Last month we introduced the concept of website landing pages, and discussed a few key ideas on how they can be used. This month, we’ll look at some ways to develop effective landing pages. I mentioned last month that landing pages are typically used when you have an understanding of who the visitor is, which is usually determined by the click they made to arrive at your site. This means that the content of a landing page can be highly targeted, providing maximum impact for a specific audience. With that in mind, here are a few principles to observe when developing landing pages.
Create Instant Affinity and Credibility
The top half of the first screen should be used to create an instant confirmation that the visitor has arrived on the ‘right’ page. Consider using taglines, images, and what I call a ‘positioning statement’ (basically a longer version of a tagline, usually about 12-15 words) to establish your stake in the ground, and let your visitor know exactly what the site is about.
Use Specific Headlines and Sub-Heads
Using a distinct page headline and sub-heads throughout the page can give the visitor an understanding of your information at a quick glance. This will help a visitor to make the decision to actually read the text, or to decide which sections of the text they are interested in. The longer your page, the more necessary this type of ‘chunking’ becomes.
Focus on a Specific Goal
It’s true to say that a landing page can really only accomplish one primary goal. Typical goals might be a product purchase or a lead capture mechanism such as a free download, or trial. Or, the goal might be to entice the visitor to click further into your main website. Either way, focusing on the goal will make for the best results.
Use Multiple Calls to Action
No, this isn’t a contradiction of my advice to focus on a specific goal. I’m talking about making multiple calls to the same action. This is especially critical on a long landing page. If your page doesn’t go below the fold, there’s probably no need for more than one call to action. In general, I’d suggest placing one call to action above the fold, and one at the bottom of the page.
Use Effective Layout and Design
How you use graphic design and layout will be as varied as the products you sell. There are however, some design principles that just make sense. Here are a few:
- For readability, keep text columns narrow – no wider than about 80 characters.
- If you’re selling a physical product, feature a picture of it (often called a hero shot). Make sure the quality of the image is good.
- Images will tend to draw peoples eyes, so place key text (probably the offer) below product hero shots or other appealing graphics.
The Secret Sauce
The principles listed above will get you on the right track but the real secret sauce is testing. Once you’ve developed your landing page, track the results (using analytics software, see my January 2006 article “Use Web Analytics to Improve Profits” for a period of time and then make a change. Continue to track whether your results improve. If they do, make another change, if they don’t, go back to the original version and try a different change. We’ve seen this type of testing improve landing page results many times over!