You want to get sales or responses from visitors who arrive at your site from your sponsored search results ad, email campaign, or online banner ad.
Create a landing page for people who follow an external link to your site from an ad, email newsletter, or other promotional vehicle that you're using to drive traffic to your site. A landing page might be a web surfer's only look at your site, so it has to convey value and reliability to convert visitors into customers. The most successful landing pages do this by:
Landing pages are the infomercials of the web, and, like their broadcast world cousins, they begin and end with the goal of generating a response from their viewers. But the web is not TV (and don't let anyone tell you it is), a distinction that sets landing pages apart from infomercials, despite the similarity of their goals. Although infomercials employ a Chinese water torture approach to closing a sale, landing pages have to work fastmost of their visitors will back out within the first 10 seconds of arriving. But good landing pages have the advantage of addressing an audience predisposed to their message. (Does anyone ever consciously choose an infomercial from the program listings?)
To better understand how landing pages work, suppose that you're the purveyor of a complete line of upscale products for cat lovers and you want to send a free sample of your high-performance titanium kitty litter to new customers. To find people who will be interested in requesting a sample, you buy sponsored ads on search engine results pages tied to specific keyword searches, including "best kitty litter." Along comes a web surfer searching for "best kitty litter." Your ad appears next to the search results, with a link to your landing page. The searcher takes the bait and arrives at your landing page. The headline is "Tired of the rest? Try the bestTitanium Kitty Litter!"
The headline meets two goals that are key to making the landing page work: it reiterates the prospect's search query and it poses a problem that should resonate with the visitor. The copy that follows should introduce the product as the solution using the persuasive techniques of advertising and direct mail copywriting: emotional appeals or a story the prospect can identify with, a time limit on the offer (such as "Free samples for the first 250 respondents"), and incentives to sweeten the deal (such as "Act now to get a free catnip chew toy with your sample"). If your budget allows, you might want to consider hiring a professional writer to craft an effective message for your landing page.
The response devicei.e., the form that prospects will use to claim the offermust be simple and straightforward. Make the "Submit" button big and eye-catching, and leave off the "Reset" button that you might include on other forms. Also, just ask for what you need, and nothing more. To get a free product sample, prospects must supply a name and mailing address. A request for a phone number, gender or birthdayas valuable as those can be to other marketing effortswill turn off the more wary visitors and reduce the page's conversion rate.
Because they are so tightly focused, a landing page optimized for one product or keyword term shouldn't be used for other products, or for other sponsored search terms. But once you have a format that works, you can easily replicate it and tweak it for another offer.
Landing pages often are the destination for links found in sponsored search engine ads and email newsletters. For more information, see Recipes 7.12 and 8.9. Your visitors will respond to your landing page if they can trust your site. For more information, see Recipe 8.1.