In the online marketing world, a lot of time and resources are spent buying media, tracking pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, driving organic traffic via search engine optimization (SEO), and installing and customizing Web analytics software to properly track all online marketing activities.
Dedicated in-house or agency staff craft keyword lists, write ad copy, and manage keyword bidding to achieve the proper profitability, cost per action (CPA), and return on investment (ROI). Copywriters adjust our sales copy to improve clickthrough rates (CTR).
But we've almost completely ignored our Web site and landing page. Sure, we occasionally do facelifts, or even wholesale redesigns of our sites. But these changes are rarely tested, and are simply assumed to improve the situation. They are just a cost of doing business.
In almost every other area, performance is scrutinized under a microscope as we drill down on mind-numbingly detailed reports. Once someone converts, extensive retention e-mail campaigns are set in motion to persuade visitors to deepen their level of engagement.
We worry about every single word in our e-mails as we test headlines and offers. We analyze "bounce rates," "open rates," and "unsubscribe rates" with almost religious fervor in order to extract the last penny of revenue and profit possible over the lifetime of our interaction with someone.
Even though we spend obscene amounts of money to buy traffic, the effort devoted to the landing pages to which that traffic is sent is negligible. A couple of hours of a graphic designer's and copywriter's time are often all that the landing page merits. With a cursory review by the higher-ups, the landing page goes live.
Worse yet, we assume that the quality of the landing page can't be changed, so we don't even look for ways to improve it. We turn all of the other knobs and dials at our disposal and continue to neglect the biggest profit-driver under our control -- the conversion efficiency of the landing page.
This is costing a lot of money in the form of missed opportunity. Double- or triple-digit conversion rate gains are routinely realized through engagements. Yet there's still a widespread perception among online marketers that their landing pages are already solid and can't be improved through testing.
What's Wrong With This Picture?
There are three important activities in online marketing:
- Acquisition: Getting people to your Web site or landing page.
- Conversion: Persuading them to take the desired action(s).
- Retention: Deepening the relationship and increasing its lifetime value.
But not all of these receive equal weight or attention in most companies.
Because of the large amounts of money spent on acquisition and retention, sophisticated systems have been created to maximize the ROI of these activities. But the efficiency of the Web site or landing page has been largely neglected.
Many companies are beginning to understand that Web site and landing page conversion can have a dramatic impact on online marketing program profits. That's where the new battleground is in the coming years.
In future installments of this column I'll share my experiences about how to improve the effectiveness of your landing pages through scientific testing, and turn them from a liability to a real engine of growth for your company.