One of a series of white papers by Elizabeth G. Fagan dba EGF Consulting. This one was written for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
Landing Page Best Practices
The process of creating a website is frequently much more involved than what we are doing now. It can take a year or more to interview users, do usability testing, create designs, write content, development advanced features, and so on.
We are redoing this site on a shoestring, but that doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong. The card-sorting activity and new navigation have been successful (as long as users can find what they’re looking for). This short report addresses how to create landing pages for the updated Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana website, another important element to a redesigned website. The previous site lacked landing pages altogether.
The purpose of a website
Traditional retail sites have it easy. They know how to build their websites because they know what they want their websites to do. If they have a good Web marketing department, they can answer the following three questions without batting an eye:
- How can I get people to my website?
- How can I persuade them to buy my products?
- How can I deepen our relationship to get repeat business?
The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana might not be able to answer those questions quite to so easily. Let’s look at these questions a little more closely.
How do I get people to visit my website?
Google analytics figures for our site say:
- 47.33 percent direct traffic
- 37.17 percent referring sites
- 15.50 percent search engines
Marketing efforts such as improved Search Engine Optimization (ongoing), a non-profit YouTube channel, the Twitter widget, and other vehicles could be the subject of an entirely different report, generating its own efforts.
How can I persuade them to buy my products?
Here’s where the answer gets a more complex for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, because, aside from the retail store site, the main site does not sell products. What, then, does it “sell?” What is the desired action?
Four customer groups
The site has four basic customer groups, all of whom are looking for different things. Think of the call to action for each group.
- Donors. These visitors are looking for why and how to donate to the Girl Scouts. They might want to donate to something specific; they might want to know how their donations are used. Desired action: donate to worthwhile community.
- Prospects. These are probably parents who want to know how to sign their daughter up. They might want to know the specific benefits of being a Girl Scout—as well as the costs involved. Desired action: sign up, become part of community.
- Adult Volunteers. These may be the most focused of all users. They want to know specific information that relates to them without wading through other content. Desired action: Find targeted information, be part of community.
- Girls. This might be a tricky section to fill, because girls’ interests and loyalties so quickly change. Fortunately, the administration of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has many experts on girls and their interests! Desired action: Find desired information, be part of community.
How do I get them to perform the desired actions?
“Bounce rate” is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page. According to Google analytics, the bounce rate for the site is 60.74 percent. That’s high. The average number of pages viewed is 2.35 per visit. The average time on the site is one minute, 58 seconds. There’s a lot of room for improvement here, and good landing pages can help.
Landing pages are where more traditional marketing steps in. The best way to get visitors to act is to appeal to their fundamental emotional motivations. Notice I used the word “community” in all the desired actions. The role of the landing page is to create a sense of belonging, a powerful motivator—especially for a site like Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. They should contain a brief call to action.
The landing page should pick a few powerful topics from the pages below it and emphasize those. They should make emotional appeals, yet should be teasers—too many items on a Web page destroy the visitor’s ability to find key information. It paralyzes them from making a decision.
How can I deepen our relationship?
This is the role of the tertiary pages, or the pages below the landing pages. They contain the main content. They create the sense of community. They are positive and informational about the Girl Scouts. They contain the details of the calls to action.