What is a landing page?
and 10 Other Marketing Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask
Even if you’re well on your way to digital marketing domination, chances are that a few fundamental questions have slipped through the cracks. Like: what is a landing page? Why (on earth) do I need them? And more. This article is dedicated to filling in the gaps of those gaps and setting the record straight on some of the topics you might be too afraid to ask about.
1. What is a website landing page?
Our landing page definition is this: a web page that is specifically designed to prompt visitors to take a single ‘next action.’
That goal ‘next action’ is defined as the point of conversion – whether it be to sign up for an email newsletter, register for an event, download a lead magnet, sign up for a training course, etc. Therefore, your landing page’s conversion rate is the percentage of visitors that make it over the finish line and take the ‘next action’ that you hoped they’d take. So if you’re wondering, “what is a landing page used for?” – it’s used to convert web traffic. (It really is that simple).
Google Analytics defines landing page as “the webpage where people end up after they click your ad” and we mostly agree. But landing pages can exist without a paid digital advertisement. What it really comes down to is this:
- Sending targeted traffic
- To a single web page
- In order to take a (single) action
Where that traffic comes from and how you get them to the page can vary a great deal. Perhaps you’re sending traffic from your business’ Facebook page, from an email newsletter, from a blog post, Facebook ad, Google AdWords campaign, etc. It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that anytime you’re directing web traffic to a destination, you’ll need a dedicated landing page meaning that you’re able to steer that web traffic towards taking an action that’s valuable for your business.
Of course, that definition covers a lot of different kinds of pages. What’s more, the same exact page might be a landing page or not depending on how you use it.
Let’s play a quick game of “Landing Page or Not a Landing Page?” and consider some potentially tricky examples.
- A registration page for a webinar you’ve promoted on social media: Yep, definitely a landing page.
- A page listing your business’s address, hours, and contact information: Not a landing page—it doesn’t ask visitors to take further action.
- A pre-launch page where visitors can sign up to receive updates on your next product release: Landing page!
- Sales page promoting the benefits of one of your membership levels: Could definitely be a landing page, especially if it has a button to purchase or sign up.
- E-commerce page listing all your inventory: Probably not a landing page—it offers dozens (maybe hundreds) of potential choices for visitors to make, so the goal’s not well defined.
A landing page with no discernible call to action isn’t much of a landing page. It doesn’t give people a strong reason to stick around your site, and it probably won’t convince them to stay long enough to become customers.
We often refer to this practice as ‘turning clicks into customers’ – but in reality, there are a number of steps in between. In most cases, you’ll begin with cold web traffic (web browsers who may meet some characteristics of your target demographic but are unfamiliar with your brand) and the first step will be to convert that traffic into leads. Most businesses do this by using a freebie lead magnet, but there are a number of different approaches you can take. After capturing a lead, you’ll launch into an email nurture sequence to help those visitors convert into customers once they’re convinced of your value and ready to buy. But – it all begins with a high-converting landing page. Otherwise, you’re slinging ads/ content out into the world instead of building an effective sales funnel.
For an in-depth, multimedia guide to using landing pages in your marketing, check out our Ultimate Guide to Landing Pages.
2. Is a landing page the same thing as a website? Do I need both?
Landing pages can certainly act as lone rangers (standalone websites) or they can be used to supplement your business’ primary website – the choice is yours.
For instance, if you’re a Leadpages customer, you can easily publish your landing pages to our servers without needing to set up a website of your own and pay for someone else to host your domain. (If you go this route, the URL of that page will look like this: https://yourusername.leadpages.co/page-name/.)
Whether or not you need a primary website in addition to your landing pages depends a lot on your business.
If you’re promoting one-off events or products, it may be the case that all the information you need to tell prospects will fit naturally on the landing page for each one.
However, if your business depends on building long-term relationships with customers and promoting a suite of products/ services, you’ll probably want to have a primary website in addition to any landing pages you create.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that all your landing pages should link to your main website. Many successful landing pages don’t even have a navigation bar. That’s because it’s often wise to minimize the potential actions a customer can take once they reach your landing page so that they’re more likely to respond to your primary call to action and not get distracted by details in the margins.
If you do decide you need a primary website, you can make things easy on yourself and actually build your entire website from one or several landing page templates.
Leadpages offers a number of “minisite” templates designed for just for this purpose, where you can place all the crucial information about your business on one page. Instead of using different pages, a minisite organizes information in different content boxes, which you reach by vertical scrolling.
You can link your minisite page to additional landing pages as needed. Or your business model may make it possible for you to design your homepage around a single call to action, turning it into an effective landing page on its own. For example, if you have a consulting firm, your entire homepage may be designed to get visitors to sign up for a free consultation.
For the majority of business owners, however, “website or landing page?” is a false dichotomy. In most cases, you’ll want some combination of both.
3. How do I choose a landing page template?
Landing page creators today are inundated with choices and often face a pesky little problem known as analysis paralysis when it comes to landing page templates. Leadpages alone offers well over 100 landing-page templates in our template library.
The best way to choose a landing page template to fit your needs is to consider the following elements:
- Information architecture: what ‘story’ do you need your page to tell? How much information does your target audience need in order to make an informed decision?
- Multimedia integration: what content formats will you use? (video, bulleted lists, interactive elements, call-to-action buttons, etc.)
- High-converting design: Leadpages landing page templates are rigorously designed to be high-converting from day one. All you need to do is customize the content to your liking.
If you’re not 100% sure what a “template” is, simply think of it as the set of files that make an individual web page look and function as it does. If you’re a Leadpages customer and you use a Leadpages template, you’ll be able to customize the template inside our app just by clicking and typing. (Here’s a little info. on customizing how your page looks, functions, and feels).
It’s true that template design preferences are “subjective” on an individual level. If one site visitor responds more favorably to pages with photo backgrounds, while another is more likely to take action on a page with a solid background, it’s not that one of them is more “right” than another.
But if you do some research and find that 80% of people respond better to sites with photo backgrounds than to sites with solid backgrounds . . . now you don’t just have a couple of opinions. You have some data. Good template designers draw on this kind of research when they make design decisions so that by the time you use one of their templates, you’re benefitting from a large body of knowledge.
4. What’s my conversion rate, and how do I find it?
What are landing pages used for? They’re used to convert web traffic, so let’s talk about what a conversion is.
A “conversion” on your website landing pages is simply the point at which someone takes the next step in their relationship with your company. Depending on your business and your goals for any given marketing campaign, a conversion could take place when someone . . .
- Joins your email list
- Registers for a webinar
- Purchases a product
- Signs up for a free consultation
- Follows you on social media
- Clicks through to your pricing page
. . . or any number of other desired actions.
Your conversion rate is the percentage of people viewing a page or interacting with a widget who respond to your call to action, complete the process you’ve designed, and take that next step.
For instance, if 800 people visit your landing page, and 400 of them purchase the product you’re marketing on that page, that page has a 50% conversion rate.
If 100 people click on your call-to-action button, and 60 of them submit the opt-in form that pops up when they do, that form has a 60% conversion rate.
If you use Leadpages, you can see your conversion rates for each landing page and opt-in form you create in the app:
If you want to see those numbers rise, you can try running a split test. Speaking of which:
5. What’s an A/B split test, and how do I run one?
A split test is a way to assess which of multiple versions of a landing page or element of that page gets a higher conversion rate. A true split test is randomized so that each version is seen by an equivalent group of people. After both versions have been seen by a large enough sample audience, you can compare their conversion rates and choose one to be your new standard.
Creating different page variations, setting up randomization, and getting accurate statistics would be a pretty formidable task . . . but it takes only a few clicks inside Leadpages. You can split-test nearly any element of your landing page. This way, you can continually improve your page performance by ensuring you’re picking the best possible images, headlines, colors, and even entire templates to engage your particular audience.
6. What’s a lead magnet? Is it the same thing as a “content upgrade,” or an “opt-in bribe”?
A lead magnet is anything you give away in exchange for someone’s contact information. (Getting someone’s contact information is what converts them from a prospect into a “lead,” since you now have a way of staying in touch.) It’s also called an opt-in bribe.
A lead magnet most often works like this:
- You set up a landing page offering a valuable information resource (the lead magnet), such as a free PDF guide or an instructional video. This resource may mention your products or services, but it is not primarily used as an advertisement.
- People who visit your landing page enter their email address in order to access the lead magnet.
- When they submit their email address, they automatically receive an email containing the lead-magnet file.
- You now can contact them with (appropriate, non-overwhelming) future offers and information.
A content upgrade is a lead magnet that builds on the content of the informational page it’s offered on, most often a blog post. You could think of it as one of the bonus features included on a DVD release—something that adds to the experience.
7. What’s a sales/ marketing “funnel”? Do I need special software to create one?
If you ask for a funnel at the hardware store, you’ll get a simple tool. At its core, a marketing funnel should be a pretty simple tool as well. A sales or marketing funnel is simply a series of elements you set up for potential customers to interact with, guiding them through the process of becoming actual customers.
For example, your funnel might start with a Facebook ad . . . that leads to a landing page . . . that offers a lead magnet . . . that initiates a follow-up email . . . that links to a checkout page.
Your prospects hop into the top of the funnel via that advertisement, and then—if the funnel’s designed well—slide smoothly down to their first purchase. (At that point, they might drop into a re-engagement funnel set up to encourage upgrades or future purchases.)
None of this requires any kind of special funnel-making tool beyond the tools you’re already using. To set up the example funnel above, you’d need only Facebook Ads, landing-page software such as Leadpages, an email service provider, and a payment processing system.
8. Why do marketers talk about growing their email lists so much?
Although social media continues to flex its marketing muscles, it doesn’t actually look like email is going away anytime soon. Reports from the last few years seem to agree that more than 90% of Internet users in the U.S. use email, with a majority checking their email at least once a day.
But even if email didn’t continue to be so ubiquitous, there would still be very good reasons to put a lot of thought into email marketing.
That’s because your list of email contacts is a very special audience.
For one thing, you can reach them one by one, right in their inboxes—and, if you have a good email service provider, you can send different messages to different groups of leads with ease.
For another, you can keep in touch with that audience for as long as they’re subscribed to your list.
That’s not at all guaranteed with social media followers. Social-media platforms don’t have to do anything as drastic as shutting down in order to dramatically impact how businesses can use them to reach people. In fact, recently Facebook Pages users saw their social reach tank when the company adjusted its algorithm to show their posts to only a minuscule percentage of their fan bases. Here are our top tips for surviving Facebook’s recent algorithm changes.
Of course, you can still pay to broadcast your Facebook posts more widely. But this moment was a strong wakeup call for plenty of digital marketers out there that it’s wise to cultivate your email list in addition to any other channels you use. For more on how to nurture your email list, check out our Email List Building Course.
9. Everyone’s talking about “lead generation,” but what I want is more like “sales-right-now generation.” Can I use landing pages for that?
You can definitely use landing pages specifically to drive sales.
For example, if you’re an e-commerce business, you could direct targeted ad traffic to a pre-sale landing page. Instead of overwhelming visitors by dropping them onto a vast catalog page of shoes, for instance, it might be wise guide them to a good choice by setting up a landing page featuring the season’s top styles (from which they can click through and make a purchase).
Or you can integrate your landing page directly with a payment service such as Leadpages checkouts via Stripe.
The reason many marketers focus on lead generation is that they’re looking at the long-term picture. They want to be the source that customers turn to again and again for high-quality information (that complements their products). They want to build the kind of quality relationships that make email marketing more effective than annoying.
But it’s true that sometimes, you just need a short-term burst of revenue. And you can get it. For one powerful example of a sales-first landing-page strategy, check out this case study on how Ezra Firestone paired Leadpages with Pinterest ads and saw six-figure revenue in his first month out of the gate.
10. OK, I’ve made my first landing page—where are the opt-ins I’m supposed to be getting?
If this is you, I want to give you a big round of applause.
You’ve worked hard. You’ve started an entire business (or taken an existing one to the next level). And you’ve created something really cool to promote it. You’re awesome!
But . . . you’re not quite in the home stretch yet.
What your page needs now is traffic—that is, a source of people who will see your landing page and start taking you up on all you have to offer.
One way to get traffic to your landing page is to make it easily findable by people searching on the open web. This is called search engine optimization, and although it’s possible for small businesses to master, the fact is that you’ll be competing against the clients of entire agencies that are devoted solely to this task. Unless you have a product with extreme niche appeal, this could be slow going.
So how do successful small businesses get lots of traffic at first?
Often, they pay for it. This can be pretty economical and a sound investment—we’ve seen effective Facebook advertising campaigns run on just $5 a day.
Paid traffic is a larger topic than I can get into here, but if you’d like to explore further, I’ve rounded up a few good resources right here:
- [eCourse] The Facebook Advertising System
- [Article] Guide to PPC Advertising
- [Article] Guide to Interruptive Advertising
Now it’s your turn!
Did these answers clear up any lingering questions you’ve had?
Are there any other questions you’re feeling brave enough to raise right now? Let us know in the comments!