If you click on various AdWords ads, you’ll see that most marketers are sending their prospects straight to their website’s homepage. This is a big mistake that’s causing these folks to lose leads. Why? Here are six reasons.

1. You don’t have the luxury of the “referral pre-sell”.

When people arrive at your website via a referral from a friend or colleague, they’re coming with a decent amount of information already. They know what their referrers like about you, that you’re capable of delivering what you promise, and at least a few of the benefits you can provide. They’re kind of pre-sold, ready to consider making a purchase. Your AdWords prospects don’t arrive with any of that information. The page these visitors land on has a LOT of work to do, and they may not take the time to browse through your site to find the information they need.

2. You can tailor each landing page to each prospect’s stage of awareness.

If someone has arrived at your landing page from a search for “Ireland vacation destinations”, they’re not ready to book a room at your B&B. You’ll want to offer them information on what all there is to do in your area — you need to first convince this person that your location is the place to visit. If someone searches “accommodations in Doolin”, they’ve already decided to visit your area. With this person, you need to showcase what they’ll get if they experience your B&B. If someone searches the name of your B&B, they might be ready to book, so you need to make it easy for them to do so — you don’t want to waste space telling them what they likely already know about your town.

3. Your headline needs to match the headline in your ad.

With a landing page, you can customize the headline to match your AdWords ad headline. Prospects presumably clicked on your ad because the headline caught their interest — you’ve communicated what you can do for them effectively. Now that they’ve clicked, they’re going to want assurance that they’re in the right place to receive more information about how to get those benefits. A matching headline accomplishes that nicely.

4. Your headline and subhead should directly address what you’re offering in the ad.

Your homepage centers around your brand’s UVP (unique value proposition). And it should. But you need to get more focused with your landing page — specifically, you need to address the UVP of your offer. If you’re promoting a book, tell them how their lives will benefit with what they’ll learn inside it. If you’re selling tickets to an event, tell them what they’ll gain by coming.

5. You can customize your testimonials to your offer.

If you direct people to your homepage, you’re hoping they’ll make their way over to your testimonials. But because social proof is so important to conversions, you shouldn’t leave that to chance. You can include the most relevant testimonials right in your landing page, at the places where they’re most effective. If you have a great testimonials explaining how easy your installation process is, put it where you would have otherwise placed copy telling visitors “We have an convenient installation process.” It’s much more believable coming from a customer than it is from your own mouth. You can also include other forms of social proof, such as embedded tweets, Facebook likes, short case studies, and data about users.

6. You can capture and keep prospects’ attention more effectively.

On your homepage, there are lots of distractions. E-newsletter signup boxes, search bars, social buttons, links to your blog and about page, etc. If you want your landing page visitors to take a specific action, you need to direct their attention ONLY to that action. If they end up reading your blog posts and not submitting their contact information, you’ve lost your opportunity. You want to get their contact info and THEN share links to your blog posts, etc. With a landing page, you can take out all the extraneous information and links, making sure they’re focused on clicking your CTA.

Landing pages give you the ability to customize your user experience directly to each person clicking your ads. When you get specific about how you’re communicating your offers, you’ll find that more people understand your messages, and respond. Clear communication of specific benefits – distractions = higher conversion rates!

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