Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Improve Your Landing Page

We got an excellent feature through yesterday from a blog we subscribe to in The States about ten things to do with your landing page. As usual however (as we do with almost everything) we cut it back to three things to do. Three things always seem to be manageable for most businesses even the busiest!

Firstly Don’t Lose Them
How often have you heard that your homepage needs the WOW factor? Well first of all that’s pretty subjective and in all honesty the WOW factor that can be most felt with websites is “Wow that’s bad!”.
Click. Closed. Gone.
In the past it used to be about web developers selling their design first; flash images, creating a Wow Factor. We think that’s changed. On the basis that you only have a few seconds to keep the attention of the visitor there has to be an immediate comfort zone which the site visitor feels immediately; that doesn’t not need to be based on moving images or weird and wonderful navigation.
Content precedes design. Every time.
Brilliant design and Brilliant content will achieve this but so on most occasions will Good Design and Brilliant content. What’s the difference? Well normally several thousand pounds for no major increase in conversion rates.
As a small, medium or large operator all you can really do in the first five seconds is lose your potential customer. It’s a bit like playing golf at The Open Championship and you’ve heard it a million times in interviews; “All you can do in the first round is stay in contention. You can’t win the event after only eighteen holes but you can certainly lose it!”
The analogy is the same for websites. You can’t secure the sale in the first five seconds but you can sure as hell lose it. Bad design and bad content will do that every time.
So look at your landing page and don’t think what can I do to keep these people but more along the lines of what can I do to ensure they won’t switch me off? Resolve the issue of immediate losses from your site and you’ll then be able to take the nest step and fulfilling their search needs.

Understand Why They’re on Your Website
Is it in response to an advert, an email promotion, Pay per Click campaign, generic search? Whatever the reason for their visit you need to ensure that the reason can be taken to the next level quickly and easily.
If it’s in response to a sales promotion ensure your retail offering or availability checker for accommodation providers is prominent – converting to sales is the bottom line after all. Ensure it’s as easy to do as possible from your landing page.
Your sale is dependent on the content you have pushing that sale; equally your availability checker should ensure easy checking from the landing page. Don’t just say click here to book; an availability calendar will always gain more clicks.
Web 2.0 tools and social media are great but only if they are driving sales. They should also be used wherever possible to drive traffic TO your landing page not away from it. Unless you have a very good reason for driving potential sales towards your social media sites DON’T!
Remember it has to be Social Media with Purpose.

Make the call to action clear
Your sales tools must be on view on the screen or above the fold as it is known. The top left corner is the most viewed and receptive area on any webpage and your key sales tools should be positioned here including where possible your availability checker. Top right also ranks highly.
All your key messages however should be on the screen and not require scrolling. Non sales messages, no matter how cute should not be given the same level of prominence.
Special features and promotions should be well navigated. The use of a three column layout has helped many of our clients in the past with graphical calls to action for weddings or festive information sitting below the availability checker. The call to click on them being very clear. A good example of clear navigation is in the recently redesigned website for Gailes Hotel in Ayrshire.
Similar use of bold banners pronouncing Best Available Rate or Sign up for E-News, Facebook or Twitter can all generate action.

So there it is. Three things to do this month...
  1. Balance Design and Content
  2. Interpret why the visitor is on YOUR Site
  3. Make action easy
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