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Best Practices for Marketo Landing Pages

Best Practices for Marketo Landing Pages

Businesses use landing pages to collect information on their prospects in order to start the lead nurturing journey and pass leads on to Sales. According to Marketing Sherpa, 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each marketing campaign.

Getting landing pages built and tested is one of the top five challenges faced by B2B marketers. Marketing Sherpa

As with most marketing automation platforms, Marketo offers robust capabilities around landing page management. I won’t go into details in this post but to simplify, Marketo offers stand-alone capabilities to build, create and manage landing pages. If you didn’t have a website, you could use Marketo to collect all of your data and host all of your landing pages.

Which Marketo Landing Page Option?

Once you have chosen Marketo, there are many Marketo best practices, but landing pages and forms tend to have the most variance. It’s like the top 40 playlists of all your friends—everyone has about the same songs but there are always differences. For example, GNR always makes it onto my list even though they haven’t had a hit in 25 years.

The Question: Should you use Marketo-hosted pages or your own internally posted pages? What about forms? Let’s dive into many of the pros and cons of the various models to see which model fits your business best. If you are looking for advice on the best converting pages, we’ll cover that in a future post.

The big trade off question to ask: Do you want massive design flexibility or do you want to sacrifice a little bit of that design for ease of deployment, streamlined management and additional functionality?

Make sure to read to the bottom to check out the landing page comparison grid.

Before we get started, there are a lot of smart people doing some amazing things to get around limitations of various models. I’m sure I’m missing some solutions so please share your best practices in the comments section.

1) Marketo-Hosted Pages with Marketo-Hosted Forms

The Perfect World solution

This is the default recommendation that we make to clients. By far, this method is the easiest to get up and running and maintain while enabling the organization to leverage full Marketo functionality. I love when companies go this route as I know they’ll have repeatable pages that look great, are easy to clone, and leverage personalization.

“Very easy to deploy.–allows you  to tokenize and clone the pages in programs to launch new pages in minutes.” Justin Norris, Perkuto

With this model, the big benefit is there is no need for IT, development, or creative to get involved on an ongoing basis. This significantly cuts down the time of developing new campaigns. I can’t stress this last point enough as I’ve seen the pains some organizations face when working projects internally.

“In general, always host in Marketo, it’s easy for marketers to go in and fix.” Josh Hill, Marketing Rockstar Guides

The Example

Below illustrates a Marketo landing page leveraging Marketo functionality and a template designed by third party provider, Knak.

Marketing Landing page Best practices

Some notes:

  • This template is easy to design and easy to manage requiring no IT involvement.
  • The page is dynamic, meaning that it differs based on the person visiting it.  As you can see, it is very targeted towards moms in a certain geography (As opposed to grandfathers in the Northeast).
  • The page is prepopulated with the person’s information to save the lead time.
  • The form leverages progressive profiling to deepen the relationship with the lead.
  • Social features enable the form to get filled out faster by leveraging the lead’s social profile.

Benefits

  • Easy to use, massive efficiency gains (No IT involvement)
  • Advanced Capabilities like dynamic content, program tokens and more.
  • Autotracking – A person’s anonymous activity is automatically captured and tied to the known lead.
  • Data feeds into Marketo directly.
  • Full Marketo support.
    • Social form fill to make it easier for people to sign in.
    • Progressive profiling enables deeper levels of questions as a prospect engages.
    • Social sharing built into pages (Easier to share/Easier to track).

Drawbacks

These may or may not be drawbacks for your organization but are worth consideration.

  • Not exact look and feel of main website
  • Maintained through a CMS other than your main website.
  • Not as much design flexibility as your own site.
  • Loss of SEO on main site (Although this point is debatable).

2) Your Own Website Pages/CMS with Marketo Hosted Forms

Second Recommendation

In this scenario, you’d take the embed code and add the code to wherever you want a form to live on your site.

The big difference between this option and hosted Marketo pages is lost efficiency (in most cases) and loss of some advanced Marketo functionality. However, some organizations find that trade-off acceptable to keep the pages within the main website framework.

“We use Marketo landing pages for all of our events (registration page, confirmation page, etc.) and any misc. pages that may be needed quickly and may not necessarily fit within our websites’ structure. But for everything else, we use our main CMS (Sitecore) to present a common/consistent user experience across our website.” Dan Stevens

The bigger your company, the more likely you are to choose this option due to the branding element. Also, with more decision makers in the process, other departments may not recognize the value of the Marketo-hosted option. As a side note, this is why I’m writing this article as we have several clients trying to communicate the pros/cons across their organization.

Landing pages for Marketo

 Benefits

  • A look that is exactly like the main website.
  • Changes are maintained through website CMS.
  • Most Marketo features are supported.

Drawbacks

  • Can’t take advantage of some of the advanced Marketo features.
  • Not as streamlined as Marketo-hosted pages.
  • Varying levels of reliance on IT and/or creative team on an ongoing basis.

3) Something Else

I’ve seen a lot of “something else” when it comes to pages and forms. If you go the something else route, just expect to do some custom coding and development. And, add a lot of time to your campaign workflows as there is long-term efficiency impact.

You might go this route if you want data to feed into some other system first and then feed into Marketo. Or, maybe you want to duel post into Marketo and the other system.

I usually see these types of implementations not work well because the marketers don’t know what to ask for and the developers are doing what the marketer asks. Basically, you are redeveloping the wheel that Marketo already created via the first two options.

I’d try to avoid this process if possible unless your organization understands the full pros/cons of the various options.

Marketo Landing Page Alternatives

Benefits

  • Custom

Drawbacks

  • Bring on the Advil for ongoing issues.
  • Lack of scale.

The Grid

Let’s break it all out in grid format.

  • Bold = Desired choice
  • No Bold = Depends on needs

Marketo Pages w Marketo Forms

Your Own Pages with Marketo Forms

Something Custom

Management

Easy to Clone – Replicate pages for easier management

Yes

Dependent on website CMS like Sitecore (This may be the preference)

No

Self-contained Pages for Streamlined Management – Fewer cooks in the kitchen. No need for IT, Design, webmaster, etc

Yes

No

No

Enterprise Scale – Align styles and changes across all website and landing pages

No – Pages are one offs and can create ongoing maintenance issues (Generally)

Yes

??

Automatic Form Data feeds into Marketo.

Yes

Yes

Custom

Design Tool

Marketo

(easy/standard)

Website CMS (flexible)

??

Look and Feel

Landing page templates designed for conversion

Same exact user experience as your website

??

Access to Best Practice Responsive Landing Page Templates

Yes – Limited options available via Marketo collection. More available via Knak, a third party provider which I highly recommend (Developed by Marketo Champ Pierce Ujjainwalla)

Depends on CMS

??

Built in Page Conversion Report – Gain insights into how pages are converting.

Yes

No

??

Acquisition Program Reporting – Auto assign the lead’s first form fill out to the proper acquisition program (Like Eval Download).

Yes (automatic)

Yes (With an extra campaign)

??

Standard Marketo Features

Progressive profiling enables deeper levels of questions as a prospect engages.

Yes

No

No

Auto Cookie Tracking – A person’s anonymous activity is automatically captured via a cookie and tied to the known lead.

Yes

Yes

No, extra coding required

Parameter Support – Ability to track URL values for reporting

Yes

Yes (may require a little Java code)

??

Social Form Fill – Use social sign-ons to complete form for faster form fills

Yes

Yes

No

Social Sharing Built into Pages

  • Easier to share
  • Easier to track

Yes

No, not integrated, have to use third party sharing apps. On the plus side, some of these apps may have more functionality.

Pre-fill – Reduce effort for the person who fills out a form by pre-filling any known data.

Yes

Maybe/No

??

Advance Marketo Features

Personalization Tokens – e.g. Welcome Ken on landing page.

Yes

No

No

Program Tokens – e.g. Page heading populates across autoresponders, landing page, thank you page. A big efficiency gain.

Yes

No

No

Dynamic Content – e.g. Photo of a young Mom for a mother segment vs photo of a grandmother for an older woman.

Yes

No (Dependent on CMS)

??

Snippets / Additional Calls-to-Action – e.g. Suggested Content

Yes

No (But website CMS is likely to have this ability

??

A/B Testing – Test which creative works best.

Yes

No / Dependent on CMS

??

Notes: Some of the “No” might be able to be overcome with some java code development or a third party app.

The Skinny

When making this analysis, organizations tend to get different answers from different parts of the organization–it can be a political ownership issue or an “I can do that” issue. My recommendation is to let the marketing team drive the decision with input from others.

If you want full Marketo functionality while streamlining landing page development, option 1 should be strongly considered.

If you want something that looks absolutely perfect and in sync with your website, consider option 2. Just be aware you need to develop processes and be reliant on others within your organization. Translation: This step equals longer time to develop programs.

You could also go hybrid and use both Marketo-hosted pages (for standalone asset offers) AND internally-hosted pages (for evergreen pages like Contact Us). We’ve had several clients go this route.

What did I miss? Please share your best (and Worst) practices below? Good luck.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Justin Norris, Sanford Whiteman, Lauren Beth, Josh Hill, Wintha Kelati, Jenn DiMaria, Erica Sanchez, Joseph Hogya, Jordan Lund, Laura Florek and Joel Mounsey for providing great input from some of the articles below.

Resources

Check out these great resources around the Marketo Community as well as a few external sources.

Community (Login Required)

Other Sites

Still Can’t Decide?

Give me a shout at @RevEngineMarket or shoot me an email at jcoveney@revenginemarketing.com. I’m happy to answer any questions or discuss a deeper level engagement.

About Jeff Coveney

Jeff is an accomplished marketing expert with more than 20 years success in generating demand and creating buzz for leading technology organizations. Jeff is the founder of RevEngine Insider and regularly consults via RevEngine Marketing.
  • Pierce Ujjainwalla

    Great article Jeff. Marketo is definitely where Marketer’s landing pages belong. I think that is why Marketo has been so successful with their whole mission of being that ‘Marketing Platform’. The more marketers are able to have in that ecosystem the better. That is why at Knak we have always believed that although they may create the asset in Knak, we push them into Marketo. The release of our brand new integration with Marketo this week further supports our position on this.

  • Zak Pines

    Great insight Jeff. Should the starting point for this be, what do you mean by landing page? I distinguish between a “website content conversion” page and a campaign specific landing page (e.g. one used to drive direct responses from a PPC, email, social media or other campaign). For the latter, campaign landing pages, Marketo is absolutey the way to go. For the former, website conversions – I see clear benefits to not choosing Marketo for those forms (and integrating with Marketo) — including SEO (a crucial job of website content gated or ungated is to drive SEO), unfied site experience (which yields higher conversion rates including secondary calls to action), more flexibility around site conversions (think, forms directly embedded on a scrolling page, don’t even require a link) and functionality such as bypassing forms all together if you are an existing customer.

    Bottom line for me is if MarTech stack allows for it– use Marketo as a landing page tool, absolutely, but it’s not the best tool to host your website forms. I still remember the time Maria Pergolino told a group of Boston Marketo users at an early meet up that she had just launched a new resource center on Marketo.com – and wasn’t using Marketo! There were reasons for that then and they still apply today.

    • jcoveney

      The combo approach is a great way to go. Thanks for sharing Zak and giving your perspective on why both approaches can work. So many times people make the decisions with out the knowledge so you bring up some other great examples of where the two models fit.