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The Homepage is dead.

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

A landing page is simply the page that a visitor lands on following a referral from elsewhere. This could be from any number of places, including:

  • offline campaign
  • online advertising (e.g. Adwords, banner ads)
  • link from another site
  • eshot
  • search engine results page

Any page on your website can therefore be a landing page!

Target your landing pages

Websites traditionally have a strict hierarchical structure, with the homepage being the most important ‘hub’ page and other pages spinning off it.  The homepage is often the page on which most effort is spent – writing copy, layout, imagery and so on – with ‘lower level’ pages being seen as ancillary.

This rarely makes sense, however, especially when directing campaign respondents to your site.  You have likely segmented your target market to better identify your customer’s needs and target relevant communication – sending them to the homepage is akin to asking them to restate their purpose and start the whole process again!

That’s where a *targeted* landing page comes in.  This is a page specifically designed to cater for the needs of campaign respondants and help them make the next step.

A good landing page will:

  • be relevant to the referring campaign (i.e. rarely the homepage).  Use the same language, words and images on the landing page as you did in the campaign.
  • be very clear as to what the page is about.  If the visitor doesn’t have instant reassurance that he or she is in the right place, the next page visited may belong to competitor.  This can be achieved through large, clear headlines and good use of concise text and well-chosen imagery
  • be free of distractions from completing the intended goal (such as progressing with a booking, completing a survey etc) as possible
  • remove ‘friction’ from completing the intended goal.  Common doubts could be countered with testimonials; suitability for task can be demonstrated with photos or videos of a product in use – each case varies.
  • have a strong ‘call to action’, or instruction of what the visitor should do next.  This will often be completing a contact form, adding an item to a basket or calling a number, but may be other things too.

A lead generation landing page will also help pre-qualify the lead; nobody benefits from a poor quality lead!

Landing page examples

Manchester United has a number of different market segments, including:

  • die-hard season-ticket holders
  • young fans who want to find out more about their heroes (and perhaps persuade Dad to sign up for Sky Sports and buy the latest shirt)
  • corporate hospitality clients

The homepage at manutd.com has to shoe-horn all of this in, and more. Unsurprisingly, it turns into a bit of a mish-mash; it’s difficult to see who the page is designed for, what its purpose is or how one can navigate to more pertinent pages (such as corporate hospitality).  It has to be all things to all visitors, and inevitably will always fall short of that:


It does nothing to entice corporate hospitality clients.  That’s why there is a seperate landing page tailored towards the requirements of this segment.  Note the entirely different look-and-feel, tone of voice and navigation used; it’s much cleaner, and focused upon a specific market segment:

Man Utd - landing page for corporate hospitality

Another example is the site of hotel chain Hilton.  With hotels around the world, each catering for a variety of guests ranging from holiday makers to business travelers and wedding guests, a broad appeal is needed for the homepage:

Hilton Homepage, with accommodation in a tropical paradise!

However, those interested in staying in Manchester will have very different requirements to visitors to the Hilton’s Bora Bora Nui spa resort in French Polynesia!  That’s why each hotel has its own landing page, which is almost a site within itself.  Note the benefits drawn out for Manchester – local attractions, contemporary, meetings and weddings, WiFi access – no mention of a tropical paradise!  Instead, the focus is on the iconic razor blade architecture of Beetham Tower slicing through the Manchester skyline:

Hilton Manchester landing page, with Beetham Tower

 

By contrast, take a look at the page below, which I reached by clicking on an advert following a search for “commercial solicitors manchester”.  Despite metaphorically shouting “I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR COMMERCIAL SERVICES!” from the rooftop, I landed on a page talking about personal injury claims!

The page itself is well designed (aesthetically, at least), but just isn’t relevant to what I’m looking for.  As such, the firm is likely to be effectively leaving money on the table – no matter how good the page may look or how good the firm is.

Tailored landing pages vs. ‘lower level’ pages

Both the Man Utd and Hilton landing pages can be reached via their respective homepages, either through search or more convoluted click-navigation.  What makes these particularly suitable as landing pages, however, is that they stand up on their own even if you have never seen the home page.

The primary navigation on both sets of pages serves to guide the visitor through the task at hand – corporate packages for Man Utd and Manchester’s Deansgate hotel for Hilton.  Large imagery and page titles play a big part, instantly stamping a mark about what the page is about.

Most importantly, both have a call to action pertinent to the page.  There is no generic ‘contact us’ link or funnel to the start of a generic booking process here; instead, the visitor is invited to book the service being promoted on the page.  The call to actions remove any unnecessary tasks or distractions; Hilton doesn’t ask the visitor to select which hotel to book, for example, and Man Utd doesn’t have distracting links to standard matchday or season tickets (however lucrative these may be in themselves).

Assuming Hilton and Man Utd have targeted their off-site marketing properly, their approaches should yield good results, as visitors are able to find out more about whatever caught their attention and act upon it with minimum fuss.

Landing Pages and You

You benefit from landing pages as you browse the web.  You need not be distracted by irrelevant offers or other content, and instead focus upon your own requirements.

Think about how landing pages could help your business.  You too will probably target different segments, be it geographical, demographic, psychographic or other ways of grouping.  You could have different landing pages for:

  • different products
  • existing clients
  • tradeshow attendees
  • visitors via an adwords campaign
  • seasonal events

And the list goes on!

Landing pages can be created relatively quickly and cheaply, and will enhance existing campaigns.  As they can exist outside of the standard structure of your website, you can afford to be a bit more adventurous with style – indeed, landing pages can be used to test new ideas (content, offers, design) without committing to a full redesign of your site.

Email links in Web pages

Friday, August 7th, 2009

emailEvery now and again we are asked to add an email link to a client’s Web site.  Although still common practice, we tend to advise against this for four very good reasons.

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