If you practice Internet marketing, you know the importance of a high-converting "landing page"—also called a promotional page, jump page, or squeeze page. Effective development of these pages is essential for online marketing success.

After a click from within a Web browser on a search-engine-generated link (organic or paid), the user is directed to a Web site or jump page.

Depending on your promotional tactics, you may be using pay-per-click marketing to generate signups, inquiries, or sales. Regardless of the specific purpose, one fact remains the same—you want the user to take some type of action.

In the steps that follow, I will share some landing-page best practices for increasing conversion rates and getting users to take the action you're hoping for.

Keep the following concepts in mind when designing your jump page:

Big, Bold, Relevant Headline

If you don't catch the attention of the browser with a big, bold, headline that is relevant, nothing else matters. This is why expert marketers test multiple jump pages at once—to see which page proves most relevant to those who are browsing.

If a user is searching for tinker toys, the headline should be targeted accordingly—rather than saying, for example, "Hey, check out these toys you can build with." Doing so is not particularly relevant, and as a result individuals will never get past the first few sentences of your jump page.

Use Visuals

If people have to read beyond your headline and sub-headline before understanding what you're selling (or offering), you'll have a difficult time getting them to read any further. This is where visuals come in. Pictures can convey your message quickly and with less effort. Make sure your jump page goes beyond plain text and integrates visuals—a different colored font, pictures, or video.

Testimonials Sell

Would you buy a product you've never heard of? What if your best friend told you all about it? People like to buy based on recommendations. This is particularly true of online purchases.

Getting validation from like-minded individuals removes fear and breaks down skepticism. There are a variety of ways to share a testimonial that work (photo and quote, audio recording, video).

Provide Something for Free

Encourage action by offering something free in exchange for name and email address. If you're actually selling a product from your page, consider giving added bonuses for making a purchase. The more you offer at the price point you've identified, the more value you create for your potential customer.

Time-Bound/Limited Offers

Create a sense of urgency with an offer that is only valid for a short time. You may also make your offer available to a limited number of new registrants. Either method works for creating urgency and encouraging a purchase.

You will need to test your time-bound offers to identify the time frame that works best for your potential customer base. The same is true for limited-time offers.

Offer Multiple Payment Options

Believe it or not, some marketers only provide one way for prospective customers to order their product or service. Unfortunately, the world doesn't work that way, nor should it.

Give users multiple options for how they pay: from credit cards to PayPal, the more the merrier. Also, be sure to include an 800-number for any questions they may have.

Test, Test, Test

No matter how good you think you are, you can always do better. Be sure to test your control page in an effort to improve conversions each time. This ensures that your business will continue to grow and you'll better understand what works and what doesn't with your target audience. It will also help you better understand seasonal trends.

* * *

Creating an effective jump page is essential for successful online marketing. Begin with a basic page that follows the criteria mentioned above. Test multiple pages to determine which has the highest conversion rate, and continually tweak the page to improve results.

Doing so ensures that your jump pages will continue to produce long into the future.

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Michael Fleischner is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist and president of MarketingScoop.com (www.marketingscoop.com). He has more than 12 years of marketing experience and blogs at marketing-expert.blogspot.com.