JSO Academy: Landing Pages 101

[Estimated read time: 7 minutes]

Welcome, friends, to the JSO Academy, a new series that will be receiving periodic chronicles (or classes) aimed at translating all of that marketing mumbo-jumbo your friendly neighborhood marketer throws your way into easy to understand terms and concepts. Tuition comes at the very low price of zero dollars, and attendance is highly encouraged but never enforced. Let’s get you learning.

Today’s Subject: Landing Pages 101

Let’s take it from the top.

What is a landing page?

A landing page is simply a page on your website where the user ends up after clicking a link. This can be a link from Facebook, a Google search result, an AdWords paid ad, etc.

Why should I care?

Did you know that on average when a user lands at your website you’ve got approximately 15 seconds to capture their attention? That’s a very small time period to get your message across, particularly if they were on the fence about the subject to begin with. Creating a landing page that snatches up a user’s attention immediately and compels them to continue reading (or fulfilling your goal action, which we’ll touch on later) should be a priority; that is, unless you enjoy spending money on ads that don’t result in conversions — we don’t.

Come up with a purpose

The first step in creating an ad campaign should always be to consider the purpose of your advertisement, and this will carry over to your landing pages as well. What do you want users to do? Do you want them to fill out a contact form? Do you want them to call you? Download your new book? Figure out what it is you want the user to do, and keep that in your mind throughout the entirety of this process. Narrow it down to something that’s specific and measurable. If you’re spending money on an effort with no quantitative way of measuring your success, then you’ve got no way of measuring your ROI, which therefore makes it a terrible business practice.

Put yourself in the customer/client’s shoes

Next you’re going to want to sketch out the process from beginning to end as you’d ideally see it going. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes here, and guide the process as if you were looking at it from his or her perspective. I’m not talking a major breakdown and analysis of every step; the main point here is to visualize the process and pick apart any flaws that could come up while you’re still at this stage to save time down the road.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 11.24.21 AM

Once you’ve got a basic path or progression system established, outline some of the flaws and issues that could pop up, as well as some general notes. The better you know what could go wrong with your campaign, the better armed you’ll be when it comes to addressing the issues if/when they pop up. We’ll use the above for an example.

  1. Click on Facebook Ad
    • Requires solid image that’s going to get their attention and is relevant to the subject
    • Needs a firm call to action on the ad text to encourage people to click on the link to begin with
    • Have an audience in mind for this, but if that one doesn’t work we can swap it out for an alternative
  2. Read the content
    • Headline should compliment the call to action that was used in the ad for consistency
    • Content shouldn’t be too long or they’ll stop reading and leave the page. We can change content easily.
    • Content should have a clear reason why they’re on the page, and how we can help solve the problem
  3. Fill out contact form
    • Don’t want it too long or they won’t fill it out completely
    • We’re going to need at least name, phone number, and a brief description of what they need
    • etc.

…You get the point. Think your process out, know what could go wrong or interfere with the goal of the page, and then use that to set up the page.

Create your landing page

Now that all of the background work is done (Rome wasn’t built in a day!) you’ll find yourself ready and well-equipped to step into the actual creation of your landing page. Remember that purpose we talked about establishing earlier? I don’t care if you have to print it out in bold letters and hang it above your computer while you’re making the page itself, but that purpose needs to be at the forefront of your mind during creation.

Overall Guidelines:

You’re making a landing page for one purpose; make sure that purpose is clear. I should be able to look at your landing page and say, “Oh, they want me to call them” within those 15 aforementioned seconds.

Don’t overdo it with text. You’re on a time crunch here, pick your words and pick them well, particularly if this is the page people are being sent to as a result of an ad. Make your language compelling, and encourage action; we’re essentially talking an elevator pitch here.

Get your user’s attention, hold on to it, and don’t let it go until they’ve accomplished what you want them to.

Bear in mind that not everybody is going to convert. You know your business though, and you know your audience; if you’re receiving what you think is an unusually lower number of conversions than you expected, readjust your strategy. This is where both the ability to measure your purpose, and knowing what you can change already comes in.

Construction

There are two main ways we put together landing pages:

  1. Through a website designed primarily for landing pages; our preferred program in this regard is Unbounce. Unbounce has tons of page templates for you to follow in the event that design isn’t your thing, and in general these templates provide a good basis for general landing page practices. The interface is easy to use, and it’ll take care of measuring your progress for you.

2. WordPress. If you’re a JSO blog regular you’ve no doubt encountered our love for all things WordPress. Making a landing page in WordPress     is as simple as making any other page, and by making your page this way you easily retain the navigational elements such as your header and     footer that are present on the rest of your site.

The importance of navigational consistency has been understated lately, in my opinion. We’re in a time where people are becoming more educated on their purchases, and digital privacy is a growing concern. There is a very high chance that the person who visited your landing page may be on the hook, but will want to do some research before offering you any of their information; by ensuring that your navigation is consistent across the board (on and off the landing page) you’ll be able to let the user easily take a look at your site and decide for themselves. You can put the power in the user’s hands, but make sure that you’re the one guiding the process.

Extra Credit

Putting together a landing page is a detailed procedure that takes some serious thought. If you’re looking for extra credit, do it twice.

Yes, you read that line correctly. Make a second landing page, and perform an A/B test. An A/B test, for those of you that aren’t aware, is simply a test where you put one concept against another to see which ends up performing the best. This can be two completely different designs, two different headlines, different copy; the possibilities are endless here.

John covered how to run an A/B test with Google Content Experiments in an earlier post, and Unbounce (the program we mentioned earlier) has this feature built into it. By running only one landing page you force yourself to watch, interpret, tweak, then watch again. This can be a time sink as you try to figure out which strategy works best for you. Running an A/B test will get you results for interpretation much faster, and allows you to test multiple theories and ideas simultaneously.

The bottom line: Making a successful landing page is a process. Know your goal, and know how you want people to complete that goal. There is no set generic formula for a landing page that will always convert, but the thought process is fairly consistent. Follow these steps and you’ll have yourself an A+ landing page in no time.

Class dismissed.

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Taylor is a digital strategist at JSO Digital. He graduated from Millersville University, and currently resides in rural Pennsylvania.