The BIG List: Common & Uncommon Landing Page Best Practices for PPC

imagesI’ve been doing some research for landing pages recently and was curious as to the content I could find on PPC Blogs. First of all, oh man. There’s a ton of stuff out there. But I noticed two things I found interesting. First, many posts say the same thing. Second, many posts take a particular tac based on the author’s experience and mention something completely unique to that post. I began organizing those ideas for my own use of best practices and decided to share with all of you. You know, because that’s what nice people do right? Below is a master list of landing page best practices broken down by commonly referred to and uncommonly referred to.

Widely Accepted Best Practices

Below are a list of best practices I’ve found in multiple different lists, hear in presentations, etc. These are widely accepted by the online community as tips to follow for landing pages in all industries.

Start with Goals in Mind: Landing pages are created (more often than not) to be the highest converting page on a website. When building your landing pages, be sure you’re keep the end goal in mind. What do I want my customer to do on this page? How can I best steer them to that goal without being spammy?

Don’t Send Traffic to the Homepage: The homepage of your site can be a very valuable page, but more often than not you’re missing out on key areas of information when using such a broad page. In those instances, your customer ends up having to navigate to multiple different pages of your site to get all of the product, pricing, and company information they want. Don’t make them just through those hoops.

Don’t Stop Your Test Prematurely: It happens to everyone. You start a new test, in the first 3-4 days your new page variation blows the old one out of the water in all categories. Fantastic! Time to end the test right? Wrong! Unless you’re a site with uber high traffic, and by that I mean Google or Amazon, then a test lasting 3-4 days just isn’t long enough. Give your tests at minimum one week of run time, if not two. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Keep Your Landing Pages Clean and Concise: Don’t overload your pages with superfluous information, design, or effects. More often than not, the simplest version of your page will be the most effective.

Use One Conversion Action Per Page: Although there might be multiple forms of conversions for your site, choosing only one for a landing page is considered a best practice. This mostly comes up in lead generation accounts where whitepapers, brochures, requests for a quote, and more are all ways of gathering the same data. Run A/B tests to determine your most effective conversion path and stick with just that one on your landing pages.

Keep Forms and Funnels as Short as Possible: Providing personal or financial information online isn’t second nature for everyone. Some people still find the world of the internet very intimidating. On top of that, who actually like filling out forms? Keep them short and sweet and only ask for the information you need to move forward. A good example: There’s no need to ask for City, State, and Zip Code. Zip codes tell you everything you need to know. Grease those conversion wheels and leave City and State out of your forms.

Provide All Information Someone Needs to Convert: Consider your product and what’s important for someone to convert. Description, pricing, expectations of repair or customer service, etc. Gather all of that data in a clear presentation and put it on your page. This limits the amount of browsing done on your site and keeps the customers attention focused on whether to convert or not rather than leaving their questions unanswered.

Reinforce Credibility: Were you mentioned in a major publication? Do large, recognizable brands use your product? Does your mom think you’re nice? Well, maybe not that last one, but the other two are great pieces of credibility for your site. Add those on your landing pages as pieces of credibility for your potential customers.

Include Privacy and Security Information: Giving personal and financial information isn’t second nature to everyone. Many people are still very timid about sharing anything online. Be sure to display the logos of all security protocols you use on your site to keep their information safe.

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Make Them Mobile Friendly: Considering it seems like the last 3 years have been dubbed “The Year of Mobile”, it’s probably time you create landing pages that work best of mobile devices. Whether that’s having a mobile responsive page or creating custom pages just for mobile is up to you. But don’t cut yourself out of a potential client source because you’re being lazy with your site.

Include Tasteful, Relevant Images: We all like a little color and imagery on a landing page, but sometimes sites can go over the top. Be sure to keep your images relevant and tasteful when putting them on your landing page. Remember, these are supposed to be pages that gear customers 100% to converting, not leave them half blind wondering why you thought a half page image of a spray painted cat would sell your software best.

Remember Quality Score and Search Engine Considerations: Google’s landing page quality score should be part of your considerations when putting together your page. Include all keywords relevant to your ads and keywords in your campaigns in a tasteful manner on your page. Also, be sure those keywords are in the text of your page. Too many times marketers hide those keywords from the engines by putting them in images.

Always Be Testing: Duh, right? Continual testing is widely considered the best way to continue to improve your conversion rates. Allow enough time for your test to reach a conclusion, then build a new test based on your learnings from the last. Almost no test is too small, but always look for new ways to break out of the box with conversion testing. You can only test that button color so many times.

Uncommon Practices to Test

In slight contrast to the above list, these are all tips mentioned in one or two places, but not widely accepted as best practices. I like to consider this a testing playground. Each of these is something I would suggest testing on your site if you feel it makes sense for your company. Not all of these will fit for you, but some of them might. Give them a look and test at will.

Create a Dedicated Landing Page for Each Ad Group: If you’ve organized your PPC account “properly” (read: in such a way to follow this tip), you’ll be able to create a new page for each ad group using the keywords found in that ad group. This is a great way to improve landing page quality score as well as increase relevance from keyword, to ad copy, to landing page. This might seem like a daunting task to some, but the main areas to focus on are headline and mentions in the body copy. Start with a high level page and then create new ad group level pages as you have time.

Pay Attention to Page Load Time: Having all the bells and whistles on your site can be fun, but they’re not always the best for landing pages. They can slow down your site and cause problems with the search engines and your customers. Keep your pages short, sweet, and quick on their feet. You can test your site for free here.

Create Pages Targeted to Your Audience Demographics: In some instances, you can actively segment the types of customers coming to your site based on the produce their looking for and the keywords they used to describe it. Demographics, interests, and present knowledge of your product can all be pieces you use to differentiate your landing pages based on customers.

Start the User on Their Journey: Create a sense of direction by letting the customer know what’s coming up next. Some companies use a hierarchy of conversion types to generate customers (whitepaper, demo, get a quote, conversion). Letting the customer know what’s coming after this initial contact will help to frame their experience and remove those window shopping customers not interested in the next steps.

Remove Menu Options: Some companies have had success removing navigation from their landing pages. This reduces the number of people who begin to click around to all other pages of your site before converting or leaving. It can also get you in a bit of trouble if you don’t have all the necessary information for a conversion on you landing page. This is a great one to test, but only if you’ve done the proper set up work.

Conversion Action and Key Information Pieces Above the Fold: This one’s pretty self explanatory. Put the highlights of your product or service and the conversion action above the fold on you page. This way customers will be able to see everything they need without scrolling. Place any additional information under this initial summary and add another conversion action at the bottom of the page to capture conversions from both types of users.

Keep the Look and Feel Consistent with Main Site: Don’t deviate too much from your company branding on your landing pages. Keep everything consistent from homepage to landing page for a consistent experience.

Use Directional Cues to Steer the User to Converting: Whether visual or verbal, continue to reference the location and process involved in your page’s conversion action. After all, the ultimate goal is for them to convert, so why not drop hints now and then.

Use Proper Typography: Some fonts and typefaces are easier to read than others on the web. Additionally, some fonts convey a different message than others. Exhibit A:

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 9.49.46 AM

 I rest my case. Refer to this post for more information. Admittedly, it gets into the weeds at some points, but overall it’s a pretty unique part of conversion rate optimization to think about.

Create Strong Message Match with Ad Copy: Your ad copy makes a promise that your landing page should deliver on. Be sure to include your key features, benefits, and promotions from your ad copy in prominent placement on your landing page. The user wants to know you’re going to deliver on your initial promise before they ever look at additional information.

Use Videos as Well Packaged Content: Whether a product demo, a company overview, or simply and explanation of features, videos can help reduce the amount of reading and visualizing customers need to do. Be careful though, videos can hurt your page load time as well as detract from your main conversion action. Be sure to test before rolling out to all available pages.

Provide Incremental Conversions for Large Ticket Items: You’ll rarely generate sales for a car on the first visit to a landing page. Like, basically never. But you can help coax users through a longer conversion funnel by allowing them to build a custom model. Then next time they can get a quote from a local dealer. Through many contact points, you can work your way from an initial search of “buy a new car” to then driving out of the dealership in a top of the line model.

Don’t Use CAPTCHA’s: Many companies use CAPTCHAs to limit the amount of spam conversions they get, which is great. But these can also get some relevant and qualified users stuck for one reason or another. We’ve all see then the images of impossible CAPTCHAs. And this article does a great job of outlining the problem. As with all of these tips, be sure to test with and without CAPTCHAs and find the balance of spammy and relevant leads that are best for your company.

And with that, we’ve reached the end of our list! What best practices do you follow that aren’t on this list?

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