Written by Rob Toledo on 30 August 2012
You can have a great product, you can have a great sales team, and you can have great customer service, but if you don’t have a great landing page, you won’t have much. The landing page, after all, is the first impression a potential customer will have of a business. Done the right way, it should entice users deeper into the site or into some other form of engagement or conversion. Done the wrong way, and those bounce rates will represent not just redirected traffic but lost sales, too. So, what’s the secret to creating spectacular landing pages? There isn’t one; there’s five.
1. Understand Your Visitors
Good websites don’t just perform basic essential functions; they’re a form of storytelling, one for which the designer must have a good grasp of the intended audience’s needs, desires, voice, and ways of seeing the world. The landing page for a fast food chain shouldn’t look like the website of an art gallery, and a business networking site shouldn’t look exactly like a casual networking site.
Knowing your visitors means knowing what kinds of services, products or information they’re looking for and featuring that content prominently or making it easy to find on the site. It means using stock photos or stock footage of other people who remind visitors of themselves, or creative design that captures their voice or imagination. It means knowing what they need before they do, and demonstrating that knowledge on your site.
Dollar Shave Club is a recent success story of a brand knowing its target market, creating a great landing page video to match their understanding and quickly explain their service.
2. Create Strong Visuals
Landing pages are about creating both an atmosphere and loyal followers. That won’t happen if your page is nothing more than a wall of text, or, worse yet, is peppered with old, pixilated graphics. Browse a stock photo site for professional designs, using visual content to tell a clear story. Pay close attention to eye flow, using graphical elements to gently guide the user eyes across the page. Choose your color scheme based on your purpose and the mood you’d like to capture, whether that’s soothing purple for beauty products or yellow for optimism and youth.
Shutterstock creates vibrant imagery and a simple interface. While all secondary information is below the fold, their main feature, the search bar, is the most prominent focus of their homepage.
3. Know Your Purpose
That said, don’t get so carried away with the visual aspects of the site that you lose track of the meaning. Restaurant sites often fall into this category, creating beautiful, clean sites with no visible hierarchy or clear copy describing who they are, what they do, how to find them, and what they serve. Any admiration a visitor might have of the design will be lost when they become frustrated in their hunt for a menu.
Knowing your purpose means making everything as easy as possible for the consumer; make your site easy to navigate, and easy to sign up for or buy what you’re selling,
4. Have Strong Calls to Action
Okay, so now your site visitors have a good sense of what it is you do and how it might be valuable to them, but now what? Take advantage of that energy and enthusiasm with clear calls to action (CTAs) throughout the landing page, particularly over the fold. Don’t just slap on a sign up button as an afterthought. Take the time to write compelling, action-based and specific copy like, “Receive your free consult today!”, or “Give a child the gift of reading.” That said, be strategic with your CTAs, saving them for the most crucial moments rather than over-saturating your site.
Dropbox wants you to do one of three things on their site. One, learn what their service provides; two, download their application; three, login if you already have an account. Their homepage barely offers any other options to prevent unnecessary confusion.
5. Increase Brand Trust
One of the biggest final hurdles to conversion is trust in the brand. While you may have done an excellent job of articulating your services, how are customers to trust they’re getting the best deal, or that they really need what you’re selling? This is one area where social proof can have a powerful impact. Display prominently your number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes. Include the picture of a happy client along with a short testimonial. Tell us how much the experts love what you’re doing. The more the visitor can see how much everybody else loves your company, the sooner they will, too.
Landing pages are an essential part of any modern website. The more compelling, the more the customers will roll in. So get strategic, get specific and get designing.
About the Author: Rob Toledo is in love with creative and unique content, Firefox, and CSS3. He is currently working alongside Shutterstock stock images and their stock footage services writing guides to producing eye catching content around the web. You can follow him on Twitter @stentontoledo
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