What Is a Landing Page?
A “Landing Page” is any page created to receive traffic from some other marketing effort and convert that traffic, i.e., to cause visitors to take beneficial actions such as:
- Buy Something.
- Request a Demonstration.
- Download a Whitepaper.
- Download an Ebook.
- Join an Email List.
- Watch a Video.
- View Additional Pages.
This post shares 10 secrets to help your landing pages convert better.
Landing Page Secrets 1: Create a Great Call to Action
Asking visitors to do something beneficial on your website is a “Call to Action” or CTA. (G) “Download Ebook” on the Marketo landing page example above is a CTA. CTA’s are important, but less is more. If you ask landing page visitors to take more than one action, conversions are likely to decrease.
Since landing pages are fed traffic from Pay Per Click, partner or affiliate websites, emails, social media marketing or some other marketing effort, landing pages have to do both less and more than “normal” web pages.
Landing pages need to do LESS than other webpages in that too much information and too many options swamp attention, and conversions decrease. Read The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz for more on why presenting fewer choices and less noise converts better. Landing pages should be QUIET, easy to take in, digest and act on.
Landing pages have to do MORE in that they are built to promote an action, a conversion. Conversion is tough. Getting a stranger to know your company well enough to develop TRUST enough to fill out a form is a big deal.
A great Call to Action is key to conversion on a landing page. Great CTAs are short (no more than 7 words) and include keywords. Keywords create a sense of, “Yes I am in the right place and this is what I want.” Note the repetition of Marketo’s Call to Action (G) above. Marketo uses text, a large blue heading and a button.
I love the Marketo landing page pictured above, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a keyword in the main CTA. “Download Ebook” may be the only thing a visitor reads. Without a keyword such as “Download Social Marketing Ebook” or “Download SMM Ebook” in the main CTA, they risk losing some conversions.
Landing Page Testing Note
Every element on a landing page should be tested, especially something as important as the CTA. CTAs are so important that you should never STOP testing them. Move your winners into a “control position”, and then attempt to beat those. A new CTA beats control when it consistently converts better.
Examples of great landing page testing (get on email lists for these companies to observe great landing pages):
Landing Page Secrets 2: Sell to the CTA No More
Perhaps the most common landing page mistake is SELLING a visitor with data. Many landing page creators try too hard to sell beyond the Call to Action. They load charts, graphs and novels of information into landing pages. Loading too much information on any webpage is selling beyond the action you need and is a common conversion killer.
On most landing pages, you ONLY need your visitor to fill out a form or share information for a white paper. Do only what is necessary to create that conversion. Landing pages should be quietly confident, have a single CTA and avoid overselling the Call to Action.
Landing Pages also need emotional hooks. Note how Marketo tells a short story (E) followed by bullets (F) with a Call to Action (text) pointing to the “Get Ebook” button and form (G).
Landing Page Secrets 3: Create Emotional Hooks
Humans have a primordial limbic system. Our “lizard brain” kept us alive when we lived in caves and could be dinner. Now, human limbic systems fire primitive ”fight or flight” messages when challenged. Conversion is always a form of challenge. Amy Africa, in her presentation to the Conversion Conference in Chicago, shared research on how stressful visitors to websites find the act of conversion.
Emotional hooks tweak our ancient lizard brains in familiar patterns: fear, greed, sex, food, babies. Saw a great example of this today from Eloqua: The headline on the front page that linked to the article was “40 Must-See Marketing Charts“. The emotional hook is fear, the fear of being left out of the group of marketers who have seen Eloqua’s charts.
The fear of being left out is powerful online. We Internet marketers have all missed significant marketing movements in the last ten years. So much has changed so fast that no one could keep up with everything, so there is a collective Internet marketing sore spot about being left out. Creating great emotional hooks is about curating what is happening in the world and being consistent with content on the page.
Current Marketo Headline Hook Example: “Optimize Your Social Chanel for Lead Generation”
Here are some examples that are more emotional:
“Be a Hero, Optimize Your Social Channel for Lead Gen”
“Make More Money, Optimize Your Social Channel for Lead Gen”
“Don’t Miss SMM, Optimize Your Social Channel for Lead Gen”
“Q: Can Social be Used for Lead Generation? A: Yes”
Hooks are related to WHO the landing page is designed for. You need different hooks for Analysts, Managers, Directors and C levels. Actually, you rarely reach a C level with a landing page, so it’s better to create hooks for the people entrusted to find solutions (A,D, M levels). IT people need different hooks than Marketing, so know who you want to reach and create relevant hooks.
Landing Page Secrets 4: Create Mystery
When an Internet marketer doesn’t know the answer to a question, what do they do? They search for and find the answer. When we read unknown words and language in a context we understand, we invest in finding out what we don’t know. We don’t want to be left out. We don’t want to last in line. We don’t want to appear dumb (or to BE dumb).
There is a fine line between mystery and confusion when creating great landing pages. Mystery is, “I’m intrigued and feel I can answer the question with minimal effort.” Confusion is a different state.
Confused customers do many things, but buying is rarely one of them. Landing pages walk a fine line between creating the right amount of mystery without creating frustration or confusion.
You can call things such as Social Media Marketing by an acronym (ex, SMM) if you explain the use somewhere in your copy. But don’t feel like you must provide every answer to every question. The best landing pages are minimal; they sell to their call to action and no more.
Landing Page Secrets 5: Make Offers
Many B2B companies are nervous about making offers. Offers are key to creating effective and highly converting landing pages.
Offers have three elements:
- Something of value traded for something of value (time, money, information).
- Something relevant and segmented to the audience driven to the page.
- A DEADLINE
The Marketo example has implied benefits, such as more money from social lead generation and being up to speed on the latest in social media marketing, but Marketo’s landing page assumes a lot.
They assume “Marketo-speak” can be translated into language the audience cares about. “Generate leads outside your database” is a great example of “inside baseball” language. That may be the very definition of lead generation, but a more clear connection to universal benefits (more profits, less costs) wouldn’t hurt.
Existing Marketo Bullet: “How to use social activities to generate leads outside your current database and community.”
Making Marketo bullet more specific:
How to use social activities such as Facebook campaigns and Twitter posts to capture “new to file” names and the new bottom line revenue they represent.
This bullet is still wordy and may need to be two bullets instead of one, but by being a little more specific the claim gains weight and authority. Pluck the universal benefits (more money, less costs) as often as possible.
Landing Page Secrets 6: DEADLINES
When something that is relevant to our jobs, lives or families is about to go away, we act. We BUY with EMOTION, but we justify with logic, and a deadline is a great piece of LOGIC to justify an emotional decision. Why do sales end? To create deadlines and a sense of urgency.
Sales end because, despite our higher level brains knowing another sale is sure to follow, our lizard brains kick into high gear in order to not lose out, to beat the deadline.
Internet Marketing Deadline Secret
The Marketo eBook offer would be stronger with a deadline. Even if Marketo brings the same book back in a few weeks, today’s offer is stronger with a deadline. CTAs without deadlines are half as effective as call to actions with deadlines. The problem with deadlines online is 3 days is a long time.
If your offer has a week or more to go, use general “offer ends soon” language. When you get into the last 3 days, change your copy to “Free eBook offer ends in 3 days.” Follow with 2 and then 1. CTA’s with deadlines are more work, but they convert BETTER, and they more than pay for the extra creative work you need to power the deadline.
Landing Page Secrets 7: Tag Your Brand, Create a Claim
Even if you don’t “tag” your brand, typically you should attach tags on landing pages. Tags are short descriptions, usually immediately below a brand’s logo, that illuminate a brand’s meaning and value.
Logos are usually top left on a page. Here is how I would tag Marketo in the example above:
Leader in Innovative Inbound Marketing
Tags should tell a mini-story and support important keywords. Tags are constant, i.e., they don’t change with the creative on the rest of the page. Tags apply to Marketo’s core truth. You can create a brand tag out of anything, but here are powerful ideas to use in a tag:
- When your company was the first at something.
- When your company is recognized by authoritative voices as a leader.
- When your Unique Selling or Value Proposition is strong.
- Awards, if awards are rare in your vertical.
- Superlative-type values (biggest, best value, first, top, leader).
Landing Page Secrets 8: White Space Is Your Friend
If you have 5 elements on a landing page, test by reducing down to 3. I like forms on the right of “hero” images (a hero is the largest image on a webpage) and well above the fold. White space is one way a landing page projects quiet confidence, so use lots of it, as Marketo demonstrates in the example above.
Landing Page Secrets 9: Social Shares & SEO
Back in the day, we kept our landing pages OUT of Google, but this was before Google’s float and social shopping. I think allowing the search engine spider in has merit if the page provides value back to YOUR website, but we originally kept landing pages out because we wanted the freedom to modify, add to and replace them.
Post Google’s Panda algorithm, frequent page changes are good, but be sure to respect the rank you earn. If your landing page earns a PageRank3 about social optimization, you shouldn’t change the page to focus on ecommerce checkouts. Once rank is established, you must be true to how that rank was established or risk penalties. If you add social shares and social signals to your landing pages, as Marketo does in the example above, you will want to keep the page– So make sure you don’t change the content by more than 30% or so.
If you don’t want to keep the page, you will be doing way too many 301 redirects to keep up with the social shares into the page. If you are done with the page, eliminate it from any navigational support and watch the PageRank. Once you see PR decay to 2 or lower, you can safely ask Google to eliminate the page. Never GIVE things to Google and then TAKE THEM AWAY or substantially change them.
Other Social Signals
I would consider including a “Members Who’ve Viewed” section too. If I see people I know or gurus I trust have read the page and downloaded the paper, I am more likely to do so. Social shares express a desire to know you without going all the way to a demo or a download. I might even share your page BEFORE I download your paper, and such an action should be treated as a “soft conversion”.
Landing Page Secrets 10: More, Faster, Better & People
Once you start creating landing pages, you should set aggressive analysis and creation goals. If you are creating one landing page a week now, double it next month and then double it again the next. Keep on that MORE schedule, because landing pages teach you more faster when you create more of them.
Keep your content keyword silos clearly defined. You may create landing pages on Internet Marketing, Website Design and Mobile Marketing. Test within each silo to see what combination of Headline, Call to Action and Story receives the most conversions.
People Sell Better
The other big bone I would pick with Marketo is they never use people to sell their ideas. People sell better than things, as I noted in People Not Things Sell. Marketo could add a picture of their CEO or a well-known analyst in the field. Landing pages with people command more attention, feel warmer and convert better.
People can also create confusion. If you primarily want engagement on the page (which you don’t on most landing pages), face any people looking out at the visitors. If you want conversion, face people at the CTA. For instance if Marketo’s CEO were on this page, he should be looking at the Download eBook CTA because visitor eyes follow his.
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