Many years back, I was working as a system administrator for a small company, where no one on the team but me could add or change a thing on the company website because no one else knew HTML or CSS. It was the beginning of the web app era, and there was no other way around it — you had to edit an HTML file, connect to the server through FTP protocol, upload your updated files and then connect to a web server and restart it so that it would pick up the changes. Yeah. Not an easy process at all.
A few years later, I was working at a large transnational company. And unlike my previous employer, this was not a small company with limited resources but a huge corporation that could get any software they wanted (or build one). But the process of updating their corporate websites remained very complex. You still had to edit HTML and CSS files. But instead of uploading them directly to the web server via FTP, you had to use a web-based content management system. It took at least an hour to make even the smallest change, so they hired a special person to do that — me. Luckily, I didn’t stay in that job for long.
A better way
Things have changed since those times. Thanks to the startup boom, we now have all sorts of apps to make our lives easier. You no longer have to deal with complex, general-purpose content management systems.
As far as landing pages go, creating and editing them is even quicker and easier than building websites. But you still have choices when it comes to building them.
The cheapest solution is WordPress, which has tons of plugins that allow you to create landing pages from templates. The last time I worked with WordPress was about 15 years ago, so I’m not very familiar with its current state, but I’ve heard that ThriveThemes are very popular and give you plenty of out-of-the-box tools. You have to pay for them, but the payment seems to be a one-time fee versus a subscription. WordPress does the job, but I wouldn’t recommend it. First of all, to customize it you need to have some coding skills. Specifically, you need to know Wordpress’s underlying structure and common web tech like PHP, JS and HTML/CSS. Not something you can’t master if you don’t already have the skills…but the learning process will cost you time.
Even though I have these coding skills, I don’t use WordPress because it’s so behind the current web tech. Wordpress seems obsolete to me, especially given how much you need to pay someone to customize it.
Use Landing Page Generators
That’s why I usually recommend using one of the SaaS tools for landing page generation — for example, Unbounce or Leadpages. Both of them have subscriptions that are more expensive than WordPress’s — Leadpages will cost you $40/month at minimum and Unbounce’s cheapest plan is $100/month, compared to a minimum of $3/month for WordPress — but because they’re so much easier to use, I think it’s worth the extra cost.
Here are the benefits of using a landing page generator over WordPress:
- No hidden costs. You know the pricing up front, and you know what to expect. The landing page and editing interface just works. You don’t need to worry about a server, hosting, speed optimization, SEO plugins and installing analytics tools like Facebook Pixel. Landing page generators have all of that built in, and they’re not going to charge you for them. They also have a ton of great editable templates available to you for free.
- Integrations. One thing that is often overlooked is that a landing page itself is rarely enough. You’ll need to connect it to something. If you want to collect emails, you’ll need to connect your landing page to email marketing software. If you want to be able to accept payments, you’ll need to connect it to your payment processing software. If you want to be able to collect and segment leads or track your sales pipeline, you’ll need to connect it to a CRM. Most landing page generators already have integrations built for you that you just need to set up. With WordPress, you might get lucky and install a free plugin that works, but it’s more likely that you’ll need to buy a plugin and then pay someone to integrate it into your landing page.
- Ease of use. With landing page generators, you can set up your landing page in a few minutes. Just pick a template, create a new landing page based on that template, edit the heading, text and marketing blurb, connect it to your email marketing tool and you’re ready to go. You don’t need to worry about anything else. It’s perfect for testing and running quick marketing experiments when you don’t have a lot of time. With WordPress, you need a domain and hosting, and then you need to pick and install plugins, and then you need to customize it. Not terribly hard, but when you have a lot going on, that’s when this becomes a problem.
- Great documentation. Most landing page generators have extensive documentation — explanations on how to set your landing page up with a few clicks or add email subscription forms — that will help you build an effective landing page. But they also provide articles to help you understand the science behind optimizing conversion rate and increasing ROI. Some of them even offer courses to teach you how to make the most out of your marketing campaign.
Marketing trends are dynamic, and your landing page should be flexible enough for you to change it many times. I find that depending on someone to customize your WordPress-based landing page is very inefficient, as is doing it yourself if you have the skills. Landing page generators like Leadpages or Unbounce free your time and let you focus on what’s important — marketing, validating product ideas and running experiments.
Originally published on Medium