Understanding Your Landing Pages

For all the effort and expense by advertising to get users to visit your Web site, very little thought has been given to the first thing they see when they get there: the landing page.

Landing Page Types

There are currently three basic flavors of landing page:

Part of the value in directing users to a specific page is measurability - separating these visitors from the "usual crowd" or those who may have come from other sources.

A more important value of a specific page is that the message can be targeted to the specific needs and interests that gave the user the incentive to click-through, and in that way, the user can be kept focused, and not distracted by other sections of your site.

Some techniques for directing traffic are to provide a special address or a code that is passed to the server when the user arrives. In other instances, you may be able to read the referring address and discover, for example, that the user came from "Google" after doing a search for "this exact phrase"

Mission-Critical Web Site Content

One of the greatest mistakes companies make is giving undue emphasis to parts of their Web site that are not mission-critical: information for investors, human resources, etc. Keep in mind that the Web site is there for your customers, and serving your customers is the most mission-critical task for the company.

The litmus test of criticality: does this content create a meaningful transaction or deepen your relationship with the visitor?

If the answer is "no," it should be downplayed so that it does not interfere with the critical content.

Web Site Audiences

It has often been said that there are many audiences for a Web site: prospects, clients, business partners, competitors, the press, job hunters, employees, investors, etc.

The typical practice for most sites is to provide a comprehensive view of the company and give each class of visitor equal treatment. This is counterproductive.

The sites that get it right, at least in part, are e-commerce sites, that seem to be focused on making a sale (converting visitor to customer) from the very start, and pushing all the extraneous material to the bottom of the screen, often below the fold.

It's noted that many of the other audiences (journalists, job seekers, potential investors, etc.) are accustomed to having to "hunt" for what they want, and have sufficient self-interest to do so - and while these audiences may be perceived as important, they are far less important than the customer.

Identify the Desired Conversion Action

Advertising "just to get visitors" is pointless. The company gains nothing by having someone visit the site - and the value of the visitor is that they take some other action when they get there: they buy something, they request additional information, etc.

Your focus should therefore be on the desired action, even if it is something that may not happen immediately (remember: a user who visits the site may not act today, but the experience may cause them to act in the future).

Some examples of an "action" are:

Focus on Lifetime Value

A customer who makes a dozen purchase a year is worth more than a customer who purchases once, so ti follows that a campaign that earns one repeat customer is worth more than one that attracts two who purchase only once. It follows that the best measure of customer value is their lifetime value, and the best measure of a campaign is the lifetime value of the customers it obtains.

Another note: lifetime value is not merely the gross revenue obtained from a customer - it is the profit margin. Hence, a customer who buys items only when they are discounted, generates many returns, and otherwise is a source of expense is less valuable than a customer on whom the company actually makes a profit.

Other considerations:

The author gets a little bit too deep into accounting measurements at this point - his goal is to "purify" the accounting so that you consider the revenue from an initial sale, the revenue of repeated sales, the variable cost per unit sold, etc.

Cost/value are of importance in getting budget for advertising, and also in controlling costs. Often, third-party companies are hired to generate leads or coordinate advertising efforts - and you need to know the value of a customer to determine whether the cost of an initiative is covered by the income that will be generated by it.