We hear a lot of noise in the online marketing world about “landing pages”, but many photographers don’t fully understand what that really means, and I’m very often asked how to create landing pages that work.
That, in itself, can be a difficult question to answer, since the exact format of any given landing page will depend on factors such as the nature of the business concerned, the mindset of the target market, and the desired result of the page, among other things.
That said, we can still derive some basic patterns and template ideas for landing pages, as well as get a better understanding of what makes some landing pages work, while others fail.
So, let’s take a quick look into how to create landing pages that mean business for the photographer, and how you can drive visitors to those pages…
What Is A Landing Page?
First, what do we mean by the term “landing page” anyway?
The term originated in the early days of paid advertising on the Internet, and referred to the destination web page a user would land on if they clicked a link in an online ad, for example.
Smart marketers at that time understood that not all the pages on a website are created equal, and that the home page is not always the best place to send those prospects who clicked on the ads.
By creating highly-targeted web pages (landing pages), meaning the content was intended for a very specific audience, marketers could not only tailor those pages to the visitors from those ads, they could also more accurately measure traffic numbers and conversions.
But it goes way beyond paid advertising now.
Landing pages usually live outside the regular navigation path of the website, and can be used as the destination for all kinds of website traffic, not just that originating from places like Google AdWords.
As you can see, there are lots of different kinds of landing page, but we’ll focus on the most useful one for the purposes of this course, which is the lead-generation landing page.
Example Landing Page Types:
- Unique pages for referral programs or tracking affiliates…
- Personalized pages for visitors arriving from other blogs where the author published guest posts…
- Genre-specific landing pages for photographers with multiple specialties…
- Sales pages for specific products that target a narrow niche…
- Different versions of web pages that target variations on popular search keywords (for example, pages where the photographer serves different towns or cities in the same region)…
- Thank-you pages following some action on the website, such as signing up for your email list…
- Content landing pages that form the cornerstones of your website’s main topics…
- Every post on your blog is also essentially a landing page in its own right, and can serve to bring targeted visitors to the website from both the search engines and links from other related websites…
What Is A Lead-Generation Landing Page?
As its name suggests, these kinds of pages are designed to convert anonymous website visitors into real prospects and leads, with whom you can have an actual conversation, hopefully leading to a booking or a sale.
Visitors can arrive on these landing pages from a variety of sources, but the content of the page must be aimed squarely at the right prospect in order for it to be effective at turning them into a valid lead.
Why Photographers Need Landing Pages
In my experience of reviewing a large number of photographers’ websites, one of the things that really stands out as a factor for poor lead-generation is the general under-utilization of appropriate landing pages.
In fact, most of the photography websites I see on a daily basis have no landing pages whatsoever. The very same photographers then complain that no one is contacting them, and that business is suffering as a result, but they try to blame it on other factors, such as other photographers undercutting them on price etc.
Instead, what these photographers really need is a good set of targeted landing pages, optimized to connect with their ideal target market and convert them into solid leads.
This is where it can get a little cumbersome for many photographers. For example, the more genres a photographer “specializes” in, the more landing pages needed to accomplish the goal of generating quality leads. This is one of the main reasons why specializing in a single dominant niche can really benefit the photographer with regard to marketing.
How To Create Landing Pages That Generate Leads
According to the many years of marketing research conducted by such organizations as Marketing Sherpa, landing pages (in fact, almost any page on a website, especially if it’s the first one a visitor sees) must answer some very basic, but critical, questions in the mind of the visitor:
- Where am I?
- What can I do here?
- Why should I take the action the page wants me to?
The real problem is that we have only about 7 seconds in which to get those 3 questions answered in the prospect’s mind before they give up and leave.
But it doesn’t stop there…
Having answered those questions, there are other follow-up questions we also need to answer before the visitor will hand over their email address, name, or other personal information to us, such as:
- Do I know this business or is this a brand I recognize?
- Does the photographer understand me as a unique person, and my needs?
- What proof is there that I can trust the photographer or business?
- Is my information going to be safe?
No wonder so many photographers face significant challenges in this area!
How To Create Landing Pages Using A Template
Fortunately, there are ways to simplify the whole process, to at least put you on the right path to creating landing pages that convert prospects into leads.
We can do that with some kind of template, similar to this one:
As you can see, the page has been divided into sections:
- Website header
- Compressed offer details
- Sign-up form
- Supporting information
Now, I should point out that this is not a hard and fast template that you absolutely must stick to. There are many variations on this kind of landing page, and this is intended only as a guide to get you started. You’ll need to apply the details from your own intelligence you have about your audience to fine-tune it to your specific needs.
That said, let’s talk a little about the individual sections.
#1: Website Header
This is something that’s common across your whole website (or should be). Usually, the header contains your logo, a website title and tagline, and (hopefully) your contact information and address.
On most other pages of your website, it will also house the site navigation (i.e. the menu that takes people from one page to another). However, it’s often best to omit the navigation from landing pages, as a means to reduce distraction and minimize leaks of attention onto other pages.
The objective is to get the visitor focused on completing the action you want them to on this page, so removing the navigation helps accomplish that goal.
The headline should clearly state your value proposition for the landing page in as compelling a way as possible – without making the prospect have to think about what you really mean.
To clarify – the purpose of “value proposition” is to answer the two questions of “what can I do here?” and “why should I do it?”
Creating compelling and effective headlines is a real art and can take a lot of practice, as well as trial and error. However, a general rule of thumb here is to be as direct and to the point as possible, and to avoid trying to be “cute” or “clever”.
Remember, you have only about 7 seconds to answer those important questions! The less the prospect has to think about what you’re saying the better off you’ll be.
The sub-heading is essentially a tagline for the main heading – a sub-title, if you like. Its purpose is to clarify and further amplify the meaning of the main headline, and to lead the reader into absorbing the main details of the offer.
#4: Compressed Offer Details
There are people who like to scan web pages, quickly getting the overall message by reading the most obvious and visible points, such as headings, bullet points etc.
This section is aimed at those people, so try to present the details of why they should complete the lead-generation form in as efficient a manner as possible.
Bullet points work very well for this section, but keep them to the minimum needed to get your message across effectively.
#5: Sign-up Form
This is where the call to action will live and will usually consist of a sign-up form or some other means to get in touch with you. It’s customary to offer some kind of bribe, such as a special report or other valuable content, in exchange for the user’s personal information.
The call to action needs to be strong and to the point, and I would advise you to avoid using the word “submit” as the text for the form button. Instead, use something like “Get Your Free Report” or whatever it is that you promised them.
A photograph of you also goes a long way towards creating trust and forging a personal connection, so if you can include one in this section, do so, even if it’s a small one.
#6: Supporting Information
This section is for those people who like to read more, and get more details from you, before they feel comfortable taking the action you want them to.
It’s okay to elaborate on the points you made in the previous sections, but be economical with your words. Use as much copy as you need to get the points across, and no more.
One of the dangers here is to use passive language. By this I mean you should avoid phrases like “if you’re interested…” This is no time to beat around the bush – being direct and using active language that demands action is the only way to succeed at this.
However, at the same time, we also need to avoid hype and being too “salesy”. I know it can be a hard tightrope to walk, but walk it we must.
This is also a great place to include testimonials from people who’ve already completed the process, or with whom you’ve worked. Such testimonials go a long way to create trust and they can say things you could never say about yourself with any degree of credibility.