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Landing Pages: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

I occasionally post subjects with the subtitle, “I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.” The subtitle pays homage to one of my favorite sources of movie quotes, The Princess Bride.

When I speak with prospects and clients, I find that there’s a lot of confusion around the term “landing pages.” It’s not their fault for two reasons. First, the term itself is a little misleading. It’s perfectly reasonable to think that a landing page would be a page you land on from somewhere else. Which leads to the second reason for this confusion: Many web analytics programs use the term in exactly this way.

GA Landing Pages

This standard Google Analytics report is showing a list of pages on which people landed from the outside world. They may have been direct visits, keyword searches, social media referrals, etc. It makes sense that we’d call them landing pages, so where’s the confusion?

Conversion Pages

When you hear marketers use the term landing page, they are talking about something a little different. I think that a better term for them would be conversion page, because that is the sole mission of a landing page; to persuade someone to take a particular action. Some examples of these actions include:

  • Adding a product to a shopping cart
  • Registering to attend an event
  • Downloading a free ebook
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
  • Requesting a free demonstration

Do you see something common about the bullet list above? Every one of them begins with a verb. One analogy I used to describe landing pages is that they are your website assassins. They are hyper focused and single-minded in their mission to secure these conversions.

Here are a few very basic best practices for landing pages that differentiate them from others on your website:

  • Distraction-free: Landing pages should be free of distractions like menus, widgets or any other opportunity for a visitor to do anything other than take the action you want them to take. You do want to leave an escape hatch for them to get back to your main website, but nothing more!
  • Powerful Headline: Research has shown that your headline is responsible for at least 30% of the conversion rate. Be sure you’re using emotional triggers to be as persuasive as possible!
  • Build Trust: Acquiring conversions is all about the value of the offer overcoming the friction of commitment. One way to do this is to use trust symbols (certifications, accreditations, money back guarantees). Another is to increase credibility with testimonials.
  • Clear Call to Action: The call to action (i.e. the verb) must be very clear, obvious and above the fold. Use graphical buttons with contrasting colors and guidance techniques like arrows to draw the eye of the visitor.

Landing Page Optimization

WiderFunnel Marketing is a full-service marketing company and the developer of the industry-first Kaizen Method™ for continuously improving online conversion rates on landing pages, microsites and web sites. They plan, design, and deliver website Action Pages™ that are statistically proven through A/B split testing and Multivariate testing to persuade more prospects to become leads and customers.

They’ve developed a model for identifying and testing landing page opportunities that they call the L.I.F.T. Model for conversion optimization.

Wider Funnel LIFT Model

They have a great set of free downloads that I recommend you grab. I love this graphic and its simplicity. It illustrates all of the forces at play in one simple, memorable image.

Bottom Line

When putting together your website strategy, the first step is to create a prioritized list of outcomes you want to happen when people visit your website. Each of these outcomes then has a corresponding landing page and the success of your website is based on how well those pages perform. It sounds simple, I know, and there are a lot of factors that go into determining those outcomes and building the offers for the landing pages. But this is the very essence of inbound marketing and if you’re not building landing pages and measuring their performance, you’re not doing inbound marketing!


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