Not all landing pages are the same; in design or intent. In today’s post I’ll walk you through the 7 different types of landing page.
Each type has it’s pros and cons and I’ll discuss some of the uses for each type and where they fall short. This should help you understand which kind is most appropriate for your own marketing campaigns.
This is day 3 in our 7 Days to a Better Landing Page series.
What Is A Landing Page? – A Brief Overview
First let’s get a quick definition out of the way. A landing page is the web page a potential customer arrives at after expressing interest in one of several forms of advertising:
- A search engine result (like Google)
- A banner ad
- A Google AdWords or AdSense ad
- A link in an email
- Print advertising
- TV commercials
The purpose of a landing page is to expand upon the message of the advertisement or link and convince the visitor to “convert” into becoming a customer by taking a specific action.
How the page achieves this depends on the goals of campaign and the type of landing page used.
There are 3 main categories of landing page:
- Standalone Landing Pages: These include; Click Through, Lead Capture (Lead Gen or Squeeze Page), Infomercial and Viral landing pages.
- Microsites: A small multi-page website (or sitelet) usually created as a supplement to the main website.
- Internal Website Landing Pages: Homepages and product detail pages.
The 7 Types of Landing Page (in the form of Smurfs)
Not entirely sure how I got onto the Smurf train here, but I’ll keep pushing the metaphor in case it magically works in the end.
1. Click Through Landing Pages (Quickie Smurf)
This is a very simple form of landing page. The sole purpose is to provide the necessary details about an offer, explaining the benefits and context of use in such a way as to convince a prospect to progress to the point of purchase. All you can do is read about the offer and click through to the company’s website where they will get you to complete the transaction.
Quickie Smurf doesn’t really care about your needs, he’s only interested in making sure you’re familiar with the offer at hand, before passing you to the checkout. He’ll use quick bullet points to explain the benefits, a big sign to show the offer (50% off!) and then he’ll shove you over to the big shiny button that transports you to Accounting Smurf on the main website.
Example Click Through Landing Pages
- There are a few examples in our gallery of landing page templates
2. Lead Capture Landing Pages (Hungry Smurf)
Often referred to as Squeeze pages, the purpose of lead capture landing pages is to gather personal data from the visitor, usually beginning with their name and email address. A true squeeze page has absolutely no exit path from the page, no links or navigation – only a button to submit your details. An incentive is typically offered in exchange for this personal data. We’ll be covering examples of these incentives in tomorrows post.
Hungry Smurf cares only for the personal information she can extract from you. She stuffs her cupboards full of it before passing it on to Mailman Smurf when the time is right.
The reason a company would use a lead capture landing page is to build an email list of relevant potential customers. This list will then be used to market to these people in the future.
Example Lead Capture Landing Page
3. Infomercial Landing Pages (Sham Wow Smurf)
As implied by the name, these landing pages are the infomercials of the online marketing world. Typically about 50ft long (a lot of scrolling), they work by using the same type of excitable language you’ve seen on those Sham Wow commercials on TV. As the user reads further down the page, they get sucked deeper into the sales message, and due to the amount of effort expended in reading that far, they instill a certain amount of commitment which keeps them reading.
It’s sort of like swimming across the ocean. Once you get 51% of the way across, there’s little point in turning back.
By the time you have read 2 paragraphs of text and 15 bullet points, you are probably questioning the authenticity of the offer, but it’s THAT good that you can’t help but hope it’s real. Sham Wow Smurf is right there, ofering you a 2-for-1 time-limited offer. Buy it now before stocks run out. He’ll even try to convince you that Extenz really does make you bigger.
Sham Wow Smurf products aren’t available in stores.
4. Viral Landing Pages (Network Smurf)
Companies that try to create viral buzz are usually doing so in order to build brand awareness. Examples of this type of page usually contain fun flash games or funny videos. They’ll have a subtle reference to the company behind the creation, whether it’s a small logo, a “powered by” reference in the footer, a closing reference in the video or indirect product references in the game or video.
Given that the goal of these pages is to have them spread to as many people as possible, they utilize 2 key elements:
- Great Content: No matter how hard you try, your work will never go viral if it’s lame. Just like its real-world counterpart – a medical virus – it’s not going to spread anywhere near as much if the infected person isn’t of sufficient influence, interest or mobility to interact with other people. Companies blindly chasing their own viral moment are often just jumping on the buzzword bandwagon. You can take steps to enable the viral process, but at the end of the day your page has to be really cool and relevant to stand a chance.
- Sharing Enablers: Truly great content doesn’t technically need enablers, as people will simple cut and paste the URL into an email or MSN messenger. But you can boost your chances of success by including simple social media tools. A good example is the Twitter Re-Tweet button you’ll see at the top and bottom of this post. This has the dual benefit of making it simple to share, and also increases the perceived cachet of the person sharing it – particularly if they are one of the first to do so.
Network Smurf loves to hang out in a crowd, sharing his experiences with as many other smurfs as possible. His video of Smurfette at the Christmas party was so funny that the whole Smurf town saw it.
5. Microsites (Independent Smurf)
A microsite is a small but complete supplementary website used for fairly large campaigns. They will normally have their own vanity URL related to the timing and relevance of the campaign. Even though it’s more than a single page, it’s still classified as a landing page as it’s a destination where customers are driven from paid online ads as well as print and TV advertising.
Car manufacturers often take advantage of this format, producing specialized microsites for each type of vehicle they produce. They are usually higher budget designs using quality photography and are often built in flash. They are sometimes used in a co-branded scenario where the microsite is provided to localized dealerships enabling them to provide more consistent sales messaging for their own advertising efforts.
Another common user of microsites are for Movie Trailer sites. They are high traffic sites that only exist for the sole purpose of promoting the movie, so they don’t need the infrastructure of a permanent website.
Independent Smurf is a bit of a snob. He has a big house and tons of money and doesn’t need anything from “corporate”. He thinks he’s perfectly self sufficient and can host a party at his place with all the necessary entertainment.
Sadly the search engines sometimes get lost on the way to the party cos the flashy paint he uses disguises the house from their robot taxis.
Independent Smurf isn’t as capable as he thinks though because he often lacks the ability to collect any money for the party tickets. This means that he usually has to run a bus back to headquarters so people can use their credit cards.
6. Product Detail Landing Pages (Know-it-all Smurf)
A common style of landing page in the retail industry is the Product Detail landing page. This is just a page on the main website that houses all of the information related to the product for sale. The benefit of this type of landing page is that it requires no extra work to create a separate page.
However, as it’s part of the compete website it has a full suite of distractions: navigation, links, banners etc. all of which can take the customer way from the intended action, making it more complex to track the success of your campaigns. They could wander off and buy something else, which is all good and well, but it creates mixed messages for tracking purposes as it could show up as a non-converting customer – assuming that your success metric is the purchase of the original landing page item.
Know-it-all Smurf is a subject matter expert. He knows every possible detail about the product you are selling: features, specifications, comparison charts, customer reviews, he has it all.
The problem with Know-it-all Smurf is that he can be overwhelming and unfocused. Before showing you how or where to buy the product, he insists on showing you photos of 3 other related products that he wants you to buy.
7. Homepage as a Landing Page (Attention Deficit Disorder Smurf)
This is the laziest of all the landing page types, and as such it performs the worst when it comes to conversion rate. All too often marketers will create expensive campaigns only to send everyone to the homepage.
Why is this bad? Because it’s got too many distractions. The basic premise of a successful landing page is that it has a single focused purpose. A focused landing page enables you to measure your campaign effectiveness from start to finish – and tweak the ad copy, offer and messaging until you see optimal results. How? Well, if no one arrives at your landing page, the banners and Google AdWords ads are not doing their job. If they arrive at the landing page but don’t convert, your landing page isn’t optimized.
When a visitor arrives at the homepage of your website, they have so many options that they are far less likely to stay on your intended pathway, and as such, you have no information as to why they have abandoned the conversion path. Is it because they couldn’t find the offer they originally clicked through for? Is it because they went to your colleagues department and bought a bunch of stuff there? (He’s smugly thanking you right now).
Sending your paid search prospects to the homepage is akin to asking
ADD Smurf can’t even function when faced with too much choice. What he needs is a thin long corridor with a big red door at the end.
Advertise a 42″ flat screen TV, then dump ADD Smurf in the middle of The Sony Store and you quickly find him sitting on a comfy sofa watching Star Wars on the 120″ LCD with massive wireless surround sound speakers.
After enjoying this sublime (but wrong) experience for 5 minutes, he’ll stand up, foget why he’s even in the store and head out the door.
Which Landing Page Type is Best?
It really depends on what your campaign goals are but generally speaking a more focused landing page will convert better. Using a standalone landing page compared to sending visitors to your homepage is considered to improve conversions rates by approximately 25% (source Omniture).
Another important consideration is landing page optimization. By doing simple A/B testing on your landing pages you can improve their conversion rates from 2X-10X. Quite often is it harder to get changes approved when they are inside your corporate website. This can be due to technical resource constraints or infrastructural limitations that make it hard to implement a testing framework.
Standalone pages can remove some of this pain. They can reside outside the primary website structure and as they aren’t linked to internally (you only arrive at them from ads), there’s less chance of political resistance to frequent changes.
If you aren’t using standalone landing pages, you should try whipping up a quick page template for your next PPC campaign (for reference, try running through our How to create a landing page design in 10 minutes exercise). Set up 2 identical ads and send 50% of the traffic to your landing page and 50% to the homepage to see which performs best.
In tomorrow’s post we take a more detailed look at Lead Capture landing pages, where we’ll discuss 7 things you can give away to a prospect in exchange for their personal information.
Which type of landing page has been most successful for you?
Tell me your experiences (in the comments below) of using different types and the results you got.