Landing pages are a great tool for marketers. They drive your potential customers to a place on your site where the message is specific. They also provide a clear call to action. That’s not the problem with landing pages. The problem with landing pages is the way they are implemented.
Often, these pages are created on your site and hidden from navigation. The reason for this is the need to track their efficacy. Generally, you create a landing page for a specific effort. It may be an advertising campaign, email blast, or some discrete effort you spend time and/or money doing. It makes sense. Marketing is all about ultimately generating sales. Since you have limited resources, one wants to use those resources as wisely as possible.
Your Visitors Butcher Your URLs Causes a Problem With Landing Pages
There are times that your message is not clear enough. Sometimes, visitor needs more information. Other times, they may not want to convert without taking a look around your site for a while. An easy way to do that is to snip off the end of the website’s URL. You go straight to the root of the site (yourcompany.com) be deleting the rest of the URL. Then they can go anywhere they want as long as they can navigate your site. This is a major problem with landing pages.
If the visitor does not do exactly what you expect of them and fill out your form or buy your product, the landing page can’t really give that campaign/email/etc. credit for the conversion. This is not to say that the campaign didn’t work. It’s just saying that it didn’t work as expected. If the visitor fills out your standard contact form or buys your product through regular means, you may attribute that action to organic or perhaps (groan) direct traffic.
In this case you get a false positive. You give the wrong channel credit for something it doesn’t deserve and no credit to the channel that did all the work. This could cause you to make decisions with bad information. You could decide to discontinue the campaign/effort and that could hurt your sales.
Daunting Maintenance is a Common Problem With Landing Pages
Consider this, you maintain a marketing mix and you are running :
- 4 Facebook advertising campaigns
- 2 email campaigns
- Your social media manager works the following on a daily basis:
- You have an affiliate program in place
- You have links from 5 partner companies driving visitors to your site
Realistically, you have 17 (if you count the affiliate program as one) channels going on right now. And I haven’t even mentioned the three organic search engines that you’d be unwise to ignore. As I write this post, I am cognizant that people will find it on Google and I am hoping that they do. 🙂
For argument sake, let’s use the number 17 as the number of different channels you have in place that you should be measuring individually.
17 channels means 17 landing pages – if you want to measure these efforts properly. That means you have to create and maintain 17 different landing pages. And you aren’t going to just build them once and forget about them. You are going to do things like A/B test them. You’ll adjust them. You are going to refresh them after a while. This is another problem with landing pages.
The bottom line is that this is a lot of work. You have to be methodical and pay strict attention to detail. Oh, and at any time those users can still lop off the end of your URL and go back to the root domain (see above).
What If They Don’t Want To Fill Out Your Form?
Not every user is going to want to give up their email address but they may want more information. This could mean your form needs work. Or it could mean that they just don’t like forms. They may call you. So this means that you need to either use a call tracking service (get that checkbook ready, it ain’t cheap) or you have to get a phone number for each channel (17 new numbers if you aren’t keeping track) and make sure the right phone number is on the right landing page. And, you have to make sure that those numbers are kept a secret because you don’t want anyone calling one that isn’t on that page. Then, there’s also the issue of dealing with session-based call tracking.
And let us not forget that they may STILL lop off the end of that URL and call the main number on your website – rendering your efforts useless. We’re back to the false positive thing again. Yet another problem with landing pages.
Landing Page Services Cause Other Issues
You could enlist the assistance of a third party to help. That is going to cost money. That’s the best part. They often have great templates and tutorials that will allow you to use their services to create amazing landing pages that are “guaranteed” to convert – and sit on their servers. You may have to use a different URL for those pages. You may be able to buy a throwaway URL like yourcompanyrocks.com and point it at their servers. But that’s not your website and if they want more information and they lop off the end of that URL it will go to a sparse page at best. At worst it will wind up on that landing page company’s website or the page will just be a dead 404 (yikes!).
They may allow you to use a CNAME where you create a subdomain like promos.yourcompany.com which keeps them on your domain (sort of). But if they lop the end of the URL off you are back to the same problem that probably seems like I’m beating a dead horse over. Maybe they will get a dead page, maybe they will be on your homepage – depending on how the landing page service handles these types of redirects.
Oh, and you pay them every month for this service as long as you use it. If you stop using it, you’d better have a good wildcard redirect in place for that CNAME you put in place providing that you can do that.
BTW, do you have an in-house creative that could probably put together some nice landing pages for you? If you do then you’re kinda paying this landing page service to do their job. Hope they don’t get any feelings of resentment over that.
Is There a Better Way?
Of course there is. Why do you think I’ve been sitting here typing out over a 1000 words to explain the problem with landing pages? And since you are on this site, you don’t have to be a detective to figure out what it is.
Prismana gets rid of ALL of these problems. Here’s how:
You only need one landing page
Yep. One page for all 17 of those channels. Do I have your attention now? Good. You create one landing page and Prismana will be able to swap out all of the information such as phone numbers. You’ll still need your own numbers but that’s much better than paying for call tracking. It will also capture the lead source for any commerce or contact forms or any other way you are measuring success of these individual channels – on the fly.
Butchered URL? No problem
If the visitor decides that they don’t like your landing page or needs more info or just wants to be difficult that’s fine. Let them go anywhere they want on your site and if they convert, you’ll still know why. No more false positives.
To be honest, if you are only using them for tracking, you really don’t even need landing pages
If you are hiding these pages for no other reason than to track your efforts then you can forget that. You won’t have to anymore. Regardless of where the user goes, Prismana will track them and if they convert you’ll know why.
Now, if you are using landing pages for things like a beautiful, strong message and an easy to use page, feel free to build them – on your own site. There are tons of tutorials and great templates out there that even a novice can use to make great landing pages. No more CNAMES. No more subdomains. Outsourcing of a landing page service is no longer necessary. Everything is on your site. You control it. And your in-house designer. Yeah, she’s happy again because you’re not paying for a service that she can provide you with anyway.
The big takeaway
At the end of the day, you want to make sure you are driving sales but you also want to konw WHY you are succeeding or failing. There are things that you think will work but the data tells the story. Attributing your leads/sales to the right channels ensures that you will continue to invest time and energy into what is working. When users don’t convert off a landing page – but they do convert – this throws off your data.