Cheap should be measured by CPA (cost-per-acquisition), not just absolute dollars. If I spend twice as much on a 3-page path, but it generates a 5X factor on my conversion rate, I win economically.
Kicking the landing page habit is not unlike cutting saturated fat from your diet. You know it’s bad for you, but it’s wrapped up in french fries and chocolate chip cookies that are just way too tasty. If you’re going to give up the sat fat—to, errr, improve your brand—you still want delicious snacking.
So let’s deconstruct what has been good—or claimed to have been good—about landing pages to make sure that we incorporate the tasty parts in our next generation of healthy post-click marketing:
- Landing pages are quick and cheap. That’s not a putdown—fast, inexpensive experimentation is very important in this landscape of a thousand niche marketing opportunities. But “cheap” should be measured by CPA (cost-per-acquisition), not just absolute dollars. If I spend twice as much on a 3-page path, but it generates a 5X factor on my conversion rate, I win economically. As for being fast, speed in the digital realm is almost entirely a function of “process-izing” repetitive tasks; although the mechanics of producing conversion paths over landing pages are more advanced, they can still be streamlined.
- Landing pages can be “matched” with advertisements. Huge benefit! (Although not everyone using landing pages takes advantage of it.) Arguably the power of message match, where content a respondent sees post-click is tailored to the promise of the specific ad they clicked on, is the core reason why landing pages have improved conversion rates. We think it’s vital to retain this pre-click/post-click continuity in other landing experiences that go beyond a single page.
- Landing pages can be tested and optimized. Absolutely: test, test, test. One of the problems with big web sites is that they suffer from inertia. Online direct marketing campaigns thrive on the freedom of rapid experimentation (we call it the post-click marketing ecosystem), and landing pages have enabled that…to a point. You can experiment only so much within the box of one page (”let’s try every color in the web palette as our background!”). It’s time to experiment with bigger blocks such as the sequencing of presentation or the directed behavioral segmentation of your respondents, and to start testing in three dimensions (traffic source, landing experience, audience segment) instead of one or two.
- Landing pages are easy to manage. Actually, this may not be true—you’ve no doubt run across a lot of outdated or link-broken landing pages. As you scale up to running dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of targeted landing experiences of any kind, the content management challenge is daunting. But this too is a problem that can be solved by software, whether it’s single pages or multi-page paths. Marketers shouldn’t have to be in the weeds here, regardless of the format.
- Landing pages are friendly for respondents. Welllllll…the idea of message match is friendly, to be sure. But there are three cases of how a one-page format can be used: A a simple but compelling idea, applicable to all respondents, is well presented on one short page; B a more complex idea with different variations for different respondents is all jammed on to one long, crowded page shoved at everyone indiscriminately, leaving the confused and overwhelmed respondent to sort it out for themselves; and C a more complex idea with different variations for different respondents is artificially edited on to one short page—but loses fidelity at best or becomes empty/nonsensical at worst. The dream of friendly landing pages for respondents is only materialized in case A, but there’s a heck of a lot of direct marketing campaigns that don’t fit that mold that end up being short-changed in the landing page format to be B and C. Trying to squeeze a labrador retriever into a chihuahua carrying crate is just not pretty.
Of course, this begs the list of the Top 5 Bad Things About Landing Pages too.