There are a few mental hurdles to jump when considering Inbound Marketing, and one of the most fundamental is getting past the idea that your website is selling for you if you have a "contact us" page where site visitors can register interest. I can tell you from customer site experience that there's a big difference indeed.
Contact pages are not landing pages. The simple contact form seems like a great way to directly meet the needs of site visitors; if they're interested in what you do or sell, they'll reach out. But the research (hard data gleaned over thousands of B2B Websites) tells a different story. Site visitors need to be served and moved through a conversion path to take a desired action.
Landing pages direct the visitor and serve specific interest. A contact us page is open to all comers. It's a generic, undifferentiated place where your site visitor can connect with you. We consider the contact page the "landing page of last resort." If we've done a poor job of anticipating needs our site visitors will use the contact page to make their needs known. A well-constructed landing page follows best practices for doing what it does best: convert site visitors into prospects. There are 10 best practices that we ensure go into each landing page to increase the coversion rate. Contact us pages cannot be tuned to convert in the same way since they must be generic.
Offers are more enticing than contact. A landing pages is arrived at in response to an offer, something that entices the site visitor to take action. "Free trial of our software," "Get the free eBook," or "Checklist to make a great decision," are the kinds of offers that drive site visitors to raise their hands and interact more purposefully with you. The contact page just sits there hoping the site visitor will engage, disconnected from a journey from unknown site visitor to potential customer.
Inbound Marketing works the sales funnel to your advantage. The contact page is insensitive to the needs of the site visitor. It offers the same set of possibilities no matter what the buying stage. The landing page, on the other hand, is tuned to exactly what is going on in the mind of the prospect. If they are "just looking," it offers information to help frame the buying decision (top of the funnel offer, or in HubSpot speak, ToFu). If the site visitor is beginning to establish buying criteria, the landing page offers more detailed information such as white papers, case studies or model RFPs that can help tilt the process in your favor (middle of the funnel, or as HubSpot would say, "MoFu"). And when they are nearing the end of the buying process, you can support the decision with a free trial or other offer that helps seal the deal (bottom of the funnel, or "BoFu").
Integrated effort from target persona to content, offer, landing page and conversion. It would be a disservice to the reader (and landing pages, too) not to frame the landing page in the larger context of Inbound Marketing strategy. The central concept is to know your potential buyer well enough that you can then create online content (blogs, Website pages, offers) that attracts site visitors from search engines, social media and outbound activities and compels them to engage with you. You can (and should) build a set of ideal customer types and then build out a matrix of content and offers for each; this will drive your content development in a strategic way, and enable you to be certain that you have an integrated content and funneling strategy in place: Persona -> content -> offers (CTAs) -> landing pages.
Beyond the functional difference between the contact us page and the landing page, there's resistance to the idea that site visitors will in fact respond to offers and provide their credentials in order to get the offer. Again, the research is clear that they will in fact do so. And we see it on the landing pages we create. In fact, they will convert better than on a contact us page. We have a client that in its early days of inbound marketing converted a free trial offer from a contact us page option to a dedicated landing page. The number of leads per day more than doubled in the first month for this offer alone, and the leads are of better quality. The reason why is that the landing page more fully sells the free trial, and follows landing page best practices (no navigation, CTA offers motivational language, etc...).
Building high performance landing pages is central to success with Inbound Marketing. We'd be happy to help you assess your Website and readiness for Inbound Marketing with a free Website and Inbound Marketing Assessment. Just click below!