Landing Pages: Think Simple, Think Specific
It took a long time for big companies to enter the world of search marketing, and once they did there was sudden fierce competition for the moms and pops out there eking it out online. Now, as then, those same moms and pops can outmaneuver the big boys by capitalizing on bigger company weaknesses. Today’s advantage: landing pages.
Landing pages, for uninitiated, are where customers end up after clicking on a search ad or search result. Ideally, they serve as a sort of sign on the window, or an important step on the way toward a sales conversion. Remarkably, big companies are still getting this part of the process wrong.
Last summer, using a particular digital camera as an example, we explored how companies like Wal-Mart, Target, Circuit City, and other retailers embarrassingly blew their chance at selling that particular camera. Clicking on their ads (because they ranked incredibly poorly in the organic results for the products they carry) appearing with the very specific search term led to pages that were either unrelated promotions, lists of every camera but that one, or to pages that were so irrelevant that they weren’t even in the electronics category.
(The most ridiculous was from now out of business Circuit City, whose digital camera keyword ad led to a listing for a pet odor removal product.)
If you’re like me, you find it very annoying to search for a product, believe you’ve found a link to information on that product, follow it, and then have to search again at the destination website. That, my friends, is dropping the e-commerce ball.
What they lack, obviously, is specificity, a very important element of the landing page.
Content management company CrownPeak contacted me in advance of the launch of their new Landing Page Management tool, which they’ve debuted with a free 30 day trial. The company’s VP of marketing and strategy, Robert Rose, described the landing page as a kind of brochure for what a business is selling. That makes it a content issue, but historically landing pages and websites have been viewed (incorrectly, in his opinion), as an IT issue.
“Content changed from being driven by IT to being driven by marketers, and that has led to the resurrection of the brochure site,” he said. “The brochure idea is about content marketing. It really enables marketers to do more with their websites and create a hub for their marketing.”
Nissan, for example, hit up CrownPeak about better ways to pump content out to regional dealership landing pages. With seven regions and fifteen or so models of car, delivering that type of specificity to searchers was no doubt difficult. In addition, Zimmerman, Nissan’s agency, wanted to be able to track the response to various campaigns by model and region. The Landing Page Manager is designed to do just those types of things.
It’s that simple specificity, says Rose, that gives CrownPeak’s new tool an advantage over free tools like Google Analytics. “What Analytics doesn’t show is which people were actually great leads and filled out forms, which were visitors and which were customers. “A lot of people are just tire-kickers,” he said.
So, besides specificity, what makes a great landing page? “Simplicity is best,” says Michael Weiss, CEO of web-marketing firm Imagistic. “Be as simple as possible. A blurb, a form, a submit button, and you’re done. It should be a short form, with an explanation of what you’re going to get for that form.”
For example, referring to my digital camera example, Weiss quipped, “name and address and we’ll knock $20 off the camera.”
Weiss also recommends big, clean images, and not a lot of text. “I think that’s where a lot of people fail. You go to Google AdWords, and when you click it, it takes you to a site.”
Naturally, being a CrownPeak partner, Weiss recommends the Landing Page Management tool. “What’s great about this system, you just copy the URL for the right page and put that right into AdWords.”
Regardless of methods and tools, the lesson is the same. Small and medium sized businesses can get an edge on bigger competition via great landing pages that are specific to the searcher’s needs and simple to understand and use.