Come with me on a journey to the past. To the 1990s specifically, when websites were websites and you knew what you were getting - even if a large amount of it was peppered with animated gifs and ‘splash screens’.
Back then, the online presence for any business, large or small, was a single website under a single domain. From the homepage you were able to access pretty much every aspect of the site. Whilst of course multiple audiences still visited these sites, the expectation was that they would ‘sort themselves out’ using the site’s navigation or search box.
Things have changed today. A greater understanding of the vital importance of conversion online means we no longer leave things to chance in this way. To the greatest extent possible, we infer what people are interested in from their acquisition source, and we deliver a focused experience just for them: landing pages.
The Rise Of The Landing Page
Before we go further let’s define landing page just in case anybody has been hanging out under a rock recently. A landing page is a single web page, focused on helping the user complete a single task (or perhaps more truthfully, guiding them towards it). As it is focused on that single task, it is delivered only to an audience assumed to be interested, usually established thanks to a knowledge of where those users came from.
The last 10 years have seen a phenomenal increase in the number and variety of landing pages that the average organisation builds. In many cases the most popular pages on a site are landing pages that are never seen by anyone arriving as an ‘organic’ visitor typing in a dotcom address.
Perhaps precisely because landing pages are ‘hidden’ in this way, there remain some organisations who have been slow to adopt these pages. That’s usually a mistake. Some reflection usually brings to the surface plenty of use cases for every type of business. Here’s a few examples:
A software company with multiple distinct product lines can send new users to a bespoke landing page for each product - and drive them towards opting in for a demo
A gallery with a specific exhibition can send users clicking on social posts to a page just for that event with an option to book tickets online
A web design agency that offers the optimisation of lead generation flows as a stand-alone service can send interested parties to a landing page focused on this offering, with the option to get in touch and discuss further (that’s us, in case you were wondering)
Tips For Building Successful Landing Pages
Take the time to find the tasks you want audiences to complete, and where landing pages can make that happen. It is a valuable exercise. When you’ve established where landing pages can improve your online performance, here’s four tips to make them really work:
- Start from the objective. This is the oldest and most important piece of advice when it comes to landing page design. Given the nature of the objective, make sure that everything on the page is designed and written to make it happen. Keep choice to a minimum, or remove it entirely. Ensure the visitor has everything they need to make a decision - and make the right decision!
- Make it easy to complete. This isn’t the time or place to get too clever. Make sure that the user is clear about what the next step is, and put it front and centre. Provide it as an option at the top of the landing page, and at regular intervals throughout. If you are using forms to collect information, err on the side of leaving things out rather than squeezing them in. More data can come later.
- Test it. Landing pages are ideal candidates for A/B testing and more. With a very clear conversion event and a single page to evaluate, it is easy to create multiple versions and explore multiple approaches in order to establish what works in the real world. One word of caution: make sure you make decisions on the back of statistically significant data. A hundred visits won’t be enough.
- Build for re-use. Some organisations have hundreds of landing pages live at any one time. Once you are committed to this approach, it is certainly true that you’ll find more and more situations in which ‘landing page’ is your first thought! So build in a way that allows multiple pages - even with different designs and structures - to be built (and tested) from a single template.