In case you are doing a lot of online marketing you will bump into the dilemma of “direct linking” versus “landing page” from time to time. To clarify: “direct linking” means that you send visitors directly from your advertisements to the product, while with a “landing page” you send visitors first to a specific website page, after which you send prospective customers from this page to the product. Both methods have their pros and cons when your end goal is making a profit.
You often hear in online marketing forum discussions that putting a landing page between your advertisement and the product is better, as this gives you chance to sell the product more and better. Although I agree with the spirit of this argument, going direct can be more beneficial in specific (and important) cases.
In any event, when you redirect a prospect to your own landing page first instead of the end product right away, there is a risk you might lose this prospect before he lands on the product page, while this would not be the case otherwise. So your total CTR will be always less than in the case of going direct. If this outweighs the benefits of using a landing page depends on various factors.
The Benefits of Using a Landing Page
Using a landing page can give many benefits, among others:
- You can presell the product(s) better by using good copy, thus improving overall conversion rate when compared to going direct.
- Visitors can be prequalified by using good copy, in this way you can send high quality leads to the offer only (which itself can also lead to higher payouts per sale or lead).
- You can sell more than one product via your landing page (which means the click can be converted more than once, thus it is much more valuable than by going by direct linking).
- You can have prospects sign up for your email letter as well, therefore enabling you to sell again to the same prospect in the future without extra advertising cost.
- For some traffic sources it is necessary to use landing page, as for instance Google Adwords (you are not allowed to direct link to products with Google Adwords).
When to Go Direct
From these arguments it almost seems that you should always use a landing page. In my opinion this is not case. Good reasons for going with direct linking are:
- The product itself already has a really good landing page, which means prequalifying the customer has less overall benefits using a landing page, and a landing page will only disturb the sale flow.
- The product does not need much preselling and you can prequalify and presell prospects very well with ads only. This is for instance the case with some CPL offers in zip submits, dating and gaming.
- The traffic source enables you to target the right audience for the offer really well.
- You want to test the product. Before going committing the effort to build a landing page, it makes sense to test the product (and company, network) first on overall reliability and conversion prospects. Testing can also make keyword research easier.
As you can see, there is not one general answer to the question: “Should I use a landing page or go direct?” Some online marketers swear by using a landing page at all times while others mainly go direct. I use landing pages to promote most products these days, although I have to admit that when I started out, I mainly used direct linking when doing affiliate marketing. That worked out quite well for me. And it also depends on the traffic source. Social traffic sources as Facebook are pretty useful for going direct, while a landing page is almost a must for doing marketing via search engines. Media buys are more a mixed bag, but I would advise to use a landing page there as well, even when you are just starting out. It enables you to get used to all the ropes in online marketing more quickly, which will be useful in your future business.
Furthermore, there is the strong argument pro landing pages that if someone really wants to sign up for the product that you are advertising for, the one extra (landing) page should not make a difference for the total conversion rate. And a good landing page will sway those visitors that are undecided yet. You do not have this opportunity with direct linking.