I'm going to provide this to you straight. If you are directing your hard working PPC, Facebook, Twitter or banner ad traffic to your own homepage…

There is a better way.

Conversion happens on landing pages.

Why?

Your homepage is a hub. It's a jump off point to the rest of your site's content. It's where you need visitors to end up.

Allow me to show you what this really looks like.

Picture this:

You've decided to go on holiday.

Your travel agent, who moonlights as an Uber driver, picks up you up and you're away.

But rather than taking you to a resort, he drops you off in the airport.

See where I'm going with this?

You're the prospect along with your travel agent/Uber driver is the ad.

You had an notion of what you wanted and where you wanted to go. But instead of him there — you are left in a crowded terminal with just one question:

What now?

It's true that you might meander about for a bit. You might even stumble upon a trip to a coastal city.

But, odds are, you'll find somebody else that will actually send you somewhere. Someone who will place you on the road to a beautiful and exotic territory–ing page.

It is About Awareness, Intent, and Direction
Every visitor who clicks on an ad, comes to your website or purchases from you, is at a certain stage of problem consciousness.

Here's a short a rundown on the five phases:

Unaware — The initial stage The prospect doesn't know they are having trouble. Input Dwight.
Problem-Aware — This stage comes following something triggers a sense of discontent. A disconnect between desire and reality. He does not understand what he desires. He only knows he's a problem.
Solution Aware — Vacation. He needs a holiday. The solution stage is when a prospect describes a means to solve their problem. But still unaware of the options. He doesn't know where he can go to acquire the comfort he desires. Sydney? Hawaii? The following stage is consciousness of the available options. It's a prospect understanding your solution exists and what it could do. The final point is when the prospect isn't just mindful of your answer but if it's also the very best contender.

What does this have to do with paid traffic?

Two things.

The awareness stage dictates what they're looking for, why they're on the lookout for this and how they got there.

In a note: Intent.

Second, knowing which point a prospect is in allows you to write targeted ad copy. It's the copywriting adage of linking the dialogue that is going on in their mind — in action.

And it is not only your advertisements. Every page on your site addresses concerns at various levels of product awareness. The objective of paid ad campaigns is to prime for conversion by moving them through those stages.

So, which might better match this goal? A homepage or a landing page?

If you replied homepage. Read on.

If you replied landing page. Nice. Read on.

Why Copywriters Hate Writing Homepages
I know what some of you are considering:

Our site has the item on it. By sending visitors there, we're making visitors product-aware. Additionally, it is littered with information regarding our value proposition. And THAT will move them inside the most-aware stage. It's the ultimate landing page. Bazinga.

Acceptable point. But, remember the ultimate target is conversion. Convincing Dwight that Hawaii is the best place to be, doesn't mean he has booked the ticket. Getting to the last stage of consciousness is still only awareness — not actions.

And although visitors have been “landing” on it, I will say this again:

A homepage is not a landing page.

Homepages are the gateway into the rest of your site. They're for people at every stage of consciousness. This makes writing homepage copy a small doozy.

They follow with an optimized set of layout principles. Squeezing out every sign-up, opt-in and sale possible.

The Principle of One.

The Rule of One is to design each page with one reader and one big idea in mind. For Instance, Spotify's landing page to get a product-aware potential (one-reader) using a free trial offer (one large idea):

The purpose of the Rule of One would be to convert. It gives a single visitor one route.

This is the reason homepages are problematic for copywriters. A homepage is for everyone, and thus, it transforms nobody. Sure, you could have a CTA over the fold, smack-dab at the center. However, how many conversions do you get in comparison to some purpose-built landing page?

A lot less, I would assume.

Focus Trumps Clutter.

The real problem with sending visitors to a site is onus of duty. You make them accountable for browsing through your website. You hold them accountable for finding your landing pages.

You make them responsible for your own conversion speed.

Let us go back to Dwight. He knows he has a problem. He wants a solution — therefore he Googles:

And this ad comes up. What do you think he would prefer to observe if he clicks on it? A remedy to his workplace woes? Or a page cluttered with links and data that may or may not be relevant?

Directing paid visitors to conversion relies on visitor anticipation — combine the dialogue that is already going on in their mind.

If they're at the problem stage, they are expecting a solution. If they're in the solution stage, they are expecting a item.

Give it to them.

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