12 MIN READ
Optimizing Your Website to Get Leads
Your Website is the hub of your digital marketing activities. No digital marketing plan is complete without a thorough assessment of your website and its landing pages.
Landing Pages are the pages on your website that your ads, blogs, social media posts, and other marketing promotions point to. But if you don’t convert that traffic into leads, or better yet, customers, you are wasting your marketing and advertising dollars.
In the Search Engine Marketing segment of this series you learned how to rank higher in search results by improving the Quality Score of your Landing Pages. Today we will dive into creating landing pages with high Quality Scores that get results.
Effective Landing Pages
There are a number of principles involved in designing and building effective landing pages, regardless of whether they are a single, dedicated landing page, or an entire microsite dedicated to a specific product or service.
The first principle of good design is clarity. This includes both visual and message clarity. The reality is, you have about 5 to 7 seconds to grab a visitor’s attention, convey your core message, and compel them to want more, or you will lose them in a click. We recommend doing some casual usability tests to assess the effectiveness of your pages. The easiest way to determine the clarity of your landing page is to find 2 to 5 people who do not know you or your company, show them an image of your page for 5 to 7 seconds, then take the image away and ask them these basic yet very important questions:
1) What is the name of the company?
2) What is the product or service they sell?
3) What value do they provide?
This basic usability test will tell you if you are using the most effective design and wording. If the test subjects have difficulty in answering the first two questions, you need to rethink your design and/or headline. If your testers are able to answer all three questions, including your value proposition, you are doing better than 90% of businesses on the internet.
The second principle of an effective landing page design is the use of conversion mechanisms, which simply means incorporating a way to convert lookers into buyers. A conversion is the action you want a user to take once they have arrived at your page. Common conversion actions might include filling out a form, downloading premium content of value to the user, or actually purchasing a product. But a conversion does not necessarily need to be in the form of a purchase. Any action that is measurable can be considered a conversion. Which form of conversion mechanism you use will depend on your product and the length of your sales cycle.
If your product has a low-cost and short sales cycle which doesn’t require a lot of thought, you will be aiming for a purchase. If, however, your product is a big-ticket item, such as a home or automobile, it is imperative that you forge a relationship and build trust. In these cases, you may want to offer some premium content that the user will find valuable in the buying decision.
At a minimum, you will want to collect the user’s email address so you can send them the valuable content (and so you will have their address for future correspondences). In this way, you can build trust and stay “top-of-mind” throughout the protracted sales cycle.
There are many variables that affect your conversion rates. But there is no perfect landing page or 100% conversion rate, because not all website visitors are prospects. Some of your site traffic has no intention of buying. Converting prospects is as much an art as it is a science, and can only be improved by a thorough understanding of the factors affecting conversions, combined with rigorous testing and experimentation. Your actual conversion rate will be well below 100%.
Types of Website Visitors
It is important to realize there are 3 Types of Website Visitors: the No’s, the Yes’s, and the Maybe’s.
The “No” visitor is not at your site to purchase for one reason or another, whether it is because they cannot afford your particular product, or are simply just a casual browser. These “non-prospects” are a normal part of your website traffic and are to be expected.
The “Yes’s” are the visitors who have a high level of commitment to buying, and are on your site (or your competitors’) with the intention of converting, or buying. Similar, yet contrary, to the “No” visitors, there will be a certain number of prospects that will convert, no matter how poorly you have designed your landing pages or website buying experience, because they are so deeply committed to buying. The Yes’s are the “low hanging fruit” of your web traffic, though they are as rare as the spotted owl.
The Maybe’s are people who are in the market for your products or services, but are not completely committed (yet) to purchasing. The Maybe’s should be the most highly-targeted group of visitors for your landing page optimization, since they are the prospects that can be tipped into a conversion through the clever use of well-written copy, compelling imagery, and well-planned conversion mechanisms. This is where great design and user experience (UX) can really make a big difference. The Maybe’s offer the greatest potential for improving your conversion rates and therefore, your business.
There are varying degrees of Maybe’s, from the visitors who are yearning to be a “Yes” to those who are nearly a “No.” There are diminishing returns in attempting to convert the Maybe visitor who is nearly a “No.” Your best return on investment is to focus on those visitors who are truly on-the-fence, or almost a “Yes.” That is where you will see the greatest dividends on your optimization efforts. The No’s and the Nearly No’s will not be impacted by your Landing Page design no matter how awesome it is.
Practical Steps to Better Landing Pages
There are some basic, practical steps you can take to improve the design, and thus the conversion rates, for your landing pages.
3 Types of Landing Pages
Landing pages can be divided into three types:
- Your Primary Website,
- Dedicated Microsite, and
- Dedicated Landing Page.
Your Primary Site would be any page on your existing website. This approach requires a high-level of attention from your prospect, since they have to comb your site for the specific info they are looking for. This is best used for bringing in new acquaintances so they can get a broad introduction to your business. This provides the most dynamic and all-inclusive user experience while offering the broadest information available on your company and its products/services.
A microsite is a limited version of your site that is focused on a specific product, service, or Visitor Type. A microsite that offers general information about a product category is useful for the viewer researching a purchase, and positions your company as a trusted expert in the category. On the other hand, a microsite detailing specific info about your products is aimed at convincing an already knowledgeable buyer as to why they should buy your product over your competitor’s, and why they should buy now! In either case, a microsite is intended to focus the prospect on one specific action, whether it is entering their email address or purchasing something.
Dedicated Landing Page
Last, but not least, is the Dedicated Landing Page (DLP, or LP). This offers the most limited, yet highly focused info of all three LP types. The most obvious defining characteristic of a dedicated landing page is that there is no navigation of any kind, because the user is not meant to leave this page until they have performed the intended conversion action.
The dedicated LP is the most popular type of LP when using in conjunction with a marketing campaign. The page can utilize specific messaging from within your marketing material or advertisement, lending the most fluid, consistent messaging and buying experience possible. Dedicated Landing Pages are very effective when used for a single product or service.
Another defining characteristic of a DLP is the use of a very clear and specific call-to-action (although it could be argued that all your pages should have a clear call-to-action). A DLP focuses like a laser on the precise messaging and call-to-action you are seeking, without the tangential information or pages you find on a website or microsite. Calls-to-action can include a newsletter sign-up form, a request for premium content, or a product purchase form. When combined, a clear CTA and a heightened sense of urgency, like a time-sensitive offer, are highly effective and the most popular form of LP for using in conjunction with a marketing or advertising campaign.
We have mentioned conversions a lot in this series. A conversion can take various forms, and conversion rates can be dependant on the type of business, products or services, the sales cycle, and customer demographics.
Generally speaking, a conversion must possess three attributes: an action performed on the user’s part that is measurable for the purposes of analytics and provides value to the user.
An e-commerce site might consider a conversion a purchase of some kind, whereas a lead generating or marketing site might consider submission of a name and email address a conversion. If you are a publisher, conversions might take the form of a newsletter subscription, or the download of some premium content, all of which require submitting your email address.
Whatever your business model and conversion action, your marketing and advertising must result in traffic that ultimately converts, or the effort and investment are all for naught.
The Sales Funnel and the Decision-Making Process
Every buyer goes through four stages during the sales cycle, represented by the acronym AIDA:
The AIDA Sales Funnel plays a vital role in informing the design of your landing pages.The visitor’s level of motivation determines where they are in the sales cycle and how close they are to making a purchase. Fine-tune your message to the motivation level of your prospect and you will improve engagement and conversion rates. This is because prospects need different treatment and different information, depending on where they currently are in the sales cycle.
Your marketing and advertising are created for the purpose of addressing these stages of the sales cycle, so the buyer can feel comfortable with taking the resulting action. If the potential buyer’s needs are met during the first three stages, then the natural result will be an action taken on the part of the prospect. If your website landing pages are not converting visitors, it is most likely because you have not satisfied all the earlier stages, and therefore the visitor lacks the trust and/or knowledge required to take action.
Bear in mind, the length of the sales cycle varies greatly among different industries, and will affect the duration of each phase of the sales cycle.
Landing Page Copy
As discussed in Article 2 of this series, your Landing Page headlines, body copy, link text, and photo labels should contain high-value keywords in order to improve the relevance and thus the quality scores of your pages. It is beyond the scope of this article to suggest keywords for your business. Keyword research and selection is highly specialized and relies entirely on the specifics of your business. See the second article in this series on Search Engine Optimization to discover more details on keyword selection and placement.
Your ad copy will no doubt target a specific stage of the sales cycle, so your landing page copy should work in harmony with your advertising to make the experience consistent. Landing Page copy should “meet the visitor” where they are in the sales cycle. You would not want to offer only preliminary information to a visitor who is ready to buy.
The second element in the “one-two punch” of your landing page design is your Call-To-Action (CTA). Just as in sales, you should always be closing. The way to do that on a landing page is through the CTA. A call-to-action must require an action on the part of the customer, which will result in a conversion, be it a purchase, the downloading of premium content, or some other form of conversion. But your call-to-action must ask for the conversion, and it must do it in a way that is obvious, yet not obnoxious to the visitor.
Placing a CTA and conversion mechanism in the banner of your LP (alongside your name, product or service, and value proposition) is ideal, so long as it is done tastefully and does not turn off your potential customer. Having a brief two-field form in the lower right corner of the page, which can be toggled closed as desired, is also a popular and effective location for your conversion CTA.
The various elements of your Digital Online Marketing and Advertising campaign (SEO, Social Media, Pay-Per-Click, and Website/Landing Page design) should all work together to create an experience that is tailored to your potential customer at all points along the sales cycle. This ongoing “relationship” with your prospect will build the required trust and keep you top-of-mind whenever the prospect moves from researcher to shopper, or from shopper to buyer.
The campaign process can have a lot of moving parts and introduce a high level of complexity to your marketing, but your efforts will pay huge dividends in the form of increased traffic and leads, better engagement, higher conversion rates, and ultimately more sales.
Tangent Media is a digital design and marketing agency located in Wildwood, FL, specializing in website design and development, video & photography, mobile app development and print collateral materials. If you have any questions or would like additional information on our company or digital marketing in general, please feel free to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 888-857-5784.