We were recently approached by a company with a specific idea for online marketing: a single web page with the company’s offers front and center. In other words, a sales page.
They actually had a sales page online already. It was a typical sales landing page, with a single clear call to action and an aggressive sales pitch. There was a form to fill out, but it was essentially an advertisement. There was no content intended to inform or entertain, no additional content to explore, and no plan to add any additional content in the future.
The company figured their customers would follow this path:
This is the traditional pattern advertisers have relied on since advertising began. The problem is, it starts in the middle. You can push TV ads in front of people by showing them when consumers are watching TV. You can push billboards in front of people by placing them strategically where your target market is likely to show up. By pushing your message at huge numbers of people over and over, you will eventually reach the people who want your service, and they’ll contact you or buy.
You can’t push your website in front of people. You have to get them to look at your site, so you can communicate with them.
So we suggested this alternative:We know that people go online to look for the type of service this company offers. We are pretty confident that a one-page sales pitch won’t perform well in search and this company isn’t much on social media. So we recommend paid search: digital ads that show up when people are looking for information about a topic, or visiting websites related to that topic.
Ads like these should send people to the sales page. A conversion-optimized page with a great offer should cause visitors if not to contact a salesperson, at least to agree to share their contact information in exchange for a good whitepaper, video course, or other content offer. Using paid search to bring visitors to the sales page is a great mix of traditional advertising with modern digital media.
The alternative is inbound marketing:
Build a full high-quality website rather than a sales page, provide quality content which causes your pages to be offered to your target market when they search, and allow your visitor to contact you or to share contact information leading to a sales call and closure.
Visitors may come to the website repeatedly as they consider the service being offered and perhaps look at competitors or at other kinds of solutions. There has to be enough useful content that prospects will in fact come back, and will find more information when they do. The path is longer than the company in question was imagining.
We sympathize. But you can’t confuse sales pages and websites. Websites can and should have sales pages — landing pages designed to sell the goods and services your company offers. The rest of the website can have as its primary goal the movement of interested visitors toward those sales pages, where the visitor can easily become a customer.
Sales pages can also be independent of websites, if they act as landing pages for ads or strategic social media campaigns. This can be a very good way to conduct an online marketing campaign.
The two approaches are not the same thing. We can’t build a wonderful thought leadership website with no calls to action and expect to sell things. We can’t build a great sales page and expect to draw lots of traffic through organic search.
Which do you have: a sales page or a website? Does your sales and marketing strategy match your choice? Contact us if you’d like to discuss your strategy.