April 18, 2015

10 Best Practices for Creating Effective Landing Pages for Lead Generation

Landing pages can be the source of a bountiful stream of leads — if done well.

Landing page

It’s the last part of that sentence that trips up so many marketers. Fair or unfair, landing pages are asked to do a lot of things, but how much should be put on them? What should be put on them? And how can marketers improve their current landing pages to generate more leads?

“The No. 1 problem with business landing pages is that they too often focus on aesthetics and they are not carefully designed to convert online visitors into paying, offline clients,” says Louis Gagnon, chief product and marketing officer at Yodle. “Effective landing pages focus on three things in order to improve conversion: specificity, relevance and simplicity. Visitors should be able to find exactly what they are looking for without delay when navigating a landing page.”

To help marketers in their endeavors to craft effective landing pages for generating leads, here are 10 best practices:

Content is not king
For effective lead-generating landing pages, “less is more,” according to Giles McGrath, creative director at MediaWhiz. “As opposed to SEO or brand sites, content is not king when it comes to lead-gen landing pages,” he says. “In fact, an abundance of content will decimate your conversion rate and ultimately lead to the site’s failure.”

McGrath goes on to say that too much content will distract users. He recommends avoiding the use of paragraphs, including no more than five bullet points and using no more than five words per bullet point on landing pages.

“The key is to quickly and cleanly outline and explain the direct value proposition,” says Tom Edwards, vice president of digital strategy at The Marketing Arm.

Avoid distractions
Following the first point, McGrath tells marketers to include just one visual on a landing page – no videos.

“Avoid heavy colors, patterns and anything that will distract the user’s attention,” he adds. “Users should see the logo, the form and the submit button, in that order.”

Get the data you need
“Only ask for what you need,” says Edwards. “In most cases, the goal is simply acquiring a customer’s email.”

He adds that if a campaign requires a login, a social sign-on element should be considered. A Facebook social sign-on, for example, offers marketers access to potentially 180 user data points via the social graph, Edwards says. “This is a key driver to go beyond just e-mail and opens up possibilities to drive relevant and targeted responses based on user interaction. “

McGrath reminds marketers to remember to keep users on the intended path by spotlighting the form. “The objective is for the user to fill out the form on the site. Therefore, the form must be the most important element on the page. “

Stay above the fold
A contact form should be kept above the fold to capture the most of your audience, according to Michael Harbron, sales and marketing director at SEOhaus. “No one wants to trawl through a site to get in touch, no matter how easy it is.”

McGrath echoes the importance of keeping things above the fold. “I make is a point to design to a 960 grid and keep everything above 650 pixels, except footers, legal, etc.”

Foster trust
While all the important elements of a landing page should be kept above the fold, it doesn’t mean that whatever below the fold is useless. Harbron says to include everything visitors needs above the fold, then if they have to scroll down the page, “you can invite them to learn more about just how great you are” by showing badges of honor, accredited business licenses, etc.

These “elements of trust” are especially important for newer brands, according to McGrath. “Where possible, add in partnerships and references to brands that users are aware of — use single-color logos, where possible — and don’t hyperlink the logos. That will help instill trust in the user and keep them on the page.”

Call to action
In case you forgot, landing pages must include a clear call to action – but there’s more to it than that. “Tell the user what you want them to do in a clear one-line instruction,” McGrath says.

Not only should there be a call to action – the call to action should be social, according to Edwards. “The average Facebook user has 130 friends,” he says. “To take interactions beyond passive interactions to drive shareability of the content, offer or campaign, it takes more than just adding social ‘chicklets’ to a landing page. Having a clear call to action to share, as well as providing an incentive, is key to evoke a response.”

Open Graph tagging
Continuing with the emphasis on the effect of social media sharing, Edwards tells marketers to make sure that their landing page takes Open Graph metadata into account, so what’s shared on Facebook is customized. “This will ensure that whatever content is shared from the landing page can be seen as a graph object in the social graph,” he says.

“Landing pages that are optimized to be viewed on mobile devices are increasingly important as marketing tools,” Gagnon says. He cites a study from Google, which found that 67 percent of people searching on a mobile device are more likely to buy or convert after visiting a mobile-friendly website. Gagnon also cites a report from BIA/Kelsey, which projects that by 2015 more than half of all local online searches will be conducted on mobile devices.

Study the competition
Most marketers have competition, which is good because they offer examples to study and learn from, especially if they rank above you. “It’s not hard to study a website and understand why a good thing might be going on,” Harbron says. “Chances are you can adopt some of their practices, which if it’s being done right, won’t be anything you shouldn’t have thought of already.”

Timely follow-up
Of course, what’s a landing page without effective follow-up? “When someone takes the time to take an action on your landing page, it is critical to engage with them as soon as possible,” Edwards says. “Send a follow-up communication — email, text, etc. It provides a quick second touch point and strengthens the association and potential action by the consumer.”

A recent study from Leads360 finds that calling a new prospect within the first minute of lead generation can increase the likelihood of conversion by 391 percent.

Closing thoughts
Marketers putting together their landing pages must make it a point to take a step back and see what’s going on beyond that page, according to Edwards. It’s about creating “an ecosystem of awareness” that spans landing pages and microsites, social channels, and the brand’s own domain.

“Whether you leverage a brand’s social channels to drive awareness in conjunction with paid media, or the landing page converts into a tab via a social channel, it is not enough to simply push a landing page live with limited support and expect sizable results,” Edwards says. “The key is to extend the campaign in a frictionless way that enables discoverability of content while maximizing how the users will interact based on the channel of entry.”

Edwards offers some examples of landing pages that he’s fond of because they’re not campaign-centric, “but leverage elements of clean design, clear calls to action and a slick user experience”:

-       Instead

-       Head2Heart

-       MindMeld

“The designer in all of us wants to spice up the page and make it less boring. Don’t go for that,” says McGrath. “Keeping the landing page clean and simple will lead to higher conversion rates and a better ROI.”

By Jason Hahn

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