A new review by Silverpop of the landing pages from 150 email marketing campaigns finds that many fail to grab attention quickly and some are confusing and cluttered.

"Email marketers spend a lot of time and energy creating targeted, relevant campaigns, but then fail to carry the ball across the goal line due to lackluster landing pages," said Elaine O'Gorman, vice president of strategy for Silverpop. "Landing page optimization can have a tremendous impact on email marketing success rate."

The need for strong, compelling landing pages is clear, since studies have shown that up to 50 percent of visitors to landing pages will bail after a cursory 8-second glance. Successful landing pages must grab attention quickly and not require a great deal of effort on the part of prospects.

In order to evaluate the approaches taken by top online marketers, Silverpop's Strategic Research Team registered to receive emails from 150 top online marketing companies. Landing pages reached from clicking links in each email were evaluated for 14 different elements such as matching the email leading to the page and/or the company's Web site, ease of navigation, amount of copy, design formats and much more.

The study, "8 Seconds to Capture Attention: Silverpop's Landing Page Report," found that some landing pages quickly grabbed attention and kept readers interested, while others were easily dismissed and quickly discarded. Following are just a few of the key findings from the report.

Matching the look of the email
The confusion of arriving at a Web page that doesn't match the look and tone of the email can lead visitors to abandon the site. Yet 35 percent of the landing pages reviewed by Silverpop didn't have the same look or tone of the email that generated the click. Twenty-nine percent of BtoC companies posted landing pages that didn't match the email, compared to 41 percent of BtoB companies.

Repeating the email's call-to-action
To reinforce the call-to-action that generated the email recipient to click a link in the first place, best practice is to repeat the offer on the landing page. Yet a surprising number of marketers failed to do so. In fact, 45 percent of landing pages didn't repeat the strong promotional copy found in the email.

"Landing pages with images and messaging matching the emails that generated initial interest are better able to reinforce the brand and move email recipients from clicking to converting," O'Gorman said.

Jumping to the home page
Catapulting a clicker to a Web site's home page generally fails to deliver on the promise inherent in the email's call-to-action. Yet 17 percent of email marketing campaigns dumped recipients there.

"Home pages are most often created to appeal to the broadest spectrum of prospects possible, while truly successful email marketing campaigns are focused on segmented groups based on their relationship to the company or product," O'Gorman said. "Using the home page as a landing page, therefore, can be confusing. It's much better to create a landing page unique to the email campaign whenever possible."

Including email opt-in requests
Customers and prospects can end up at a landing page via a variety of routes, especially if someone on your email list forwarded the message. To capture the email addresses of those who have arrived at your landing page without being in your database, its essential to ask them to register. Yet 35 percent of the landing pages didn't include an opt-in request.

"The time and effort taken to optimize landing pages will be returned many times in customer loyalty, improved conversion rates and higher return-on-investment," O'Gorman said. "the Silverpop study found that email marketers need to work harder to reinforce the offer and support strong brand awareness."

She said that Silverpop's new report can help marketers understand how their landing pages compare with other marketers' attempts to lead customers from clicks to conversions.

To receive a free copy of the report, go to Silverpop