Web Site Visitors? Rein 'Em In!
Considering all of the bells, whistles, widgets and gee-gaws available on most Web sites, it's no wonder consumers - especially those who are new to online shopping - often end up running wild in search of pertinent information.
To make sure new visitors get the most out of your site, you need to rein them in and focus their attention on what you have to offer. Like an author who tells his story in a sequence of ordered chapters, you want to tell the story of your products or services in a pre-determined order of Web page elements. The more control you have over the visitor 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 might not read the entire letter in order, it gives him a clear starting and ending point. Direct mail gives us a certain amount of control over how customers receive our marketing messages.
A Web page, on the other hand, is multidimensional, and unless we know how to direct visitors through its various elements, they might wind up running in every direction and, ultimately, 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? How long before you lost your patience and decided to move on to a competitor's site?
Offer proper guidance
High-converting landing pages use a variety of visual cues and an understanding of typical Web page viewing habits to immediately grab 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 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 visitors by understanding the problems 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 obviously are professional models.
A dominant "what's-in-it-for-me" headline also will capture visitors and guide them to your succinct, bulleted listing of key benefits and value-added proposition.
Examples of winning landing pages
Want to see landing pages that convert? 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 three 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 they 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 visitors' 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 visitors exactly what you want them to do.
- Use an arrow to mark your call to action, which has been shown to increase conversion rates in many cases.
- 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.
- Remember that when there is less on a page, visitors will tend to read more.
- Limit your font styles, text formatting and adhere to dark text on light backgrounds.
Finally, don't assume your visitors know how to convert on your Web page. Take the necessary steps to guide them, and you'll see your conversion rates rise.
Brian Lewis is the vice president of marketing at Engine Ready Inc., a San Diego-based search engine optimization and Web site analytics firm. Reach him at Brian@engineready.com