The Five Elements of a Successful Landing Page

Earlier in this document, we discussed how to familiarize yourself with your client’s landing page quickly. The tactics we discussed can bring you up to speed on how your client is tracking sales/leads via their contact form or phone calls. Once you have established that leads/sales are being tracked properly, what are the steps for optimizing the performance of your landing page?

Keep all your vital information above the fold.

Keeping important elements above the fold is a crucial tactic to optimizing a landing page. Take stock of the design elements of your landing page and create a list of them in order of importance. Consider your target audience, and seriously think about what is most important to them. Make sure that your audience sees what they want/need to see the second they hit your landing page.

The #1 priority for your landing page’s design/layout is that your call-to-action appears above the fold. Your landing page will fail if visitors do not know what their next step should be. Your call-to-action can be contained within the headline. For others, your call-to-action can be a button, so the physical button should be above the fold.

When selling a specific product, you should place the image above the fold. When running a strictly lead-generation campaign, you should test placing the lead form above the fold.

Limit navigation in order to keep your visitors focused.

By removing navigation, you are creating a “sterile” conversion environment. In other words, you are in complete control of what the visitor sees and interacts with, and hopefully this will lead them directly to the conversion. If your PPC landing page is just another page on your website, navigation and all-it means a visitor can browse the website as a whole. This can cause your visitor to wander around and lose sight of the action you want them to take.

Some marketers say that if the website is created in such a way, it won’t matter if they stray from your landing page. The entire website should be designed for conversion, and the visitor will find their way regardless. Another argument is that by stripping a page of navigation, this can act as a deterrent to some visitors-some even liken it to SPAM. In our experience, this hasn’t been the case, but it is certainly something you should test.

As an alternative to both, you could create a conversion path. A conversion path gives the visitor options for navigation-all of which are under control in a more complex, “sterile” conversion environment. Conversion paths are great for segmenting visitors into much more targeted landing page experiences that can have a truly positive effect on conversion rates.

Un-clutter your page and place value on white space.

Take stock of the cacophony of design elements on your landing page and ask yourself what is truly important for the user and for the conversion. Chances are you’ll be able to remove a lot of stuff. Clutter on a landing page is confusing for the user and can keep them from finding relevant details and your calls-to-action. Additionally, PPC visitors are oftentimes in a rapid-fire state-of-mind. This means they’ve been searching through several of your competitors’ PPC ads and landing pages and have come to you for a second opinion. (Maybe you were #1, but just work with me here.) If your landing page is a cluttered mess, they will only give you a few seconds of their time-and if they don’t find what they’re searching for, they’re gone. Off to the next landing page.

Users scan the text and take away only certain elements that they use to make a decision about whether the page is relevant to their goal or not. Clean use of space allows users to scan and absorb key messages.

The design of your landing page should lend itself to quick and simple recognition of the “key messages.” If you have the perfect Flash animation that you MUST put on your landing page-ask yourself, “Does this deter from the key message of my landing page?” If you answer yes, remove it and place a little more value on your newfound white space.

Optimize for the barrier scanning factor.

What is barrier scanning? Simply put: it is the process of scanning your landing page for objects (design elements, videos, images, columns, text, etc.) that distract or lead users away from your conversion trigger. Barrier scanning goes hand-in-hand with de-cluttering your landing page, but it’s important enough to stand alone. The first instinct with barrier scanning is to merely remove the barriers from your landing page. However, this is not always the best move. Sometimes barriers are necessary to guide visitors to the conversion.

Think of it like rocks in a stream: If the rocks are large enough, or there happens to be too many of them, the water will change its natural course.

Rick Tobin of Enquiro says, “Think of your page like a treasure map” when using barrier scanning to design a landing page. Use the design of your site to “lay clues or clear a path” to your conversion trigger.

Coherency of design.

You have a matter of seconds to convince a user that they have arrived at the right place. In that short amount of time, the average visitor will have a clear perspective of your landing page-and it’s coherency. What is coherency?

Coherency is an overall sense of your design “hanging together.” It’s a congruity and harmonious consistency in the relation of all landing page parts to the whole site.

In layman’s terms, do you have obnoxious Flash animations with pink bunnies juxtaposed to your well-written, intelligent body content, all under a goth-themed design? (Black, why is everything black?) That’s a ridiculous example, but it’s completely incoherent. It doesn’t matter how relevant your content is, if the page is incoherent, visitors will bounce and never become a customer. This can also happen if you make many, many tiny tweaks to your landing page (or website, for that matter) and stray from the core design. As you begin to test changes, remember that you are testing not only individual elements but also how they work together. The solution to this problem? First, create a plan of action for your landing page testing. Second, remind yourself of your company’s design brief or the information found in your cascading style sheet (CSS). Visitors will know if your site is a mishmash of random ideas and will react accordingly (i.e., NOT convert).

Creating the best PPC landing pages is truly an art form, but you must back it up with statistical analysis. As you read through these ideas and begin to work them into your own landing pages, remember that you must test. Testing is your path to conversion enlightenment.

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