Why Your Landing Page Is Not Always By Design
If you have ever been involved in a Web project as a client or an agency, you have probably heard the analogy of building a house. How many rooms it has relates to content groupings; how to get between rooms as navigation; flexibility to add on later if a remodel is needed versus an entire new build; and so on. The term homepage even has this analogy built right into the name. Most websites even use an icon of a house to represent a one click return back to the starting point of the site. This is a great way for people to relate something from the physical world to something that is very abstract and technical.
With that analogy fresh in your mind, let’s focus on the homepage and how users and customers actually get there. If you have a website, chances are Google or one of the other major search engines has indexed it. Most users don’t access your site by typing in the URL directly; they access it through a search engine that links to content within your site. Unless you have a trendy, single-page scroll site, the traffic coming from a search engine will point users to the content they are looking for directly, not to your homepage. Google Analytics has an easy way to view the top entry points into your site. These are your landing pages, whether you planned on it or not.
Consider what a user who is not familiar with your company, products, services and website will get out of these entry points versus the homepage. How do you get them to stick around for more than the average number of seconds? What actions do you want them to take when they get there? How is your brand represented, and how can you keep them there to explore other content that may be of interest to them?
Let’s look at the two varieties of landing pages and how best to leverage them.
The Planned Landing Page
The Planned Landing Page is a stand-alone Web page distinct from your main website that has been designed with a single objective in mind.
The main reason for a Planned Landing Page is to limit the options available to the visitor and help guide them toward an intended goal or conversion. This type of landing page should be used when developing and running a paid media campaign such as Google AdWords. You should consider what text and images were used to engage a Web user to arrive at your landing page, and how that content sets an expectation of what they will find once they get there.
- Is the content right where they land, or do they need to navigate to another page or scroll excessively?
- What is their experience like from a mobile perspective?
- Can some data be collected to make their current or future experiences more meaningful?
The Unintended Landing Page
The second type of landing page I want to talk about is the Unintended Landing Page, which is a Web page within your site that a visitor haphazardly lands on. These are the pages of your site that are not necessarily intended to be landing pages but are so because of the way search engines, email, social media, banners and pay-per-click links drive traffic to your site. These landing pages should:
- Prominently display content that relates to the link that was clicked on to get there.
- Provide a clear visual hierarchy of where the visitor is within the site structure.
- Provide a clear view of where else the user can go within the site to easily find additional relevant content.
I always suggest that all pages within your site also include appropriate contact information, such as an email address, phone number and a physical address that links to Google Maps for further search optimization. The main goals of these landing pages should be to:
- Provide content promised by the links or search results driving them there.
- Engage the user.
- Provide the user with the appropriate next steps.
The Unintended Landing Page has seen a lot of traction in recent years due to the ability to measure user activity across multiple digital properties such as social media, websites, email, etc. As a result, there are many tools now in place to rapidly develop and measure these standalone landing pages and connect them with email marketing tools, CRM platforms and automated marketing services. Many of these tools also provide great resources for educating yourself on techniques to increase landing page effectiveness. One of my favorite go-to resources is unbounce.com‘s robust resources section, which includes online courses, guides, videos and infographics.
The main focus of any variety of landing page should be this: what is the next action you want the user to make? Once you have a clear answer, you will be able to define what success is for this instance, which will allow you to more effectively measure the results of your efforts.