"This is probably a really dumb question, but . . .”
I can’t count the number of times those words came out of my mouth in my first weeks at Leadpages. When you first dive into the world of digital marketing, it can seem like there’s an intimidatingly huge amount to learn, including a whole new vocabulary. And I’ll admit: I was occasionally tempted to fake my way through a few early conversations. But I quickly realized I’d learn a lot faster if I overcame any embarrassment and just asked someone. Fortunately, at Leadpages, I sit within Nerf-gun distance of all kinds of people whose expertise is matched only by their willingness to share what they know. From the start, they had a truly impressive talent for making me feel like my questions weren’t so dumb after all. Not everyone’s lucky enough to be surrounded by helpful colleagues, of course—primarily because a lot of entrepreneurs are pretty much going it alone. That’s why I’ve gathered some fundamental (and common) digital-marketing questions to answer right here, once and for all. These questions come from our users, from social media responses and blog comments sections, and from, well, my less experienced past self. As a special bonus for you, we’ve also put together a glossary poster that explains nearly 100 important digital-marketing terms in plain language. Peruse the whole thing for an at-a-glance crash course, or stick the poster on your bulletin board or save it to your desktop to consult quickly whenever you come across an unfamiliar term. Essentially, we’ve created the resource I wish I’d had when I was starting out in this field. Click below to download it right now:
Now, let’s answer some questions.
1. What’s a landing page?
A landing page is any web page you set up that’s designed to: a) Collect traffic (from one or several sources), and b) Prompt visitors to take a specific action. Of course, that definition covers a lot of different kinds of pages. What’s more, the same exact page might be a landing page or not depending on how you use it. Let’s play a quick game of “Landing Page or Not a Landing Page?” and consider some potentially tricky examples.
- Registration page for a webinar you’ve promoted on social media: Yep, definitely a landing page.
- Page listing your business’s address, hours, and contact information: Not a landing page—it doesn’t ask visitors to take further action.
- Pre-launch page where visitors can sign up to receive updates on your next product release: Landing page!
- Sales page promoting the benefits of one of your membership levels: Could definitely be a landing page, especially if it has a button to purchase or sign up.
- E-commerce page listing all your inventory: Probably not a landing page—it offers dozens (maybe hundreds) of potential choices for visitors to make, so the goal’s not well defined.
Now, you can direct traffic—from paid advertising, social media posts, or elsewhere—to any page you like. And sure, you could go ahead and call that page a landing page. Technically, visitors are going to land there. But just as a house with no roof isn’t what we’re usually talking about when we talk about houses, a landing page with no discernible call to action isn’t much of a landing page. It doesn’t give people a strong reason to stick around your site, and it probably won’t convince them to stay long enough to become customers. [caption id="attachment_5809" align="aligncenter" width="795"]
Technically a house. Probably not very useful as a house.[/caption] Applying this two-part definition to your pages won’t guarantee that they’re successful, but it does mean you’ll be starting off on the right foot. For an in-depth, multimedia guide to using landing pages in your marketing, check out our new Ultimate Guide to Landing Pages course.
2. Is a landing page the same thing as a website? And do I need both?
A landing page definitely doesn’t need to be a standalone website, or even part of one. For instance, if you’re a Leadpages member, you can publish your landing pages to our servers without needing to set up a website of your own and pay for someone else to host your domain. (If you take this route, the URL of that page will look like this: https://yourusername.leadpages.co/page-name/.) Whether or not you need a main website in addition to your landing pages depends a lot on your business. If you’re promoting one-off events or products, it may be the case that all the information you need to tell prospects will fit naturally on the landing page for each one. However, if your business depends on building long-term relationships with customers or establishing a strong brand, you will probably want to have a main website in addition to any landing pages you create. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all your landing pages should link to your main website. Many successful landing pages don’t even have a navigation bar. That’s because it’s often wise to minimize the potential actions a customer can take once they reach your landing page so that they’re likelier to respond to your primary call to action. If you do decide you need a main website, you can make things easy on yourself and actually build your entire website from one or several landing page templates. LeadPages offers a number of “minisite” templates designed for just for this purpose, where you can place all the crucial information about your business on one page. Instead of using different pages, a minisite organizes information in different content boxes, which you reach by vertical scrolling. (If this sounds like a great format for mobile viewing, it is!) You can link your minisite page to additional landing pages as needed. Or your business model may make it possible for you to design your homepage around a single call to action, turning it into an effective landing page on its own. For example, if you have a consulting firm, your entire homepage may be designed to get visitors to sign up for a free consultation. For the majority of business owners, however, “website or landing page?” is a false dichotomy. In most cases, you’ll want some combination of both.
3. It looks like there are lots of landing-page templates out there. How can I choose one? Isn’t it all pretty subjective?
Landing-page creators today are inundated with choices. As I’m writing this, LeadPages alone offers well over 100 landing-page templates in our standard library, plus more than 200 others available for purchase in our Marketplace. And that number climbs every week. Quick sidenote: If you’re not 100% sure what a “template” is, think of it as the set of files that make an individual web page look and function as it does. If you’re a LeadPages customer and you use a LeadPages template, you’ll be able to customize the template inside our app just by clicking and typing. If you don’t subscribe to any landing-page software, you can still use landing-page templates like the ones we occasionally give away for free on our blog by downloading the files. But you’ll need to know how to code in order to customize them and host them on your site—since you aren’t using our software, you won’t be able to just type and click. So how to choose? Well, you could read up on the best practices for designing landing pages and try to find templates that follow those principles. But this could take enough time to qualify as a whole new hobby. If you’re not up for that, I’d recommend taking advantage of one unique LeadPages® feature: the template library’s Sort by Conversion Rate function. [caption id="attachment_5806" align="aligncenter" width="795"]
Note the Conversion Rate sort option, circled at the top in blue.[/caption] What this feature does is analyze how these pages are performing for all LeadPages® users, and then send the ones with the highest conversion rates (more on that term below) to the top. This initial data can be a great way to narrow down your choices. And there is real data out there on this. It’s true that template-design preferences are “subjective” on an individual level. If one site visitor responds more favorably to pages with photo backgrounds, while another is more likely to take action on a page with a solid background, it’s not that one of them is more “right” than another. But if you do some research and find that 80% of people respond better to sites with photo backgrounds than to sites with solid backgrounds . . . now you don’t just have a couple of opinions. You have some data. Good template designers draw on this kind of research when they make design decisions, so that by the time you use one of their templates, you’re benefitting from a large body of knowledge. And once you’re up and running, you can contribute to that body of knowledge by doing some testing on your own—read on to learn how.
4. What’s my conversion rate, and how do I find it?
First, let’s talk about what a conversion is. A “conversion” is simply the point at which someone takes the next step in their relationship with your company. Depending on your business and your goals for any given marketing campaign, a conversion could take place when someone . . .
- Joins your email list
- Registers for a webinar
- Purchases a product
- Signs up for a free consultation
- Follows you on social media
- Clicks through to your pricing page
. . . or any number of other desired actions. Your conversion rate is the percentage of people viewing a page or interacting with a widget who respond to your call to action, complete the process you’ve designed, and take that next step. For instance, if 800 people visit your landing page, and 400 of them purchase the product you’re marketing on that page, that page has a 50% conversion rate. If 100 people click on your call-to-action button, and 60 of them submit the opt-in form that pops up when they do, that form has a 60% conversion rate. If you use LeadPages®, you can see your conversion rates for each landing page and LeadBox™ opt-in form you create in the app:
The number on the left is your conversion rate. The number in the middle is the number of people who opted in, and the number on the right is the total number of unique visitors who saw the page or LeadBox™. (“Unique” visitors means that if someone visits your page multiple times, they’ll only be counted once.) If you want to see those numbers rise, you can try running a split test. Speaking of which:
5. What’s a split test, and how do I run one? (And does “A/B test” mean the same thing?)
A split test is a way to assess which of multiple versions of a landing page or element of that page gets a higher conversion rate. A true split test is randomized, so that each version is seen by an equivalent group of people. After both versions have been seen by plenty of people, you can compare their conversion rates and choose one to be your new standard. Creating different page variations, setting up randomization, and getting accurate statistics would be a pretty formidable task . . . if there weren’t software to do it for you. Fortunately, LeadPages® has a built-in split testing tool that you can turn on for any landing page or LeadBox® within a few clicks. You can split-test nearly any element of your landing page—check out our split test archive for inspiration. This way, you can continually improve your page performance by ensuring you’re picking the best possible images, headlines, colors, and even entire templates to engage your particular audience. A split test can have multiple variants "competing" against each other at the same time. A/B testing is a subset of split testing that uses only two variants at a time. For a fun and, uh, meaty look at the nuts and bolts of split testing, check out our article Split Testing 101 (With Bacon).
6. What’s a lead magnet? Is it the same thing as a “content upgrade,” or an “opt-in bribe”?
A lead magnet is anything you give away in exchange for someone’s contact information. (Getting someone’s contact information is what converts them from a prospect into a “lead,” since you now have a way of staying in touch.) It’s also called an opt-in bribe. A lead magnet most often works like this:
- You set up a landing page offering a valuable information resource (the lead magnet), such as a free PDF guide or an instructional video. This resource may mention your products or services, but it is not primarily an advertisement.
- People who visit your landing page enter their email address in order to access the lead magnet.
- When they submit their email address, they automatically receive an email containing the lead-magnet file.
- You now can contact them with (appropriate, non-overwhelming) future offers and information.
A content upgrade is a lead magnet that builds on the content of the informational page it’s offered on, most often a blog post. You could think of it as one of the bonus features included on a DVD release—something that adds to the experience. You may have noticed that we offered you a lead magnet—which is also a content upgrade—near the top of this post. If you didn’t download it then, you can grab it right here:
7. What’s a “funnel”? Do I need special software to create one?
If you do a Google image search for “marketing funnel,” you’ll get a ton of results, and they’ll look something like this:
All different sizes. All different styles. Some of them sort of funnel-shaped, others definitely not. But it’s actually a lot less complicated than it may look. A sales or marketing funnel is simply a series of elements you set up for potential customers to interact with, guiding them through the process of becoming actual customers. For example, your funnel might start with a Facebook ad . . . that leads to a landing page . . . that offers a lead magnet . . . that initiates a follow-up email . . . that links to a checkout page. Your prospects hop into the top of the funnel via that advertisement, and then—if the funnel’s designed well—slide smoothly down to their first purchase. (At that point, they might drop into a re-engagement funnel set up to encourage upgrades or future purchases.) None of this requires any kind of special funnel-making tool beyond the tools you’re already using. To set up the example funnel above, you’d need only Facebook Ads, landing-page software such as LeadPages®, an email service provider, and a payment processing system (such as PayPal). If you ask for a funnel at the hardware store, you’ll get a simple tool. At its core, a marketing funnel should be a pretty simple tool as well.
8. I heard that social media is starting to replace email—why do marketers talk about email lists so much?
Although social media continues to do ever more and cooler things, it doesn’t actually look like email is going away anytime soon. Reports from the last few years seem to agree that more than 90% of Internet users in the U.S. use email, with a majority checking their email at least once a day. But even if email didn’t continue to be so ubiquitous, there would still be very good reasons to put a lot of thought into email marketing. That’s because your list of email contacts is a very special audience. For one thing, you can reach them one by one, right in their inboxes—and, if you have a good email service provider, you can send different messages to different groups of leads with ease. For another, you can keep in touch with that audience for as long as they’re subscribed to your list. That’s not at all guaranteed with social media followers. Social-media platforms don’t have to do anything as drastic as shutting down in order to dramatically impact how businesses can use them to reach people. A couple of years ago, many Facebook Pages users saw their social reach tank when the company adjusted its algorithm to show their posts to only a miniscule percentage of their fan bases. Of course, you can still pay to broadcast your Facebook posts more widely. But this moment was a strong wakeup call for plenty of digital marketers out there that it’s wise to cultivate your email list in addition to any other channels you use. For more on how to nurture your email list, check out our own Bob the Teacher’s new (and free) Email List Building Course.
9. Everyone’s talking about “lead generation,” but what I want is more like “sales-right-now generation.” Can I use landing pages for that?
You can definitely use landing pages specifically to drive sales. For example, if you’re an e-commerce business, you could direct targeted ad traffic to a pre-sale landing page. Instead of overwhelming visitors by dropping them onto a vast catalog page of shoes, for instance, it might be wise guide them to a good choice by setting up a landing page featuring the season’s top styles (from which they can click through and make a purchase). Or you can integrate your landing page directly with a payment service such as PayPal or SamCart. The reason many marketers focus on lead generation is because they’re looking at the long-term picture. They want to be the source that customers turn to again and again for high-quality information (that complements their products). They want to build the kind of quality relationships that make email marketing more effective than annoying. But it’s true that sometimes, you just need a short-term burst of revenue. And you can get it. For one powerful example of a sales-first landing-page strategy, check out this case study on how Ezra Firestone paired LeadPages® with Pinterest ads and saw six figures in his first month out of the gate.
10. OK, I’ve made my first landing page—where are the opt-ins I’m supposed to be getting?
If this is you, I want to give you a big round of applause. You’ve worked hard. You’ve started an entire business (or taken an existing one to the next level). And you’ve created something really cool to promote it. You’re awesome! But . . . you’re not quite in the home stretch yet. What your page needs now is traffic—that is, a source of people who will see your landing page and start taking you up on all you have to offer. One way to get traffic to your landing page is to make it easily findable by people searching on the open web. This is called search engine optimization, and although it’s possible for small businesses to master, the fact is that you’ll be competing against the clients of entire agencies that are devoted solely to this task. Unless you have a product with extreme niche appeal, this could be slow going. So how do successful small businesses get lots of traffic at first? Often, they pay for it. This can be pretty economical, and a sound investment—we’ve seen effective Facebook advertising campaigns run on just $5 a day. Paid traffic is a larger topic than I can get into here, but if you’d like to explore further, I’ve rounded up a few good resources right here:
- Free 11-Part Course: The Facebook Advertising System
- Blog Post: Guide to PPC Advertising
- Blog Post: Guide to Interruptive Advertising
Finally, don’t forget to grab your copy of our glossary poster, Digital Marketing Terms, Demystified: 75+ Words You Should Know, before you go: