The first generation of landing pages was basic, almost cliché. They consisted of a headline, a few bullet points, a "hero shot" image, and a form. They captured leads with the promise of a whitepaper, webinar, or demo—or simply contact from a salesperson.

Those first landing pages weren't great. But they were the first incarnation of context-specific, post-click marketing, and they were effective enough to justify their implementation. And they hinted at more potential.

In 2008, with the publication of books such as Tim Ash's Landing Page Optimization and Bryan Eisenberg's Always Be Testing, the second generation of landing pages was born.

The two foundations of that era were...

  1. Widespread adoption of A/B and multivariate testing
  2. Portfolios of scores or hundreds of landing pages, each focused on tight "message match" with the ads or emails driving clicks to them

Best-practices began to solidify around form length, calls-to-action, and social proof. Software products appeared to help marketers manage their growing conversion-optimization programs. Eventually, almost every digital marketer acquired some experience with landing pages of that kind.

Now, a wave of new innovations in landing pages has raised the bar yet again.

Over the past year, a third generation of landing pages has emerged—let's call it Landing Pages 3.0—that incorporates ideas from content marketing, social media marketing, HTML5 interfaces, marketing automation, and the explosion of mobile marketing.

Let's take a tour of five defining features of Landing Pages 3.0.

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image of Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker is co-founder and CTO of ion interactive, a provider of landing-page management software and conversion-optimization services. He also writes a blog on marketing technology called Chief Marketing Technologist.

Twitter: @chiefmartec.