Every new business hopes to launch to immediate accolades and tons of sales.
But, the truth is that most businesses start slowly. And, if they’re lucky, they last long enough to survive and grow.
But, what if I told you there’s a simple way to create momentum before your new business even sets its feet on the ground? Not to mention build credibility and generate sales leads?
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
I’m not talking about a myth or a fantasy. I’m talking about a real and actionable marketing tool – the landing page.
A landing page is a simple, targeted web page that steers your visitors to one specific goal. Landing pages can collect leads, motivate downloads and/or generate sales. For a new business, landing pages can establish credibility, create excitement for your new product or service, and collect leads for future customers – all before you officially launch.
Kickoff Labs, a viral marketing company, points out:
A great coming soon landing page, focuses on one primary objective: getting people to sign up before launch. Do this right and you can build enough initial brand momentum to sustain an enormous amount of sign ups pre-launch.
With so much to gain, how can you create an effective landing page for your business?
Let’s take a look at some content and design best practices so you can put a high-performing landing page to work for your new business.
Content Tips for an Effective Landing Page
Landing pages, like any other part of your online marketing arsenal, need goals. Without concrete, specific goals, there’s no way to create an effective page.
So start by defining the goal for your landing page – one goal. The entire purpose of a landing page is to propel viewers to take action toward that single goal. In this example, Zendesk wants you to sign up.
Every new business should start with one, important goal: generating sales leads. The folks at Kickoff Labs recommend,
The sooner you start collecting emails the better.
We just emailed the info to you.
Collecting emails allows you to validate your product’s market fit and find future customers. You can then use the emails you collect to provide updates to your growing customer base as your business gets closer to launch.
This, in turn, creates excitement and anticipation for your product or service. And, of course, the leads you generate from your pre-launch landing page will be primed to purchase once your business goes live.
So, if your goal is to collect leads, every element of your landing page must be targeted toward collecting email addresses. That means you’ll want to eliminate any content that doesn’t support that goal. Remember, simpler is better.
So, let’s look at the content you absolutely must include.
As a new, and unknown, business it’s vital to be clear with your audience about what you provide. Otherwise, they have no motivation to sign-up, click-through or act in any way. Josh Ledgard, co-founder of Kickoff Labs, points out:
Unless you’re already an internet celebrity with a large following, you are going to have to tell people something about what you want them to sign up for. Being stealthy only looks cool, but it generates less signups and paying customers than telling your story.
This is a great reminder to be up front with your future customers about what you do and how it can make their lives better. It’s vital to show consumers what’s in it for them. Maintain focus and show value on your landing page through strong, succinct marketing copy.
This landing page from Ipsy is a great example:
Ipsy tells you all you need to know in just a few words. But, not only that, they cleverly cycle through different products to complete their headline- showing you how many items they offer with the same concise statement.
Clear and concise language is a must when writing copy for a landing page. You want to tell your audience what you want them to do and how to do it, without any language that distracts from the task you’re requesting. Kissmetrics’ Chapman explains:
Every single sentence and word on your landing page should serve a purpose, and that purpose should be to support your call to action. If it doesn’t do that, cut it.
Here’s why you absolutely must be clear and concise with your content (and design): people have very short attention spans. As we’ve previously explained:
Attention span is the amount of time a person (or animal) can concentrate on something without becoming distracted. … Did you know that radio ads used to be 60 seconds long? Then radio ads became 30 seconds long, then 15 seconds, and now, there are many five second radio ads. TV ads have followed the same pattern. When they were first aired in 1971, television ads were 60 seconds long. Today, the standard length is 30 seconds and there are even shorter ads.
I’ve been thinking more about this topic after talking to other entrepreneurs building online startups and to small business owners looking to improve their websites. With very few exceptions, the landing and marketing pages for these startups and small businesses are packed with too much content and too many distractions. Every extra word or graphical image on a page increases the “noise” on that page and impacts the attention of the user browsing that page.
Here’s why you should care: the attention span of a human adult, according to BBC News, is 9 seconds (the Associated Press reports that in 2012, the average attention span for a human was 8 seconds). Nearly one fifth of all page views in 2012 lasted fewer than four seconds. And to add fuel to the fire, people read only approximately half of the words on a web page that has fewer than 111 words (and only 28% of the words on a web page that has more than 593 words). If you’re still reading, then you’ve obviously decided that this content had some value and was worth your time.
And that brings us to the next vital element of your landing page content – the call to action.
…a call to action (CTA) is a statement designed to elicit an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it. It’s used in business as part of a marketing strategy to get your target market to respond through action.
Every landing page needs a call to action that clearly asks the audience to buy, download or sign-up. If you don’t make it clear what you want your consumers to do, they may lose interest and click elsewhere.
Not only does your call to action need to be clear, it needs to be easy to accomplish. So, provide your consumer with everything they need right on the landing page. This landing page for crowdSPRING’s new ebook STAND OUT: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting, Growing and Managing a Successful Business provides the what, why, how and where all in one clean design.
An email sign-up form is an essential tool to include on your lead generating landing page. It serves as a visual cue to the customer of exactly what is expected of them; and, collects customer’s names and email addresses for your new business.
Make sure to include fields for the customer’s name and email address, at a minimum. You may also want to collect mobile numbers to send text updates or mailing addresses if you plan to execute any direct mail marketing campaigns.
Lastly, if you’ve sent out any sort of email or direct mail campaign pointing consumers to your landing page, make sure that you match the message of your campaign on your landing page. The landing page experts at Unbounce explain:
Message match is the ability of your landing page to reinforce the messaging presented on the link that was clicked to reach the page. Most visitors are impatient and will leave your page within a few seconds of arrival if you don’t reinforce their intent with a matching headline and purpose (quickly and clearly).
So, make it very clear to your audience that they’ve reached the right spot by matching your campaign message on your landing page.
A final word on the content of your landing page. The most important take-away that you should remember is to keep your content simple and streamlined. Only include what is necessary to guide your customers and prospects to convert.
Content Best Practices
- Determine one single goal for your landing page and tailor all content to support that goal.
- Tell the consumer who you are and what you do.
- Use clear and concise language.
- Ask for the behavior you want with a call to action.
- Provide the tools to accomplish that task (email form, download button).
- Match the message from your marketing copy to reinforce the connection.
Design Tips for an Effective Landing Page
We’ve already discussed that a landing page should focus on one specific goal. Web design can support your landing page’s call to action is with simple, streamlined and focused design.
The first and arguably most important rule of web design for landing pages is to keep the page short. Wix, an online web design service reminds us,
A landing page, as its name may suggest, remains one single page. You can divide it into separate sections but you should stick to just one page, and preferably not a very long one.
Keeping your landing page relatively short provides less room for visitors to get distracted and lose their way before following your call to action. But with less real estate to share your message, you will need to utilize laser-targeted, succinct copy and graphics. So, plan to get rid of everything that doesn’t specifically support your call to action.
While a landing page should take its overall visual design cues from your regular website, it is not (and should not be) your website’s home page. This means that you can (and should) cut the navigation buttons (as you see in the example below from Capital One) that might distract your consumer away from the main goal.
This landing page from Capital One includes only a headline and application form- no additional navigation options, or copy. Their one graphic – an image of the credit cards for which you’re applying – serves to direct the eye back and forth between their headline and their application form. Everything on the page encourages you to apply.
Follow their example – combat distraction and create focus by including only actionable items (ex. email form, “Sign up Here!” button) that support your call to action. In fact, no graphic element should be included if it doesn’t serve your landing page’s purpose. This makes it easier for consumers to see what you want them to do and how to do it.
Another great ease-of-use tip is to keep the most important part of your landing page – the call to action – above the fold. “Above the fold” is a marketing term that hearkens back to print newspapers. The most valuable real estate in a newspaper was the most easily seen top half; which was located above the fold.
In web-speak, the phrase indicates the portion of a web page that is visible on a monitor without having to scroll. Keeping your call to action above the fold ensures that your audience can see it right away and makes it easier for them to act. You can see in this Linkedin landing page above that they’ve placed all of their content safely above the fold.
Place less action-oriented information below the fold – such as product benefits and features or any other compelling information that might encourage people to sign up. If you want to ensure that below-the-fold content gets seen, you can utilize directional cues that help guide the eye downward. Otherwise, visitors may not realize that the content continues below.
If you plan to create your entire landing page above the fold, you should still utilize directional graphics – to guide the eye toward your headline or the form and/or buttons that you want your consumer to engage with.
Directional cues can be as straightforward and literal as an arrow or more subtle like the example above from Airbnb Magazine where the arm, hand and cup all form a line pointing toward the headline and” Subscribe” button. Good web designers will be able to offer you many different directional cue options.
Finally, your design should visually match any marketing campaigns directing traffic to your landing page. Just as your landing page should share copy with (message match) your marketing campaign, your web design should clearly call back to the design that motivated consumers to come to your landing page to begin with.
A clear visual relationship between your landing page and marketing campaign reassures your visitor that they’ve found the offer they wanted to find. And, a well-designed landing page with a clear call to action and easy-to-locate sign-up form gives the consumer the tools to effortlessly do what they’ve come to do.
Design Best Practices
- Keep it short.
- Remove unnecessary navigation buttons and graphics.
- Include actionable buttons and forms that are easy to find and use.
- Keep your call to action above the fold.
- Use directional cues to lead your consumer to the content you most want your consumer to see.
- Message match your design to your marketing campaign design.
Well-constructed landing pages are invaluable marketing tools for your business. Embrace clean, simple, functional design and you’ll remove any potential friction for consumers. Follow the content techniques we discussed above and you’ll create content that directs focus and motivates consumer action. In no time at all, you’ll be well on your way to collecting leads and building your new business’s customer base.
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