It’s a dilemma that many demand generation marketers face.
You run advertising, email and social campaigns to drive new prospects to your lead generation and customer acquisition programs.
However, your website is usually too general purpose to fulfill the expectations of those targeted click-throughs. But the landing pages that are produced with your marketing automation software, while they may deliver a more closely matched message -- let’s be candid -- usually provide a rather low fidelity user experience.
Most landing pages are... well, cliché, with the typical headline, bullets, hero shot image, a form and a call-to-action button. For most prospects, such landing pages come across as a “take it or leave it” proposition. And on average, 96 percent of visitors choose to leave.
So it’s a trade off. Do you send those prospects to a well-crafted, well-branded web page that can seem disconnected from the initial message that won their click? Or do you send them to a landing page that has less depth and polish but is on target with the messaging from your campaign?
Thankfully, there is a third alternative.
Goodbye Cookie-Cutter Landing Pages
Door number three is a hybrid between a high-quality-but-generic website page and a well-matched-but-anemic landing page. Let’s call it a “post-click experience.” Like a landing page, its content is tailored to the specific context from which a prospect clicks through. But unlike a landing page, it’s not constrained to squeeze everything into that formulaic one-page box.
Post-click experiences can take many shapes; microsites, wizard-like paths that let visitors hone in on the best content for their interests with a couple of easy clicks, and mobile web apps that look and behave very app-like with swipe and tap interfaces.
In fact, once you break out of the mental model of classic, cookie-cutter landing pages, you’ll quickly start to come up with all kinds of ideas for better creative experiences. It’s actually quite liberating. More importantly, it helps you be more effective.
Multi-Page Means Increased Focus
One B2B marketer I know came up with a 10-page-long post-click experience that culminated in a lead contact form. Yes, 10 pages! You’re probably thinking, “That’s crazy. There’s no way a respondent is going to click through 10 pages just to have the privilege of filling out a lead contact form at the end.”
Au contraire. That 10-page experience was actually a clever interactive quiz that helped respondents gauge how much they really knew about a particular business challenge. At the end, by filling out the lead form, they could get their final score -- and open up a dialogue with the company that could help do their job better.
Respondents were so engaged by this experience that 19.6 percent of them completed the quiz and filled out the lead form at the end. Given that the average conversion rate for most B2B lead generation campaigns is typically around 4%, that’s nearly 5X higher than average.
Or consider this example of a microsite by the Centre for Arts and Technology, a leading art and design college with three campuses in Canada. They run paid search advertising to find new leads for their different programs, such as fashion design and digital filmmaking.
Previously, they used to serve up typical one page landing pages for these different programs: a quick blurb and a contact form. Their conversion rate was around 4 percent. Seeking something better, they decided to create microsites instead, such as this five page example for their fashion design and merchandising program:
Instead of having to make a go/no go decision based on a single page, respondents were able to explore richer content about the program. There was a page focused just on the job opportunities available to graduates. There was another page that provided a complete list of all the different core classes and electives available.
Like a landing page, it kept the content focused on the specific program for which the visitor had clicked an ad -- so they didn’t wander off or get lost in a larger website. The same call-to-action persisted on each of the detailed pages so that as visitors learned more, they were consistently drawn to take the next step (“start my future”).
The results? Conversion rates jumped to as much as 19 percent.
Of course, their success wasn’t just from the fact that this was a multi-page experience instead of a single-page landing page. The quality of the design was quite compelling, featuring full-bleed images of the kinds of work students would be able to produce if they pursued this career.
But that too is an important difference between a cliché landing page and a creative post-click experience. A great post-click experience has a high-quality look and feel with an effective design that helps express your value proposition to prospects. At a higher level, it communicates that you have an ethos of excellence in your work. Aside from lifting your conversion rate, that’s also good for your brand.
Now, you may be thinking that these post-click experiences are impressive, but they've got to be a heck of a lot more work to produce, right? Is it really worth it?
To which I offer three answers:
First, great post-click experiences are really just a handful of well-designed pages instead of a single under-designed landing page. They’re not that much more work. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the mental one of breaking free from the relic landing page mold.
Second, there is software out there that can help you produce and test multi-page post-click experiences. But nothing I've shared here requires a specific software solution.
And third, let me turn the question around. If you could increase the performance of your lead generation programs by five times with a little more investment in the creativity and quality of what happens to your prospects after the click, wouldn't it be worth it?
Editor's Note: To read another take on this month's focus, try Tom Wentworth's Think Customers, Not Channels