Marketers have started to realize that most web pages have a major fault: They’re not designed to win customers. Mostly, they’re distracting, they’re overwhelming, and they’re bad at guiding prospects through the marketing funnel. That’s why many marketers count on a relatively new tool (compared to billboards) to generate leads and make sales—the landing page.

Landing Page Technology: Top Marketers’ Favorite New Tool

According to a report from Aberdeen, the single most popular new technology among top marketers in 2016 was a landing page/conversion optimization software. The tool allows businesses to do two things:

  1. Create targeted landing pages aimed specifically at turning traffic into leads and customers.
  2. Improve the conversion rate of those pages with built-in testing capabilities.

And that’s not that surprising when you consider that marketers face the challenge of turning traffic into leads.And the solution to that problem was uncovered many years ago: more landing pages. Landing pages can act as the solution to that problem because they play a key part in generating traffic and converting it with search ads and they are the leading paid channel for businesses:

Industry leader, Google, highly prioritizes landing page experience, determining whether or not to show your AdWords ads based on the page visitors click through to:

Bing takes landing page experience into account too.

In 2017, to generate traffic through search engines, and to turn that traffic into leads and customers, you have no choice but to offer a high-quality landing page experience.

But, what exactly is a landing page? And how do you offer your prospects and leads a “good experience”?

What Is a Landing Page Really? (Hint: It’s Probably Not What You Think)

Punch this query into Google, and here’s what you’ll see:

But this definition falls short. A landing page isn’t just a “section of a website accessed by clicking a hyperlink on another web page,” and it’s most certainly not a home page.

A landing page is a standalone web page, disconnected from a website’s main navigation, created for the sole purpose of convincing a visitor to take action (to sign up, download, buy, etc.). Here’s an example from Percolate:

Typically, it’s true that many advertisers use their homepage as a landing page. But, not the high-performers.

If you type “marketing automation software” into Google, you’ll likely notice that the paid ads in the coveted first few results don’t direct you to a home page. We found that out of six paid placements on page one, only one sent us to a homepage.

Try it with the query of your choice, and you’ll probably find, as we did, that the majority of paid ads in highly clicked spots direct users to a targeted landing page. And there are two big reasons for that, which I’ll cover in just a minute.

The Difference between Landing Pages and Most Other Web Pages

An “about” page can educate, and a homepage can serve as a launchpad to more information, but that’s rarely enough for the modern consumer.

Now, busy buyers want answers to highly specific questions, and they want them served up on a platter —via their device of choice—immediately.

To grow, a business must be able to appease them. Ads have to entice prospects with solutions to their problems, and landing pages have to offer those solutions with a focused and personalized design.

“Focused and personalized” means:

1. Clear Message Match

Your prospects will have certain expectations after clicking through your ad. On your landing page, you need to meet those expectations; otherwise your visitors will leave in an instant. Let’s look at an example.

This paid ad appeared for the search query “motorcycle accident lawyer”:

Before we show you this ad’s landing page, ask yourself: “What are my expectations for it?”
You’ll probably expect to see content related to a motorcycle accident lawyer since it’s mentioned in the headline of the ad. Right?

Well, you’re directed to this page when you click through:

On it, you’ll see no mention of a motorcycle lawyer. To find out this particular law office represents victims of motorcycle accidents, you’ll have to hunt for the information by clicking the “areas of practice” link at the top of the page.

But today’s internet users won’t do that extra legwork. Instead, they’ll simply hit the back button and click PPC ads until they find something more relevant to their search, like the landing page below, which displays the keywords “motorcycle accident” prominently in the headline:

Here’s a great example from BI Intelligence. First, the ad:

Now, its corresponding landing page:

On it, the BI Intelligence logo is displayed at the top, the headline features the name of the resource, and an image matches the ad creative. This page offers its visitors exactly what they expect. It delivers their resource clearly, without making them hunt for it.

For clear message match, every landing page should:

  • Reflect the branding of the advertisement. Your logo and brand colors should be displayed prominently.
  • Feature the same images as your ad creative.
  • Include the same language as its referrer.

2. A Conversion Ratio Not Exceeding 1:1

When you blog or build a website, internally linking your content is a good practice. It helps SEO, lowers bounce rate, and it improves ease of navigation for your visitors.

What it also does, though, is increase distractions. Every link in your navigation menu, copy, and footer presents visitors with an opportunity to abandon the current page.

Just ask JellyTelly, who boosted conversions by over 100% when they removed links in their navigation menu and footer:

Remember, your landing page has a singular goal: to convert. Distractions like these, or others like competing calls-to-action, offer visitors too many choices of places to click.

Psychological studies have shown that when humans are presented with an abundance of options, we experience a number of negative effects:

  • We delay choosing even if doing so will ultimately harm us.
  • We make worse choices.
  • We achieve less satisfaction from our choice even if it helps us objectively.

Think of the implications as an advertiser. Offering your visitors more than one link to click on your landing page will make them wait to choose, make them choose poorly, and make them less satisfied with their final decision.

Consider the famous study in which researchers set up a display table of jam in a local grocery store. The first day, they offered 24 varieties to shoppers. On the second day, they offered only 6.

By the end of the experiment, the bigger display drew more attention, but it also resulted in 10x fewer sales.

When we apply research like that to our digital marketing, it makes sense that more links to click and more offers to claim can distract visitors to a page. That’s why the “conversion ratio” of your landing page—the ratio of links to conversion goals—should be 1:1.

Provide all the information your visitors need to evaluate your offer and remove distractions to keep them focused on converting.

The only ways off your landing page should be through the link in your CTA button or the “X” in the top corner of the browser window.

Wrapping Up

Traditional web pages, like the homepage or your pricing page, have their purpose. But, that purpose is broader than simply converting visitors.

By directing your prospects to a page full of navigation links and scattered content, you’re bleeding your budget dry. Without a focused landing page featuring message match, your paid campaigns don’t stand a chance at performing to their potential.