Seven Tips for Effective Landing Pages by Jeanne Jennings

Great e-mail marketing doesn't involve e-mail alone. Usually, it also encompasses the Web pages people land on when they click through from the message to follow the call to action. You can get a great open rate and a very impressive CTR, but if the landing page doesn't carry the reader through to the goal, it's pointless.

Here are some tips for creating more effective landing pages.

Don't Just Send Them to Your Home Page

Yes, this is what's easiest to do. But in most instances, it's not best. Especially when the product or service you're promoting in the e-mail doesn't appear on the home page (I've seen it done). Don't make people search for what you've told them is there. Take them straight to it.

Don't Be Redundant

We've all seen landing pages that tell you exactly what the e-mail told you -- no more, no less. Why land readers there and make them click through to the next step? Send them to the next step directly from the e-mail.

Match Your Landing Page to Your Call to Action

A good e-mail engages readers by telling them about something, then setting an expectation for what they'll find when they click through. If you're promoting a new product with a link to "learn more," readers expect to land on a page with more information. If it's "order now," they expect to land on a page to begin the order process. If it's "read the full article," they expect to land on a page with the full article. Be sure you deliver on the call to action's promise.

Another note on calls to action: It's fine to include multiple calls to action in an e-mail. With clients I often place "learn more" right next to "order now" to see if we provide readers with enough information in the message to go directly to the order form. Just be sure all calls to action lead down a path to the end goal. There's no need to send readers to an "About Us" page if there's no direct link there they can order from.

Use a Look and Feel That's Consistent With the E-Mail

Test this to see if it lifts response; sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. But consistency rarely depresses response and it creates a seamless experience, so I strongly recommend it. Something as simple as having the same image on the landing page and in the e-mail quickly lets readers know they're in the right place. Repeating the benefit-oriented headline is another way to do this. You want the e-mail to flow naturally to the landing page, so there's no disconnect for the reader.

Define a Clear Path

I like to think of the e-mail message as a starting point. Each landing page toward the end goal is a stepping stone. You need enough pages to make your case, but not so many that readers abandon the path before they reach the end. The more streamlined you can make it, the better. But be sure you have a route in mind. If you aren't clear on what readers should do, how can they be?

Minimize Distractions

Once you've set your path, don't distract visitors with other things. Question why every piece of information is on each page, and remove information that doesn't help readers reach the end goal. This is especially true of links that take readers to third-party Web sites, but it's also true of links to other pages within your own site.

Use Daughter Windows for Ancillary Information

Sometimes you need to include ancillary information to make a case. If so, have it open in a daughter window, especially if it takes readers to a third-party site or off the path to the end goal. This way they'll get the information without losing their way.

It's easy to read these tips and agree; it's much harder to implement them. But it's worth the effort. Practicing a little tough love with your landing pages is a quick way to increase the effectiveness of your e-mail marketing. With the e-mail, you should continually test and work toward lifts in response. Give it a try, and let us know how it goes.