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Building Effective Landing Pages

Whether you're sending a promotional email or an email newsletter, your message has specific sales or marketing goals. Most commonly the main goal of your message is to get readers to register for an event or make a purchase, or to build a relationship with readers, which hopefully leads to them making a purchase. Since readers can't take the desired action within their email, you send them to a page where they can take that action, your landing page.

Too often marketers send readers to a generic, existing page on their website instead of designing a page that is specific to the audience and the goal of their email message. Worse yet, links go to a page that doesn't house the information readers are looking for, forcing them to click further to find what they're looking for and ultimately complete a transaction. Conversion rates suffer as a result. However, a properly designed landing page can greatly increase your conversion rates.

To maximize the performance of your email messages, consider creating effective landing pages following these tips as a guideline:

Define your conversion. Before you start to design your landing page, define that page’s conversion activity. For a newsletter landing page, the conversion activity is entering an email address into a form and clicking “Accept.”

Do a little research. A little research goes a long way. Figure out what your visitor is looking for and what offers work. Build a profile of your ideal visitor. Keep this person in mind when creating your landing page. Do not construct the page for anyone else—generic and broad pages are proven to fail—and keep everything “on target.” Your email message already funnels traffic to your landing page, so visitors are expecting a very targeted message. Tailor the pages to them.

Align your landing page with the main goal of your email message. A common mistake is to design a landing page that is not specific to the goal in order to appeal to a generic visitor or prospect. Just the opposite, your landing page should be highly focused. Think about your prospect and what you want him or her to do. Then design your landing page around that one goal.

Eliminate unneeded elements. Distractions kill conversions. Strip any unneeded elements from the page, such as links to other resources, or other pages on your website. The consistent navigation bar that makes sense on a website doesn't necessarily make sense on a landing page. You don't want visitors to surf your site. You want them to complete the one action on which your landing page is focused.  So if you can, remove the navigation bar. Of course, don’t remove it if it is essential to the conversion process.  Remember your message, and if a link has nothing to with it—chuck it! 

Match the message and elements of your landing page with your e-mail message. For best results, repeat the headline from your e-mail at the top of your landing page. This gives visitors a feeling of familiarity and comfort. It tells them that they have arrived at the right place.

Keep it short and sweet. If at all possible, keep all content above the fold. If visitors have to scroll to find what they're looking for, chances are they won't find it. And if they don't find it, they won't convert.

Design for scan-ability. Just as prospects won't read every word of your email, they won't read every word of your landing page either. They will quickly scan the page, looking for further information that compels them to take an action. Make sure your headlines, sub-headings and graphics enable visitors to skim your landing page's content to quickly learn what you're offering and how it will benefit them, and most important, make sure it clearly points out how they can easily take the desired action. If your goal is sales, point readers to a page where they can place their order right there.

Provide conversion exits. Make it easy for your visitor to convert. Place conversion exits above the fold and at every scroll-and-a-half of screen space.

Important elements above the "fold"
Pay attention to the virtual fold (the bottom of the screen before scrolling). Place enough content above the fold to allow your visitor to make a decision about continuing on the site. If a visitor has to click or scroll to figure out what your site is about, the only thing they’ll click is the back button.

Lead the eye. Use typography and color to your advantage. Lead the eye along the page towards the conversion exit. Thoughtful use of whitespace, large copy and graphics can make a long page seem much shorter than it really is. Be careful though—a great image will demand a lot of eye time and if misplaced can ruin the flow of your message.
Place the important stuff (whether it’s your copy or your image) close to the middle, and never distract your user from that focal point. Avoid putting interesting material in sidebars. This pulls the eye away from the main body. If it’s interesting and valuable, keep it close to the center and use it to direct the eye.

Optimize your forms. Make the input cursor hop to the next field after a user finishes the current field. Allow the user to tab around fields. Auto-populate any fields you can.

Keep your form brief, and thoroughly pre-test it. Remember, this form may be just the first step of your sales process. You don't want to scare off prospects by asking for too much information. So remove all unneeded fields. Don't ask for city/state/province if you ask for a Zip or postal code. Focus on the essentials. If you’re asking users to register for a newsletter, ask for only an email address. You don’t need their name now. Get rid of the reset button. It’s dangerous for both the user and you.

If you are collecting personal information, provide a link to your privacy policy. Most online users are reluctant (for good reason) to disclose personal information without knowing how that information will be used. Be sure your privacy policy states that you do not rent, sell or share information with any other parties.

Test, test, test. Just like you should test your email creative, we recommend that you test different elements and copy on your landing pages to learn what works best. You may want to consider web analytics software that allows you run A/B tests or use multivariate testing to test multiple items and combinations at the same time.

Go over a checklist with your design team:

  • Is the whole page focused?
  • Does the message match the advertisement?
  • Have you reduced all distractions?
  • Is critical information above the fold?
  • Are there enough conversion exits?
  • Does the page enhance your brand?

Track results. If you don't know how your landing page performed, you can't tell what worked and what didn't work and you can't make necessary improvements to increase performance.

Landing pages are important to maximize the performance of your email marketing campaigns. Your email message and landing page should work together closely for best results.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!
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