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A Landing Page is Not an Order Page (and why it matters)

To explain my point I need to first confuse the issue a bit (you'll see why): While a landing page is not an order page, it can, and in many cases should, contain the order form.

So what is the difference? Is this just a question of semantics? Actually, there is a big difference and it can have a big effect on your conversion rate. Generally, the order page is another page on your website. As such, it will have links to other parts of your site. Since someone who comes to the order or signup page often comes from other parts of your site, and has looked at descriptions of your products and service, you can assume they are ready to buy or sign up. When that is the case, there is little need to go into much sell, if any, before getting to the form prospects need to fill out.

Prospects who come to your site after seeing your marketing communications, online or offline, are in a different mindset. Generally, they are not prepared to buy or sign up yet. They need a landing page that includes some sell before seeing the order form. Confronting this prospect with the order form or signup form too early, before they feel prepared, can seem presumptuous and you can easily lose this prospect.

How much sell is needed depends on the communications prospects came from. A short ad or text link dictates longer sell than a lengthy article or direct mail letter. Another factor in how much sell/information copy is needed before asking for the order is the complexity of your product or the offer.

Say the prospect came from a longer marketing communications piece, either an article or a direct mail letter. While this prospect has more information than the one who comes from a short ad, there still needs to be some sell, even if it is to just quickly reiterate the benefits and make the prospect feel smart for coming to the landing page and taking advantage of your offer.

And in all cases, the landing page must be consistent with the marketing piece. If the prospect is suddenly confronted with a landing page that seems different or just doesn't seem to connect with the piece they came from, a number of unfortunate things happen. There is a credibility gap. The prospect senses this is different and becomes on guard. And you lose the momentum of the sell, where one benefit leads to another until the close.

Let's say you've determined the length of the sell copy on the landing page. At this point, there is a crucial decision to be made. After the sell, do you put the order form or signup form on the same page or have prospects click to go to another page to fill out the form?

There are two opposing prospect tendencies to deal with. The more clicks a prospect needs to go through to get to the order or signup, the more likely the prospect will not continue. On the other hand, make prospects do too much scrolling and you'll lose a certain percentage of them. In addition, if there is too much copy and graphics on a page, there is the danger that the page looks too cluttered and intimidating.

There is no cookie-cutter solution. Generally, it is preferable to have the order form on the same page as the preceding sell copy; that is, on the landing page. Having said that, there are numerous cases when having prospects click to go to a separate order page is better.

So you see, a landing page is an important, yet flexible, stage in the selling process. Always keep in mind the marketing piece the prospect came from and develop your landing page accordingly.

With 25 years of experience, Leon Altman focuses on helping marketers get more out of their investment in marketing. To inquire about his services, write leon@altmancommunications.com. To sign up for his Free Marketers FYI newsletter, visit his site at http://www.InvestingIN.com/marketing

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