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When it comes to your list of priorities, the design of a quality landing page should be right at the top if you’re seeking to turn browsers into buyers. Your awesome new branding and website design may grab their attention initially, but a strong landing page will ensure they remain engaged long enough to convince them to purchase a particular product or service or not.

To bring some of you up to speed, a landing page is the internet marketing equivalent of a landing strip for potential customers.

Wikipedia defines a landing page as:

landing page, sometimes known as a "lead capture page" or a "lander", is a single web page that appears in response to clicking on an advertisement. The landing page will usually display directed sales copy that is a logical extension of the advertisement or link.

Although Wikipedia’s definition does a great job of summing it up nicely, but there’s definitely more to a great landing page which converts than relevant and keyword rich content. What the definition fails to mention is that the single purpose of a landing page is to get users to take specific actions, whether it be buying a product, subscribing to a mailing list or requesting further information.

Based on my experience, here are what I consider to be the top 10 things that you should be examining when optimizing a landing page in pursuit of better conversion rates in no particular order:

Make Your Content Relevant

The content of a landing page should be directly related and relevant to your organic search results, PPC campaigns, anchor texts used in inbound links and any other targeted traffic advertising, online and offline. If people don’t deliver the right content and provide visitors with what they expect, there’s no compelling reason for them to stay on the page.

Make Your Visitors Stay

Avoid sending your website visitors to other pages on your site unless you absolutely have to. Minimize on the clutter such as unnecessary internal navigation, advertising and banners which direct users away from the page they are currently viewing. The more distractions and nonessential navigation options you can eliminate and the better your chance of retaining your visitors. I often call the the "No-Bleed" rule.

Make it Simple

Make it easy for your visitors to take the actions which you want them to. Reduce confusion and decision making for your visitor and watch how conversions improve for your landing page. Avoid offering multiple choices and throwing-in too many optional extras. Focus on making the offer the page was created for as compelling as possible. as a rule, the lower the perceived value of the offer, the simpler it should be for users to take action. No user is going to complete a 20 page form to download a sample of your new 5-page ebook about the mating habits of the North-Sea Clam.

Focus on Functionality

The saying you cannot judge a book by it’s cover unfortunately does not apply on the world wide web. According to many internet research polls a growing number of visitors seem to judge the professionalism and credibility of a website by its design. Unfortunately, this means that many website owners place too much emphasis on the design aspect instead of paying attention to functionality and the overall user-experience. A kick-ass landing page is essentially worthless if the user can’t complete the desired action. While I wouldn’t never suggest sacrificing design, it shouldn’t be your only priority. Focus on the exact steps you want your visitor to take and design a page which facilitates that user experience.

Send a Clear Message

Keep your landing page squeaky clean and free of clutter to ensure that your message stays front and centre and allows your website visitors to remain focused on your message. Emphasize the biggest selling points, benefits, advantages of your product or service as well as any calls to action with larger text, font variations, colour, contrast engaging graphics. Make it easy for users to scan the content and find the information they need by headings, bulleted lists and clear, concise, response orientated copy which gets straight to the point.

Call To Action

Once you get your visitors to the desired landing page, ask them to take action. Make it clear and highly noticeable without being a condescending douche bag. Whether it’s a lead capture form or a "buy now" button, make it the focus of your landing page.

Everyone Loves Freebies

Everyone likes freebies and samples. They are irresistible and can be used s a powerful conversion tool. Whether a call to action is free or something free is offered as a result of taking action, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Use freebies and give-away’s to build trust with your audience. If your competitor is charging for something and you’re giving it away for free, guess who will win the customer. Remember, just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be quality. Always under-promise and over-deliver.

Offer Incentives

Straight-up bribing visitors with freebies and samples is a proven method of getting them to take action, offline businesses have been doing this for years. Offer more than your competition but don’t sell yourself so short that you’re not making bank either. Provide a list of reasons why your offer is better than those of your competitors and what exactly the visitor can expect when dealing with you. Provide references and testimonials as social proof to build trust and facilitate better conversions.

Build Multiple Landing Pages

All home pages are landing pages, but not all landing pages should be home pages. A landing page shouldn’t necessarily be your homepage. In many instances a homepage is a good landing page as it forms the first introduction to your business, product or service for first-time visitors. However, for more targeted traffic and returning visitors and better results, your landing page should be focused on a specific offer and specific call to action. In the same way that each page on your website should be targeted to a specific keyword phrase, each landing page should be targeted to a single purpose. To accomplish this, your website should feature multiple landing pages. Create some deep link landing pages that will focus on specific products, services or offers and your conversions will improve.

Test, Track, Test Again

In a recent post for ZenProfits Blog Marketing titled "7 Zen Ways to Make More Sales", I concluded the post with a mention of how important testing and tracking is for finding out what your visitors like. Testing various copy, calls to action, form layouts and media combinations will give you a far better idea what produces the best results for you as far as conversions go.

Conclusion

Using a tool like Google’s Website Optimizer which is now built right into Google Analytics under Content Experiments you can easily monitor the conversion rate, bounce rate, and tons of other useful metrics found in most modern day web analytics apps. Using these metrics you can easily experiment, test and review figure out which version will be your optimal page, the one which maximizes the conversion rate. A good rule of thumb here is to test the effect of changes one element at a time.

…and that’s a wrap.

Although creating a successful, well-optimized and effective landing page which converts well takes a lot of effort it should be one of the primary areas of focus for anyone involved with a website. Whether you are a website owner, web master, designer, developer or marketing specialist you should be aware of the ingredients that go into baking a quality landing page which acquires customers and contributes to the bottom-line. After all, this can mean the difference between website’s success or failure in the long-run.

I hope you enjoyed these tips for pimping your landing pages for better conversions. I have a few references I use when looking for landing page ideas and will definitely be sharing some landing page templates and design resources in an upcoming post.

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