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Increasing Conversion Rates for Landing Pages
Landing pages are the first thing visitors see when they arrive yet most business web site owners put little effort into ensuring these pages generate sales leads or to understand why they aren’t generating results. Since it’s become more difficult to convert visitors this year, and because Google is adding page relevance to their AdWords quality score algorithm, more people are getting the message that landing pages need to be effective and that means a laser sharp presentation of your unique value proposition.
High rankings may be the holy grail of search engine optimization specialists however after achieving those rankings and generating significant exposure and traffic, managers still find conversion rates low. If this is your site’s problem, it represents a huge loss to your company. Customer conversion is a serious matter regardless of your traffic levels.
Too often it’s assumed that the corporate web designer or web marketing manager would have developed web pages that convert visitors to customers. Even if these people were that competent, it is very competitive today. Visitors see your competitor’s unique value offers and well-strategized conversion efforts. Your value proposition on the landing page needs to be presented well, tested, and constantly improved until you can say it is perfect.
Effective Landing Pages
A landing page is the page a visitor sees first when they visit your site. It could be your homepage via organic clickthroughs or a special page designed for Google AdWords ad clickthroughs. To go about increasing conversion rates for landing pages, you need to do a number of things. A plan of action doesn’t need to be that complicated, but you do need to be aware of the variables and test them. Anything in your landing page is a variable including:
- Sales hook line
- Bolded copy
- Link color
- Flash or video
- Unique benefits
- Contrasts/comparisons with competitors’ products/services
- Technical information
- Free giveaways
- Call to action
- Graphics and buttons
Each variable by itself or in combination with others may influence a customer’s perception and decision. It’s important to note that the page must act as one voice – so the integration of your page is important. The wrong combination of elements or too many may kill the sale. You need to create enough ad versions and landing pages to test each one. You can do your own multivariate testing but when it gets this complicated, you may want to have someone who can devote the time to setting it up and track results.
Features and Benefits
Don’t guess or stick with your preconceptions. Begin without prejudice and let customers tell you what they like and don’t like through their clickthrough and purchase actions.
I would advise against offering freebies and discounts as an alternative to improving your value proposition. If people want a product or service, they’ll pay the going rate if they believe they’ll get the value they’re seeking. If you’re too eager to offer the discount, it sends the wrong message to your customer. Brick and mortar retailers don’t throw their top product on the bargain table.
In seeking a service for instance, they want information and to feel confident in your company and the services you offer. There are plenty of ways to demonstrate your capabilities, authority, experience, reliability and overall value. Writing about your successes or showing successful results on your site is one way. Showing how you improved bottom line results (B2B buyers are looking for bottom line revenue results) either in terms of ROI, total revenue, or increased loyalty and usage is good too. Product consumers like to see reviews, specs, compatibility info, testimonials citing detailed product use, and brand names and logos.
Not many corporations take the time to experiment with different value offers on their sites. The climate in most businesses is conservative so running different ads to test for effects is difficult. There are legal and marketing reasons why certain things can’t be stated in isolation or a part of an offer emphasized. However, if there is no testing of an ad or landing page, there is no way you can know what is working and what is causing problems. You need to isolate these factors in a variety of pages and see which pages and advertisements work best.
Converting Organic Leads
Those visitors landing on your homepage or deeper into your site, arrive with different expectations. You should be aware of what they’re seeing on the search engine listings and then what they see on your landing page. If that page isn’t successful at converting, then try to distract or divert them to another page (specially designed) that can better portray your value offer and get them to take action.
The content on your usual web pages may be geared more to search engine optimization needs. That’s fine. Rankings are critical and should never be taken for granted. A good designer knows SEO copy has its limitations and that graphics can save the day. Simply insert graphics, perhaps Flash or video in that page, and that will take the visitor to the place you want them – to your order page. Your job is to make your visitors feel good. So move them to page where that can be done. Go over the path or conversion funnel and examine where you might be losing them.
AdWords Landing Pages
Besides testing different ad copy on your AdWords ads, you need to test different landing pages. Few advertisers put effort into testing different landing pages, but that page is essential to success. When you’re paying $2 to $20 a click, you’d better find out what works before you’ve lost your whole year’s budget. And don’t think that doesn’t happen with regularity. Google is a trillion dollar company, probably because advertisers don’t conduct conversion improvement practices.
Landing Page Design
You must ensure there are no distractions when visitors arrive. The value proposition needs to be clear whether it’s stated directly or implied through your headings, copy and graphics. If they’re looking for a particular product, let’s say an MP4 player or cell phone accessory, make sure there’s a quality picture of it along with a heading. Keywords attract visitors so don’t be shy of using them on the landing page. If it’s your homepage ensure your top producing keywords are there. What should the heading say? I’d advise key feature + keyword phrase. The heading’s purpose is to get them to read the copy, and the copy moves them to some product information and that leads them to the order page or contact page.
If you have menus all over the page, get rid of them. Strip that page down so there are no distractions or things might lead them to doubts or information that dilutes your value proposition. At this point, they are looking for reasons to doubt their own judgment and needs. They’re testing their purchase resolve and dealing with something called dissonance. Keep their doubts at bay and they’ll follow through with contact or a purchase.
If a person wants to dig through your content, then let them. Those people may not be the best prospects since they’re too uncertain or analytical. However, after they drill down and find the detail they need, they may come back to your original landing page or homepage to get a final feel for your company, before making contact or buying.
Use of white space is a psychological factor that helps visitors focus on your important statements and product/service benefits. Use white space to frame your key funnel cues. Good use of white space relaxes the visitor and keeps them focused on the key parts of your value proposition. The conversion funnel includes graphics, buttons, text links, paragraphs and placement on the page. So see them as the skeleton that everything else revolves around. Don’t use too much white space and have links within the copy. This is more sincere and flows well. Too much white space can generate distrust or uncertainty.
Eye tracking studies have shown most people look to the upper left first on a page, so it makes sense to have your important product pictures and selling proposition there, and then next to it to the right, your call to action. Those prospects coming from an AdWords clickthrough are more likely to buy right away. Those from organic clickthroughs may be in early stages of the purchase cycle and need a little more information. Try to keep these two types of visitors on separate tracks.
Graphics are important, from color to clarity. I’ve advised clients numerous times to make their graphics sharp. No jpeg blurs allowed. Graphics should reflect positive associations with the product. For a hotel, it should be outdoor shots that reflect what travelers are really excited about for their trip. I’ve advised this on a hotel site and the improvements have been dramatic – a real brand improvement.
If you’re selling mountain bikes for instance, nice clear photos of the bike itself, a shot of riders on a mountain trail, and one of the bike strapped on an SUV or car, will say everything most mountain bikers want to see. All mountain bikers aren’t the same however. Trail riders should get one special page for their interests, extreme downhill riders another, and trick bikers should have yet another unique landing page.
Don’t be too slick with your landing page. If it doesn’t come across as natural, they won’t trust it, particularly when you’re selling a high involvement product/service. The human element needs to be integrated.
There’s no rule on bounce rates. The more search engine traffic you’re generating, the higher your bounce rates will be. When you cast a wider net, you’re attracting unqualified visitors. If your bounce rate is above 50% for most of your pages, then you’re not targeting the right traffic and your SEO keyword strategy may need an overhaul.
Your value proposition is your communication, however you choose to express it. It‘s about what differentiates you and your product from competitor’s offerings. You may want to list the key benefits the visitors want, and then emphasize those benefits where yours is superior or that the competition doesn’t possess. Although your value proposition here short and direct, it is how you write it that makes it appear saturated with value. Yes, the key features are critical, but all your benefits may need to be touched on somewhere in the page. After reading your copy, they should be thinking “this is a great offer.”
Call to Action
What is it specifically you want your visitors to do? Your call to action is the encouragement and impetus for them to do it. Buy now isn’t much of a call to action anymore than “click here” is. The action is supported by a good reason for doing it.
Your call to action should use verbs and compel them to contact you or buy the product right now. Statements such as; Try it risk free for 30 days and you’ll see the difference, or Call us now for a risk free trial offer, or, Order right now and receive a 20% discount and free shipping may work, however each site has its own circumstances. Don’t go overboard on the direct sales ad copy, but definitely spur them to take action. An order button should be a comfortable size and color. Huge buttons are a turn off that makes the customer feel foolish and impulsive. A lack of buttons for buying products suggests you’re not even willing to sell the product. Choose your buttons wisely by seeing what successful web sites are using.
Trust and Credibility
Trust and credibility are important to consumers who want to know that your products and services are top notch. Your brand should always project a leadership position that suggests that success is guaranteed. Listing satisfied customers and their testimonial may help, but consumers know these are often made up or are not objective contributions. They may actually backfire if you use the wrong kind of testimonial. The overall brand you project comes from everything they see.
Your web site design, copy, and the presence of reviews of your site and products will help to make consumers more comfortable about your business. Being an authorized supplier or service operator for a major manufacturer can register credibility. Most times, trust comes from the quality of your copy and the integrity of your communications. That will at least generate a lead or phone call if you’re a service business. If you have very limited copy and information on your site, that is red flag for customers. With no transparency, only gamblers will buy your product.
If you’ve been using regular web pages to act as important landing pages for specific types of customers or inquiries, you’re likely not converting well. Visualize a typical visitor and what they need. Work on your landing pages until they resonate with what that specific customer is looking for, and position your unique value proposition so that there is no doubt that you are the best supplier.
Examine your competition and evaluate their value proposition. It may be emotional or intellectual, and although their value offer may have better individual elements such as brand power, price, credibility, and after sales support, you can still beat them by capturing the customer with your well-crafted and synchronized landing page. If brand power is the most important element, then consider your brand image and how your landing page gets that brand message across. If their price is better, tell a story about a customer who used the lower price service/product and didn’t get the results they were looking for. If they can beat you in the moment with a better offer, then project your value offer over a greater time period, and respond quicker to their request.
Whatever your competitor’s strengths, assess them accurately and build a believable value proposition to gain the advantage. Every product or company has a downside to exploit therefore your product/service can shine in comparison. Your landing page may be your saving grace in an ultra-competitive online marketplace. Start making improvements right now.
Conversion and Landing Page Optimization Resources
There are a number of good reading resources and although some may be confusing and cluttered with technical jargon, they will give you ideas on assessing your site’s conversion funnel, and on how to improve your conversion rates. They can’t do your thinking and strategy for you, but it can increase your awareness of what needs to be done.
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