Lead generation

If you’ve had an online business for long, chances are you’ve heard of landing pages. You might picture a page with smiling testimonials, big letters and dollar amounts crossed off showing you how good a deal you have if you BUY NOW. There’s a lot more to landing pages, however. In this article, we’ll cover a lot of information, so strap yourselves in and come along for the ride!

What IS a Landing Page? It’s More Than You May Think

It’s easy to think of the above type of landing page and leave it at that, especially if you’re relatively new to Internet marketing. Did you know, however, that a “landing page” is simply the page your visitors land on? This means your home page is as much of a landing page as your… well, as your landing page is. Because of this, you might hear another term when it comes landing pages, called the “preferred landing page” or PLP.

So now we have two terms: landing page and preferred landing page. Let’s look at the difference from the starting point of a search engine.

Landing page (LP): your visitor follows a search snippet to your site that showed up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for their search. It may or may not be actually related to their search query. The page they land on, whether it’s the home page, service page, blog post or product page, is a landing page. They do whatever it is they came there to do – or not. It may or may not be clear whether you actually want them to do anything.

Preferred landing page (PLP): your visitor follow a carefully crafted search snippet to a page that specifically targets their search query. The page they land on has information they’re looking for, and a clear cut call-to-action (CTA).

In other words, a preferred landing page is targeted for a specific term. The traffic is somewhat prequalified, because you already know they’re interested in the content on the page. You then provide a call-to-action that is crafted to match the content on the page.

Landing pages can become preferred landing pages.

A preferred landing page is “the page the publisher prefers visitors to land on from a specific link or search term.” The ultimate goal of a landing page is for your visitors to answer your “call to action”, be it buying your product or giving their email address.

Sometimes, preferred landing analysis will uncover a better LP than the one that was initially targeted. If this is the case, there are three choices:

  1. Change the preferred landing pages
  2. Consolidate the two landing pages into a single PLP
  3. Update the preferred landing page where it’s lacking
  4. Use A/B testing to figure out which PLP performs better

For example, you receive traffic for “fine California wine” to two different pages. One is a product page. The other is a PLP offering a percentage off if you buy by the case. What do you do?

Hint: You don’t want to compete against yourself for the same term in the SERPs .

Viable option: make the product page the PLP. Use a CTA offering the percentage off. That CTA links to the page that further outlines the offer.

An Indepth Look at Building a Preferred Landing Page

A landing strip symbolizing landing pages

A PLP is created and optimized for a specific purpose. Although we talk about optimizing a website and the care that goes into it, creating a preferred landing page is even more of an exercise. In fact, creating a PLP can be an entire marketing campaign in and of itself.

Let’s look at how a preferred landing page is built, as if it were the center of the marketing campaign.

Block out the marketing campaign

Marketing Campaign (To achieve higher perceived authority) – The overall marketing campaign is based on what you want to achieve. However, while we know everyone wants to make money, a campaign needs more specific goals than that. You need to think more microscopic. You should answer the question, “What specific result do we want from this campaign?”  For example, instead of “more sales”, you want to have a goal like “x amount of sales over last month.”

To learn more about setting smart marketing goals, read How to Set Smart Marketing Goals. At 2 minutes, it’s a relatively short read, but packed with helpful information.

Campaign Overview (The client wants to bill themselves as an authority on frogs. To do this, we’re going build a preferred landing page, targeting the SERPs, social sites and relevant websites.) – An overview is just that. It’s a short, sweet reminder of what the campaign is for and how you’re going to achieve your goals.

Targeted Term (types of frogs) – In general, you want to use “long-tail” key phrases. Briefly, “long-tail” search terms are phrases such as “big cheap couches”. The reasoning is simple. With a “long-tail” key phrase, you also have “short-tail” key phrases such as “big couches” and “cheap couches”.

Not only that, but people are searching for more involved queries. One search may be “how many types of frogs are there,” for example. Another might search, “types of frogs in Canada.”

Call-to-Action (We want people to follow the client on social, share the page and give their information for a gated download to read more about frogs.) – The call to action should be very specific. “We want them to do X.” When reviewing the PLP, you can then use it as a checklist. “Can the people easily do X?”

Design the Landing Page

What is your page going to look like? Remember, an entire marketing campaign is going to rest on the success of this one landing page. You do NOT want to take this step lightly. When building your landing page (or looking at one you already have), keep in mind that you want to:

  • Show professionalism – First impressions are everything. Make sure the design is sleek, professional and in line with your goal.
  • Inspire trust – If you’re a member of your local BBB, provide Paypal or are registered with HackerSafe, use these logos on your landing page. Logos take little room, and these specific logos have been proven to inspire trust.
  • Keep them on the page – Limit your navigation. You don’t need a lot of links around your website on a preferred landing page; these are only ways for them to leave the page. If they leave the page before conversion, you’ve lost them.
  • Keep it focused – If you’re using ads, your ad has a call to action also, so match your landing page with the ad. For instance, if your ad says “Get the Ultimate Frog Guide”, you want your landing page to say something like “The Ultimate Frog Guide is Her” Use the same phrases on both the ad and the page.

Read What Type of Landing Page Do I Use? for more information, as well as 35 Beautiful Landing Page Design Examples to Drool Over for inspiration.

Creating Content

The marketing campaign is the first step; the second is creating the content with your chosen key terms, geared toward your CTA. It needs to be as specific to your topic as the keywords are, and to be informative or interesting in some way. Just because the visitor has reached your page doesn’t mean they’ll stay there. This is what your content is for.

Let’s look at what possible types of content we’ll need for our marketing campaign:

Downloadable, Gated Asset (Ultimate Guide to Canada’s Frogs & Toads) – An e-book style piece of content that people will be willing to give their information for.

Onpage Content (The Many Types of Frogs & Toads) – An article, which offers the gated asset somewhere on the page.

Knowledge Survey (How many types of frogs do you know?) – While you don’t want to bury the page content too much, studies have shown the people like interactive content. Adding something as simple as a survey or a brief video can up the share value of a page.

Call-to-action (Download our Ultimate Guide, follow us on Twitter, view our YouTube videos, Like us on Facebook) – Remember what you want your visitors to the PLP to do. Write up the CTAs to match those actions.

Social posts (How many types of frogs do you know? Click here to answer the question!) – Having your social posts ready helps ensure that your marketing message stays on track. You want to keep the dots connected and seamless throughout planning, creating, posting and marketing.

Emails to webmasters or bloggers (We’ve just posted this great piece your readers might be interested in) – At some point in time you may want other websites to link to your PLP. If you’ve planned this ahead of time, there’s no harm in writing up a few emails that coincide with your content offering. While we don’t encourage templated emails, it doesn’t hurt to have a few to work with.

Ads  (Read our Ultimate Guide) – If you plan on paid advertising via Pay Per Click (PPC) or other method, now’s the time to create your advertising banners, ad content and so on. Again, this is about keeping the dots connected. The user sees the advertising banner, clicks on it, and the link brings them to your landing page – which is geared toward that particular advertisement. You pay a fee for the click, but you also have a viable user – in other words, one that’s already interested in your product or information.

Images, infographics or other content (Image of a large green frog and a question mark, for the top of the page ) – While you might not want an infographic to be on the same page as the offer for the Ultimate Guide, you could create a post with the infographic that leads back to your PLP. The possibilities are pretty endless here. The main takeaway is “keep it interesting.”

Monitor, Test & Track for Better Landing Page ROI

If you look at business in terms of the Internet and long term, you have to realize the winner isn’t chosen by how much traffic they bring in, but by their return on investment (ROI). While you can buy traffic, steal traffic and cheat traffic with non-ethical techniques, the question is, does that traffic convert?

If you have ads out there, traffic becomes expensive; good ad placement can quickly cost thousands without any conversion. The same can be said for landing pages. When you pay high stakes for preferred landing pages, it’s important to place a high commitment on those landing pages for better conversion rates.

After all, you’re putting a lot of work into your marketing campaign and creating all the content surrounding it. If you just publish and walk off, are you doing your part to make sure you get the best returns you can?

The Conversion Process

How does conversion actually work? When you place an ad, rank in the search results, send out social posts, or any other form of marketing, there are a set of steps the visitor goes through to convert. Each step is a place where your conversion path can sidetrack and you can lose the visitor – and all that work goes to waste.

Once you’ve published your landing page and set your marketing campaign in motion, the next step is to watch the PLPs performance. Each part below is a place to monitor, test and tweak to get the highest ROI possible.

Step #1: Seeing your ad, search snippet, social post, etc.

It doesn’t matter where your link is found, the conversion process starts the same way. A potential site visitor (not even a potential customer yet) sees the link.

Step #2: Clicking through to your landing page.

Either it catches their interest and they click, or it doesn’t – and they don’t. Clicking on the link (click-through rate) implies a certain degree of interest.

Step #3: Reading your landing page.

Once they get to the page, either they read – or they don’t. If they see copy that doesn’t fit the link, the chances of them turning away are higher.  For this reason, your landing page should be relevant to the search term you targeted. For example, our client has a search placement for “types of frogs”, so our headline is The Many Types of Frogs & Toads.

Step #4: Understanding the offer.

Buyers are savvier than ever. They’ve learned about the fine print, marketers, so be careful with what you put in there. Somewhere in the content, they’re going to be trying to answer:

  • What’s the offer?
  • What’s the catch?
  • What’s the cost?

You’d better be prepared to answer these questions within the body of the landing page itself. If your PLP is product-focused, it’s always best to lead with benefits and follow with features. Benefits answer the question, “what can this product/service help me with?” In other words, “benefits” reaches out to whatever their pain is. Features answer the question, “what all comes with this product/service?”

Example: A benefit of SEO is higher traffic. A feature is link building.

Step #5: Accepting the offer and ACTING.

They understand the offer, catch and cost, and are now looking for a clear-cut sign of what to do next. Make this step very clear and prominent. You don’t want them hunting for it. Make sure they know what will happen next when they do act, whether they’ll receive an email, start a download, etc.

Step #6: Gaining security and trust.

At some point, depending on how long it takes them to see some results, the converted individual will have second thoughts. They get that slightly nauseated “uhhh” feeling. Rather than let them have any time to get that feeling, give them some kind of encouragement.

For example, a pop up window or thank you page is always nice. “You will be receiving an order confirmation in the mail. However, in the meantime, please accept this free gift as our thanks” – or something to that effect. Don’t let them leave without some sort of thank you and acknowledgement of their action.

For our client, they’ll have a nice download and an offer to follow on social channels.

Testing Your Conversion Process

A ton of traffic doesn’t mean a ton of conversions. If you’re going to pay for that traffic through hard work, agency help, content creation and so on, you want to ensure you get the ROI you need. With this in mind, you always test your landing page for stronger conversion points.

Each step above is an important part of the conversion process; the link itself draws them in, the call to action (and thank you) completes the process. If you’re not getting the ROI, test each area of your landing page one at a time for better conversions and higher returns.

Final Thoughts

In a marketer’s dreams, it’d be great to have an entire site where each page is pointed to a specific topic, highly optimized, targeted and ranked. Life is seldom the stuff of dreams, however. It takes hard work to creating landing pages, and even harder work to create landing pages that convert.

Having said that, it IS possible. While it may require a little time investment on your part, there are two things that will make a huge difference in any marketing campaign with a preferred landing page as the focus.

One, take the extra effort and time to keep the dots connected. Keep the campaign on track through every step. Two, always test and tweak your landing pages. Your ROI can only get better!