The Anatomy of a Landing Page
Back in the 90's, your home page was known as your landing page. Your home page is your landing page no more. A landing page is a search engine marketing conversion page. I click on your adwords campaign, I should be redirected to a landing page. Your landing page should include and disclude several key items.
Things to Include
Branding on this page is important, but not the most pressing issue. You're brand needs to be easily identifiable, but does not need to take up much space. We do not want to distract the visitor from making the sale. The more understated and simple the branding, the more professional the landing page will appear and that will inspire trust. Remember, we're not selling them on our brand, we're selling them on our deal or product. If our brand would sell the product, we probably wouldn't need an SEM campaign to convince them. Keep that logo small.
A clear and concise Call to Action (CTA)
Effective Call to Actions are always undergoing some form of A/B testing as clients get used to seeing the same marketing pitches and messages over and over on social media and in print. The more concise and too the point you can be, the better. "Free" still sees a lot of interest. There are gobs of research on CTA's so do your homework. Being unique is always rewarded, but do not attempt to trick or mislead clients with your title. Remember, you're handing Google money, usually about $3 a person. If you're lying to the visitor you probably won't see a return on that money.
Clients research and research and research before they buy anything. You must provide the visitor with all the information they need in order to make an informed decision. If they feel that you are being honest and have provided them with enough information that they're willing to give you their money or information, that's a win. Remember, your website is not alone out there. There are literally hundreds of companies competing with you, directly and indirectly. Your visitor may have 10 other windows open to 10 other landing pages. You need to win out. How? By providing honest information and a worthy reward for their investment of time or money.
Focus on Conversion Vehicle (Form, Phone, Email)
All focus on the page should be driving the conversion vehicle. Design-wise, their eyes should focus on the form. Hierarchy should be CTA > Form. Everything else on the page should be backing up that form, or that ecommerce wizard, or that phone number. With all the noise on the internet today, distractions need to be eliminated to the point where the only thing for them to do on the page is fill out the form.
Back when Nathan's Hot Dogs was being founded on Coney Island, no one would eat them. "Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails", as it were. How did Nathan's pull through? Social Proofing. Nathan's gave every doctor that came by their booth free lunch if they wore their white coats. What message did that send? "If a doctor, a person focused on health, eats a hot dog, it must be healthy." And Nathan's went on to be world famous for hot dogs. Your social proofing should be the same. There is a right and a wrong way to social proof however. Numbers mean nothing if they're illegitimate. Having 5,000 followers on Twitter looks bad if they're all auto-follow accounts. You must have sincere numbers or companies backing you up. If you have big brands that use you, throw their logo on there. If your product has been downloaded 10,000 times, tell people. Social proofing is about knowing the popular kid and creating bandwagon appeal.
Things to Disclude
Distractions (Other deals, ads or promotions)
Your ad for shoes sparked their interest. They want shoes. Now is not the time to hawk eight other products. As soon as they click off of your landing page, that is money wasted. If you want to push other deals, make your own landing page for it. A landing page should contain a single conversion push. Everything should work together towards that one end. Anything secondary deals will distract from your conversion and cripple your campaign.
Vague or misleading text (Visitors do not equal conversion)
You're handing someone $3 dollars to enter your store, where you've prepared a salespitch, with a product and you've paid them "Just to take a look". If you're lying to them in your ad, you're pulling in unqualified traffic, meaning uninterested traffic. Unqualified traffic is wasted money. If you target your ads correctly, your conversion rates should be high. Just because you have more visitors, does not mean they're interested in your product. Just because 5000 people visited your site, maybe 4999 believed your product was something entirely different and bounced. You just spent $15000 for 1 sale and that's bad business.
A/B Testing CTAs and text
Always be A/B testing if you're running a decently funded campaign. Several hundred visits might not move the needle, but if you're getting into the thousands of visits per week, start serving up different images, CTAs, button colors and information to improve conversion rates. You can always improve a landing page.
Perceived Work vs Pervceived Value (Forms only)
As humans, we look at work and wonder what value we will receive for our efforts. When looking at a career, we say, "How much will I make an hour?" We're always looking for a higher return on our effort. The same is true for our online interactions. When visitors look at your form that is 20 data fields and you promise them nothing in return, you're going to get a bounce. They feel that the return is not worth their effort. If you tell them, however, that they will "Receive a free quote, valued at $500." They're probably going to be more willing to fill out your form field. Make sure your conversion vehicle and CTA reflect a higher perceived value than the perceived work.
If you're falling short on some aspects and can't figure out the issue, it may be time to look at paying for more advanced analytics such as form-stop tracking, eyeball tracking or heatmap tracking. These advanced measurements will tell you at what point the conversion page is failing you or if your page has an element that is causing your bounce rate to skyrocket. If you're still not getting conversions, check to see if your forms are firing correctly.