A Comprehensive Guide To Landing Page Optimization

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By now, most marketers are familiar with how online advertising works. First, you place an ad to connect with your audience. Second, bring them back to your site. And third, try to push them through your sales funnel to a transaction. But why do so many marketers stop with step one?

Perhaps if they knew how common it is to lift profit for a given ad channel 10-200%, there would be more interest. For example, let’s say you sell a $30 product, and spend $10 of that on sourcing the product and $10 for customer acquisition costs (CAC), that’s $10 profit. But what if using landing page optimization techniques, you lift actual sales by a reasonable 30%? Your sales just increased 30% and so did your sourcing cost, but your CAC is still the same. Congratulations, you just increased profits by 67%!

Fortunately the concepts behind what we need to do are quite simple, and most of what follows is pretty straight-forward execution, once you have a framework for reference. In this three-part article, I’m going to begin by reviewing 5 tenants of effective selling online, walk through tactical examples of how to apply those tenants, and finally discuss the iterative testing methodology with this these ideas and tactics are applied.  For now, let’s begin with the philosophical tenants of effective selling online:

i. Consistency – Begin by thinking about optimization in context. The user experience begins with an advertisement. You then bring them to your landing page, make a quick pitch and request an action. You want to make the entire lifecycle of this transaction as consistent as possible. Use similar design, marketing copy, and branding through this experience, to avoid distraction and distrust. Think of it as if you are trying to talk someone off a ledge. You need their total focus and trust if you are going to be able to lead them. Any perceived incongruence could confusion or a loss of trust.

ii. Trust – Let’s be honest, the Internet has a little bit of a reputation problem. We’ve all been duped into signing up for something we didn’t want. Next thing you know, someone has sold our email address to thousands of spammers and now we’re having to setup spam filters or outright abandon our email addresses in some cases. Credit cards have been stolen, sites hacked, and we’ve been harassed on the phone by aggressive sales people who bought our online leads. Consumers have been conditioned by the aggressive marketers among us, to not trust brands we don’t recognize online. Think of this like dating a girl who’s been hurt (emotionally) in a prior relationship. She wants to trust you, but you need to give her a good reason to think you’re not like the others. So how do we overcome this?

iii. Simplicity – You need to be extremely clear about what you’re offering and how to get it. To keep your customer focused on the goal ahead, remove distractions and detail that might lead them away from your goal, or remind them of something else they need to think about or do. Or worse, a reason why they need to go research you and your competitors, before they make the purchase. You need to keep eye lock with your users and not let go!

iv. Remove Friction – Spend some time reviewing your site and analytics data to look for any possible bottlenecks.  Does the user flow choke off at some point?  Is there anything that could possibly cause confusion?  Any marketing copy that could possibly be turning off users?

v. Motivation – Assuming you’ve been able to overcome trust issues and you’ve got the trust and focus of your customer, the next objective is to motivate them to take action. Think about how to connect with them emotionally. Don’t focus on features of your product. Instead, focus on how you will solve their problem and help them to feel the tension between the problem and the solution. Whether people want to admit it or not, we make decisions emotionally and merely look for reasons to support our decision. So the key is to motivate them emotionally.

vi. Call To Action – Finally, the call to action needs to be clear and unambiguous. Assuming you’ve successfully motivated your prospect, you want to make it as easy as possible to take the desired action. Try to remove any obstacles or doubts during this process. For example, consolidate steps in your sales funnel, don’t require creation of an account just to buy a product (eCommerce 1.0), and if you’re eliciting a lead generation signup, do not require any more fields of information than possible, particularly imposing ones such as phone number, that might break the trust or cause suspicion.

Believe it or not, the concepts behind landing page (and conversion funnel) optimization really come down to these 5 simple things. But don’t underestimate their importance. In the next blog of this 3-part series, I will get more specific so that you can begin taking action to improve your design, marketing copy, and implementation. In the final part, I will explain the use of analytics and iterative testing. Stay tuned!

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Part 1 of a 3-part series on Landing Page Optimization