Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Top 10 Best Practices for Landing Page Conversion Optimization

What is a “Landing Page”?

Although often times a landing page is referred to as the page a user lands on after clicking on a Pay Per Click (PPC) ad, landing pages are really any page, HomePage (HP) or SubPage (SP), within a particular website that a potential client will land on after clicking on an add, an organic result in the search engines, e-mail marketing campaign or even an article or Press Release.

Best Practices for Website Landing Pages – AKA – Conversion Rate Optimization:

Below is a list of the top ten best practices for landing pages. The list encourages companies to make smart marketing choices, which will not only engage the user but be able to show higher return on investment(ROI).

1. Unify the Intent – Landing pages perform best when the content is promotion-based. With this type of landing page, the content is concise and focused on one appealing message. Even the most brand-focused company ("we're not promotional, we're all about brand") engages in some sort of promotional activity.

2. Visually Engage the User – Tell a story or sell a product using impactful imagery rather than simply explaining the purpose with lengthy copy. (Think short attention pans, we are on the internet after all).

3. Focus the User Experience – Feature clean navigation and succinct calls to action. Landing pages should be used as a teaser to easily point the customer to the desired action. (Call now!)

4. Use a Direct Headline – Making a good first impression is just as important online as it is in the real world. A clear and direct headline should be the first thing the user notices upon viewing the page. Make sure the headline is a direct and simple statement of what the page visitor is trying to accomplish.

5. Leave Plenty of Whitespace — Visitors don’t read, they scan the text to determine if the page is relevant to their goal or not. Clean use of space allows visitors to scan and understand key messages.

6. Deliver a Clear Value Proposition – Answer any potential “whys?” with value propositions. Keep them limited to three or four bullet points and don’t mince words. This is no time to get cute – if visitors can’t quickly and easily understand the benefits of your product or service, they will leave.

7. Amplify Buttons – Attracting attention is what the main action buttons are all about. Make users notice where the button is upon landing. Odd button shapes work well. Also, don’t skimp on button size. *I personally think there should always be a big “Contact” button or a quick form on each page. You don`t need people to read your site once they get there, you just want them to take an action.

8. Convey Trust and Security - Branding, trust/security icons and assurances, as well as testimonials provide credibility and give confidence to the visitor that can have a positive impact on conversion. *I suggest trust icons such as the BBB, Mcafee, etc. and always place them above the fold. You might put “Our Returns Policy,” “Member of the Better Business Bureau,” “As Seen in Architectural Record,” “Company Information” and more to remove fear and build confidence.

9. Provide a Compelling Message — Every good salesperson says something to persuade prospects who are on the fence. Think of your landing page as your online salesperson. Make sure you have one compelling message directly above the call to action. “Bandwagon messages,” such as “Join thousands of people that use…” can also improve visitor confidence and increase conversion.

10. Soften the Call to Action – Direct words like “Buy,” “Add to Cart” or “Subscribe” indicate a commitment that the visitor may not be ready to make and can lower conversion rates. A softer call to action like "Try it Now" can drive users deeper into the funnel and result in higher conversions. The best calls to action are written in plain English with no more than 7-12 words.

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