How to Increase Traffic and Generate Leads with Landing Pages
I was talking to a client on the phone the other day about a direct mail campaign he had just initiated. He was asking me how we could measure how effective the campaign was at increasing traffic to his website. Unfortunately, we hadn't talked before he designed and ordered the print pieces and they had already gone out with just his home page on them. I was explaining that, in the future, we could create a landing page specifically for the campaign so that we could more effectively communicate and measure the results. Even though we were on the phone, I could tell he had a blank look on his face. "Landing pages?" he asked. "What are those?"
He's not the first client to ask me that, and he won't be the last. If you're in the online marketing business, you've probably been asked the same question. And if you're not a professional marketer, you may be asking that same question yourself. What are landing pages, and how can they help my business?
What are Landing Pages?
At a basic level, a landing page is any page of your website that is specifically designed to communicate to a specific audience regarding a specific product or service, typically targeting a specific keyword phrase that you want to rank well on. One of the first misconceptions about websites that trip up a lot of business owners is that not everyone who visits your website goes through the Home page. Thanks to search engines and direct links on social networks or ads, people can go to specific pages of your site. A landing page is therefore designed to take advantage of that fact, and it is expected that someone who gets to a landing page went there directly, and never saw your home page. That new visitor is said to have landed on your site through this page.
Good landing pages will identify a target customer profile, a specific issue that they face, where they will be coming from (referral source), and provide detailed information on the solution you have to offer. As a business owner, if you have a Services page, you can speak in general terms about the services and solutions you offer, but it's hard to get into details regarding specific situations, isn't it?
Suppose for a moment that you're a business consultant that helps other business owners deal with business issues like development, management, workflow and restructuring. You might have a Services page that talks about those and maybe a few other key services you provide. What you aren't likely to include on that page is detailed information about how can work with third-generation companies that want to consider selling their business or bringing in new management because the youngest generation isn't interested in maintaining company ownership. That's a very specific situation and specific customer profile, and if you have experience with that situation, you might talk at length about the issues they're likely to face and your approach to the problem.
That's just one example of how you might use a landing page. There are many more, but the real beauty to landing pages is that, when used right, they're an extremely effective tool at generating real leads. Generating leads via landing pages has become so effective that advertising MBA online programs have begun offering courses on the topic.
Generating Leads with Landing Pages
One of the problems with most business websites is that the site will provide you with some basic information about the business - who they are and what they do - and then prompt you to contact them for more information. A couple decades ago, that approach worked, as people were still used to using phone directories to find likely businesses and would call the business for more information. But today, no one wants to talk to you! Potential customers do not want to be sold. They would rather research solutions on their own and then call when they have very specific questions or are ready to buy.
So, give them what they want! Craft a landing page that specifically talks to them, demonstrating that you understand them and their issues, and then talk about how you can solve those issues. Then, provide them with one or more links or downloads where they can find out more. Perhaps you have some blog posts and articles that you can direct them to, or an eBook or White Paper you can give them. At each step of the way, include a call to action, whether it's a resource to read more or multiple ways to contact you, depending on their preference.
The best Call to Action in this scenario is to provide a downloadable file that provides more extensive information that the prospect is sure to want, and ask them to provide their name and email before downloading. You've probably done this yourself on other websites before. This method captures the lead's contact information in a passive way, and also immediately identifies who that prospect is and what issues they're facing (if you've targeted your landing page correctly).
As you funnel more and more traffic to your landing page and through your new digital sales cycle, you'll see far more leads coming into your business through your website.
Sending Traffic to Landing Pages
But how do we get that traffic? First, make sure that you've built your new page correctly with an eye to SEO. You should have complete Meta Tags set up, a good Page Title that uses your targeted keyword phrase, use of your phrase throughout the text, and inclusion in an XML Sitemap that's linked to Google. This will ensure that search engines can find and index the page and begin to send you search traffic.
You can certainly share your new landing page to social networks, though I wouldn't do that too often. Instead, find ways to work it into blog posts. Write posts that talk about some of the specific issues you address on your landing page, and insert links for readers to follow to find out more.
If you identify a service that you haven't promoted much before, but want to get into, work it into a Press Release and be sure to target publications that might reach your target audience, whether it's an industry publication or the local newspaper.
Pay Per Click ads are most commonly associated with landing pages, because it's an extremely effective tactic. When you craft your ad, you will target the keyword phrase associated with your landing page, and write ad copy that speaks to your target customer and issue. Then, when someone is searching on that specific topic, your ad will naturally be appealing and will drive a lot of clicks and traffic to your landing page. In fact, if you're doing any kind of PPC ad campaign at all, my advice is to only use landing pages. Never use a PPC ad to send someone to your website's home page.
Finally, let's revisit my client's direct mail campaign. He was paying to have thousands of direct mail pieces printed and mailed to a very specific set of households in a geographic area. His business provides a set of services that residential consumers want, and he services a specific area. Instead of just putting his website on the card, he could have included a QR Code that took the consumer straight to a landing page. The landing page could then provide more information on the specific services and deals mentioned in the mailing, with links and icons to find out even more, call or email, or get to the company's Facebook or Twitter accounts.
A note about QR Codes: keep in mind that when someone uses a QR Code to get to your website, they're going to be using their smartphone to do it, so your website needs to be mobile optimized so that they have a good experience. You can still use QR Codes if your site isn't mobile optimized, but you must test it and make sure that it's usable. If you have a Flash site or the layout is just too busy for reading and using on a mobile phone, upgrade your website immediately.
So, with an effective landing page strategy, you can target specific customers with specific issues and help them see that you're an expert on those topics, and that you provide the best possible solution to their issue. Have I gotten you thinking about what landing pages you might create for your own business? What questions do you have, and what are some of the uses you can think of for yourself? Please share in the comments below.
Landing image courtesy of Photolifer, Flickr.