This post was written by me through a partnership with Wishpond. Although I received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
“I don’t need to use landing pages.” – Mike Allton
Ever heard of that guy? It’s OK if you haven’t, you’re among the comfortable majority. But he’s the guy who started this site and the one who not-so-famously uttered that rubbish.
Yeah, that was me. Past Me. Present & Future Me now know how powerful landing pages are and we’re going to strive to illuminate you!
Now, before this degenerates into one of the many poorly written Star Trek Time Travel scripts…
…the point is this: I used to think I didn’t need landing pages, and thought that I could use blog posts or other pages within my site to direct and convert traffic.
I now know better.
Today we’re going to cover:
- Why Didn’t I Use Landing Pages?
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Use Landing Pages
- How To Create Landing Pages
- How To Set Up Landing Pages Using My Preferred Tool
If want to get a head-start on building the best landing pages for your business, sign up for free trial of Wishpond here:
Why Didn’t I Use Landing Pages?
I have to admit this was part ignorance and part laziness, neither of which are admirable.
Since I have programmer-level understanding of how to work my site, I felt confident in my own abilities to whip up pages that stripped out some of the comment elements (like sidebars) and kept the focus on the topic & offer. However, I usually (and stupidly) retained elements like top navigation, footer links, and so on.
Yet more often than not, I wouldn’t even create one of those pages.
Instead of trying to go with even the most pedestrian of landing pages, I’d just write a blog post and let that be the page that drives content and conversions.
One of my misperceptions was that it was critical for landing pages to carry my exact same branding so that site visitors weren’t “thrown” by the look & feel.
The thing is, landing page traffic is usually designed to come from off-site, which means it’s often visitors who have never been to your main site. What’s worse, I lost sight of the fact that my “Brand” has nothing to do with my site’s background color or the width of my content.
Instead, it’s about the combination of colors, fonts, imagery and message pulled together into a cohesive style that reflects my brand no matter where it’s seen.
But because I thought it was better to use a page or post within my site, that’s what I went with.
And this is where my ignorance was obfuscated.
You see, when I publish a blog post that promotes a new ebook, it does drive traffic and conversions! If I’d never bothered to also create landing pages for specific offers and pair those with highly-targeted ads and campaigns, I would have never realized how much better a landing page could convert!
It’s like when all you ever buy from the grocery store is Folgers or Maxwell House coffee.
They taste like mild, watery diner coffees that are warm and comforting, if not exactly delicious.
If that’s what you’re used to drinking, how would you know what else is out there? How would you know that there are far richer and interesting roasts available if you hadn’t tried other brands?
I mean, did you realize that you can pick up a bag of Kauai Coffee and bring home a “taste of the island paradise in each cup”?? Who wouldn’t go for that?
So I don’t drink cheap, watery coffee anymore, and I don’t rely on poor-converting blog posts either. And neither should you.
But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Why Should You Use Landing Pages?
Let’s run through the top 5 reasons you should be using landing pages instead of blog posts, regular web pages, or <gasp> your home page.
1. Landing Pages Focus On Conversion
Unlike normal blog posts (which are usually written to educate) or web pages (which are usually written to inform), a landing page can be written to convert.
What does that mean?
In order to convert someone – to get them to take a specific action – you have to have a very direct approach.
- Identify their issue which you solve.
- Explain the solution to their issue which you provide.
- Foresee & overcome all potential objections.
- Make the ask.
That’s Sales 101, executed using a written web page, and it’s been successfully done that way for decades now.
If, instead, I use a blog post, visitors can be distracted by my About page, for instance, and end up reading other recommended blog posts… carrying them further and further away from my original offer and intended action.
You also can make sure when using paid ads that the message in those ads is tied specifically to the landing page.
2. You Can A/B Test a Landing Page
A/B, or Split Testing, is an extremely effective way to test something about a specific page.
For example, you might test whether a page’s headline helps to pique readers interest or not.
The trick to a successful A/B test though is to have two versions of a page – one with headline A and the other with headline B – and visitors to the page URL are automatically split between the two versions.
If your page normally gets 100 visits a day, that’ll now be split near-evenly across the two variants.
In addition to splitting the traffic, you will also determine what your goal or goals for the page are. Suppose it’s a pure landing page with a single offer to sign up to receive an ebook. That’s your CTA, and each successful subscriber is a conversion.
Once you’ve accumulated enough traffic and conversions, you can calculate a conversion rate for each variable and determine the winning test!
If you lack a platform or tool that handles A/B testing, the alternative is to perform a successive test instead of a simultaneous test. The simultaneous test automatically splits traffic, while the successive test tests one variable at a time and you simply note the results of the page, make a change, and then let it run for a similar amount of time.
The problem inherent to successive tests is that they cannot account for global variables. If anything happens to have a dramatic effect on landing page traffic during one of the tests, the results are immediately skewed accordingly.
3. You Can Create Different Versions for Different Ads
Unlike blog posts, which are written with a specific audience in mind (or should be), but then shared everywhere and available for anyone to read, landing pages can be quite targeted.
Thanks to the amazing degrees of filtering we can do when setting up paid ads, we can be very specific in who we’re targeting and just as specific in how we talk to them in the ad and on the corresponding landing page.
If you’ve ever seen an online ad for your local Best Buy, you’ll recognize this pattern.
Instead of running the same ads across the entire country for all of their locations, Best Buy ads are very much attuned to their geographic placement and local stores.
You see, every Best Buy store has their own unique sale flyer based on their current inventory and customer history. That way, the store in St. Peters, MO can promote different items than, say, Sandusky, OH.
When someone in that part of Ohio is on a participating website, their geolocation will trigger an ad that matches up with what’s going on at their Sandusky store. When they click through, they’ll see that store’s flyer.
You, too, can take advantage of this level of targeting.
Maybe you have customers in different parts of the world that have different interests. Or maybe you have different issues that your products solve.
Rather than use one ad targeting one audience leading to one landing page, you can set up a variety of ads, audiences and landing pages so that each fits more closely.
The result will be much higher conversion rates for each page!
4. Landing Pages Remove Distractions
Let’s take my own home page over on. The Social Media Hat as an excellent example of what not to do.
That snapshot of my home page has social icons at the top, a search field, six main links across the top, a slideshow presentation of 5 important articles, and a couple of more recent articles below that.
Even if the initial slideshow article of “The Facebook Survival Kit” is what I want initial visitors to see & click on, there are still 10 other distracting elements.
Even worse, there are actually eight more “recent articles” under those first two, plus TWENTY SIX other links in my footer.
While my blog posts and pages lack a slideshow and recent articles, they still have to contend with my site’s header and footer links.
If the goal is to convert every visitor and lead them into one specific action – my home page would be woefully suited for that.
Of course, this is where a dedicated landing page shines.
5. You Can Create Different Versions for Search
Just like when we created multiple landing pages for different ad campaigns and audiences, you can also consider creating multiple landing pages to target specific keywords.
This allows you to use techniques like inserting keywords into the page URL, Title, and of course throughout the body text and image tags.
That degree of focus is only possible when you’re targeting one keyword per page.
How Can You Create Landing Pages?
I touched on this earlier, but the key to a successful landing page is being able to strip out all of the extraneous site elements that are common to every other page of your site.
- Main navigation
- Social Icons
And anything else that isn’t directly related to the message and offer you wish to communicate.
To achieve that you essentially have two options: A. customize your theme to create a landing page template, or B. use a third-party landing page service provider.
If you’re comfortable making changes to your theme, and don’t need to integrate A/B testing, option A may be considered. You would simply create a single-column page template and edit the CSS to hide all of the unnecessary elements for that page type.
If you’d rather not do that, then a service is the way to go, and I recommend Wishpond for that. I’ve found Wishpond to be incredibly easy to get started and use, and they have additional services (like popups and automated emails) that will help make your overall campaign successful.
Getting Started With Wishpond
Once you’ve signed up for your account, there are a few steps you’ll want to take before jumping into your first campaign.
Integrations are where you have the opportunity to connect your Wishpond account, and campaigns, to other services you may employ.
For instance, I happen to use MailChimp for my day-to-day email marketing, so it’s important that any lead generation apps I use are able to “talk” to MailChimp and pass leads on accordingly.
Click on your name in the upper right corner and then click on Integrations. Here you’ll find a list of all the services Wishpond currently interacts with, including:
Automation (Zapier), Email Marketing (ActiveCampaign, AWeber, Benchmark Email, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, Emma, Eventbrite, GetResponse, iContact, Mad Mimi, MailChimp, VerticalResponse), CRM (Base CRM, Batchbook, Clio, Close.io, Contactually, Highrise, Infusionsoft, Insightly, OnePageCRM, Pipedrive, Salesforce, SalesforceIQ, Zoho), Webinar (ClickWebinar, GoToWebinar), Team Chat(Slack), Phone and SMS (Twilio), ECommerce (Shopify), Help Desk (UserVoice), Payment Apps (Stripe), Survey (SurveyGizmo, SurveyMonkey).
To add an integration, simply click on the provider name, log in, and complete the authorization. You’ll then be able to configure specific actions later (such as placement of leads into specific lists).
If you have other members of your team assisting you with your marketing, now is a good time to add them.
Click on your name in the upper right and then on Account Settings. Here you will find the Manage Users interface where you can add more administrators and marketers.
Finally, make sure that you’re able to track the success of your campaigns and conversions by installing the Wishpond Tracking Code onto your site.
Like most conversion code snippets, this bit of code is to be copied & pasted within the header throughout your site.
Once you’ve added the snippet, type your site URL into the verification field to check it.
When creating landing pages using Wishpond, you have the option of publishing them to a random wishpond.com address, embedding them into your website, adding them to a Facebook Page, or publishing them to a custom subdomain of your main domain.
Since we know that one of the huge benefits of using a landing page is that all of your extraneous navigation and other site elements are gone, embedding within a page of your site is not usually recommended.
Instead, a subdomain of your regular site is preferred. In my case, I’m using learn.thesocialmediahat.com as a repository for my Wishpond landing pages.
Here’s how to set that up.
Once you’ve configured your subdomain, you will be able to specify it as a publishing location for each new landing page, as well as set a desired URL.
Your First Wishpond Landing Page Campaign
From your Wishpond Dashboard, you can click on one of the major campaign types, or click on VIEW MORE to see all campaign types.
One of the amazing benefits to using Wishpond is all of the campaign options they offer! In addition to Landing Pages, you can create:
CONTESTS & PROMOTIONS
We’re going to start with creating a Landing Page and we will add to that a popup and other elements to round out the campaign.
So, click on Landing Page.
The first step is to select a template. You’ll be able to move elements around, swap in different imagery, and of course change fonts and colors, so this step is more about getting the overall layout for what you want to accomplish.
Which means that the real first step is to have decided what it is you want to offer, and how you’re going to communicate that! Make sure you have that in mind before proceeding.
So, with your offer in mind, select a template to start. If you close you’ll see that many of the templates have been designed with specific goals in mind, like selling a book or class. If you don’t have a specific design idea in mind, look for a template that matches your goal!
Name your landing page something meaningful to your and your campaign, and you’re ready to start customizing.
This is where Wishpond’s powerful editor is your best friend.
You can edit text, change colors & fonts, and reposition elements as needed.
For your first campaign, don’t worry too much about positioning of elements, sizing of rows, etc. Try to choose a layout that you’re mostly happy with and concentrate on the following key changes:
- Text – the copy you write is your most important consideration.
- Imagery – avoid stock images if possible; look for emotional connections.
- Fonts – use one headline font and one complimentary font for body text that matches your website font.
- Branding – Incorporate your website logo & colors.
Within just a few minutes, I was able to transform an initial template into this branded landing page:
Once you’re happy with the overall design, copy and imagery, it’s time to get the page ready to publish.
First, click on Settings in the top menu and then click on SEO Settings.
It’s important to set a great Title and Description for your page as those will appear in search results.
PRO TIP: When creating multiple landing pages for a campaign to take advantage of different target audiences, it’s a good idea to restrict Google and other search engines from indexing all but the first, main landing page. Check “Hide this Landing Page from search engines” within the SEO Settings.
Under Share Settings you can set the headline and description which will appear within the link preview box for social shares. It’s also a good idea to upload a custom image for the page here. I recommend an image that’s 1024 x 512 for maximum network compatibility.
Leave the other settings as-is for this initial campaign.
You can now save your landing page as a draft or publish it if you’re ready.
Additional Wishpond Conversion Elements
Now that your landing page is done, there are two other important elements to set up: the Thank You page and an Exit Intent Popup.
The Thank You page can be found by clicking on “Main Page” in the upper left and selecting Thank You Page.
You’ll see right away that the Thank You page resembles the initial Main Page template that you chose.
PRO TIP: Take the time to select a great template, customize the essential Main Page and Thank You page elements (logo, colors, fonts) to match your brand, and then save that as a new branded template for future use.
Just like the Main Page, the Thank You page can be easily edited to match the rest of the campaign.
While you’re here, though, can we do more than just say, “Thank you.” I mean, that much is fairly obvious. Why not take this opportunity to keep your brand new subscriber or customer engaged?
For instance, if they just downloaded my eBook with Facebook tips, maybe they’d be interested in reading one of my other articles on Facebook? Or maybe they’d like to schedule a time to walk through the eBook recommendations and get some tailored advice and consulting for their business?
The point is, think about what your reader is interested in, where their head is at right then, and see what else you can offer or recommend to them.
Next, click on the home icon to return to your campaign dashboard – this where you’ll get an overview for your campaign – and click on the Popup button.
What we want to do here is create a popup that will fire each time a visitor opens our landing page and then starts to leave the page. This is referred to as an “Exit Intent” – the visitor intends to exit the page and the browser detects their mouse leaving the confines of the webpage.
An exit intent popup is your last chance to get their attention and, possibly, draw their attention to some aspect of the offer they might have otherwise missed.
Just as with your Landing Page, you start by choosing a template that suits you and then quickly customize it.
Let me stress at this point that the first time you use Wishpond, like any other tool, it will take you a little bit to get used to where the various controls and options are. Allow yourself the time and freedom to explore and get to know the tool.
Each time you create a new campaign, your familiarity with the Wishpond templates and editor and process will improve. And as your familiarity improves, the more you will be able to focus on the copy & imagery, and worry less about the mechanics.
Once you’re happy with your Exit Intent, there are two things you can consider doing with it: adding it to your overall website, and adding it to your landing page.
If you want all visitors to your website to see this exit intent popup when they start to leave, click on the Home icon so that you’re looking at the activity report for your new popup, then click on Add to Website.
Wishpond will give you a snippet of code that you can add to your site’s header or any individual page of your site to implement the exit intent there.
To add the popup to your Wishpond landing page, click on Publish while editing the popup then click on the Match Rules tab.
Click on Add Pages to reveal a drop down of choices and select Wishpond Campaign. You can then select the specific landing page you want to apply the exit intent popup to.
Note that when you click on Publish you’ll find the Settings for the popup and that’s where you can specify whether you want it to be Click, Scroll, Timed, Entrance or Exit.
While an Exit popup is the only type I would recommend for most landing pages, the other types of popups should be tested throughout the rest of your site and blog.
PRO TIP: Always disable your popups for mobile devices unless you’re setting up an Opt-in bar (popup that appears at the top of the page) or a click/embedded form. Google now penalizes sites that use “interstitials” (popups) that take up the entire mobile device screen and interfere with the reader’s experience.
Launching Your New Landing Page Campaign
Now that you have your landing page, thank you page, and popup in place, it’s time to launch!
What that launch entails depends on you and what it is you’re offering, of course. It may be that you’ve created a landing page specifically for a Facebook Ad campaign. Or perhaps it’s to promote a new ebook, in which case I would also add a blog post and full social media spread.
The only requisite is that you share the URL for your landing page in whatever promotional activity you have planned. Wishpond will use whatever subdomain you’ve set up plus a unique identifier for your page. Mine looks like:
Once you’ve shared it, you can begin to monitor the results.
That, of course, is what the Activity Report is for. It will show you Views, Conversions, Conversion Rate (CR) and Leads.
Now, note that Conversions and Leads can be two different metrics depending on the various elements you’ve chosen to include within your landing page. If you have a single opt-in form, completing that form will count as a conversion and, subsequently, a lead.
If, however, you also have one or more buttons and/or links, and you allow clicks on those elements to count as conversions, that’s where you will see more conversions than leads in your report.
Frankly, while I included a button at the bottom of my landing page (which I configured to open a popup), the page copy was short enough that the button was unnecessary.
Understanding your conversion rate (and lead generation rate, if you have multiple conversion opportunities) is critical as that is the real barometer for the success of your campaign.
Once you’ve established a “baseline” CR for a landing page, you can begin to make incremental improvements or even set up A/B split tests to work towards even better rates!
Managing Leads From Your Campaigns
Of course, before all of that, you should give consideration to what you want to do with your leads, and how you’re going to communicate to them once they’ve signed up.
You can either create an email automation within Wishpond, or set up an autoresponder within your email marketing software of choice (i.e. MailChimp)… or both!
One solution would be to use Wishpond’s built-in automation to welcome new subscribers and provide them with whatever you promised in your offer.
After that, Wishpond can automatically import new leads into your designated MailChimp list. Or, if you want to file them into a specific Group, you can export them periodically from Wishpond and import them into your Group. (This is actually the approach I recommend so that you can properly segment your MailChimp subscribers.)
To create that initial email within Wishpond click on Automation and then click on Welcome Email.
The Conditions screen is where we define who is to receive this email, and we want that to be anyone who subscribes via our landing page OR exit intent! So, click the campaign drop down and select your landing page. Then add a second Campaign condition and do the same for your exit intent.
Save those two conditions and it will look similar to this:
Now scroll down to the Actions section. This is where we set up the email itself. Click on Create new email.
Type in a meaningful name for the email, a great subject line, then your own name and email. Click Next.
Once more Wishpond offers us a bevy of templates to choose from. For emails I tend to be a bit simpler, but that’s entirely up to you. You can choose whatever suits your brand, audience and offer.
Take your time and write a really good email message. Remember, for most of your subscribers, this is the first time you’ve ever graced their Inbox. Make it count!
I always start by getting right to the point and linking to their PDF or whatever it was that they signed up for.
But then I also take a moment to thank them and to encourage them to do something else. Just as with the Thank You page, this is another opportunity to keep your new reader engaged and start turning them into a fan.
What else can you give them at this point? Do you have other articles they should read?
Keep in mind that, if this really is their first time “meeting” you then they likely have no idea what you published two years ago. I have some really great articles in my archive that, depending on the relevancy, might be really interesting to new subscribers.
When you’re happy with it (and have tested it using the Send Test option), click on Finish.
For most Welcome emails, we’ll want them to go out immediately upon someone signing up so go ahead and click on Done. (If you want to send subsequent emails on a delay, click on Set Delivery to adjust the timing.)
At this point you may add an action to automatically export new leads to your MailChimp list. You can also set up custom fields and have those fields propagated accordingly.
When you’re done with Actions, click Launch Workflow in the upper right to get it all started!
While there’s clearly more to learn and to be gained from using Wishpond, if you’ve made it this far then you’ve successfully launched your first campaign, complete with custom popup and welcome email, and can use this experience as a launch pad for future campaigns.
Don’t be afraid to test different approaches and techniques. And certainly take advantage of the many other lead generation options Wishpond offers like sweepstakes and contests.
Finally, please do not hesitate to ask questions in the comments below? What Wishpond features or options do you need help with? What aspects of landing pages or popups are confusing?
I’m always happy to answer as thoroughly as I can either in the comments directly, or in future articles!
Good luck with your next lead generation campaign!
If you’d like a free PDF copy of this entire article that you can print and reference at your convenience, click here: