Thursday, 29 July 2010

Designing Great Landing Pages

What is a Landing Page?
A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent especially to trigger or drive a certain call-of-action or result. The goal of the copy and design of a landing page is to get the prospective client to take your desired action - to initiate some sort of response to your ad. This could be a PPC (pay-per-click) ad like Google Adwords, a banner or text ad, or even an email. A quality landing page is one that reinforces ‘conversion intent’ and gives clear path to the next step. To achieve this, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your visitor and provide just enough information to persuade them to convert.

Let us have a look at the various pointers for designing great landing pages:

Input form: Try to make completing your input form as easy as possible. Auto-populate any fields you can, and use ones that require only a checkbox action. Avoiding drop-down menus, in addition to having the input cursor hop instantly from field to field upon completion are good practices.

Relevancy: It is vital that you match your landing pages to your text ad copy that sent customers there in the first place. Use the same colour palette and visual elements from your ads on your landing page. It should be kept relevant to the person's search query. So, if you have enticed visitors on to your site with an ad for 'iPad deals' then they should be seeing a picture of an iPad together with a clear call-to-action, rather than a generic category or random page.This consistent flow is needed to help keep your prospect assured that they are indeed landed in the right place.

Smart layout/structure using various elements: How you present the page using colours, graphics, texts and icons play a big role in re-inforcing purchase intent. Minimise the amount of text on the page. Instead, make it easy for the visitors to understand your offer by using graphics. Avoid clutter, white space and overly big fonts. Put your most critical landing page elements in the upper 300 pixels of the page. Usability research shows that over half of the site visitors will not scroll “below the fold.” So, test placing the lead form above the fold and get right to the point. You can of course write long copy, as long as it's tight. Think longer copy when you’re looking to close a sale. But use a shorter copy for a subscription sign-up or something that doesn’t necessarily require a cash commitment. People read beginnings and ends before they read middles. Make sure you keep your most critical, persuasive arguments in these positions.

Offer something in exchange for the signup: It's a lot easier for someone to provide their information to you when they're getting something in exchange. Offer something like a free trial, free consultation, podcast or whatever is relevant to your product, in exchange to their information.

Optimise for small monitor resolutions.
Make your information and call-to-action available to as many people as possible, this means optimising for even laptops. Let your aim be to not force even the smallest screens to have to scroll. Having to scroll spells disaster.

Limiting Navigation: This is a bit debatable. An argument against limiting navigation is that by stripping a page of navigation to the website as a whole, it can act as a deterrent to some visitors; almost leaning towards SPAM. However, on the other hand, by removing navigation, you are creating a “sterile” conversion environment. This means that you are in complete control of what the visitor sees and interacts with, which will hopefully lead them directly to the conversion. It's a process of trial and error. As always Test, test and test!

Provide options for visitors that don't convert: It is still possible not to get any response, even with the perfect landing page; so give options to your vistors. Provide a clear phone number or call back option in case they prefer to purchase in this way.

Grammatical accuracy: First impressions count. Not only does incorrect spellings look spammy, it shows the quality(or lack of)and integrity of the company. Write in the second person – You and Your; because no one cares about you, your company, or even your product or service really; except only as to how it benefits him or her.

How to Apply eCommerce Best Practice

What is E-Commerce?E-Commerce or Electronic Commerce is the process of selling and buying goods and services online. It is a billion dollar industry with endless online store owners and online buyers. E-commerce has gained popularity today than ever before, and is here to stay. The big advantage of e-commerce is that it is advantageous to both the seller as well as the buyer. The state of not needing to step out of the comforts of your chair, the option of not having to deal with crowded customers with almost everyone leading a busy life, as well as having the opportunity to review and shop anytime, be it midnight or whenever the mood strikes is what drives customers to buy online. Sites like PriceGrabber and Froogle make it even more convenient to shop online by giving you the best deals - by sifting through hundreds of sellers for you.
On the other side, E-commerce also greatly benefits the sellers too. The main benefit of having an ecommerce store for online selling is its cost-effectiveness; the amount of investment it takes is quite less as compared to a brick and mortar store.

E-commerce includes retail shopping, banking, stocks and bonds trading, teleconferencing, auctions, real estate transactions, airline booking, electronic tickets, B2B, B2C - almost everything you can do in the real world.

How to apply eCommerce Best Practice

On a poll conducted about best e-commerce practices, ease of use was the most common reason cited for choosing an online shopping site. Other factors like online store usability and eCommerce shopping cart usability are also important factors for all online sellers.

On-site search: This is the core/basis of most online activity. Improving on-site search is clearly one of the best practices in e-commerce today. If the customer can't find the product, there is no way he could buy. Descriptive searches and misspelled words should be avoided as well.

Category-Refinement: Within the on-site search button, it is very useful adding a category-refinement, so that shoppers don't have to go to another page for their search, and can have the detailed information on one single page. It is also a great way to display the category offerings and show visitors which categories they can shop within.

Page headers: Product copy like text headings and descriptions are important aspects of usability for both shoppers and search engines. Researchers have said that a Westerner reader's eyes tend to move from the upper-left corner of the screen to the lower-right corner. So understanding the audience, putting the most important information like the logo, heading etc in or near the upper-left corner is a good practice.

Fresh content and catalogue:
Promotional activities and emails are the factors pulling customers to your site. Make sure that something changes all the time. Regularly change the theme, lay-out, create extra views and regular updates.

No Registration compulsion:
Allow shoppers adding items to their carts before registering up for an account. It is very common to see lots of ecommerce sites refusing shoppers to add items to their cart before signing up for an account. This can really put shoppers off as they need to take an extra step in the buying process. Once they have selected the products they want, they will be more than willing to sign up to get the products they have chosen.

Check-out Pricing: Do not wait till the checkout button to show the price of the item, amount/quantity saved or any other applicable shipping or VAT. Be transparent and have these details shown all through the process.

Good E Commerce Marketing

Plan your site

The secret to good E Commerce marketing is to keep your customers and buyers in mind when planning your site. Simple designs work best with products organized in a coherent structure that is intuitive to a user.

Easy navigation and search facilities are essential tools for an online shopper. Allow your customers to filter choices by criteria such as price, colour, size or brand to improve the buying experience and increase your sales.

Don’t overcrowd your site. Clean layouts attract more buyers and presenting fewer items per page allows customers to view products without feeling overwhelmed or distracted.

Make sure customers are not frustrated by the sales path. Lay out clear, simple, easy to follow steps leading to the check-out facility.

Increase Purchasing Opportunities

Suggest additional products related to a customers choice. If a customer has clicked to purchase a particular book they may be interested in others by the same author. Similarly, if a customer purchases a camera, they may require a camera case, batteries, photo albums or frames.

Present Offers to your buyers. Providing discount deals or limited time offers encourage visitors to complete purchases. Be warned though, it is important to keep the confidence and trust of your buyers by making sure these deals are accurate. Time limited deals should expire and money off deals should translate to actual full price figures.

Free Shipping for Orders over a certain amount incentivizes your customers to spend more on purchases to save on postage and packing. This is an effective way to increase sales and the increased revenue outweighs the additional cost impact on the business.

Provide Good Product Information

Online shopping, much like traditional retail is highly price determined. Label your items clearly with pricing information. Users generally want to know the total cost of items including VAT, postage and any additional charges before they will provide personal information.

Give Accurate Descriptions of your products with clear images. Include all relevant information for each item, such as, size, brand, price or colour.