Back in 2010 I wrote a blog post about landing pages that was fairly controversial in its day. Five years later, it still seems to be pretty controversial, but its logic is just as valid (if I do say so myself). In fact, my only surprise is that we are still talking about landing pages in 2015. That's not a bad thing, though. A landing page can be a very good thing. It can help you reach out to your target audience, showcase a particular product or service and even convert potential clients to actual clients. A landing page can be great, but if it is not done "the right way," it can cause you to miss out on a lot of potential and even hurt your business in the long run.
"Objection!" one might say. "There's no such thing as bad publicity!" Though that may be true, there is such a thing as a bad campaign. Imagine with me, if you will, that you have a very successful landing page that draws a lot of traffic through paid advertisements on Google or Facebook for the keyword "snifter." This is great because you want to sell a lot of snifters through your website. This only serves to strengthen the correlation between snifter inquiries and your website, right? Maybe not.
- If your landing page does not connect to the actual sales portion of your site (or the other products that you offer) it acts as a gatekeeper rather than a gateway. This could hurt the potential sales of your products.
- If the URL for your landing page is not within your *.com the search traffic is actually going away from your site. This could hurt organic SEO for your site.
- If your allotted ad dollars run out before the end of the month, your paid ad goes away for the remainder, and there is no reason for a search engine to organically showcase that one random page that is about snifters. This could act as a temporary block to online exposure.
- If you decide to leave the company that created and hosts your landing page, you must leave the landing page (and all of the SEO clout) behind. This could waste all of your efforts you've put into the page.
"The Right Way"
The truth is that none of us knows the right way. Marketers and ad agencies fall prey to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy all the time. They think that because a sale happens after this it must have happened because of this, and therefore this is the right way. That is simply illogical. There are so many factors at play that take various amounts of time to effect a sale that it is difficult to assign causality even under the best of conditions. Plus, triggers often change even though the reason doesn't. If in one week you make 14 conversions through a landing page but your bottom line is no different than the week before, you have only swapped triggers.
Much of marketing is guess work, and I don't think there is any one right answer. I do however think there are better and worse ways of doing things. I think the best ways look at the big picture.
The big picture is not about how many times people click on an ad, view a page, sign up for a brochure or even become clients. The big picture—the bottom line—is whether you are making more money? That's the factor that matters. It's not about reaching potential clients you would have reached another way; it's about reaching potential clients you would not have otherwise reached.
How To Utilize a Landing Page
Even with all of this foreboding speech about landing pages, I do think they can be great tools when used well. Here are some key points to utilizing a landing page.
- A landing page should be a part of your website, not apart from it.
- A landing page should be about one thing, not everything.
- A landing page should encourage people to act, not force them to do something.
- A landing page should support the rest of your site, not ignore it.
A landing page can do a lot of great things, but it has untapped potential if it does not aid in the promotion of your business as a whole. A landing page can be an important piece, but it cannot be the entire puzzle. A landing page can make a great starting line, but it makes a terrible finish line.