Landing pages. Maybe you have heard of them before, maybe you haven’t. Maybe you know all about them, maybe you don’t. Landing pages are not new, and we have all been sent to one, whether we knew it or not.
Maybe you’re just now considering creating a landing page for your church, or maybe you’re a website designer who’s looking to take your site to a new level. In this first of a series of posts, I’ll help you navigate the basics of landing pages and learn how they can be used for specific opportunities and events for your church.
What Is a Landing Page?
Simply defined, a landing page is the section of a website accessed by clicking a hyperlink on another web page, typically the website’s home page.
I personally think there are so many more important details to landing pages and the intent behind using them. I would like to explore those here.
In online marketing, landing pages are what appears when someone clicks on a search-engine-optimized search result, marketing promotion, marketing email, or online advertisement. It usually displays directed sales copy related to that optimized search topic. The advertiser is trying to win clients and make sales, and that end goal is determined by what actions visitors take on the advertiser’s landing page.
Landing pages are often linked to social media, email campaigns, or search-engine marketing campaigns. This enhances the effectiveness of online advertising, converting site visitors into sales or leads. This effectiveness is further enhanced when the landing page includes a way for online visitors to contact the company, usually via a phone number or an inquiry form.
Still confused? Here’s an example you have probably had with a landing page. You receive an email to your favorite store that says, “EXCLUSIVE 50% OFF MEMBERS ONLY SALE!” (but in fine print, it says, “Select items only”). You click on the link and—ta-da!—you are on a page that lists only those products that are on sale. WONDERFUL! Right? Because it’s a members only sale, you are able to scroll around without trying to sort through all the products or being disappointed that it took you to the home page with no sign of the sale. This is the finest use of a landing page!
You are probably realizing now that the retail industry has landing pages down pat. So why can’t we take what these large corporations have figured out and apply it to the work we do in the nonprofit sector?
As a past communications director at a church who is now directing communications at a trade association, I have realized that there is A LOT of information that we push out to our various target audiences (members, nonmembers, visitors, etc.). And at least 95 percent of the time, that information contains a request for some sort of action (“click here,” “sign up today,” “join the event,” etc.). So how can we break through the noise and make sure our audience takes the action requested? I know that is a loaded question with several answers. But, for the sake of this blog post, we are going to focus on landing pages.
Before we go deeper, I want to be clear on the difference between a landing page and an inside page on a website. A landing page is something that is created for a very specific campaign and, although it can be hosted on your website, many times it has a different look that correlates with the specific campaign or program. A landing page is also not meant for general use on the website. It is a VERY targeted page that has no distractions. A general inside page of your website is a page that allows for more detailed content and is formatted to look more like a part of the website. Many times, inside pages have links to other inside pages on the website to read more information.
Now that you can see the importance of a landing page, let’s start designing one!
Wait—what? you’re thinking. Designing a landing page seems a little intimidating—and just one more thing to take up your valuable time.
Hold on, hold on, pump the brakes. Before you feel like I am adding more to your to-do list let’s talk about why landing pages are important for every organization.
Why Landing Pages?
In an age where the average office worker receives 121 emails a day and the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds, we have to find ways to give our targeted audiences the information they want AND keep their attention long enough for them to realize it benefits them so they will take action. A landing page is the tool that can help us do just that!
When you take time to help your audience through a targeted message with no distractions, you are going to have happy visitors and a higher conversion rate. Yes, people LOVE their church. Yes, they want to stay in the loop. But I’ll let you in on a secret: people (including me sometimes) can be lazy when it comes to finding information, even if it is for their church, a place they love. Landing pages allow you to make distracted people focus, which in the long run benefits the visitor and hopefully achieves your end goal too!
We aren’t selling anything, and one ministry or church even is not more important than the other, but we have to help our audience focus. They want it! I promise! The age of “Let’s throw everything out there and see what sticks” doesn’t work anymore. (Did it ever work?) People—members, visitors, nonmembers, your community—want to know what is most important about your organization. Visitors want to know how and where to plug in without first having to search. They want your help!
A well-built landing page allows you to deliver the exact message individuals are asking for, which increases your credibility while giving you control to achieve goals and capture information that can be used for future decisions.
I am assigning a little homework: go open those promotional emails from your favorite store, then click the link and see what the landing page looks like. Ask yourself, Is it effective? Then think about how you could use landing pages in your organization. Jot down your ideas and keep them handy for my next post, when I will be walking through how to make a landing page and how to use it to achieve your goals!
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