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Landing Page Lurkers: The Question of Links

As marketers, we know that we’re only as good as our data. Landing pages are an important tool to help us gather that data - they allow us to create a controlled environment with which to test verbiage, images, calls to action and more, all with the elusive goal of answering the question: what’s the magic combination on factors that lead to conversion success? So we make page after page, creating seemingly identical designs that usually differ only by one variable – but what if we’re focusing so hard on gathering data where design is concerned that we’re forgetting something so basic it inconspicuously flies under the radar? What about those pesky links that lurk at the bottom of your landing page? The internet marketing community is pretty split when it comes to whether or not it’s a good idea to include them on landing pages.
Purpose. Landing pages serve two purposes, really: to convert, and to give us valuable data on those conversions. Whether the ultimate end point is an online form submission or a call-in to a sales team, the landing page is designed to push visitors down the conversion funnel to some ultimate goal. Landing pages are not meant to overload visitors with information or direct them elsewhere. They should be simple and straight to the point, lacking your websites normal navigation in order to keep the visitor focused.  
Best practices. Design your landing pages with the specific audience in mind – try to really get inside their head. Keep in mind that people coming from different channels will probably have different landing page preferences, meaning you should design a separate page for traffic from Facebook, traffic from Google Adwords, etc. Think about what type of experience they want and what kind of information they need before they’ll consider converting. By carefully using A/B testing (the marketing version of the scientific method) we can pinpoint which features on the landing page are responsible for high or not so high conversion rates, which helps us refine our designs.
The trouble with links. Sometimes it feels like everyone these days has a touch of ADD. As a culture, we’re all about the bright and shiny, driven by a fear of missing out. One only has to consider the concept of Snapchat and Snapchat advertising to see how deep this easily-distracted mindset runs. So when you add links to your landing page, you run the risk of the distraction setting in and veering visitors off track, particularly if you’re linking to social media pages. Even home page logo links can prove fatal in leading users astray, and even if a user does ultimately convert after leaving the landing page and venturing to your homepage, it defeats the second purpose of the landing page – collecting accurate data. In this scenario, the homepage would get credit for the conversion, not the landing page, which would lead one to believe that the landing page was not doing its job.
Despite the relatively sound logic that links on landing pages would be detrimental to success, an overwhelming amount of companies use them. The culprits are usually a homepage logo link and/or a privacy link (for legal reasons, presumably.) So if linking on landing pages really is such a plague on their success rates, it seems as a community we would have dropped them. Maybe you use landing page links and still see conversion success – but could you be seeing even more without them? The only way to find out is to test, test, test! 

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