If you’ve read our blog in the past, you’ll know that we love to talk strategy and best practices. Today you’re in luck! We’re going to do both.

When it comes to online advertising, landing pages are one of the most critical components of an effective online advertising strategy. The technical definition of a landing page is “the webpage where customers end up after clicking on your ad.” 

In our experience, the assumption is often made that any page on a website can serve as a landing page. However, we know that this is not the case.

In the world of higher education marketing, a landing page can be the first interaction a prospective student has with your institution. The experience they have on a landing page can make or break your chance at any future engagement with this student. If your landing page provides relevant and compelling content through a user-friendly design with a high-value offer, chances are the student will continue researching and possibly add your institution to his or her considered set. If your landing page is dull, cumbersome or difficult to navigate, then you’ve likely just made yourself a back-up school at best.

Strategy

When creating your landing page, always always start with strategy.

  • Set a goal. Why does your landing page exist? Do you want to create brand awareness, generate leads or align your efforts with another business goal at your institution? It’s important to set a clear goal in order to determine the success of your landing page.
  • Demonstrate value with the right offer. A great offer is the key to generating leads. Prospective students won’t give out their contact information without getting something in return. To select the most engaging offer, consider your audience and how or why they came to visit your landing page in the first place. If your offer addresses a relevant need, you’re on the right track.

There are many considerations that go into creating a successful landing page. You’ll need to develop the right content for your page, incorporate a design that is attractive and helps to guide users to the end goal, and use the right technology to help track your results and engagement. Below are a few tips to help you improve your landing pages and get the most out of your online marketing efforts. (This is where the best practices come in.)

Content

  • Consider the user’s perspective. Use the content on your landing page to answer questions that your users will have. For example, prospective MBA students are often looking for information about how to pay for their education and the ROI of their degree. Also, be sure that your content aligns with the search terms that users may have entered to get to your page.
  • Keep it short and simple. The more content you put on a page, the less likely the user will be to read all of it. It’s important to include the most relevant and helpful information possible and leave out the rest. Use bullets as opposed to long blocks of text.
  • Make your intentions clear. If the goal of your landing page is for prospective students to fill out a form and download your viewbook, tell them! Let them know what their next steps should be.

Design

  • Make your brand obvious. If a user accesses a landing page they don’t recognize, they are much more likely to immediately navigate away. For many prospective students who are still in the research phase, your logo and/or colors may be the only thing on the page that they recognize. 
  • Have a great user experience. The design of your landing page should be attractive, but should also clearly direct users to the next step. If the form on your landing page is complex or hidden, it’s difficult for a user to convert. A clean and simple design is usually the way to go to keep it clear and easy for users.
  • Be consistent. The design of your ad, email or any other method of sending users to your landing page, should be consistent with the design of your landing page. This adds to your credibility and improves user experience.

Technology

  • Create the perfect form. Your form should be clearly visible, easy to understand and should ask for minimal information. Users aren’t ready to give you their SSN on a first touch. A simple name and email is all you really need.
  • Always include a “Thank You” page.  The Thank You page is essential. This is the page where users are sent after they’ve completed the form or other conversion. We could go on and on about Thank You page best practices, but that’s a blog for another day. For now, check out some HubSpot tips for a great landing page.
  • Test. Test. Test. The only way to improve your landing page is to see what works and what doesn’t. We suggest creating multiple versions of your landing page with slight differences in content or design to see what performs well with your audience. It’s important to only alter one variable to get true results from your testing.
  • Add share links. If your visitor had a great experience on your landing page, why not let them tell their friends? Make it easy for users to share your information by adding social media links to your page.

With a strategically crafted landing page, you will be well equipped to promote your institution and generate new leads. But don’t get too excited just yet, your work isn’t done. The next step is to ensure that your page is producing results. This is necessary to prove the value of your page and to determine if your goals are being met. Stay tuned for more information on tracking and using analytics to measure the success of your landing page. If you have specific questions about landing page strategy, design and content, feel free to contact us. As always, we love to hear about your experiences in the field.