Content Marketing, Owned Media
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In your online marketing approach, you can do almost everything right and still fail.

You can use marketing content to educate readers, establish your thought leadership status and build brand awareness. You can engage with social media followers and get likes and shares. You can create video content to engage in new and exciting ways.

You can do all of these things (and many more) and still watch your online marketing ship sink like the Titanic.

What’s important to remember is the end goal of all of these activities: you have to convert. If you don’t actually convert interested shoppers into customers or persuade leads to “raise their hand” and take the next step in the buyer’s journey, your marketing results will falter.

Why Landing Pages Are a Must-Have

A targeted, well-designed, persuasive landing page removes a lot of the distractions of the standard online environment and moves your prospect to make a decision: embrace your offer or not.

To illustrate how important a solid landing page is, let’s say you are in the business of selling home exercise equipment online. Like so many other marketers have successfully done, you decide to use PPC ads. You buy an ad that offers a high-tech adjustable home dumbbell system. When potential customers do a Google search for “adjustable dumbbells”, they see your ad.

They are interested in what you have to offer. Chances are good that they are ready to buy right now. So what happens when they click on your ad? Do they get redirected to a targeted landing page that focuses their attention on the task at hand – making a decision to buy your product – or do they get sent to your website homepage where they have to hunt for the dumbbell set they were so excited about just a moment before?

If your would-be customer searches for “adjustable dumbbells”, clicks on your ad and is directed to your website homepage instead of a targeted landing page, any momentum you’ve built from multiple touch points of the campaign is lost. You’ve confused or frustrated them, and their change of bouncing is higher than their chance of converting.

Three Elements Every Landing Page Needs

Without landing pages, your online marketing conversion results will most likely be mediocre at best. How can you make your landing pages more effective? Here are a few ideas to consider:

Content & Copy

The right words on a landing page are important. You need a persuasive message crafted to compel your reader to take action now. You need a bold headline that grabs and helps focus his attention. You need to tell him how he stands to benefit if he does what you’re asking him to do. You need a clear, specific call to action.

Design

Proper design is a major part of your landing page’s success. It gives a solid first impression and affects your credibility in a split second, even before your prospect reads the first word of your copy.

Don’t use design to dazzle your visitor; use it to drive the conversion process forward. Make your landing page design clean and uncluttered. Use “directional cues” such as arrows that point towards the call to action button. Use design to sequentially “funnel” your reader’s attention in the direction of your copy and your call to action. Finally, make sure your call to action button is easily noticed.

Images

It’s important that your landing pages have an image related your product or service. Don’t use landing page photos as space fillers; they must relate to your marketing message. Don’t just show a picture of your product against a white background. Show a picture of a real customer using your product and enjoying it.

If the CTA is something other than buying (e.g. downloading or signing up), use images that depict the benefits of acting on the call to action. Deploy every image in your marketing – including your landing page pictures – with a specific purpose in mind.

You don’t have to limit yourself to images of people, either. For example, animal images can be very effective in the right circumstances. If you sell pet accessories, you might consider using a picture of a cute puppy or kitten with its eyes looking in the direction of your call to action button.

Remember, it is possible to have many elements of your marketing strategy firing on all cylinders and still fail to achieve the results you want. You have to convert, and first-rate landing pages can help you do just that.

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