Including navigation in landing page depends on the source of the traffic, brand awareness and type of landing page.
1) Source of Traffic: The primary factor that influences the need for navigation is the source of the traffic. Let us assume that your web pages are fairly optimized and that the major share of traffic is from Search Engines. In such cases, you can afford to risk keeping the navigation in your landing page. For PPC campaigns where for each click you are paying cents/dollars, the risk appetite would be much lower.
For E-Mail campaigns, depending on the subscriber’s exposure to your brand, you can use navigation on the landing page. If the subscriber is reading your first newsletter, then it would be a better strategy to include the main navigation (in the top section section). New subscribers would be eager to learn more about your products/services. Include relevant information in the main navigation. Once the subscriber has learned about the products and services, they will come back to your landing page (provided you have planned for the reading path in that visit with links to the landing page).
2) Brand Awareness: Another factor that influences the risk/reward for keeping navigation in the landing page is Brand Awareness. Ben Hunt in his Book - Convert!Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion
Has explained this concept beautifully. Every consumer goes through 6 steps of the awareness ladder:
1) No Problem
3) Solution Exist
4) Your Solution
By designing landing page for each awareness state, you increase the chance of conversion dramatically. For consumers/clients in states 1 and 2, a navigation in your landing page would help them move to state 3,where they know that a solution exist for their problem. Now your landing page should convince that your solution can solve their problem. For consumers in state 4, a landing page without navigation would keep them focussed on the call to action.
3) Type of Landing Page: Another factor that influences the need for navigation is the type of the landing page. If you are using a landing page to sell an item then the cost of the item plays a big role. If the cost of the product ranges between $10 and $1000, you need more than a simple landing page. The navigation in the landing page should provide additional information that convinces the visitor to go to the landing page.
If you are using landing page to acquire leads through Newsletter subscription, brochure or e-book download forms then the perceived risk for users are much lower. What is the worst case scenario? Some company will follow up with you aggressively through e-mail. You can block the company by marking it as spam. For simple call to actions like a Download, navigation is not necessary.
By understanding the awareness state of the visitor, the products/service that you are selling and the landing page types, you would be in a much better position to decide whether you need navigation in your landing page.
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