Landing pages are essential for good marketing. You don’t want to use them for everything, but a good landing page can squeeze someone into making a decision when they wouldn’t before. There’s a lot of psychology that goes into it. When a user lands on your landing page, they’re at your mercy with marketing until they either convert or escape.
I’m not here to talk about the landing page contents (or landing page optimization) today; we’ve written a few posts about it on our blog already. I’m here to tell you how to create one, and the tools you can use to do so.
Landing pages come in two forms; hosted and self-hosted. The landing page itself is generally going to be the same, the difference is simply in where the landing page files are kept.
Hosted landing pages tend to be, well, hosted on the servers of the app or company you use to create them. These companies tend to brand your landing page in some way, with a “powered by” link at the bottom or a header bar across the top, or even just in the URL. It’s the same way a free WordPress hosted installation is on a WordPress domain. It’s the difference between www.myblog.com and www.myblog.wordpress.com.
Self-hosted is the flip side of the coin. A self-hosted solution is hosted on your own web servers, along side the rest of your website (assuming you have a website that isn’t on a free host). Just like the WordPress example above, it would be on your custom domain.
So what are the pros and cons of each type of hosting? Using a hosted solution is generally a lot easier to set up; they often have landing page creator tools and other options to help you get up and running quickly and easily. They tend to be cheap or free.
On the other hand, hosted solutions are also generally restricted in what you can do. You can’t just write custom scripts for them. You won’t be able to work outside of their templates. You’ll be stuck with the tools and resources they have available to you. Also, you’re generally stuck with their URL and branding somewhere on your page, unless you pay extra for a white-label service and your own domain name.
What I’ve done for the majority of this article is come up with a list of various free landing page creators and hosts. I’ve written down the salient details about each of them, as well as whether or not they’re hosted, and what you can get if you decide to pay after all.
Wix is one of the larger current free web design engines available. They’re large enough to pay for radio and TV ads on major networks, and they’re large enough to be able to offer a free service without going bankrupt.
Wix works for a wide range of different website styles, though it is best served for smaller websites, like a restaurant page with simple menu and contact pages, but little else. It’s not great for a full blog or e-commerce site. They have a whole set of different styles of templates available. Among those template categories is Landing Pages, which you can find at the bottom of the list. They have thirty or so landing page templates, all of which can be customized using their drag-and-drop editor.
Free Wix sites include access to that website editor and the various free templates they have available. It also gives you unlimited pages, though it can get clunky making and editing an exceptionally large site. You are also limited to only 500 MB of storage, which isn’t all that much if you’re uploading a lot of media. Pages are small, but images can be larger, and videos are larger still. Since explainer videos are popular for landing pages, this can be a deal breaker for some brands. The free plan is also allowed to run Wix ads and branding on your site.
Premium plans give you more features. For $5 per month, you get 1GB of bandwidth and the ability to use a custom domain, if you own one. For $10, you get 2GB bandwidth, 3GB of storage, a free domain, and the removal of Wix ads. Other plans at higher fees give you ad vouchers, booster and builder apps, more storage and more bandwidth. You can see it all on their pricing page.
Wix is a hosted solution, meaning they’re the ones hosting your files on their server. They have on self-hosted option, just the ability to use your own domain for a fee.
The IncomePress free landing page generator is just that; a generator. You choose one of the five templates at the top. Then, you plug in your niche, which is a keyword that will be used for the text on the page. You can link an image or a video in the box below that, which either embeds an image you have hosted elsewhere, or embeds a video from YouTube or whatever other host you’re using. You can also embed an Aweber contact form, though you do have to have an Aweber account to use that.
You can click to preview any of the templates with as much or as little information on them as you want. Once you have a page that satisfies you – which shouldn’t take long given how few forms there are to fill out – you can click to generate it. When you do, you will be prompted to download an HTML file. That file is your landing page.
Obviously, since this is a generator and not a service, you have to upload the landing page file yourself. That makes this a self-hosted tool. It’s also not very customizable; the five templates are all you have to choose from.
While the tool is free, I would venture to guess it’s not going to be very useful for you. The templates this tool uses are a little spammier than the other examples in this article; they are commonly used to sell eBooks, supplements, and get rich quick schemes that serve just to suck you in. Still, if you want a quick template generated for you, you may be able to make it work.
Ucraft is a fairly simple landing page solution. You sign up and create a free account, then click on the free landing page option. You can pick one of the sixteen templates they have available and customize the page from there. The drag-and-drop editor is simple and works well enough, though it’s limited in comparison to creating a page from scratch.
The free version of Ucraft allows you access to one landing page where you can customize the content. You are able to link your own domain, if you have one, so that is not a premium feature. They do, however, watermark your landing page with their logo so your visitors know where you created and are hosting the landing page.
For $8 per month you can upgrade to the website version of the plan, which gives you one site with unlimited pages. You still have the ability to add and edit content on the pages and connect your domain, but you also get app integration, support, and white-label hosting.
ONTRApages, the landing page service brought to you by ONTRAport, is a fairly decent landing page creator that works just about the same way as the others on this list. It has a good selection of templates you can use for free, and they’re good and flexible to edit elements, as opposed to some more rigid templates on other site tools.
You do get free hosting, making this a hosted solution, but you’re limited to a total of 10 pages and three forms. If you want any other features, you have to pay. Payment information is hard to find unless you register, but from what I’ve seen, it will run you about $15 per year. For that $15, you get up to 25 pages, exporting form leads to various email services, custom domain usage, white-label branding, and most importantly a built-in split-testing engine.
Split testing can be very, very useful for landing pages. It’s also complex to set up unless you use a third party tool, which is why so few landing page hosts actually offer it as a service.
This one is a self-hosted solution in the form of a WordPress plugin, which you can only use if you’re using the self-hosted WordPress.org version rather than the free hosted WordPress.com implementation.
There’s just one major downside: you’re limited in the number of leads you can generate through your free landing page. The limit is a meager 200 leads, and that’s not a per-month limit, that’s a lifetime limit as far as I can tell. After you surpass 200, you have two options. You can either switch away from the Wishpond landing page, or you can start paying for their premium accounts. Unfortunately, premium accounts aren’t all that cheap. You’re going to be running at $50 per month for the cheapest plan.
Wishpond is an excellent company with an excellent service, but if you’re in the market for a free landing page, this isn’t really your best option. You’d be better served by using something like Wix, or just making a landing page on your own.
This is a free landing page creation engine built into a WordPress plugin. Sound familiar? This one is a little different, though. It’s made to be stand-alone, though it also works with related plugins for calls to action and lead generation.
This particular plugin has a good visual editor and can track conversion rates for your landing pages. It allows you to clone existing landing pages and lets you run split testing on them. You can pre-populate forms with visitor information if you want to make them more likely to convert.
There aren’t many limitations with this plugin beyond how few features it natively includes. If you want advanced scripts and integrations, you may need to learn how to code them up yourself. You also, of course, have to have a self-hosted WordPress installation to use this plugin.
If you don’t use WordPress but still want a free landing page that is hosted on your own site, your best option is to simply code something up from scratch. You can make a good landing page out of nothing, you just need to take some time to study the best landing pages available out there today. You might need to get some work on graphic design done, or you might need to adapt some open-source plugins to work for harvesting data or split testing on your own site, but it’s entirely possible.
The DIY option can be as cheap or as expensive, as easy or as hard as you want to make it. Sometimes that means you’re going to have to pay freelancers to do work you either don’t have the time to do or don’t have the skills to do. That’s okay, but in the end, it doesn’t make your landing page free. The benefit, of course, is that with a custom design, you can build a landing page free from restrictions from whoever is hosting or designing your page. In the end, it depends if you have the time and the resources to justify building something custom.
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