Where Are Your Visitors Landing? 5 Things Every Landing Page Must Possess

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Pay-per-click costs are rising. Read any news and you’ll hear “doubling and tripling” of bid costs across the major search engines. This coupled with a shortage of qualified supply makes the environment rich for hyper-competitiveness even within niche markets.

How do you compete in a hyper-competitive bid market?

You compete through employing…“Landing pages”.

A landing page is a web page or group of web pages (i.e., microsite) developed strategically for high relevance with a specific keyword or keyword theme. The relevance is determined by the search keywords associated with your paid search campaign, such as:

  • What is the visitor’s intent when using a particular keyword?
  • Is the keyword relevant to what you have to offer the visitor?
  • What does the visitor expect to find by clicking through your ad?

A landing page is created using this insight in order to focus a visitor’s attention without unnecessary distractions. It is then considered relevant – this means, according to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, it has “significant and demonstrable bearing on facts or issues.”

Relevancy is a key factor because a keyword search shows the intent of a person wanting to achieve a goal. By presenting a relevant paid search ad and continuing that relevancy to the landing page, you lead the person towards goal achievement.

For example, if a Google search is performed on the keyword “buy pink ipod nano” and your paid search ad appears, attracts the searcher’s attention, and generates a click-through, the searcher “now-turned” visitor should land on a web page that presents relevant copy and images. The landing page should be laser-focused on a “pink ipod nano” with a clearly displayed call-to-action, details about the Nano, and specific credibility assurances to gain the visitor’s confidence in ordering.

Relevancy, though, is in the eye of the beholder. A paramount issue for you is determining which elements – product or service benefits, credibility-builders, security statements and conveniences – are relevant for each visitor. Too often we regard paid search traffic as an aggregate and forget that each click represents a unique person approaching your website with a personal set of buying, browsing and usability behaviors.

For example, if you have five unique visitors clicking through from the keyword “buy pink ipod nano,” they may each attribute different relevancy values to your landing page elements due to priority, personal importance, where they are in their buying process, or all three concurrently. To speak to these individuals on a personally relevant level requires a landing page that addresses each of these elements simultaneously and presents them in a way that attracts the right visitors’ attention at the right time.

What are the top five landing page elements to focus on?

There are a large number of variables that influence the success of a landing page. The process of selecting the right elements is made easier by narrowing your keyword and keyword themes per landing page, but in most cases when we work with our clients to maximize landing page performance, we consider these five elements first:

1. Overall design arrangement

The overall design of the landing page is essential. When developing a new landing page, begin with a solid foundation of understanding your customer and defining your primary objective. Ask yourself what your customers expect to find and what goal they want to achieve when they search on a particular keyword.

Realize that the keywords you select and the searchers’ intentions that they represent affect the type of action you can expect to get from a visitor.

For example, if you bid on the keyword “real estate” and you want the visitor to buy a real estate book from your landing page, you cannot expect to achieve a significant conversion rate. Even when using a negatively-qualifying paid search ad that aims to filter through unqualified click-throughs, you will still get curious visitors without the intent to buy.

Next, sketch out the major landing page elements on a sheet of paper. Develop a blueprint of where elements like the headline, body text, image, form, credibility-logos and so on should go to fit the expectations and goals of your visitors. Identify which elements, such as your headline, are variables for future A/B split-testing.

Third, fill your sketch in with specific design elements, focusing on the expectations and goals of your visitors. Add color to encourage eye flow to the high priority elements and select font type and size to fit your visitors. For support and creative ideas, read and view case studies from MarketingSherpa.com, which provide excellent examples of highly-performing landing pages. The site also offers a powerful e-book on Landing Page development.

2. Headline

The headline on your landing page needs to create immediate relevancy for the visitor. Using the keyword in the headline works very well even when the keyword is the only word or phrase!

Because your headline is an essential element on your landing page, test it frequently using a basic A/B split-testing format where you run two different headlines against one another while keeping all other landing page elements constant for a set period of time. A rule of thumb is to achieve at least 50 actions on one of the landing pages before declaring a winner.

Try short versus long headlines, and alter font size, color, and individual words. Just remember, concentrate on what your visitors expect to find and want to achieve when they reach your landing page.

3. Call-to-Action Button Text

Depending on your primary objective, such as a form completion or a product sale, the call-to-action button text is important. We have experienced some surprising results when testing different button text copy. The best practice is to carry-through the headline and keyword intention directly into the button text.

For example, if the click-through occurred from the keyword “build a resume online” and the headline stated “Build a Resume Online,” the initial form button text may state, “Start to build your resume online” or “Build resume Online.” When considering your button text you have to also consider:

  1. What you are asking the visitor to perform?
  2. What step occurs immediately after the visitor performs this task?
  3. What assurance does the visitor need to complete this task?

Don’t forget to think about the button color, size and shape required to support your text in order to draw attention to it.

4. Credibility Assurances by Call-to-Action Button

On the Internet, people are naturally skeptical. If a hyperlink or form button represents a door to the unknown, wouldn’t you prefer to know what to expect after you click it?

The context in which you place your offer has to build credibility, comfort and confidence with your visitor right down to the moment when they choose to (or not to) click the call-to-action button.

Think about what may cause a visitor to stall and what concerns they need to resolve prior to committing to the click-through. Address this from the moment the visitor thinks about it and support it further through the point of click.

5. Image

Depending on the action you want a visitor to take, such as to complete a form or buy a product, an image may add (or subtract) value. For a product sale, an image is essential. (It speaks a thousand words!) In some cases mutliple images depicting different angles of the product or the product in-use adds greater value than a single picture.

For service companies, an image can create strong associations and provide meaning with extra relevance in support of the expectations and goals of the visitors.

Only use an image if it builds relevancy. Using a picture solely as a design element simply takes up space and distracts visitors’ attention. Research in direct marketing has proved that photographs, especially of children, draw attention. If you place a photo far away from your primary offer, you may be jeopardizing your conversion potential.

Through more than three years of experience developing and testing landing pages, I can tell you that the most essential element to success is to intimately know your visitors’ expectations and goals. The cliché “walking in your visitors’ shoes” is so important that if planned effectively, it can cause a landing page to generate 100% to 1,000% increases to your conversion rates. With such strong conversion rate improvements, you’ll be profitable even in the most highly-competitive bid environments.

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).