By Scott Levine, VP, Strategy

A flight can have all the components of a successful trip. But if the landing is bad, everything else is quickly forgotten.

The same is true for a marketing campaign. When the landing page is flawed, all that strategic planning, careful copywriting, list selection and data mining won’t save it.

The most important, but often overlooked, component of an online marketing campaign is the landing page, where prospects arrive when they respond to your banners, emails or pay-per-click ads. In developing your campaign, you probably paid a lot of attention to segmentation, prospect personas and psychographics. But these details often get overlooked when the lead-capture page is designed.

Since your entire campaign hinges on conversion, it’s essential that the landing page convinces your prospects to take further action.

Pages that capture information about the prospect should always aim for simplicity and be easy to complete. Limit the number of questions you ask, and make them important and pertinent. And don’t ask for information that the prospect either won’t answer or won’t answer truthfully, such as annual gross revenue. You don’t want him or her to leave because the questions were too intrusive. Providing the information you requested is a vital step that converts your prospect into a lead.

Landing pages with Personal URLs (PURLs) can improve response. And pre-populating online name and address fields can also yield a much higher conversion rate.

Ideally, landing pages should be designed so that the reader doesn’t need to scroll up, down or side to side. Including links on the page makes it possible for the reader to leave before he provides the desired information. However, if you’re only looking for leads that are nearly ready to purchase, that may be a sound strategy. Just be sure to decide whether or not you want to include links before the page is designed. You can always send the links to those who respond in a subsequent email that also thanks them for responding.

Transactional landing pages—which are designed to sell—usually appear at the beginning of the check-out process in a shopping cart format. To maximize conversion, they feature strong sales copy and a compelling call to action.

If your prospects will have to remember the Web address without an email or link to refer to, you’ll need to come up with a memorable URL. This is especially true if you’re advertising in magazines, outdoors or in other media where the consumer won’t likely be at the computer.

Quick Response Bar Codes (QR Codes) are becoming more popular because they allow prospects to access your landing page simply by taking a photo with their smart phone.

The best landing pages are simple, clear, and easy to read and understand. Use videos, navigations bars and other visual distractions sparingly. And always include your privacy policy and a way for the reader to opt out.

Successful marketers test multiple versions of their landing pages. The most common—and the easiest to execute—is a simple A-B test. In larger campaigns, multivariate tests with different copy, layout and messaging can be used to produce one with the highest conversion rate.

Your landing page can either be an obstacle that prevents your prospects from taking the next step or the vehicle that delivers high-quality leads that you can turn into customers. Remember, it’s not a great flight without a great landing…page.


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