Just about every marketer acknowledges (reluctantly or otherwise) that landing pages are a necessary part of an effective digital marketing campaign and while no one is suggesting that the landing page is dead, in practice, we find that landing pages are becoming less and less appealing to marketers – not to mention their prospects!
Low conversion rates, operational barriers that make them difficult to create quickly and efficiently, and managing the sheer volume of landing pages that may be in your portfolio are all reasons to fall out of love with them. Since I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl, I like to think that the love is not lost entirely and that landing pages simply need to evolve, just like every other aspect of the modern marketing landscape.
How We Got Here
In the grand scheme of things, designated landing pages are still relatively new. In fact, 77% of marketers see landing pages as an essential part of their post-click strategy (but that’s still nearly one in four who have yet to see the value!). By linking to a home page instead of a tailored experience, visitors are left to independently navigate a sea of information on a home page, or find their way on some other page which may not have explicitly connected the dots between your ad, email or offer and the action you wanted them to take. Marketers quickly figured out that clicks were often wasted unless visitors were sent to a dedicated page which had a laser focus on one specific call to action.
The knuckle-dragging specimens that became our landing pages then tended to be heavy-handed with a form, limited copy, one call to action, one piece of content to download, no alternate links, secondary content offers or navigation. Our forms forcefully asked for more information than was realistic in an attempt at having submitters provide enough information to immediately qualify them for Sales. We dutifully created hundreds of landing pages, sometimes only with very minor variations but all with the gaol of getting better conversion rates on that darn form. Not everyone executed the landing page correctly, matching the ad copy to the landing page content to the target audience. Combine that with falling click through rates on PPC ads and marketers began to wonder if the effort was worth the reward at about the same times as prospects were beginning to wonder if providing their personal information was worth the hassle of being hounded by a sales rep within minutes of filling out the form.
With the popularity of marketing automation platforms like, Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot and Hubspot, as well as other tools designed to make landing pages easier, we could create more pages, more easily. When Sales teams pushed back at the quality of web leads we got better at qualifying and then automating lead qualification with lead scoring. A quick search of the Internet will get you a long list of articles with best practices and lists of essential landing page elements for the highest possible conversion.
At the end of the day, we had a ton of landing pages which were cumbersome to keep up to date and relevant. We did A/B testing, SEO and optimized the daylights out of those landing pages to get more conversions. I believe we’ve optimized enough for now. It’s time for something better.
Landing Pages 2.0: Kinder, Gentler and More Generous
Now, I’m not suggesting an alternative to landing pages, simply a more highly evolved version that is more subtle and effective. What I’m proposing is a new kind of landing page that won’t put off those savvy prospects who got wise to the fact that we weren’t always offering up the tastiest treat worthy of their REAL email address. The new landing page is a kinder, gentler and much more generous version, asking for only the bare minimum of information, using marketing intelligence tools to help fill in the blanks, while rewarding the prospect handsomely for clicking the ‘submit’ button. Here are three things you can do to bring your landing pages kicking and screaming out of digital marketing’s dark ages:
1. Be Clear about Your Goals
It’s Landing pages 101 to make sure that your ad and landing page content are aligned. However, take it a step further and consider the goal of that landing page and use the composition of the content offered to achieve it. Want to generate more leads to nurture? Use a combination of very top-of-funnel material aimed at different segments. Visitors will self-select and you can use that intelligence to drop them into the right nurture path. Need highly qualified leads right now? Use your content to tell a story that guides your visitor through the journey quickly.
2. Sweeten the Pot
Offer up multiple pieces of content instead of just one. Use your landing page copy to hint at, or flat-out tell prospects that they’ll get an all-you-can-eat buffet rather than just a small snack. Gone are the days when we could treat a single high value piece of content as a reward. Prospects simply expect access to content so exceed that expectation and give them their fill. Use secondary calls to action on your landing pages and success pages to drive more engagement with your content and tell more of your story while you have your prospect’s attention.
3. Ask for Less and Use Tools to Fill in the Blanks
Anthropologists credit the use of tools as one of the defining moments in human evolution. The same turning point is upon us in the marketing world today. There are a host of marketing technology available that provides more insight into who prospects are and where they come from. There’s no need for long and obtrusive forms when we have the ability to populate that data ourselves. So ask for less – even as little as an email address so you can remove as many barriers to the conversion as possible. Remember that your prospects are busy and the easier you can make it for them to get to the piece of content they want (and that you want them to read), the better. The right tools can even allow you to use engagement data rather than form fills to gauge sales readiness and qualify leads.
A Few Simple Changes Can Make a Big Impact
So, if you find yourself a little less enamoured with your landing pages and their performance these days and are thinking there must be a better way, consider what landing pages could be with a few small, impactful changes. By evolving your landing page strategy from a club-wielding ‘gatekeeper’ designed to keep the low-quality prospects out to a more enlightened experience which encourages buyer self-education, your landing pages can become a gateway to better things for both you as a marketer and your prospects.