landing pages

Are landing pages really needed?

July 22, 2013 by Leave a comment

 

I had to go to Wal-Mart the other day to get some plastic bins to pack up some stuff that we were going to put into storage. When I got there, I found out that they had changed the layout since the last time I had been there, so the great hunt for the bins had to be undertaken.

 

For the next 10 minutes or so, I walked up and down several isles, getting more and more irritated by my inability to find what I had gone there to get. Being a stereotypical man, I didn't want to ask anyone where they might be located. I just figured I'd eventually find them. After my long search, I finally found the isle that held the bins I was looking for. Mission accomplished.

 

What, you may ask, does this have to do with landing pages? Quite a lot actually. When someone comes to your website looking for something specific, whether it's due to an advertisement they've read, a friend referred them, or from Googling you, they want to see specifically what they were looking for. The last thing they want to do, after arriving at your site, is to hunt around for said item.

 

Another parallel is that, during my search, I really don't remember what was on any of the shelves when I was walking down any of those isles. It wasn't until after I found what I was looking for that I really took notice of what was around me. The same is true for your web visitors. Assuming they stick around long enough, and are motivated enough, to try to search for the item they want, they're not going to notice anything else you have to offer until they find what they came to your site for in the first place.

 

Granted, having many things to choose from is great when someone is just browsing around your store, or website, a customer is never going to browse around until after they accomplish their mission of finding whatever they came to you for first. Then, and only then, does it make sense to offer items directly related to what they were looking for originally.

 

What I mean by this is, if someone comes to your site looking for a specific type of surfboard, then an appropriate landing page is going to talk about nothing other than that surfboard. It's only after that prospect puts said board in the cart that it might make sense to suggest surfboard wax, but not a car battery.

 

Once your prospect makes their purchase, and only then, should you ever route them to your main site. Granted, you may lose a few sales here and there because your new customer doesn't want to create a second order. You'll lose a lot more sales though by diluting the focus of your sales message before they made their first purchase.

 

It's always a lot easier to get a customer to buy from you again than it is to get them to make an initial purchase. So creating a landing page that helps them overcome their buyer's resistance will do more to help you create a relationship than just throwing a bunch of products at them and hoping one catches their interest.

 

What do you think? Do you feel landing pages aren't worth the time and effort to create, or do you feel that it's a great online advertising tool?

 

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Published in General Post

Why use landing pages?

April 1, 2013 by Leave a comment

In the offline world of direct marketing, one of the main components of a successful marketing letter is only having one "Big Idea". The more ideas you try to introduce into your sales letter, the less effective it becomes. One reason behind this is due to giving the prospect more information to think over. This gives them more reasons and opportunities to say no to your offer.

Everything in your marketing letter should focus on supporting and strengthening that one big idea. Most top direct response copywriters would tend to agree.

The question then becomes, if it's such an important and effective method to improve the response rate for offline marketing material, then wouldn't it stand to reason that it's just as important to your online marketing? In many cases, it's even more important since you usually have less time to make an impression.

For example, one of the more popular methods for advertising on the web is by pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC is a method to have your advertising message to show up on search results by means of specific search terms. Having the right keywords can make or break your PPC marketing plan.

If these keywords are popular, it can become very expensive to have your ad show up enough times to justify the expense. Say someone is interested in a specific make and model of TV, like a XYZ super LCD. When they go to the search engines to find someone who sells a XYZ super LCD, assuming you paid enough, your ad for that particular make and model TV would show up at the top of the search results.

All that money would be a waste if your ad directed them to your main website homepage. Your visitor will take one look at your main page, scan it for less than 10 seconds, and unless you have something on that page that talks about that make and model of TV, they’re going to hit their back button, leave your site, and go to the next one down the list.

The main reason for this is due to the belief and understanding that, because that ad showed at the top of the search, it would have specific information about that product. The second, and just as important, reason is due to having multiple choices to make, like which link to click on to get them closer to their goal.

Most websites have a lot of links and other distractions that show up on the front page. All these distractions weaken the PPC ad that you used to draw this prospect to your site. What makes much better sense is to remove as many distractions as possible.  This is where a landing page would come in.

A landing page is, for the most part, the online equivalent of a direct marketing letter. Everything on a landing page is designed specifically to focus your prospect down the sales funnel until they make the buying decision. It does this in several ways.

The biggest reason is that it provides continuity between the PPC ad copy and the landing page copy. When done correctly, the prospect has no confusion as to whether the landing page relates to the PPC ad. If the ad stated, “Click here to see the lowest prices for XYZ super LCD,” then the landing page would have a headline that would follow along the lines of, “The lowest prices for XYZ super LCD anywhere on the web, guaranteed!”

Another way the landing page works is by stripping away all other distractions on the page. When built correctly, a landing page is only going to have information or sales copy that directly connects to the information that brought them here. Continuing with our example, the landing page would only talk about XYZ super LCD. There wouldn’t be any links, unless they lead the customer further down the sales funnel, on the page to lead them to other pages on the site. In fact, there would be no way to get of this page except by either continuing further down the sales funnel, i.e. Buy now, or by hitting the back arrow.

The way the copy on the landing page is written would also be laser focused to draw the prospect further and further down the sales funnel until they reach the point where they have to make a buying decision.

Said another way, there is nothing on this page to distract the customer from concentrating on the object of their desire, no mistake that they’re on the wrong page, and everything is designed to help them buy what they were originally searching for.

Unless you’re willing to develop such focused pages to complement your online, and even offline, marketing, you’re going to see very poor results from your marketing efforts. The name of the game is focus and continuity with your marketing efforts. Anything less is going to be wasted money.

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Published in Articles, General

The importance of navigation clarity and simplicity

October 1, 2012 by Leave a comment

One of the major faults a website can have, beyond not having valuable content, is having a poor site navigational flow. What I mean by this is, how many clicks does it take your visitors to find the information they're looking for. If you're unsure, you may be losing a significant amount of prospects because of it.

One of the most important things you can do to make it easy to navigate your site is to reduce the amount of clicks it takes to get from where they arrive at your site to where they want to be. To understand why, you must first understand how someone would arrive at your site in the first place.

One of the more important things to keep in mind is that not every visitor starts at your homepage and proceeds from there. Your website isn't like a standalone storefront where everyone has to come in the front door and proceed to the section they're looking for. Because of the way the internet works, it acts more like a mall than a standalone building. There's going to be multiple entry points to your site.

Hopefully, some of these entry points are going to be from organic searches done from a search engine. This works by having relevant information on your site that the search engine indexes. After it gets indexed, when someone types in their search terms for what they're looking for, the search engine looks at its index and displays the results for the prospect to review. The more pertinent the information, the higher on the page it displays.

For example, if someone is searching for a specific brand/style of shoe, if you have that particular shoe available on your site, the search results would provide a link to that specific page of your site, not your homepage.

Paid for searches may also be an entry point for your site. If you're utilizing some form of pay per click (PPC) marketing program, then you'd be able to specify which page the searcher would arrive at. Having that prospect arrive at your home page wouldn't be the best use of the traffic generated by your PPC efforts. I'll delve further into the reasons why in my next article.

A third possible way for someone to come across your site could be due to your offline marketing programs. Integrating your online and offline marketing efforts will only improve your results from both. What can really improve the results of both is having a landing page created specifically for each offline marketing package so you can increase the relevance of the information the prospect sees when they go from your offline marketing effort to your website.

A final way someone might arrive at your site is by referral. This method you really don't have any direct control over. This referral could be from someone telling their friends about your products and services, it could be from someone's blog entry, or it could be from some type of review site. Either way, it's traffic that you have no control over where it's coming from or where on your site they're being directed to.

So to review, web traffic can from:

  • Organic searches
  • Paid for searches
  • Offline marketing efforts
  • Referrals

Now that you know how someone makes it to your website, how they move around your site will be easier to understand. The harder it is for someone to find what they're looking for on your site, the more likely it is that they're going to click the back button and leave so they can look elsewhere.

Every time someone has to click on a link to find information, the more likely they are to leave your site. In other words, you're going to lose a certain percentage of visitors every time they have to go to another page to find the information they're looking for.

Ideally, you want the information they're looking for located on the first page they arrive at. Realistically, you want to aim for three or less clicks to get from where they arrive to where they want to be. This is especially important for sites that offer products for sale.

Think about sites like Amazon.com®. When you arrive at their site, they have popular categories listed on the left and a search bar on the top. Entering a search term returns relevant results based off of popularity and how well it matches the search term. Clicking on the link gets them to the page they want.

That's all done in 3 clicks. If it's what they wanted, they can purchase it in as little as one click. It might seem simple but it's a very important concept to remember when developing your site. Keep the navigation simple and limit the number of clicks a visitor needs to click on to get their information.

 

What do you think? How big of an impact do you think your site's navigation is having on either keeping your visitors on your site or causing them to leave for a site that's easier to navigate? I welcome your comments.

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Published in Articles, General