Demand Generation

Are Your Landing Pages Helping Or Hurting Your Marketing?

Somehow, over the years, I’ve become known as “the computer person” in my family. Even though I have a degree in journalism and my job in marketing couldn’t be further from IT, all my relatives know is that I spend a lot of time on my laptop and I always work for technology companies.

That’s why, on a recent weekend visit to see my parents, my stepmom asked for help on her iPad.

She was starting a new job and had to complete online training before her first day. Her boss had printed out a piece of paper with a URL on it, as well as a username and password. Not even a short URL; this web address was three lines long and full of random letters and numbers. Oh boy. She tried to access the training on her own, but she couldn’t get it to work.

I typed the ridiculously long URL into the browser, character by character, and hit enter. 404 – page not found. Groan! I had to type it out a few times before I got it right. But the page still wouldn’t load on the iPad. I copied the URL and pasted it into an email to my stepmom. At least we wouldn’t have to type it anymore! We hauled out her old, heavy brick of a laptop and tried again. The landing page loaded this time, but the username and password didn’t work.

At that point, we gave up, but I was left with so many questions: Why wouldn’t my stepmom’s boss just email her the link? Or at the very least, why didn’t the company provide an easy-to-type short link? Why doesn’t the training site work on a mobile device, like the iPad? And why didn’t the username and password information she was given match what was in the company’s database?

It was a terrible user experience, riddled with friction. So much that it slowed her down to a full stop not just once, but twice. So terrible that she couldn’t even experience the content she was supposed to consume in the first place because of the barriers in her way.

When I got back into the office on Monday, I realized that my stepmom’s experience wasn’t unique to her industry.

We would never provide such a nonsensical offline experience in B2B marketing, of course. But there are plenty of examples where B2B is guilty of making the buying process harder than it needs to be.

We’ve been known to throw gates up in front of all our content, provide inadequate landing page experiences, or house our content in confusing and hard to navigate hubs. Although your content experiences probably aren’t quite as bad as the training experience my stepmom tried to access, the truth is that most of these things are an entirely selfish endeavor for us marketers. And an even harsher truth is that each of these tactics creates a point of friction that slows down the buying process or, worse, paralyzes it all together.

In an era where the customer experience is everything and virtually all we know about what works in marketing is being turned on its side, it’s time to knock down the barriers between our buyer and the information they need to make educated purchase decisions. It’s time to put buyer enablement at the forefront of your marketing. That’s at the heart of the Buying Friction Series. We will look at traditional marketing tactics under a critical lens and explore better ways to create a smooth, frictionless path-to-purchase for prospects.

First up: landing pages. They’re often considered a necessary evil for collecting data about your buyers, but they can actually be a huge source of friction in the buyer’s journey. Here are 7 tough questions to ask yourself about your landing pages to ensure they’re enabling the next step in your buyer’s journey.

Can everyone read your landing pages?

This might seem like a stupid question, but you’d be surprised at how many people can’t read or engage with your landing pages as you intended — especially if you built your own landing page templates in-house.

Different devices and browsers can distort images, font sizes, and form fields in ways you didn’t intend. If you’ve ever had to zoom in on every single field, type in it, and then zoom out to complete a form, you know what I’m talking about.

What’s in it for them?

A lie we B2B marketers like to tell ourselves is that people should be willing to give up their precious contact information in exchange for valuable “free” content we’re providing on the other side of each super-long form.

I hate to break it to you, but your content isn’t that good (and neither is mine). The form-fill equation is stacked in your favor, not your visitors’. When they fill out that form, you get more information about them. If they actually consume the content, they might learn something. More importantly, however, they learn more about what you’re trying to sell them.

Besides, you know your sales rep is going to hit the phone and call them as soon as they click “submit”. Many of your potential customers just don’t want to bother. In fact, this LinkedIn survey of more than 5,000 professionals found that 81% of millennial and Gen X decision makers didn’t download a piece of content because they didn’t want to fill out the form.

Do your landing pages work for every channel?

Many B2B marketers use UTM parameters to measure the traffic and conversions from each channel on a single landing page. But what if all those visitors aren’t created equal?

Someone who arrives on your landing page after clicking on your email might have more knowledge about your brand than someone who’s come from a third-party email that you’ve sponsored. Or, for example, have you considered that an email promoting a piece of content contains more context than an ad someone might click on to arrive at your landing page? Maybe your buyers need a destination that adapts to them rather than the other way around.

Do your landing pages make it easy to consume the content?

I recently found myself on a landing page featuring a form with fields about everything from my email address and phone number to the name of my first born child. I really, really wanted to read this content. Like, a lot. So I filled it out and clicked submit, thinking the content lived just on the other side of that form. Sadly, all I got was a “Thank you!” message and instructions to check my email. Sigh. I checked my email…nothing. The content didn’t arrive in my inbox until many hours later, by which time I had lost interest. I didn’t consume the content.

Getting people to consume the content is even more important than getting them to fill out the form. A lead isn’t any good if they’re not reading or watching your content after they’ve filled out that form.

Are your landing pages just dead ends?

Some of the demand gen marketers I’ve worked with in the past have been adamant that the best practice is for landing page templates to be completely separate from the rest of the website. No header, no footer. The reasoning is that this type of layout eliminates distractions so the visitor only has two choices: fill out the form or leave the page.

Unfortunately, this is also the case after they’ve downloaded and consumed the content. At that point, the only choice they have is to leave, so that’s exactly what they do. This seems crazy when you consider how difficult and expensive it can be to get someone to click through to a landing page in the first place. Shouldn’t you at least try to hold their attention and give them the option to consume more content if they’re interested?

How will your landing pages scale in the future?

As your company grows, your landing page strategy has to adapt. As you enter new markets, create new products, rebrand, launch account-based marketing campaigns, and grow, you’ll have to go back and edit the landing pages you currently have today. And you will undoubtedly have to create exponentially more landing pages in the future.

Do your current landing pages give you the flexibility to do that without spending countless hours and budget on maintaining them?

Do you even need landing pages?

For the foreseeable future, you’ll need to send people to some kind of online destination, but I’d like to encourage you to think beyond the traditional landing page. If the goal is to get people to consume your content so they become more educated about what your company can offer them, maybe adding friction by putting a gate between them and the content isn’t the smartest way to accomplish that. Maybe you should just bring them directly to the content.

These are just some of the questions to ask yourself, your fellow marketers, and your marketing technology vendors so you can create better experiences for your customers and better enable them at every stage of the buying process.

The Buying Friction Series reveals how B2B marketers end up preventing their buyers from getting the information they need to buy. They do this by creating various points of friction throughout their buyers’ journeys that slow them down along their path-to-purchase. The Buying Friction Series helps B2B marketers identify and remove these points of friction to better enable buyers to make smarter, faster purchase decisions.