Guiding site visitors across channels with landing pages

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The job of the modern Web site is more important and more difficult than ever, especially when it comes to a multichannel sales strategy. Visitors arrive at your Web site through a variety of online channels: pay-per-click (PPC) and organic search, e-mail offers, and print ads. Once there, they need to fulfill the objective of acting upon a promotion, or buying a specific product.

But if their entry leaves them cold because they don't see anything relevant to what drove them there, they're most likely to leave, having wasted their time and your marketing dollar. Landing pages are an effective technique to help visitors cross the channel between the marketing message that brought them to the site and the site functionality for them to take action like making a purchase or submitting a lead.

A Web site landing page is simply a page that keeps the momentum going from the referring channel's message. A common attribute might be the pay-per-click search terms that brought them to the site, or a specific e-mail offer that was clicked on.

For example, an e-mail offer for a discounted travel package would bring the visitor directly to a landing page that reassuringly describes the offer in more detail and provides links to check availability and book the trip. It sounds simple enough, but put yourself in the visitor's shoes and do a few Web searches of your own. You'll be surprised at how many merchants still aren't using landing pages.

Creating a successful landing page isn't difficult, and you can easily experiment and learn as you go. First, decide on which page you'll use as the landing page for a specific campaign. You may very well have an existing Web page that you can use (one that's more specific than your homepage), but if you don't, consider publishing a new page that expands upon the offer's message with a clear, persuasive call-to-action.

Second, you'll need to include the landing page's URL in the hyperlink of the message on the referring channel. For example, PPC search, e-mail and print hyperlinks should all point to your specific landing page.

Once you've adopted landing pages as part of your marketing toolbox, you should set your sights on optimizing them for greatest effectiveness. Direct marketers have used A/B split testing for decades to find out which competing ad or sales letter works best, and you can do the same with landing pages.

For example, does putting your product's price on the landing page drive more sales than if you required the visitor to click onto a subsequent page before showing price? And, keep in mind that higher clicks do not always mean higher sales, so make sure to measure which behavior or action is most relevant to profitability.

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