How to construct an effective landing page strategy to maximise conversions - PART 1: Questions First

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This is the first part in a series of articles which is intended to arm you with the necessary knowledge to put together your very own effective strategy for creating landing pages which will maximise conversions.

Part 1: Questions, Questions, Questions!

Before a landing page design can commence, it's important to put together a bespoke, informed, and effective strategy going forward. How do you do that? Well you have to ask questions, lots of questions! It's essential to consider all aspects of the product/service offered, the company itself, the competition, the target market and what makes the company credible. This will give you a great basis to construct a strategy. So without further ado, here are the main questions you need to ask and why you need to ask them, with a hypothetical example to put it all in some context:

Describe the company and the product/service offered

Sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how many landing pages I see where there's no immediate explanation to tell me who the company is and what they sell! I can be on the page literally minutes before I suss it out. Your average visitor does not have this patience, if they can't figure out whether the thing they're looking for is being sold; they'll click the back button sooner than you can say "where'd my PPC budget go?" Articulate who the company are and what they do.

Case Study: Our hypothetical example company for the purposes of this article is going to be a business selling large scale software technology solutions B2B.

Are there different market segments which need to be targeted? What specialism's does the company provide within the market?

Don't exclude any potential visitors likely to convert by not explaining the range of products/services on offer. Consider whether it's appropriate to have a number of landing pages targeting individual segments, directing niche keyword traffic to specific content with varying rhetoric to suit that market segment. More often than not, this isn't necessary; one page will suffice, just so long as the appropriate range of products/services is made clear.

Case Study: The technology company mainly wants to target the retail sector, targeting larger companies in particular.

Prioritise what products/services you'd like the website to target most.

There are plenty of reasons to prioritise what's being sold. Perhaps the keyword terms being bid on are mighty expensive, and it's only cost effective to promote the most profitable parts of the business, perhaps the overall business model of the company is leaning towards one particular area. Whatever the reason, if applicable, ensure you push what's logical for the business on the page.

Case Study: The company does offer various levels of service to suit both companies with smaller budgets and those with larger budgets. The company would like to prioritise those with larger budgets, but not exclude those with smaller budgets.

Explain where the company sits in the market. What size is the company, how does this compare to your competitors?

Is the company a big player in the market, an 'up and comer' or somewhere in the middle? It's important to get the branding and messaging right to reflect how you want the company to appear to the market and what's realistic. That's only possible when you know what market position the companies coming from.

Case Study: The technology company has a large market share in the sector, with no comparable competitors which match their scale. The branding, rhetoric and references to the company's credibility should reflect this.

How long is the buying process? How involved is the sales process? Does it vary?

Is the process of purchasing the product short or long? Does it involve lengthy discussions with a sales team. This is all important when considering your call to action down the line.

Case Study: The technology companies sales process length is varied. For off the shelf smaller solutions generally has a short buying process. The larger enterprise solutions are on average 3-6 months. The sales process is very involved and usually involves workshops and consultations.

Who are the competitors? What strategy is the competition using? Are there any areas of weakness in their business model that could be exploited?

Know the competitors! Look at their PPC strategy, it's always worth checking out what they are doing; judge the various merits of their approach, using the methods outlined in this article. Ensure your approach is better. Look at their business model, is there any weaknesses you can highlight, which play on visitors anxieties, and make your company look better in comparison.

Case Study: The technology company has competitors which target more niche area's and smaller businesses. Main concerns of potential clients regarding competitors include offshore development and size of the companies is too small. Both of which don't apply to this company and can be played on within the content.

What are the unique selling points of the company and service?

This is a biggie. It's vital USP's get stated prominently on any landing page worth its salt. You need to give potential customers a reason to choose you over the competition. Think about all the great aspects of the company and service/product and list them succinctly and clearly. Ensure these are crow barred into the content.

Case Study: The technology company has plenty going for it. They have a great reputation, they are large scale, dwarfing their competitors, they have an innovative technical approach, their solutions are flexible, with lots of functionality, good security and robust.

Who has purchased the products/services past and present? Are there testimonials? If b2b, are there company logos that can be used? Are there any case studies? Any company awards? Published positive reviews about the company/product?
Always make sure you reassure visitors, and reiterate your USP messaging with some great 'credibility indicators'. These can be anything from 'on message' testimonials, impressive case studies with an emphasis on results, any appropriate awards the company has or positive reviews. This elevates the company, instils trust and will impress potential customers. Ensure any credibility indicators are nice and prominent on the page where they will be seen and read.

Case Study: The technology company has lots going for it, it has a multitude of awards and some big name clients with impressive results that make great case studies.

Target market

Who are your target market and what are they looking for?

Know your audience! If you don't know who you're trying to convert, what their needs/wants/anxieties are, you simply won't be in a position to write targeted content or how to structure the page and what imagery to use as well as deciding the appropriate calls to actions that the audience will respond to.

Always think deeply about who is likely to visiting the page. If b2b; what positions within the company are they? Which sectors? Size of company? Do requirements differ within these sectors/ scale of companies? For each market segment/person in the buying process, think of the questions, concerns, anxieties, or considerations that they make when buying this product/service. If b2c; Again think about who would be looking for that product or service, and why. What's relevant about their profile? Do they have particular interests? Is their age or background associated with the product/service? What affects their decisions? Put yourself in the mind of the potential visitors. Consider the types of people who may be interested in the product or service.

Case Study: The retail companies that the technology business would like to target would have numerous internal people looking at a landing page advertising such a service. There's marketing professionals researching the current market potential for adopting such a technology. There are IT professionals wanting to understand the technical practicalities of adopting the solution. There's also upper management making the final decision, wanting to see the credentials of the company and whether they are appropriate to do business with.

Does your target consumer often need to be educated/guided to understand what their requirements are what services would be most suitable for them?

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups! Don't automatically assume the product or services value will be understood by potential customers. Sometimes this really needs to be spelled out, especially if what's being sold is complex and/or not well known. Take into account the knowledge level of the visitor, and guide them appropriately.

Case Study: In the case of the technology company, you have people with various levels of knowledge about what value the service has, why it's needed, practicalities etc. The rhetoric used on the page needs to play to these varying knowledge levels, and not leave anyone behind or confused.

What factors inspire potential customers to contact you?

This is vital to determining your calls to action. Once you know who is looking and why, and how long and involved the buying process is, you can then make an informed decision regarding what calls to action they will respond to most.

Case Study: With the technology company, we know the buying process can be long and involved for larger budgets. We know marketing professionals are looking for information on the market potential of this technology. We know IT professionals are looking for technical information on integration. We know Upper management will be looking for indications of the credentials of the company. Armed with this knowledge, the best call to action strategy would be one which would attract visitors to convert at various points in the buying process, so it needs to be an enticing, non-committal call to action which plays on the needs/wants/anxieties the potential visitors have. In this case then, an appropriate call to action would be a 'download pack' with whitepapers giving away (in return for the visitors contact details) info on market potential, technical information and impressive case studies.

Case Study: Technology company strategy

So here we have it, we've asked all the right questions, now we put all that knowledge into practice...