Web landing pages: Required for search engine marketing

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Marketing with Web landing pages is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to get a message read by a target market, and it's a terrific tool for moving buyers through the sales cycle.

A landing page is simply a place to publish a targeted message for a particular demographic that you're trying to market to and they are used not only in search engine marketing but other Web marketing programs as well. For example, landing pages are ideal for describing special offers mentioned on your Web site or calls to action referenced in another content page (such as a blog or ebook).

Landing pages also work well for telling an organization's story to a particular target market, promoting a new product offering, or providing more information to people who link from your news releases. Marketing programs such as search engine optimization are—to borrow an idea from the classic sales cycle definition—designed to attract the prospect's attention. The landing page is where you take the next step; once you’ve got your audience’s attention, generate and develop customer interest and conviction, so that your sales team gets a warm lead ready to be worked to a closed sale or you can point people to an ecommerce page to buy your product right away.

Effective landing page copy is written from the buyers' perspective, not yours. Landing pages should provide additional information to searchers, information based on the offer or keyword they just clicked on. Many successful organizations have hundreds of landing pages, each optimized for a particular set of related search engine marketing terms.

Landing pages that drive action

Don't make the mistake of so many organizations by investing tons of money into a search engine advertising program (buying keywords) and then sending all the traffic to your homepage. Because the homepage needs to serve many audiences, there can never be enough information there for each search term. Instead, keep the following landing page guidelines in mind:

Make the landing page copy short and the graphics simple. The landing page is a place to deliver a simple message and drive your prospect to respond to your offer. Don’t try to do too much.

Create the page with your company's look, feel, and tone. A landing page is an extension of your company branding, so it must adopt the same voice, tone, and style as the rest of your site.

Write from the prospect’s point of view. Think carefully of who will be visiting the landing page, and write copy for that demographic. You want visitors to feel that the page speaks to their problems and that you have a solution for them.

A landing page is communications, not advertising. Landing pages are where you communicate valuable information. Advertising gets people to click to your landing page, but once a prospect is there, the landing page should focus on communicating the value of your offering to the buyer.

Make the call to action clear and easy to respond to. Make certain you provide a clear response mechanism for those people who want to go further. Make it easy to sign up or express interest or buy something.

Use multiple calls to action. You never know what offer will appeal to a specific person, so consider using more than one. In the business-to-business world, you might offer a white paper, a free trial, an ROI calculator, and a price quote all on the same landing page.

Only ask for necessary information. Don't use a sign-up form that requires your prospects to enter lots of data—people will abandon the form. Ask for the absolute minimum you can get away with—name and e-mail address only if you can, or perhaps even just e-mail. Requiring any additional information will reduce your response rates.

Don't forget to follow up! OK, you've got a great landing page with an effective call to action, and the leads are coming in. Great! Don’t drop the ball now. Make certain to follow up with each response as quickly as possible.