Are landing page platforms worth their money?

Marketing ‘gurus’ have been trying for years to convince you that you need a landing page that forces visitors of a campaign to hand-out some personal information (at least their e-mail address), in exchange for a freebie (usually a report, a cheat sheet, access to a webinar, or even a whole book).

This particular method worked for some time, but its effectiveness started degrading only a few months later – as soon as visitors realised that freebies advertised was only starting points for e-mail campaigns selling products often irrelevant to the promised freebie.

Even relevant freebies became obsolete with the wide use of smartphones, because the ‘gurus’ keep advising their ‘students’ to set up those freebies as PDF files for display on desktop compluters.

People nowadays don’t have the time to read multi-page lengthy reports or cheat sheets – let alone books or long webinars designed to upsell.

Although the thought process behind this practice sounds legitimate, execution provided by those platforms, simply eliminates any chance of success. The reason is simple: the strategy is for the advertiser to offer value upfront to their visitors, while landing page execution by the platforms, is to ask for value from the visitors (in the form of their e-mail address), before they allow them to receive any value provided by the promised freebie.

How do visitors react to this?

Unfortunately, not as advertisers expected. Low sign-up rates to receive the freebie, or sign-ups using inexistent e-mail addresses, or (at best) sign-ups using e-mail accounts set up only to receive spam. The resuls? High bounce rates and ultra-low open rates – often under 5% – and even lower click through (and consequently, conversion) rates.

The funny thing is that both ‘gurus’ and platforms try to blame the advertisers for those results, while it is evident that the problems start with the mailing list sign-up process.

How can you fix this?

It’s really quite simple: fix what’s evidently broken – that is your mailing list sign-up process. The following method will cost you far less from what landing page platforms are charging you for running their broken proccess, it will bring you warm leads, and it will take you less than a day to set it up – if you are familiar with setting up your e-mail marketing or CRM provider, it will only take you 2-3 hours.

You will only need three tools, of which at least one you may be already using: Microsoft Sway to create your reports/cheat sheets (its basic edition is free, while its premium edition is included with any Office365 subscription), your e-mail or CRM service provider to handle your mailing list and send your campaign messages (if you aren’t already using one, you can start for free with most e-mail marketing or CRM service providers), and ScreenTag to share your contact details, integrate your mailing list forms, and enter your e-mail address in your recipients main contact list, so your campaign messages never end up in your recipients’ spam/promotions folders (the Professional edition license costs $40, plus an annual subscription of $9.95 – the latter is waived, if you have an active Office365 or G-Suite subscription). So, all-in-all, your minimum cost is at $49.95 for the first year, and $9.95 for each year thereafter – in comparison, LeadPages has a minimum annual subscription of $180, while ClickFunnels has a minimum monthly subscription of $185.

Start with building a story-telling report or cheat sheet on Sway. Keep your paragraphs short and to the point, and where possible include an image or graph in each slide. Remember that this is not going to be a desktop page report or cheat sheet, and adjust your writing style accordingly. A Sway is more like a PowerPoint presentation, so it has to be visually appealing. The good thing with Sways though, compared to Powerpoint presentations, is that a Sway is presented through a web browser, and therefore your recipients can access links right through it. Another great benefit from having your report or cheat sheet presented through a Sway, is that your Sway hub provides viewing statistics, not only on the number of viewers, but also on the speed they are moving through slides. In that, viewers are divided into browsers, brief reviewers and throrough reviewers, allowing you to make changes to your content. Bear in mind though that moving towards the end of your Sway presentation, to establish a naturally-flowing transition towards a mailing list sign-up. The least you can offer your audience, is the chance to receive more similar reports and cheat sheets, by subscribing to your mailing list. These further reports should be designed to get your audience deeper into benefits your product may be offering them, e.g. problem-solution, or case studies.

Moving on to your e-mail marketing or CRM service provider, the best option would be to start with a fresh mailing list in your account. This would help you run sequential campaigns, targeted specifically to people who have already received your report or cheat sheet. Add a sign-up form that will be submitting sign-ups to that list, and ask for integration for that form with your ScreenTag. Bear in mind that since the final action is to have your recipients downloading your contact details and adding you as a contact, not to make them feel they are joining a spammy mailing list – although proper consent should always be in place. A headline for your form that sounds like ‘Please tell me a bit about you’ with an accompanying copy like ‘I’d like to share my contact details with you, so you can easily reach out to me with any questions you may have, and send you more reports like this one’, is expected to get you many quality sign-ups to your mailing list.

Finally, your ScreenTag binds together your Sway presentation, to your mailing list sign-up form, and – once your new subscriber downloads your contact details and adds you in his address book – ensures that your future campaign messages don’t end-up in your recipients’ spam/promotions folder. Try not to include a hard-selling splash image on your ScreenTag contact info download page, as this might give your recipients the wrong impression, and lead them to quit from downloading your contact details file.

Before you start promoting your report or cheat sheet Sway presentation on social media channels, you should go on and design all future Sways associated with your campaign, and set-up drip campaigns with your e-mail or CRM service provider (bear in mind though that this is a premium feature, and a subscription may be required to get it activated). In your drip campaign messages, start with an introductory paragraph describing what your associated Sway presentation is all about, and finish with a with call-to-action link to view the associated Sway presentation.

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