By John Eberhard

I started doing email marketing about 10 years ago, and started doing pay per click advertising about 5-6 years ago. One important element of each type of marketing is: where are you going to have people land on your site?

I noticed 10 years ago and still notice now that many people just automatically have visitors land on their home page. But is this the best way to go? And when I say what is the best way, let’s clarify that the goal is to get the most leads or sales from the campaign.

I developed a technique of making a special, customized landing page, for use in both email marketing and pay per click. This landing page:

  1. Has sales text and pictures, of varying lengths
  2. Has a form at the bottom of that page for people to become a lead or buy something. Also has a phone number in case they want to call in.
  3. Has no navigational buttons
  4. Often has a video or audio clip on it
  5. Has some kind of compelling offer

Over the years I have tried this type of customized landing page on probably over 100 campaigns.

One of the advantages of both email marketing and pay per click advertising is the ability to track the results extremely well. For example, with Google AdWords, you can have what is called an “A-B” test, where half of the people who see your ad will go to landing page A, and half will go to landing page B. And you can see in great detail, after a week or two of testing, whether it is better to have people land on your home page or on a customized landing page.

Sometimes when I have described the customized landing page concept to clients, they have been skeptical. They have sometimes said:

  1. “I wouldn’t like that if I came to a site like that.”
  2. “That would piss me off if I came to a site like that, I would want to surf around the site.”
  3. “People want to surf around the site.”
  4. “Anyone with any web smarts would just back up to the main domain name and then be able to navigate around the site.”

While I can’t particularly argue with whether any of these statements is true, what I can do is say that over the last 10 years, the customized landing page, with no navigation, has worked better in 80-90% of all cases.

When I say that it has worked better, I mean that a customized landing has in 80-90% of all cases worked better in terms of getting more conversions. And by conversions, I mean leads or sales. The customized landing page got a higher percentage of people going to that page, converting to leads or sales than when landing on the home page or any other page of the site with navigation buttons.

What about that other 10-20%? I have seen it work better to give the visitor the option to tool around the site, in rare cases, such as when the product is very visual, such as certain home improvement companies (landscape, paving stones, ponds), where the most highly trafficked pages of the site are generally the photo gallery pages.

For the rest, I recommend leaving the navigation off.

My theory for why this works better, is that letting the person wander around your site is not as focused an experience. They wander around and they leave. But if the only option for the person is to fill out the form or call you, they do, at least in higher percentages.

If you don’t believe me, test it.