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Treating Your Visitors Like Untrained Dogs

Posted on June 7, 2008

Looking to increase your landing page conversion rate? Then treat your visitors like untrained dogs. Think about it - If you want an untrained dog to follow a specific path, you need to put them on a leash and guide them. They also need very clear and reinforcing guidance to get them to do what you want.

To get the most out of new visitors you need to guide them in the same way through your page to complete the desired action. Just like an author who tells his story in a sequence of ordered chapters, you want to tell the story of your product or service offerings in a pre-determined order of web page elements. The more control you have over the visitor's experience, the more control you have over your conversion rate.

In a direct mail piece, a letter is very one dimensional - even though the reader may not read the entire letter in order, we have given them a clear starting and ending point. We have a certain amount of control how they receive our marketing message.

A web page, on the other hand, is multi-dimensional and interactive so unless we know how to direct the visitor through its various elements, the visitor will act like an untrained dog running in every direction and ultimately running away.

How many times have you visited a web page, been overwhelmed by multiple headlines, scattered boxes of long copy, and numerous images and not had a clue where to start reading on the page? How long before you lost your patience and decided to move on to a competitor's site?

Putting a Leash on Your Visitors

High converting landing pages use a variety of visual cues and an understanding of typical web page viewing habits to immediately put that leash on visitors and guide them through to conversion.

Numerous eye-tracking studies have shown that visitors generally tend to view a page beginning at the upper left hand corner That makes the upper left portion of the page your "beach-front" property.

Although that part of the page has become the de facto standard for displaying your logo, remember that your logo does not convey a solution, benefit or selling point. Bore your visitor with an overbearing version of your logo and tagline, and you'll lose potential new customers.

Think about that entry point as a chance to connect with your visitor by understanding the problem they're looking to solve. Usability studies have shown that viewers tend to relate to and be drawn to images of people that either resemble or appeal to them. Try to stay clear, though of images of people who are obviously professional models.

A dominant "what's-in-it-for-me" headline will also capture your visitor and will then guide them to read your succinct bulleted listing of key benefits and value-added proposition.

Examples of Winning Landing Pages

Want to see landing pages that convert? You can start by searching the sponsored listings for popular (and therefore very expensive) keyword phrases such as "refinance","debt consolidation" "auto loans" and "iPhone".  Click on the top 3 ads and look for commonality in page layout and use of web page elements. Due to the high cost of these phrases, top placement is generally a pretty good indication that these pages have been well tested and are converting.

Here are some additional tips to improve conversion:

  • Make sure your offer is clear
  • Include credibility logos - trust and security are foremost in many visitor's minds
  • Place a persuasive message above the call to action
  • Avoid multiple different calls-to-action
  • Place your call-to-action in a prominent location on the page
  • Create a sense of urgency with terms such as "Start now" and "Apply now".
  • Tell your visitor exactly what you want them to do
  • The use of an arrow to your call-to-action has increased conversion rates in many cases
  • And don't forget about the critical importance of testing and metrics - at a minimum, measure conversion rates, average order values, and bounce rates on your landing pages.

Although it's a lot of work to restrict the amount of copy on your page, remember that when there is less on a page, visitors will tend to read more. Finally, limit your font styles, text formatting and adhere to dark text on light backgrounds.

And remember, landing page conversion improvement affects those visitors you've already pay for anyway. In many ways, by testing new pages you really have nothing to lose that you're not already losing!

Don't assume your visitors are already trained to convert on your landing page. Keep them from running away by taking control of their visit experience. Walk them through your page, and increase conversion by appropriately using headlines, images, captions, benefit-driven bulleted copy, colors and arrows.

About the Author

Our kind friends at Engine Ready Have been kind enough to provide us with this informative study on landing page optiimisation. Engine Ready, Inc. was the first to combine search engine optimization with website analytics. Engine Ready provides software and services to improve client's online marketing results.

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