A homepage is a great place to showcase your business and how you can help your customers. It might even be a good place to include upcoming events or specials they should know about, or even some blog articles.
However, a homepage is a terrible place to send a customer you just paid for.
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Why Send Traffic to Landing Pages?
When you pay to send a customer to your website, you usually have a goal in mind (at least I hope you do). This goal could be getting them to sign up for your email list, purchase your products, or schedule an appointment. Yet, most homepages include many other elements that can and will distract these people from doing what you want them to do.
Here are some further reasons you may be wasting your money by routing traffic to your homepage:
1. There is too much distraction
Your home page is likely one of the busiest places on your website. Even if you think you have the most simplistic homepage, I bet it includes some elements you didn’t think of as distractions:
- Navigation/Footer menus – The navigation menu is the one at the top or left of your site (some even have both); while the footer is typically at the bottom. These contains links to various pages around your website, such as your contact, about, blog, and even resource pages. These menus typically serve as a great way to help your visitors navigate your website. However, when you’re paying to get this traffic to do one thing, having these extra links can be a big distraction.
- Inconsistent Messaging – The call-to-actions on your home page aren’t what you want people to do through this ad. Your home page might be focused on telling people why to trust you and getting them to subscribe to your email list. While the ad you paid for is about getting them to buy your new book.
2. Someone coming from a search engine has a specific intention for being there.
In the same token, someone coming from a social media platform is likely in a completely different mindset.
These two groups shouldn’t be cast into the wide net that is your homepage. Instead, you’ll want to send them to a unique landing page that corresponds to the search keywords they had just entered into the search box, or the ad copy that enticed them to click on your social media ad.
In the case of paid advertising, relevancy is everything. If you put up an ad that talks about one specific product, but then send this traffic to your homepage that only mentions this product in the sidebar, Google is going to give you a lower quality score. A lower quality score equates to a lower ad rank and a higher cost per click (CPC) to get users to your page. So you’ll show lower than the other more relevant ads, and/or you’ll pay more to rank highly.
That doesn’t sound fun, or profitable does it? Save yourself some headaches and create a page for that specific call to action.
3. It’s hard to test
When buying advertising to get traffic to your website, you’re going to want to optimize the page as much as possible. Testing button text, the offer, and everything in between helps to make sure you are getting the most customers at a cost per acquisition your business can manage.
Driving traffic to your home page not only means the user is going to have many distractions, but you won’t be able to test the page as much as you’ll want to in order to drive down costs. If you start testing the homepage based on what you think paid traffic is going to want – you’re then leaving out all of your other traffic and what they are looking for. Not a great idea.
Having dedicated landing pages for different user intentions is like creating a gold mine for your company. You can get as granular as you have time for and send the most qualified traffic to the offers they need to see from you in order to become your customer.
A Real-Life Example:
Let’s use the oil change example and say you head over to Google and search for “oil change.” Before we do this, think about what you’re expecting to see as a visitor.
Are you expecting to see options for oil change sales and coupons? Probably.
Are you thinking you’re going to see a site with a ton of car repair options? Probably not.
I headed over to Google and searched for “oil change near me.” The first result was from Midas, so I clicked over to their site.
At the Midas website we find a page that is extremely targeted towards the search we just completed. I searched for oil changes, this page offers me a good rate on that service, AND is showing me the locations where I can go to get that price.
While you can argue that there is more than one call-to-action on this page, the entire focus of the page is on getting an oil change. They aren’t offering you new brakes, or a tire special – they are leaving the up-sells to their sales associates once you come in for the service.
In my opinion, the footer is extremely busy and could easily distract someone from what they came to do. If I were running this campaign, I would absolutely be testing a version with and without the footer.
However, the message is extremely targeted and right to the point. They want people to get a coupon for an oil change from their closest Midas location. Simple, easy and right to the point.
Now, can you imagine if we completed the same search and were sent here?
You can find coupons for brakes, oil changes, tires, car repair, etc. That top image is also a slider that offers even more options for you to seek out. They show clips of their recent commercials, include a brief history of the company, and more. There are more distractions than necessary for someone looking to simply get a price or deal on an oil change.
I think it’s safe to say that if you want to run more efficient campaigns and get the most customers, you need to be building out a few different landing pages that help a user complete the action you want them to take.
Why a Landing Page?
A landing page gets a user to do one action or set of related actions. There is one call-to-action, and this action is extremely targeted to the visitor because it’s directly related to the reason they came to your site.
Like the Midas example above, if someone searches for “oil change coupon” – you’d better be sending them to a page that talks about your oil change special and gives them an option to download the coupon.
The concept of targeted landing pages is nowhere even close to being a new topic. Direct Marketing News wrote this seemingly “breaking news” in 2004:
We’ve known this has been a beneficial area of marketing since 2004, yet many companies seem to ignore this concept. Improving your ad campaigns and getting a better ROI can be as easy as creating a more personalized experience for your users.
Why not try it out?
Where Should I Start?
As a small business owner, it’s a good idea to start with your most visited pages, or the ones that have the highest ad costs. There are probably 1-3 ads that you can think of off the top of your head that will benefit most from this level of granularity.
Instead of sending visitors to a page that offers them ten different car repair services, group them together in a logical way and create landing pages for those services.
Take your most valuable call to action and create a specific landing page for it. Put yourself in the shoes of the user. If they are seeing an ad around a specific topic, think about what they’d want to see next and create a page focused on that.
This process is going to be unique to each individual business, but try to immerse yourself into the mind of the user and you should be on the right track.
If you’re looking to improve your current landing pages, look around AdWords for the quality scores of your most expensive keywords. If you have anything that’s a 5 or lower (10 is the best), it’s probably a good idea to take a look at the relevancy of the page you’re sending traffic to.