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Lessons in landing pages

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You spend hours working on the design and copy of your e-mail marketing campaigns, but how much time do you devote to your landing pages? If you’re like many marketers, the answer is simple: not enough. “It’s definitely one of the lesser-thought-about things,” said Jim Wehmann, senior VP-global marketing with Digital River, a provider of e-commerce and marketing solutions. “It’s too much of an afterthought, which is one of the biggest mistakes that a marketer can make.”

A solid landing page starts with good list segmentation, Wehmann said. You can’t create a good landing page unless you know all you can about who will be clicking through to it. Once you’ve identified your segments—customers, for example, might see one page while prospects might see another—then it’s time to concentrate on design and call to action.

From a design standpoint, landing pages should have a look and feel that’s similar to your original e-mail and other interactive advertising elements; avoid sending people through to your home page or to a plain vanilla landing page. “You want to see good continuity when coming out of an e-mail,” Wehmann said.

Prospects and one-time customers may need more educational elements, so make sure those are visible and clickable. If your e-mail is focusing on a specific category, you may want to consider creating a microsite instead of just a landing page. This will depend on the complexity of your product and offer as well as the segment you’re targeting, Wehmann said. “In some cases, you may want to consider adding a ‘Purchase Now’ link inside an e-mail that drops a prospect directly into the shopping cart or free-trial signup page,” he said.

Marketers should incorporate landing pages into their overall Web site strategy, Wehmann said. For example, he said, they can provide links to the landing page from other pages on the site. The page itself should also be optimized for search engines, he added.

Links should stay live for longer than a few days. “There’s no harm in leaving a page live as long as the information on it is current,” he said.

If you can’t—or don’t want to—keep the page live, make sure users are redirected to a related page. After all, you never want to clue a customer in to the fact that they missed out on a great deal. “In that case, you land them on a spot where they can buy or learn more about the product or service in the original offer but they aren’t being reminded of what they missed out on,” he said.

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