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HubSpot and Kyle Lacy have both recently published articles about Landing Pages.  Even the top marketers see their value and most of the bottom marketers think they are all the rage.  So, why isn't this post in the "Trends" section?  Because the way most people use their Landing Pages isn't a trend; it's a travesty!  My original thought was to tell you all the things I don't like about landing pages, but I realized that wouldn't be very helpful to anyone.  So, instead I'm going to give four suggestions on what to do (or not do) with landing pages to help maximize the wholestic approach to your web based marketing.  If along the way I mention things I don't like about landing pages, so be it!

Don't be Satisfied with Just Enough
Perhaps the most dangerous thing about landing pages is the false impression they give to businesses that they are enough.  Don't be fooled by this.  Landing pages are designed to be a pages where people land ...  not the page where they live.  I guarantee that you cannot say all that you want to say about your business on one page.  If you can, than odds are you need to rethink your message.  At least one of three things will happen if you try to fit your entire message onto one page.  A) You will leave out important information.  B) You will conflate and distort important information.  C) You will loose the attention of your audience before they get to important information.

All in all, this problem can be avoided if you treat landing pages as a starting line rather than a finish line.  A landing page can be a good way to introduce your company and gather information from potential clients.  But, it cannot be a substitute for the representation of your company as a whole.

Don't Limit Access to Your Business
This idea of gathering information is the apex of landing pages.  The goal is to provide a page where visitors will automatically enter their information for your gathering.  Some try to insure this by limiting access to the rest of the navigation for fear the user will forget to fill out your form.  Those who drank the Landing Page Kool-aide even suggest to disallow any access to the rest of your page.  I'll be very frank with you: That is asinine!

Whether you plan it or not, your website is a virtual store front.  It is the digital representation of your business.  Imagine with me a store setup with a welcome area, a foyer if you will.  You walk in, and it has plain walls and a table at the center.  On the table you see a one page flier telling you about a special offer this company has.  Next to that flier is a signup form.  Being a sucker for special offers, you fill out the form straight away.  Then you look around and realize there are no doors leading out of the room to the rest of the business.  Either there is nothing else to the business, or they don't want you to have access to it.  One of the dangers of a landing page is the impression to your potential clients is that there is nothing more to your business.  This can be detrimental to any comparison shopper.

Don't Factor Out the Incalculable
The appeal to a landing page is not sales.  It is calculable information.  The appeal is that you are able to gather tangible numbers.  There are so may ways to market your business that do not have definite numbers you can see over night.  In fact, more times than not, you have to roughly compare the bottom line to your marketing actions, never truly knowing what causes which effect.  Landing pages will, to a degree, give you these types of numbers.  But, you must calculate with caution.  Numbers lie all the time.

We need to bare in mind that what you are counting is not sales nor even necessarily contacts.  You are counting completed forms.  These forms do not always translate into sales.  They aren't even necessarily always a good way to contact a potential client.

We also need to remember that some of the most effective forms of marketing cannot be calculated with any hard numbers.  In hopes of not offending or alienating any local business, I will use one of my favorite products as an example.  I love (to an admittedly unhealthy degree) Dr Pepper.  I use their product, know their history and bellow their message whenever I have the opportunity.  Though they have some good commercials, I have never bought a Dr Pepper based on their commercials.  I don't buy their product because I "like" them on facebook nor because I've offered them my information for various promotional offers.  I buy Dr Pepper because I love Dr Pepper, because I believe it provides a superior taste and user experience than any other soft drink.  THAT is what has defined their success since 1885, and THAT can never be reduced to calculable numbers.

Don't Forget the Next Generation
This point ties in closely with the previous point.  The next generation (I'm not sure if that is next for me or next for you) is unlikely to complete a landing page.  They are unlikely to offer up their information to a company with whom they don't already have a relationship.  It's ironic.  Though the next generation is more open with their information through facebook and twitter, they are even more annoyed with junk mail resulting from open information through e-mail.

I don't signup for things online ... anything!  If I signup for something through a purchase I use a junk-mail account.  Most of the time I don't remember to redeem said offer, but even when I do the company still has no real way of contacting me.  The only time I give my contact information to a company is when I have a long standing relationship AND they have a reputation for sending things that I would want.  Though landing pages are hot right now, I believe them to be lost on the next generation of consumers.


All of that being said, I DO build landing pages.  They CAN be used effectively.  Just don't believe all of the hype.  They are, in the end, just a starting line.
Daniel Titus