Drive It – Convert It! #8 (podcast): Converting Web Traffic – Part 2 – Seven Steps to Effective Landing Pages

(Note: This podcast was originally published 1n 2006 under another domain name – bastioninternet.com/blog.  In 2010, the blog was later migrated to this site.  Some links may be outdated or there may be issues with RSS feeds)
Discussion on the importance of improving web conversion rates through more effective landing page strategies and design.
Suggested Tags: landing page design ppc email campaign conversion online sales ecommerce internet web marketing advertising website web design webdesign
Show Summary – Seven Steps to Effective Landing Pages:
1) Recognize the true value of a better landing page
2) Know your product
3) Know your target
4) Build based on your lead-in
5) Set you landing page objective
6) Design a superior landing page
7) Measure and test
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Read a full transcript here …
Hi and welcome to Drive It – Convert It!, for June 29th, 2006. This is episode #8: Converting Web Traffic – Part 2 – Seven steps to effective landing pages.
Drive It – Convert It! is the podcast where Small and Medium Sized businesses learn the marketing strategies and tactics behind Driving More Traffic to their website and Converting that Traffic into qualified and leads and sales.
Drive it, convert it.
I’m John Boulter. I’m the president of Bastion Internet and podcasts, show notes, and transcripts can be found at BastionInternet.com/podcast. That’s B A S T I O N internet.com/podcast.
I got a little behind with my podcast – thanks for hanging in there. I’m seeing the subscription numbers go up and up and was starting to feel really guilty about the delay in getting this latest podcast out.
Things have been busy and it’s gearing up to vacation season. All in all I’ve been squeezed for time. I always hesitate to tell people how busy I am because I just get no sympathy. Because we’re all busy – aren’t we.
But don’t be too busy to email me your questions, comments, or suggestions – email the show at podcast@bastioninternet.com.
Web visitors get driven to sites all the time – and they leave those sites – just as fast. The good news is – the site they are likely leaving is your competitor. You have the opportunity to get lots of high quality traffic into your business – your website. Handle it the right way and you’ll be as busy or as care free as you want to be.
There is a lot to go through, today. Here’s some extra motivation for you to keep you hanging in today. In a little while, just when you think good landing pages might be too much effort, whether you do them yourself or hire someone like Bastion Internet to help you – I am going to give you some truly inspirational information. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to wait to get started. You will not be able to contain yourself.
Let’s get going.
Here’s what we’ll be covering today.
1) Recognize the true value of a better landing page
2) Know your product
3) Know your target
4) Build based on your lead-in: lead in being an email or a Pay Per Click ad
5) Set you landing page objective
6) Design a superior landing page
7) Measure and test
1) Recognize the true value of a better landing page
Landing pages offer a huge return – there is no question about it – here’s why:
First it’s a leveraged return on investment. Do I sound like a banker, or a financial planner, oh well, if I must I must.
If you’re getting a 5% conversion rate – 5 visitors out of every 100 – you can raise your overall success by 60% by just convincing 3 more out of the remaining 95 to go with you, too. I did the math, trust me – it’s right.
Next – the rich get richer. You’ve heard me say that before. Now you’ve got to get on the right side of the rich/poor line – the rich side – so you can start getting richer, because the alternative is to get poorer.
How does that work – as you raise your conversion rate, you further justify your spend on the advertising. This can justify a higher pay per click bid, a better quality email blast design, or any number of other advertising expenditures. Spending more on driving more quality traffic will just keep the whole ball rolling.
Finally, bad conversion rates don’t just waste your click money, you’ve lost a customer.
I just finished reading the July issue of Business 2.0 there’s an article on Gamal Aziz, I hope I got that pronunciation right, he’s with the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. His claim to fame in the article is that he works backwards when looking at profitability. He looks at the potential of each venue – the restaurants, the rooms, the casino, the showrooms, to determine if that section of the hotel is on track. If it’s not reaching its potential, it’s losing money – even if it’s profitable now.
So if the restaurant is pulling in a million dollars with a 10% profit margin, he decides what the revenue for that space could be. If that potential is two million with a 15% profit margin, then the venue is actually losing him $200,000. I did the math, twice – trust me it’s right.
Now that might appear to be a harsh attitude, but that attitude has him improving profits of the various venues anywhere from 40% to 700% and more. And that is in one of the most competitive industries around.
So if you’re getting 1000 clicks and your converting 30 (for a 3% conversion rate), how much money are you leaving on the table by not converting 40 or 50 or a hundred, if it’s within your capability to do it.
You’re not going to sell everyone, but you better take your best crack at the one’s who come through the door.
2) Know your product
Look at your product from the web surfers’ perspective.
Is it an impulse buy type of product. Do you need to hit fast and hard. I’ve often run into situations where I need something now – for example recently I need a piece of software. I went did a little research and bought it within the hour.
Other times I need a service or it’s a larger purchase – my buy cycle might be a month or more.
Ask yourself what is the furthest you can push your conversion. I suppose you could sell a nuclear reactor online, but I doubt it. Can your service even be sold online. Is someone likely to even contact you on their first visit to your site.
How complex is your product. Is the user likely to know a lot about it. Have they likely already looked at your competitors.
Also, will the visitor be expecting to see your product when then click through.
What do I mean by that… For example, if the PPC ad or Email says “Quality Business Cards – Cheap” and it sends you to a printshop website. That’s expected.
Some time back I was doing some research for a dating site client I had. I was checking out some competitive ads. One of them took me to a page about God and not being lonely if I knew and accepted a fuller role for Him in my life. Now I’ll bet clickers weren’t expecting that when they clicked on the ad.
It can be an effective way to market – but it will make a difference as to how you deliver your message if the target is not expecting your product at the other end of the click.
Speaking of which …
3) Know your target
It seems I harp on this every podcast episode. Know who’s visiting. You’re ad will appeal to them, that’s why they clicked through. They will have a certain profile. Ask yourself
How motivated to buy are they.
Are they likely to buy now; will they be naturally trusting; will they spend time digging to get answers; are they likely to be fickle and impatient.
How savvy are they likely to be from a web perspective.
Also, building on that last thing about the product – will they be expecting your solution
Same idea as before – are they likely to be expecting the solution you are offering. If you’re trying to sell energy efficient lighting to companies searching for insulation products, you may be right in understanding that they want to reduce their energy costs, but it’s going to take a different kind of message on your landing page for them to make the connection between lights and insulation. You run the risk of a quick back-button. But you may get the reward of hitting them unexpectedly. Not my first choice, but perhaps worthy of some testing and measurement. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
4) Build based on your lead-in
Your landing page design will vary based on what drove the Visitor there.
Let’s look at 3 alternative ways to drive traffic, PPC Ads, Emails, and SEO.
Consistency is very important. Your landing page needs to be consistent with you lead in. If Visitors are coming from a text ad, you’ll want to have the same headline. Beyond that, you’ve got flexibility.
Now you may have 30 different ads running, or you may have PPC ads that pick up the keyword phrase the searcher typed in and replicate in automatically in the ad. Ideally you’ll have multiple landing pages that exactly match the specific PPC ad that drove that traffic.
Email – an email offer landing page needs to look like the email. So if you want to use your website’s design as a backdrop for your landing page, make sure you format your email appropriately. The design of the landing page should look like the design of the email and the offer should be the headline.
SEO – search engine optimization. This is harder. If you’re driving traffic organically, through the natural listings on the search engine results pages – you need to be careful. If you change that page, it may affect your ranking. However, if the page is getting you traffic but not converting for you – it’s likely worth the risk. Just do it slowly – over time. If you’ve got some images on the page, you can replace them with more direct or motivating images. You can likely improve the “call to action” on the page, too, without affecting the basic makeup of the page.
5) Set your landing page objective
What do you want your landing page to achieve. Is it going to be the place where the client will sign up. Is it a single step away from them buying now. Is it a bridge to deeper material found in the rest of your site.
Let’s look at this in more detail. If your landing page is a conversion page, design with that in mind. You’ve got to pull out all the stops to get the conversion then and there. You’ll want to have a form, a paypal link, a phone number, whatever your action step is. It should be bold and make no apologies. You either win or lose right there.
Or – is your landing page the step before the conversion page.
Hey, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve told you a little more, now click through to sign up or buy.
If you sell a more complex product or service where your skeptical target market is more likely to want more information before giving up their email address to you or their phone number – you’ll be using the landing page as part of a process. It’s a bridge to your catalog or products page or somewhere else. Let the visitor know about the journey you’ll be taking them on and motivate them to start it now.
We’re almost at that inspirational news thing – hang in there. It’s coming up … but first, you need to know how to …
6) Design a superior landing page
The planning is done – time to design.
Your immediate objective – don’t let them leave. Your second objective – motivate them to leave – your way – by converting.
So, don’t let them leave – first – reinforce to the Visitor – they are in the right place
They’ll know they are in the right place because you’re going to do the following:
– You will repeat the exact headline of your PPC ad or your Email Offering as your landing page headline.

– You will not deviate from the look and feel of the email that drove them there.

– And – your landing page will remain consistent with the ad.
So in our lighting products example if the PPC ad said – “Better light – less energy”, that’s our landing page headline.
If our offer in our email was for a “Free Energy Audit”, that’s our heading.
I am amazed at how many product specific searches take me to home pages or category pages when the company could have sent me to the page with the actual product. They’re making me now search within their site – incredible. If I’m looking for an iPod, land me on an iPod page. Don’t land me on an MP3 player page. Don’t land me on your Home page. At least land me on the iPod page and better yet, land me on a page built specifically for someone coming from the PPC ad or email.
Now, your Visitor didn’t immediately click the back button – they stayed – so deliver your message – one message.
Maybe it’s a benefit statement with a lifestyle image shot. Maybe it’s a rhetorical question that drives home the point of your product.
“Tired of making your utility company rich?”
or
“We lower your energy costs and give you better lighting. Find out how”, accompanied by a form to get an emailed version of a “ten tips to cutting your lighting bill”.
Next – motivate the visitor to take action – to convert – or to cross the bridge to conversion.
Although they just met you –they now know you can be trusted. You’re a consistent company. You haven’t bait and switched on them. You haven’t wasted their time. You reinforced the message of the ad that drove them to your site.
Increase the trust – if you have a form asking for an email have a short statement beside the field stating that you don’t share email addresses and linking to your privacy policy.
You can have an endorsement easily seen and recognized as an authority in your industry (a utility company logo for the lighting firm, BBB logo, whatever)
Now – you provide one clear choice for the Visitor – click this button; fill in this form, click, and submit. The more choices the less chance of a conversion. So if you wrap your landing page in your website design and all your main site navigation is at the top, you will distract from your main goal. You’re offering many more choices that all distract. You may decide you want those choices available. Just don’t do it out of default.
Make the action as easy as possible. If you want the Visitor to sign up for a newsletter, you need one field – their email address. That would be ideal. Now, I’ll let you get away with a few more, but do you really need that fax number. Do you really need their address. Do you really need them to tell you what they are most interested in. Probably not – at least not at this point in your relationship with them.
If your conversion is to have them delve deeper into your site, I recommend you have a separate “click track” – a few pages that will tour them around. Your conversion button might be “Start Here”
Keep in mind, with every click decision, one choice you provide is to have them leave. And you will loose them eventually. No one stays forever. The trick is to get them to leave on your terms.
So let’s sum up the main points on design:
– don’t let them leave: be consistent, let them know they are in the right place, reinforce with a benefit statement and image.
– Motivate action: their next step is crystal clear
– Make it easy: the action step is concise.
There are many other subtle design considerations. There are good resources out on the web that go into some detail, do a search, or easier yet – call us. We’ll see what we can do for you.
Some things to look at when designing –
Should you offer any type of fallback position – yes or no – I know it violates one of our rules, but maybe your targets markets vary and you don’t want to loose that visitor by giving them only one choice.
So you want to hedge your bet. “Buy Now or click here to learn more” – ouch, two choices, should you do it.
“Sign up for our newsletter, or click here to explore our site in more detail” – ouch, should you do it.
Realistically, depending on your product or service, it may be best to offer a couple of next step options. It will hurt your number one choice, though. Whether you make it up with a lot of number 2, I’ll leave that up to you – no pun intended there.
Make sure your landing page design is consistent with your website. If the Visitor is likely to check out more of your site and you paid heavy dollars for a beautiful landing page however the site was designed by your nephew in college, you may want to tone the landing page down or up the site quality. If the two don’t match it may become a trust issue. It throws up a flag to the Visitor.
Design above the fold. For those that don’t know, “the fold” is where a newspaper folds. You get more action on stuff above the fold. So in the web world we put our main impact points, images, whatever, above the point where the webpage needs to be scrolled to see. Now this is going to range based on the Visitors’ browser (how many toolbars they have at the top of their browser), and their screen resolution.
Next – make the copy and images readable. Use large fonts, and black on white works best. Short sentences. Tenth grade reading level – max.
Quick load – optimize your images, limit non-essential graphics.
Eliminate unnecessary elements. Just the facts, ma’am. Don’t distract from your main point. No matter what you paid for that cool graphic.
Finally,
7) Measure and test
Measure your results and test different alternatives. This can get very technical and we aren’t going to get into the ins and outs of it today. Just make sure you can measure the specific results of each landing page. Also, play around with alternatives and compare the results of each.
Even we professionals who do this every day are surprised at how little changes can make a significant difference and quite often – we have no idea why. We only know it worked because we tried it and measured it.
Okay, time for the inspiring piece of news that will make you want to rush out there and get better designed landing pages.
Most landing pages suck – they absolutely suck – they really, truly, absolutely suck. Go to your search engine of choice, Google, Yahoo, whatever. Search on some terms and click on the sponsored ads. Now don’t go overboard, these advertisers are footing the bill for your research, but check it out.
See how atrocious the majority of the landing pages are. You’re going to see Home pages, category pages, pages with no direction, pages with so much text you’ll hit the Back button before you even realize your hand is moving.
So you know what this means. Even if you do only an ok job with your landing pages, you’ll likely kill your competitors. If you do a superior job either in-house or by hiring a firm like ours, you’ll be in a position to absolutely clean up.
Pilots have a saying. A good landing is one you can walk away from. Forget that. A good landing page is one that is smooth, powerful, and motivates your passenger to continue the journey.
And we will continue this journey next time.
Until then – Subscribe to Drive It – Convert It!, and automatically download episode number 9 when it comes out.
You can follow the subscription links on our site. Or, if you use iTunes, do a search for drive it convert it and pick us up there. I’m John Boulter, for Bastion Internet’s Drive It – Convert It! podcast.
Visit us at bastioninternet.com or Email us at podcast@bastioninternet.com.

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About JohnB

John Boulter is the President of Bastion Internet and a major contributor to the Drive It - Convert It! website. Avid interest in the web and Internet marketing and a student of life.
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