A recent post over at Google made an interesting claim: The ROI for improvement is much better for landing pages and forms than it is for homepages. At first this sounds controversial, but it makes sense for many reasons. While the article talks about how to improve forms and landing pages, it doesn’t really explain why they are more valuable than home pages.
Here are five reasons landing pages are more valuable than home pages:
- Landing pages & forms are real interaction points.They are the primary way that visitors enter information or communicate back to you, the web site owner. Most pages are simply one-way communication, but forms and landing pages with forms are two-way…they are the conversation. By “listening” to the conversation on these types of pages, you’ll learn a lot more than you will by trying to figure out what home page traffic is telling you.
- Landing pages are transactional, and the transactions they enable are the ones crucial to your business. This means they are the most important point in the usage lifecycle of your customers…it’s when visitors are deciding to do business with you or start the process of doing business with you. They contain the most important decision points for your customers.
- Landing pages are contextual. When designed well, landing pages address a very specific need of a very specific audience. This makes them high value…they are like the sales closer. They come in after someone has shown interest and are the most powerful way you can close the deal. They might have a lot less traffic than the homepage, but that traffic is much more important.
- Home pages are a catch-all. They act to triage all incoming traffic. They have to handle first-time visitors, returning visitors, the press, friends and family, investors, people who want to sign into your web app, everyone who has any reason at all to visit. Therefore, the messages on homepages are necessarily weakened and can’t speak as strongly to any specific user group…they have to handle everything. They serve a completely different purpose than more focused pages like landing pages or forms.
- Homepages are notoriously political. Everyone wants a piece of the homepage. The thinking is that because the homepage is the single page with the most traffic, it must be the most important page on the site. But that’s simply not true…the mere fact that it’s the root URL on your domain means that it will inevitably get more traffic. In the end the politics almost always serve to distract…by spending so much time on the homepage design teams often overlook the value of their other, more important pages.
As site visitors we don’t often see landing pages unless we come via a specific pathway, such as clicking on an ad on Google Search or Facebook or some other ad provider. This serves to diminish landing pages in our mind…because we don’t see them as often as the venerable homepage. But there are real reasons why it makes sense to focus much of our design efforts on landing pages and forms…while leaving the homepage for the birds.