I use to hand code all of my web pages. Just a simple opt in page could take hours. Now, thanks to WordPress and landing page software like Leadpages, Unbounce and OptimizePress (2.0), my life has been made a lot easier. Great design templates, easy execution, and just a few clicks here and there and you’ve got yourself a website. In this 3-part series, I’ll cover what the differences are between the landing page creators so you can decide which one is right for you (if any). I actually use all of them and you’ll find out why after you go through this series.
If you run any kind of business (even if you are a techie like me), it just makes no sense to hand code all of your pages. It’s way too time consuming (time that could be better spent on marketing, making sales, creating products, etc). Using landing page creators, an opt in page only takes about 10 seconds to create. For your other standard pages like confirmation pages, thank you pages, webinar registration pages, sales pages and so on, it should only take a few minutes to maybe 10 minutes. Hell, I can even have a “complete” website up and running within 10 or 20 minutes (not including the time to write solid content). The result? A professional looking website that I use for business clients which includes the home page with opt in, about us page, blog, and contact page.
I still hand code the odd page here and there (I’ll explain in more details why later) but the majority of my page creations are handled by one of the above system so I can focus on higher valued business activities.
All of these work beautifully with Infusionsoft as well as every other major email service providers (e.g. Aweber, Mailchimp, ConstantContact).
Table of Contents
UPDATE: You can check out my more detailed Leadpages Review.
Fastest Time to Page Creation
Of all of the systems that I mentioned, Leadpages is definitely the fastest in terms of page creation and you can create some very nice looking pages with their predesigned landing page templates. You just choose a template that you like, choose your autoresponder form and voila! You’ve got yourself a page that you can use immediately on FB, Adwords (there’s only 1 template that is Adwords ready at the time of writing), Bing, etc.
Extremely Easy to Use
I think this must be the simplest platform I’ve used for creating landing pages. There’s practically no learning curve involved so you can get up and running fast.
You can use this on as many sites as you like. Most services like these typically charge a premium for extra domains. If you run multiple websites then this is a huge plus.
Easily integrate with WordPress:
Host it on Leadpages’ very fast servers, and I do this a lot to test offers first before purchasing a domain or uploading it to my own. You can actually also advertise on Facebook directly using Leadpages’ own hosting — a practice used by a lot of marketers:
Easy integration with GoToWebinar and most email service providers.
Leadpages is constantly adding new features but currently beyond opt in, functionality is still quite basic and there are limitations. If you have affiliates who sign people up through a Leadpages form, you won’t be able to track who the affiliate referrer is. You can’t have extra hidden fields to hold information about where they came from. That’s not an issue if you don’t need to track referral information about your leads but if you need to know how they were referred to you — e.g. through Affiliate, Adwords, FB, Display Advertising etc. — you’re not going to be able to store that information automatically (learn how to track referrals).
Update Jan. 2021: Since I’ve written this post, there have been a lot of new and much more advanced Advertising Attribution Software that have been released as well as Google Analytics 4.[UPDATE 03/2014: You can now have extra hidden fields using Leadpages which is very useful. For those of you that are technical, you can even have Leadpages capture extra parameters pass on the URL]
If you want to take additional details (e.g. comments, address, and so on) or you want to use drop down menus in your opt in form, you just can’t do it. In short, any customization of the Leadpages form is pretty much impossible.
You can’t personalise any content as well. Everything is static on the page so it looks identical for everyone.
Limited Design Control
All of the templates and designs are pretty much fixed. You can’t rearrange or reorder any of the items. The only thing you can change is whether the item appears (sometimes), the color theme and font.
The wordpress plugin for Leadpages can be unreliable. If you set Leadpages as your home page on your WordPress blog, it works for a few days and then suddenly it comes up blank for a few days (I don’t know if it continues to be blank after a few days since I switched it off). Unfortunately, I found this out after sending about $1,420 in paid Google traffic to a blank page (!). What I noticed is that if you set the Leadpage to http://www.example.com/test, it will always work (rather than using the home page http://www.example.com). Despite hearing things to the contrary from the Leadpages team, this bug still persists with the latest update.
The statistics/tracking seems to be unreliable. Sometimes when I add a new variation for split testing or I create duplicate pages, I notice that stats can go missing. It’s a kink which I think they’ll work out but something to keep in mind.
The primary selling point of Leadpages is that you can create opt in landing pages that look nice fast and easy, without any of the fuss typically associated with creating these pages. But the best part is that they are test to convert. You can also easily create thank you pages, sales pages, double opt in confirmation pages, video pages, etc. If your primary purpose is to use Leadpages to build an email list using opt in pages, create some simple video pages, then Leadpages will work perfectly. It’s a big part of the reason why it’s used by many marketing pros. If you need anything more than that, then you can look at Unbounce or OptimizePress instead.
Powerful Landing Page System
Very powerful stuff.
Upon successful form submission, you can also send that data using its web hooks to other web services
What can you use Webhooks for?
You can automatically register them for Webinars, Teleseminars, send an SMS text message to the recipient, add their details to a Google Docs Spreadsheet — to list just a few!
Here’s a free advanced marketing strategy that I came up with. When I use Adwords to send traffic to Unbounce pages, I track all of the keywords when they opt in. I use broad match initially in Adwords when testing the market (as well as competitor keyword data from SpyFu) and I’ll usually get a lot of non-converting keywords but will find some gold nuggets in there. I’ll move the gold nuggets to a different ad group and turn up the dial on those.
To make the process easy at the start, the keyword data is stored inside Infusionsoft contact details AND in a Google Docs Spreadsheet.
Easy Drag and Drop
You can drag and drop any element (image, text, button, video, etc.) anywhere on the page. Nothing comes close to Unbounce in this respect.
Great Split Testing System
They make split testing very easy to measure, track and manage. Let’s say that you have 2 variations which you’re split testing 50/50 (sending 50% of traffic to landing page A and 50% to landing page B). The results come back:
Landing Page A: 36.67%
Landing Page B: 14.81%
Landing Page A then is clearly the winner so we direct 80% of our traffic now to Landing Page A.
We can choose to completely discard Landing Page B, copy it to another campaign and make modifications, keep it in the current campaign so we keep a record of what worked and what didn’t.
Let’s say that you use this funnel:
Facebook Ad -> Unbounce Landing Page where you present a video -> Click to shopping cart -> Successful Purchase -> Receipt page
Compared with the others, Unbounce wins by a long shot with its testing capabilities and analytics.
Lots of Integrations
It costs $99 per month if you have under 25,000 visits. Oh, and it’s limited to one domain.
If you want to add another, it’s an extra $5 per month ($60 per year). When I test new ideas on Google, I like to try a lot of different domain names which is worth it for me because I make up the savings from higher CTR and lower cost per click. I have at least 30 extra domains on Leadpages which is all covered in its $67/month plan. If I do this with Unbounce, it would cost an additional $150 per month. Further, the amount of visits on these pages will exceed 25,000 visits per month which means I’d be looking at the next tier of $200 per month. So my total cost? $350 per month, or $4,200 per year.
As you can see, that makes testing extra domains on PPC much more expensive than Leadpages.
Compared to Leadpages (unlimited domains and traffic for monthly fee of $67) and OP (once off fee for unlimited domains and traffic) — Unbounce is definitely the most expensive.
Compared to OptimizePress and Leadpages (with a caveat), you don’t get to “own” any of the pages. What do I mean by that? If you decide that you no longer want to use Unbounce, then it means saying goodbye to all of your landing pages. You can’t just copy and paste the pages. If you have a good developer, you can find away to “copy” the pages to your own server (which I don’t think is allowed) but if you have hundreds of landing pages, video pages, thank you pages, that can be reason enough for a massive headache.
So if you use Unbounce pages throughout your website and online business, you’re practically “locked in” because the cost and time required of moving away is so large. Obviously, if you’re only testing a few landing pages, that’s not going to be much of a concern. It’s only if you create a large number of pages throughout your online ecosystem.
Slow and Clunky
The flip side of having a very easy drag and drop style landing page builder is that it takes a lot of resources to make that happen. That means it’s slower to load the page builder when you use the app to create your page and a bit slower to load the actual page as well for your visitors. The backend of Unbounce is definitely slowest out of the three in my experience, and it takes me a lot longer to create a page ready to go using Unbounce than it does using Leadpages.
Further, the higher the load time, the higher the bounce rate (and the lower your conversion). Having said that, for simple opt in pages made with Unbounce, the load speed for visitors is still quite fast (I think they use Cloudfront CDN which speeds things up).
Non Converting Templates
The templates that I’ve tested on “cold” PPC traffic don’t convert very well. I typically get 1% to 16% whereas on Leadpages I get anywhere from 8% to 73%. The team at Unbounce have a really great educational blog about conversions, split testing and more, but using their very own templates out of the box hasn’t worked out as well for me.
This is a key point of differentiation with Leadpages because a lot of templates on Leadpages actually came directly from marketers and when you test out their templates on Facebook traffic, for example, you can get some really great results. If you’ve been in the conversion game long enough, you’ll know that ugly can convert a lot better than pretty. And though Unbounce templates look very professional and slick, they haven’t converted very well in my experience.
You don’t get that much selection of templates on Unbounce either but you can buy templates on Themeforest designed specifically for Unbounce. There are 45 at last count:
None of the templates are “Adwords Ready” — they need to be modified which can be done easily enough but since a lot of marketers would be using Unbounce landing page for PPC traffic, it’d make sense to have them ready to go.
The power of the landing page editor coupled with a sophisticated split testing system is what makes Unbounce unique and could potentially make the price worth paying — especially if you drive very valuable paid traffic from Adwords, Google, LinkedIn, FB, and so on. You have a lot more control over what you can do on your page which can make up for the slower speed.
In my opinion, Leadpages and OP makes for much better value, especially if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur. If you’re a digital agency offering conversion services, then Unbounce would immediately rank as the #1 landing page service to use.
One Time Fee (Kind of)
You pay once for a brilliant WordPress system which you can keep forever and on as many domains as you like (the PRO Package). The only thing is that if you want access to the “Clubhouse”, it’s $17 per month which in my opinion is good value for money because they add some very high quality themes each month which you can use straight out of the box.
If you build your website around Leadpages or Unbounce, you’re stuck paying a monthly fee forever. With OP, you pay once and you get a system that allows you to build everything under the one system — landing pages, membership pages, sales pages, thank you pages, etc. With only WordPress and OptimizePress, you’ll have everything you need to build your website. If you’re on a tight budget, this would definitely be the system that I’d recommend.
As I alluded to above, you get everything under the one roof. This is the most complete system “template” that I’ve ever used for WordPress. It lets you do pretty much everything out of the box. And the fact that it’s housed in your own WordPress CMS makes life a lot easier because you can use your other WordPress plugins, database and external sites with your OP pages if need be.
For opt ins, you can integrate with most email service providers as well as use a custom opt in code. You can have hidden fields, use lead tracking (though some customization would be required).
For membership sites, you can create an entire membership site in an hour or less once you get the hang of it. You simply create a “Product” page and then “Lesson” pages. The lesson pages are “automatically” attached to the product and they’re listed automatically on the main product page.
For the lesson pages, you can easily create audio players, video players, download boxes, etc.
For this reason alone, I would get OP. You can take advantage of any plugins and shortcodes on your OP site. You can display content dynamically.
This is why having OP for membership sites works very well.
In order to authenticate your OP license, your OP plugin/theme must communicate with OP servers. Unfortunately, the OP servers has gone down a few times. When your OptimizePress installation is unable to authenticate your key (which it doesn’t just do at installation but on an ongoing basis), it kind of stuffs up your page. I had this happen 3 times so far and each outage lasting between a few minutes to maybe an hour. It’s not a pretty site (pun intended) when it happens. Images don’t display, opt in boxes don’t display, audios/videos don’t work properly anymore, funny code and error messages come up. If you run a multimillion dollar online business, it can look pretty bad.
Split testing is not really built into the system which makes split testing more time consuming. You’d need to create two separate pages to see what performs better a keep a log of it manually. Which is a pity because you can create some very nice looking opt in pages out of the box with OptimizePress.
The workaround that I use for this is to run Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely. I think that this solution is sometimes better than the Unbounce one at times because you get more statistics, nice looking heatmaps, and so on.
Unlike Unbounce and Leadpages, there is a learning curve here. It’s not “intuitive” so you’ll need to invest a bit of time to get to know the system. I guess the more powerful and sophisticated the system, the steeper the learning curve. If you feel comfortable with technology, the WordPress environment and so on, it will probably take at least a few hours to get comfortable with OP.
Long Form Sales Pages
Because of the way WordPress stores variables, you can lose your work if you’ve created a memory intensive page. That can mean losing your work when adding lots of graphics, having a long sales pages. Your WordPress will look like it’s “frozen” up and then you’ll see that some of what you’ve been working on has disappeared. Until the next update, I would update the max input setting and make sure that you’re constantly pressing “Save and Continue” so you don’t lose your work!
Lack of Portability
If you want to run the same landing page on more than one website, you can just copy and paste to another website. This is something very easily done in Leadpages and Unbounce. Why would you want to do this? Let’s say you’re running Adwords and sending traffic to a landing page. However, you want to test the domain name to see which one converts better. In order for the test to be valid, the landing page must be the same. So you copy them across all of the domains.
To do this is easiest with Leadpages. You just copy and paste the HTML file to the different servers. Or if you have WordPress installed on all of the sites, just use the LeadPages plugin. The good thing with Leadpages is that if you make a change, the updates are made immediately across all of your websites immediately. That’s a huge time saver.
Next best is Unbounce — you just duplicate the page and pay $5.00 extra for the use of another domain. But if you makes any changes, then they will have to be applied manually for all of the different pages. You can’t synchronize the pages. And with OptimizePress, you just can’t do it.
The reason you’re more likely to do it with OptimizePress is that maybe you have a nice sales page that you want to use as your base template and you just want to change the heading, wording, images, video file etc. and keep everything else the same.
I know that James Dyson and his team are working on adding a feature like this in the future which would make OP a lot better to use.
Of the 3, I think that OP offers the best value. If you’re on a budget and want something that does everything aside from split testing, the OptimizePress is the answer.
If you want to create high converting landing pages, webinar registration pages, sales pages, then I would highly recommend Leadpages. Though you have to pay monthly, you can see new improvements every single month. And they’ve made huge improvements along the way, some of which I’ve covered here.
If you want to create a nice looking membership website, then without a doubt, I would recommend OptimizePress.
And as far as I’m aware, OP really has no competitors that comes even close in terms of being able to create an entire site from scratch in WordPress and share content with such ease and flexibility — and a decent looking one at that! Its weakness is its reliability (which I think that James Dyson and his team will solve) and its lack of split testing functionality (for which I’m using Leadpages and Unbounce instead).
If you want the best in split testing capabilities, then the prize goes to Unbounce. They have really focused their efforts on making their a/b testing and analytics the best there is.
February 26, 2014
Hi Ruizhi, I am a co-founder here at LeadPages.
Thanks for reviewing LeadPages. I’m sorry that you found the WP plugin to be buggy. We’ve since fixed that problem.
Also, you mentioned that we don’t allow you to track hidden form fields for affiliate attribution but we absolutely do. Please see here: http://screencast.com/t/LtT42NF0JSs
I hope this makes sense. Thanks for the review.
March 19, 2014
Thanks for this overview…I’m going to check out OP…I really don’t care for the monthly option either…it adds up after a few years. You might as well pay a developer and a designer to code a custom plugin, because you’re going to end up paying upwards of $1,000/yr for some of these solutions anyway. You can write off that expense, of course, but still, a bit on the pricey side tbh.
April 16, 2014
Thanks Rui for the in-depth user review. Nice job. Seems LeadPages fits best for me.
April 20, 2014
Thanks for this review. I am a beginner to internet business, so I think I am going to go with OP.
April 21, 2014
Just came across your article- thanks for including Unbounce!
We did have issues in the past regarding page load times, but we recently updated our page serving platform. There’s more info on the upgrade here: http://inside.unbounce.com/product-dev/new-page-serving-platform/
April 26, 2014
Excellent comparison, Rui!
I decided to go for OP because its one-time fee just makes sense for me at this point. And the thought of having control over my website is always a bonus, and be able to tweak whatever I want in the code.
Thanks for the article.
June 26, 2014
Hi Rui, thanks for doing such a detailed review it has been a big help as I am looking at which of these tools to use that might suit us best. It is not easy to choose, as they all seem good, with some better than others in different ways. It is a difficult choice , short of trying each one, and who has the time and resources to do that. So glad that I came across your post it has been a big help. Cheers
July 6, 2014
James here, CEO of OptimizePress. Thanks so much for considering OptimizePress in your review here. I wanted to address a couple of the issues you mentioned here to let you know where we’re at with things now
>> Regarding reliability of our servers and licensing – The licensing system is now running from a super powerful (and reliable) Amazon Cloud server with redundant backup. The recent outages we had were as a result of a mis-configuration on our new server and some bad traffic that was coming through to our server – we have now implemented powerful DDOS protection systems on our servers as well
It’s also important to mention our system does not callback continually from your sites to our server – this only happens if you are creating a new page as some elements are initially parsed on our server – and these elements are cached for 24-48 hours (depending on the element) – so it’s only if the element cache expires and our server is down that you would ever notice anything. We’re confident with our new servers and other protections in place we’ve absolutely minimised the risk to any of our customers
>> Regarding copying pages to another site – I’m not sure if you’re aware we have a system called “Content Templates” which allow you to export any page you create with OptimizePress to another OptimizePress site. You are correct that any changes you make would need to be made on each site (because they are not synced) but you can certainly use this facility to test the same page on different sites or domains. You can find this option within the LiveEditor under “Content Templates > Export Template”
>> Regarding Long Form Sales pages & disappearing content – as with all WordPress sites, if you have a long page with a lot of variables, you are subject to the maximum input variables setting that your server has setup. With longer OptimizePress pages these can be affected by this setting – which is why we include a notification in our compatibility checker (within the OptimizePress Dashboard) to advise our customers to increase this variable/value with their hosting company – it’s usually a simple fix to change this and can even be done yourself with some servers/hosting companies. Once this is done there is no risk to your page content being lost
I hope this helps anyone reading this review – and thanks again for considering OptimizePress!
~ James Dyson
June 1, 2015
We absolutely LOVED OP1.x. There were some issues, but it was easy to use. OP2.x is another story. The powerful WP editor is gone and replaced with a clunky modular OP one. It used to take 2 clicks and a button to add a simple letter (like “s”) to a word and now it takes 6-8 clicks and a TON of time. OP2.X randomly chops off the bottom 1/4 to 1/3 of a sales letter, never to be recovered. OP2.x randomly stops letting us edit pages.
Do I know what I’m talking about? Maybe. I run banners, buy email drops, and send TV & Radio traffic to my sites. I’m not just nitpicking and actually use the software.
And support has, in general, been slow and unhelpful.
Any chance of fixing OP2.x or updating OP1.x?
August 7, 2014
Thanks for providing this review, I will go with Optimize Press as I intend to setup a membership website/Forum. Also I can trust OP more, especially with the CEO posting his side of the story; a rare sight to see on the internet.
August 16, 2014
Thank you for the review. I was wondering if you could answer a question I had about integrating LeadPages with Mailchimp. It seems that when they fill out the form it adds them as a subscriber to your MailChimp list but they don’t get the email to confirm their subscription. So is the coding within LeadPages set up so it bypasses the double opt-in process when it sends the lead magnet directly to them after they opt in? I have been searching but unable to find this answer anywhere.
August 18, 2014
You need to go into your LeadPages account settings (to Integrations) and check the Double Opt In button
October 21, 2014
I have started playing around with OP a lot recently. Bought it for about more than 6 months ago but haven’t really hand-on on it until recently. OP really give me the flexibility to custom my WP pages. Thanks a lot James for the wonderful creation. Only comment to James on a’feature request’ is to have a full feature contact form tool aside of only ‘opt-in’ form.
You too Rui Zi for the great write-up. I’m totally agree with you about the comparison between Leadpages, Unbounce & OP. Only VWO that I have not tested out. Hope to get more detail reviews about VWO from you as well.
Below is one of the OP site created by me. Fully custom-built from a blank page. . Hope to give the reader an idea what OP can do for us.
January 2, 2015
Great overview of all options for landing page software. I have never used lead pages. It seems like it is the best out of all of them but the $67 price per month is a bit too high. I am currently using optimize press and think what James has created is pretty unique and the costs are far lower. Have a great new year and thanks again for the ideas you shared.
February 9, 2015
I have seen this article after I was checking your blog.
But still not very sure, they are…. weather third party tracking codes will work or not…
March 31, 2015
What about: http://www.optimizely.com and vwo.com? How do they compare to the three solutions reviewed here?
May 12, 2015
Great write up but You missed the easiest to use, and totally free to get started in Instapage. With a fully customizable page and form builder with 2 click A/B testing it’s the best on the market. If any of your users want to check it out, it’s free and I will personally walk them through their new account, just email me eric at instapage dot com
May 12, 2015
Use this link and again, thanks for the great article!
June 5, 2015
Thanks for the great article. I’m looking for something that will work as my full use website, including leadpages, membership site, blog, etc. This is helps my decision making process! Thanks again!
October 21, 2015
Great review I think I have stumbled across it a couple of times now. I like leadpages and I use it , it’s the monthly cost for many sites is starting to bug me a tad bit. I found another alternative called thrive themes landing pages which is also a one time fee like optimize press , along with another one called click funnels , just wondering if you had use either of them ?
October 21, 2015
I have a review of click funnels here https://ruizhidong.com/review-of-clickfunnels/ and I’ll be releasing a review of thrive themes shortly
February 21, 2016
Thanks for such detailed and helpful reviews of the 3 major LP creators out there.
May I ask is the reliability issue with OptimizePress (due to OP authentication) still exists? I’m think of purchasing this plugin but I don’t want my LPs to have downtime because of this issue. That’ll waste my traffic cost.
Thanks in advanced 🙂
February 21, 2016
Hasn’t happened in a while to be honest. I think they’ve taken care of this issue since I wrote about it
February 22, 2016
Thanks, Rui Zhi!