The importance of landing pages

Many times companies see landing pages as little more than an extra page on their website tailored for a certain product or promotion.  They know that if done correctly they can be effective, but rarely do people stop to think about why they’re so powerful.

First and foremost a properly designed landing page is a great opportunity to get your consumer into your “kill sack.”  Forgive the old army jargon, but as a former Cavalry officer, I learned the importance of channeling the enemy into an area that the defense selected by using natural and man-made obstacles.  By doing so, the defense can decide what their avenues of escape and where the location of the battle.  The primary avenues for escape are the ones that the defense should have thought about and taken action to  prevent leakages.

A landing page can operate in much the same manner.  Some of the most effective landing pages are actually pretty spartan when it comes to interactivity and options for the consumer.  The idea being that you can create a page where the ONLY options for a consumer are what you want them to do.  If you want them to fill out a form for information, you can make a simple but powerful page where that is the only thing they can do (or go back).  No links to home, no links to other topics – just do what it wants, or leave.

Some might worry that such a page discourages engagement with the website.  Which is true.  It’s why you would only build such a page if you had a specific action/conversion that you wanted your consumer to take – and you build the landing page in such a way that makes that action the easiest/only action to take.  It’s not something you would make if you wanted to encourage users to dive in and explore the depths of your website.  Remember that your landing page should smell like you’re keywords, in other words, you paid for that traffic by signaling a specific message for a specific keyword.  {insert omniture whitepaper link here}

Studies have repeatedly shown that removing options from a user can actually be extraordinarily helpful in getting them to take desired actions.  A rich and easily navigable website is always the goal, however it comes with the downside of allowing users to get lost in the website in a manner that does not necessarily contribute to a conversion.  What landing pages do is stand aside of your main webpage, so that you can still offer a rich open website, while still optimizing for conversions in areas like your PPC campaign.  Use Pay Per Click like reconnaissance, learn quickly, and take those learnings back into the larger website.

In the end every business and every site is going to have different needs, so landing pages may not be the right thing for everyone as far as conversions are concerned.  However they still can serve a great purpose as a sandbox for new ideas.  A landing page with a new checkout process, logo, promotion, etc. can always be a great place to test ideas before launching them on your main website.  Even if specific conversions are not what your website is looking for, working with landing pages is always a good idea if only for the fact that they are a place for continued learning.

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