A recent post on Search Engine Land titled, “Death to the Cliche Landing Page” by Scott Brinker got me thinking about a few recent conversations I’ve had with business owners who are interested in testing paid search, but haven’t put much thought into creating an ideal landing experience for their site visitors.
In his post, Mr. Brinker notes that great content does not necessarily translate into the optimal conversion generating experience and, likewise, pages created simply to push people to convert (e.g., “landing pages”) tend to drive people away in disgust.
I agree with Brinker’s assessment that your visitors’ landing experience – whether they’re coming from a paid source or wandered onto your site from a particularly juicy image on Pinterest, should be just that – an EXPERIENCE, not just a page meant to push them to an all-too-tranparent desired end goal before they are ready. And let’s face it, some advertisers’ landing pages look downright are so lackluster and insincere, they barely attempt to answer user’s questions. (I’m talking to YOU, LegalZoom!)
As such, I’m a proponant of the multi-page landing experience. This is the Web, after all. You don’t need to squeeze every single selling point and call-to-action into one single page. People who are shopping online want to learn more about you. They love to do research. In fact, over 80% of U.S. consumers go online to research products such as computers, books and movies before buying. (source: InternetRetailer.com). One of the Web’s greatest strengths is the ability to elaborate on your message and provide in-depth, robust, comprehensive and, dare I say, even EXHAUSTIVE content.
I’m not saying to send people to a page with acres and acres of text and very little direction. I’m just suggesting you think it through a bit. Break up the content into snack-sized chunks of content while simultaneously leading visitors to the desired outcome – be that lead, purchase or otherwise. Here’s an example of a great landing page experience (in my opinion):
I like this page because it captures the essence of the site – stock photography, but isn’t afraid to use some content to list some of the site’s key selling points (stock videos, instant downloads, money back guarantee). There’s enough information to keep me interested, but not so much that I’m overwhelmed. I can click further into the site to learn more, or perform a search for images to see what they have.
The Web is about language, that’s why search marketing is so effective. We don’t need to turn every web site into a commercial, or a one-line billboard, or a 30 second sound bite. We can actually take a deep breath and think about what we want to say, then say it clearly, compellingly all while taking great care to provide the information that our visitors want to know.
Brinker puts it like this, “There are so many possible ways to engage your audience once you embrace the creative license of using more than one page.” His post focuses on using micro-sites (fully functioning Web sites which contain a hand full of pages devoted to one product or service) as an alternative to the traditional single-page landing page. I agree that micro-sites can be compelling selling tools that enable customers to learn more about you before making a purchase decision (they function kind of like like multi-page brochures or pamphlets).
However, micro-sites can be limited when it comes to content, particularly with companies that have complex conversion goals. I’m thinking, in particular, about non-profit organizations that seek to raise money and reach out to volunteers. These sites do well with robust content which explains their mission, features stories about their cause and seek to educate people by providing detailed articles, videos and other content to site visitors.
I guess what I’m saying is this – don’t be afraid to use content as a selling tool. Good content which offers sincere, in-depth information to prospective clients and consumers goes a long way towards building consumer confidence. This is particularly true when you are considering testing paid search because people are actively seeking you out using keywords. If you don’t have content on your web site that supports the keywords you’re bidding on, visitors will just bounce away.