1. Onboarding. Your landing page is the start of your onboarding process. Sure, you’re going to spend loads of time and attention on your UX. You want your log-in process to flow like butter. If you’re really smart, like Instagram was, you want your log-in process to subtly teach you how to use the app. Now let’s jump back even before that, to your potential user’s very first encounter with you. Probably a landing page. You want that page to create an experience that will be reflected all the way down the line.
2. Promises Kept. Your landing page is the proving ground for the promise you make to users. In Lean Startup, the good teachers will tell you that your app or idea has be a solution to a problem worth solving. The best teachers will tell that your solution is a promise to your users. What does your landing page promise that you can actually deliver upon? Thinking of it like that is an automatic hype-removal filter. You are building trust among people who don’t know you. You want to lie to them? No. You make a promise you can keep.
3. Culture Deployment. Your landing page is the leading edge of your company culture. Any product, idea or app gains widespread adoption for just one reason. Its users resonate with its culture. There are lots of coffee bars – only one Starbucks. There were a few semi-popular short messaging systems – Twitter is the one we use. There are lots of community boards, but Facebook dominates. When brands become commodities bought and sold for a price, culture doesn’t matter much. GoDaddy has crappy company values, but it’s cheap, so everybody uses it. When you are a commodity, somebody else can always come along and do it cheaper. When you are in a battle for your potential customer’s attention, they first must connect with your culture. Starbucks brought us the euro-coffee bar experience when it was rare in the US. Though the coffee wasn’t the cheapest, it got traction. Look at the landing page for Square – it’s an elegant expression of that company’s culture. Culture deployment on landing pages will win you the traction you need.
4. Loyalty. Landing pages take names. Yep, I’m talking about mailing lists. If you write a clear call to action and get signups, you’re going to get a loyal audience to listen to your message.
5. Targets. Landing pages are your targets for AdWords, Facebook and Twitter ad campaigns. You need to aim those ads somewhere, getting people out of the endless cocktail conversation of Facebook, off the teletype stream of info that is Twitter, moved away from endless searches on Google. You need to aim them to a page with a single idea, a strong image, an emotion that creates an action.
6. Data. Landing pages are generous in the information they provide. Whether you are tracking them through bitly, or in Analytics, or through Google’s URL builder, or some proprietary method from HootSuite or Unbounce, you can quickly see what messages resonate, which audiences like them, and how to step forward.
Build a lot of landing pages for your startup and test as many variations as you can. You’ll see results in as little as a week, and then you can start dialing in your message.