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By Christine Churchill

Dollars are a little tighter this year than last, so learning new ways to stretch marketing dollars is vital. Improving your landing pages so they convert more sales is a dynamite way to boost your Return on Investment (ROI).

Here are a few tips for making your landing pages more effective. The goal is to make your landing pages more persuasive, more focused, more complete -- and provide the testing feedback needed to measure the success of your efforts.

Your Landing Page Must Be Persuasive

An excellent first step is to make your pages more persuasive. You can provide great information, but unless your copy is persuasive, people won't buy. For example, consider:

1. Call to Action. Include a call to action and place it "above the fold," that is, visible on the first screen without having to scroll. Your landing page can be long or short -- you'll need to test the page to know which works best for you -- but always include a call to action "above the fold."

2. Button. Make the call to action look like a button and make it larger and brighter than you think you need. As much as I personally love text links, they just don't draw the eye as much as a brightly colored call to action button.

3. Emphasize Benefits. Focus on benefits, not features. Here's why. Emotions are what really motivate us to purchase something. We like to have the logic to justify our purchase logically, but the actual reason most of us buy a particular item because it fulfills an emotional need. Don't tell me the only the specs or facts about a product; tell me how my life will be improved if I buy it -- the benefit to me! Stress benefits.

Your Landing Page Must Have Focus

You've set up Google AdWords, so you know the particular keywords and ad text that will lead a prospect to click on your ad. Now, make sure that you maintain that focus and lead visitors to the next step in purchasing on your site. Maintaining focus helps keep those visitors on track.

4. Continuity. There must be continuity between the ad and the landing page. Inconsistent messages will confuse your visitor. If she clicks on an ad with a certain value proposition, then the landing page should reinforce the appeal mentioned in the ad copy. If she clicks on an ad for a "Nikon 360," don't taker her to a generic SLR camera page; take her directly to what she is looking for.

5. Lack of Clutter. Remove unnecessary noise and clutter on the page. Too many bright graphics and excessive bold text can distract visitors. Links to other offers may de-rail customers from their purchase mission. When presented with too many options, visitors can get confused and leave a site. Or if they get distracted, visitors might totally forget why they entered your site in the first place. Retain focus.

Your Landing Page Must Be Complete

Minor landing page details can hurt you, so make sure you "dot all the i's and cross all the t's." Attention to detail can make the difference between a good landing page and a great one.

6. Contact Check. Ensure that your customer can contact you easily. Is the submission form working? How reliable is the VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone number you are using? If a phone call is the preferred method for customers to contact you, is the phone number present on the page and easy to find? If you are using a phone number on the landing page, do you have a method to track offline conversions? If not, you have a big hole in your analytics.

7. Trust Enhancers. Include trust factors on the landing page. These include specialized badges, Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce memberships, and testimonials. A professional looking website also conveys confidence to the visitor that your site is trustworthy. Provide trust factors on your landing page whenever possible.

8. SSL Certificates. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates are used by e-commerce sites to encrypt sensitive information during online transactions. If your costumers see an expired SSL notice, they'll leave quickly, so keep your SSL certificates up to date. Most visitors don't know what the notice means and will leave your page feeling very uncomfortable about doing business with you.

9. Browser Compatibility. Test your landing page in different browsers. Designers often build landing pages in a hurry without the extensive testing normally included in a site redesign. Your landing page may look different in MSIE (Microsoft Internet Explorer) than it does in Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. is a free tool that lets you see how pages render on different browsers.

Testing pages under different browsers takes time, but landing pages that render poorly make a bad impression and can cost you sales. According to, nearly 28% of Internet users in the US employ a browser other than MSIE. If testing sounds like too much work, ask yourself if you're willing to throw away nearly 30% of your sales because your landing page doesn't render properly on a non-MSIE browser.

Your Landing Page Must Be Tested

Without the proper testing tools in place, you won't be able to tell whether one landing page is working better than another, so testing is vital.

10. Analytics. Make sure your analytics program is installed correctly and captures website performance accurately. Analytics programs are only as good as the data you feed them. For example, if you forget the to place the analytics JavaScript on your landing page or make a typo in the process, analytics won't tell you the true story. (We've seen both of these horror stories occur on big brand sites on more than one occasion.) Test to make sure that your analytics program is capturing conversions correctly so that you don't base your marketing decisions on incorrect information.

11. Usability Testing. Many times we put all the best practices to work and find pages still aren't converting like we expect. One of the simplest ways to figure out what is going wrong is to pick a person who is in your target audience and conduct a usability test.

Here's how it works. Give person a scenario and a mission to buy a product from your website. Tell him to start with the ad, then go to the landing page. Have him talk out loud about how he perceives the page.

I'll warn you in advance that you can't have an ego when you're doing usability testing. Prepare for brutal criticism, because you sometimes find that the copy you thought was so compelling is considered drivel by the tester. Or the tester may sit staring at your page, totally lost about where to go next, because the link you thought was so obvious is invisible to him. Usability testing reveals problems that your analytics may be hinting at, but don't definitively tell you.

12. Multivariate Testing. Use multivariate testing to try different options on the page. You are never finished fine-tuning your landing pages. As you produce new pages, learn what worked on earlier pages, but continue to try new things too. In this competitive market, getting even a one percent better conversion rate can make the difference between success and failure. Google Website Optimizer is a free tool that allows the you or your webmaster to perform multivariate testing. Software like this used to be rather expensive. Google provides the tool without cost and has made it straightforward to use.

If you put all these tips and techniques into play, I am confident that you will improve the overall effectiveness, the conversion rates on your landing pages will go up, and your paid search campaigns will be more profitable.

Please let me know your results after applying these techniques and we will perhaps cover some success stories and lessons learned in a later article.