Monday, May 01, 2006

Building Effective Landing Pages

Whether you're sending a promotional email or an email newsletter, your message has specific sales or marketing goals. Most commonly the main goal of your message is to get readers to register for an event or make a purchase, or to build a relationship with readers, which hopefully leads to them making a purchase. Since readers can't take the desired action within their email, you send them to a page where they can take that action, your landing page.

Too often marketers send readers to a generic, existing page on their website instead of designing a page that is specific to the audience and the goal of their email message. Worse yet, links go to a page that doesn't house the information readers are looking for, forcing them to click further to find what they're looking for and ultimately complete a transaction. Conversion rates suffer as a result. However, a properly designed landing page can greatly increase your conversion rates.

To maximize the performance of your email messages, consider creating effective landing pages following these 10 tips as a guideline:

1. Align your landing page with the main goal of your email message. A common mistake is to design a landing page that is not specific to the goal in order to appeal to a generic visitor or prospect. Just the opposite, your landing page should be highly focused. Think about your prospect and what you want him or her to do. Then design your landing page around that one goal.

2. Create a single path to your offer. You want to prevent visitors from wandering away from the path you want them to take. Therefore, eliminate unneeded elements, such as links to other resources, or other pages on your website. The consistent navigation bar that makes sense on a website doesn't necessarily make sense on a landing page. You don't want visitors to surf your site. You want them to complete the one action on which your landing page is focused.

3. Match the message and elements of your landing page with your e-mail message. For best results, repeat the headline from your e-mail at the top of your landing page. This gives visitors a feeling of familiarity and comfort. It tells them that they have arrived at the right place.

4. Keep it short and sweet. If at all possible, keep all content above the fold. If visitors have to scroll to find what they're looking for, chances are they won't find it. And if they don't find it, they won't convert.

5. Design for scan-ability. Just as prospects won't read every word of your email, they won't read every word of your landing page either. They will quickly scan the page, looking for further information that compels them to take an action. Make sure your headlines, sub-headings and graphics enable visitors to skim your landing page's content to quickly learn what you're offering and how it will benefit them, and most important, make sure it clearly points out how they can easily take the desired action. If your goal is sales, point readers to a page where they can place their order right there.

6. Lead the eye.
Make good use of copy, graphics and white space to lead the reader along the path to your offer. Place images next to the most important text, as readers are more likely to read this text. Use varying font sizes to convey importance. Readers will read larger text first. Use a font color to highlight specific text, but keep the number of colors used to two or three at most (including black). Anything more will be confusing for readers. Resist the temptation to use sidebars that aren't relevant or other distracting elements.

7. If your desired action is to have the visitor fill out a form, keep it brief, and thoroughly pre-test it. Remember, this form may be just the first step of your sales process. You don't want to scare off prospects by asking for too much information.

8. If you are collecting personal information, provide a link to your privacy policy.
Most online users are reluctant (for good reason) to disclose personal information without knowing how that information will be used. Be sure your privacy policy states that you do not rent, sell or share information with any other parties.

9. Test, test, test. Just like you should test your email creative, we recommend that you test different elements and copy on your landing pages to learn what works best. You may want to consider web analytics software that allows you run A/B tests. These programs alternate the version of your landing page that visitors see, and track the results of each.

10. Track results. If you don't know how your landing page performed, you can't tell what worked and what didn't work and you can't make necessary improvements to increase performance.
Landing pages are important to maximize the performance of your email marketing campaigns. Your email message and landing page should work together closely for best results.

Source: SubscriberMail

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Change of email service

For those of you that have subscribed to receive an email notification each time I've posted something on my blog, I would like to let you know that I've switched to a new service called Feedblitz. You don't need to do anything to convert your subscription over. Just be aware that the emails will now be coming from a different source.

Thanks, and let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

11 Tips to Improve Your Landing Page

Define Your Conversion
Before you start to design your landing page, define that page’s conversion activity. For a newsletter landing page, the conversion activity is entering an email address into a form and clicking “Accept.”

Do a Little Research
A little demographic research goes a long way. Figure out what your visitor is looking for and what offers work. Build a profile of your ideal visitor. Keep this person in mind when creating your landing page. Do not construct the page for anyone else—generic and broad pages are proven to fail—and keep everything “on target.” Your ad campaign already funnels traffic to your landing page, so visitors are expecting a very targeted message. Tailor the pages to them.

Eliminate unneeded Elements
Distractions kill conversions. Strip any unneeded elements from the page. This is not your home page. Anyone who comes to your landing page has already been screened by your ad. They expect a very specific message.

Match the Creative
The landing page and creative should match. The easiest way to clue visitors in that they have arrived at the right place is to use the heading from your ad creative.

Remove Navigation
If you can, remove the navigation bar. Of course, don’t remove it if it is essential to the conversion process. Remember your message, and if a link has nothing to with it—chuck it!

Stay Focused
Avoid the urge to promote or link to other areas of your site. The point of the landing page is to prevent your visitor from wandering. You want them converting, not clicking around to other parts of your site and marveling at your Flash animations. Imagine if GAP encouraged shoppers entering their stores to leave and walk around the mall. Once they stop thinking about your offer, you’ve lost them.

Important Elements Above the "Fold"
Pay attention to the virtual fold (the bottom of the screen before scrolling). Place enough content above the fold to allow your visitor to make a decision about continuing on the site. If a visitor has to click or scroll to figure out what your site is about, the only thing they’ll click is the back button.

Provide Conversion Exits
Make it easy for your visitor to convert. Place conversion exits above the fold and at every scroll-and-a-half of screen space.

Lead the Eye
Use typography and color to your advantage. Lead the eye along the page towards the conversion exit. Thoughtful use of whitespace, large copy and graphics can make a long page seem much shorter than it really is. Be careful though—a great image will demand a lot of eye time and if misplaced can ruin the flow of your message.

Place the important stuff (whether it’s your copy or your image) close to the middle, and never distract your user from that focal point. Avoid putting interesting material in sidebars. This pulls the eye away from the main body. If it’s interesting and valuable, keep it close to the center and use it to direct the eye.

Fix Forms
Optimize your forms. Make the input cursor hop to the next field after a user finishes the current field. Allow the user to tab around fields. Auto-populate any fields you can.

Remove all unneeded fields. Don't ask for city/state/province if you ask for a Zip or postal code. Focus on the essentials.

If you’re asking users to register for a newsletter, ask for only an email address. You don’t need their name now. Get rid of the reset button. It’s dangerous for both the user and you.

Test, Test, Test
After you have finished the design of your landing page, test it with a small user group. Go over a checklist with your design team:

Is the whole page focused?
Does the message match the advertisement?
Have you reduced all distractions?
Is critical information above the fold?
Are there enough conversion exits?
Does the page enhance your brand?

Source: Digital Web Magazine

Friday, May 20, 2005

Writing For the Web:

Nick Usborne offers the first in a series of short guides on writing for the web on his website. All you need to do to get a hold of it, is sign up for his newsletter.

In this guide he looks at seven areas of web writing that require skills and expertise you probably won’t have developed in the offline world:

1. You need to help every visitor avoid getting lost
2. You need to write for the company, your readers AND the search engines
3. You need to earn your visitors’ trust
4. You need to write every page as a landing page...or not
5. You need to make your content pre-sell
6. You need to make the sale before it’s too late
7. You need to know that web designers are not always on your side

Friday, April 15, 2005

Landing Page Optimization Using the Taguchi Method

Testing Landing Page Optimization using the Taguchi Method can help you to figure out which elements influence visitors to complete an action on your website. The process is relatively simple and has 4 steps.

Step 1: Select elements on the landing page that you believe will influence sign-up
Step 2: Create alternatives for each element
Step 3: Create test 'recipes' that combine these elements according to the Taguchi Methodology
Step 4: Set up and run a concurrent multi variable test

If all this is Chinese to you, then you should read the article called "Landing Page Optimization Using the Taguchi Method". It explains the process with a very good example.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone that has any experience with this!

Monday, April 04, 2005

How to Improve Your Landing Page Conversion Rates

Brian Carroll, owner of the B2B Lead Generation blog, interviewed Anne Holland on how marketers can improve their landing page conversion rates and attract more sales leads. Listen to what she has to say.

These are the questions she answers in this interview:
  • Why are landing pages such a hot topic?

  • How exactly would you define a good landing page?

  • What are the essentials of great landing page design?

  • How do you develop a compelling B2B landing page?

  • What low budget tools can we use to measure landing pages?

  • Other landing page resources?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Increase the Conversion Rates of Your Landing Page

A landing page is typically created to serve one specific purpose or goal -- eg. to drive sales for a specific product, to generate leads, to obtain event registrations, etc.

To achieve this goal (and to increase the conversion rates of your landing page), Ralph Wilson states in his e-book "How to Develop a Landing Page that Closes the Sale" that every element on the landing page should point the prospect to that specific goal.

You should stay focussed on this goal:

  • Don't distract your prospects with additional links to other parts of your website: they'll get lost, confused and eventually leave your website without doing what you want them to do.
  • Do provide several types of links to your offer: a text link, a button, an image. People like to feel that they have a choice.
You should also avoid that people need to scroll to the bottom of your page to find out what the offer is. Make sure to provide enough opportunities for the prospect to "click-through" to your offer: mention it prominently above the fold, in the middle and at the bottom of your landing page.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Rewrite your copy for the Web

Do not fall into the trap suffered by so many web sites out there, both large and small. Do not take text from your print materials and simply paste it into your site. It won't work!

People come to the web with very different expectations compared to when they read print. They are much more task oriented. They are usually looking and hoping for something in particular. They haven't come to your site to be "sold to" or view pretty pictures. They have arrived with a task in mind.

Write every web site headline and every line of text with the intention of HELPING your readers find what they want.

FreelanceWriting Tips

Friday, March 04, 2005

10 Tips for Writing Effective Web Copy

On the Internet programmers and designers rule, not the writer. Yet words drive targeted traffic to your site, carry content, make the sale, convey marketing messages, persuade people to buy and make the difference between your site’s success or failure.

Want to know how to write proper web site copy? This article provides 10 useful writing tips helping you develop web site content or to write articles.

Here are 10 tips for writing effective web copy:

  1. Make sure content is easy to read
  2. Write from me to you
  3. Drive Actions With Content
  4. Write for how people search
  5. Create Effective Headings
  6. Write keyword-rich title tags
  7. Provide links and connections
  8. Write effective summaries, sentences and paragraphs
  9. Sell Benefits not Features
  10. Edit. Edit. Edit. Then edit again
Read the full article by Julia Hyde.