Effective landing pages are the key to converting customers through paid search. There is little point in spending money attracting people to your site if your pages aren't doing the job properly.
Taken from our newly updated Paid Search Marketing Best Practice Guide, here are twelve landing pages success factors which should help improve your landigng pages and convert more vistors...
If visitors to your landing pages have clicked through from your ad, then they will have a specific goal in mind, so you need to convince them that your landing page is relevant to that.
Clear headlines show that a page is relevant and encourage them to scan down the page.
Make relevant messages easily scannable. This means nice clear, large fonts.
Integrate with referral source
Your landing page should tie up with the ad that sent customers there in the first place, so if you have enticed visitors to your site in with an ad for 'iPod deals' then they should be seeing a picture of an iPod together with a clear call to action, rather than a generic category page.
Give enough detail for people to make a purchase decision
You need to give customers enough detail on the landing page so that they can make an informed decision about whether to purchase the product / service or not.
However, too much clutter could be a distraction, so the right balance needs to be found.
In the case of products like laptops or insurance, which may require a lot of information, tabs are a good way of displaying additional information, while keeping the landing page free from clutter.
Start the user on their journey
The next step the visitor needs to take to sign up or purchase should be made clear to them on the landing page. Every extra step taken to complete a transaction will reduce response by 10%.
If they have to go to another page to complete a purchase, then include multiple calls to action to leave them in no doubt where to click. If a multi page form is necessary, draw people in with easier initial questions.
Find the right page length
This is not an exact science; some designers would advise that the content should fit on one page that doesn't require any scrolling, but a longer page may be necessary to be able to contain all the relevant information.
The key is to provide just enough information, while ensuring that key information and calls to action are placed above the fold.
Graphics should be consistent with the campaign and appealing to users. Different graphics may affect conversion rates, so the key here is to test responses to different versions to find out what works best.
Consider removing menu options
This is debatable; removing menu options can increase conversion rates since users have a smaller choice of where to click, but this will prevent visitors who don't respond from going to other sections of the site.
One compromise is to limit the menu to top level options only.
Consider a 'flowable' layout design
This maximises 'page real estate' at a given resolution. Amazon does this, while Orange doesn't. Although this can work well for a retailer to show more products above-the-fold in a category, this is achieved with a loss of control of design.
For landing pages, a controlled, fixed design will often work best and is most common.
If your PPC strategy is linked to an offline campaign, then make sure it matches the strapline or brand that people will search for in response to your ads. Use paid search to direct them to the relevant pages on your site.
Also, if the page is integrated into the website long term, it should be optimised for the relevant keywords.
Provide options for visitors that don't convert
You may have created the perfect landing page, but some people will still not respond, so give them options.
Provide a clear phone number, call back or live chat option in case they prefer to purchase in this way, and provide links so they can browse the rest of your website.
Review and improve
Landing pages should be tested frequently to see if improvements can be made to increase conversion rates. The only way to be sure of what works for your audience and your market is to conduct structured tests such as usability studies, A/B testing or multivariate testing. The right web analytics tool is crucial.
Remove out of date landing pages
Some landing pages are used for short term campaigns, and links to these should be removed so customers don't see out of date offers. Using custom 404 error page or a 301 permanent redirects is a good way to manage this problem.