Landing page basics
Most ecommerce websites have many pages: the homepage, an “About” page, individual product pages, product category pages, etc.
Although the homepage is often thought of as the first page your visitor sees, in practice, this isn’t usually what happens. The prevalence of search engines means that any page could potentially be a visitor’s first experience with your site.
Whenever a visitor reaches your ecommerce website, they expect to find content that will keep them interested. Getting them to buy a product from you requires that your website create sufficient motivation and credibility for them to feel safe enough to buy—and helping visitors feel safe means much more than simply convincing them that it’s not risky to leave their personal data with you.
This means that all of the information a prospect needs to make a split-second “Do I trust this?” decision should be visible on the very first page they visit, whatever page that may be.
The idea that a prospect could reach any page on a website directly gave rise to the notion of a landing page, which is simply the page a prospect sees (or “lands on”) first.
Prospects can reach landing pages in multiple ways—via organic search, social media posts, paid campaigns, emails, you name it. Although all pages on a website are landing pages by strict definition, the most important are landing pages designed to receive traffic from paid search or PPC campaigns.
Why are PPC landing pages so important? Well, because you’re paying for ad spend! So that traffic isn’t free. As with most investments, store owners expect a positive return on their paid ad campaigns, both in revenue and number of customers.
With this in mind, let’s talk about ecommerce landing pages in the context of conversion rate optimization (CRO) for PPC or paid search campaigns. In fact, the ruling maxim, postulated by a number of leaders in the field, is that every PPC campaign should have its own dedicated landing page.
What’s the difference between a SaaS landing page & an ecommerce landing page?
Many of the articles about landing pages you’ll find explain software-as-a-service (SaaS) landing pages.
These landing pages are tailor-made to promote a single product or offer. This singular focus simplifies things in terms of what content the page needs to include to convert customers. Plus, a single-product landing page (even with customizable options) can be much easier to promote using PPC.
This Wistia landing page focuses on one thing: “selling” a free trial of the product
An ecommerce website, on the other hand, likely has multiple products (or even hundreds or thousands)... which means that to sell products in this way, it would need to create an equal number of dedicated single-product landing pages and corresponding marketing campaigns to bring prospects to every product.
This is the reason most ecommerce sites elect to use their existing product pages as landing pages.
From a search perspective, product pages make the most readily usable landing pages.
Most prospects, when they search for something to buy online, will use a product name as their starting search point. In fact, according to one study, 60% of potential buyers will start by searching for a product on a search engine.
So if your product page is set up correctly, its content—especially the page headline or product description—is likely to appear in relevant search engine results.
Good things to know before you start paying for traffic
Directing prospects directly to a page for a product they might want means you’re setting up motivated prospects with relevant content. It’s a recipe for high conversion.
The only remaining concern is to ensure that your offer is clear, credible, and as friction-free as possible. Friction is one of the main impediments to customer conversion. Friction manifests in your prospects’ reluctance to complete steps in the conversion process. It can be the result of various issues from purely technical problems to ease of use or inadequate content on the page.
Your goal is to make it simple and painless to buy from you instead of a competitor—remember, 61% of buyers will research products online by reading or watching reviews. And about the same proportion will check three different sites for the same product before they buy.
This is where your site can stand out by showing that the purchase process is simple, clear, and safe. A huge proportion of potential customers (69%) will drop out if they find the buying process too complicated. And over half will leave if they have doubts about their payment security.
Shipping cost and speed also have an effect on ecommerce sales. The study above showed that 6 out of 10 online shoppers will abandon their cart if there is no free shipping, and 51% will leave if shipping isn’t fast enough.
Have you addressed all of these concerns? Great. Now let’s look at the basic elements of an ecommerce product page that functions effectively as a landing page.
6 elements of an effective ecommerce product page
1. A headline that matches the user’s query and differentiates the product
The headline is a critical element of your product page, as it’s one of the most visible. On product pages, the headline is often the name of the product itself. Match the product page headline copy as closely as possible to the way prospects will search for your product.
“Without a good headline, no one reads your copy. And if no one reads your copy, no one clicks your call to action.
That’s why the headline is the most important element on the page. David Ogilvy, the great mad man, found that of everyone who reads a headline, only 20% read the copy.”
When you’re launching a campaign, especially a PPC campaign, tie your ad headline to a product page headline.
In addition, to make sure your product differentiates itself from others online, your headline should immediately transmit the product’s unique value proposition to visitors.
2. Compelling, informative product description copy
Your product landing page copy should, at a minimum:
- Describe the product: its construction, materials, overall look and size
- Point out the ways it can be used
- Explain its advantages and benefits: AKA the ways it solves the customer’s problem and makes their life easier
“After grabbing your next customer’s attention with the headline, use a unique value proposition to help your offer stand out from the competition. What makes you better than the other advertisers you’re displayed with? Why should I buy your product or use your service over the competition?”
Along with helping sell your product, a well-written product description can be used as a base for your PPC campaigns. Using parts of your product copy in your ads can make it easier for customers to find the product, and encourage them to click on the ad.
3. High-resolution, professional product imagery
Of course, to have a credible product page, you’ll need product images. These images must accurately represent your product; they need to be high-quality photos, ideally taken by a professional.
Product images should dispel distrust and create desire to own the product. To do this, you’ll need to convince the customer that the product is real, allow them to examine it in detail, and make it clear that your site will be ready to deliver upon payment.
It also helps customers to imagine products in context, so try to feature the product in situations resembling its actual use (for example, show people wearing the clothes, or shoot photos of your laundry stain-removing product next to a washer and dryer).
“Humans process imagery much faster than we do text, so naturally we’re drawn to visuals. But there’s more to having an aesthetically pleasing website than a nice color scheme and a great typeface. Believe it or not, product images have the power to make or break a sale.”
4. Clear, convincing shipping and inventory information
As we’ve seen, shipping policies have a major impact on a prospect’s decision to buy. Fast delivery and free shipping go a long way toward convincing customers to buy.
So if your store offers these benefits, your product pages should make them clear immediately—especially if you’re sending traffic to the page from a PPC campaign.
If you can’t offer free shipping on every item, try offering it for certain order minimums or on multiple-item purchases.
You can also point out products’ limited availability by showing the number available in stock (if inventory is actually low). This creates a sense of scarcity in the prospect, which can help push them toward buying before their chance is gone.
5. Trustworthy payment policies and security indicators
A majority of prospects are turned off if they perceive that an ecommerce store’s payment options or the site itself are not secure enough. In order to overcome this obstacle, offer as many different payment methods as possible.
Try to offer at least one third-party payment system, such as PayPal, where the customer doesn’t have to reveal their data to your store. According to Comscore, PayPal sees a much better conversion rate than other billing methods.
Offering guest checkouts also makes customers more likely to trust the payment process.
As always, the message that customers can purchase using a guest account and third-party payment should be noticeable on the product page.
6. Reviews and social proof
While all of the above elements are important, this last one is absolutely critical.
Remember the study above, which saw that 61% of prospects search for reviews online? You can and should shorten the prospect’s journey by offering these reviews on the product page itself. Include reviews from real customers, both good and bad, or link to trusted reviewers elsewhere.
Including reviews, social proof and other trust symbols is the best way to convey the usefulness of your product to prospects. If their peer group provides them with proof of how useful a product is, they will be much more likely to buy.
How to match a PPC campaign to an individual product page
When you’re starting a PPC campaign tied to a product page, follow these basic principles.
Match your message
When you create an ad campaign that sends users to a product page, be sure that your ad content (both copy and design) is consistent with the product page, and vice versa. This principle is called relevance or message match, and it reassures customers that they’ve found what they’re looking for. It can also raise your Quality Score.
Let’s look at an example. I searched for “Canon EOS Rebel T6i” and was served PPC ads by QVC and Best Buy.
QVC sells Canon digital cameras, and they’re featured in the ad headline here. Yet in their PPC ad body copy, they show a generic message and link to all sorts of other products—instead of matching that body copy to the particular product.
This is an example of poor relevance/bad message-match in a PPC ad
Best Buy, on the other hand, runs a competing ad that looks like this:
This ad shows important information on the camera
While both ads succeed in matching the particular product name in the headline, Best Buy’s ad is better, since it also shows the product name in the ad body copy, and includes links that lead visitors directly to those specific product pages.
Exhaustive keyword coverage
You should attempt to cover as many relevant search keywords as possible with your PPC campaign. More keywords create more opportunities for people to find your products. Do extensive keyword research on what words and phrases qualified prospects would use to search for your product, and use those keywords for your PPC.
You can expand your PPC keyword coverage by adding variations on existing keywords, and removing those that are less popular or downright irrelevant. The keywords should be present within the product description copy, both for Quality Score reasons and to reinforce the message from the PPC ad.
For more tips on keyword research for PPC, check out:
- The Big, Easy Guide to Keyword Research for Businesses
- 5 Tips for Dominating Your E-Commerce Keyword Research
- Finding The High Converting PPC Keywords That Are Right Under Your Nose
How to turn product category pages into successful landing pages
Product pages make for rather obvious landing pages for ecommerce. But they have a terrible flaw. They put individual products in silos, making it hard for visitors to browse other products that might work better for their needs. According to Demac Media, “The problem with product specific pages is it segments one product from a whole line of products.”
However, there is another type of potential landing page that you shouldn’t ignore: your product category pages.
Product category pages are an indispensable element of any ecommerce store that offers many different products.
These pages allow potential customers to quickly access and compare different products. They’re also much more likely to appear in search engine results when a prospect types in a more general product search term.
Category pages as landing pages have an additional benefit. Because they contain multiple products within that prospect’s original search query, a higher percentage of prospects may find the right product for them, and convert.
In addition, a category page can show shipping options, discounts, and similar trust indicators. In the absence of the kind of direct social proof (like reviews) that you’ll display on individual product pages, you can use indicators inside product thumbnails or a similar display of social proof on a category page.
For example, you might show use starred or numerical ratings near each product, such as here:
How to match your PPC campaign to your product category page
The basic principles of PPC ad content that apply to individual product pages also apply to category pages.
However, instead of matching specific keywords (and thus linking to a specific product), your PPC campaign for a product category page should match keywords for a broad, yet still relevant line of products. For example, you could link to a category page from a PPC ad when the user searches for “DSLR cameras” instead of a specific brand name or model of camera.
And don’t forget to mention any applicable discounts or offers on the category page, especially if they apply to the entire category.
Treat every page like a landing page
Using PPC campaigns to get visitors to your ecommerce store makes sense if you bring visitors to a page where they can take action. In most cases, it’s not your homepage.
Including just one call to action on your individual product page leaves your prospects little choice but to buy (or not).
Now, chances are that you might lose a number of customers who research on their mobile devices, but who plan to purchase at home using their desktop devices. To avoid this potential loss, consider adding an “Add to Wish List” call to action button on your product pages instead of one single “Buy” or “Add to Cart” button. To avoid having users to register, you can allow them to sign in using a popular social media login like Facebook or Twitter. Also, invite users to subscribe to your email list.
If you’ve read articles focusing on SaaS landing page creation, you’ve probably heard “limit navigation options” or links on your landing page. This is not a viable option for ecommerce stores. Although restricting navigation can help remove potential distractions, your visitors may want to see other products and parts of your website. Sometimes, the product or category page just isn’t enough!
A simple rule of thumb for ecommerce store owners: Treat every product page and category page as a landing page using the guidance above, and you’ll avoid some very costly mistakes.
About the Author
Edin Šabanović is a senior CRO consultant working for Objeqt. He helps e-commerce stores improve their conversion rates through analytics, scientific research, and A/B testing. Edin is passionate about analytics and conversion rate optimization, but for fun, he likes reading history books.