I have a client with a deep-pocket online media budget. Google Adwords PPC, banner ads on major news sites. We’re talking some sizable money to generate traffic and turn that traffic into customers. I bet you’re thinking a big part of their budget was earmarked for landing page development and testing. I would have thought so, too, before they became a client. But what I quickly discovered was this – there wasn’t a series of landing pages. There wasn’t even one landing page! All of the clicks, all of their costly PPC traffic was being directed to the homepage.
Literally, their best prospects were being dumped off at the front door with little direction or guidance as to how to proceed. Yikes.
Now just to be fair, literally any page of your site or blog is a landing page of a sort. To my mind, every page should be optimized to move your visitor along whatever path you’ve set forth toward a sale, a newsletter or blog subscription, what have you.
But for the purposes of this post, I’ll confine myself to those landing pages where your prospect initiated some sort of response to an ad. This could be a PPC (pay-per-click) ad like Google Adwords, a banner or text ad, or even an email. In this scenario, your prospect has initiated some sort of relationship with you. Your landing page acknowledges this and provides additional information – benefits/features – and a clear path to the next step.
So let’s look at 10 key steps to writing and designing a landing page that will help get you the results you’re looking for:
1. Make sure your headline refers directly to the place from which your visitor came or the ad copy that drove the click. Match your language as exactly as you can. (Close is good, exact is best.) This way you keep your visitor oriented and engaged. This is by far the most important part of your landing page.
2. Provide a clear call to action. Whether you use graphic buttons or hot-linked text (or both), tell your visitor what they need to do. I use a minimum of 2 calls to action in a short landing page, 3-5 in a long landing page. Copy tests here will give you the biggest bang next to testing headlines.
3. Write in the second person – You and Your. No one gives a rat’s patootie about you, your company, or even your product or service except as to how it benefits him or her. (The bigger the company the more time I spend rewriting their stuff from We to You.)
4. Write to deliver a clear, persuasive message, not to showcase your creativity or ability to turn a clever phrase. This is business, not a personal expression of your art. (Every copy coaching student hears me say this at least once.)
5. You can write long copy as long as it’s tight. I always err on writing a little long on the first drafts because it’s easier to edit down than to pad up skimpy copy. Your reader will read long copy as long as you keep building a strong, motivating case for him/her to act. However, not every product or service will require the same amount of copy investment. Rule of thumb: Think longer copy when you’re looking to close a sale. Think shorter copy for a subscription sign-up or something that doesn’t necessarily require a cash commitment..
6. Be crystal clear in your goals. Keep your body copy on point as a logical progression from your headline and offer. Don’t add tangential thoughts, ancillary services, and generic hoo-hah. (Hoo-hah makes the client feel good but wastes the readers time.) Every digression is a conversion lost.
7. Keep your most important points at the beginning of paragraphs and bullets. Most visitors are skimming and skipping through your copy. Make it easy for them to get the joke without having to slow down.
8. In line with #7, people read beginnings and ends before they read middles. Make sure you keep your most critical, persuasive arguments in these positions.
9. Make your first paragraph short, no more than 1-2 lines (that’s lines, not sentences.) Vary your paragraph line length from here. It helps create visual dissonance and makes it easier to read your copy. And no paragraph should be more than 4-5 lines long at any time.
10. Write to the screen. Take a piece of paper and frame-out where your text, buttons, and design elements will go. Consider how much of your content will be seen “above the fold” or at the first screen. You can still go long and have visitors scroll downward. If so, you’ll want to make sure you repeat essential calls to action, testimonials and other components so no matter where your visitor is, an ACT NOW link or button remains is visible.
3 BONUS TIPS:
11. Remove all extraneous matter from your landing page. This includes navigation bars, visual clutter, and links to other sections. You want the reader focused solely on your copy, your supportive visuals, and the offer you’re making without being tempted to wander around the room.
12. Don’t ask for what you don’t need. Ask for only enough information to complete the sale or the desired action. This isn’t the time to conduct a marketing survey. Every question you ask, every piece of information you require will chip away at your response. Be judicious.
13. Assume nothing. Test everything.
These tips and techniques will get you started, but they just scratch the proverbial surface. Design elements are critical, too — color, images, layout — as well as video, audio, and other interactivity elements whose purpose is to more deeply engage the reader and boost response. They all merit a deeper look and testing where it makes sense.
Recommended Resource: The one book I recommend without reservation is Landing Page Handbook, How to Raise Conversions — Data & Design Guidelines. Published by Marketing Sherpa, this is a compendium of everything “landing page” that copywriters and designers should heed and study deeply. Not a cheap reference at $247, it is, however, the one to own if you’re serious about learning the science and technique behind great landing pages. (Alternatively, Try this Book by my friend Tim Ash)
Get more from Roberta Rosenberg at her blog, The Copywriting Maven.
Landing Page Optimization techniques and teaching.