What ways can I increase landing page conversions for deep level pages

A landing page, landing destination or entry page is a Web page that is linked to, or landed on, directly from any hyperlink typically found in search results pages, email campaigns, sponsored listings, banner type advertisements, internal site navigation and more. The page your visitors land on does not necessarily have to be the homepage or a main section, they can also include deep level pages (ie. product pages) that target keywords or phrases specific to a certain ad or marketing campaign. The main purpose of a landing page is to provide potential customers and web store visitors with detailed information about your products, services or other store offerings. Landing pages, including the text copy, and the way in which they are designed and laid out is extremely important in getting your potential eCommerce customers to initiate the conversion process.

In order to properly understand how to increase your landing page conversions for deep level pages it is important to understand the conversion process as a whole and the steps visitors take upon landing at your eCommerce store location. The average eCommerce buying process ranges from one to seven steps and can be drastically different and unique depending on what you offer, the market you sell in and the customers you target. Conversion processes vary from store to store and are typically classified as either macro-actions or micro-actions and depend on the overall conversion goals that have been set in place by the merchant (to buy, to subscribe, to collect data etc).

Macro-actions describe a complete set of steps or actions performed by the user such as completing a purchase, subscribing to a service, downloading a file, becoming a registered user or affiliate, printing a page and more.
Micro-actions describe the smaller set of steps or actions performed by the user in order to complete the macro-actions. Micro-actions may include viewing a specific page, adding items to a shopping cart, filling out a form or contact information, entering payment or billing details and more. The micro-actions are the small steps needed to complete the larger macro-action.
The less micro-actions you have within your macro process, the better chance you have of completing the overall conversion goals that you have set in place. For instance, if one of your micro-actions was to have a customer view a specific product page you would have a better chance of them converting if they were to land on that product page first rather than on the homepage (which would force another micro-action in the process). This is the reason why it’s so important to have landing pages optimized for specific keywords and why PPC/CPC advertisers use different or unique landing pages for each of their individual marketing campaigns.

The best way to increase customer conversion rates for deeper landing pages is to use different pages for different objectives within the process. If you have a page designed with multiple micro-actions and users can either buy or subscribe it could get confusing to them and the desired conversion may not be initiated. It is extremely important that the main focus on each page is clear (keep distractions off these pages) and that it flows simply and naturally toward the overall objective or goal.

Here are some general rules that if practiced can help both new and established merchants increase landing page conversion for their deep level pages.

One Conversion Goal Per Landing Page:

It is important to create conversion goals and the conversion processes for each destination page, depending on what action you want the end user to take once they land on a deeper level page. If the user has several conversion processes to initiate per page, it can confuse them and they might have a more difficult time determining what to click next or where to go (the goal is not as clear).

Ideally, you should only have one conversion goal per SITE, but when you are dealing with an eCommerce enabled site it can be a bit tricky to determine one goal for the entire site. Obviously, merchants are hoping that their customers will buy, so that’s one goal. Other than making a purchase, conversion goals for an eCommerce site may include downloading a file, registering as a customer, signing up for a newsletter, subscribing to a Web feed, joining an affiliate program, clicking on a contextual ad, saving a product for later review, listening to a podcast or watching a video and possibly even referring a friend to the site.

The page your visitors eventually land on will depend on the one goal you determine for that page. Map out which pages you already have or intend on having within your site and then mark down what the primary conversion goal of that page should be. For instance, product pages should have a conversion goal centered around the customer making a purchase. The conversion process for those pages would be adding an item to their cart, entering in payment info, entering shipping info and finally confirming the order. These smaller conversion processes make up the overall conversion goal for all product pages (the goal being to make a sale or get an order).

If you offer a page that advertises email newsletters or feed subscriptions, those pages should have a conversion goal centered around subscribing to the newsletter or feed. The process would be entering in their name, email address and other optional info and then clicking some sort of subscribe button which may send them an email to confirm the subscription and sign them up.

We wouldn’t want the newsletter subscription goal to interfere with sales on the product pages, so instead of using that goal in both places, we create separate pages for different goals within the site.

Link To Landing Pages For Accessibility:

Making sure you landing pages are accessible to both customers and search engines is an important step to increasing conversions for deeper level pages. If search engines cannot access and index your product pages you will have a harder time getting customers to those pages directly from search results. Instead, a customer would have to enter your site first and then find the pages that interest them most. If customers don’t know your landing pages exist it will be harder for them to find and enter the conversion processes you have set in place for different landing pages.

Make sure you use plenty of internal site links to category pages, sub-categories and individual product or item pages so your customers and search engines can easily find your deeper site sections. Make use of a user site map with links to all your main sections. Use text links in as many places as possible within your design for easier accessibility. Try out different anchor text variations within your text links as customers may click on one version over another. As long as the pages are accessible, you will have an easier time getting deep landing pages discovered.

Keep Off-page Links Usage Minimal:

While it is important to link to landing pages from the main sections of your site for accessibility, you want to be sure that you don’t link too much from the landing pages themselves. Using many off-page links from your landing pages can hurt your conversions and may be directing user to the wrong pages or interrupting the conversion process. The most prominent link on landing pages should be the call to action link (the link that takes them to the next step in the conversion process or step that completes the conversion goal).

Many high converting eCommerce sites have found that by removing their main page navigation from landing pages that it helped with customer conversions (even Google removes navigation from most landing or check out pages). Another good tip is to never direct customers back to the homepage from your landing pages. By directing them away from your pages you will interrupt the conversion process.

If you are thinking of the conversion process as a funnel, and the landing page is the first pour then you wouldn’t want any holes or leaks in your funnel walls, just the same as you wouldn’t want anything to obstruct the pour from leaving your funnel when it’s done. Keep any links off your landing pages to a minimal and you will not have to worry about leaks or holes in your conversion processes.

Direct Customers To The Right Landing Pages:

Making sure your customers enter the conversion process where you want them to can be tricky, however it’s an important factor to consider if you hope to increase conversion for deep level landing pages. You wouldn’t want a customer who your are hoping will enter the buying process to all of a sudden get distracted and enter the newsletter subscription area before buying. For the same reasons it’s important to use one landing page goal per page, it’s also important to assure that your customers get directed to the correct page.

One factor that helps direct users to the right pages can include the anchor text you choose to use for categories, products and other text links within the site. You wouldn’t want the “Buy Now” button to take them to an email newsletter subscription page and you wouldn’t want a link that says “Subscribe to our Newsletter” to take them to the shopping cart. These examples may seem like common sense or basic rules, however you would be surprised about how many sites use inaccurate anchor text descriptions or generic anchor text such as “click here,” “learn more,” or “read more.”

Other factors can include using unique page titles, meta descriptions or descriptive keywords so users coming from search results end up in the right section, clearly identifying the different sections of your site within the page designs or using multiple themes for separate sections of your site. Describe the pages individually so users don’t get confused when navigating your site. This is especially true if you utilize product reviews on your site. Often times you will prefer the customer to see a review page and then the product, not the other way around.

Use Convincing Landing Page Copy:

The headlines you choose for landing pages as well as the ad copy, messages, buttons and call to action copy you write can all influence the conversion process and greatly affects whether your customers will complete the conversion goals you have in place. The headline should ideally be the first thing your customers see upon landing on a specific page. Keep the headlines simple and direct, making sure to clearly state that customers will be able to complete their goal from this page

When writing messages on landing pages try and use bullet points rather than long text descriptions or full paragraphs. Make the point clear and be sure to include main points or highlights within the message. Include ad copy that sells you product and persuades the customer to move along to the next step in your conversion process.

Finally, when it’s time to use the call to action button or copy it is best to use softer techniques rather than the traditional “Buy Now,” “Add to Cart,” or “Subscribe Now.” Instead consider using something like “Get This,” “Try Now,” or “I Like It.” Be sure the call to action is noticeable and stands out on the page to customers. If possible, try and use red or green buttons, text and graphics on calls to action from landing pages.

Keep On-page Distractions Minimal:

Landing pages should be full of whitespace, not rich with graphics, banners, text, flashy offers, navigation or other distracting page elements. Many online shoppers do not spend a great deal of time reading the text and copy on landing pages. That’s why it’s so important to use large, short, descriptive headlines and bullet points rather than long paragraph descriptions. When creating the layout for landing pages be sure to utilize whitespace and limit the use of distracting elements like ads, forms, flashy graphics, cluttered text, messy layouts or putting the most important items below the fold.

Use Visually Appealing Page Elements:

Although it’s important to keep on-page distractions to a minimum, at the same time you have to be sure that the elements you do include on your landing pages are visually appealing and do not prompt a poor reaction or surprised feeling from the customer upon landing there. Post a high resolution image of the product or item that the landing page is offering so the customers can see what they are buying. If possible, use a video or flash demo to show off the products on each page. Implementing user reviews and customer comments have been proven to help increase landing page conversions. Prominent privacy policies and trust certificates are also sometimes included on eCommerce landing pages. The only elements that need to be included should accomplish one of two goals: either reassure the customer of their purchase or give them a reason to continue with the conversion.

Use Designs That Serve Overall Goals:

The way in which your landing pages are designed is important for increasing conversion rates on deeper level pages. Once a customer clicks through from an advertisement, sponsored listing or search result it’s imperative that the page they land on reinforces the copy included within the ad they clicked on to land there. The way your page is designed and the elements you include all have to help convince the customer to enter your conversion process and complete the action or goal to complete the conversion. Typical landing page goals might include filling out a form, providing personal information or email address, buying something or to read your content. Each goal would require a different design that should help to serve that overall conversion goal.

We already discussed leaving unnecessary elements off of your landing pages and why it’s important to use visually appealing elements where you absolutely need them. In addition, those elements should match and serve the overall goal of each landing page. For instance, if the goal is to fill out a form you would want to include some kind of form on your landing page. If the goal is for the customer to buy something, you would want to include a visually appealing and prominent checkout button on your landing page. If the customer does not have a clear path to follow once they land on your deeper level pages it will be more difficult to get them to convert. Make sure you strip out any unnecessary steps in the conversion process and that any elements included on your landing pages are there to help serve your overall conversion goal for that page.

Test Different Landing Page Layouts:

Testing your landing page is one of the most important steps towards improving conversions rates for deeper level landing pages. It is also one of the most overlooked strategies by merchants. Many merchants aren’t aware that there are constantly newer and better ways to test landing pages being developed and used by many the most successful online sellers. Simple a/b split testing and tools like Google’s Website Optimizer have been proven to help increase conversions for a variety of merchants across many different market niches.

In addition to software and tool tests, it’s a good idea to test landing page layouts, designs and whether your goals will be met by using a small group of users who can actually enter your conversion process and give you feedback about any hangups in the process. Questions that testing can help you answer may include whether the entire page is focuses on your conversion goal, whether your copy and message matches the ads you use, whether you have removed all distracting page elements, whether your critical copy is above the fold, whether there is a clear exit to the next step in the conversion process and how effectively the page reinforces your brand.

Other page elements you may want to test could include the prices of your items (raise and lower), if Web forms are working properly, using different headlines or copy, using different buttons or graphics, whether banner messages or audio messages should be included and different color schemes and layouts.

Keep Contact Information Prominent:

This rule is a no brainer. It has been proven that having contact information prominently displayed on each page, above the fold, can help to increase conversions on your deeper level landing pages. Having a phone number and email address on each page helps to establish trust with customers and they know that if there are any issues with an order that they can call or email anytime during the process. Other than helping to build trust with your customers, it also helps merchants capture many of the orders that would have otherwise been lost (providing the customer actually calls if they have an issue or question).

Don’t forget that the conversion process doesn’t stop once the customer completes the conversion goal. Many times you will have to send out invoices, welcome messages or similar emails letting them know that you appreciate their business or to provide them with important information related to their purchase. Make sure you include your contact information in these places as well as on your site pages.