Okay, I’ll admit it. It’s a trick question. And it’s sort of a tricky answer, too. Essentially they are the same.
Remember the old adage, “all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are square”. Well, here’s the thing: All sales pages are “landing pages” however not all landing pages are for selling. And in the category of the sales page, there are two variations: Long form and short form. I will get into more detail before this article ends.
As for “Which one do you need to use?”, that’s simple: one or both will be needed on your website from time to time. NO one is off the hook! You cannot be in business online if you don’t include this important component on your website at least once in a while.
Don’t Kill Interest You Fight Hard (and spend money) to Generate
A client of mine has hired me to create an ad for his artful objects. The ad will run in a very deeply niched magazine for a specific market of collectors. This is so specialized that even if I wanted to drive for over an hour to the Barnes and Noble magazine rack, it’s not available. So, I had my client send me some of the magazines, including the most current issue. I wanted to get a full feel of the look and attitude of this unique publication. Step one: How will the ad fit in the environment of this publication?
As I flipped through, I looked for websites to dig deeper into the copywriting norms of this industry. Shockingly, the ads were all sending me to home pages. Here I was staring at some magical and collectible piece of ephemera and not only did the website not highlight the object on the “home page” (which is the least that you might want to do), but in some cases, I never found the actual item that was in the ad. One specific item I was pursuing was in an ad that cost the business over $500! Some ads were full-page and I don’t want to guess at the price paid, but they didn’t do themselves any favors. Not a single ad lead me to the items featured in the photos in the ads. I am still shaking my head!
They needed a landing page!
The gorgeous and (very expensive) items needed to be highlighted with their very own dedicated page. And just in case someone landed on the home page, there should have been some mention of the ad item. A copy of the actual ad on the home page with a link to a landing page is an excellent protocol.
And frankly, there should be as many landing pages as needed. If you have multiple ads, you should add “secret codes” to the page title to test the effectiveness of various ads. So if there is a full-page ad in one publication vs another publication with a half-page, it’s easy to see which advertisement worked best. Linking one to theirsite.com/one-name-of-product and the other to theirsite.com/two-name-of-product would be simple to track. (PS: consider using QR codes that link to the landing page!)
But to send people to their home page and, in most cases, not have a clear path to the item they are advertising is a complete waste of the money spent on that ad. Unfortunately, this is a very common practice in most small businesses that I work with. Needless to say, my client was joyful when I explained what my intentions were: With this launch of a new line of collectibles, we are building a landing page, an email announcement, and hitting social media. Thereby, the advertisement will have support when all that is in place and ready to rock. It’s called a launch for a reason!
Bear in mind that each marketing channel will have the same basic look and feel and messaging. It will be a “campaign”, not just an ad flung into a magazine. The landing page and email graphics will appear to be the same look as the ad in order to instill trust and familiarity by being consistent. Colors, fonts, and images will unite the tone for the viewer adding layers of recognition which increases comfort levels and builds trust.
It’s not for everyone
If having all those elements in place for an ad sounds like a lot of work… you would be right. However, it will work wonders if you have a price tag that is compatible. This is usually not worth doing for items in the sub-$100 price range. Nor would it be rational to create a campaign for a one-of-a-kind single sale of an item that will not even cover the cost of the ad. You need to “invest” in your sales process, but there must be profit at the end of the funnel.
So to be clear, this is effective for items with a high enough price or where there are multiples that are easy to generate, i.e, reproduction prints or mold-poured ceramics. Ideally, your campaign results in many sales to many people or a single very profitable sale to one person. Therefore, if you can see lots of sales or a big single sale as the potential outcome then go for it.
However, even your “free” advertising, like posting on Social Media or sending out an email, still requires the consideration of a landing page. You need to keep your followers focused and alert to your latest greatest whatever!
The Sales Page
What I am about to share is just the tip of the iceberg. There are entire books on the subject! In fact, at some point, I will be creating an online course all about Sales Pages. Some of the material for that course can be found in this blog post from September of last year, called “Six Steps to Writing Content That Sells.” If you want to take on this project, that article is full of goodies.
Here’s the deal: the whole point to the sales/landing page is to focus on the newest, greatest, best darn thing they could ever imagine owning. Or make them an offer they can’t refuse. Or let them know about a special opportunity. Or to give them deeper details about an item they are considering. It’s a page that has only one reason for existence – to convert interest into a purchase.
Here are a few Sales Pages that I have on this site:
Note that the first two are Long Form sales pages. The Long Form is used when the price is high and/or the item is complex. In the case of the E’s of Selling Art System, it’s not a slam-dunk price and it is somewhat complex. It requires people (artists) to cross that bridge of association with the sales process. It requires that they “read” and “study” which means they will need to be convinced that it’s worth their time as much as it’s worth the money. For some artists, this very notion of “selling” is very uncomfortable. So in both those two top pages, there is strong reinforcement with ongoing value propositions, multiple FAQ’s, and testimonials.
The last page is short form. This works when the item you are presenting is free. No need to take up lots of space on a page or time from a viewer for something that is free. Sometimes this is also called a “squeeze page” because you are being asked to do one specific task, like sign-up for emails or register for a webinar. It can be a page or a “light box”. The light box (aka pop-up) you trigger when you visit a page is a good example of a landing/squeeze page – even though it is not technically a page. (Are you totally confused now? Yikes!)
Okay… I am now stopping the confusion!
ALL THREE pages have one thing in common – no menu – no footer – no obvious or easy connection with the main site. You don’t want to break the already short attention span and let people start browsing around your menu. This exact method is used for many products and services. Since most people come to a landing/sales page from an online ad or email or a tweet and so on, they are coming to learn more about that thing and you really want to capitalize on that interest.
So! Your number one goal is to keep the Sale/Landing/Squeeze page focused! And if you need to do some deep “selling”, just pay close attention to the article I referenced above – here’s the link again to the “Six Steps to Writing Content That Sells”.
And of course, you can always buy a little time with me to get some professional advice on your “campaign” and marketing strategy. It never hurts to have some brainstorming sessions, does it? Start with a comment below or just sign-up for a free session.
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