"Imagine if a customer in one of your stores asked a rep where to find a particular product and that rep directed [her] to a door that led to the alley behind the store," says Chad White in a post at the Retail Email Blog. "What do you think that customer would do when she found herself standing in the alley? [She'd] get the heck out of there."

That's why White takes issue with a recent Hallmark promotion in which recipients who clicked through to watch a video encountered a forlorn landing page utterly free of Hallmark branding, navigation buttons or links to product pages—nothing but a blank page with a video console.

"Hallmark gives subscribers no indication of what to do next," notes White. "You would think that they'd want subscribers to buy some related cards or gifts like those in the email, but Hallmark's landing page screams, 'Get lost!'" (The company might agree with White's assessment; at the time of this writing, the linked page was removed.)

According to White, these landing-page faux pas most often show up "on sign-up, opt-out, forward-to-a-friend, preference and other administrative pages." But he urges marketers to make sure that all their landing pages avoid the "back alley syndrome."

The Po!nt: Give them a soft landing. Don't waste sales opportunities with an off-putting landing page. Make it a welcoming arrival that points visitors smoothly toward conversion.

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