5 Ways An Effective Landing Page Is Like A Good First Date
Picture this: you’ve created a good ad. A great ad, even. It’s clever, it’s a little funny, it piques customer curiosity, and most importantly of all, it’s driving those clicks. But while the ad is performing, sales aren’t. You’re not moving any more units or scheduling any more appointments today than you were in the weeks before you had your ad epiphany. Your conversion rates are stagnant. This is a problem, obviously: but where is the problem happening?
This happens a lot in online advertising, and it can very quickly turn into finger-pointing. Clients may blame their ad agency for creating an ad that doesn’t drive sales. The agency might blame the publisher, suggesting they’re getting poor placements, or that their target audience isn’t aligning with the publisher’s content. Or maybe the agency and publisher will blame the product or service itself, for creating something that people just don’t want to buy.
There can be a lot of different reasons that an ad campaign and sales numbers fall out of alignment, but one of the more-frequent problems is an issue with your landing page.
Your landing page — also known as your “sales page,” “lead page,” “lander,” or just “LP” for short, is where a user gets redirected to after clicking on your ad, and as such is the first step further into your sales funnel.
When you’re creating a landing page, it's important to consider the various types and layouts a web page can have. A video sales lander (VSL) is a landing page that is (obviously) just a video that primes the customer for the sale page. An advertorial landing page is one that apes the style of an editorial article, easing the customer into the sale. A direct-to-sales landing page is one that deposits the customer straight from the ad into an add-to-cart page. A “lander article,” tries to stealthily encourage a sale by informing the user about a related topic. And a testimonial landing page is one written from the point of view of a (presumably satisfied) customer, inviting others to join them on the bandwagon.
Improving your sales funnel starts with improving your landing page.
The Landing Page: Your Second First Impression
An ad is a little bit like a pickup line: it’s your introduction to a potential sale, an opportunity to say something funny or interesting in the hopes that you can sit down and get to know each other a little better. Your landing page is the conversation that happens after that initial flirtation: you’ve got to take that initial interest and hold onto it, without boring them or scaring them off, in the hopes of forming a lasting relationship.
You want to make your intentions clear, but you don't want to be either too forward and blunt or, the opposite, too vague and dull.
1) Direct-To-Sales = Direct-To-Trash (Don’t Be Forward)
After all the work setting up a solid business and an eye-catching marketing campaign, spending time on a landing page to lead customers into your funnel can feel like superfluous extra work. It can be easy to feel like your product should stand on its own, and take a customer straight from a solid ad into your store or shopping cart.
But coaxing a sale out of a reluctant customer is all about never doing anything jarring or unexpected. People click on ads because they’re intrigued or because they want to learn more: customers are very rarely ready to enter their credit card information based off of that initial reaction, and in those cases it’s usually because the product or service is universally known.
A landing page in-between the ad and the rest of the funnel is a key way of softening that landing, and easing the transition into a customer buy-in. To continue the pickup line earlier, a direct-to-sales page is a lot like making someone laugh with a pickup line and then asking for their address. That’s… probably not going to work. It’s too forward, and customers will back out at that point. A direct-to-sales approach is, generally speaking, not an effective landing page.
2) Radiate Trustworthiness (Don’t Be Sketchy)
The internet can be a dangerous place for an unsuspecting credit card number — people have learned over many hard years to be careful about how they give out their information, and to whom. You want your website to radiate a non-threatening aura — build trust so that customers feel more comfortable doing business with you.
Part of that is as simple as having a clean, professional layout. Multiple ads for other products, videos that start on their own, or music that can’t be stopped, can all give the impression that your operation isn’t entirely above-board. They can also cause loading issues that slow down a customer’s computer or otherwise interfere with site functionality. The urge to maximize revenue on your page is understandable, but there’s such a thing as overdoing it. You want a site that loads quickly and cleanly. A mobile-friendly website with a good site speed reads as trustworthy and professional to the average user.
You’re also going to want to make sure that you’ve given your copy a careful polish. A website with spelling, grammatical, or other errors may give eagle-eyed customers cause for concern.
“Trust Signals,” as they’re called, are little written and visual cues to the customer that you’re a reputable business. Badges denoting awards you’ve received, logos for accreditations your business has received (Better Business Bureau, etc.), endorsements and testimonials from satisfied customers — all of these things will help a customer relax. Social media buttons that direct customers to your company Facebook and other pages will also help convey that you’re an established brand with a real web footprint.
3) Only Take As Long As You Need To (Don’t Be Dull)
How long to make your advertorial or video landing page can be a tricky one. The general rule of thumb is that the more-expensive your CPA (cost per action), the longer your sales pitch will likely need to be. A pizza or a tire rotation are things a customer is probably going to be willing to take a chance on, because the risk/reward ratio is pretty firmly in their favor. Once you’re asking for tens or even hundreds of dollars, though, your potential customer is going to take more convincing.
On an expensive product or service, an advertorial page with thousands of words, or a Video Sales Lander extending over half an hour long can make perfect sense. Nobody’s going to stand for that sort of nonsense for an inexpensive product, and you’re going to scare away more business than you get.
On an expensive product, though, a fun thing happens: if a customer has sunk enough time into watching your video or reading your copy, they’ll start to feel more compelled to make a purchase, so that this time wasn’t wasted. Don’t try to artificially inflate your length to produce this result, of course. You may want to A/B test a couple of different lengths to really dial in your performance, but the ultimate goal is to create a user experience that’s only as long as it needs to be to convince them.
4) Make Your Intentions Clear
From the first sentence of your landing page to the “Add To Cart” button at the bottom of the page, you want your potential customer to have a clear understanding of what’s going on. If you’re selling a product, you want to start mentioning that product early and often. If you’re selling a service, you want that to be obvious. You don’t want to come across as desperate, of course, but you also don’t want to jar customers with the feeling that they’ve been the victim of a bait-and-switch. Your call-to-action should be clear from the first paragraph, and you want to hammer that message early and often.
This is true of every phase of the sales funnel: you want smooth, predictable transitions from one phase of the funnel to the next. Startled customers bail. Your general tone and art style should stay consistent from beginning to end. When a customer clicks on an ad, the page they end up on shouldn’t feel like a surprise. And when they get to that page, they should understand that the next step will be signing on for a purchase.
Part of making your intentions clear is writing an effective, compelling headline. They shouldn’t be too short or too long, they should be clear in their intentions, they should have snappy language that grabs attention. And incorporating numbers and parentheticals can help, too - our headline up-top, 5 Ways A Good Landing Page etc. is a good example of the former.
And just so nobody misses it, you’ll want to cap off the bottom of your page with a nice, big CTA button, preferably red or some other eye-catching color, that says “Buy Now” or something else unmistakable on it.
5) Entertain and Inform
No matter what you’re writing, you’re writing first and foremost to entertain. You want to capture and hold onto a customer’s attention for the duration of the sales funnel, and that means you have to keep being interesting throughout the process. As long as you’ve got the customer’s attention, you can use that to inform them on the virtues of what you’re selling.
That means a punchy, not-too-short, not-too-long headline, a visually-interesting but not cluttered page, a solid call-to-action at the end and a solid hook at the beginning.
Some of these rules may seem obvious, and some of them are deceptively simple. But if you follow as many of them as you can, then you’re really increasing your chances of closing the deal.
If you’d like more tips and tricks for your business, check out our blog.