As I was browsing DMNews this morning, I saw a headline that caught my attention: “Sephora’s chief executive tells marketers to ‘differentiate’ their brands: DMA2010”. Sounds like Jacques Levy gave a great presentation that largely focused on how Sephora differentiates itself and why that’s important.

I think it’s important to differentiate yourself on the landing page….but not too much.

It’s common, within an industry, to see very similar landing pages across a range of competitors (think private higher education or car insurance). If you click through ads to some of those landing pages you will see a lot of things that look painfully similar. 

In a highly competitive environment, this might be a mistake. If a prospective customer is doing research on car insurance and five of the five landing pages they visit all look/sound/feel exactly the same, which company will be remembered? Likely none. So who will get the business? Who will get the recommendation to a colleague or friend?

I get what drives these similarities—If the format works, why break it? Well, a good reason to break it is that long term equity might be sacrificed for short term conversion gain. Isn’t our responsibility as marketers to push outside of the boundries to find something that both works and helps us stand apart from the competitive fray? Shouldn’t we get the conversion and the great brand impression?

So I guess the question is, how far outside of the fray should we stick our toes? It can be easy to get caught up in making a landing experience so different that we forget to make it effective. We have to find the right balance where the page is differentiated, but the investment isn’t too heavy.  It’s good to remember that landing pages should be disposable. Don’t invest too heavily in being different so that you paint yourself into an ineffective corner. There’s no point in having a branded landing page that doesn’t convert and that isn’t easy to optimize. 

Differentiation on the landing pages…do your landing pages differentiate your company from the next guy?