July 23, 2014

How to Craft an Irresistible Call to Action for Your Landing Pages (Guest Post)

You have everything in place. Your landing page is designed properly. Your copy is easy to scan. And you even have powerful testimonials that increase your credibility.

But you’re still not converting…Why?

One of the most common conversion killers I come across is the call to action. Some landing pages have no call to action at all. Others have weak, uninspiring calls to action that don’t snap visitors out of their lull.

If your landing page suffers from a weak call to action, there’s good news. I’m going to give you all the information and tools you need to craft irresistible calls to action that snap your visitors out of it and into taking action now!

Be as clear and concise as possible

The biggest call to action problem I see is a lack of clarity. Marketers just aren’t being specific about why you should buy their products and what action you need to take. Your website visitors can’t read your mind; you need to tell them, as clearly as possible, the precise action you want them to take.

In addition to being clear, you need to be concise as well. I’ll never forget the time I came across a blog written by a supposed “advertising expert.” At the end of each post, he had a call to action trying to get people to sign up for his email newsletter. Unfortunately, this call to action was literally 5 or 6 sentences long. 95% of the words in that call to action could’ve been eliminated, leaving a short, easy-to-understand one sentence call to action.

Don’t offer choices

A lot of companies approach their landing page and call to action with the more is more philosophy. They believe that offering customers with a lot of choices increases the chances of them finding an option they like and taking action. The truth is choice usually leads to lower conversions.

The problem with having too many choices is that it overwhelms the visitor. They have so many options to choose from that they end up choosing none because it’s too confusing to figure out what they should actually do.

Remember earlier when I said you need to keep your call to action clear and concise? You can’t do that if you’re offering all these different options. Keep it simple: One, maybe two option(s) per landing page.

Eliminate risk

Online shoppers are more careful than ever before. The internet is plagued with scams and fly-by-night companies, so customers are always a little wary of doing business with a company they don’t know.

That’s why it’s your job to earn their trust and to eliminate the risk of doing business with you. In your call to action, you can include a “money back guarantee” or a “free 30 day trial” so that customers feel like they have nothing to lose if they take action. This removes another sales roadblock, improving the chances of your visitors converting.

Include one call to action in every screen view

One of my favorite techniques to improve conversion rate is to include a call to action in every screen view on the page. This way, no matter where a visitor is on your landing page, they have a quick way to take action. Compare this to only having one call to action buried at the bottom of the page (most visitors won’t even make it that far down), and it’s pretty clear why this approach is preferable.

The other benefit of repeating your call to action is that it harnesses the power of repetition. If you keep reminding your visitors of what you want them to do, it’ll finally click in their mind that they need to take that specific action.

Use time-sensitive words

A lot of online shoppers don’t like to rush to action immediately. They’re procrastinators. They figure they’ll shop around some more and see if a better deal pops up. How can you combat procrastination?

It’s simple: Use time-sensitive words that create a sense of urgency. Words like “today” and “now” in your call to action remind customers that they need to act as quickly as possible to experience the benefits of your products and services. You can even try placing time limitations on your offer, like the infomercials that say “Call within the next 10 minutes to get 2 for the price of 1!”

Test different calls to action

Sometimes, changing a single word in your call to action can affect your conversion rate. The only way to find the most profitable call to action is to always be testing. Figure out which adjustments get more conversions, and keep building on those to continually increase your conversion rate. Never stop testing!

What are some other tips you’d add for crafting a powerful call to action? Share your best tips by leaving a comment.

About the Author: Gagandeep Singh works for a conversion rate optimization company Invesp and blogs about landing page templates, conversion rate optimization, SEO and affiliate marketing.

4 Ideas for Landing Page Forms (Guest Post)

Your landing page forms can make or break your online lead generation efforts. And yet, so many companies get their forms wrong. From irrelevant questions to forms that go on for a mile, online marketing is rampant with poor-converting forms. But let’s not focus on what’s wrong with forms — let’s dig into 4 new ideas for effective landing page forms.

  1. Test columns
    There are many ways you can organize your forms, and testing the number of columns on your form is an easy way to grab low-hanging fruit. We’ve tested the same landing page, with the same number of form fields, but 1 page had a 1 column form, and the other had 2 column form. The results? By separating the form into two columns and bringing the CTA above the fold, conversions doubled! It was an easy test with dramatic results.
  2. Test Fields
    It’s often said that a shorter form converts better than a longer form. This is generally true. But I’ve also seen cases where a longer form drives more qualified leads. If you have the bandwith on your team, test both kind of forms & try to manually gauge the quality of the leads you generate with a long form. Are the leads from the long form of higher quality? Or are they about equal?
  3. Keep your forms relevant
    Me, me, me, me! Your forms are all about your visitors. Please don’t burden them with irrelevant questions like “Where did you hear about me?” or their “What is your industry”? . I get it — this is great information to have when reporting marketing metrics, but it’s also information that you can ask on a call or determine in your drip marketing. They’re not questions you need to ask on your form, and they’re not questions people answer honestly, as well.
  4. Try wizards
    Imagine clicking on a PPC ad, landing on a page, and being greeted by a long form with 10 or more required fields. Eek! That can be intimidating. As you know, long forms can inhibit converions. But if 10 or more fields is essential, try breaking the questions up into a “wizard”. A form “wizard” is a multi-page form that gently guides the user through the conversion process. By breaking up longer forms into smaller chunks of digestible fields, wizards are a great way to boost engagement & lift conversions.

So remember: make you forms friendly, relevant, and streamlined, and watch your conversions soar!

About the Author: Megan Leap is Marketing Manager at ion interactive, a leading provider of advanced landing page software. As Marketing Manager, Megan manages email, webinar, and social media campaigns. She has extensive experience in conversion rate optimization and social media marketing, and when not championing high-ROI online marketing strategies, can be found running marathons across the U.S. She is also a frequent contributor to the Post-Click Marketing Blog. Follow Megan on Twitter: @MeganLeap

Case Study – A High-Cost, Competitive Term and Landing Page

best-buy-landing-page2

This is a guest post written by Akin Tosyali, president of Clix Marketing, a PPC-exclusive company. Special thanks to David Szetela, who you should follow on Twitter.

I read an article a while back in Wall Street Journal that quoted Best Buy COO Brian Dunn saying that “Best Buy executives are “working day and night” on the retailer’s holiday plans..” and “that they are “winning in a tough environment, and I don’t see anything that’s going to change that”.
The statement raised my curiosity and I wanted to see if I would get the same level of satisfaction from Best Buy’s online marketing efforts that I do from visiting one of their retail locations. I first performed searchest using a number of popular technology-related product terms without much luck – but then I found a good one: “Toshiba LCD TV”. I found an ad from BestBuy (in top position) as well as a few of their competitors bidding for this highly competitive term. ($1.13-$1.37 CPC per Google Traffic Estimator).
After I clicked on the ad and looked at the landing page, I realized that their online user experience could use some improvement. For the record, I like Best Buy – they are a good company, with good employees and great products.
Here is the Best Buy ad and the other 2 ads right under theirs:

Let’s look at the headlines. Very surprising to see that both Amazon and Best Buy incorrectly capitalizing LCD and TV. It’s likely they took the easy way out and used dynamic keyword insertion, which by default capitalize just the first letter of each of the words in the target keyword. TigerDirect took the trouble make sure the words were capitalized correctly, and they actually give me one more reason to continue to read their ad – the carrot “Bargains”. Just the fact that Tiger Direct spent the time and effort to differentiate themselves is commendable.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the ad copy: Best Buy is doing two things very well here: they talk about the benefits of shopping with them (by talking about the pain of not shopping there) – “No Shipping. No Waiting” – and they have not one, but two calls to action “Buy Online & Pickup In A Best Buy Store”. But I can suggest some improvements: Talk about the product. Tell me that you have 30 models in stock. Tell me how unbelievably great it will be to watch a football game on a Toshiba. The fact that they do not say anything about the product I searched for makes me realize that they probably have the same ad copy for a large number of their keywords. It is certainly easiest to generate generic ad copy that will work for many products, but take it from the data we see as an agency: they could easily double or triple their visits (and CTR) if they used the search term in the body of the ad, and thereby make it more relevant to the needs of the user.
Let’s look at the ad’s landing page:

This is very typical of the landing page designs we see for online retailers. While adequate, it can be easily improved to drive more conversions. Let’s give them some important advice on what they should do to possibly double their conversion rates in 30 days:
Best Buy is suffering from CHIBISO: “customers have identical behaviors in stores and onlineius.” When I am in a retail store, I grab a cart and start walking toward the product I came to buy. During the walk, I get interested in other products in the store thanks to the great merchandising techniques they use, and by the time I get to my product I already have 2-3 other items in my cart. Walking back to the checkout counter, I see more products that I get interested in and I put more in my basket. I end up buying the product I came for plus six other things that Best Buy made me realize I needed, since I am such an impulse buyer.
This is not how search-driven online buying really works. First, the customer does not grab a shopping cart the moment they get to your web store. They need to be convinced that they have the right product before reaching out for the shopping cart. Second, online shoppers who use a term specific enough to include a brand name and a product already have a good idea of what they are looking for, so any other link or merchandise displayed on the landing page becomes a distraction for the online buyer to jump out of the “buying” mind set. An online buyer who uses a term specific enough to note a brand +product, brand+ model, or model name alone should be ONLY shown such products. Any up-selling should be done once the visitor finds what he is looking for – not before.
So, if I were in charge of the Best Buy PPC Account performance, I would remove the top and the left navigation options, and only display links that will get me closer to a purchase, like product attributes (screen sizes, prices, resolution, color, etc) and other nice marketing messages like “on sale! / in store”, etc. I would also direct the user to the category that I know they should be in (Flat Panel TVs in this case). The only links needed at the bottom are a privacy policy and an about us link.
So here is my version of the most appropriate PPC landing page:

The content is clean, and all the links are relevant to the keyword I had used. Simple changes should be easy to implement and will make a big difference in conversion rates. Another tip: Best Buy should also remove the top navigation options during the checkout process. They do, however, get a high score for allowing the customer to buy without forcing them to “sign up” for anything.
I want the retailers to do better this school season, so consider this analysis to be my own contribution to helping the retail industry get through the recession!

Small Business PPC – Landing Page Strategies

You set up your AdWords account. You made a couple campaigns with a couple of ad groups. Your keywords are tightly themed in each keyword and you have two different ads running in each. Now you can just sit back and watch the traffic (and sales) come 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Right?

Not really.

Where Is The Traffic Going?

So far you’ve done a great job. However, there is an important factor you MUST consider if you want AdWords traffic to perform at the highest level and that means landing pages. A landing page is any page where you are sending traffic from an outside source. Your home page might be a landing page (though I don’t recommend this) or you may have specially designed a page for your PPC clicks (I do recommend this, actually I recommend more than one specially designed landing page).

The most important exercise in marketing is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think like they would think. Let’s say you are a beef rancher in Idaho looking to sell your grass-finished Idaho beef. Here is what your potential customer might be thinking:

  • Grass-fed beef sure is expensive at Whole Foods. I wonder if it would be cheaper online? [They search grass-fed beef in Google]
  • Hey, this guy says his farm is just a few miles from here and he sells direct. [Since they are within the geographic area where our rancher has ads running, they see an ad for just what they want. And it's from a local guy to boot]
  • These prices are way lower than Whole Foods. I’m going to call these guys and buy some beef. [Customer picks up the phone and calls]

What the customer doesn’t realize is that the PPC ad sent them directly to the pricing page (here), not the home page (here). Because you bid on keywords, you have a good idea what the user is looking for and your objective should be to deliver a web page that meets that expectation. This customer was looking for grass-fed beef and clicked an ad about grass-fed beef. Therefore, we go to step 2 in their thought process, which is likely the question “How much does it cost?” Different industries have different customers with different thought processes, but you need to make sure that you do one thing with your landing pages:

Give them the right information, right away, and make it obvious what the next step is (call to action).

Custom PPC Landing Pages

Initially you’ll probably do what our rancher did and simply use a specific sub-page as your landing page (ie pricing page, contact page, etc.) but as you get the hang of things you’ll realize that you can do better. The pricing page may not have a clear call to action. The contact page, though it has a contact form or phone number, doesn’t tell them about the product or service you provide. Now you should consider a custom landing page that combines those elements.

The simplest way to do this is to look at your existing site structure (likely a two-column or three-column layout) and see what space you have to work with. Keep in mind that users look at web pages left to right, top to bottom. The most important information should be below the navigation along the left side of the page (with the best stuff in the first couple paragraphs). Then I would put a call to action on the right of this content or just below this content. Then test this simple landing page. In most situations a simple landing page with only a small amount of quality content and a clear call to action will outperform any current page of your website.

Have you tried different landing pages already? What worked best for you? Leave your experiences in the comments.

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