Marketers and designers alike often refer to “landing pages” when discussing websites and online advertising efforts. It’s one of those things that we’ve all heard about but remains a somewhat fuzzy concept. So today we’re talking about the essentials of landing pages and why they’re a really important function for online branding.
What is a landing page?
It’s exactly what it sounds like: the page where people “land” on your site. When someone clicks on a link to your site, whether it’s from social media, an ad you’re running, an article you’re tagged in, or anywhere else, they have to enter your site somehow. That entry point is commonly called a landing page. It’s an extremely important page because it’s often a user’s first impression of your site, and sometimes one of their earliest impressions of your organization.
Because landing pages have such an important role, they’ve evolved beyond simply being a place people drop onto your site. Rather than having everyone land on your home page and hoping they find their way around, today’s best practice is to create designated landing pages for different promotions to ensure that users get the exact information they need without having to look around.
Why do landing pages matter?
Have you ever clicked on an ad, social media post, or promotional email only to end up on a page that has nothing to do with what enticed you to click in the first place? If you click something that touts “50% off” and you end up on the company’s homepage with no reference to the sale anywhere, it’s a frustrating experience. Odds are you’ll leave immediately and with a bad impression of the brand.
That experience is why landing pages matter. Online users have extremely short attention spans. We all have dozens of other emails and posts begging for our attention, which means brands need to do as much as possible to give users the information they want as quickly as possible.
What makes a good landing page?
Good landing pages make for a “smooth landing” on your site. In other words, they give the user exactly what they’re expecting. They should also funnel a user to one clear CTA and leave very few options. The best landing pages do a few key things:
- They mirror the messaging of whatever led people there – In other words, the page matches the imagery, topic, and overall message of the ad, email, or post that preceded someone viewing it.
- They have one clearly defined goal – this can be an email signup, for the person to read an article, making a purchase, etc. The goal is what you’re hoping to get the user to do. Which leads us to the final element…
- They have one (and only one) impactful CTA – the best landing pages leave the user with very few options. They can either take action and complete the goal of the page, click over to the homepage to explore the site more, or leave. That’s it. Some landing pages will even remove the main navigation entirely to give users less options. There are pros and cons to this. But the key remains giving users a very clear path to take the action you want with very few other options or distractions.
Landing pages function best when they have these three elements because they eliminate friction. The less time it takes a user to click the page, take action, and move on, the better. Think about your last impulse buy from a site like Amazon. The key to their success is making it quick and seamless for you to shop before you have a moment to stop and reconsider if you actually need that item.
The smoother you make your landing on your site, the better chance you have of capturing your visitors’ attention and getting them to take action. So the next time you’re getting ready to send an email or run an ad online, take a minute to really consider where you’re sending your users. If you’re setting them up for a bumpy or confusing landing, you might want to reconsider.