In loose terms a website landing page is simply the webpage your visitor “lands” on when first entering your site. The page might be the result of a keyword search, an online ad, a link from another page, or even a directly typed URL from a printed coupon or a commercial.

A landing page differs from the rest of your website in that it has a specific purpose, and all of its copy, images, etc. are focused on meeting that purpose. Later, I suggest every page should be viewed as a landing page. Nevertheless, here are a few common reasons for creating landing pages

  • Email marketing list growth
  • Direct e-commerce sales
  • Requests for file downloads, like PDF brochures, spec sheets, entry blanks or coupons
  • SEO, or search rankings of a specific keyword, or group of keywords
  • Online lead generation

There are as many reasons for creating landing pages as there are reasons to do business online. The point of a landing page is to support a single, undiluted purpose and outcome.

The anatomy of a landing page

Many books have been written on the topic of landing pages. Most will tell you to provide plenty of information and be liberal with your placement of calls to action (CTA)—at least that’s the takeaway of most Internet marketers. The reality of creating effective landing pages is a far more complex statistical exercise. (A great book on the subject is “Landing Page Optimization,” by Tim Ash.)

I like to view landing pages like infomercials. Those paid 30-minute segments for the blend-o-matic or some such thing are catchy and conversational. They always feature people you feel like you could get to know. Usually there’s a product expert and one or more stunned onlookers, amazed that he/she has gotten by this long without a blend-o-matic of his or her own.

Over the course of 30 minutes, the advertiser takes you through the entire buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, decision). If you watch closely, you’ll see them bolster interest and overcome objections until anyone with a telephone and a credit card places an order.

Landing pages are online infomercials.

Starting at the top of the page, your only purpose should be to create interest. In fact, that pretty much sums up marketing in general. Too often, marketing messages center around the seller rather than the buyer. “We’re the number 1 this…” or “In business since 1878.” Trust me, no one cares—at least not yet.

Read any book on sales and it’ll tell you to sell the benefits, and demonstrate the features when there’s interest. In other words, start with the why, and work toward the how. The blend-o-matic will save you hours in the kitchen and make your hair grow back. How? It’s as easy as pushing a button.

If you are effective, your webpage visitor will scroll further down the page. The idea is to underscore the benefits in as many ways as it takes until you hit on the message and delivery that resonates with the reader.

You never know what that will be, so I often try them all. I’ll use testimonials, video, info-graphics, lists, headings and catch-phrases. With so many elements, you run the risk of creating very messy web pages, so they need to be divided into segments using white space and typography to define clear, digestible messages.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you already know what motivates your customers or clients. Ours come to us because we bring them more business. How we do it is secondary. The primary motivator is more business.

Building credibility and overcoming objections.

Our business is all about credibility. Chances are, yours is to. A business owner or decision maker has to believe we will solve the problem or meet the objective. YOU DON’T BUILD CREDIBILITY BY DOING WHAT YOU PROMISE. YOU BUILD CREDIBILITY WITH THE RESULTS.

One of our promises is more traffic and better qualified leads. If we don’t deliver that, it doesn’t make any difference what we did.

One powerful way we build credibility is by showing what we’ve done for other clients. It’s even better if it comes straight from the client in his or her own words. Testimonials are powerful motivators. However, most business owners that use them blow it by creating a “testimonials” page with a long list of quotes.

For a testimonial to be effective, it must be timely and contextual. The best way to achieve that is by using individual testimonials that give credibility to the point you’re making, in that exact spot on the page. It’s best when they are accompanied by a real name with a picture of a live human being your landing page visitors can relate to.

Use video if possible

There is nothing more powerful than an enthusiastic customer or client gushing about how your product or service made his or her life better. Forget about making a polished, highly produced video piece. It takes too much time and costs money you don’t need to spend.

Grab your iPhone and ask your happy customer to tell you what she likes best about whatever you did or sold. Let her go on as long as you still feel flattered, or she remains interesting to watch. Clip out the best 45 seconds to a minute and get the video up on YouTube (or Vimeo, whatever you want…) so you can embed it in just the right spot on your landing page.

If you don’t have anyone to talk about you, talk about yourself. Be genuine, honest and human. People have a high tolerance for questionable production quality, but none at all for BS.

As a side benefit, if you tag and describe your video properly, you’ll get a boost directly from YouTube. Also, modern smartphones shoot pretty incredible video, so it’ll probably end up looking pretty darn good. Trust me, online video is worth it.

Take a landing page approach to every page on your website.

It is important to recognize that your site visitors might enter through any page on your website. In fact, the entrance could even be the result of an image search. Whatever page, post, picture, video, pdf file, Word document or text file happens to be the most relevant to a given search phrase, that is what Google will display on its search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, it is in your best interest to make sure you provide enough information to at least get through the interest stage of the buyer’s journey.

Have a purpose and a plan for every page on your website. Support that with keyword goals, and even conversion goals. Know what keywords you want that page to rank for, and do everything you need to to make that happen.

Also it is important to use tracking tools so you’ll know how each page ranks compared to your goal (and your competitors). Do the same for other website metrics like the number of visits, average time on the page, etc.

Treat every page as a landing page, because it may be the only page your visitor sees. You’ve only got about a second and a half to be interesting, so it better be pretty obvious to your visitor why he or she should keep reading.

You’ll find that it takes planning, follow-through, and a bit more work, but you’ll be rewarded with more visitors that are better qualified. More qualified visitors means more leads. More leads means more sales. More sales means you’ll have a bigger house, more vacations, you’ll save time in the kitchen, lose 20 pounds and your hair will grow back.