What are Marketing Landing Pages?
Marketing landing Pages? Never heard of them!
You may not know it, but chances are you’ve encountered landing pages before. You’ve probably seen them, even used them, while visiting someone else’s website.
Like many small business owners who rely on their online presence to get the word out about their product, small press publishing and self-publishing authors are mostly unaware of what landing pages are. So, let’s start by explaining what landing pages are before we dive into why you need them.
In the broadest sense of the term, landing pages are any page upon which online traffic can “land” upon (arrive at your website) via search engine results. In practical terms, landing pages are solitary pages on a site that are optimized to draw in traffic via search engines in order to serve a very particular purpose.
In some instances, a landing page is meant to provide information to visiting traffic. Through images, video media, and written content, the landing page informs visitors about a very particular topic. Although common for education purposes, there is not much commercial use for such reference landing pages.
Another type of landing pages that sees some but not much use in commercial websites are those that act as something of a collective waystation between other websites or pages. These referral landing pages draw in the traffic via their optimization. They then disseminate that traffic to other websites or pages on the same site via provided links and the like. These landing pages serve as a sort of directory that first brings traffic in and then helps people choose more refined, relevant information from that point onwards.
Such landing pages can be helpful to commercial websites that can successfully work this into their business model. This can include selling ad space on the landing page or exposing the captured traffic to it before they go elsewhere. Hever, by and large it is diverting and delays selling for the purposes of most commercial sites. Which brings us to the most common of the landing pages used on commercial websites:
Lead capturing landing pages (or converting landing pages) are designed to draw in a specific sort of traffic using search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. They then work to get that traffic to complete a “transaction” of some sort. Clearly, for many commercial websites, this transaction is literally a sale. These landing pages pull in sales leads from the targeted consumer market and then try to make that sale. For other lead capturing landing pages, this transaction is of a different sort, such as obtaining information; getting traffic to subscribe to a blog, newsletter, or service; and so on.
This latter use is the meat and potatoes of what you need to learn about. You must discover how to use landing pages to net traffic and then push visitors into buying immediately or subscribing to your marketing strategy to keep them coming back.
How do Marketing Landing Pages Work?
I’ve written landing pages for my own purposes, but also as a freelance copywriter for other companies. While doing so, I’ve seen how design philosophies on what makes for effective landing pages will differ, depending on who you listen to and what one is hoping to achieve. However, there are some common elements made necessary by the nature of what these pages do.
Design for Success
To be at their most effective, landing pages must typically be:
1) Focused on a Single Task: Do not allow a landing page’s focus to shift or waver. Their singular focus is what makes landing pages so effective at what they do. If you want to sell your new book, get people to follow you on Twitter (more on social media later) or subscribe to your newsletter, you need separate landing pages for each task. Do not have a single page serve all three functions combined.
2) Isolated: Keep landing pages apart from the rest of your website. You can even give them entirely unique appearances and layouts intended to best serve the page’s focused purpose.
This means you can link to the landing page from the rest of your website — preferably from an obscure location that won’t divert from the rest of your site’s purpose. Doing so helps with indexing and your sitemap. But do not link from the landing pages to the rest of your site in return.
The obvious exception would be linking to the part of your website that is the landing page’s focus, such as your store front.
3) Limited in its Options: The more options you present traffic netted by your landing pages, the less likely they are to go where you want them.
This is why you keep your landing pages isolated from the rest of your website.
This is why you don’t post links to your Facebook page, blog, or other websites that give traffic options to bounce off without completing the task your landing page is intended to serve.
Ideally, your landing page should give two options for traffic: go where you want them to or they leave the website to go somewhere else entirely. (Obviously, the former is preferable.) Remember: focus, people, focus!
4) Search Engine Optimized: All content, permalinks, etc. should follow current SEO best practices. The purpose of using landing pages is to draw in traffic from search engine results, after all, and it does so by focusing on the most appropriate keywords that will bring in relevant traffic.
One of the primary advantages of using landing pages is it lets you focus on high-value keywords specifically related to your objective. The ability of your homepage and other parts of your website to do this is diluted by the need to share the spotlight with other things.
Don’t try to use too many high-value keyword phrases in a single landing page, however. If you find there are too many high-value keywords to effectively use on one landing page, create multiple landing pages. Each separate landing page will use different keywords but serve the same purpose (but do not just otherwise copy over duplicate content.)
Because the purpose of a landing page is to be shared around and draw attention, be sure it’s Open Graph and rich snippets details are all in order.
5) Brief and On-Target: You want to push traffic to convert towards your goal, whatever it may be. So, you don’t want to be long-winded by providing too much information, going into too much detail, and the like. Keep it to 250 to 350 words before your call to action.
If you feel converting traffic towards your goal requires a lot of explanation and content to get your message across, how focused can your landing page’s goal truly be? Maybe it’s time to rethink your objective.
Effective landing pages are linear in their progression. They have an opening (eye-catching incentive to keep reading), a middle (informative and compelling sales pitch), and an end (call to action.) Keep the traffic’s progress through this quick and free from distraction.
6) Selling, Selling, Always Selling: All content should be pushing towards converting traffic towards the transaction. This doesn’t mean clubbing visitors over the head with your sales pitch, but you still need to always be selling. Once you’ve made your pitch, end things off with an on-point call to action.
A call to action is your instruction for what you want the traffic to do. “Click here,” “buy now,” and “fill out the form for more information” are all standard (if brief) calls to action. You may want something longer, but not too long — you’re essentially giving a (polite and friendly) command that is the tail of your sales pitch.
7) Working Towards what Works Best for You: Obviously, there can be exceptions to these rules when one’s purpose is served by doing so, but you’d better be very certain you know what you are doing by breaking these fundamental rules of landing pages. (And, if you’re able, test, re-test, and test some more using analytics and A/B testing techniques to ensure these rule-breaking choices are operating as intended.)
Get Your Marketing Landing Pages Noticed
Once your landing pages have been built appropriately, you spread the word about them. The goal here is to get them to index so they will begin appearing in valuable search results (so don’t forget to ping them.)
Post links through social media with the hope of getting your networks to spread it around. This is when your Open Graph settings come in handy — it keeps your message uniform.
Visit relevant forums and post your link in an appropriate area. If member accounts allow signatures and links to your landing pages to it so they will appear with each of your posts.
Do you have a blog? Launch your landing pages with a blog post, letting all your subscribers know about it.
Once you have made the world aware of your landing pages’ existence, traffic will begin landing on them. Don’t just do this once, however; take advantage of additional opportunities after this initial launch to keep spreading links to your landing pages. Link building is an on-going process — the more of it you do, the greater the chance people will continue to spread the word.
Once the traffic lands on your page, your intro should get them interested enough to go on and read your primary content, which should include your pitch. That pushes traffic down to your call to action, at which point they should be convinced to convert as per your intention or they will bounce off.
Either way, keep on top of your analytics so you can keep track of traffic behaviour. You may need to tweak something or make massive changes if you notice your traffic is generating a lot of leads that are not converting.
Social Media and Landing Pages
There is a strong connection between most landing pages and social media, especially the social media networks you use to promote your products, business, and/or writing. However, as is often the case with self-publishing, small businesses, and the like, social media is not always used appropriately on landing pages.
Never lose sight of the fact that you want to keep the options traffic faces to the absolute minimum needed to reach your conversion goals. You certainly don’t want it bouncing away randomly or, only slightly less worse, following a link from your landing pages to another website of your choice that has nothing to do with your conversion goals.
This being so, do not add links to your social media resources to your landing pages. Social media networks should be sending traffic to your landing pages, not the other way around.
If someone wants to have a look at your Facebook page afterward, for example, that is all well and good. However, don’t assume they will do so after completing your conversion goal just because you put the link to your Facebook page after your call to action. Having that Facebook page link anywhere on your landing page represents an unacceptable increase in the chance of your leads not converting.
Instead, limit the presence of social media on your landing pages to “follow” and “share” buttons. This allows inbound leads to help spread word of your landing pages without having to go elsewhere. Whether they choose to join your social networks or share that one page with theirs, they never leave your landing page while doing so. This means their chance of converting as desired has not been affected.
Still, keep your conversion goals in mind when placing social media capabilities on landing pages. You don’t want them located or displayed in a way that puts the focus on them rather than your conversion goals.
The Value of Marketing Landing Pages to Self-Publishing Authors / Small Businesses
My publishing company, Misfit Studios, makes use of landing pages. As a company that doesn’t just publish my own work but also that of other authors, I unfortunately find that creating as many landing pages as I’d otherwise hope to have just never seems to reach the top of my priorities. This is because I’ve always got a product that needs helping out the door. Still, what I have managed to piece together works very well for me.
You can see by visiting here (scroll down) that I have posted links to my landing pages on my product indexing page. This keeps the links out of the way, keeping the focus on my products, but allows crawlers to see the landing pages for indexing and makes them more useful in terms of my sitemap.
As you can see, all of my landing pages are very simple in their design and share a common design formula that stands apart from the rest of my website. I want the content and call to action to be the heroes of my landing pages rather than anything flashy or otherwise distracting.
You’ll notice that most of my landing pages do not focus on a single conversion outcome — they are not showcasing a single product. Because I am employing long tail marketing strategies, I concentrate more on product lines than individual products. As such, many of my landing pages provide more sales conversion options than would normally be available on a transaction-oriented landing page. This is not for everyone (indeed, it’s pretty much useless unless you are writing a series of books or have extensive product lines such as myself.) It works for me because most of my products have such original names already that going after the general market is more relevant to my selling tactics.
Also note the social media follow and share links. There are no links to my social media sites themselves, but traffic arriving at my landing pages can help spread the word without bouncing away. This is an important part of my marketing strategy, so I’ve made the social media buttons noticeable rather than hiding them or making them secondary. Indeed, social media conversion through my landing pages is as essential to my marketing strategy as is making a sale.
If you want to begin using this marketing strategy in your own website, there are plenty of tutorials online that can help you with effective design tips for putting together landing pages. Steven Trustrum Marketing also offers related services, such as preparing appropriate marketing content to supercharge landing pages, or helping you build an effective template that you can use to build multiple landing pages.