Landing pages versus home pages — How to capture qualified prospects and unlock salesArticle added by Philip Eide on January 29, 2013
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Philip Eide

Shaker Heights, OH

Joined: December 12, 2010

Your traditional home page does not provide the website visitor with what they are looking for: the plan, program or service you are featuring and trying to sell. This is why landing pages were developed.

Many people boast, "I have a website, and my home page tells visitors everything about my company." But many are also unaware of what a landing page is, and why it's a big deal.

This is what Hubspot, a successful inbound marketing tool, has to say:

"Did you know landing pages are one of the most important elements of a website? In fact, 94 percent of companies say landing pages are a highly effective tool for capturing leads."

A little history about Internet marketing

Computerworld told us in 2002 that
    During the dot-com boom of the 1990s, some websites were slapped together quickly, and the biggest challenge for webmasters was keeping up with the spikes in traffic generated by their Super Bowl ads. Crashes and outages were headline news.

    After the dot-com bust, the new goal was to apply time-honored IT disciplines, such as scalability, reliability and security, to make websites solid platforms for doing business. But websites are growing increasingly complex, with multiple servers, load balancing, caching, firewalls, search engines and personalization — all geared toward improving the end user's experience.
    (Mitch Betts, August 19,2002)
Major changes since then

If you're in the insurance or benefits industries, your websites were probably designed to inform with the purpose of creating B2B or B2C prospect generation and ultimately, sales. Unfortunately, your traditional home page does not provide the website visitor with what they are looking for: the plan, program or service you are featuring and trying to sell. This is why landing pages were developed.

An analogy

If someone came into your appliance store and asked for the refrigerator that you had advertised, you would not start off by telling them the history of your company, showing them pictures of your staff and discussing your philosophy of business. You'd show them the refrigerator they asked about, explain the options, explain delivery and close the sale.

When qualified prospects arrive at your website, the landing page shows them the plan, program or service that you promoted and that they are looking for, and how to participate.
What is a landing page?

According to Copyblogger, "A landing page turns traffic into money. A landing Page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result. Think of a golf course. A landing page is the putting green that you drive the ball (prospect) to. Once on the green, the goal is to get the ball into the hole. Likewise, the goal of the copy and design of a landing page is to get the prospect to take your desired action.”

What needs to change?

“If you could do one thing right now to drastically improve your marketing and increase your return on investment, it would be to use landing pages on your website. Too many companies send their email, social media and search traffic to their homepages. This is the equivalent of throwing leads away. You could capture these leads at a much higher rate simply by sending them to targeted landing pages," says HubSpot. You can read more about landing pages here.

Here are 10 tips for building your landing pages:

1. Display your logo — Visitors need to identify the companies with which they are doing business.

2. Create a headline — People’s attention spans are short, especially online. Make sure your offer is as clear as possible.

3. Use an image — The image should be both captivating and relevant to your offer.

4. Make an offer — The offer is one of the most critical elements of a well-designed campaign. Offers must be clear and concise. Direct mail professionals tell us that a confused mind always says no. Use bullet points and numbering to simplify the visual layout. Immediately pinpoint the top three or four most important pieces of information.

5. Create a clear call to action (CTA) placed above the fold — "The final part of your landing page is the all-important CTA. This is the statement or copy that instructs your visitor to take a specific action. Often, it will be the button on a form, or a large graphical button that takes your new customer through to a final destination somewhere on your main website. It’s critical that the CTA is very obvious and is written in a way that describes what clicking on it will actually do." (HubSpot)

6. Include social media links — Social media links encourage your visitors to spread the word about your offer.

7. Send a thank you to your responders — When someone has finished filling out the form or contacted you through your landing page, send them a “thank you." This a great opportunity to suggest next steps.

8. Create multiple landing pages — A landing page for each plan, program and/or service.

9. A/B test continually — Copyblogger.com tells us, "Split-testing, also known as 'A/B testing,' is an invaluable strategy that compares two versions of a Web page, with one difference between them. Say, for example, a different headline."

10. Track using Web analytics — Web analytics tell you where you are and where you should be going with your marketing campaigns. According to Wikepedia, "Web analytics applications can also help companies measure the results of traditional print advertising campaigns. It helps one to estimate how traffic to a website changes after the launch of a new advertising campaign. Web analytics provides information about the number of visitors to a website and the number of page views. It helps gauge traffic and popularity trends which is useful for market research."
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