Website Design & Development

Guest Writer Posted by Guest Writer on November 02, 2010

7 Easy Steps to Great Landing Pages

7 Easy Steps to Great Landing Pages

This is a guest post by Shell Harris, founder of Big Oak Studios, a SEO Company located in Richmond, VA. Other recent creative outlets include Bizarre Bytes which features unusual stories from around the web.

Landing pages are heavily used to attract customers to where you want them on your website: the sales payment page being the ultimate objective for most ebusinesses. Like everything else in life, there are right ways to go about creating a landing page and a million wrong ways. Creating a good landing page is vital because this is what many first time users are going to see of your web presence, and you cannot afford for it to be the last they see of you!

Here is our simple, 7 –step program to creating a landing page that works.

Step One: Identify the USP

Every business and product will have a USP – Unique Selling Point. Your USP may be you are the cheapest company in your zip code for your product or service, provide the tastiest food, the coldest beer, the fastest, the cleanest, the loudest, the closest, the “whatever” you do which sets you apart from the rest of the competition.

A USP will usually be combined in your primary headline, but it may be relegated to a secondary headline where you already have a short and sweet headline. A good example is this one from Amazon: “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore”

Step Two: Briefly Outline Benefits

Your USP headline attracts attention, but now you have to satisfy the customer’s initial curiosity. You should have ONE paragraph, using BULLET POINTS to answer this question from your customer, “Why do I care this product or service?”  You are outlining benefits here – what will this product do for your customer. For example:

• We are the cheapest which means you save money – GUARANTEED!
• You get the best quality – GUARANTEED!
• We deliver next day nationwide which means you don’t have to wait – GUARANTEED!

Go back and edit this paragraph continuously until you have just bare bones, so taking line one:

• We’re the cheapest so you save money – GUARANTEED!

Step Three: Use a Picture

This is known as the “Hero Shot”; think the cowboy in the Marlboro ads or the hunk in an aftershave campaign or the smiling couples for Viagra commercials. They show the product in use, giving context which either forms an empathetic connection with the customer or appeals to their aspirations.

Typically, the hero shot will be a photo, but it can also be diagram showing where the product fits into an existing problem which is typically experienced by your target market readership, or it may be a chart showing where you rank with the competition (top!) or a simple graphic selling a number, e.g.” 50% OFF!”

Step Four: Set the Context of Use

Context of use is important, and this is closely related to step 3 and the Hero Shot. Context of use provides the user with “real life” application; for instance, if you are selling a beverage, show it being drunk – if its beer, show it being drunk in a bar; if it’s champagne, show it being drunk on a yacht on a blue sea.

Obviously photographic imagery and video are excellent for doing this, but you can also invoke context of use by displaying a client list or by using testimonials.

Step Five: Get the Customer’s Information

Ask for the user’s email and/or contact information – this is extremely important for all landing pages, but it is especially vital for landing pages selling to other businesses (B2B). In this instance, a landing page’s primary objective will probably be lead generation and unless you gain the contact information, you fail!

The best way to get contact information is to ask for it, typically providing some freebie or promotional pricing for a limited period. Use a privacy statement too – this enhances your professionalism.

Step Six: Provide a 2nd Chance Safety Net

Not every visitor will turn into a converted lead or sale and you will experience a substantial number of users who are interested in you but not ready to buy now. Provide them with a second chance to do business with you, known as a safety net, and this can take many different forms:

• Add a button for the user to subscribe to your Facebook profile, Twitter feed or other social media presence you maintain;
• Offer to email a reminder;
• Offer a freebie download such as a whitepaper; or
• Bookmark the page.

Step Seven: The Call to Action

This is the ultimate purpose of the landing page – the final act you want the user to perform and at some point you have to ask them to do it. The call to action may be to buy your product, it may be to complete a survey, to navigate through to a sales page, to pick up a phone and call your sales team, to add themselves to your email bulletin…whatever it is that you want the user to do before they leave the landing page.

Examples include:

“Meet the World’s Best Browser” and immediately below is the download box for the Firefox browser

“Things Mac” placed immediately above a download box and a “Purchase: Buy things Mac now” box

“NCover helps .NET teams all around the world deploy applications with fewer bugs” and placed below is a download box with an offer in it, “Download NCover – 21-Day Free Trial

This is a guest post by Shell Harris, founder of Big Oak Studios, a SEO Company located in Richmond, VA. Other recent creative outlets include Bizarre Bytes which features unusual stories from around the web.