I recently watched an episode of “The Apprentice” and thoroughly enjoyed watching the two teams develop a launch brochure for GM’s new 2006 Pontiac Solstice, a nice looking sporty roadster. Anyway, after the show was done I channel surfed a while and came across a commercial (short infomercial) about a home-based business. The message was not what attracted me to the commercial. It was the fact that the URL flashed on the screen – www(dot)15earn(dot)com – was definitely some sort of tracking page to allow the marketer to track visits generated by this specific commercial. After getting to the 15earn(dot)com page I also tried 14earn(dot)com and other variations and found them leading to the “same” web page but using different tracking cookies for each.
Online marketers have had an advantage over those working only in the offline world. When using email or websites as your marketing channels you are able to easily and cost-effectively access detailed metrics and data, including real-time numbers.
A powerful tool to add to these metrics and help better measure offline campaigns is the use of “tracking” or “landing” pages. In essence, using unique URLs that are specific to a particular campaign, deployment or advertisement (www.WinWithAcme.com, www.Acme.com/offer, www.Acme.com/123456789, etc.) you can measure any program or execution that drives to a website or web page. This includes online efforts like email, banner advertising and Google links as well as offline marketing like direct mail, in-store promotions or specific ads (TV commercials, radio spots, print ads, billboards, etc.). By driving people to a specific landing page you can start measuring effectiveness like response, conversion and return on investment in no time at all.
Moreover, with direct mail some have called online tracking pages the “missing link” because 20-30% of recipients, or more, prefer going online for “more information”.
Here are examples of what you can use a tracking or landing page for:
Acquisition and registration – When you use a specific landing page you can easily add “source” data to a customer or subscriber data record. This way you know if they came from a search engine, a direct mail campaign, field marketing efforts, advertising, etc. and which version or call to action succeeded.
Track and test offers or creative – Whether you are dealing with offline or online campaigns, or both, the ability to test what works best is key to optimizing results. Use tracking pages to measure what offers, creative or copy work best.
Track direct mail – In addition to testing your direct mail offers and creative you can use tracking pages to track which list, segment or timing responds best.
Track advertisements – Media buyers are often surprised when they get their reports from tracking pages and learn what specific media (TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, banner ads, etc.) and outlets (specific magazines, newspapers, TV/radio stations, billboard locations, etc.) generated the best results. Often this is different than what the media “sellers” are saying. Find out what _really_ works.
Provide specific information or content – Many landing pages are the same regardless of the specific tracking URL used, however, many effective marketers will use different URLs to provide different content. The information served up to the landing page visitor is determined by the specific URL so relevance, and hopefully results, can be increased.
Drive the desired activity – Using the same message to all people regardless of where they are in the customer lifecycle is a sure way to reduce your results. When you communicate with people at different stages of your customer and sales lifecycle you need to use different information and different calls to action. Use unique landing pages to test what works with these people and ensure that you are relevant and meaningful.
There are other ways to use landing pages but the above cover the majority of applications seen today. The main thing to consider when using landing pages is to track where visitors are coming from. Most email marketing platforms have this built-in so you know that a specific person clicked on a link and visited a certain page. With proper landing pages and tracking you will be able to quickly gather valuable information in a cost-effective way that helps you optimize results and increase the return on your marketing investment.