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The following excerpt is from Robert W. Bly’s The Content Marketing Handbook. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble
A conversion email series typically sends recipients to a landing page that offers more in-depth content or sells merchandise. Depending on whether you’re selling a product directly from your landing page, asking visitors to download a free white paper, or promoting a webinar or demonstration, conversion rates can range from less than 1 percent to more than 50 percent. Here are 10 keys to creating landing pages that maximize online conversion rates:
1. Build Credibility Early
People have always been skeptical of advertising, and with the proliferation of spam and shady operators, they’re even more skeptical of what they read online. Your landing page copy must immediately overcome their doubt. One way to do that is to prominently display one or more “credibility builders” on the first screen visitors see. In the banner at the top of the page, put your logo and company name. Within or immediately under the banner, put a strong testimonial or three above the headline. Consider adding a subhead that summarizes the company’s mission statement or credentials.
2. Capture the Email Addresses of Nonbuyers
There are a number of mechanisms available for capturing the email addresses of visitors who click on your landing page but don’t buy the product. One is to use a window with copy offering a free report or ecourse in exchange for submitting their email address. This window can be served as a pop-up (it appears when the visitor arrives) or a pop-under (it appears when the visitor attempts to leave without making an inquiry or purchase). These will both be blocked if the visitor has installed a pop-up blocker. A floater is a window that slides onto the page from the side or top. Because the floater is part of the site’s HTML code, it’s not stopped by the blocking software.
3. Use Lots of Testimonials
Testimonials build credibility and overcome skepticism, as do case studies and white papers posted on the website. If you invite customers to a live event, ask if they’d be willing to have a brief testimonial recorded on video. Have a professional videographer tape it, get a signed release from the customer, and post it on your site as streaming video. Require visitors to click Play to hear the testimonial, rather than have it play automatically; autoplay videos are generally disliked.
4. Use Lots of Bullets
Highlight key features and benefits in a bulleted list of short, easy-to-read items. Online buyers like to think they’re getting a lot for their money, so when selling a product directly from your landing page, be sure you cover all major features and important benefits in a comprehensive bulleted list on your landing page. When generating leads by giving away white papers, you don’t need a huge list of features and benefits. But using bulleted items to describe the contents of the paper and the benefits that information delivers can raise conversion rates for download requests.
5. Arouse Curiosity in the Headline
The headline should either arouse curiosity, make a powerful promise, or otherwise grab the readers’ attention so they keep reading. For example, the headline for a landing page selling a program training people to become professional property locators makes a big promise: “Become a Property Locator Today—and Make $ 100,000 a Year in the Greatest Real Estate Career That Only a Few Insiders Know About.”
6. Use a Conversational Copy Style
Most corporate websites are unemotional and sterile: They just offer “information.” But a landing page is a letter from one human being to another. Write it that way. Even if your product is highly technical and you’re selling it to techies, they’re still human beings, and you cannot sell something by boring people to death.
7. Incorporate an Emotional Hook in the Headline and Lead Paragraph
Logical selling can work, but tapping into the prospect’s emotions is much more effective—especially when you correctly assess how they’re feeling about your product or the problem it solves. Another effective tactic for lead generation landing pages is to stress your free offer in the headline and lead. Example: A landing page for industrial manufacturer Kaydon showed a picture of its catalog with a bold heading above it reading, “FREE Ceramic Bearings Product Selection Guide.”
8. Solve the Reader’s Problem
Once you hook the reader with emotional copy dramatizing their problem or making a powerful free offer, show how your product or information can help solve their problem. For example: “Now there’s a better, easier, and more effective solution to wobbly restaurant tables that can irritate customers and ruin their dining experience: Table Shox, the world’s smallest shock absorber.” To maximize conversion rates, you have to convince visitors that the quickest route to solving their problem is taking the action indicated on the landing page, not surfing the rest of the site. That’s why I prefer landing pages with no navigation, so the reader’s only choice is to respond or not; there’s no menu with links to other interesting pages to distract them from the offer.
9. Make It Timely and Current
The more your copy ties in with current events and news, the higher your response rates will be. This is especially critical when selling financial and investment information, as well as regulatory compliance products in fields where laws and rules change frequently. Periodically update your landing page copy to reflect current business and economic conditions, challenges, and trends so visitors see that your company is on top of what’s happening in your industry.
10. Stress the Money-Back Guarantee
If you allow customers to order directly from the landing page, make sure you have a money-back guarantee clearly stated on that page. All your competitors give strong money-back guarantees, so you must do the same. If your product is good and your copy truthful, your refund rates can be less than 1 percent.