“I have a website; isn’t that enough?”
“Landing pages are something only those Internet businesses use.”
“My customers don’t look for my services and products online.”
Fortunately most businesses have realized those are false beliefs. Or maybe it’s that businesses that didn’t change their beliefs have died away.
Either way businesses that know how to use online marketing to their advantage are thriving.
Email marketing has the highest response rate out of all marketing methods, PPC advertising can create huge returns, and affiliates can reach audiences you wouldn’t otherwise even know of.
Landing pages make all that success possible; without them, online marketing is useless to you.
Without effective landing pages your email list will stay limited to your mom. You’ll waste thousands of dollars into AdWords. And affiliates won’t touch your product – not even by accident.
In other words, landing pages enable you to sell more, regardless of what it is that you offer.
So, how should offline businesses use landing pages and what are the most important landing pages to have?
And oh, the same principles apply just as much to online businesses…
Your Home Page
Have you ever visited a website, only to turn away when you saw the home page?
At least I do that quite often and for several different reasons:
- The design is so poor that I can’t expect much of the other content.
- I don’t really know what I’d get if I stayed.
- All the blinking ads, product pictures, and other clutter gives me a panic attack.
Your home page is the most important landing page you‘ll ever build.
It will get more views than any other page, or even more than all other pages combined.
Should it say, “Come closer. Take a look at all the great content we can offer. Here‘s what you wanted, right?“
Or should it say, “Check out me awesome blinking navigation bar with 49 links!“
Should it say, “This is what I offer and I’m sure you’d benefit from having it.”
Or should it say, “Über-cool-life-changing-ideas-by-ME! Subscribe, Subscribe, Subscribe!”
Should it say, “Choose what you’re most interested in and get quality content related to that topic.”
Or should it say, “OMG! I just broke some record of how many product ads I can fit into just one page!”
Your home page needs to do four things…
1. Say Hello
Many of the people who come to your home page have never before visited your site, nor know who you are.
What would you do if you had houseguests like that?
You’d welcome them and tell them they came to the right place.
What if those guests are some celebrities that all of your neighbors would love to have as guests too; you’d have to convince you’re a better host than your neighbors.
That’s the situation online; your visitors are potential customers that your competitors would love to have. And many visitors are inclined to check out your competition before even contacting you.
The next three things help keep your visitors from leaving, and at least from forgetting who you are in case they do leave.
2. Be Very Clear about What You Offer
If you run a real estate business, you’d say you sell houses. Right?
No! All your competitors can say that too. You need to tell your story in a way that‘s best for your potential customers.
You have to be specific: “I sell affordable family homes in the lovely west-region of Antarctica for people who value beautiful nature and peacefulness, and I have 245 years of experience doing it.”
But don’t say it like that. Break the idea into pieces; tell it with pictures and videos, testimonials and bullet-points.
But what if you sell houses at the North Pole too?
So, what if you offer more than just one thing? For example houses on the Antarctica and on the North Pole.
Your home page can no longer serve all of your potential customers perfectly, since you can’t know what exactly they’re looking for.
Fortunately they know what they’re looking for and your home page’s job is to make sure they get closer to it.
Many huge multinational companies force you to choose your country before anything else. That’s probably not a good idea for your site, but the principle works; you force visitors to pick the content that best suits them.
If you had the real estate company, your home page could have two huge buttons (a certain type of call to action), one for each location or buttons for each type of house you offer. The next pages would then be optimized for the selection the visitor made.
4. Call to Action
Call to action is the small difference between a page that informs and a page that converts.
What the call to action should be on your home page then? It can be just a “self-selection” button, email list sign up form, contact form, or even a “buy now” button.
What’s the best call to action on a home page depends on several things.
- Your goals
- Your products
- Your visitors
- Other elements on the page
Unfortunately I can’t give you a simple answer. The only rule I can offer is this: ask for the biggest commitment that your potential customers are willing to make at that point. And offer smaller commitments for those who aren’t quite there yet.
That “large” commitment could be contacting you for a quote. And the smaller commitment could be watching a video about what you offer, or just clicking a link.
Check out this crazy example that hopefully explains some of the last ideas…
What Else Should Be on Your Home Page?
Nothing. It’s that simple.
Always make your home page as simple as possible; tell and show enough to keep visitors from leaving, but nothing more.
Have you ever stood in front of the ice cream shelf feeling as confused as after reading this sentence, “The hamburger, ‘Hamburg hamburger’, in Hamburg at, ‘Hamburgers of Hamburg’, is the Hamburgers’ favorite hamburger”?
The confusion with ice creams comes from having too many choices. The same happens on many home pages; as well as other landing pages.
Even the best home page should only be the first in a series of pages meant to drive visitors to action. Next up: the most usual type of landing page, which is also the one people most often do a poor job with.
“But I don’t sell anything online…”
You do sell something, right? That something needs a landing page.
80% of Americans use the Internet. That’s including infants, elderly, the blind, and those who believe using electricity is a sin.
In other words, your audience uses the Internet. Should they find you and your products there too?
Lets say you sell bricks in your, “Quality Bricks for Builders”, store. And you refuse to see that many people would probably like to order your bricks online.
Well, you should still create landing pages for your bricks.
If you don’t sell the product online, then your landing pages’ function is to make decision-making easy.
Good product pages help your potential customers find what they want and encourage making the purchase.
Some offline companies are – quite successfully – using shopping lists on their web sites. They let you browse their catalog and make a shopping list that you can print out and take with you to the actual store.
Product pages are also ideal for PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising (like AdWords). They’re highly focused, they tell the visitor all they need to know to make a decision, and they’re easily customizable for different ads.
But product pages aren’t just about PPC advertising, search engine optimization, and customer service; you need product landing pages for effective email marketing.
As mentioned before email marketing has the highest response rate out of any direct marketing method.
And it works just as well for offline businesses as it does for online businesses.
The first step is always building a list; without one, there’s no email marketing.
And when you have the list, you can drive your business with it.
But you can do neither – effectively – without good landing pages for both steps.
Opt In Landing Page
To get people to subscribe to your list, you need a landing page that accomplishes that. Sure, you can just add an opt in form to your sidebar, but a dedicated landing page will have a much higher conversion rate.
There are several things most businesses do wrong with opt in landing pages.
- They don’t give a good reason for subscribing.
- They don’t directly ask you to subscribe.
- They make subscribing too difficult.
- They mess up the design.
- They attract the wrong people.
Here’s a video that explains these ideas and shows you how to build an opt in landing page that works:
But building the list is only the first step. Sending the emails and creating results is a different thing completely. But again landing pages make that easier…
The Email Landing Page
First of all, What the hell is an “email landing page”?
Have you ever received an email that has a link to a web page?
What about an email that gets you to click the link, but you leave the page where it lead without taking any action?
Most email marketing needs landing pages to be the conversion point, regardless of which of the three email marketing strategies you use. And most companies don’t know how to build landing pages that “seal the deal”.
If you don’t sell the product online then your goal with the product page is either to inform (which will hopefully lead to sales) or to get the visitor to make the purchase decision and contact you.
So, how do you build an effective email landing page?
Here are a few guidelines to help you get started:
- The landing page has to continue from where the email left the reader.
- Stay focused on the message and your goal.
- Add value (information, promises, proof) to the email.
- Make the offer simple, clear, and easy to act on.
- Too simple is always better than too complicated.
What to Do Right Now?
Okay, you know you need landing pages to promote your offline (or online) business effectively. And you probably have some ideas about how you can use them or make them better.
But before you start writing code, A/B-testing, and obsessing over conversion statistics, do this very short thought exercise:
- Think what you want new visitors to do when they come to your site. Do you want them to contact you? Do you want them to find the best products for them? Do you want them to opt in to your email list? Something else?
- Open your home page.
- Look at each element on the page and think do they direct the visitor to your goals?
- Now imagine removing every element that doesn’t help your goals.
- And finally make the remaining elements more powerful with the extra space you now have.
Are you serious about making your landing pages better? What would happen to your business if your conversion rate would increase?
If you want to better your landing pages’ conversion, here’s what I can do to help:
- Leave a link to your landing page in the comments below. I promise to check it out and reply to you. Can you think of a reason why you wouldn’t use this opportunity? If you don’t have dedicated landing pages then use your home page.
- Download my FREE Landing Page Checklist. It explains the 11 most important keys to high conversion. Once you read it, you’ll know more about landing pages than 90% of other business owners.
- Get a Full Landing Page Evaluation that tells you clearly how you can increase your conversion. This is what I do and know. If you don’t agree, you pay absolutely nothing for it
Peter Sandeen is a marketing consultant specializing in landing pages. If you’ll only read one thing he’s written, then check out his FREE 46-page “101 Headline Formulas” eBook. If you want more, go to Affect Selling.