Think of online media in the context of a dinner party. If the ads are the invitations, the landing page is the host. Without it, the evening has no real direction. You’re not sure who to talk to or what to do. The comfort of having someone introduce you around and show you to the refreshments is lost. You’re on your own, and you don’t know a soul.
Strangely, a good many campaigns don’t employ landing pages at all. Consumers who click banners or paid search ads are directed to a corporate or brand site home page, then left to fend for themselves. Interaction with that page is tracked, of course. But by directing traffic to an existing site page created for a specific purpose irrespective of a media buy, marketers are really selling their campaigns short.
Generally, landing pages are defined as pages designed specifically to generate a result. Whether that conversion comes in the form of a sale, download, or lead through an online form is irrelevant. It’s that the page encourages the desired conversion that’s important.
Look at your average site or section home page, and you’ll see that achieving such an objective takes a fair amount of forethought. On a typical page, consumers have a wide variety of options at their disposal. They can take any number of paths, so they do. They may stop on your client’s “About” section or view some products. But if those actions aren’t among the campaign goals, they don’t do much good securing an ROI (define).
From an agency perspective, landing pages are appealing because they grant us much more control over a campaign. As good as our media buys, ad creative, and optimization techniques may be, if the page to which traffic is driven isn’t designed to convert consumers into customers, we likely won’t meet our clients’ goals.
In a climate in which clients routinely employ several agencies, tasking one with maintaining their site and another with managing ad spending, we don’t always have the luxury of making changes to existing site structure and design. Yet even under these circumstances, we can build a single page for campaign use, and do it our way.
Don’t Grow Wallflowers
What makes a great landing page? First, it’s action-oriented. The action the consumer is encouraged (and expected) to take is very clear. Passive viewing is frowned upon; it doesn’t result in a good time for the visitor or the host.
Don’t Talk Too Much
Nobody likes a long-winded host. So page content — in the form of long, drawn-out paragraphs of company philosophy and product descriptions — should be kept to a minimum. You don’t want the consumer sidetracked by too much information. That said, a little context is important. The message on the page shouldn’t be divorced from the company’s message as a whole. It’s the equivalent of an in-person welcome. Remind people why they’ve come, and leave them to mingle.
Stay True to Your Style
Though it doesn’t mirror an existing site page, a great landing page should be consistent with the look and feel of your client’s site. This not only reinforces the brand but prevents confusion on the part of landing page visitors as well. Inviting people to a party that strays too much from what they’ve come to know and love about your entertainment style is risky. After all, the sign of a successful event is when all the guests can’t wait to come back to see you again.
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