In celebration of the fact that Hypergrid Business has had more than 20,000 readers this month — a record high — I’ve been looking at the design of our advertising sales page.
I’d been leaving this for last because for me, like for many people, this is the least fun part. Asking for money. Who wants to do that?
Fortunately, there’s a way to make the process easier, which I accidentally stumbled into — geeking out over conversion analytics. Okay, this approach might not work for everyone, but if you’re a nerd at heart, like me, this could work for you. And if you’re not a nerd, and have no problems asking for money, this information could still be useful.
What is a landing page?
When you click on an ad, you get taken to the landing page. That could be the home page of the company that ran the ad. Or it could be a marketplace listing, or a shopping page. More and more often, you get sent to a custom landing page that’s separate from the company’s main site.
Most often, I end up on landing pages accidentally, by clicking on a Google ad instead of on the Google search result. They need to stop putting those so close together!
But custom landing pages aren’t just an annoyance to folks looking to get to a company’s website. They could be a really helpful tool for shoppers, as well, and increase sales rates for the merchants.
Here are five reasons why.
1. Landing pages can feature a particular offer
Let’s say you have a first-month-free sale this month on your regions, and you run an ad, or a Twitter or Facebook post announcing it. Customers come to your website, and have to hunt around for the deal. Is the deal on the front page? On the land sales page? In the forums somewhere? On the final page of the checkout?
The customers might get annoyed and leave.
Plus, if you create a custom landing page just for that offer, you don’t have to change your site’s home page, land sales page, and checkout pages.
2. Landing pages remove all complexity
Let’s say you’re offering low-prim starter regions at the amazing low price of $5 a month. You can be reasonably certain that the people who click on that ad want to get those $5 regions, not your $225 dedicated server package.
Or, if your ad offers a deal on the high-end dedicated servers, the folks who click on it probably don’t want to see the $5 starters.
That means that the entire page can be designed around just pitching that one offer. And your customers don’t have to make a lot of decisions — just click that one “buy now” button.
The fewer steps there are between the customer and the purchase, and the fewer decisions they have to make, the more likely they are to buy.
Worried about losing potential sales of your higher-end products?
As a last step, after the customers has already hit the “buy now” button and committed themselves to ordering, you can ask them if they want to upgrade to a professional region for just $10 a month more, or get automatic daily backups delivered to their DropBox folder, or other add-ons.
3. Landing pages let you test different ads
Are you curious whether customers are more likely to respond to an ad featuring a pretty landscape or avatars having fun? Make a copy of your landing page, and then run two ads — one with the landscape, and one with the avatars. You can also use the same image on the landing page itself, to assure customers that they’ve come to the right place and to underscore the marketing message.
Then use Google Analytics to see which of the two landing pages gets the most visitors.
4. Landing pages let you focus on particular audiences
Let’s say you’re a hosting company and your customers include educators, individuals, and commercial grids. Each of these groups is going to have very different requirements. Commercial grids, for example, are going to want to know about currencies, profiles, search, scalability, and website setup. A school might be more interested in support, backups, and educator discounts. And individuals might be interested in choice of grids to connect to and getting a low price.
Having a separate landing page for each type of customer means the page can focus on the needs of that particular customer segment and remove all distracting information.
So, for example, a clear breakdown of virtual currency options may convince a potential grid owner to click the order button, but may just confuse someone just looking to rent some land on OSgrid. You don’t want to scare your customers away.
It also helps you avoid typecasting.
A would-be individual land renter landing on a comprehensive, all-things-to-all page that goes into detail about dedicated server options might decide, “This hosting company is just for big customers. I should go somewhere else.”
Meanwhile, a large institutional customer would not be well served by a streamlined page that promises a region on OSgrid in five minutes — or your first month free! (That sounds like a great offer, by the way. I’d order a region just to see if they could do it!)
5. Landing pages make sure your hot leads don’t slip away
If someone clicks on an ad that’s a great sign that they have a strong interest in whatever the ad is offering.
They’re like the customer who walks into a store with a handful of money, asking to see the blue shirts. A landing page is like a helpful sales clerk who takes the customer right to the blue shirts he’s looking for. Nobody — including the customer himself — wants him to get lost in the children’s section or the women’s purses, get frustrated, and go home.
A website’s home page has to be all things to everybody, and that means plenty of opportunities for the prospect to get distracted, to get lost in the options, or even to click on a link that goes to some other site and never come back again.
This means that when your marketing efforts are linked to landing pages, their effectiveness is going to be magnified. The people who come in as a result of your tweets and Facebook posts will be more likely to convert to customers. And the money you spend on buying ads — whether here or anywhere else — won’t be be wasted.