Three Forgotten Steps For Making Great Landing Pages

Blue Bench The following is a guest post by Brian Whalley, a marketing manager at HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA  that makes marketing automation and lead generation software.

When you’ve managed to bring that visitor in from a search results page and visit a page on your website, you’ve come a long way towards earning that lead or conversion. At that point, an entirely new art of internet marketing begins to take over, that goes outside of just the paid or organic search mindset. You need to also make sure that the destination page that you’ve brought them to is optimized to encourage the user to stay on your page and give you their information or shop around the website. This is called Landing Page Optimization, and is just as much an art and science as Paid Search Optimization or SEO. Just like what many SEOs or PPC professionals think about, optimizing landing pages can be as small as where elements are placed on the page or as broad as making sure that the offers are interesting and worth your recipient sharing onwards afterwards. Today’s blog post will help you think about new ways to optimize your landing pages for B2B leads.

First Off: Break Out Of The 5 Page Box

The first, and most essential lesson to being successful with landing page optimization is that you must not be afraid to create many landing pages. If you have five offers and five landing pages that you direct all of your traffic to, you must break out of that five page box if you really want to grow. There is an incredible opportunity ahead of you. This is one of the biggest mistakes that I see new search marketers or marketing managers making – All of their traffic for one type of offer goes to the exact same landing page. There are at least two reasons why this is bad:

1. You Can’t Tweak The Page To Match Its Possible Sources

A good landing page will have copy and a headline that roughly match what that visitor probably came to your website looking for. For example, if they are looking for a business guide on how to use Facebook, and they click on your paid search ad, your headline will be about using Facebook for business. Great landing pages will have tighter alignment between the source that sent the traffic to the page, so that the user gets immediate affirmation that they’ve arrived at the place that not only will answer the questions that are in their mind, but matches what they just clicked on. Great alignment between the ad and the page shows the user that you aren’t just answering a broad question, but the exact question that they just asked. This level of specificity is incredibly helpful to them.

For example, if you have the same offer that you’re using in a few places (such as in an email marketing message, in a PPC ad, and then generally as a call to action on your website), use three similar landing pages and tweak the messaging in each one to match how you linked to it from that source.

2. Analytics & Measurement Get Harder

If you have multiple sources of traffic pointing into the same landing page, it can be very difficult to understand which source of traffic is actually delivering your leads or conversions. Break them out so that you can understand them by source. If it’s actually your email that is delivering the leads through that page, and you don’t have a straightforward way to break out your landing page activity by source, you’ll never know that something is wrong with your paid search campaigns that target that page. Even if your landing page or analytics package helps you break out the different sources of traffic, for the above reason around targeting your landing pages more tightly, it is still absolutely important to break out your landing pages across different pages for different sources. This will also help you do your A/B testing, by helping you understand if different variations on a landing page work best for different audiences – Does a form on the left work better for visitors coming from email than visitors from paid?

Hide Your Navigation

It is also absolutely important to make sure that you’ve removed your site’s navigation from all of your landing pages. This is a frequently neglected and crucial best practice. Every time that I see a landing page with the site’s top navigation still showing, I know for certain that people will be visiting your landing page from a paid search visit or other source, briefly glancing at the page, and then moving on to the rest of your website. With every page that the visitor loads without converting on a form, the likelihood that they will fill out a form on their visit drops dramatically.

In one experiment I ran with a software company that did not believe me on this point, we found that hiding the navigation on their landing pages more than doubled their conversions rates on site visitors from that source. Simply put, if given the option, the paid search visitors who came through would convert less than half as often if they had the option to explore the site before converting. When visiting the site, looking for content to read on their original topic was no longer a priority for them as they began to explore and visit other topics. The visitors lose focus and move on to other topics. When you’re paying for each of those visits, making sure that you are able to generate real leads from them is of the utmost importance.

3. Optimize Your Landing Pages For True Social

When you’ve built out an excellent network of optimized landing pages, there is one more step between you and true lead-generation greatness: Making sure that your visitors are properly equipped to share your great offer on their social media networks. On each of your pages (the form page and the Thank You Page. You have a thank you page, right?) embed some custom social media buttons for the networks that best fit your audience. The critical step that nearly all marketers don’t do properly here though, is that they have those social media sharing buttons on each page feed back to the original page, the same one that you shared with your email or paid channel. Remember our notes above?

Social Media Buttons on Landing Pages

This is a perfect example of a time when you can create a separate landing page with the same offer, and have your buttons link to the other landing page. That way, visitors from other networks/social reaches will find your page and not mess your conversion rates or other statistics up. It might be tempting to just direct your social buttons to the page that you created for your own social sharing, but try not to – You might find something interesting for visitors that arrive via your direct reach (Your own followers, fans, etc.) against the reach of your fans and visitors who decide to share your page. The people who they share with are less likely to have heard of you or have encountered you unless you are a major brand in your space. By separating the pages out for your direct fans vs your indirect ones, you can see how visitors who are encountering you for the first time from social media convert and what they are looking for.

Have you had your own interesting experiences when creating and optimizing landing pages? Share them with us in the comments below!

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