Landing pages are one of the most important elements of your website. It doesn’t matter how great your SEO efforts, how marvellous your product and how enthusiastic your staff; if your landing page doesn’t cut it, your customers will leave without purchasing.

A bad page will see your visitor bounce straight back to the search engine they came from.However, a good page will attract and hold their attention, while persuasively encouraging them to do whatever it is the page exists for. So how do you achieve this?

Earlier this year, I wrote ten
tips for creating solid landing pages
. Now I want to look at the more
advanced discipline of enhancing the sales effectiveness of your pages.

Have a special offer

There’s a warm rush that comes with feeling you’re getting a
bargain and a decent landing page should ideally hook the visitor with an
offer. It doesn’t have to be a loss leader; it could be as simple as free
postage. Just make the visitor feel special.

If you’re in a services industry, like SEO, consider
offering a ‘free review’. This allows you to make your pitch while your
potential customer feels they are getting something for nothing. Everyone likes
that.

Cut out all distractions

Now, normally I love a site to be filled with internal links
to other content a reader might be interested in, such as blog posts, but this
is not necessarily right for a sophisticated landing page.

If your visitor has clicked on a paid link, then they are
potentially ready to buy. Distract them with reviews or blogs or news stories
and you could lose the purchase.

Let them click through to other sections of your site if
they want to but don’t distract them from the big ‘buy now’ call to action.

Just ditch the pop-ups

Most marketers finally understand that pop-ups are one of
the most loathed aspects of the web. So don’t do it.

It’s not just a distraction, it’s impertinent. Many people
will leave your site without buying if you open windows on their screen without
invitation.

Keep the best bits visible

Don’t underestimate the laziness of the online reader. Keep
all your important information above the fold of the page, i.e. visible without
the visitor having to scroll down.

That includes information about why the reader should buy
the product, any testimonials and so on. A good page is also uncluttered, so
this can be hard to achieve but a decent web designer should be able to produce
something effective.

Keep your call to action visible

It’s easy to leave your ‘buy now’ call to action at the very
bottom right of the page, but you should really make sure it’s visible at all
times and, again, keep it above the fold.

All the information on your landing page is designed to
encourage a sale, so make sure it’s easy for them to buy once they have decided
to do so.

Use graphics carefully

This is where testing your landing page comes in useful,
because it is not always easy to work out what will help and what will hinder
the conversion.

Graphics can be a fantastic way to enhance your landing page
and that’s especially true if you’re selling a high-end product, such as a
luxury holiday, new car or popular gadget. Images can be aspirational and that
can really boost sales.

However, images can also be distracting, especially if they
overpower your ‘buy now’ button by drawing the eye away.

Keep that in mind during design and test different versions
of your page to see what works.

Track everything your visitor does

It’s important to be able to follow and analyse everything
your visitor does when presented with your landing page. After all, that is how
you learn what’s working and what’s not.

Companies that don’t track this information cannot see where
customers are abandoning the process, so they can’t test to see which
incarnations of a page are working best.

Without tracking customer
movements on your site, you’re working blind.

Do something useful once they’ve
purchased

You need to focus on every page in the buying process, from
the initial landing page right through to the resolution page.

What happens once they’ve made a purchase? What page do you
present your customer with then? This is as important as your landing page
because, even if you don’t expect them to buy again immediately, you do want to
encourage them to return to your shop in the future.

Now is the time to distract them with the full breadth of
your offerings. Show them different products and services, highlight your blog,
invite them to sign up to a newsletter. Anything that builds habit and
encourages them to return.

Summarise why the visitor is there

When someone has clicked through from a paid link in the
search engine results page, you need to show them very quickly why your page is
relevant.

If there’s a lot of information on your page and it isn’t
immediately obvious how it’s going to meet their needs, they are going to click
away very quickly. Think about how often you abandon a page because it doesn’t
look immediately helpful.

Because you’ll be using landing pages that mirror the
messages in your pay-per-click advertising (see my original post), you’ll be
able to make that page obviously relevant.

Whether it’s: ‘Buy fantastic hand-tied bouquets in the
north-west’ or ‘SEOptimise specialises in delivering expert search engine
marketing and social media solutions for our clients’ – make it obvious that
you can satisfy their need.

Show you’re trustworthy

Tip number ten. The trouble with dedicated landing pages is
that they are not your homepage, so you can’t fill them with information about
how great and reliable your company is.

Instead, they need to be dedicated to whichever product
you’re pushing. But a customer who arrives on a landing page has probably come
straight from Google and they do need to know that you’re a trustworthy
website.

Your page needs to reinforce your credibility from the word
go. Part of that is having a professional-looking site. However, you should
also display any relevant security badges or validations, especially if you’re
about to ask the visitor to enter card details.

A final word…

Most of the guidance on this page has been about encouraging
and persuading your visitor to make a purchase, so there has been very little
opportunity to urge you to keep the customer’s experience in mind.

However sales-orientated your landing pages are, try to
offer value and information to the customer elsewhere.

The best corporate websites are not relentless sales
pitches, they are informative troves of industry news, opinion and tips. That’s
why they are successful and why customers return more than once.