Optimizing your Landing Pages, Part 1 – Initial Planning
“Optimizing Landing Pages” is an on going series that will total 20 posts. The series is written by 3.7 DESIGNS and Ross Johnson to help web professionals build sites that achieve specific business goals. This is post 3, and the topic is “Writing for Personality Profiles.”
In the development of web pages there is an unfortunate trend that places more time and effort on the visual design of a site rather than the usability and sales funnels. There are a lot of great looking websites on the internet that truly are stunning, but fail at all business objectives. One of the first places you can start in the optimization of your sites business objectives would be your landing pages.
A landing page is simply any page where a user is likely to enter into your site. This might be a URL that is on print/traditional advertising, or a URL in which you send a user from a PPC advertisement. If you optimize interior pages for search results those could be landing pages as well.
There is a whole process to getting more out of your landing pages, so I will be splitting this into a blogging series. Today we will talk about planning, the next post will be about developing, and finally I will post about measuring and optimizing.
A I D A S
AIDAS. One of the most important elements to the success of your landing page will be how much planning and thought you put into it. Too many people throw up a landing page and just copy/paste content over with out really thinking what is going on the page and why. Remember, web users have very short patience and are quite fickle. It doesn’t take much for them to hit the back button.
AIDAS is the very first order of business when it comes to landing pages and conversion based websites online. What is AIDAS? It is the process in which every visitor goes through on their journey to converting. People may come into the conversion tunnel at different places in the process of AIDAS, and people may drop out, but it is our job to appease any concerns, questions, thoughts so they can move on to the next stage of the tunnel and eventually convert.
AIDAS = Attention Interest Desire Action Satisfy
AIDAS stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action Satisfy. Let’s look at these stages in depth and talk about what we can do to help a user move from one to the other.
This is the first stage, and it often consists of the user ensuring that they are on the right page or site. When a user is searching for information, a product, or service, they are likely to browse through 5-10 different sites in the quest of finding what they are looking for. If your site doesn’t look like the right one they will be clicking the back button and finding the next site.
The users thought process often follows these points:
- Am I on the page I thought I would get too?
- Does this site look like the type of site that would have what I am looking for?
- Is it worth looking around or should I find another page?
The best thing you can do to appease the attention phase is make sure the title of what ever they clicked through on is the same as the main heading of the page. If your PPC advertisement says “Magic chewing gum” your main headline should as well. If it says something else the user may think that it is not exactly what they are looking for and move on elsewhere.
This is where initial design credibility plays a large part. If your site doesn’t look credible the user might be disenchanted and click away to a different site.
Once you have their attention they will begin to start looking around for what they want to find. This commonly is referred to as “information scent,” where they are looking for anything about their search that will make them interested. It is your job as a web designer/developer to lead them to the right area of your site or page, and get them interested.
The user is most likely concerned with the following:
- Where should I click to find out more information?
- Is there something on this page that describes what I am looking for?
- Can I trust this website/company with my financial or personal information?
The tricky part here is that users are often in a huge hurry. They are not likely to read through all of your copy, so it is important to use techniques that allow easy scanning of content as well as pictures, diagrams, and videos to get the users interest. There will be more about this in the second installment of this series.
At this point in the stage you want to minimize any and all distractions. This is often why successful landing pages are very focused, preventing users from getting off out of the tunnel accidentally. It is not uncommon to remove traditional navigation bars/elements in favor of targeted in copy text links.
Once the user is interested they are going to take more time to really assess what it is you are selling to see if it fits their needs or not. If they have gotten to this stage it means that they have found the part of your site/page that describes what you offer. Kudos. Now they just want to know if you offer exactly what they want or not.
They will scan less and read more, take additional time to watch videos, look through pricing, etc. This is where a lot of the work comes in, where previously you were just trying to assure them they were on the right page and they shouldn’t leave; you now must convince them to part with their highly valued money, time, or information.
This is the part where you want to talk about benefits, not just features. Make sure your USP is clearly defined, and you answer any and all questions including price point, support, how to order, shipping information, returns, contact time, etc…
The user will have a lot of questions and objections about your product/service and in order to get them to the next stage you must have all of those questions answered. Some of them might be:
- Does this product/service do what I want?
- Can I afford it?
- If I don’t like it, what happens? Can I return it?
- Can I trust this company if I do want this product?
- Are there other products/service that are better?
- Will this solve my problem?
The action used to be the most important part of the process, however it has been replaced by “satisfy.” I will discuss satisfy. in a few moments. The action is where the user actually takes action to convert. This might be filling out a form, purchasing an item, etc.. The key here is to make taking that action easy and spelling out how to complete that action. This is often referred to as the “call to action.”
This might be “add this item to your cart,” “check out to purchase,” “contact us today to start,” etc…
In order for a user to take action and convert all of their questions and objections must have been answered and appeased in the interest/desire stage. If you don’t then chances are they will be looking to the next site to purchase or take action. If they can’t figure out how to take action or what to do next, then they will be going to the next site to purchase or take action.
This is now the most important step in the whole process. You must satisfy the expectations of the user, meaning they should get exactly what they thought they would when they completed that action. It might be that you contact them in a timely manor with more information, or that they get the product they ordered with in your shipping guidelines. They might expect a specific level of communication through out the whole process.
Failing to do so will result in an unhappy user/customer, and they are likely to tell 10 other people about the experience vs 2 that they would tell if you gave them a great experience.