Landing pages are created to get a specific audience to take a specific action. In the world of B2B service companies, the primary desired action is to generate leads through their website. Often this lead generation is due to a 'soft conversion', meaning the visitor has signed up for something that adds them to the company's 'sales funnel', but not necessarily making the 'final purchase' right then-and-there. Once in that sales funnel, a sales team can pursue that customer as an opportunity through a multi-step sales process eventually resulting in a 'hard conversion' or sale. In the world of e-commerce, there is no multi-step, managed sales process, but rather the focus of getting a customer to make a direct purchase through the website. The challenge is that customers rarely arrive on a website and make a purchase on the first page they visit. Part of their buying process is exploring the website, vetting the company and then arriving at a purchasing decision. Due to this behavior, we consider e-commerce landing pages as the first step, rather than the final, in the customer's buying process that should be personalized to increase the likelihood of a sale. In this article, we'll look at a few fundamental Shopify landing page strategies and a variety of methods for building those landing pages.
Customer Acquisition Channels and Shopify Landing Pages
Recall that Shopify landing pages are intended to get a specific audience to take a specific action. We know that the specific action is *eventually* getting them to make a purchase by first creating a great initial experience with the website. Therefore, our focus should be in understanding our specific audience to create as personalized of an experience as possible. The easiest way for us to do this is to look at the source by which we're acquiring these visitors. Aside from direct traffic and referral traffic from other websites, the four major acquisition channels include:
Each of these channels allows us to infer a significant amount of information about our customers. Specifically, we're trying to understand the following:
- Segmentation: Who is coming to your website?
- Intention: Why are they coming to your website?
- Expectation: What are they going to see coming to your website?
Let's look at how these three elements play out in each channel:
Email allows you to create highly segmented audiences by grouping customers based on different attributes before sending out an email campaign. For example, you could just group VIP customers and send a targeted email to that segment specifically. By having total control over the message they see, you can make your 'offer' clear, therefore addressing both the intention and expectation of that audience. If your email describes a discount offer for repeat purchases, the customers clicking through the email are demonstrating some level of intention or interest in that offer. You've also set the right expectation that wherever they're driven (i.e. your landing page), they're likely going to see more messaging related to that offer.
Social content (not paid social ads) unfortunately provides very little means of segmenting your audience. Anyone who comes across your content has the potential to click-through and land on your website. In addition, you can't control the message that other users are broadcasting about your brand. The first message that you can control would be any social-specific link in your profile that could drive the user to a landing page generally targeted towards that channel. The challenge here is that you don't have any sense for the user's intention and can really only set an expectation that the landing page has something to do with the respective channel. This might work if you want to offer a channel-specific promotion, but not much else. They only other opportunity in social is controlling the individual posts you promote. We're fans of thinking through the concept of 'campaigns' and using social media as a way to promote these campaigns to your audience. In this instance, you can provide some context around the campaign, in the form of your tweet/post, and control the destination link. This helps somewhat with understanding intention and setting expectation, so long as you can squeeze that into 140 characters!
Depending on the channel you're using, paid acquisition sources such as Facebook or Google AdWords, gives you very granular control over the audience you're targeting. This means you can often dictate down to any demographic detail of what type of user should see, and hopefully click, your ad. You also have a high-level of control over both intention and expectation through the design and copy of your ads. The more specific you can make your messaging, the better you can gauge intention (those who click a specific message) and expectation (the corresponding message they'll then see).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Unfortunately you won't have much control over audience segmentation when it comes to SEO. Anyone searching for your related content has the potential of stumbling across your website, whether they want to or not. The good news, however, is that you can often infer a high-level of intention given that the user is typing out exactly what they want. The more closely related your landing page is to their search term, the higher likelihood that they'll find the result relevant. Although you might have a strong sense for intention, expectation setting can be a bit difficult depending on whether the customer realizes the type of website they'll be visiting based on the search result. Unless they're familiar with your brand or can recognize based on the search result URL or schema data, they might not know that they'll be directed to an e-commerce website.
Shopify Landing Page Strategies
Now that we understand the differences between acquisition channels with your Shopify Landing Pages, we'll next want to think of specific strategies or themes for the landing pages we setup. Depending on how creative you want to get, there are unlimited themes you could employ in your Shopify landing pages. For this article, we'd like to suggest one for each of the major acquisition channels:
Bundling Strategy for Email Acquisition
One popular up-selling technique used by companies like Amazon is to offer Product Bundles. These bundles are simply a group of products that 'make sense' being purchased together. For example, buying a new laptop that comes with a cover and wireless mouse. Sometimes incentives can be introduced such as a lower overall price or free shipping when products are purchased as the entire bundle. You could employ this same technique by creating a landing page featuring your own unique bundle of products and using email as a way to promote this specific offer.
Merchandising Strategy for Social Media Acquisition
We've written in the past about e-commerce merchandising strategies and how they can be used to drive sales. The core premise is to create curated groups of products based on a specific themes and then develop a 'narrative' around that theme. Those themes could stem from any source including pop-culture trends, designer selections or seasonality such as the Fall Transitions theme employed by Need Supply in the above example. Once you've established your theme and crafted a landing page around that narrative, social media platforms such as Instagram can serve as a fantastic channel to promote campaigns of that theme.
Location-Specific Strategy for Paid Acquisition
Facebook and other online paid advertising channels give you the ability to very granularly segment your customers. One concept is to segment customers by location and drive them to location-specific products landing page. Companies such as The Home T, specifically sell products geared to different states in the country, making them a great candidate for creating Location-specific Shopify landing pages and using a paid advertising channel to drive customers from that location directly there.
Education Strategy for Search Acquisition
Search Engine Optimization is largely dominated by strong and unique content. This channel is well-suited for creating related educational content around a specific product category with the aims of ranking of whatever term that content is addressing. Companies such as REI do a great job in creating this type of content while still promoting products and the customer buying experience directly in their landing pages.
Shopify Landing Page Methods
Once we've figured out what channel we'll be using to drive customers to the website and what strategy we'll use for building the corresponding landing page, it's time to actually setup that landing page. When it comes to creating Shopify landing pages, there are actually a few different techniques you can use that don't require crazy amounts of custom coding:
Shopify Landing Pages with Collections
The most straight-forward option for creating Shopify landing pages would be to simply use the 'Collections' feature as a way to group relevant products and provide some text/media to personalize the landing page. All Shopify themes support the use of Collections and most include the 'Featured Image' and 'Description' directly on the template so they'll display alongside any products belonging to that collection. This could be a simple way to create a location-specific group of products. Unfortunately you'd be fairly limited to modifying any design/feature elements to the page unless you were comfortable editing Shopify's Collection template.
Shopify Landing Pages with Apps
As a minor extension to using default Collections, you could look to using a landing page management tool that integrates directly with Shopify. At the time of this article, the only option available is Landed. This app allows you to setup search engine optimized 'micro-sites' for different collections of products. It supports custom domain names and has a number of layout/styling options available to the admin without having to get into the code. This could give you a bit more power to setting up custom Shopify landing pages while still using all of Shopify's default product management features.
Shopify Landing Pages with Buy Button
Earlier in 2015, Shopify introduced a feature they call the Buy Button that allows you to embed a product, cart or buy link directly into any third-party website. This means you can design and develop any landing page, using any tool while still being able to manage products and the purchasing process directly through Shopify. Although the button can be embedded in any third-party website, Shopify specifically provides instructions for Squarespace, Tumblr, Wix and WordPress. We're big fans of the landing page management software Unbounce, which provides a number of features including AdWords integration, A/B testing and easy layout building tools. Unbounce, like most other platforms, supports the buy button embed and is a great option to consider.
We're strong believers that your homepage should focus on telling a narrative around your brand. One that educates your customers and pulls them into their respective buying process. However, your homepage is often just a 'launching off point'. In fact, after analyzing a number of our clients' websites, we found that only 50% of traffic had the homepage as the initial entry point to the website. This means that another 50% of their visitors are first experiencing the website through entirely different types of content. When thinking about how to improve your customer's buying experience, consider targeted Shopify landing pages as another tool for the toolkit.