If you were born after 1917, you probably know what a website is. And chances are, if you’re reading this post, you have a website of your own.
But lately I’ve been asked about landing pages: what they are and whether you need one. And if it’s essential to have one in addition to having a website.
The answer to that question is a qualified YES, and like most marketing tactics it depends on your business model and name-collection goals.
If you give talks, blog, conduct webinars, sell an online program, or want to build your list for ongoing email marketing and relationship building, a landing page can be a huge asset. I’ll explain why later.
First, I want to distinguish landing pages from websites using a common, every day experience you can relate to – shopping in a retail environment.
The case for focus versus distraction
You have decided to update your “look” and buy a new pair of eyeglasses. You have your prescription in-hand and have settled on researching two possible places to buy them: Walmart and your optometrist’s office.
Welcome to Walmart (your website)
When you walk into Walmart to buy glasses, you see signs for sales, departments, endcaps, and lots of bright, shiny objects.
Before you head to the eyeglasses department, you are pulled toward a colorful placard announcing a special sale on kitchen utensils. You decide to check it out first. Nothing particularly excites you and move on.
As you exit housewares for the eyeglasses department, you notice a bin at the end of an aisle with closeout deals on bath towels. You rummage through it since you’re already there.
Working your way to the glasses department, you make a quick stop in gardening supplies to look for houseplant food. They are struggling to survive, despite your propensity to kill anything green (OK, maybe that’s just me).
By the time you’ve finished wandering through the store, you’re too tired and too hungry to hang around trying on glasses. You leave the store without buying anything at all.
In this scenario, going to Walmart is like navigating a website. Store signs can be compared to links and navigation buttons. Schlepping from one department to another is like clicking around on various web pages, e.g. Home, About, Services, etc.
There’s nothing wrong with shopping at Walmart! However, the abundance of choices with which you are faced can distract you from your intended purpose: to buy eyeglasses. In fact, in this case you never even made it to the right department.
Not so good for you, but even worse for Walmart.
They never earned your dollars nor did they deliver the outcome you wanted. Will you go there to look for glasses again? Maybe. But then again, maybe not.
Your optometrist’s office (your landing page)
When you walk into your doctor’s office, eyeglass frames surround you. A competent optician greets you and offers help to find the perfect set of glasses to complement your face shape, your skin tone, and your personal style.
When you walk in to purchase glasses (the outcome you want), that is the only thing offered. There are no other departments to visit (no navigation bar), there are no signs for anything other than glasses (no links to other website pages) and no other choices to make.
No distractions – simply to buy or not to buy glasses.
In this scenario, the nature of this shopping experience can be compared to what one gets from arriving on a landing page – one single choice to make.
Website pages versus landing pages
So, what exactly IS a landing page and what purpose does it serve?
Some people use the term “landing page” to describe any page on a website; after all, they’re simply pages on which one might “land,” so to speak.
But unlike a website page, a landing page must meet two criteria:
- It must have a form.
- It exists solely for capturing a visitor’s information through that form; in other words, converting visitors to leads.
You may be thinking, “I have a form on my homepage (or other page of my website); I have an opt-in to collect visitor’s email addresses in exchange for a freebie gift or to sign up for my newsletter. Isn’t that a landing page?”
Actually, no. Here’s why.
While your homepage – or any other page of your website – may have an email capture form, it also serves many other functions. It may showcase your most recent blog post, have a calendar of events you’ll be hosting; it might include testimonials for your services. Every page on your website has navigation buttons and links to other pages on your website… possibly linking to things outside of your site, such as your Facebook business page.
These various website features are necessary. But, like the Walmart shopping experience, once visitors arrive, they are confronted with lots of decisions, e.g. click on links, tabs, read your blog, visit your Facebook page, and so on.
Will they come back to your site if they click away? Or will they return to your opt-in form if they get sidetracked on another page? Maybe. But then again, maybe not.
That’s where a landing page comes in. It has one purpose only: to capture leads using 1 single call to action.
My website, MiriamZacharias.com, informs people about my brand, niche, services and so forth. Visitors may decide to opt-in for my gift while there. But they might also go into Walmart shopping mode, wander around from page to page and head to my Facebook page or YouTube Channel. They may or may not get around to signing up for my opt-in gift and get on my list.
Alternatively, my landing page, Holistic Business Website, is solely focused on teaching holistic health entrepreneurs how to create a website that works. And it has only one single focus: Sign up to get my mini-course. There are no other links or places for them to get distracted by while there.
Here’s the cool thing about landing pages and why I use them to collect leads.
When I give a talk, interview, or workshop, instead of directing people to head to my website to learn more about me (a vague and minimally effective call to action), I announce that I’m giving away a free gift that is related to my topic; something very specific that I know they’ll want.
I direct them to a focused and easy to remember, spell and say URL: “Holistic Business Website.com.” Way easier and more enticing than pointing them to Miriam Zacharias.com.
Why you should consider having a landing page (or two or three or more)
Landing pages are perfectly suited for offering:
- Free high-value content (such as eBooks and mini-courses)
- Simple how-to guides and cheat sheets
- RSVPs for webinars or other online events
These pages tell a focused story to let the visitor know the one thing that they’re going to get. There is no navigation because you don’t want them going anywhere else. The copy must be super compelling.
In essence, a landing page is designed with conversion in mind.
The opt-in on your website and your landing page serve the same purpose: to collect visitor emails from people who like what you’re about and want what you offer. Only now, you’ve increased the options for people to sign up and stay engaged with you.
Is there a limit to how many landing pages you have? No, quite the contrary. In fact, many marketers believe that the more landing pages you have in addition to your website, the greater the opportunities you have for growing your list and, over time, through connecting with your leads and increasing your revenues.
There are lots of ins and outs when it comes to creating a powerful landing page, including how to design them, how to write compelling headlines, and ensuring you have a strong call to action. One of my favorite resources for creating landing pages is Leadpages and in particular this extensive overview on how to build one that converts visitors to leads.
Another resource that describes landing pages in detail is Copyblogger.com, which I consistently use for learning how to improve my writing skills. Click here for their take on creating powerful landing pages.
You can build your own landing page or have a developer create one for you. I use Leadpages because I like their templates and are easy to create; but there are many others.
Just search for landing page generators, landing page builders and so forth and choose one that you feel suits your personal needs.