Landing Pages: why, what, who, how, what next

If you want to understand web evaluation, you have to know at least a little bit about design.  Landing pages are important elements in contemporary site design.  Here is a little guide focused on the why, what, who, how, and what next of landing pages.

For my patrons, I’ll have the cartoon deck and a printable pdf version of the guide up soon.

Dog surrounded by bones, too many choices cartoon by Chris Lysy

Why

You’ve heard a lot about a new piece of software, so you head to Google to see if there is a trial version. Google gives you a link and you click.

The page looks tailored just for you. Very little distraction, just some idea of the features and how you might use the product. Then a little spot for an email address at the bottom followed by a download link. Within a minute you’re downloading the trial.

Later that day you head to the web again. Someone from an agency you respect told you about a new report that you might want to check out. They sent you a link to their reference library.

The page looks like it was built for everyone, with links to all sorts of things. One of the headline pieces in the sidebar distracts you a little bit so you go ahead and click, which sends you to a completely different link filled page. There is a lot here, but too much to take in right now. So you bookmark it and say to yourself, “I’ll come back later.”

Or maybe you won’t come back, because your bookmarks’ page is filled with lots of sites just like this one.

With a landing page cartoon by Chris Lysy

What

Landing pages are web pages designed with a very specific purpose in mind. For business sites, that intention is usually to capture an email address of a prospective customer, offer a trial, or sell a service/product.

Outside of a business context, landing pages are still great tools that can be designed for things like webinar registration and report downloads.

For web evaluation, landing page design can help provide you with two critical pieces of data, pageviews and conversions (conversion / pageview = conversion rate). This helps determine whether the audience is clicking the original link because they are interested in the report, or if they were just baited into clicking the link. High conversion rates can mean you are targeting the appropriate audience with your dissemination strategy.

Pages can also be effectively designed and published external to an organization’s main website. It’s not always easy to get permission to publish new pages on an organization’s website or get access to their analytics. Landing pages can offer an alternate route.

High conversion rate cartoon by Chris Lysy

Who

Landing pages are touted by marketers and designed by web designers.

You will find landing page templates built into a number of premium WordPress frameworks (Genesis, Thesis). There are also third party WordPress plugins.

Additionally, there are several landing page specific software providers that offer landing page templates/hosting on a subscription basis (Leadpages, Unbounce, Optimizepress).

“A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result.”

-Brian Clark, Copyblogger

“About 95% of conversions, leads, and revenue are generated by about 5% of the web pages on a site.”

-Clay Collins, Leadpages

Brian Clark quote cartoon by Chris Lysy

How

Landing pages can be built anywhere as they are just a specific web page style. Software can help you strip down the page, or give you a template, but you could create a landing page anywhere using all sorts of web design tools.

To start, you need to have a purpose. The default purpose for most landing pages is to subscribe a visitor to an email list. You could also use something like a report download or webinar registration, but the email list is not a bad default even for non-business purposes.

Now focus. Reduce any distractions that don’t have anything to do with the specific page’s purpose. All those sidebar widgets and header links have to go. Be intentional with your web design.

If you’re disseminating a report here’s one approach.

Treat your landing page like an executive summary. Give them the complete overview, don’t hold back.

For the rest of the report, require an email address and deliver the report using an auto-responder. This is going to separate your casual clickers from your motivated report reader.

As a bonus, you’ll have email addresses from the motivated readers. Reach out to them and go all qualitative. Ask them why they downloaded it and if it’s meeting their needs. Pageviews alone will never give you context.

With a landing page cartoon by Chris Lysy

What Next

If you want to dive deeper into landing pages, copyblogger offers a guide.  It’s through a landing page, of course, and you will have to fork over your email address.

Start keeping an eye out for landing page design in the wild.  Look at sites that sell tech products (basecamp), bloggers  (Nathan Barry), or even sites like Netflix.  The intention behind each page is incredibly clear.

We live in an age of distraction, never underestimate the power of focus and clarity.

If you’d like to talk to me about creating landing pages for your projects or business, shoot me an email (freshspectrum @ gmail . com).

Squirrel surround by nuts cartoon by Chris Lysy