What you need to know about Landing Pages

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The podcast where digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices, and share their unfiltered thoughts about the digital marketing industry.

What you need to know about Landing Pages

SUMMARY

Have you ever asked, “What is a landing page?” or thought to yourself, “I have a website, why do I need a separate landing page?” Well, you’re in luck. In episode 32 of Getting Granular, we explore the ins and outs of landing pages to answer the questions “Are they worth it?” and “What can they do for my business?”

SHOW NOTES

What you’ll learn in this episode of Getting Granular:

    • The ABCs of landing pages (00:43)
    • Examples of where having a landing page strategy would be a great idea (01:21)
    • The benefits of building a landing page for you and the user (06:12)
      • Higher quality score
      • Drive focus to specific information
      • Flexibility to optimize & test the page(s)
    • Finding the perfect balance when creating lead form fill (13:40)
    • Rounding out the pro’s of having a custom landing page strategy (17:29)
    • The flip-side of the coin: What may be some of the downsides to a custom landing page strategy (21:10)
    • The final take with MacKenzie (25:04)

EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION

Narrator: Welcome to Getting Granular, the podcast where digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices, and share their unfiltered thoughts about the industry. Whether you’re here to learn how to grow your business, improve your digital skills, or just want to hear some Midwest PPC experts rant about digital media, you’ve come to the right place.

Chris: Thank you once again for tuning into the Getting Granular Podcast. I am your host, Chris Cesar, a senior manager here of Paid Media at Granular. I am joined today by MacKenzie Krantz, another senior manager of Paid Media here at Granular. Welcome MacKenzie.

MacKenzie: Hi Chris. Thanks for having me.

Chris: Always great to have you. So today we’re going to talk about landing page strategy. Do you want to just give us a kick off on some definitions?

MacKenzie: Sure. So your landing page is the page that the user will go to once they click your ad. In general, you can either take people to your current website. So this would just be in your general pages, your product pages, things like that. Or you can create custom landing pages. A lot of businesses will do this just because you get a little bit better of control over what content and the process and flow that your customers can go through.

Chris: When we talk about people who would potentially have these custom landing pages, what would be an example of an industry that I may be in when it would make sense to have a landing page strategy?

MacKenzie: Any industry where you have a really competitive search or digital landscape would be a good priority to have those custom landing pages, just to help you stand out among the crowd. A really good example is in the higher ed space. We see a lot of colleges and universities use custom landing pages. And that makes sense, their sites are so full of information that when you’re just trying to get somebody to fill out a lead form or want them to take the next step, you don’t want to bog them down with all of that information. And when you are a university, you have all of the information for your current students, future students, parents want to know stuff, teachers want to know stuff. You have so much information you need to get out there and has to be available on your site, and that can get distracting or overwhelming for a prospect.

So really toning that down, making a custom landing page or group of custom landing pages, depending on what your strategy is just really helps in that space. Similar with, we also have mattresses we’ll look at sometimes. I know it sounds weird, but a lot of times they do build their own custom landing pages that have really specific things on them like reviews and testimonials, very specific imagery, and always have a really strong call to action. Just because on the site, you might want to have more information on additional things. I just bought a mattress. So they have things like different sheets and pillows and the bases and how to set everything up. When you’re just trying to sell the first mattress, you not necessarily want to give them all of that information. You really want to focus on this is the step I want you to take.

Chris: Cool. It’s sounds to me like the best time that you would be using a landing page is in any sort of lead generation aspect. As opposed to say, if I’m an e-commerce website, a landing page, a custom built landing page strategy may not be the best for me. Especially since it’s my website in theory is already streamlined for that purchase process.

MacKenzie: Exactly. With an e-commerce site, in theory, you should be testing your product pages, building them out. You should be using conversion rate optimization strategies on those pages to really drive as much sales, as many sales as possible. Whereas in a lead gen setting, you can really play with a little bit more, update the content and really build it out a bit more. Just because a lot of times your website isn’t built just for that lead, it’s built for a whole process, a whole information setting.

Chris: Definitely. I think one other real world example that we didn’t actually touch on that I personally have used a lot with a custom landing page strategy is with employment. Where sometimes, especially if you have a huge careers website and you’re looking to get information or applications from tons of people, it could sometimes bog down the flow of it. Where if you can break that out sometimes where all of the information is going to go to a recruiting team. You’re trying to just keep it simple. People applying for jobs doesn’t necessarily trigger in your mind lead generation, but at the end of the day, that’s what it is. Even if it’s you yourself trying to bring in leads or potential applicants to get people to apply for a job within your own company.

MacKenzie: Exactly. And a lot of times personal or not personal, but business websites don’t do a great job of giving a lot of good information on the careers pages or on those specific jobs. A lot of times they’re just throwing up a job application or job opening and linking it off to whatever site they want people to apply on. And oftentimes those are just generic pre-written descriptions of a job and the titles, the duties, and really building out those landing pages to include the information that people are searching for, especially today’s job market. People want know salary ranges. They want to know your benefits. They want to know what hours they’re expected, remote, in-person. They want to know all of these details. In today’s environment, they can be picky. They don’t have to apply to every single job and hope somebody calls them back. So really building out those landing pages, really looking for and making those pages specific to what your audience wants is going to be important.

Chris: We did touch a little bit on what the benefits of landing page would be, but let’s get in a little bit deeper of why we would recommend them. You said you have A, B, C, and D types of lead gen industries. What are the benefits available if we’re going to be using a landing page strategy?

MacKenzie: One of the first benefits for building landing pages is you can control the content on that landing page. So like we were talking about with job applicants, you can really make sure you have all of that information that they’re looking for. You can control what they’re seeing, what they aren’t seeing, and you can optimize it for quality score as well, really making sure that the search engine, the platform that you’re using sees it as a relevant page. Another benefit is that you can test them for conversion rate optimization. A lot of times we call this A/B testing. This is just making changes to your webpage to try to get as many conversions as possible. And when you do this with landing pages, it can be a lot easier of a process versus a whole website. And when you’re looking for these A/B tests, there’s a lot of different tests we can run.

For example, you can look at whether you want to do just one landing page or if you want to do a group of landing pages. Sometimes in the higher ed space, what we’ve seen is if you have one landing page, your user isn’t getting all of that information that they need. A lot of times, even though they don’t need the whole scope of information that everybody at the university needs, they still want to know a little bit about financial aid, scholarships, things like that. So having those additional pages linked to there can help them without giving them all the information and overwhelming them.

Chris: One thing that I would call out is that’s actually a test that I’ve done before, where with a higher ed institution, you would have that one static landing page with the program information, add your information here, request more information from the university to see if the application process would be right for you and get that process started. And then what we did was copy that exact same page over but added a navigation bar where we added those types of things like the financial aid and other specific, what are some benefits of going your school. Just a higher overview of the school itself. And that helped boost conversion rates, I don’t want to say exponentially because I don’t know if it was actually exponentially, but we did see conversion rates go up just by having that additional information available right within the page.

MacKenzie: Right. A similar thing with medical people too. A lot of times you want to focus on what the specific… I’m going to focus on fertility because that’s one of the pages I’ve optimized in the past. One of the things that’s interesting there is sometimes people just want to focus on that service specific, but a lot of times people also want to know their options. They want to see all of the different things you offer. They need to know about the insurance, the cost, and putting that all on one landing page can be useful, but also spreading it out across multiple can help. It’s a great test to run for a multitude of businesses just to see what addition information your audience is looking for and what you can do to increase that. Or at least even if they don’t click to it, give you in their eyes that relevancy that yes, you’ve thought that through. You are thinking of those things for them.

Chris: Yeah, definitely. Just that added information. Like you touched on where it doesn’t necessarily to make sense to add it in that main content of the page because you don’t want to overload them and give them the feeling of being overwhelmed and having too much information where they don’t ever read it and end up leaving because it’s just too much. But also the point where you have that expertise and knowledge to show, “Hey, we are thinking of you because if you do have this question, you can then go here and read more about it before you need to submit your information to have us follow up with you.”

MacKenzie: Exactly. That blends perfectly into our next common thing that you could test which is the page content. A lot of times on your page content, you want a prominent call to action. You want your form for your form submission. You want your button for your call to action. Whatever that call to action is, you want that at the top. You want people to know what that next step is right away and to not be wondering what they’re supposed to do.

Chris: And to take that a step further, you can test the different calls to action, be it call now, learn more, request info. It can be something like that. Or it could be something as simple as change the color to see how that works. If your business’ main colors are red, yellow and blue, test each different color to see how you can then… It’s sometimes simple psychology like that that you may not think of when you’re building this page but may have a big effect that gives you this opportunity to try it without having to overhaul the entirety of your website.

MacKenzie: Exactly. Even the button shapes. I believe I read something somewhere where if you have one side rounded and one side square, that actually leads to more conversions. Orange happens to be a popular button to press. If you’re ever curious what works well, go to Amazon, their landing pages are built to make you click. And really they are, they have the image right at the top, they have a brief, brief description, and then they have your buy buttons. And it is, I believe it’s yellow right now.

Chris: Yes.

MacKenzie: So a big, bright color right there that you know exactly what it is. There’s a second one. You can just add it to your cart, but they want you to buy now. Even with those product pages being so built out, you can still see at the bottom, they include all of this additional information. They have that five star review but then you can also go down and look at those reviews. You can see what people are typing. You can see the commonly asked questions and answers. You can get a huge product description, often overwhelming product description. You can see the related products. They really have a very optimized product landing page.

Chris: And I’m sure Amazon has a pretty decent budget allocated to do these kinds of tests because they’ve, for so many years been the standard for what’s the best way to get people to my site and purchase from my site. I’m sure there’s been a little bit of money invested there on Amazon’s part to show us the best way to get a purchase funnel.

MacKenzie: A hundred percent. It’s a snowballing effect too. If you can increase that conversion rate 0.1% with this test, okay, well then that’s a 0.1% higher. And when you do your next test, maybe you can increase conversion rate another 0.1%. They seem like small wins at that moment, but over time, if you’re continually testing and you are doing test after test after test, after years, you’re getting these conversion rates up multiple points. And so it builds onto itself.

Chris: For sure. On that topic of the button, let’s talk about the form itself.

MacKenzie: Yeah. One of the things with lead forms that we see is you need to find that right balance of getting the information you need as a business for it to be a good lead, but not asking too much out of your customer. For example, I don’t want to give out my phone number. Like, no, thank you. I don’t need you to call me. I don’t need you to text me. I need you to email me so I’m only going to fill out forms that have asked for my email and nothing that asks for my phone number. Testing these different complexity of these lead forms is important. Sometimes you may want a more complex lead form. If I was going to a bank and applying for a loan, if they just asked me for my name and email address, I would be like, all right, this seems a bit of a sketchy bank. Like don’t you want to know a little bit more about me? What my loan is for? How much money I make? Things like that. 

Testing that complexity of that lead form is really important. And then making sure you follow up with these form changes to see that you’re getting the right submissions. You can drive more and more submissions on your form, but if they aren’t quality submissions, it’s not worth having your team go through all of that. So really finding that correct balance of yes, we’re getting more submissions, but also they’re quality submissions. Obviously there’s always going to be a few less qualified people who come through, that’s part of the qualification process. That’s part of why they’re leads and not customers. But making sure that you have that right balance of complex enough that we weed out people who aren’t going to be correct for this, but also we aren’t weeding out people who are correct and just don’t want to deal with our complex form.

Chris: Sure. On that same note of complexity of the form, you can also play with fields being required or not required where yeah, I may want someone’s phone number, email address, and address. But if they’re only comfortable with giving me one of those, maybe I experiment with keeping only email address required, but you never can have too much data. So if someone’s willing to offer it, you sort of say, I’ll take it. Right?

MacKenzie: Yeah. A lot of people say, I’ll take it. It’s just about whether that person is going to fill out that form then or not. And then you can have that data to back up. All right. If we do X, Y, and Z, that does actually make a difference. So if we ask further address, will they actually put it in? And if we require it, are they less likely to complete the form or not is always an important question, and testing that and having that information is key.

Chris: So then I guess, are there any other sorts of common tests that people do with their landing pages in their forms?

MacKenzie: Yeah. We already talked about testing different forms, the buttons, colors, and shapes, and navigation bars, but some of the other really important tests that you can run are testing the layout of your page. Trying to make sure that the important information is at the top. And then you funnel it down at the bottom because less and less people will read so less and less important information at the bottom. But testing that and seeing really what your audience thinks is important. Looking at the images and videos on a page. I had one client have an image and they tested out a video to see if that would increase form submissions and it actually decreased them. But in a lot of industries, people do like more videos. It gives better information. Testing that and then testing your headlines and different things like that really testing the language that you’re using on the site, making sure you’re matching your customer’s expectation to the page is really important.

Chris: Very cool. So I guess then let’s take a step forward and look at pros and cons of using these landing page strategies. Obviously we talked about pros. If you’re a lead gen company, it’s going to be good. Cons, if you’re an e-commerce company. You’re probably not going to increase your business by switching your direct sale website to a lead gen type landing page. But let’s get a little bit more into that. Let’s talk about the pros first. Why would you want me to create these custom landing pages?

MacKenzie: Yeah, so the biggest pro is that you can get a higher conversion rate and therefore lower your cost per lead. If you have a set marketing budget with a lower cost per lead, you get more leads within your budget. So that is always the biggest pro in my opinion. Another really big pro that we’ve kind of touched on already is that A/B testing. You can constantly be testing your landing page, trying new things and therefore increasing your conversion rate and really just seeing what works for your company, what’s doing best for your company. These tests can also inform other aspects of your business. If you are testing headlines and you see this headline working well on this landing page, you can test that in organic. If you’re seeing this messaging work really well, you can test that in your other ads and see how that works.

And then another one is you have more control over the content and the user flow. If you’re going to a website, a lot of times like we’ve discussed, your service pages, your product pages aren’t as optimized. You’re giving as much information as you can to a wide audience. Whereas if you’re building these custom landing pages, you can decide how specific you want to be. If you want it to be, all right, we only want our search audience who searched these types of keywords on these pages and these types of keywords go to a different page. You can really customize the content to that specific group of people. You can control the flow a bit more like we were talking about with the navigation. You can decide how many pages you link to what information they can see outside of the page that they’re on. You control that flow a bit more.

Finally, it’s also just easier to make page changes and updates, especially when you have a larger company that has a lot of bureaucracy or a longer approval process. If you want to change a headline on a landing page, especially if you use a landing page service, it’s pretty easy just to go in there, update that headline and move on. Versus if you have a backend of a website, sometimes you’re changing multiple things. Even if you’re just looking at a headline on one page, maybe you can do that one quick. But if you’re looking to change the fonts on this or you’re testing a new layout, that can affect a lot more pages and have a bigger effect overall. So having just a specific landing page really helps you make those changes very specifically.

Chris: Yeah. I think that’s taking a step back to one of the original points was you can really just control the messaging from point A, your first interaction with a customer after they see an ad. From that message in that ad all the way through to them reaching out to us, filling out that form, getting in contact with us, expressing in one way or another that they’re interested in our product or service. Which then obviously leads to, like you said, higher conversion rates, lower cost per conversion, and that’s just going to maximize a return on your ad spend.

MacKenzie: Exactly.

Chris: So then let’s take a look at the other side where we may see that there are a couple of potential downsides if we were to implement the landing page strategy, perhaps inefficiently or ineffectively as well as we would’ve liked to turn out. They’re always testing stuff. Sometimes your tests don’t work. What are a couple of those downsides that may come up?

MacKenzie: Yeah. The first downside, like you said, is sometimes your tests won’t work. Sometimes you will be testing something and it won’t have the impact that you thought it would. And it might even have a negative impact, but that’s why we test it. That’s why it’s on its own page. Then you can reverse course quickly. Downside that I made into a win. Another potential downside is higher CPCs. Oftentimes websites, the full website will just get a higher relevancy score because you have so much information on the site and there’s more interactions that a user can take. Google really does measure all of those interactions, how many pages per visit people go to, their time on the site, their bounce rate. When you have a landing page, Google might see it as less engaging or just because you don’t have as much content, they might not give you as high of a quality score.

So you can suffer there a little bit, but as long as you build good landing pages, you can make some of that back up. Another downside is the time to build and the maintenance around these landing pages. Like any investment into any new strategy, there’s going to be time needed to put aside. And so building these out can take a lot of time, but also after you build them, you do need to maintain them. If you are doing effectively, you will want to have an A/B testing strategy. Making sure that you have that in place will add time to somebody’s workflow down the line. So that is a downside. Another is that it could potentially create a disconnect with your CRM. So just making sure that’s set up properly. Again, that can take a lot of time in itself.

Chris: And patience.

MacKenzie: And patience. Yes. Finding that balance too can be difficult. And then finally, there can also be additional cost. If you’re using a third party tool like Unbounce, there’s the cost of that subscription. As we already talked about, there’s the cost of time for someone to build and maintain these pages. With Unbounce, it looks like it’s about $90 a month. So for most businesses, that would be one additional conversion covers the cost. So if you can build out your landing pages effectively, the additional cost usually more than makes up for itself. But again, it is an investment and typically investments take time to pay off. You’ll see a higher upfront cost and it will be a cost early on.

Chris: But then again, once we have that time and effort to put in the optimizations, like you mentioned, one sale, one conversion, one successful completed lead, however you would phrase it, would more than likely more than pay for that $90 in one month.

MacKenzie: Yeah. It’s just making sure that you can build out that funnel and make those landing pages worth that. Like I was mentioning, it typically does take time. As much as we would love to be able to build a landing page up to perfect standards and have it work right away, every business is unique, every customer is unique. So it’s all about ongoing testing, finding that balance and really putting in that time and effort both up front and over the long haul to make sure that you’re getting the most out of these landing pages.

Chris: Yes, for sure. So then I guess to wrap things up, is there any main takeaway or anything you missed that you might want to add on here?

MacKenzie: My main takeaway is just always be testing. The better testing strategy that you can have and really making sure that you are looking at your data, you are evaluating what’s going on and you’re making those changes, implementing them, and then continuing a new test, you’re never done. That’s both a blessing and a curse because when you do get into the flow, it can be really fun and really rewarding to see all of the efforts you’re making pay off. But it also does, like I said, take that time, that energy to make sure that you’re consistently testing, trying new things, thinking of new opportunities. And then as much as you can, go for the little ones, change a button color, try a new headline. Making sure you mix in some of those bigger ones, because oftentimes the bigger ones that are harder to implement are the ones where you’re going to see a more drastic change in your conversion rate. Having that balance of tests as well, because you can’t always be testing big, big things. You’ve got to find that balance.

Chris: Yeah, definitely. All right. Well, that was very helpful, MacKenzie. I hope the people that are listening to this learned a lot. I sure learned a couple things today. Once again, thanks for joining us. I’m glad to have you back again soon.

MacKenzie: Yeah. Thanks Chris.

Chris: And thanks to you all for listening to the Getting Granular Podcast. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any PPC tips, tricks or news in the digital marketing world. Also, feel free to write a review or provide me feedback. We always like to improve as best we can. If there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss, by all means, please reach out to us. I have been your host, Chris Cesar. Thanks for Getting Granular with us today.