Set a goal for your landing page
The goal of a landing page is to prompt the visitor to take the main desired action. The choice of that action, whether to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, or download a brochure, is a business decision determined by the online business strategy. For example, if the business goal of a website is to attract potential customers, the goal of the landing page would be to encourage visitors to make contact or share their contact information. If the business goal is sales, the goal of the landing page would be to move the visitor forward in the sales cycle.
Since determining the right online strategy to achieve a business goal is a complex task beyond the scope of this book, we will assume that you already know what your landing pages want to accomplish. Nevertheless, here are some examples of specific landing page conversion goals and how they might relate to a business goal:
When designing landing pages and thinking through the conversion process, it’s important to keep your business goals firmly in mind. If you have a clear idea of your desired outcome, it will be easier for you to make the complex design decisions and trade-offs necessary to achieve it.
Without a specific goal, it’s impossible to create an effective page.
Clearly articulate your call-to-action
A few tips for copying CTAs
- People like free stuff. So use the word “free” (sparingly). Just don’t tell the sales staff about it.
- Make it clear that you are who you say you are. People can confuse CTAs with third-party advertising. It can be as simple as putting your company name in the body text.
- Use short, clear text. Write like a person and be concise. You have a split second to get someone’s attention. Don’t waste it on waffling.
- Be positive. We’re not calling for hyperbole, but positivity is just as clickable as negativity if done right.
- Be clear about your target audience. Use smart CTAs to target people at different stages of the buyer’s journey, and make sure your CTAs are contextual.
CTAs should represent real progress
People are motivated by progress toward a goal. They are motivated by things like curiosity, discovery, mastery, value, and reward. And carrots.
By using a variety of CTAs on your site, you are inviting site visitors to progress. They not only want to know the full extent of the problem they’re facing, but they also want to know how to solve it. They want to explore their options and find reliable advice. They want to go down the rabbit hole of research and come out of there wiser in mind and spirit.
The call to action shouldn’t just be a desperate plea for clicks, it should work as a pointer on the way to the goal. The goal for the site visitor is to find the best answer to their problem. The goal for you and your business is to become that answer. Anyone can click on a call to action, but your future customers are the ones who will take that action as part of the journey your marketing efforts have outlined and your sales team awaits you at the end.
Successful marketing is as much about the goal as it is about the journey. People act impulsively. People act with purpose.
Your call-to-action should be specifically related to your goal.
Make sure your copy is clear
Here are five things to watch out for when you’re writing your own text:
- Write directly to your reader-I’ve talked about this before (see “Remember Your Dinner Guest”), so it must be true: It’s much easier to write marketing material if you imagine that you’re writing to a specific person.
This is where you can use your imagination. Give that client a name. Try to imagine the mental, physical, and spiritual perspectives of your ideal client. This will help you say what needs to be said, in words that she can really understand.
And here’s another good trick: address her directly. Just like I do (see previous paragraph). It’s called “You-Orientation.”
Here’s a good example of what I mean:
Advertiser-Oriented Copy The goal of a daily cash accumulation fund is to maximize current income, which is consistent with low capital risk and maintaining full liquidity.
A copy focused on you A cash accumulation fund gives you the highest return on your investment with the least risk. In addition, you can take as much money as you want – when you want it.
- Use short sentences – According to Rudolph Flesch, author of The Art of Simple Conversation, the optimal average sentence length for a business letter is 14-16 words. Twenty to twenty-five is also fine, but more than 40 words and your text becomes unreadable.
And when you’re drafting an ad, you usually don’t have a lot of space to work with. So your sentences should be even shorter – usually six to 16 words.
So how do you shorten the length of your sentences? Break up those pesky little letters into parts!
Put a period whenever possible. Or a semicolon. The dash (-) is one of my favorites.
Don’t worry about grammatical correctness. You need to vary the length while keeping it short. Even if you have to write a random fragment to do so. Or many fragments. Whatever sounds natural when you read it out loud.
- Keep it simple – Simple words convey information better because they don’t distract the reader. Too many syllables and too many fancy phrases will only get in the way of your message.
And in marketing, isn’t your main goal to get your message across? Don’t try to impress your audience. They don’t really care how smart you are or how many years you spent in college.
If the word “small” works, why would you use “diminutive”?
It’s also important to avoid technical jargon. Yes, your industry has special terms and acronyms that are thrown around every day. But those terms will only be understood by a small portion of your audience. Why would you want to confuse the rest of them? If you’re not sure if it’s jargon or not, ask your grandmother or eighth grader to read it and give you feedback.
- Be specific – To be persuasive, you absolutely need to use details that matter.
There may be many specific facts you can use when talking about your product or service, but if they aren’t the facts that your customers care about, they won’t make much difference to your bottom line.
Usually, you should have at least twice as much background material in your finished marketing material. If that’s not the case, you may need to do some more research!
Here’s what I mean:
Vague She is affiliated in various teaching positions with several local institutions.
Specific She teaches marketing at the University of San Francisco and copywriting at San Jose Community College.
One way to check this is to try replacing a competitor’s name in your text and see if it makes sense. If it does, go back to the drawing board!
- Use a friendly tone – Ann Landers, one of the most read columnists in the country, became popular because (in her words) “I was taught to write the way I talk.” Also called “speaking tone,” this technique is especially important in print or online marketing, where your copy has to replace the sales team.
Forget everything you were taught in school. It’s not about using correct grammar. It’s about having a conversation with your customers.
So the next time you think you have a good draft in your hands, try this: read it out loud. Imagine actually saying those words at a cocktail party or a meeting with your partners. Do they sound corny? Too formal? If so, you’ll hear it right away and be able to make the necessary adjustments. Here are a few more tips for achieving a natural flow:
- Use pronouns (me, we, you, them).
- Use colloquial expressions (exactly, well, rip off).
- Use abbreviations (you, this, me).
- Use simple words
Landing pages are not the place to showcase creativity.
Choose a long form or series of pages
An example of great long-form content:
IBM’s Memphis Police Department.
“Big data” has become one of the most beloved (and often used) buzzwords in the technology sector. While everyone and their grandmothers seem to be “passionate” about big data, few can give a convincing example of how large-scale data analysis can actually be used. IBM, a major player in big data, realized this and decided to show, rather than tell, how big data can make people’s lives better in a case study on the Memphis Police Department.
Instead of lyrically talking about its impressive technology or bombarding the reader with technical specs, IBM took an alternative approach by telling a story; in this case, about the challenges faced by Larry Godwin, director of police services for the Memphis Police Department (PDF).
Just as effective PPC ads appeal to potential customers’ desire to solve problems, the IBM case describes Godwin’s difficulties in fighting crime in light of a shrinking budget, rising crime rates, and an increasingly cynical population, and then explains how IBM’s use of predictive analytics technology helped the Memphis police become more effective by identifying areas where criminal activity was more concentrated but not necessarily tied together.
Why it works
IBM understood that a bland corporate article wouldn’t attract customers to them or get people curious about predictive data analysis. Most people aren’t interested in how the technology works-they’re more interested in what it does. By showing how technology has had a direct impact on the lives of Memphis residents, IBM emphasizes the potential of predictive analytics and bases the story on the lives and concerns of real people.
This will increase conversations.
Eliminate the navigation elements
Usually navigation menus are common to all pages of the site. But is it necessary to have a navigation menu on the landing page as well? Or should your landing page be unique on its own, and there’s no need to include a global navigation menu? This is a perfect case for A/B testing, and as an example we took Yuppiechef, who did such a test and found that removing the navigation menu doubled conversion rates.
Yuppiechef is a leading online store that sells premium kitchen tools throughout South Africa. They are known for their customer service, quirkiness, and commitment to captivating people to eat and spend time together in the kitchen. They used one company to A/B test the effect of removing the navigation menu from one of their landing pages.
Removing the navigation menu increases the number of subscribers by 100%
Yuppiechef wanted to increase the number of wedding registrations (conversion goal) received from the Wedding Registry landing page on their website. They tested two identical pages, except for the main navigation bar at the top of the page. It’s simple. This landing page had a mix of different traffic sources, including: Google Adwords (search and display network), Facebook, third-party advertisers, directories, organic search and direct traffic. Here’s what the original page looked like:
As for the design of the variation, the hypothesis was that a variation without a navigation bar would provide fewer distractions and help the user focus on the main reason they got to that particular page. Here’s what the variation looked like:
A/B testing results
The results were certainly surprising! The new variation of the page without the navigation bar at the top of the page delivered twice as many conversions as the original page! The conversion rate jumped from 3 to 6%, and the effective increase in conversions was 100%. Who wouldn’t be thrilled with those results?
Here’s what they think of the results: “Simpler is better. Try to help the user focus on their primary goal by eliminating distractions.” Regarding the A/B testing tool they used, here’s what they said, “The company provided an easy and efficient way to run the test in a short amount of time. In addition, the reporting was detailed enough to give us the information we needed to deem the test an unqualified success.”
We hope this example inspires you to test the navigation menu on your own landing pages. We’re not guaranteeing that you’ll also increase conversion rates by 100%, but this test is certainly easy to set up. And, who knows, maybe you’ll actually increase your conversion rate significantly. The only way to find out is to do an A/B test.
The only clickable links should be good calls to action.