What is a Landing Page?
By Bob Ruffolo
If you’re new to Inbound Marketing, or digital marketing in general, you’ve likely heard a lot about landing pages, but you may not be quite sure what they actually are.
If you’re confused by the term, I don’t blame you. Far too many people are using it to describe web pages that are in fact not landing pages at all.
A landing page isn’t just another page that people land on. All landing pages are web pages, but not all web pages that people land on are landing pages. Make sense?
Landing pages are one of the fundamental tools for Inbound Marketing. To be considered a landing page, the web page must meet two criteria:
The page has a form to collect leads
The sole purpose of the page is to collect information from that form
But I have an opt-in form on my homepage, doesn’t that make it a landing page?
No. Your homepage serves several purposes. It welcomes new visitors and returning visitors, it helps show visitors how to get to different areas of your website, and yes it happens to collect leads.
A landing page is much more focused than that. You wouldn’t want links to other pages on your site in your landing page because that might distract them from the only goal of a landing page -- collecting lead information.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use elements of a landing page in all kinds of web pages. However, it’s important to understand the distinction.
What Are the Different Types of Landing Pages?
Many types of pages may closely resemble landing pages (such as a click through page) but technically aren’t.
They might look like landing pages and have the same end goal, but it’s not a landing page if there is no form that collects leads directly on the page.
Different landing page types should be defined by their offer. Obviously the goal from an Inbound Marketing perspective is to collect leads, but you have to consider what’s in it for your persona as well.
Most people don’t like to give away their email address (and especially not their address or phone number) just for the sake of being directed to a pretty page. You need to offer them something in return.
Your landing page doesn’t have to offer anything extravagant or extreme, but it has to be something of real value to your persona -- even if it’s just the opportunity to be on a waiting list. If the thing they are waiting on is valuable or useful enough to them, they’ll be happy to sign-up .
Let’s take a look at how you can approach landing pages for different types of offers.
Offer: Free eBook or White Paper
This is one of the most common types of offers that appear on landing pages.
On this landing page, you present a free eBook or another type of document that holds valuable information that’s relevant to your business.
Let’s say your company sells Wordpress themes and your ideal persona could benefit from an eBook that lists the “Top Twenty Must-Have Wordpress Plugins.”
On your landing page, you must convince your audience that they need this offer and that is worth exchanging their contact information for. With this in mind, consider including:
A cover photo
An excerpt or snippet
Bullet points highlighting the content
Offer: Free Trial
Offering a free trial is a great way to gather leads for companies that provide a service.
People are indecisive and often need a nudge or two. What better way to convince someone who is on the fence about your service than to let them test it out for free?
Even if they decide to cancel the service after their free trial period, you still have more opportunities to improve your bottom line.
When it comes to this landing page you should include:
Trial Terms: Length of the Trial, Features Available, Any Guarantees (No credit card needed, risk-free, etc.)
Offer: Notification of a New Launch
For this landing page, your persona signs up to be the first to know about an upcoming event.
This offer can be used in a variety of ways, but is especially effective in two scenarios:
When used as a placeholder for a new website
When your business builds hype or teases a new product/service over a period of time and sends potential leads to the landing page
Does your business already have a thriving customer base or large following of loyal fans? This offer, while it may not seem like much, can be extremely valuable to those people.
The people who line up and say “take my email, I want to know immediately when this is available” are the same people who say “shut-up and take my money!”
For this landing page, consider keeping the form short (perhaps just requiring an email address and first name, or just email) and include information such as:
Launch Date (even if tentative)
What to Expect (in terms of communication)
Value of the New Product/Website (Features, services, etc.)
Offer: Coupon, Discount, or Free Gift Card
However you decide to position it, this offer is all about saving your persona money.
One of the great things about offering a discount is that it doesn’t cost you anything until the prospect becomes a customer. A free eBook takes time and/or money to produce, a free trial uses various resources from your business, but a good ol’ fashioned discount requires no resources upfront.
For this landing page, the benefit is rather clear. Instead of just trying to sell the reader on the value, focus your landing page on highlighting the offer terms and maybe even highlighting something they could use the coupon on.
Offer: A Physical Gift
Mailing your readers a free gift like a t-shirt, stickers, or other company “swag,” it is a great way to “delight” your customers and get free exposure. (i.e. If you give someone a free t-shirt, every time they wear that out and about, your brand is reaching a new audience.)
With this landing page, you can collect not only an email address, but also collect a physical address so you can mail them the gift. While this isn’t a priority for Inbound Marketing, it does open another line of communication for the future if needed.
On this page you may also want to include:
An Image of the Free Gift
Terms (Reassure your audience that their address is safe, provide an estimated delivery time, etc.)
Key Takeaway: Bringing it All Together
By now you should have a clear idea about what a landing page is and some ideas about how your business could use one (or several.)
Now you might be wondering how to design your landing page?
Believe it or not, designing a landing page isn’t complicated. There’s a great beginner’s guide on the Kissmetrics blog that breaks this down nicely.
Here are the basic rules to follow:
Have a clear call-to-action that readers see immediately when they land on the page
Keep the design simple and free of distractions (No menus, sidebars, etc.)
The copy should be clear and concise -- get to the point!
Only request the minimum amount of information, making it as easy and quick as possible for your persona to sign-up
There are a lot more advanced things you can do to optimize your landing page, but those are the most important criteria.
Now that you know what you’re doing, you can start generating more leads from your landing pages right away!
Wondering where to begin?