Landing Page Fail in Everyday Life

April 14th, 2010

It can be overwhelming, especially to my clients, who are business people trying to be successful, not social media experts, to even discuss an issue like landing page fail. The whole terminology and concept seems like a new problem brought about by the Internet and something else they have to learn that is tangential to their core business.

For me, this is the time to remember that good marketing really is fundamental, not magical. And that online/social media is another marketing vehicle to deliver your message, not a new beast to tame.

Landing page fail is not a new problem; it is a new way for customers to experience the discontinuity problem between image and action that always has the potential to exist.

When you go to Ace Hardware and instead of getting the “the helpful hardware man,” there is no one there to answer your questions – you have just had a landing page fail.

When you clip the coupon from the paper, take it to the restaurant and give it to your waiter who looks at you blankly and then says he needs to get the manager – you have just had landing page fail.

When see a great ad that makes you want to shop at the store that you haven’t been to before and when you get there, you have trouble finding the place because the logo in the ad does not look anything like the stores – that is landing page fail.

What examples do you have of offline landing page fail?

Everyone’s frustrated by Landing Page Fail

March 31st, 2010

It is easy to look at landing page failure as just a frustration to the company. You work hard a some sort of marketing campaign, attract customers and then don’t have the conversion because they can’t get to the information.

But it is even more important than you being frustrated, the customers/users are frustrated too.

They were interested for a reason and now they are disappointed. It is not a break even deal; your customer now thinks less of you.

This just happened to me from the customer point of view. Took a parent survey in response to an email from the United States Ski and Snowboard Association. At the end, I was sent to a page on the USSA website touting their “Successful Sports Parenting” CD that I had never heard of.

With my 12 year old becoming a more competitive Nordic Combined athlete (that is ski jumping and cross country skiing) and her 10 year old twin sisters also competing, this CD sounded like something I should have.

Unfortunately, there is nothing on the page that tells me how to get the CD and when I click “find out more,” the link is broken.

Now I am disappointed in USSA and I want something that I can’t figure out how to get. Before I took the survey, I wasn’t really thinking about USSA one way or the other.

The moral – TEST, TEST, TEST your landing pages because you do more damage than just lower your current conversion, you also get customers disappointed/upset with you and that carries on into the future.

Static Websites serve a valuable niche

March 19th, 2010

I just got the domain name renewal notice for a client website that I created in 2005 and haven’t touched since. It was with uncertainty that I sent the client a renewal notice, wondering if they just didn’t see value in their website anymore since we had never updated it.

The client’s quick and enthusiastic response to renew made me take another look at her site.

She is a landscape architect who decided she needed a website to act as a detailed brochure. She gets most of her clients by word of mouth or from the signage she has onsite during a job. Her goal for the website was not a huge increase in customers, but more a decrease in the pre-sales time she spends with prospects.

Her site conveys her work through lots of pictures and something we called a DesignStory, a step by step chronicle of one of her landscape transformations.

As I reviewed her site, I cringed a bit at some outdated website design aspects, but realized that this site is still serving its intended purpose as well as it did when we first released it.

Just reminded me that although we web marketers are immersed in the latest trends and that these can be quite useful to many businesses, Marketing is still about the fundamental message and connecting that with your customers and sometimes when you do this right, that’s all you need.

Live sports coverage via Social Media

March 5th, 2010

Today, I tried my first experiment with covering a live sporting event on Facebook and Twitter and it went quite well.
Our local Ski Club (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club) is hosting the Ski Jumping / Nordic Combined Junior Olympics – the best 13-17 year old ski jumpers and nordic combined athletes from across the US and Canada.
To allow friends and family back home to follow the event, we covered it lived on the Facebook Fan page that I setup for the event (which is also linked to Twitter).
As each athlete jumped, I posted the athlete’s name, division and jump length inserting information about what else was happening at the event (such as a fall, what class was jumping, if there was a hill hold, etc).
Facebooking a live event like this is an act of faith since you have no idea if anyone is really listening, but after it was done and results were posted, I was able to scan back and see quite a few comments scattered throughout by friends and family of the athletes.
The athletes themselves loved how informed everyone was about their accomplishments.
This is probably better suited to events like ski jumping than to a fast-moving team sport like a basketball game, but I am definitely happy with the results.
To check it our find JNCJO2010 on Facebook or Twitter or the website

Age your customer lists

January 28th, 2010

If you have a product or service that is targeted to a specific age customer (like baby products) or a customer that is at a specific life point (taking the SAT or GMAT or LSAT for example), then I strongly urge you to manage your list well and age your customers to more appropriate products / services  / companies.

Some examples:

I have three kids who are now ages 12 and 10 year old twins.  When they were babies, then getting baby product catalogs and emails were fine.  But to this day, I can’t get off the mailing list for some baby product catalogs.  This does not endear me to them, it just pisses me off, which is not great for WOM.  If these brands don’t have sister brands for my older kids, then sell my name to a brand that does.  You know when my child was 2, so you should now know that she is 12.

I took that GMAT a year ago.  By now, one would hope that have used that score and gotten into grad school (I did and am studying for my MBA at Penn State World Campus).  I continue to get emails from Kaplan test prep for the GMAT.  Why is Kaplan still sending me GMAT emails?  Kaplan has other products (including an online University) that they should be trying to sell me on now that I have aged through taking the GMAT.  They are missing an opportunity and annoying me.

You don’t have to just delete your customers or sell them (selling being a much more profitable thing than deleting), you can check in with them to see how their interests have changed.

Use the customer information you have to make sure you are sending the correctly targeted information to them.

A way to get measureable and actionable feedback in Beta test

January 20th, 2010

I think this new era of “invite beta” where you extend your beta test beyond just hand picked customers to those who self-select is awesome.  It gives you a really spot-on target group for your beta test.

But even in this day of social everything and the ease of communication that it brings, it can still be challenging to get users to provide the measurable and actionable feedback that you need, especially in beta test.

My approach is two pronged…

1)’Require’ that beta testers give feedback – I put require in quotes because I am not suggesting that you have beta police or anything like that, just that you make it clear up front that you are expecting more than just the occasional, “I love/hate this product” or even detailed bug report from your beta testers.  Most companies have a survey-set of questions about the beta and its usage and beta testers are expected to provide this directed input as part of their participation.

2) One question at a time – Rather than weigh down your beta testers with with multi page polldaddy surveys, just make sure there to pose one question to them each time they use the site/product.  Everyone has the time to answer ONE question.  Then give them the opportunity to answer more if they wish.

This way, your beta tester know up front that you expect directed as well as free form participation but you also make it really easy for them to get through your survey questions and you to get the structured info you need along with discovering the other info your testers will provide.

Knowing what you NEED to say

January 12th, 2010

Call me old-fashioned, I can handle it.

Why am I old-fashioned, because I believe it is a waste of time/effort/money to invest in social media (or any other marketing effort)  without first knowing what you are need to say.

Any schlub can figure out something to say about any business/product/service.  Lots of smart, conscientious people are paid well to figure out what they want to say, but what you need to say is what your prospect needs to hear in order to become a customer.

The Marketing work comes well before you place an ad or start a Facebook Fan page.

First, determine the compelling messages that will resonate with your prospects.  once you have these, you are prepared to do your marketing, not the other way around.

One of the great advantages of social media is the ability to have conversations so now you don’t have to create your compelling messages out of thin air or based on just a tiny bit of customer input.  You can reach out to talk to your target market and see what they need so they you know what you need to say to them.

Beat Yourself with the Benefits Stick until you feel your Customers’ Pain

December 2nd, 2009

Tomorrow I am giving a five minute presentation at my local Ignite meeting (if you don’t know about Ignite, check it out at

My topic is one I consider fundamental to good marketing, be it traditional, online, social, whatever – knowing your customers’ pain.

Features are the characteristics of our business/product/service.  It is what we spend our day to day time on and what we know best.

Benefits are useful or profitable to our customers.  When a customer asks What? push yourself to answer with the benefits, not the features.

But Pains are where you really connect with your customers.

Watch and listen to my short presentation here

Then use my Marketing Messages Template at to help you brainstorm your features/benefits/pains.

Remembering what the Fold is all about

November 17th, 2009

I have read a lot lately about how the fold was previously given too much importance, how users have no problem scrolling and how you do not need to worry about what is above the fold.

This has been laid out as an either-or situation…either you do worry about fold and don’t put anything below it or you don’t worry about the fold and make your page as long/scrollable as you want.

I think remembering where the fold comes from gives great guidance on how to use it.

The fold is originally from newspapers that were traditionally folded in half to display on newsstands and in newspaper racks.  Readers could only see the top half of the paper (above the fold) to decide if they wanted to buy it.

There was just as much to read below the fold (and much more inside the paper), but only the part above the fold was available to capture a potential customer and turn them into a buyer.

Now think about your website this way.

Only what a viewer first sees on their screen is available to capture that viewer and entice them into further exploring your website.

Worrying about the fold doesn’t mean that your pages have to be so short that they never scroll.  It means that you carefully chose the information that first appears to viewers so that it entices them to scroll to read more.

The fold is a valid concept, but not a hard line.  Use it to guide your content placement decisions.