What to Look For In Marketing Automation, Part 4: Landing Pages and Forms

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If you’re considering the move from an email marketing platform to a marketing automation system with greater capabilities, make sure to take stock of the solution’s capabilities for forms and landing pages.

Forms and landing pages are trusty workhorses in a marketing automation system. You can link online ads to a landing page and capture new leads. Put links in emails for webinar registration or surveys. Post forms on your website that people fill out to trigger document downloads, automatic response emails, and alerts to salespeople. If this sounds complicated, it’s not – as long as the system you choose was designed to make it simple.

Here’s what to look for:

    1. Easy to create
      Ideally, the tool you use to create a landing page or form will be integrated into the marketing automation platform, so you can create all campaign assets in the same system. You should be able to create your campaigns without needing help from IT, and without having to know code. You should be able to reuse old forms and landing pages, and you should be able to create templates, which may be the greatest time-saver of all.

      It’s best if the tool operates very similarly to your email creation tool, and shares a common stationary and image library. This helps keep branding consistent.
    2. Integrated
      Your forms will gather a lot of valuable information; make sure that they can be integrated with lead scoring, with your database(s), and with an alerting system so a sales rep can be notified right away when a specific prospect takes a specific action.You should be able to use a form to gate your most desirable content, so that you capture information from interested visitors, and have that data pass into your database automatically. The database integration should also recognize returning visitors and pre-fill forms based on previously supplied data. Your forms, landing pages and email should all integrate for webinar and event management.
    3. Work on any site
      Usually your marketing automation vendor will host your forms, but you may prefer to host them on your own site. Make sure that the data captured will go both ways. Find out whether a form will send its captured data to your marketing database or a CRM database, and ask about how the databases are kept in synch.

If you’re actively researching marketing automation, we have a handy Buyer’s Checklist for Marketing Automation covering 15 topics in addition to landing pages and forms, to help you evaluate your options. Learn:

  • Whether a marketing automation system fits your company’s culture
  • Which organizational objectives marketing automation can, and can’t, help you reach
  • Which tools you really need, and which ones you can do without

To learn more about Act-On Software’s total marketing automation solution, register for our weekly marketing automation demo, or contact our friendly sales team for a personalized one-to-one demo.

Up Next: What to Look for in Marketing Automation, Part 5: Tracking and Reporting

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  • http://www.haadvantage.com Carter Perez

    The landing pages have been great not only in a sales and webinar based roles but also fantastic for our account management group to set up customer branded micro sites to support roll outs onboarding.

  • http://www.iGrafx.com Guedo Fanony

    I fully agree. Being able to capture information in several different ways across your marketing channels is crucial to determining what is working, making plans for the future and staying relevant with what is happening in your industry. Custom landing pages make it easy to test a few options to see what kind of a response you will get with different messaging. Act-On’s platform does make it easy to customize these landing pages and forms, then add them to your marketing, but it would be great if there were a little more options for advanced users who want to really customize the look of the forms. Maybe in a future release?

  • http://www.mybusinessintegrated.com Chris Kiersch

    If you would like to learn more about what makes landing page successful check out http://www.43splittests.org. The insights they have gained from doing thousands of landing page and form creation tests/campaign will help you get the most out of the incredible tools we have available in ActOn Software’s platform. Here’s a high level snapshot of what they cover, and I don’t work for them or get anything from them for this referral. Just passing on the love:)

    43 Split Tests Marketing Campaigns:

    Which buy button can increase sales by up to 300%
    Proper website design, font, and layout to boost conversions immediately
    How to trigger and show people the right way to do ad and sales copy for ultimate conversion

    Cheers, Chris

  • Tim

    I think another key component that was hinted at but not fully expanded on is the necessity of the landing pages to be integrated into your own website seamlessly. Currently, Act-On doesn’t have vanity urls for landing pages and the seo-friendly url option is better (although still a bit clunky) but it only redirects, its not what a user sees in the browser address bar. I think for landing pages to be a truly effective inbound marketing tool, they have to look and feel, from all angles, that they are a part of the company’s website. Right now, I think that is lacking as far as act-on is concerned but hopefully it is being considered with future releases.

  • Jeff Linton

    Hello Tim, Jeff Linton – Product Marketing with Act-On. We both agree landing pages are an important part to a marketing team’s success. We currently have on the road map to expand our landing page SEO capabilities by adding vanity URL’s in addition to the descriptions, titles and keywords we have today. Seeing that you have commented on this in the “Act-On knowledge base” you are sure to get an update as soon as the feature has been enhanced. Thank you for feedback and have a great day.

  • http://www.invigrasales.com Stacy Gentile

    One thing about landing pages is this…give it some thought as to what happens after a prospect completes the CTA on the landing page. If you were lucky enough to get them there and then convert them, don’t reward them with a 404 error or a blank page…get creative!

  • http://www.haadvantage.com Carter Perez

    A new twist on this. We’ve used the landing pages to support customer branded training micro-sites that not only reduce customer service traffic but allow us to track adoption and usage.

  • Cory

    Overall, I will agree that the landing pages and forms function within Act-On is a useful resource. Quick and easy to implement without the need for outside resources or IT. I will say however (as Tim pointed out) is that the addition of vanity URLs would be a huge plus as they would help establish credibility with users. Also, any plans to allow code for re-marketing campaigns for users that got to an Act-On landing page but do not click-through to the actual site?

  • http://www.bradleycorp.com Steve Thielke

    I think the landing pages and forms are awesome. I love being able to create a landing page from a message that I have just sent out. It helps me be able to distribute that content through the social channels as well. If that content is engaging enough that people click through I have forms ready to capture that information so I am able to capture new leads that may not come to our website daily or request literature online. Just a different channel to get content out and possible new leads.

  • http://www.lumina.com Nick Kretz

    I haven’t started using Act On landing pages yet, but they seem like they are very easy to build and implement with Act-on.

    In the past, I’ve spent countless hours working with developers on landing pages that don’t convert. The ease of form integration into landing pages will save me a lot of time. I look forward to testing different formats until I find the one that brings in the highest number of leads.

  • http://www.jacobcurtis.co Jacob Curtis

    Developing landing pages that convert takes time and practice. Always keep the user in mind and remove any obstacles or extra steps that would take them away from performing the action you are hoping.

    Provide a strong call to action so that there is no confusion about what you want the person to do when they land on your landing page.

    Act-on is great for executing the strategy but the initial strategy is something you need to develop yourself with your target audience in mind.

  • Nuala

    I think the ActOn landing pages & forms are easy to use and I like that I can save templates for branding purposes. I agree with Tim that vanity urls for landing pages would be a nice enhancement.

  • Jeff

    The landing page templates are really easy to set up which makes it nice for testing out which works best for you. I like Guedo’s recommendation for having some more advanced features so you can have full creativity. Nice to see that the Vanity URL’s are going to be implemented. Great tips on what to look for in landing pages and forms! This has a lot of good information that will help out anybody looking to create a landing page.

  • Dani

    We love using landing pages – the templates are simple and the process is fairly streamlined. We try to keep them creative and interesting so that the recipients don’t feel like they are receiving a dry, boring email. We then Tweet and Facebook the landing page to increase it’s exposure. We’re also using Act-On Insight to measure our online performance.

    • Act-On Software News

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Act-On, Dani!

  • http://www.taos.com Dave

    I think the ActOn landing pages & forms are easy to use and I like that I can save templates for branding purposes. I agree with Tim & Nuala that urls for landing pages would be a nice enhancement.
    Once again what I see as the key to most things Act-On does is simplify and make it easy to start using immediately.

  • http://overnitecbt.com thomas craft

    Having your landing pages integrated with your website is crucial along with having a platform that allows you to accurately track the buying experience. Act-On has helped us in this area and we are quite pleased with the sresults1

  • http://www.apg7.com Sid Smith

    As MECLABs suggests, think of your landing page as a series of “Micro-Yesses”. A strong headline that states your primary value proposition is followed by a subhead that reinforces and supports your value proposition. They say “Yes” to these.

    The headline and lead is followed by “evidence” or proof that your value proposition can be believed (further support of your value proposition). They say “yes” again.

    Your offer (white paper, report, test drive, etc.) also supports your value proposition. They must say “Yes, this is valuable enough for me to offset my trepidation about giving you my contact information.”

    The call to action (complete the form and click the button) is yet one more “Yes.” It is what we call a “derivative” value proposition because the user is asking, “Why should I complete this form and click the button instead of saying no and going away?”

    You can have an exquisitely designed landing page with fantastic SEO properties and still have lousy conversion rates if the “value” to the user of taking your call to action isn’t greater than the perceived costs (time, hassle, money, etc.) of taking the action.

    P.S. It’s not hard to create attractive landing pages. Search online for examples and have a designer duplicate the design with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Once that’s done, you can easily use that template on your own website or in Act-On.

    P.P.S. SEO: The key advantage of self-hosted (on your site) landing pages is that traffic to the page can improve the overall ranking of your entire website. Act-On pre-filled forms can be placed anywhere on the page in what’s called an “iFrame.”

  • Greg Palmer

    Really like the option to place Act-On forms into an iframe on our own website pages. As Sid said above, this provides an added advantage to improve our site traffic and keep our company’s URL and web process in tact.

  • Lisa

    The Act-On landing pages are great, and especially so for two types of clients – those that are a one-person shop, and those that have a indefinitely tied up web dev team; in several instances creating the landing page through Act-On has been the fastest, simplest, most to-the-point way of creating a landing page for a campaign that needs to start asap. The forms are wonderful for us, making list management easier and the prefill option is a huge success making forms far more convenient for leads.

  • Michelle

    Landing pages and forms are the backbone of our entire marketing program – Act-on makes it really easy, and the analytics components give great, actionable information.

  • Temani Aldine

    Honestly, though I considered myself “tech aware” I was very concerned that I would have problems working on landing pages and forms. Act-On has not only made it easy for me to do these things, but I have confidence to create and invent new types of forms.

  • http://twitter.com/vinnypoliseno Vinny Poliseno

    Landing pages & forms are your site’s bread and butter…these are the places you are capturing leads. When evaluating MAP solutions one of my top requirements is ease of use along with giving no technical users the ability to jump right in and start using with limited supervision or HTML knowledge. With the ability to quickly and effectively turn out forms and landing pages you’ll start seeing leads pile up in no time. This is a large desire while vetting other systems.

  • http://twitter.com/vanessa_pilon Vanessa Pilon

    Although we thought we didn’t need landing pages and forms when we joined with Act-On, we were also aware that eventually the need may arise. The good news was when it did we were ready and the easiness of use of Act-On forms and landing pages made our projects a reality. Although we are a French Canadian based company the forms have allowed us to collect information from prospects and update information from actual customers. Our only complaint was quickly resolved when we were able to modify the names of the fields to support our French forms.

  • Mike Compeau

    Landing Pages and Forms, ah yes. I’ve been working with and generally loving Act-On for a number of months now. And now we get to Landing Pages and Forms. Yes, well. Landing pages must be able to be put up quickly in the LOOK OF THE NATIVE SITE they are leading the visitor into. It does little good to have a “landing page tool” that starts with a blank sheet, then, does it? In this age of intelligent tools, then, it would seem that the requisite tool for this would be the ability for a landing page generator to be fed a URL of a “model” site, and automatically mimic that site’s basic layout — the structured HTML design tables, navigation, header/footer items, etc. and this tool would give me the power to then remove/replace those elements that are redundant for my landing page, and thusly FOCUS visitor attention precisely as I intend. Yep, now THAT’s what I want. That becomes simple, quick, fast. No need to call up a creative dude or dudette for HTML massaging, tweaking, ne FIXING.

    And let’s talk about 3) WORK WITH ANY SITE. How about if i’d like to receive form info from a business partner portal I work with? Could my Marketing Automation partner, ostensibly providing that partner with his automation system, pass his form data over to me on my system? Yep, I’d like that. And I’d like it to just work.

    “Order on table 12…”

  • Sarah

    I currently use Act-On for this exact purpose and I love it! I build my forms and landing pages directly in Act-On. Occasionally I will build a
    landing page and host it on our server, it’s easy to just nest the
    Act-On form directly into my own code. Having used Act-On I won’t switch
    to another service. This tool is invaluable!

  • Bobby Holt

    We are just starting to experience landing pages after having a bad taste put in our mouth from a previous service. Getting people to say yes they would like to continue on further into the landing page just shows that they are indeed interesting and aren’t just “bsing” there way through to get something.

  • Charlie Harte

    My experience is a bit less wonderful than those below, probably because I’m a one-man company and I have no skills, experience, or, frankly, much interest in getting good at forms and landing pages. However, I’m told I must get with the program and these are important. Fortunately I’ve got helpful helpers with Act On and as with other elements of the Act On system, it’s not too difficult to manage, even for us reluctant marketers. I do think the issue of how to construct an optimum URL might be a subject better explained in the Act On training materials, but overall I’m pretty satisfied with the whole thing.

  • http://twitter.com/SpiderTrainers Cyndie Shaffstall

    As Jeff alluded, landing pages also provide ample opportunity for A/B and multivariate testing. If you’re not sure what will work best for conversion, create more than one landing page for your campaign, segment your list, and direct each group to a different version.

    We’ve had success with creating landing pages that are of odd shapes and adding buttons with big arrows — but there’s no set rule. Each client’s message is unique and the landing page must be as well. Test, track, and tweak until you get it right.

  • David Svigel

    The ability to recognize returning visitors is paramount. I know if I go back to a site to download a report or another asset and I need to jump through hoops again that it feels very unprofessional.

  • Teresa Whelan

    We are just learning how to use landing pages and forms with our automated marketing program to give our visitors a more enhanced experience and help them progress through a nurturing program. It really is essential to think through the program before creating the landing pages and forms, but Act-On makes it pretty easy to do.

  • http://twitter.com/dizzerdee Dawn Casias (Bulls)

    Using Act-on to create the landing pages is very easy and most importantly for me does NOT require me to know code. I am able to quickly create the landing page (usually from existing information tweaked for my purposes) and then integrate the landing page into email templates. Using the interaction as a trigger I am able to quicly determine what my prospects are interested in and direct my efforts accordingly. I am a big fan of Act-on!

  • Marshall Welch

    For someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to dig through code, the form and LP builders within Act-On are a great time saver. Once we have a template set, it’s a matter of a few clicks to create a new one. Before, our IT guy was having to hard-code each landing page. He was not graphic savvy nor was he willing to make any changes that we wanted. Now we have full control and the ability to make changes in a cinch. I know code and have written some on occasion, but for our purposes, this is wayyyy easier and more efficient! Plus each form is fully integrated into our Salesforce campaigns, meaning our Sales team can start the lead process immediately!

  • http://twitter.com/RonMcRondaldson Ron

    Having evaluated 4-5 different tools for form and landing page creation, I can say that the two most important things were ease-of-use and flexibility. For us – There are going to be times when you need to maintain existing forms and only post form data. We also need to be able to easily modify layouts, stylesheets , and autoresponders.

  • Zachary Winnie

    I would agree that Act-On’s form integration makes it very easy to capture a visotor’s information. My company does a lot of custom HTML designs, and we can do a lot with Act-On with all of the features they provide for creating and sending emails, landing pages, and forms.

  • Megan Larson

    When evaluating landing pages and form capabilities I am particularly interested in how integrated it is with our CRM system (SFDC) and if there is an easy connection between the 2 so it can be automatically entered into our lead process and doesn’t require manual oversight. Another important feature is hidden fields and auto-population of data. The customer experience is key and we want to make the form experience as easy as possible.

  • http://twitter.com/BradMiller06 Brad Miller

    In addition to being easy to work with, I think a fairly comprehensive A/B or MVT testing feature is a necessity. Highly converting landing pages are hugely important, and testing the landing pages is the best way to develop one that converts well.

  • http://twitter.com/kdelucia22 Kristen DeLucia

    The use of landing pages on our site and in our email campaigns has provided us with tremendous insight. Before we starting implementing Act-On landing pages, we only ever saw the number of visitors on our site. Now with landing pages enabled, we are getting to know they people who are on our site and also interested in the content we are offering. We’re a growing marketing team and it’s great to have the visibility into who is visiting and what they are insterested in.

  • Sam Sims

    I’ve got to agree with Jacob Curtis’ comments. It takes time. And, adding to that the time comes from fully thinking through the process.

    Clients/Customers should never feel the process, but feel completely at easy with each step created.

    Once you get to the point of developing the land pages and forms it must be simple and something you deploy within minutes not hours, days or weeks.