“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
― David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising
Sometimes you need to look back to go forward. When perplexed in the modern, fast moving world of digital marketing, we often turn to advertising giant David Ogilvy for an inspirational smack. In the above quote, David conveniently outlines the purpose of a landing page. It is clearly to sell – sell an idea, a product or service, a how to, a next step – but if it isn’t selling something, the landing page isn’t doing its job.
So what goes into the creation of effective landing pages? Here are a few standards that we rely on.
1. Forget the web guru:
Your webmaster is not going to rescue you from this task. He or she should have already done their thing – and now should be politely insisting that you do yours. They should have brought you into the modern web world with a responsive design that understands the various platforms that your audience will view your site through – e.g. smart phone, tablet, desktop, window shopping (just kidding about the last one). Your web guru should have also empowered you with the god-like powers of a CMS (content management system), so you can change or add content as you wish. Finally, beg him or her to teach you about Google Analytics – the data that will provide you with the keys to understanding how visitors are using your website as a whole and individual landing pages.
2. Strategy determines structure:
It’s that simple. Clearly, mobile is ruling the world right now and responsive design will address many of the viewing issues associated with those browsers. While mobile viewers almost always have intent – meaning they want to do something very specific and quickly – other strategies will call for more detailed text that encourages your visitor to hang around a bit longer. The aforementioned Google Analytics can give you insights as to what pages are attracting the most mobile traffic, which are holding viewers for longer periods of time, and what they are doing there.
3. Create meaningful mobile experiences:
This bears repeating. Generally speaking, mobile users have intent. Get them the information they want and quickly. This means cut down on load time – images, perhaps even imbedded video – unless you are sure that it is valuable to this hyper speed visitor. Simplicity is the hallmark of a well-designed mobile landing page.
4. Content marketing has clear value:
Throw some of the bathwater out with the mobile baby. I know – tough metaphor, but let me try to make it work. So, if mobile emphasizes simplicity, if your landing page is going to sell your ideas, then simplicity is not a virtue. Sure, the page needs to be clean and uncomplicated, but you want to tempt your visitors to stick around. Paragraph headlines, images, infographics, and short videos – all secondary content that helps tell the story presented with your copy – are all valued by the visitor who has landed on your page from your content marketing hook out in cyberspace. Consider using short headlines of approximately four words and make sure those words bring value to the clarity of your message. In the headlines or copy, if you find words that aren’t providing any substance, hit the delete key or change them.
5. Keywords are critical:
This time, a mouthful of jargon you say? Again, patience and I will reveal the brilliance of this fifth point. We have learned a few things over the many years (using internet time to define many) we have been working with the Google AdWords platform. In fact, today we are a Google Partner – due to the level of expertise we have demonstrated and the volume of advertising we manage. One of the most important lessons we recognized early on is the importance of great (not good – great) content on the landing pages that support our AdWords campaigns. Great content means it is valued by the individual search – algorithmically speaking – and therefore, Google will display the ad. Great landing pages match the intent of the users search and the words in the ad.
6. Deep content makes SEO sing:
Deep content on a landing page will make your page much more appreciated by search engines like Google, and therefore much more likely to come up when someone searches for the content it contains. What is deep content? It is text, generally speaking, but you can add images and videos too. That text goes into detail on a specific subject – which is the same subject that you hope your audience will be interested in, and therefore, search for. How deep is deep? As much as it will be appreciated by your audience – but you also have to take the user experience into consideration. A post that goes on forever does not look very inviting. An alternative strategy is to make it more visually digestible by linking to sub landing pages, where possible and appropriate. Capture the visitor with the quality content on your main your landing page, then offer them linked opportunities to do even deeper dives.
There is nothing more critical for your online advertising and content marketing campaigns than the landing page. Yet, that page is often an afterthought. There is no passing the buck on this one – it ends with you Harry Truman. Optimize that landing page so it sells.