You’re only as good as the material you have to work with. When you look at your inbound marketing efforts under this lens, your focus immediately falls on the landing pages you’re driving traffic and potential customers to. If your landing pages bounce your visitors before you can engage them, then you have probably lost them forever.
Ray Grieselhuber, CEO and Founder, and Erin Robbins O’Brien, COO, GinzaMetrics dedicated a recent episode of FOUND Friday to discuss some high level strategies as well as some specific elements to help brands build better landing pages to help them meet strategic content marketing goals.
Landing Pages Defined
A landing page is a page on your website that you’re actively trying to drive traffic to. Think of your landing page as a starting point, a beginning of the customer journey. Although landing pages have been around for a long time and their use is commonly understood, creating pages that engage visitors and create prospects and customers is still a challenge for many brands. Some of the difficulties arise around the following confusions:
- How to optimize them
- How to host and manage them
- How to integrate them effectively into the rest of the site
- How to use them most effectively
Historically, only someone with technical acumen or actual website developers could design a website. Now, just about anyone can create a landing page and create content for that page very quickly. Over the years, landing pages have taken on a variety of roles – from email marketing mainstays to social media pages.
“The ability to create content and put up a landing page quickly has allowed some individuals to get sloppy or overly templated in their creation,” noted Erin, “What was once something that helped marketers take content generation and campaigns into their own hands is now holding them back from being truly creative.”
Enhance the User Experience
In our quest to create landing pages to perform the functions of lead generation, we may have lost site of the real purpose of a landing page, to enhance the user experience. In an ideal world, marketers and content creators could use the exact same tools and create content on the website itself.
“This is one of the longest running challenges for marketers. Because of the technical challenges associated with creating web pages and the problems of managing all the logistics of a large site, companies began providing templates for content and landing page creation. While these tools allow marketers to quickly create content, it creates technical problems. Personally, these templated landing pages make me feel sad for the world,” stated Ray. His advice? Take back the creativity and make it better.
The ease of using templates has the advantage of allowing marketers to get back to what they are supposed to be doing – creating compelling content to reach people. However, forcing content into a template without considering whether or not the template is enhancing content is a mistake.
The layout and structure of the landing page is supposed to enhance the user’s experience. If it isn’t enhancing the customer journey, you have to ask yourself why you are using that template for that purpose. If your goal is to have something to create content quickly for immediate results, then build in flexibility to improve and optimize later.
Avoiding Landing Page Disasters
Just because all landing pages don’t need to look exactly the same, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some common elements. As with all good content, your landing pages should be built around the five W’s and an H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How). We’ll talk about four W’s and the H (the when is up to you).
The “Who” of Better Landing Pages – Know Your Audience
Everything hinges on knowing who is going to be coming to your landing page. “Do research up front to identify target keywords for your content that people are actually searching for. Understand exactly who it is you are trying to reach,” suggested Ray.
Not every landing page on your website will be created for every audience. Target your landing page to address the needs of a specific visitor. Who will be visiting your website looking for the content on that specific page? The page you create should vary depending on who you will be driving to that content. Some examples of visitors may include:
- Exisiting Users
- Sales Leads
- Unknown Prospects
- Former Users
- Special Offer Visitors
“Serve different versions of landing pages to different target audiences and distribute those messages to attract those specific groups of people so that what you are doing really has some relevance with the people you are talking to,” Erin said.
Here is where having a flexible template can help to target content. If you make a template for a landing page, then scaling that template to target audiences should be easy. Simply copy the template and segment it out for specific audiences.
Figuring Out “Where” for Your Landing Pages – Understanding Traffic Drivers
Knowing where your traffic is coming from is as important as knowing who is visiting your website. Once you know the source of your traffic, you can create appropriate content and provide the best next steps on the visitor’s journey to becoming a customer. Your inbound marketing efforts may drive traffic from all or some of the following:
- Social Media
- Email Campaigns
- Within Your Website
- Partner Website
- Contributed Article
- Native Advertising
“When we are talking about driving people from all these various places, we are talking about many very different mindsets when they decide to click to a landing page,” noted Erin.
Giving thought to the overall flow of the interaction between ways people can find your content and the content itself can really pay off. If you’ve got a landing page that’s being driven from an email, you already know something about this visitor, don’t ask for the same information again.
Understanding the “What” for Your Landing Page – How to Keep the Audience from Bouncing
The content you create should fulfill the promise made that got the visitor to the page in the first place. You have said something in your inbound marketing efforts that has inspired that visitor to start a journey with your brand. Whatever the promise, be sure your landing page fulfills it. Too often brands use this opportunity to ask for something again.
“Once you give somebody a hint about what you are going to be giving them and established a journey, if you throw them off the path, then you lose them forever,” cautioned Ray, “The more you can reward them for following the customer journey you have designed, the longer they are going to be engaged with your content and your website.”
Create content for your landing page with the idea of keywords or topics that your audience is looking for. Don’t create content around something that nobody wants to find. Good content will get your brand found by people you may be missing in your other inbound efforts. Once you publish your quality, targeted content on the web, you’ll be able to gain some SEO value from it. Make sure you’re creating a page that can be found by anyone interested in your particular topic and you’re likely going to drive some traffic that you didn’t even know you could.
“This will clue you into target audiences or potential new customers that you didn’t know existed. You don’t have to go out and tell them to come to this content, good content creates a findability aspect, stated Erin.
The How of Landing Page Builds – Making a Landing Page that is Structurally Sound
Make sure your landing page structure is sound. Creating landing pages that stick really gets back to the basics. Promote a good user journey by defining up front what you are hoping to accomplish with the page. Are you creating marketing content that is also a landing page, or creating a stand alone landing page?
“While it may be a reasonable trade-off to just create a landing page for an offer, that does not generate high quality content. Ideally, a landing page is enriching and contains actual content that informs people. Longer form content attracts people to whatever it is you are trying to do,” noted Ray.
Back to landing page basics:
- Research the keywords and topics most likely to drive search visitors to your page
- Include title tags and header tags
- Create enough meaningful text content for search engines to index
- Optimize open graph tags and other social meta data
- Optimize your page so the right image appears in social media feeds
“The sites that get a lot of search traffic are doing the basics right – better than a lot of snazzy looking design elements. Most problems arise when pages are developed without attention to the core structure and content that is in the site,” explained Erin, “You can have the nicest looking site in the world, but if you’re only paying to drive traffic to it, then we are talking about a very expensive marketing driver.”
Getting to “Why” They Came to See You – Keep the Conversation Going to Increase Conversions on Your Landing Pages
Your visitors want to know why you have invited them and what can you give them to help them with the pain points they are trying to relieve. No matter what your business, employ the “next steps” idea. Keep visitors with our brand as long as possible, offer them a next place to go, create a true journey and path to discovery. Brands that give up after someone has completed one thing are leaving money on the table. “It’s like walking away from the best part of the conversation at a cocktail party,” commented Erin.
From the marketers perspective, the goal is to get email addresses and turn those visitors into prospects. The trick here is to give something to get something. In the case of resources, such as ebooks, case studies, or slideshares, keep your audience engaged by creating a preview of one or two pages of the content, or provide a synopsis with a few of the main points so that they have a reason to keep going. Your visitors need to see that you are going to make good on a quality piece of content after they fill out your form.
Getting the email address from the first time visitor may be your only opportunity to engage that person with your brand. If they leave without telling you who they are, you have lost an opportunity forever. Go beyond just creating a single landing page and create a page that offers people content and an experience that they will want to give up their email addresses to receive.
“Over the long term, figure out the reason people are going to give you their email addresses and spend time creating content before creating landing pages,” suggests Ray.
When designing landing pages, keep in mind the why. Why are people going to visit your page and what’s the incentive for them to land and to stay? Do the basics, get the foundation built correctly and then put the fancy creatives on top of a rock solid base.
“While the actual work part of this doesn’t look awesome, the pay-off really looks good on reports when your traffic is going up and to the right and your ROI is going up and to the right,” concluded Erin.
Make sure you are dealing with landing pages in a smart ROI way by following the five W’s and an H.