So you’ve created a landing page. A landing page offers something in exchange for some kind of action: fill out a form, subscribe to a newsletter, call a phone number, send an email, click a link, make a purchase, whatever.
- One message
- One market
- One outcome
What this means is, your landing page focuses on one core message, one core audience, and one single action. The less messages, markets, and outcomes your landing page focuses on, the greater the conversion rate.
Let’s say you’re a dentist. You have a landing page that talks about urgent dental care. It’s targeting someone who’s in a lot of pain and needs their teeth fixed now. And the page has a form to fill out or a number to call (a form is best since you can capture their contact information).
That’s one message that speaks to one market asking for one action.
Don’t try to sell teeth whitening and dental implants on the same page offering emergency dental care. If a person is in pain, they’re looking for a fix now, not to replace missing teeth. Multiple messages will only confuse people. They’re unnecessary barriers and speed bumps.
Also, your message should target one audience only. Don’t talk to people who are looking to improve their smiles or book a hygiene treatment appointment. Focus on the person with dental pain. That’s it.
Most importantly, your page should lead to only one outcome. If you give people too many choices, they won’t make one. If your goal is to get people to book an appointment to stop their dental pain, don’t try to offer them links to articles on brushing techniques or a quote request on Invisalign braces.
The worse part is, if you’re buying ads and sending traffic to a landing page that has more than one message, market, or outcome, your wasting your money.
So be focused and stick to the “rule of three ones.”
Now, what if you are driving traffic to another site, perhaps an affiliate product, a partner site, a supplier, or a referral? You have three possible challenges:
- The traffic you send, you lose. You no longer control it.
- You are at the mercy of their landing page or website.
- And you only have one chance to drive their actions.
So if you promote an affiliate product or service (such as an accountant promoting a tax software or a lawyer promoting do-it-yourself legal will kits), you want to, above all, track who you send to those resources. But you also want some degree of control after you send them.
There are many ways to advertise an affiliate product. But if you link to another website, the moment people click on that link, they’re gone. In other words, you don’t know how well the landing page to which you’re sending traffic is doing.
If their landing page sucks (meaning, they convey multiple messages, cater to to multiple markets, and make multiple offers), you lose.
You might lose on the potential commission. You might lose on the ability to track your sales. Or worse yet, if their “beacon” is subpar, you might lose on the trust, confidence, and goodwill you’ve generated with your audience.
It’s the same with Google. User experience or UX is becoming an important ranking factor. Google’s machine-learning software, called Rankbrain, looks at user experience signals that tell it if the search result is indeed a good one.
If it’s not, you lose rankings not because your SEO is poor but because Google doesn’t want to send its traffic to poor sites. It doesn’t want to lose its audience’s trust. So it shifts its rankings to deliver the best possible results to its users.
To than end, it looks at signals like clickthrough rates (i.e., the number of clicks when presented with a search engine result), bounce rates (i.e., the number of people who visit and immediately leave the site), and dwell time (i.e., the length of time people spend on a site).
But you’re not Google.
Hopefully, when you send your audience to another site, particularly a site in which you have a vested interest (financial or otherwise), you have done your due diligence and carefully vetted your resource beforehand.
However, things happen. Sometimes, they change without you knowing. Other times, the resource is valuable and relevant, but its UX is less than desirable or your audience needs help to find what it is you’re linking to.
Since you’re not Google, you don’t have multiple resources competing for your referral. Often, the one resource you’ve selected is the best one — but not necessarily the best performing one.
Also, once you send traffic to your resource, you have no way of knowing who has visited and bought. You may know who has clicked your link, and you may know how many bought. But you won’t know who. And you won’t know how to recapture or retarget that traffic.
Unless that affiliate does their own retargeting, you have no way to know this. (Let’s not forget all the privacy issues you’re running into if could do that.)
So how do you control your traffic, know how well they do on your resource’s site, and optimize their results, which are your results, too — including, in some cases, your income? Most of all, how do you retarget interested buyers without compromising anyone’s privacy (and annoying the uninterested ones)?
A bridge page is no different than a landing page. It’s on your own site or one you control. The difference is, before you send traffic to an affiliate or resource site, you send them to an interim page, an in-between page, that can accomplish a number of different tasks:
- Presell the visitor before they hit the third-party site, which will increase your chances to sell dramatically.
- Have them fill out a form before redirecting them (I’ll return to this), which can trigger a separate funnel.
- Educate the traffic before you send them to the resource, and educate them on what to look for, do, or buy.
- Make the offer on behalf of your affiliate but sending traffic to their checkout page directly (bypassing their confusing landing page or offer).
- Track and pixelify (is that a word?) that traffic, which allows you to retarget them on your own, with your own ads.
There are so many other examples and reasons to use bridge pages. Just google “Bridge Pages” and you will see what I mean.
But first, a word of caution…
If you do Google it, you will also notice a lot of talk against using bridge pages. This is not the same kind I’m referring to. These bridge pages are those used in PPC and paid ad campaigns as a means of misdirecting or misleading traffic, such as having pages that look official or branded when they’re not.
Obviously, don’t do that.
But bridge pages, when used correctly, can give you a certain extra level of control over the traffic you’re sending to other sites, which allows you to “bridge” any gaps and maximize your efforts.
As for number two above, “forms and redirections,” the goal is to get people to raise their hands, so to speak, before they visit the ultimate destination. You can offer an extra incentive (perhaps an extra bonus before visiting and buying the affiliate offer). This is your lead magnet, your own beacon, if you will.
I’ve seen some professionals offer courses or email campaigns, with educational content or tutorials on how to use that which they are recommending — or how to make the best us of it.
I’ve seen others give out a special code (like a discount code) after filling out the form on their bridge page, which helps to track purchases. But it also helps to retarget and market to the non-buyers — those who asked for the code but never used them, for instance.
Third, some professionals use this tactic strictly for tracking and segmentation purposes. Nothing more. Which can be quite effective, too.
For example, you have links to external sources. No affiliate links. No monetary incentives. Just recommended resources. But before you send them away, when they click your link, it leads to a bridge page that tags your audience and segments them into specific sublists or demographic groups.
This could be useful if you want to target more focused audiences — and avoid overselling and annoying less interested audiences.
So if you have a practice that sells external products and services (such as a cosmetic surgeon promoting a pharmaceutical line of makeup geared for treated skin), or one that makes recommendations of some kind, you might want to consider bridge pages to track and control your marketing efforts.