Making sales on the web is the goal of just about every marketer and there are many ways that this can be done. Some strategies have been developed just for the web, to take advantage of its unique way of reaching target audiences, and landing pages definitely fall into that category. Nearly anyone who’s used the web for any length of time will have, at one time or another, arrived at a landing page which attempted to sell them something. These are one of the most commonly used sales tools online and there is a reason for that: they work. Of course, just like any other sales tool in marketing, it is all about how you use them and in order to use them in a way that works best for what you want to do, you need to be educated on all that landing pages have to offer. What we want to do right now is learn what landing pages are, why they are such a crucial part of today’s online marketing efforts, how they are used by those who regularly put them to work, how they can be fine tuned to get the best possible results, how you can learn to make your own landing pages for your venture and more. By the end, you should feel a lot more comfortable deciding whether or not landing pages are going to become a part of your own marketing efforts.
The Definition of a Landing Page and the History Behind This Concept
In the simplest view, a landing page is a page that a visitor on the web will ‘land on’ when they click on an ad or follow a link that a marketer has built which is designed to take them to the landing page in question. These are single pages designed to keep the visitor’s focus on what the page has to say to them. In a sense, they are like one large advertisement because they generally are built around a single call to action that will have the visitor either providing their information (so that the marketer gains a lead) or they will attempt to get the visitor to make a purchase.
Obviously, there is more to landing pages than just this, but that is in essence what they are and what they are designed to do. In design terms they tend to be very plain pages which feature text, graphics and sometimes videos. The text will be carefully designed sales copy and is generally inspired by the kind of sales copy you might see in a direct response mailing. The graphics are there to show social proof and to spur on the action the page is trying to get the visitor to take. If videos are present, than far fewer graphics and text are often present and the sales pitch is made within the carefully constructed video. Again, the entire focus of a landing page, for marketers, is to drive either lead capture or sales and they are meant to be tightly refined to facilitate this goal.
It is thought that landing pages gained popularity during the latter part of the 1990′s when the web began to grow and more people started to take the idea of buying things online seriously. Not all products or services were conducive to selling in a retail setting so landing pages were developed as a place to send traffic that would focus on getting consumers to buy or at least submit their information to be marketed to later. At that time, a great deal of visitors could be brought in through search engine optimization (SEO) for specific keywords associated with what was being sold. Today’s search engines no longer encourage those using landing pages to try to get visitors from them because search engines find landing pages to be of low quality in terms of what they want their users to experience. However, other methods of promotion do exist now,
The Internet marketing community has been fine tuning landing page creation for many years and they have been used to sell countless products and services in many different markets. While direct marketing techniques certainly influenced the way that landing pages developed, it would be fair to say that landing pages are now their own type of marketing and a great deal is known about the psychology of consumers who make purchases through them or submit contact information. In a sense, landing pages and their development are a topic all to themselves and one which is always growing and expanding as the web and those who use it evolve.
Why Landing Pages Are Important to Marketers Today?
While there are all kinds of other ways to market things online today, landing pages still retain a high level of importance for a lot of marketers, particularly those who have digital products or membership sites. The reason why these two things are particularly well marketed using landing pages is because they offer the consumer an instant level of gratification as soon as they answer the call to action. Some marketers give away ebooks, for instance, to encourage people to sign up for a mailing list in the hopes that they can later sell them a product. Others will offer a free trial subscription to their membership site in exchange for contact information, hoping that the person will then purchase a subscription once the free one has run out. Others will focus on straight forward selling of what they have to offer.
Landing pages can be used to sell nearly anything, but it would be a mistake to state that they are the right choice for all marketing needs. As efficient as they are, they do not always meet the needs of all consumers and are not the ideal strategy for all brands. That said, for the things that they do sell well they are a lot quicker and cheaper to build than an entire site would be and if they get the job done then they are a smart investment, indeed. It is also easier to update or totally change them rapidly and without needing to have a lot of people working on them.
List building and making sales are what landing pages are ideally suited for. Solo entrepreneurs like them because they are relatively low-cost and can be handled by one person if that person knows what they are doing. For a small company, they can be an efficient way to test out the market and see what consumers in niche markets think about different offers they have. There are many different uses for landing pages, but the bottom line is that they should drive action and convert. As long as they continue to do that, then landing pages will likely always be a valuable marketing tool.
How Landing Pages Are Promoted?
As we mentioned earlier, using SEO to promote landing pages is rarely going to be effective and even when a marketer can get buy with it, it is rarely a long-term strategy worth pursuing. There are pay-per-click (PPC) ad networks that will accept landing pages, but it is important to read the guidelines first because some networks do have restrictions designed to reduce the amount of landing pages they sell advertising for. PPC can be costly, but if the landing page is truly effective, and a strong market exists, this can be a very profitable pairing that has a history of working well for marketers who refine their strategy.
Quality landing pages can also be marketed via social media and this is attractive to a lot of marketers. Generally, this puts more control in the consumer’s hand and that can help in terms of being more likely to produce cooperation and a positive response to the page’s call to action. Obviously, social media accounts that are sending traffic to landing pages will need plenty of other content mixed in or else they are not likely to be engaged with by those on social networks. What that means, then, is that those promoting a landing page via social networks are going to need to do some content marketing.
Content marketing is a smart idea for bringing in visitors to a landing page because it does not typically require a large budget and it also offers the consumer value up front which means they may be more inclined to consider the offer the landing page makes them. Distributing quality written content or videos across popular blogs, social media sites or other places can be a good way to bring in visitors to a landing page. Of course, whenever engaging in content marketing it is important to have a strategy in place and a willingness to commit to the long-term.
Buying ads from relevant websites is another way to bring traffic to landing pages. In cases where buying PPC ads is not possible and content marketing does not fit the needs of the marketer, this may be the only option. Ad prices vary depending upon who is displaying them, for how long and a number of other factors, but this is indeed one more method to promote landing pages.
Finally, some marketers using landing pages will purchase ad spots in emails sent to mailing lists that have consumers that fit in with their target audience. Other marketers build their own list and promote landing pages that way. There is no reason that any of these methods could not work for you, but keep in mind that the important thing about selecting any kind of marketing technique, no matter what industry you are in, is that you make the choice that best meets the needs of your business, the audience you are trying to reach and what you have to sell.
To Become As Effective As Possible Landing Pages Must Undergo Testing
The reason that landing pages have such cachet with so many marketers is that the best are known to produce fairly incredible conversion rates – something that is not always easy to generate any other way. However, in order for this to take place there is often a great deal of testing that is done by the marketer. This testing can take quite a lot of time to do and those who are known for their high converting landing pages have often put countless hours into fine tuning each one. It is also important to note that even the most highly optimized landing page is not going to be able to be all that effective if the product or service it is trying to sell is not of interest to consumers.
One thing that a landing page builder is going to need to know first is their audience. Understanding as much as possible about who will be looking at the page is going to help unlock its full potential. Whenever possible, the marketer should know as many facts about the ideal customer as they can, ranging from where they live to what their age and gender is to what their interests are. Some of this data can be gleaned through researching forums or otherwise trying to ‘investigate’ the target audience. Before you can design an effective landing page, it is vital to know who you are trying to convince to buy what you have to sell.
Once you know who you are targeting and as many details as you can get, it is time to craft the sales copy or, in the case of landing pages which feature a video, the script. This is generally the most important part of the landing page and usually a great deal of fine tuning will need to be done. Some marketers hire copy writing professionals to help with the construction of their landing pages and this can be a good idea because not everyone is able to write in the kind of language that actually generates sales.
Testing is done in a number of ways, but split testing is often a smart idea for landing pages, at the very least. In this type of testing, you might take a landing page and make two different versions of it. Then you would direct, for instance, PPC traffic to each landing page and track how visitors responded. You would need to be careful to use the exact same PPC ad text so you know that it is the landing page your consumers are responding to and not the ad. That is a relatively low-cost way to examine your landing page campaigns and see where you are getting the best result.
There are many other ways that marketers use to test out the effectiveness of landing pages, but the bottom line is that improvements are generally incremental and it can take quite a while to get a fully optimized landing page capable of delivering consistent conversions at the highest possible level. Still, when all of that testing, tracking and experimentation pays off, there are definitely big rewards to savor for those that have put in the hard work to reach their goals.
Less Can Be More When It Comes to Landing Pages
An interesting thing that is helpful for beginners to understand is that it is often the ‘ugly’ or ‘spartan’ landing pages that perform the best in many markets. This seems odd at first, but if you keep in mind that landing pages really only have one purpose, and that their purpose is to drive action on behalf of the visitor, then it does make some sense. What this means is that you do not need an incredibly expensive landing page with dazzling graphics and flowery language in order to make respectable sales. In fact, it is often best if you avoid that approach altogether and cut to chase as quick as possible. This same philosophy has been proven to work in videos on landing pages – for some reason, consumers respond better to more stripped down videos that hammer the sales pitch rather than glamorize the product.
An advantage with landing pages for small businesses that do not have extensive budgets, and also solo entrepreneurs, is that selling or generating leads by using well crafted landing pages could be a smart move. The barrier to entry, at least for those who understand how to create these types of pages, is really quite low and that is a good thing. Plus, if you do not feel you have the budget to hire professionals to create your landing pages, but you do have the time then could try to learn to make them on your own.
Learning How to Build Landing Pages That Convert
If you want to learn how to make successful landing pages, one of the first things you need to do is start studying them. Obviously, trying to focus your studies on those landing pages in your niche that are used by marketers with a solid reputation is the best way to start, but if landing pages are not used in your niche and you believe they should be, then you may need to simply check out effective landing pages in other markets. By studying the layouts and language being used, you can start to get a sense of what all is possible with these marketing tools.
It is certainly a good idea to consider the value that you can get from real training, as well. Along with your own research, you might consider taking a course on designing effective landing pages. Many of these will be able to walk you through the whole process step by step so that you can create them for yourself. Many of these courses are on video so you will actually be able to watch as the person creates a landing page, see how they test it with actual footage of the process and so forth. For a lot of people, this is going to be an ideal way to learn.
You may also want to think about whether or not coaching would be a good investment towards your goal. Sometimes, coaching is offered as part of a course, but not always. Generally, in a coaching setup you will be attending webinars or live chats where you can watch the coach do their teaching, but you will usually also get some one on one help such as an analysis of landing pages you have made. If you choose the right coach this can be a great way to improve your ability to create great landing pages and well worth the investment. Learning from someone who’s done well is almost always a good way to make sure you have a solid idea about what you are doing.
It is worth remembering that with any course or coach you decide to learn from, you should perform due diligence and see to it that they actually do know their subject and have a track record of making sales with landing pages. Just because a person writes great sales copy does not necessarily mean that they will know how to track results and test landing pages thoroughly, fine tuning them until they perform like well oiled machines. You may want to seek out peers in the Internet marketing community and find out where and how they learned to make profit producing landing pages as a way to make sure that you are getting the best education you possibly can.
Landing Pages Are a Long Term Game That Takes Time to Master
The final thoughts you will want to take away about the ‘landing page game’ is that it is one which is ever-changing. What works this year may not be at all effective next year. What works like gangbusters in one market may totally flop in another market. There is so much to learn and you really do want to be deeply involved in Internet marketing if you plan to get the most benefit from designing and using landing pages to make sales. Those who are serious and willing to make a serious commitment to getting good at making them, however, will certainly find that they still produce profits.
As much time as it can take to become a master at landing pages, the profits available to those who do are immense. If you know how to sell things to targeted web audiences, you may be able to focus on that as your business rather than focusing on a specific product or service. A lot of people who are mostly interested in marketing will be able to appreciate that. You can also, if you are genuinely skilled, one day offer consulting services.
While we can never say that landing pages will be around forever, we do know that they are very effective for businesses today. That’s why they are worth learning about and hopefully they will be marketing tools that we can benefit for many more years to come.