is the quickest way to verify legitimacy? Seeking advice from others. Reviews are honest, which means everything to a prospective customer who wants an unbiased perspective of what your product or service can do for them.
A landing page without social proof may be construed as a scam. What's more, people do not trust companies or brands that don't seem to have a human aspect to them. Social proof provides that much-needed human aspect to businesses.
6. Call to Action
Last but of most importance is the call to action. Without it, a landing page has no purpose, and as we saw in the definition, it must have a specific conversion goal.
The call to action can be anything. It can be a plea to attend a webinar or other event. It can be a request to submit information. It can be a call to purchase or subscribe to something. That all depends on the business behind the landing page and what they hope to achieve with it.
The call to action MUST be easy to understand. This part matters the most because it's where visitors turn to leads or customers. It can appear in numerous different forms. Although some experts say that the call to action works better if it's at the top of the page, some insist that providing information first, then calling visitors to action is the right way to go about it.
Types of Landing Pages
Although all successful landing pages share the core elements, they can vary based on the audience, message, or conversion goal. There are different types of landing pages.
- Lead-generation pages
- Coming soon pages
- Information pages
- Product purchase pages
- Click-through landing pages
- Thank you pages
Lead-Generation Landing Pages
As their name suggests, these landing pages are useful for collecting user data, which we refer to as leads. Such landing pages don't necessarily carry a lot of copy, and they can be very brief.
The main goal behind these pages is to convince visitors to willingly leave information like their names, phone numbers, and email addresses. Businesses use this information to create an email list, to which they can periodically send follow-up emails containing offers and deals that might interest their leads.
A lead-generation landing page must contain a small amount of copy to tell the visitor what they stand to benefit from leaving their information. It could be access to information that's otherwise restricted or even a free digital download.
It often contains empty fields in which the prospective customer fills in their details then submits them to receive the offers mentioned. Though there's a little bit of convincing involved, lead-generation landing pages must not necessarily contain sales-y language or overt sales pitches.
Coming Soon Pages
A landing page can be used to advertise a product that's set to launch at a future date. This landing page is unique because it doesn't really have a conversion goal. Its sole purpose is to inform visitors of an upcoming launch.
Still, it is a landing page with a single focus: to inform visitors and create hype over an upcoming product.
However, that doesn't mean they can't be turned into conversion-focused pages. By adding a "sign-up" form on the coming soon page, it turns into a conversion-oriented landing page that generates leads and possibly future sales.
After a successful campaign, a business might decide to let their customers know about the progress they've made. For example, SparrowBoost, which donates to the National Kidney Foundation, can later launch an information page where visitors can learn about the progress of the fundraising and how people have benefited from it.
Informative landing pages merely relay information to customers, fans, supporters, and stakeholders. They don't advertise a specific conversion goal nor promote any product or service.
Product Purchase Landing Pages
When promoting a product or service is the main aim of a landing page, it must contain all the elements we discussed above. Thus, product purchase landing pages describe products, showcase their benefits, offer social proof that the product is good, and end in a call to action.
Though there's no need to include the price of the product, such landing pages are more effective if they contain all the information a potential buyer may need.
The main goal of a product detail landing page is to sell. Not to turn leads, not to receive information, but to promote the sale of a particular product. For the page to be effective, it must minimize distractions completely. That means having a single CTA button, a single product, a specific audience, and a single conversion goal.
Also, as useful as social proof is, testimonials and reviews work best when kept at a minimum. Nobody wants to sift through ten testimonials and ten reviews before they decide to buy a product.
Click-through Landing Pages
The main aim of a click-through landing page is to direct the visitor to another page. The other page could be your website, a product detail page, or a subscription page. Though the call to action here may not necessarily result in a direct conversion, it can be a crucial step in a company's sales funnel.
Click-through landing pages are versatile. They can be linked to other landing pages too! For instance, you can have a click-through page that lists the benefits of a product or service, leading to a checkout or pricing page. It can also direct traffic to a new website or encourage visitors to sign up for a free trial.
These pages can't be as passive as lead-generation pages; they have to inspire the reader to move to the next step in the sales funnel.
Thank You Landing Page
A thank you page is a classy way to let your customers know that you appreciate their business. It can be placed after the checkout page or after a sign-up form is submitted.
Thank you landing pages don't have a call to action either; they are an appreciative medium that helps build stronger relationships and drum up repeat business. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, so a thank you page can draw your customers back to do business with you again.
Landing Page Formats
There are two types of landing page formats used by businesses. The first is the traditional long page landing page, where all the information is contained within a single web page that has a call to action at the end. This format is straightforward, easy to navigate, and poses minimal distractions, so it is excellent for marketing single products.
The second type is the series or step-by-step landing page, which sometimes goes by mini-site. Mini-sites may be slightly better at ushering visitors down the sales funnel because they take them through the process step-by-step.
Each page in a mini-site asks for different information. Users can get accustomed to moving from page to page quickly, which plays in the business' favor because they are more likely to click on the CTA on the final page.
A long landing page is advantageous because it loads only once. However, sometimes it can get overwhelming with all the content laid out in a single page. A mini-site tackles this by giving visitors bite-sized chunks of information that are easier to process. On the other hand, it requires a consistent connection to load each step, so there's always the risk that connectivity issues could disrupt the process.
A Homepage Should Never Be a Landing Page
Surprisingly, some marketers still use their homepage as a landing page. The two are quite different because of three reasons:
- Landing pages market only ONE product at a time; homepages summarize ALL the products and services of the brand.
- Landing pages have a SINGLE call to action; homepages are riddled with options, which can distract visitors.
- Landing pages target one specific audience; homepages are the face of the business' online front, so they target all the audiences for which the brand caters.
A landing page is only useful because it minimizes distractions by marketing a single product at a time. That's not possible with a homepage, which has to contain an About Us section, a Products page, a Blog section, and Contact details. It also has to showcase all the products and services on offer.
We've discussed the "convert or leave" strategy and established that it is only effective because it limits the visitor to two options. You can't achieve that with a homepage.
The other reason is that a homepage can't showcase one product alone, especially if the company offers different services and products. And once a landing page contains more than one product, it becomes a product information page, which has a lower conversion rate.
Finally, the homepage is the introductory portion of the firm's website. They have to capture as broad an audience as they can, and they can't do that by showcasing just one product or service out of the many that they possibly offer. What's more, unlike a landing page, a homepage has several CTAs, whether it is to contact the company for more information, read the blog, request a quote, or view other products on offer.
A landing page has to have a precise purpose and focus on a single CTA; otherwise, it loses its effectiveness entirely.
When Should You Use a Landing Page
Knowing the purpose of a landing page is half the job. The other half, which is arguably more crucial, is knowing WHEN to use a landing page. Even the best marketing strategies are useless without the right timing. Timing is everything when it comes to digital marketing. That's why social media marketers familiarize themselves with people's online habits: to capitalize on periods of high engagement.
Similarly, a landing page is only as effective as its execution. Knowing when to use one is just as important as knowing how to use one.
Here are some common instances when landing pages are used.
1. When Driving Paid Traffic
Consider this: if you're driving paid traffic, wouldn't you rather take them to a conversion-focused landing page than a generic web page? You risk losing a lot of your paid traffic if you send visitors to a page that's:
- Full of distractions
- Lacking a clear conversion goal
- Inconsistent with the message in your online advertisement
A landing page captures attention quickly, provides a clear call to action and limits distractions so that everyone who arrives there through clicking your ad is pushed down your sales funnel faster. It's a simple but highly effective strategy.
2. To Inform About Events or Webinars
We've touched on how landing pages can be used as educational tools. If you're hosting an event and would like your audience to attend, dedicating an entire landing page with a CTA to book a spot is going to get you much better results.
Remember, focus is the name of the game. If your visitors click on a link and land on a web page with a message that's consistent with your social media post or ad (wherever they found your link, that is), they are more likely to push through to the end.
3. For Giveaways and Freebies
Everyone loves a freebie, but don't let that fool you into thinking that everyone has the time to browse through several drop-down menus just for a free eBook. Landing pages ensure that even your giveaways reach your intended audience.
Plus, combining landing pages with freebies is one of the best ways to send traffic from all over the internet to your opt-in offers.
4. To Launch a Product
Creating awareness about a new product can be an expensive endeavor, but with a dedicated landing page, it becomes much more manageable. That's because landing pages are single-mindedly focused on promoting a single product or service.
People who click on the link are looking for more information about your upcoming product. They need quick, clear, and concise information about it before they decide to join your waiting list or pre-order your product. Keep in mind that the keyword here is information. The more informed they are, the less likely they are to exit without following the CTA.
5. To Distinguish Your Audiences
If you're a company that caters to multiple audiences, one way to separate one audience from another is through a dedicated landing page. For instance, a car dealership with imported luxury vehicles can set up a landing page that targets budget buyers.
This landing page may inform visitors that the dealership is now stocking locally-made, affordable sedans, which is what an interested visitor will see. That way, they destroy the perception that their business only caters to high-end clients, gaining an entirely new customer base in the process.
6. To Gauge Engagement Levels
It's not the easiest thing to decipher how much of your audience is engaged, but a landing page can help you make some sense of it. With a landing page, you can sift through members of your audience and separate them based on engagement levels.
After a webinar, for instance, you can create a landing page for visitors who are interested in purchasing your product or service. Of course, anyone who didn't attend the webinar in the first place may not be interested, so it gives you a clear picture of how many people responded to your webinar invitation.
Gauging engagement levels allows you to tweak your marketing strategies to either focus more on the engaged portion of your audience or to reel in prospective customers and convert them into leads as well.
Where to Put Your Landing Page
Where you put up your landing page matters a great deal, especially if you intend to keep it up for a specific duration. You have three choices here:
- You can host landing pages on your own website (domain)
- You can create a new domain for your landing pages, or;
- You can outsource your landing pages to a hosted solution
It all depends on how long you want your landing pages to stay up. Let's explore those choices in detail.
1. Self-Hosting Your Landing Pages
Most marketing experts advise against putting up a landing page on someone else's domain, and insist that self-hosting is the way to go. They're not wrong.
Putting your landing pages on your domain makes them yours for life. You don't need extra hosting fees, and you never run the risk of having them taken down since they are practically hosted on your online "property."
However, there are times when self-hosting isn't the best way to go about it, in which case, you can try the next best thing.
2. Creating a Domain for Landing Pages
You can dedicate an entire domain for your landing pages if it suits the situation better. For example, a new product or service may attract more eyes if it comes with a stand-alone domain. Plus, it gives you room to make a stand-alone product into a line of similar products, all of which have landing pages on the same domain.
You can also consider this option if you don't have a website yet (in which case, hurry up and get one already!). Although we said that homepages could never be landing pages, you won't be faulted for turning the main URL of your landing page website into a homepage.
3. Settling for a Hosted Solution
If you need to set up a landing page quickly, your best bet is going with a hosted solution. This option is like renting a room for your business as opposed to building your premises from the ground up, so it is also cheaper.
However, hosted landing pages will cost you monthly maintenance and hosting fees, plus you run the risk of losing your landing pages indefinitely if you fail to keep up with the payments or violate the web host's Terms and Conditions.
10 Tips on How to Create an Effective Landing Page
At this point, you know everything there is to know about landing pages, what they're about, and where to put them. Now comes the most critical part of all: learning how to create a great landing page.
It's not a hard thing to accomplish. In fact, these 15 tips cover every single way you can optimize your landing pages to achieve all your conversion goals.
1. Have a concrete goal in mind.
A landing page without a clear goal is like a high-speed bullet train without a destination. You will get nowhere, and you will get there fast.
Before you begin designing your landing page, you must have a specific goal in mind. There is no such thing as a generic landing page. It has to contain at least one clear target, whether it is to sell more, generate leads, inform, or appreciate your customers.
2. No CTA, no conversions.
There's no point in having a conversion-focused landing page if it doesn't end in an emphatic CTA. What else are you looking to achieve, if not convert visitors into leads or sales?
The call to action is arguably the most crucial part of the landing page because it drives prospective customers to take action. It has to be precise. It has to be the bottom line. Most importantly, it has to be tied to your goals; otherwise, you may not achieve the results you need.
3. Keep it simple.
The idea is to have as few distractions as possible. Remember, this is not a homepage or a page from your website. It should serve a single purpose only, so simplicity is paramount.
The more extraneous information a landing page contains, the more likely it is to distract and bore the visitors into leaving before following the call to action.
4. Content is king, and so is your copy.
The three most important attributes of landing page copy are:
You're not writing an essay, so keep your terms short and easy to digest. Stay completely away from jargon. Assume that most of your visitors will already know why they're there, so they won't need a recap of your entire business, how far you've come, what you've achieved, and what you're hoping to do in the future.
Stay on track. Keep the landing page focused on a single product. Imagine that you're in a race against time and that the longer you take to get to the point, the more customers you lose.
5. Request as little information as possible.
Just because you're on a lead-generating mission doesn't mean you can ask your visitors everything about themselves. Keep in mind that attention spans on the internet are very short, so not everyone is willing to spend ten minutes filling out a form just to get a free guide.
If you need emails, ask for emails alone. If you need a little more than that, ask for their name and phone number too, but don't go beyond that. The same applies to purchase landing pages: ask for billing and shipping information only and leave it at that.
Make it as brief as possible to avoid losing people's interest.
6. There should be only one clickable link.
Part of the reason why landing pages are so successful is that the visitor only has one thing to do, and it is to click the CTA link. Thus, most successful online marketers venture as far as to remove even the navigation buttons.
If you want to maximize conversion rates, then ensure the page does nothing but urge people to click on the CTA. Sure, you can add a link for more information, or even one that takes them to your homepage, but it's better for these to come after the CTA, which is arguably the more important link here.
Besides, a great landing page should have all the information a potential buyer may need before making a decision, so there shouldn't be a reason for other links.
7. Mimic the design of your website.
If you're already an established online brand, ensure your landing page mimics the design of your company website. You still need people to trust you, and discrepancies in your landing page and site's appearance may inspire suspicion. Phishing attacks tend to take advantage of landing pages, so people will be skeptical if your landing page doesn't match your website's design.
8. The fold.
The fold refers to where you position your call to action. Some do it right at the top of the page, which is where it is most visible even by visitors who don't scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Some insist on leaving the CTA button at the bottom of the page to give the visitor enough time to read through the product details, benefits, and social proof. Both methods work, depending on the highlighted product. Just make sure that wherever you place your CTA is the best place to maximize conversion rates.
9. Big fonts, small images.
The internet is becoming an increasingly visual medium of information. That means very few people are willing to read through long, plain chunks of texts. To counter this, a landing page must have large, attractive fonts. Make them colorful if you have to.
Also, images are crucial but don't flood the page with images. Select a few small pictures and place them strategically within the text for emphasis and descriptive purposes. Don't make it a photo album either.
Also, keep the information in a single centered column. Most landing pages cater to both mobile and desktop users, and if the visitor has to scroll sideways too, they may miss some vital information.
10. Test out your landing page.
The chances are that you may not get it right the first time. Or the second time. Or the third. In any case, you shouldn't despair. What works for one company won't necessarily work for all companies, so test your landing pages routinely to gauge their effectiveness.
Testing allows you to figure out what needs to be improved and which areas work the best. Testing your landing page is the only way you can optimize it to suit your specific needs and reach the audience that you're targeting.
If all this sounds overwhelming, here's what you should do:
It is understandable if you don't know how to make heads or tails of what your landing page should do or be. That's why companies like SparrowBoost exist.
A landing page can be the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. It can also be a colossal waste of resources if done incorrectly. If you're not sure of your ability to create one that's going to improve your conversion rates dramatically, why risk it?
SparrowBoost has been creating, optimizing, and maintaining landing pages for firms over five years now, and already, few firms can compete with our conversion-focused method of doing things. Generating leads, improving sales, and promoting brands is what we do best, and we invite you to talk to us about why you need a landing page.