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Landing Page Whitepaper Offers With Sub-Par Landing Pages?

Things change fast in the world of interactive marketing, so it is a good idea for most interactive professionals to subscribe to industry email newsletters in order to keep on top of the latest research, trends and best practices. As a result, my inbox is flooded with various industry newsletters pointing to current articles, and of course the HTML emails contain ads targeted to someone in the interactive media business.

Over the last few days, I have been served ads for a couple of different landing page guides. In order to get the landing page whitepapers, the user is directed to what else- a landing page. Logically, you would assume that an ad or email for a landing page best practice whitepaper would point to a pretty well designed landing page, but don’t make assumptions too quickly. I do not have access to the conversion data for either of the pages to be discussed, so the following observations are based solely on my experiences of landing page elements that enhance or detract from conversion rates.

One example of a questionable landing page design is for an Omniture landing page guide entitled “Does Your Landing Page Smell Like Your Keywords”. I use the term “questionable” because many design elements on this page are pretty good , but there are some design elements on this page that are extremely frustrating, especially in the context of downloading a whitepaper about landing pages. See the page below. The red line represents the “fold”; the portion of the page above the red line is visible without scrolling.

The first design element of this page that is concerning is the position of the form submit button. In my experience, forcing the user to scroll to find the submit button significantly detracts from conversion rates.

The next design element that is frustrating as an end user is the functionality of the form. Keep in mind, I was served the ad for the landing page in an email newsletter for online marketers– the primary subscriber base is most likely comprised of folks working at interactive agencies, which brings me to my concerns surrounding the form functionality. The first several fields are the standard fill-ins like name, email, but when you get to the drop down menus, things get a bit strange.

One design element that seemed particularly odd was the industry selector. As I mentioned previously, the ad for this page was served to a group that is likely comprised on online advertising agency types, but neither “Advertising” or “Marketing” were available as drop down selections. Instead, the form has a selection for “Healthcare” which seems strange as I could not imagine many people in healthcare are developing custom lead generation landing pages in-house.

Similarly, peculiar selections were available for other fields, especially considering the ad for this offer was served in an online marketing industry newsletter. Assuming the majority of folks that see this ad work at online ad agencies, it is odd that the most common job titles in the industry are not available in the drop down menu. There are no fields for “Account Executive” or “Account Director” although these are very common titles for the people that are seeing the ad impressions.

Another unique component of this page that I find frustrating relates to “form growth”. If you select “Other” from the drop down, a new fill-in field appears below the drop down box. I personally find this very frustrating as I feel deceived by the advertiser as the form gets larger and larger as I complete fields. Look at the difference between the original impression of the form, and the expanded form that “grows” based on your selection.

This experience reminds me of the frustrating multi-stage forms in which users keep getting directed to new pages with new form fields, and there is no indication of when the form will be complete.

Keep in mind, this page design could have been the result of extensive testing that indicated this design would lead to the highest possible conversion rates for this channel; however, it is undoubtedly counterintuitive to many thoroughly tested best practices, as well as my own experience in landing pages testing and design.

Nevertheless, I won’t be reading Omniture’s landing page whitepaper– I bailed out of the conversion process before I could make it through the frustrating landing page and form.

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