Quality Landing Pages 06 Jul 2012

Have you ever walked into a restaurant for a meal, and then quickly changed your mind when you took in the surroundings?  The tables are filthy, the menus are covered in mysterious, sticky remnants of previous orders, the floors clearly haven’t been mopped in recent history, and there is a distinctive funk of old food in the air.  If you’ve been in this situation, chances are you didn’t hang around to see if the food lived up to the environment.  When all the signs point to a seedy, low-quality experience (and a high probability of ensuing food poisoning), the average diner will head straight out the door and find someplace more reliable, more trustworthy, to eat.

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run or where you run it, consumers know what they want.  They’re looking for a business that’s trustworthy, reputable, and reliable.  A first impression is made in a matter of seconds, but can remain embedded in a customer’s brain for the rest of forever.  Because that first impression is so important, taking the time to thoughtfully and purposefully develop a landing page is a critical step in your online marketing plan.  Your landing page needs to please visitors, get their attention, pique their interest, and communicate to them that yours is a reputable business, worthy of their trust and money.  How do you convey all this meaning in one simple, effective landing page?

There are several factors to consider in the design and implementation of your landing page.  First of all, remember that the content is the most important aspect of the page.  The words on the page are the most powerful tool you have to make a positive impact on your visitors.  Your content must be clear, truthful, and informing.  Focus on only the most important details that you want visitors to get from your landing page; a few short lines of meaningful content will be far more effective than lengthy selections that require the visitor to spend even a minute or two reading.  The goal of your landing page is to get visitors interested in and excited about your product or service, so make sure the content is enthusiastic; it should emphasize what you have to offer, why it’s of value, and what benefits it will provide the visitor.  The content of your landing page should be compelling, and it should be honest about what you’re advertising.  Don’t make claims you can’t support, imply offers you can’t execute, or in any way mislead visitors; even a hint of dishonesty is a sure way to lose that potential customer.

Once you have the content figured out, developing a page design and layout that will appeal to visitors is the next important step.  Decisions regarding how your landing page looks will make a huge difference in how effective the page is.  Many of the guidelines for designing a quality landing page are the same as those for sound web design.  To maintain consistency between your landing page, ads, and website, stick to a unifying color palette and theme.  This consistency will help boost brand identity, and visitors will know who they’re looking at.  Use colors that contrast for easy viewing, and reserve stronger, bolder colors for emphasis rather than your background color (example:  a bright pink button against a more muted background color will draw visitors’ attention to what they’re supposed to do on the page).  Put the most important details and information where it is easiest to see – in the top half of the page.  Make sure the page is easy for visitors to navigate with a standard word flow pattern and a clear visual direction of where they should look next.

Although many design elements should mirror those of your website, remember that the objective of your landing page is entirely different; you want visitors to get to the page quickly, get the information on it quickly, and complete the intended action quickly.  None of this will happen if the page doesn’t load quickly.  Limit your landing page to one or two essential graphics, and optimize them for faster loading.  Don’t weigh down the page with an explosion of clipart, or unnecessary animations/videos.  Visitors will get your information most efficiently with a layout that is clean and free of clutter; stick to a single column, with your call to action in plain view (offset from the center so it stands out is especially nice).  Make sure your landing page is only a page; don’t force visitors to scroll anywhere.  In fact, concentrating your layout to the center and leaving clean margins can be much more impactful than packing the whole page with visual distractions.

Most importantly, make your call to action (the something you want each visitor to do) easy to find and easy to complete.  It should pop from the page with a bold accent color and stand out from the other content on the page.  The call to action needs to be compelling, too.  Asking visitors to “Join…”, “Get your FREE…”, or “Learn More” is much more interesting that simply inviting them to “Sign Up”.  Remember to not ask too much, either.  The goal of your landing page is to gather information from potential customers; make the input form short and easy to complete with a limited amount of essential details.  Make the cursor to automatically skip from one field to the next as the visitor enters his or her information.  For optimal convenience, avoid drop-down menus.  Remember, the easier the input form is to complete, the more leads you’ll generate.

You’ve worked hard to establish a business that you believe in, that offers a valuable product or service to consumers.  You’ve worked hard to market your business and build your brand identity.  You’ve worked hard to develop a website to further your business.  You’ve worked too hard to passively wait for customers to come to you.  Grow your business and increase your customer base with a landing page!

John Rampton is a PPC Entrepreneur, Author, Founder at Due a finance company helping small business owners. Follow me on Twitter @johnrampton

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