B-to-B Insights: Maximize Your Traffic
There is a good deal of buzz these days about blogging, viral marketing, social networking and other new methods of generating eyeballs and traffic online. But that traffic will not make you money unless you can convert those unique visitors to leads or customers.
Whether you are selling a product directly from your landing page, asking visitors to download a free whitepaper, 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 can maximize your online conversion rates.
1. Build your credibility early. People always have been skeptical of advertising, and with the proliferation of spam and shady operators, they are even more skeptical of what they read online. Your landing-page copy must overcome that skepticism immediately.
To do this, clearly display one or more “credibility builders” on the first screen visitors see. If you are well-known, place your logo and company name in the banner at the top of the page; universities, associations and other institutions can display their official seals in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen.
Place one to three strong testimonials within or under the banner on the first screen. Also, consider adding a prehead or subhead that summarizes your company’s mission statement or credentials.
2. Capture the e-mail addresses of non-buyers. One way to do this is to use a window with copy offering a free report or e-course in exchange for submitting an e-mail address. This window can be served to the visitor as a pop-up or a pop-under. However, pop-up blockers can block both windows. An alternative is a “floater” window that slides onto the screen from the side or top. Unlike the pop-up and pop-under, the floater is part of the Web site HTML code, so it is not stopped by the pop-up blocker.
3. Use lots of testimonials. Like case studies and whitepapers, testimonials build credibility and overcome skepticism. If you invite customers to a live event, ask if they would be willing to give you brief testimonials recorded on video. Get signed releases from customers, have a professional videographer tape the testimonials and post them to your Web site as streaming video. Require Web site visitors to click a button to hear each testimonial rather than have the videos play automatically when they click on the page.
When soliciting written testimonials, customers may suggest you write what you want them to say and run it by them for approval. Politely ask that they give you their opinions of your product in their own words. Their letters likely will be more specific, believable and detailed than your version, which might smack of puffery and promotion.
4. Use lots of bullets. Highlight key features and benefits in a list of short, easy-to-read bulleted items. I often use a format where the first part of the bullet is the feature, and after a dash comes the benefit; e.g., “Quick-release adhesive system—your graphics stay clean and don’t stick together.” Online buyers like to think they are getting a good deal for their money, so when selling a product directly from your landing page, include all major features and important benefits in a comprehensive, bulleted list.
If you are using whitepapers to generate leads, you don’t need a huge list of bulleted features and benefits. However, using bullets 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. Your headline should arouse curiosity, make a powerful promise or grab the reader’s attention so he has no choice but to keep reading. For example, the headline for a landing page selling a training program on how to become a professional property locator 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 Web sites are unemotional and sterile, but a landing page is a letter from one human being to another. Make it sound that way. Even if you are selling a highly technical product to techies, remember that they still are 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 stronger—especially when you correctly assess how the prospect feels about your product or the problem it solves right now.
Also, stress your free offer in the headline and lead. For example, bearing manufacturer Kaydon shows a picture of its catalog with a bold heading above it that reads: “FREE Ceramic Bearings Product Selection Guide.”
8. Solve the reader’s problem. Once you hook readers, show how your product—or your free information—can solve their problems. For example: “Now there is 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-landing page conversion rates, you have to convince visitors that the quickest route to solving their problems is taking the action indicated on the landing page and not surfing your site. That is why I prefer landing pages to appear with no navigation, so the reader’s only choice is to respond or not respond. There’s no menu of click buttons and hyperlinks to other interesting pages to distract him.
9. Make it timely and current. The more your online 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. This shows visitors that your company is on top of what is happening in your industry.
10. Stress the money-back guarantee or lack of commitment on the part of the user. If you allow customers to order products 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 can’t get away without doing the same. If your product is good and your copy is truthful, your refund rates can be as low as 1 percent or less.
If you are generating leads, stress that your offer—which might be a whitepaper, online demonstration or webinar—is free. State that there is no obligation to buy and that no salesperson will visit.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.