Landing Pages: Who Cares Anymore?

Making even modest changes to landing pages can be the quickest and easiest way to increase online response rates and decrease cost per lead, yet in more cases than not, far more attention, scrutiny, and investment is dedicated to the front end of demand generation campaigns.

Case in point: not long ago, CDI was asked to design a direct mail campaign for a B2B client whose goal was driving prospects to download a free trial version of their software product. The destination page for the campaign was a free trial request form linked from the client’s Web site. There were two main problems with the existing page:

1. It looked like the rest of the corporate Web site – an attractive site, to be sure – but nothing that would continue the look and feel and creative theme that we were developing for the direct mail campaign;

2. The multi-step registration process was complex and onerous, and the copy on the request page was very passive, even bureaucratic, almost as if the client assumed that anyone arriving at the form was so thoroughly motivated to complete the process that he or she needed no further encouragement. (Prospects that seek out corporate Web sites are typically more qualified, so in the original context, this tone might have been OK, but in the context of a demand generation campaign, it was woefully inadequate.)

This should be the point at which I regale you with the elegant, action-oriented re-design that CDI implemented, and the astonishing increase in conversion rates that we achieved.

Alas, no.

Turns out the trial page was off limits. One, it was owned by the Web team, a separate fiefdom. And secondly, conversion rates were OK (see comment above re: corporate Web sites), so why incur the additional expense?

Judging from what I’ve been reading in Marketing Sherpa’s recently released “2008 Landing Page Handbook,” this attitude is fairly common. People just don’t care about landing pages. According to the handbook, for example, only 16% of landing pages are free of navigation bars. 43% of paid search (SEM) campaigns don’t even use a landing page, instead driving prospects to the advertiser’s home page. Unbelievable.

As Marketing Sherpa puts it, “the landing page is the least considered element of the campaign.”

When it comes to landing pages, even simple changes can make dramatic differences. Removing those navigation bars, for example. Using design elements and copy consistent with the ad, the e-mail, or the direct mail campaign that the prospect was reading just seconds earlier. Getting rid of those extraneous links. (Marketing Sherpa: “Every link on your landing page that doesn’t result in conversion will decrease response.”)

The handbook says that the average conversion (click-to-lead) rate for a B2B paid search campaign is 4.5%. Let’s say you tweak your landing page a little and increase that rate to 5.0%. Congratulations: you just increased the ROI on your search campaign by 11%.

At $497, the Marketing Sherpa handbook is not an impulse purchase, but there’s so much information here (273 pages in all), you could add the expense to your next demand gen campaign and recoup your investment almost instantly just by following a mere handful of the tips, techniques and ideas included.

Possibly the best $497 you’ll spend this quarter.

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