When planning a design for a website, we think about the target audience, however there’s typically more than one audience we’re communicating to. Many websites, particularly the homepage, must cater to a number of different visitors who have arrived for various reasons. Visitors can include potential customers, current customers, investors, media, prospective employees, and potential or current partners.
It’s likely that most of the visitors you’d like to target will be potential customers, however you can’t neglect other visitors and the information they are searching for as well. So how can you effectively communicate to all of these visitors who are visiting your website for different reasons without having a negative impact on conversions. This is where targeted landing pages can help.
While a homepage must address various audiences, a landing page can speak directly to a target market. You should have the goal of using targeted landing pages for each channel such as paid search and display advertising, or for a specific promotion such as a sale or new feature release for your app for example.
Define a “Conversion”
Before you can start work on a landing page you’ll need to define a conversion for the page. When we think of a conversion we immediately think of someone purchasing a product or service via our website, however a conversion can be defined in a number of ways. For example, you may want a visitor to sign up for your email newsletter, sign up for an e-course, complete a form for a trial account or complete a contact form to request a quote. You should never have more than one conversion goal for a single landing page. So think about the goal of your landing page and this goal should serve as the foundation for all design decisions during the optimization process.
Creating a Consistent Experience for the Visitor
While the landing page is critical to the conversion, the experience for a user begins before they arrive to your landing page. Take a step back and look at the design and copy for the ads you’ll be using. Your ad should be consistent with the landing page and have a similar look and feel and messaging. If it’s a banner ad that you’re using be sure to use a similar color scheme for the banner ad and landing page, same imagery, and same fonts. It sounds simple and straightforward, however you’d be surprised at the number of people who do not create consistent messaging and feel across their ads and landing pages.
As you design your landing pages and ads, think about creating a consistent look and feel across the two. It will help in your branding efforts, have an immediate impact on the visitor’s experience, and increase conversions.
Give Visitors a Sense of Security
Whether your goal is to convert a visitor into a paying customer or simply to get a visitor to sign-up for your email newsletter, you must give them a sense of security. A couple of ways this can be accomplished is with icons and copy. For instance, landing page tests have proven that an icon of a “lock” near a link to purchase will help conversions. Security graphics and “site seals” from services like HackerSafe and VeriSign have also shown to have a positive impact on conversions. Testimonials from customers can have a major impact on conversions. Start collecting testimonials, if you aren’t already, and post these near the call-to-action. It can have an immediate impact on your conversion rate.
In terms of your email newsletter or e-course it’s always helpful to add a line that ensures the visitor their email address or information will never be shared with third parties. It’s also a best practice to let visitors know how often they can expect to receive emails from you as well. If you can provide these visual queues for your visitors it will provide an additional level of confidence and increase the chances that they will take the desired action.
Resist the Temptation to Give a Visitor Multiple Paths
Once a visitor has clicked an ad and arrives to your landing page you want them to take a specific action whether it’s signing up for your newsletter or signing up for a trial of your software. You’ve worked to create a consistent look and feel, along with a consistent message. The visitor is now on your page and engaged with your content. What you have communicated via your ad has interested the user and they’re taking a closer look. They are one step closer to taking the desired action. Once on your landing page you will lead them through the page via a headline, imagery, copy, and a call-to-action and hopefully they will convert. As you’re taking them down this path do not present other options that can distract them and take them away from the desired action you’d like for them to take. For instance, if your goal is for the visitor to sign up for a trial of your software, don’t include another form on the page where they can sign up for your email newsletter. Have a single action you want them to take and everything on the page should be focused on leading the visitor to that action.
What should you test?
Your landing page is made up of several primary elements that contribute to a conversion. These consist of a headline, imagery, body copy, and call-to-action. We know visitors have a very short attention span and will make a choice to stay or leave your landing page in a matter of seconds – literally. When a visitor lands on your page they will immediately read your headline and see the imagery and if those capture the attention of the visitor they will see the call-to-action and perhaps read the copy. When testing your landing pages you can have the greatest impact on conversions by testing various headlines and imagery, followed by call-to-action. That’s not to say you shouldn’t test the copy on the page, but the other three can have the greatest and most immediate impact.
In terms of copy, keep it short and to the point. Bullet points work great to clearly and concisely communicate to visitors, however you should lead into the bullet points with a few short sentences. While you’re testing various elements on your page, try testing the order of the bullet points. That has also been proven to affect conversions.
When testing headlines be sure that your ads share the same, or similar, headlines as your landing page. This will help create that consistent experience we mentioned earlier and help conversions. The same is true with imagery. Keep imagery consistent across any banners and your landing page.
In conclusion, you’re leading the visitor to a conversion. It starts by drawing their attention via an ad, whether it’s text-based or a banner ad, the visitor clicks and is then lead to your landing page. There must be consistency from the ad to the landing page to fulfill the visitor’s expectations after clicking the ad. Once on your landing page there should be a single action you’d like for them to take. Be clear and concise in how you communicate, keeping the copy short and to the point. You will then lead the visitor, via the headline and imagery, into the condensed copy and to your call-to-action. Be sure to provide the visual queues mentioned earlier to give them confidence in purchasing and/or sharing their information with you.
As you’re designing your landing pages remember that you only have seconds to grab the attention of a visitor, so you must include a headline that immediately tells the visitor that they’re in the right place. It should be consistent with what was included within the ad and it should clearly and concisely tell them what you do. Your copy should be short and to the point and bullet points allow you to capture the key aspects that you believe are most important to a visitor and allow the content to be digested quickly.
If you keep these best practices in mind while designing your landing pages this will help dramatically increase conversions. Remember, landing pages are something that you should be testing often. Design the first as a control and constantly challenge it. Once you find one that beats the control, start the process again.