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The holidays are here and it's time for that beloved annual tradition: the holiday promotion landing page! To ring in the season, the big companies will trot out gloriously sparkling ad pages crafted by dozens of graphics designers. They'll join a parade of lights, each more amazing than the last. It's enough to put a small business owner with a DIY website into a state of humble awe.

But what if you are that small business owner? Can you join the fun too?

Yes. With the right tools, a little know-how, and some scrappy can-do spirit, anyone can make a holiday promotion landing page to be proud of.

What you'll need:

  • 1-2 Sheets of paper
  • A pencil
  • Photos from your digital camera or a stock photo site.
  • 1 website with easy DIY tools. (What you need is a website that lets you freely place and move around text and image without having to know HTML. I like websites made with Wix, Squarespace, Webs, and, of course, our own FoundHere websites.)

Note: If your website isn't easy to edit, you can still set up an account with any of the providers listed above, and temporarily create a free website just for your landing page.

Step 1: Identify your promotion and call to action

The first question is, What do you want your customers to do and how much pressure is there on them to do it?

Do you want them to...

  • Print out a coupon?
  • Fill out a form to be contacted or to set up an appointment?
  • Buy a product via your shopping cart?
  • Follow you on social media?
  • Experience and share your holiday content?

This, more than any other element, will shape your landing page. You will need a form, a share link, or a coupon image. Also, don't forget tracking. Google analytics is a good way to measure how many people saw your page. It's also good to include a unique identifier (A unique coupon code, a unique form header, or a hashtag for your social media) to your CTA that only people who use this page will know.

Note: A special consideration for holiday content is to work around your visitor's time constraints. Are you helping them do something they need to get done before a specific date, or is your business based around a task they will want to put off until after the holidays? If it's the former, double-down on the time pressure and give them a deadline that forces them to act before they get distracted by other holiday errands. If it's the latter, you still want them to act now, but consider a CTA that promises you won't contact them until January.

Step 2: Draw your landing page

Get out your piece of paper and pencil and actually sketch out your landing page. By drawing it, you will get a better idea of what text your need to write and images you need to gather.

At a minimum, you will want to include the position of your headline, your graphic, your CTA, and any explanatory text.

At this point it is good to sketch this out a few times, with the elements in different positions. Consider versions with one rather than two columns, headline first rather than CTA first. Choose your favorite, but keep the others for testing.

Step 3: Gather your content blocks

In a Word document, write at least three possible headlines. It's usually easier to brainstorm multiple headlines, and then choose the best one, than it is to come up with just one perfect headline. Try to keep your headlines focused on the most interesting thing about your promotion. It's a common mistake to try to jam too much into it.

Then, write your explanatory text. First focus on why your visitor would want to follow your call to action. Then, think about why they might hesitate to do what you're asking, and consider whether there's anything you can say to make them more comfortable.

Take an appropriate holiday-themed image using a digital camera, or go to a stock photo site and select appropriate images. Consider Flickr Creative Commons if you want pictures for free. You will usually have to add an attribution link to your page, but free is hard to beat!

Step 4: Create your landing page

Now it's time to transfer the content blocks to your page. In the case of most DIY website solutions, you will be able to copy and paste directly from Word and then drag the content around the page. Adding and uploading images, forms, social share buttons, videos, and other blocks are just as easy.

Why do I suggest creating content in word before transferring it onto the page? The act of copying and pasting content forces a conscious review step. You created and edited a rough draft and didn't even know it!

Optional holiday fun: create variations

Several providers (including Squarespace and FoundHere) allow you to set content blocks to be shared across pages, making it easy to create variants of your landing page. Just create a new page, share the content blocks to the new page, and then arrange them differently. You can create separate pages to test whether it's better to have your call to action on the right, left, or center... with just a few clicks.

Most small business owners won't have the tools to do true simultaneous A/B testing, but you can still get some useful information by swapping out your landing page for a variant landing page after a few days. Ideally, you will have a few weeks for your promotion, and you can settle on the better variation after a few days of testing.

* * *

Your landing page should now be ready for visitors. Feature it on your homepage, in your emails, your newsletter. You don't have to have a big Web design department to create holiday landing pages. In fact, using DIY website tools, you don't have to even spend any money at all.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dimitri Horaites is the marketing director for FoundHere websites. He's been doing website marketing since 2004 in sunny central California.