A landing page is different from a regular web page because its content has been chosen with a specific conversion in mind. So the role of the landing page is to both echo and amplify the message that drew the visitor to the page in the first place.
This decreases the likelihood that the visitor will bounce out of the site and increases the chances that they will convert (e.g., buy what you're selling or commit to whatever act you're looking to monetize, such as signing up for a subscription, requesting a quote, or booking).
If you're running an online clothing store and launch a targeted e-mail campaign that offers $10 off every $60 that a returning customer spends on shirts, you definitely want the e-mail recipient to see that offer when they click through to your site. If they don't see it they are likely to bounce out of the site right away, possibly harboring a little bit of bait-and-switch suspicion, potentially reducing the probability that they will click through from future e-mails.
Not that everyone has managed to implement this marketing best practice -- big name retailers still send e-mails that contain offers which land you on a page that doesn't mention the offer. But everyone agrees that landing pages are worth the effort.
And not just for e-mail. Landing pages increase conversion whether you're driving traffic to them through paid or organic search, display ads, or affiliates.
But what do you do when someone goes beyond the landing page? There will always be some visitors who want to click around your site once they get there.
These visitors stray from the landing page, which means they can't see the messaging you carefully placed on that page to encourage conversion. What you need is an easy way for the wandering user to get back to the landing page, a constant reminder of what attracted them to the site in the first place.
That's the essence of what Brett Bair, a clever colleague of mine at Monetate, has dubbed the "landing page anchor," a quick-and-easy way to keep the conversion-friendly message top-of-mind and lead the visitor back to the landing page. This doesn't need to be a complex operation.
In practice, the landing page anchor need be nothing more than a targeted banner that follows visitors around as they browse through the site. Visitors are transported back to their original landing page any time they click the banner.
Testing shows that a landing page anchor improves conversion when measured against a control group that doesn't see the banner. It also enhances the user experience. For example, shoppers don't have to go back to their e-mail to see what exactly the offer was that brought them to your site in the first place.
Sure, a landing page anchor takes some extra effort, but unless you're the sole source of an insanely popular product, you can no longer afford just to dump visitors on your site and leave them to fend for themselves. They will soon click out of there for a more immediately gratifying site experience. These days, conversion optimization mandates a landing page, and a landing page anchor is highly recommended.
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