Editor’s Note: The next in our series of guest posts from SEM professionals comes from Jon Miller, VP of Marketing at Marketo. Marketo is a client of TopRank Online Marketing and provides B2B marketing automation software in the form of pay per click management, landing page optimization and integration with salesforce.com.
With Jon’s B2B software marketing expertise, excellent work both on his blog Modern B2B Marketing and as a contributor on Search Engine Land, I asked if he could write up a guide for search marketers that would provide actionable advice for readers on the topic of landing pages.
Perhaps the largest difference between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) pay-per-click is that the post-click goal for most B2B marketers is to capture a lead, not make a sale. This means that B2B companies must focus on converting clicks into leads as much as they focus on getting clicks in the first place.
Landing pages are critical to making this happen. From the prospect’s perspective, clicking on your link is easy and doesn’t cost (them) anything. In contrast, converting and becoming a lead requires them to invest their time and energy to understand your offer and fill out your form — not to mention risk unwanted marketing since you require they share their contact information.
According to Marketing Sherpa’s Landing Page Handbook, improving your landing pages can increase your conversions by 40% or more. In our experience at Marketo, optimized landing pages work even better — as high as 200% improvements in conversion rates.
So how do you do it? Here are ten tested and proven tips you can use to improve and optimize your landing pages.
1. First Impressions Matter
When a prospect scans your landing page, they decide in just a few seconds whether to bail or stick around. When making this decision, they consider two things: “Does this page look hard or complicated?” and (2) “Is this page relevant to my search query?”. Design, copy, font size, and form length all influence the former. To influence the latter, make sure your page (especially the headline) directly connects to the search term. This means having dozens or hundreds of landing pages — at least one per ad group and ideally one for your each of your top keywords.
2. Have an Offer
Your landing page doesn’t need to sell your product, service, or company. It just needs to sell your offer. Focus your page around a single call to action, such as a free whitepaper or demo. Avoid the temptation to include extraneous company information.
3. Remove The Navigation
This isn’t your home page, so remove your main navigation. Simpler pages almost always work better for lead generation. In eye tracking studies, the navigation draws attention away from your offer and conversion action. Worse, each link is an invitation for the visitor (which you paid for) to click away instead of converting. As Marketing Sherpa points out, it’s tempting to leave those links just in case the visitor wants to dig through your site and learn more. Drop this fantasy. Your goal is to sell your offer, and the only thing those links can do is reduce your conversions. You can always share additional information after they convert, on the thank you page or via your lead nurturing. (Note: You can make your logo link to your home page, and you can include your footer navigation since it draws the eye less than your main navigation. These links help the page appear to visitors and to Google as part of a larger site.)
4. Use Graphics Wisely
Graphics are the #1 thing that draws the eye. Use them carefully since the wrong graphic can distract from the offer and conversion. Include a hero shot, e.g. a mock up of the white paper cover with the title blown up to be readable. Two other tips: Let people click the graphics to get more info (visitors often click on graphics) and be sure to have a caption (besides the headline, captions are the most read copy on the page).
5. Make Your Content Scan-able
People don’t read landing pages, they scan them. Write in bullets, if you can. Be sure your copy sells your offer when someone scans just the first three words of each bullet or paragraph. Bold key words. Consider using interactive elements, such as an audio clip or short video / demo, on your landing page. This can engage buyers who want more info without making the page look overwhelming.
6. Only Ask What You Really Need
If you met someone interesting at a bar, you wouldn’t ask for a ton of information like their annual income —you’d simply get his or her contact information so you could build the relationship over time. The same is true for landing pages. Every field you ask reduces your conversion rate, so collect as little information as you really need to route the lead and stay in touch. You can always collect more during your nurturing process.
7. Capture Implicit Information
Use hidden fields to capture additional information about your leads, such as the keyword used, the search engine they came from, and the ad they clicked. You can also use “click paths” to capture implicit information. For example, if you want to know the prospect’s industry, add some navigation on the left that lists your top industries. This is different than your site navigation. Prospects are likely to click on the link for their industry, so take them to an even more targeted landing page —and capture their industry as a hidden field.
8. Have Reasons to Give Valid Info
After conversion, don’t just hand the offer to the prospect – email it to them. This is a great trick to ensure that you get a valid email address. Also, be sure to place a link to your privacy statement near to where you ask for their info.
9. Say Thank You
After a customer converts, take them to a thank you page. This is important to track the conversion. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to deepen the relationship by making another offer, promoting your blog, asking for feedback, or running a poll. Up to 40% of prospects say they are willing to share additional information after they convert.
10. Test… But Don’t Over Test
Testing lets visitors vote with their actions, removing any debate about what works and what doesn’t. The most valuable things to test are the headline, graphic captions, the submit button, form length, and graphical elements. However, be careful not to over-test. A good rule of thumb is to take the number of conversions you get per day and divide it by 10. Then take your testing period in weeks and divide that by 2. Multiply the two results together to get the number of versions you can confidently test in your testing period.
Landing Pages Don’t Need To Be Hard
Given the dramatic ROI of having multiple targeted landing pages, why do three out of four B2B companies still send clicks to the home page? The main reason is a lack of resources —and getting time from web developers is the most difficult resource to get. As a solution, companies can leverage products like those offered by Marketo that allow marketers to create landing pages with no IT. The Marketo online demo can provide a first hand example.