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:
The Lahaina Arts Society Special Member’s Only Offer
Creativity and the Business of Art
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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A very timely post, Mckenna! I just got off the phone with a client who wants to start her own painting workshops. We talked about ways to market, and perused a site that connects students with workshops in their areas. The links to those workshops, in most cases, didn’t go to landing pages! It was mind-boggling that anyone with a product to sell would not link the customer directly to an informational page with a “buy” button that leads directly to the shopping cart.
Thanks for pointing out this disconnect. Many people who are trying to sell a product or service need to take a look to see if they are directing traffic to the right place to close the sale.
I know… right? Such a disconnect!
It seems so obvious and yet! It’s good that people like you and me exist to walk people through the right doors and jump the right hoops!
Is there someone who will make a landing page/sales page for someone. Or someone who teaches people to do it? Thanks a mill
Ciara… This message never got delivered to me for some reason and I am just now seeing it.
I hope you found some help with your query. If not, feel free to contact me: email@example.com
There’s lots of interesting stuff in this article, Mckenna. I must admit to being confused as to what a Landing Page is and when I need one. Now I see that I have been making them when I create a special subscriber page for new work. Do you think if you’re aiming to sell an art piece you should link to a product page and a checkout or is it fine to say email/call me if they want to purchase? (I struggled to do this with my originals as there’s so many sales permutations depending on the customer’s location and individual needs)
I haven’t taken the plunge with magazine advertising but I see now that when I had a big spread in a magazine, I missed a trick by not having a link for visitors coming to the website as a result of that.
How does email marketing link up with a magazine ad?
Yes, you are creating landing pages. When you send that email and let your subscribers know about a new piece “hot of the press” (literally!) you are sending them to a landing page. And the goal is? Come on now – everyone say this together: TO SELL THE PIECE! So your goal should be to create a sales page.
So just as Carolyn stated: put them on a page with information and a buy button.
By “permutations” I am guessing framed vs not and local shipping vs not? State a price for unframed – period, with the disclaimer that shipping and various framing options are available as additional purchases. This purchase is fully refundable for XX days.
In fact, with your monotypes, I would highly recommend that you treat this as a very RARE (it is!) opportunity and even suggest that a purchase will in effect put them in a position of a “right of first refusal” until they can complete the rest of the purchase – ie the shipping or any other options.
However, you can spell out all the options. You can have a buy button for each of the options. People are buying cars on line and picking out dozens of add-ons and options. Your offer is much easier. Whatever you would be “explaining” or exploring on the phone or in an email can be on a Sales Page. If you want to hire me to create a template, I am happy to help further, but I know you can do this yourself.
The point is: don’t KILL the enthusiasm that you might have sparked in the email. They clicked your call to action… now follow along with them for the rest of the sale.
As for email/magazine link up. It’s cross-pollination marketing. You let everyone know that you have a new piece for sale and that you have an ad that will hit the racks on a date in the future. You use that same ad IN the email and this simply creates more urgency for your buyers. It also says, “I have my game on! I am selling art.”
Thanks for that specific advice, Mckenna. It’s come at the right time as my very next email is the launch of new originals. I’ll keep all that in mind. You are right about the permutations. I guess there aren’t that many – it’s just a lot of work to set up the checkout with options. The plain unframed price seems a good way to go.
Every time I comment on one of your posts I get a stream of really useful and specific advice! I feel guilty that I haven’t paid for it! You are too generous! I’ll keep on singing your praises to my artist friends!
I am always happy to give specific advice. I know that if you have questions, so do many others who will read my responses.It’s a never-ending learning game. For ALL of us!
Wow! This sounded so familiar and then I realized McKenna was talking about a project that she is helping me create for an ad in Pen World magazine. I have a new line of Cigar Band Pens that I am going to unveil at the Dallas Pen Show, September 8th and 9th and I wanted to follow that up with exposure in the magazine. There is a substantial amount of capital required to do the ads in Pen World and I did not want to see that investment tank. I will get some exposure in Pen World in their Now section in October as some of the staff had seen some of my Instagram photos @drscoats and liked the design concept. So, I am going all in and doing an ad in the October and December issues and of course I contacted McKenna about helping me.
I have worked with her before and knew she was the only one I would trust to get a bang for every dollar. Her enthusiasm for this idea convinced me that I was on to something good. The ideas came rolling out of her head and it was all I could do get it down on paper. One of the things that I appreciate about McKenna, is that she has been there and done that as an artist which gives her the knowledge of what we struggle with. She can cut through all of the impediments we sometimes create and give laser like direction to our efforts. I really appreciate her perspective, but her encouragement and dedication to the task at hand is what I find most helpful. I did not start out to write about McKenna, but she is one of a kind and a real friend to artists everywhere!
P.S. Thanks McKenna, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with for the Pen World ad. This whole new direction you have me moving toward is going to be a great ride!!!
Wow… gotta love this testimonial, Scott! THANKS! Truth is, I am only this excited to help someone when I know they have a winner on their hands like you do. I love this design! (Even if I don’t love Cigars) Cigar Band Art is so cool. And Yes… I see that you actually put in your cigar pen landing page in your sign-up for the comments. GOOD JOB, Scott!
Hi Scott, it’s great to know the story and see the art objects behind Mckenna’s article. Good luck with your ad campaign – I hope it pays dividends. You are right about Mckenna – she’s a storehouse of ideas for us artists!
Mckenna, this post is so relevant to me right now. I have an ad for my teacup notecards in the fall issue of Teatime Magazine. It apparently has just hit the stands as I’ve just received 2 orders! (excited, but embarrassed that I am not as prepared as I could be) I’ve taken a risk and spent $ I cannot afford to on placing this ad and I’ve not done any of the above to help promote or market my teacup art. At the very least I will be scrambling today to get the ad on my homepage.
Scrambling is not ideal, but by all means – get that ad on the front page… As seen in Teatime Magazine! Then send out an email asap and let your subscribers know about your “adventure”. It’s not too late to get more out of this ad! Congrats on making the investment, now get busy and start “planning” your next more “prepared” ad campaign. Let me know if you want some help with anything.
Thank You McKenna, I’m working on it as we speak!
Very informative post. Thanks,McKenna! Even in my newsletter, when I feature a specific painting,I focus on linking directly to that painting on my website, not just my homepage. Glad to know I am on the right track.
I did find it odd that on a landing page,you suggest not having the footer or menu. Isn’t the footer required? Isn’t it a good idea to provide the menu so if my work interests the customer, they can see what else might interest them? Curious on this one.
Such a great question, Susan. Let me explain.
It depends on several factors, but yes you are right that a footer and header are important and should be on all your “pages”. However, when you develop a page that is intended for “selling” a specific offer for a limited time, or for getting someone to sign-up for something like a webinar or event, you can choose to keep those “distractions” off that page. The page itself is a stand-alone that often can’t be reached from a menu, so the only way anyone would land on that page is because you have provided a link via an email, a social media channel, or a mention/link in your blog or some other page. Some people will put a “banner ad” on their home page. Or you can put it on an events page. It’s a “learn more” link and they go to that page for the sole purpose of seeing if they want to “act now”. If they can easily just click to another page, the dedication to the page is muffled.
Does that clear up the concept? Here’s my own example: https://mygoldenwords.com/es-of-selling-art-system/ Because this is an on going offer, it’s in my menu, but I do keep a deep focus on the product.
Hi McKenna, Thanks for this post. It gave me what i need about landing pages. Bit curious, how much did you charge for the campaign/launch for the reason?or perhaps how did you charge your client?
Glad I could be of help. I have answered your query with more details by DM.
beautifully explained the differences, thanks a lot!