At the outset, your form may seem quick and easy. Everyone should know the answers to easy questions like name, email address, and birthdate. Furthermore, these are questions that everyone asks online. People should expect to answer these questions.

Yes, we know the answers. Yes, we’ve given this information up before. But, don’t call it quick and easy. It takes effort to decide if you’re trustworthy. It takes effort to decide if you’re safe. And it takes more effort than watching TV.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400


You may think that we want “quick and easy”, “simple” or “short and sweet”, but we don’t. We’re completely happy with “hard but worth it”, “expensive but exciting”, and “painful in all the right ways”. These make us happy when you are able to present “worth it” clearly. They work when you make us feel the excitement. We buy when we know the right ways. Yet, it takes effort and skill to communicate “worth it” and “exciting” and “right” online.

So, we just say, “It’s easy.” Sometimes it works. In my Marketing Land column To Buy Or Not To Buy: When “Quick And Simple” Is Just A Lie, I propose that you will enjoy more success if you take the time to build value in your offering, rather than assuming your visitors are lazy and can’t be bothered to work for or spend on something valuable.

Quick And Simple Is Not A Metric. It Is A Perception.

Too often “Quick and Simple” is a lie.

Quick And Simple Is Not A Metric. It Is A Perception. I offer the following flowchart in the article:

The Quick and Easy Test flow chart.

Quick and easy is probably different for your visitors.

Mobile experiences are getting more and more sophisticated, which means we are doing less and less work. You’re definition of “easy” is getting eroded. I recommend you build value.

What does a landing page have to do to generate more software trials from visitors?
One of the sites I reviewed during my webinar The Science of the Landing Page with Avangate was Mac Mail to Outloook Converter. The primary call to action on this page is to download and try the converter.

Watch the Critique (4:24)

http://conversionsciences.wistia.com/medias/r3fxndpadd?embedType=seo&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=501
You can get a critique of your landing page. Find out how.

The Headline Should Match the Ad

I didn’t have information about what brought the traffic to this page during my critique. If the promise was “Mac Mail to Outlook Converter”, then the headline is perfect. For best results your headline should match the language used in the ad or link that brought the visitor to the page.

The headline should match the promise made in the ad or link that brought the user to this landing page.

The headline should match the promise made in the ad or link that brought the user to this landing page.


Bullets help people scan the copy before they decide to read. However, one of the bullets here contains a bit of jargon. Terms like “native encoding” can leave non-technical buyers scratching their heads.
Bullets are easy to scan. Be careful about using jargon.

Bullets are easy to scan. Be careful about using jargon.

Handling Objections in Copy

[pullquote]The purpose of copy is to anticipate and handle objections to taking action.[/pullquote] This page uses quite a bit of space describing the features and benefits of the product.

Be sure to tell the visitor what they will get if they take action.

Be sure to tell the visitor what they will get if they take action.


Don’t forget to answer the question, “What do I get?” This is the key question and applies to products, content offers, free consultations, etc.

How to Use Screenshots Intelligently

If you put screen shots on your landing pages without explanation, it just looks like… work.

Screenshots can be a powerful way to communicate through images, but rarely can stand on their own.

Screenshots can be a powerful way to communicate through images but can rarely stand on their own.


If you use screenshots, explain the point of the image. Why did you choose to show this image to the visitor?
There are three ways to accomplish this.

        

  1. Add text to the images
  2.     

  3. Add a caption under the images
  4.     

  5. Do both

Testimonials Add Proof and Trust

Testimonials are a great way to prove to the reader that your product works.

Testimonials can provide proof and build trust.

Testimonials can provide proof and build trust.


Testimonials span the gap between proof and trust. Success stories provide proof. I trust this page more because others have had success with the product.

Always Repeat the Offer at the Bottom

Someone who has read to the bottom of the page is probably well-qualified. Repeat the offer there so they can take action.

We call the offer at the bottom of a page the "dripping pan." It requests software trials as well as purchases.

We call the offer at the bottom of a page the “dripping pan.”

Focus on Software Trials or Purchases. Not both.

The split button approach taken on this page may work against them. When there is more than one offer, it is important to help the visitor choose.

Be careful about using non-standard elements on your landing pages. They can confuse visitors. There are two offers: software trials as well and purchases.

Be careful about using non-standard elements on your landing pages. They can add friction.


The page features the trial, so Download is the primary call to action. A treatment de-emphasizing the purchase offer may be better:
A mockup of the how this page could "help the visitor choose."

A mockup of the how this page could “help the visitor choose.”

Choose the Right Button Color

The key when choosing the right button color is to pick a color that is not found elsewhere on the page.

Call to action buttons should stand out on the page. Use color to create contrast with the rest of the page.

Call to action buttons should stand out on the page. Use color to create contrast with the rest of the page.


Notice how green and blue buttons appear more significant on the page than the orange ones.
Here is how a blue "dripping pan" would appear on this page.

Here is how a blue “dripping pan” would appear on this page.

See all of the Critiques

With a few changes, this landing page could be generating a higher number of software trials for the Mac Mail to Outlook Converter.
If you’d like to see all of my critiques please watch the webinar on demand.
[signature]

When you’re building a blog to bring traffic to your site, it’s the organic search traffic that makes or breaks your efforts. A blog post is an SEO landing page. It draws visitors through the graces of the search engines.

SEO landing pages are challenging, primarily because it takes time to see which of them are going to work. By publishing frequently on a blog, we get a chance to try out a wide variety of SEO landing pages. Over time, we can see which drive growing SEO traffic and which don’t.

We name our SEO landing pages based on the traffic patterns they produce. Last week, I told you about Icebergs, Eagles, Burps and Fizzes. Now I’m going to show you how to quantify these.

You can get the background in my Marketing Land column Evaluating Website Performance: I’m All About That Slope.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400


A Flock of Eagles

Eagles don’t travel in flocks. However, when you have a bevy of eagles roosting on your website, the results are astounding.
Eagles are those blog posts which draw more and more traffic over time. Not all Eagles are created equal. Using the tools outlined in my column we can understand which of our posts is flapping along and which is using afterburners.

Following are the aggregated traffic of nine SEO landing pages that have begun to soar, or show signs of becoming an Eagle.

A bunch of landing pages with relatively slow individual growth can add up to some serious overall traffic.

A bunch of landing pages with relatively slow individual growth can add up to some serious overall traffic.

Of our top 25 posts, 14 are Eagles and two are Dodos, or Eagles that are slow to take off. Only eight are Burps or Burp Fizzes. Not bad.

Comparing SEO Landing Pages

We analyze blog posts based on the amount of organic traffic they bring, how quickly the organic traffic is growing, and how many subscribers they generate as measured by the conversion rate. Google Analytics offers a convenient Landing Pages report that provides the raw data for our analysis.

Here are two “Eagles.” Post A took off at a strong pace, while post B has been going for longer.

Which of these is the higher performer? The data tells us something that our eyes don’t see.

Which of these is the higher performer? The data tells us something that our eyes don’t see.

Which of these is the higher performer? The data tells us something that our eyes don’t see.

Using the SLOPE, INTERCEPT, and RSQ functions of Excel, we calculate a growth rate of 3.92% for post B and 6.30% for post A. Our confidence in the fit of the trendline for Post B is 0.81 and for Post A is 0.68. We have less confidence in Post A.

Post A seems to be flattening out, but many Eagles get new life and continue climbing. Maybe Post A will one day be an iceberg. So far, Post A has generated new subscribers at a rate more than double that of Post B.

Using Data to Guide SEO Landing Page Development

Here is a selection of SEO landing pages from The Conversion Scientist Blog and Course. I pulled this data from Google Analytics using the Behavior > Site Content > Landing Page report. We can get specific data for up to six landing pages by checking the box next to the item and clicking the Plot Rows button.

Checking the stories and clicking "Plot Rows" tells Google Analytics to export your data.

Checking the stories and clicking “Plot Rows” tells Google Analytics to export your data.

These are ranked by the conversion rate for subscribers to our conversion mini course.

Trendlines: Slope, y-intercept, and R-squared value.

Trendlines: Slope, y-intercept, and R-squared value.

For each, I’ve calculated the key values of their trendline: Slope, y-intercept, and R-squared value. From this I can define the growth rate and organic traffic pattern.

We love the post “Can Live Chat Increase Conversions?” because it has a conversion rate of 0.61% and is growing at a nice clip at 3.52%. It’s a high-converting Eagle.

What do we do about the Low-R-Squared posts?

The R-squared values tell us that the slope and intercept data is suspect. Do we just ignore these?

For these, and the others that don’t make sense (71.38% initial growth rate?), I recommend zooming in on the most recent trends.
Our “5 Elements of Persuasive Writing” post is young and had a pretty big coming out via email. So, we’ll focus on the most recent trend in the data.

Taking a snapshot of the data can improve our confidence.

Taking a snapshot of the data can improve our confidence.

Here’s what it looks like in Excel.

Graph of blog post traffic with trendline

Graph of blog post traffic with trendline

You can see that we can increase our R-squared value to .54, and the rate for the more recent data is the slope (4.4956) divided by the intercept (17.975), which is 25%. So we have a .53 confidence that the orgranic traffic is growing at 25% for this post.

The infographic “What Makes Shoppers Click?” has an R-squared value of just 0.16.

Google analytics graph of traffic for blog post

Google analytics graph of traffic for blog post

However if we look at weeks 27 through 39, we get an amazing growth rate with a high R-squared value.

Graph of traffic from "shoppers" blog post with trendline

Graph of traffic from “shoppers” blog post with trendline

For this more recent period, we see a growth rate of 34% (2.967/8.76920) and an R-squared value of 0.80.

Be Careful

If you’re not careful, you can choose your data points to tell whatever story you want it to tell. Furthermore, if you’re making decisions on too few data points, you may be making the wrong decisions.

When in doubt, choose the time frame that gives you the most data points and the most conservative results.

To understand the effectiveness of your SEO landing pages, count up  the number of Eagles you have as compared to those that aren’t growing. Use the landing page report in Google Analytics to find out which are resulting in the most conversions. Then calculate the slope and y-intercept to understand the future potential of these pages.

For additional reading, check out this piece on landing page best practices for optimal conversion.

Talking about landing pages that convert is one of a Conversion Scientist’s favorite conversation topics. It’s even something that plays a huge part in their dating lives, and one of Conversion Scientist Brian Massey’s most popular presentations is still the Chemistry of the Landing Page (replay).

Your Conversion Rate Will Make or Break Your Campaigns

Conversion Sciences doesn’t just talk a big game when it comes to giving advice about landing pages: we have the data to back up what we’re saying. Having high-converting landing pages has made our webinar series Lab Coat Lessons a big success.

28.62 percent conversion rate on our landing page for our CRO & SEM webinar

28.62% conversion rate on our landing page for our CRO & SEM webinar

42.41 percent rate on our landing page for our UX vs. CRO webinar

42.41% conversion rate on our landing page for our UX vs. CRO webinar

50.92 percent conversion rate on our landing page for our Mobile 2.0 webinar

50.92% conversion rate on our landing page for our Mobile 2.0 webinar

Just think of what would happen to your revenue if your landing pages had a 50% conversion rate.

Helping people build high converting landing pages just never stops being interesting, so next week, on Thursday, October 15th, Brian will be joining Avangate for a free webinar that will teach you how to do just that. watch the replay now, and you’ll learn:

  • Why landing pages are so powerful in online marketing.
  • Why you should build landing pages backwards.
  • The primary components that make landing pages work.
  • How to keep your landing pages from getting off track.

What’s on the Conversion Scientist’s reading list these days?

Business Insider: 20 Cognitive Biases that Screw Up Your Decisions

If I was to rename this article, it would be, “20 Kinds of Best Practices and Why They Won’t Work”.
It is bad news to rely on best practices that are unsupported by data or testing. This article gives you 20 reasons why.
This article is so interesting that it’s no surprise I decided to cover this topic on my most recent column for MarketingLand.
Read more.

LiftPoint Consulting: Data Scientists’ Critical Role in Marketing Today

The conclusion of this article says it best by stating “The days of Marketing as a ‘Creatives Only’ fraternity are over”.
Data Scientists are the left-brained necessity to every marketing department, but since that realization is so new, you might not be able to recognize a good one. They’re a rare breed, after all. There are four skill-sets they have that you need.
Read more.
[sitepromo]

Econsultancy: Is Booking.com the Most Persuasive Website in the World?

This case study examining Booking.com reminded me a lot of my presentation on the Chemistry of the Landing Page where I talk about the different elements that make a landing page a success and also our post on impulse buying where we talk about how to reduce risk so that customers will feel comfortable spending money on your website.
Booking.com’s website is a great inspiration for formulating hypotheses that you can test.
Read more.
What are your suggestions for articles we should read For Further Study?

This is a common question, and requires an understanding of the definitions of bounce rate.”
The bounce rate is a bit slippery and requires some examination. The intention of measuring the bounce rate is to figure out how many of your visitors are leaving almost immediately after arriving at your site. This metric provides for a lot of error in interpretation.

“A high bounce rate means you’re site is crappy.”

This is rarely the case. A more accurate explanation is that your site doesn’t look the way your visitors expect it to look. Understanding what your visitors expect is the way to reduce your bounce rate.
Instead, there are usually some more valid reasons for your high bounce rate. Here are the things we examine when confronted with uncomfortably high bounce rates.

You’re measuring it wrong.

How you measure your bounce rate can give you very different insights. For example, blogs often have high bounce rates. Does this mean that visitors don’t like the blog?
Many analytics packages measure a bounce as a visit, or session, that includes only one page. Visitors who take the time to read an entire article would be considered a “bounce” if they then left, even though they are clearly engaged.
We set a timer for our blog traffic, so that any visitor who sticks around for 15 seconds or more is not considered a bounce.

Technical Difficulties

We are fond of saying that you don’t have one website, you have ten or twenty or thirty. Each device, each browser, each screen-size delivers a different experience to the visitor. If your website is broken on one of the more devices popular with your visitors, you will see a bump in overall bounce rate.
If your pages load slowly, especially on mobile devices, you can expect a higher bounce rate.
If your page breaks out in a chorus of Also Sprach Zarathustra when the page loads, you may enjoy a higher bounce rate.

How to diagnose

Your analytics package will track the kind of device your visitors are coming on.

Is there a problem with this site when viewed with the Safari (in app) browser?

Is there a problem with this site when viewed with the Safari (in app) browser?


The Google Analytics report Audience > Technology > Browser & OS shows that there may be a technical issue with Safari visitors coming from within an app. This may also reflect visitors coming from mobile ads, and they may simply be lower quality. See below.
With Google Analytics Audience > Mobile > Devices report, we see mobile devices specifically. The Apple iPhone has an above-average bounce rate, and we should probably do some testing there, especially since it’s the bulk of our mobile traffic.
With an above average bounce rate, visitors on an Apple iPhone may be seeing a technical problem.

With an above average bounce rate, visitors on an Apple iPhone may be seeing a technical problem.

Traffic Quality

If you’re getting the wrong visitors, you will have a high bounce rate.
Remember StumbleUpon? Getting your site featured on the internet discovery site often meant a flood of new visitors to your site… and a crash in your conversion rate. Stumble traffic was not qualified, they were just curious.
Your bounce rate is a great measure of the quality of your traffic. Low quality traffic bounces because:

        

  • The search engine showed them the wrong link. Do you know how many visitors used to come to our site looking for a “conversion rate” for Russian Rubles to Malaysian Ringletts?!
  •     

  • The visitors aren’t ready to buy. They were in a different part of the purchase process. Visitors coming from Social Media ads have notoriously low conversion rates. They weren’t looking, they were just surfing.

We take a closer look at the source of traffic to diagnose a traffic quality problem using Google Analytics Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels report.

Display and direct traffic are our biggest traffic sources and bring the most bouncers.

Display and direct traffic are our biggest traffic sources and bring the most bouncers.


Here we can see that traffic coming from Display ads and those visitors coming “Direct-ly” have a high bounce rate. These two sources also make up 50% of our traffic. Ouch.
In the case of Direct traffic, we expect most of it to come to the home page. With a click, we can see that indeed 50% of Direct visits are to home.
Filtering for Direct traffic, we see that 50% of it is entering on the home page.

Filtering for Direct traffic, we see that 50% of it is entering on the home page.


Clearly we need to do more to get visitors on their way into the site. As Tim Ash says, “The job of the home page is to get people off of the home page.” He didn’t mean by bouncing.
With regard to Display ads, we my have a problem with broken promises.

Broken Promises

Do your entry pages consider the source of visits?
If your traffic is clicking on an ad that promises 20% off on a specific propane grill, and they’re directed to your home page, you’ve broken a promise. You might think that they will search your site for the deal. You might even think they’ll search your home page for the deal. You’re wrong. Many will jump.
Every ad, every email invitation, every referral link is a promise you make to your visitor. If they don’t come to a page that lives up to the promise, they are likely to bounce.

        

  • Does the headline on the page match the offer in the ad?
  •     

  • Does the product in the email appear after the click?
  •     

  • Are the colors and design consistent across media?

This Dispaly ad takes the visitors to a page that is almost designed to disappoint.

This Dispaly ad takes the visitors to a page that is almost designed to disappoint.


Looking at your ads on a page-by-page basis is necessary to diagnose and correct this kind of bound-rate problem.

Vague Value Propositions

Ultimately, if you’re not communicating your value proposition to your visitors clearly, you are going to enjoy a monstrous bounce rate.
[sitepromo]
Your value proposition typically does not address your company or your products. It should be targeted at your visitor, why they are there, and why they should stick around.
Each page has it’s own value proposition. Your business may have a powerful value proposition, but each page should stand on its own.
A contact page should talk about what will happen after you complete the form. Who will contact you? How long will it take? Will they try to sell you something?
A landing page should clearly state that you are in the right place and provide reasons for you to stay and read on.

This landing page delivered a strong value proposition in above the fold.

This landing page delivered a strong value proposition in above the fold. See the full case study and video.


A home page should help you find your way into the site. Most home pages are treated like highway billboards. No wonder people just drive on by.
Ultimately, we don’t want to reduce our bounce rate. We want to improve our conversion rate by bringing the right traffic, to the right page, with the right message, and avoid technical issues that get in the way.
[signature]
Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Are your PPC ads plaid and your landing pages polka dots? That is, are your PPC ads and landing pages in alignment? Check out these great tips and maximize conversions.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be a highly effective way to get your products in front of new prospective customers and drive sales, but only when campaigns are set up with the right touch. Depending on what keywords you want to target with your bids, search ads are generally not prohibitively expensive, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of blowing through your budget on PPC without justifying your media spend with enough sales.

The PPC management mistakes that most commonly ruin advertisers’ chances of respectable ROI involve text mismatches. All too often, an ad’s keyword settings do not match the language used in the ad’s creative, or the landing page content does not match the language used in the ad’s creative.

Search marketing spending in the US from 2014 to 2019.

Search marketing spending in the US from 2014 to 2019.

Why Matching Terminology Matters

If you’re not matching terminology on your landing page to your PPC ads, you’re wasting money and losing clients.

Successful PPC marketing hinges on continuity across all touch points. Web searchers enter search terms into Google based on a need they are trying to fulfill. By the time users have formulated their queries as lines of text, they have already been forced to think about what they’re looking for as being specific to certain terminology. Thus, if your message is going to resonate with them, it has to use the very same terminology.

Google users naturally gravitate towards organic search results. To catch people’s eyes, your ad needs to convey that it addresses the exact issue that the searcher is trying to solve. What’s more, search terms that appear within ad copy appear in bold letters, adding to their visibility and click-throughs.

When people click on the ad, they are expecting to find a matching solution on the other end. You know that dirty feeling you get when you click on a content headline that over-promises and the article ultimately under-delivers? That’s a similar feeling to what happens when there’s a disconnect between search ad copy and landing page copy.

When you get that feeling, you’re unlikely to do business with whoever gave it to you. And that’s why it’s so important that the landing page refer to the exact need at hand and offer an appropriate solution, all using the same terminology. This is one of those landing page best practices that tends to be right every single time.

PPC Ads and Landing Pages in Alignment: The Power of Maximized Continuity

Lack of continuity will result in customers leaving your conversion funnel before opting in to your lead capture offer or purchasing your products.

If a customer searches for “cyan polo shirt summer sale” and you show him an ad for “men’s clothing,” he is not likely to click on it, even though your online store might very well offer cyan polo shirts in the men’s section. Even ad creative touting a “blue polo shirt” product won’t perform as well as the phrase “cyan polo shirt” would – the closer to an exact match you can get, the more effective your ads will be.

PPC ads and landing pages in alignment: Use the word "cyan" to describe the color of this shirt, not just "blue".

Use the word “cyan” to describe the color of this shirt, not just “blue”.

The same principle applies to matching ad copy with landing page copy. If your ad promises a “cyan polo shirt summer sale” but you send people to your homepage, where there are 25 different apparel products being showcased and no trace of any type of sale, the visitor is likely to bounce out extremely quickly.

Customized Ecommerce Text Variations

Using standardized language across your website is necessary to maintain an atmosphere of professional polish and so that your internal search engine will work well. On the other hand, when you set up your search ad campaigns, you should be performing some extensive keyword research to reveal all of the alternate wording that people use for the same thing.

Going back to the same example, you may learn that people often search for polo shirts that are “sapphire,” “teal,” or “turquoise,” which are all reasonably close matches to the “cyan” that appears on your product pages. It totally makes sense to bid on ads to appear on search results for “sapphire polo shirt,” but in cases like these, you may want to create alternate versions of your product pages that only visitors referred by this specific ad will see.

Just make sure to keep these variations out of sight of the search engines, so you won’t get penalized for duplicate content – and out of sight in the website navigation, so visitors do not get confused. Apply a meta “No Index” tag to the head of the landing page to make sure that variations don’t get indexed. Better yet, make sure all your PPC ad campaign landing pages are noindex, follow. Until you have chosen the one you would like to drive organic traffic to.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion

A helpful tool in this process is a Google Adwords feature called Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). This tool will adjust your ad text to reflect keywords in the user’s search, potentially accomplishing the same goals we just discussed.

Wordstream ran a case study testing the effectiveness of DKI with a client, and found that using this strategy had the following results:

  • Impressions dropped 6%
  • Click-through-rate (CTR) increased by 55%
  • Conversions increased by an incredible 228%
DKI more than tripled conversions.

DKI more than tripled conversions.

The results speak for themselves.

In the context of continuity, the key is to have a very small number of keywords in your ad groups. For top performers, you may even want to use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS).

Customized Lead Capture Page Variations

If your offer is for a service, a B2B product or something otherwise relatively expensive, then you don’t need to send visitors to ecommerce-integrated product pages at all. In these cases, a sparser landing page is likely to perform better, and it’s easy and inexpensive to create new versions of your landing pages for each keyword combination that you bid for.

Landing pages like these are generally aimed at capturing leads rather than driving sales, since major purchases require more pre-sale relationship building to establish trust and to educate prospects. Many of the better marketing platforms available in the open market offer modules for both landing page creation and autoresponder marketing emails.

If lead capture is your goal, focus your Adwords strategy on your prospects’ pain points rather than your offer’s specifications. For instance, a financial consulting firm could run PPC ads for the search term “family budgeting help” or “debt advice.” These ads could lead to landing page variations for each search term, with each one offering visitors the option to download an eBook that provides practical tips on family budgeting and saving money on household bills.

A campaign of this type takes into account that the prospect is having trouble balancing his or her household budget, and it offers a quick and easy solution that also positions the advertiser as a trustworthy expert in the field of family finance. This paves the way for follow-up messaging.

Another benefit of this type of hyper-specific targeting is that it allows marketers to segment the entire customer journey and serve up nurturing emails that match the subscriber’s specific interests. A post-campaign analysis of the relevant conversion data can reveal which segments represent the advertiser’s most valuable customers, thereby informing subsequent marketing strategies.

Doesn’t Have to Be a Bottomless Pit

You do need a landing page for every important ad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should set up hundreds of landing pages. Instead, focus your campaign on a select number of lead nurture audience personas (three or four) and create an ad that’s optimized to speak to each one of them. Create a unique landing page for each of these ads and set up an autoresponder to send follow-up emails with relevant content to each persona.

If you’re marketing an ecommerce property with a diverse product line and a shopping cart system, start by trying these tactics for just a few products. If it serves you well, then you can focus on making your work flow scalable down the road.

PPC campaigns that are set up for maximum terminology variations are likely to enjoy boosted conversion rates and revenues, so that ad dollars are less likely to go to waste.

Keep improving your paid ads: Google Ad Extensions to Improve your Customer Acquisition Efforts

Graph image by Statista (via Skitch)

Brian Massey does a live markup of an OK Cupid dating profile using the same criteria that he uses when critiquing a business landing page.

Conversion Sciences employee Megan Hoover has agreed to be the test subject, using conversion optimization techniques on her dating profile.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

There are five key takeaways that you should consider on your landing pages.

1. Don’t talk about yourself and your company

How often do you mention your company or your product names? Add to the that number of times you say “we”, “us”, “our”, etc. Have you forgotten your reader?

Are you talking about yourself or what you have to offer the reader?

Are you talking about yourself or what you have to offer the reader?

In the video, we transform the sentence “(I’m) a northern yankee in the south…” to “Northern Yankees are known for having warm hearts.” Both communicate the same thing, but one does so and states why this is a good thing.

2. Design your copy for scanners

Much of your copy is invisible to scanners.

Scanners won't see most of your copy without help.

Scanners won’t see most of your copy without help.

Help them out by using things to keep their wandering eyes on track.

  • Frequent headings
  • Bulleted Lists
  • Highlighted, bold or italicized text

Don’t over-do it, but help a scanner out.

3. Repeat the call to action in key places

If you’re asking the visitor to take action at only the top and bottom of a long page, you may be missing key conversions.

Repeat the call to action with each relevant proof point or section.

4. “Show the product” with images and use Captions

Use images to explain your value proposition but don’t leave the meaning to your reader’s imagination.

Use captions to explain the point of your images.

Use captions to explain the point of your images.

Use captions and in-image text to spell out what they should take from each image.

5. Avoid distractions and irrelevant links

Landing pages have one goal. Focus on that goal and resist irrelevant distractions, such as social media icons, newsletter signups and links to other parts of the site.

Distractions and irrelevant links work against your landing page.

Distractions and irrelevant links work against your landing page.

All of this should work on your dating profile

These are solid practices when designing a landing page, and should apply to a dating profile as well. Readers are people.
Our next step is to modify Megan’s dating profile based on my suggestions and see if we get a higher conversion rate.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400


It was a dark room with on of those overhead lights above a lone chair. This was the room Joe Kerschbaum found to interview me at the Hero Conference in Portland Oregon.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400


He proceeded to grill me about Landing Pages the special way we build them backwards. You can hear the recording here. We talk about

  • Making great offers
  • Giving visitors a way to take action
  • Providing Proof and Trust
  • What business porn is
  • Ways to avoid abandonment

We learn that pretty pages often aren’t the highest converting pages. If pretty always won, I’d be president by now.

3Q DIGITAL DOWNLOAD EPISODE 13: CONVERSION OPTIMIZATION


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is the next segment of our series on how a dating profile is like a business landing page. This series is written by Conversion Scientist Megan Hoover.

A few weeks ago when I decided it was time to optimize my dating life, I took the first step by creating a list of the qualities I’d like to attract with my profile. It’s an approach I also take in optimizing websites. I need to understand the qualities of an ideal business prospect, one that is likely to convert on the site.

Once I knew who I was looking for, I had to figure out how I’d find him in the sea of non-contenders. I came up with the (quite literal) Formula For Love.

P(first date) = db x (∑ti x 2∑tomg)

Here, P is the probability of a first date. The variable db is a one or zero, zero if there is a deal breaker. The variables ti and tomg are scores for traits that are important, and very important respectively.

Now that I know how I’ll qualify a lead, it’s time to get out my beakers and scales and use the chemistry of landing pages formula to create the landing page of me – aka fill out the big scary blank profile that will attract the kind of man I’d like to go out with.

The chemistry of the landing page

The chemistry of the landing page

A blank page. It might be time to refill our wine glasses. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The dating site I’ve chosen, OkCupid, gives me a series of open ended questions to fill out. There’s the vague “Self-Summary” section, the slightly less vague “What I’m doing with my life” section followed by a few more sections with more directed prompts: “The six things I could never do without”, “I’m really good at”, “The first thing people usually notice about me”, and “My favorite books, movies, shows, etc.”.

At the very end of the template is my offer and a way to take action, which I will discuss below.

Avoid Distractions

As a girl faced with the daunting task of creating a dating profile, the template is a huge relief. If you’ve ever been tasked with creating a landing page — or writing a blog post — you’ve probably been intimidated by the blank page, too. Your palms sweat, you get up 15 times to use the restroom and refill your coffee. So a corporate web template is the blank-page-sweaty-palm cure, right? It’s not so blank.

It may help with your dating profile, but it’s not a good idea for a business landing page. In the formula for creating a winning landing page, a template is not your friend. In fact, it’s likely to cause a massive chain reaction that will cause the whole experiment to fail.

Like a dating profile, a business landing page should be singularly focused. If you start with your corporate template, it’s already full of stuff like unrelated navigation and social media icons. In other words, it’s full of distractions that can take a visitor away from your primary purpose.

If the right guy is on my dating profile, I want him to message me, not go check me out on Facebook.

If he does, the chances of me converting my dream guy into a date go way down.

We want to start our landing page with a clean slate, a pure webpage. Then add an offer and a form.

The Basic Landing Page Reaction

Have a Great Offer

I’m stuck using a template on OKCupid, against my scientific knowledge. At least OkCupid’s template gives me a form with the call to action “Send a message” and a place to create an offer: the “You should message if” section.

Soft call to action

As a marketer, it’s my job to make the offer compelling so that my dream suitors click that little blue button and make first contact.

Rule number one of a landing page is that the offer should keep a promise.

Don’t break the promise that got your visitor to the page. In the case of a dating profile, the promise is a my main profile photo, user name, age and location. I’ll need to choose a photo that best represents my personality and will line up with what I present in my profile.

Promise: Trail loving Austin adventurer with a mountain bike.

Promise: Trail loving Austin adventurer with a mountain bike.

Offer: A tour of the best mountain biking trails in Austin.

Offer: A tour of the best mountain biking trails in Austin.

The Offer Should Match the Ad

For your business, make sure to think about where your visitors are coming from. Are they coming from an ad where the image displays a purple t-shirt? Then they should see a purple t-shirt on the landing page. Did you advertise 50% off of $1 bills, then your landing page needs to offer 50% off of $1 bills. Keep your promise.

Forms that Convert and Qualify

What about the form? I’m still using OkCupid’s template, so I don’t have any control over the form. In a perfect world I customize my form to help me pre-qualify some of my leads. Consider what information you actually need or want from you leads/purchasers. Sometimes, asking for more information can raise the barrier to entry and lower the number of leads you’ll receive.

  • Is phone number AND email necessary? Or would one suffice?
  • Full address or just zip code?
  • What about a bare bones form?
  • Can I get away with just a name and email?

Think carefully about what information is absolutely necessary for the next step as you create your form. And don’t be afraid to A/B test form length and content. Sometimes more is better, but sometimes less is. Start with a well thought out form with all relevant information to get your visitor to the next step and then test more or less information.

So now what? I’ve got an offer and I’ve got a form. I’m done right?

Technically, yes, I’ve got a dating profile and you’ve got a landing page, but will it convert?

Unlikely.

It’s time for us to dig out our goggles because we’re about to heat things up and add the catalysts.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Provide Proof

Put your protective gloves on for this one, we’re about to add a dash of proof.

We have to demonstrate that what we’re saying is true. Have you sold 13 billion hamburgers? Say that. It’s even better if you say 13,982,534,121 hamburgers sold. Do you have a customer that is well known or willing to lend you a quote or their logo?

I asked a few ex-boyfriends if they’d give a reference, but thought better of actually posting those on my profile.

Since posting logos or quotes on a dating profile isn’t going to work, I have to rely heavily on copy to provide proof. The more specific I get the better proof I’ll provide. Instead of saying, “I enjoy mountain biking” I can say, “I ride my Contessa Scott every Sunday at Walnut Creek Park”.

Instead of “I enjoy volunteering with animals,” I would say “Jake the Tank is my favorite four-legged Jog-a-Dog companion.”

I can utilize profile photographs. “I love to travel” is vague, but a photo of me on top of the Great Wall of China is better proof of that enjoyment. We’ll talk more about images in a minute.

Proof makes visitors feel more comfortable taking action by overcoming their objections. It’s the logical argument that supports an emotional decision.

So what are my potential dates’ objections? Do I have anything in common with this person? If I message her will she respond? Is she looking for the same thing I am? Will I be wasting my time by messaging her? Is she even a real person?

In your business, what are your visitors’ potential objections? What would stop a visitor from filling out your form or making a purchase on your site?

In the online dating world a big red flag is a blank profile. How serious is a guy if he can’t even be bothered to write a few paragraphs about himself? The same goes for businesses. A blank page with nothing but a form isn’t enough for a visitor to take you seriously.

When writing copy for a landing page there should be just enough to overcome objections and no more. Dating profiles are no different. Data shows that shorter profiles in a conversational style get far more attention than long resume-style profiles do.

Build Trust

My most powerful trust builder will also be copy. The tone of my copy needs to be friendly and approachable, overcoming the fear of rejection, and I need to make sure I mention exactly what I’m looking for and some specific things my ideal date would have in common with me.

Some common visual ways to add trust to your business landing pages are your company logo, recognized affiliate logos – Visa/Mastercard are common in eCommerace – and certifications. Do you have a Better Business Accreditation? What about Norton antivirus?

A word of caution on trust symbols: too much can come off sketchy. Have you ever been to a site that just rams trust down your throat with pop-ups, stickies, and giant logos? It starts to feel like you’re on a used car lot and not one of the fancy “certified pre-owned” ones.

In my dating profile I’ll need to avoid ramming my niceness, smarts or creativity down anyone’s throat. If I mention in each section that “I’m super nice” by the time they get the message portion they might be wondering if I’ve just set them up to receive a really insulting reply.

OkCupid has another trust tool that often gets overlooked: the “how often do they respond” bar. If one of the biggest fears of dating is rejection, having a yellow or green bar can up the chances of a person messaging. Being too selective with replies can tear away trust that you’re serious or could send the signal that only models with Ph.Ds should apply.

OkCupid's trust tool shares how often everyone responds to messages

OkCupid’s trust tool shares how often everyone responds to messages

Do you respond within 24 hours to all inquires? Do you have a chat or phone number customers can utilize? These types of communication standards go a long way to assure visitors that they can trust your business.

We’ve overcome most of our visitors’ major objections by building trust with copy and images, and they’re almost ready to contact us or buy from us. How can we push them over the edge?

Show the Product

The final component of a landing page is the images. Studies show that it is the most important component of a dating profile, and it’s the first thing on a dating profile.

Rule number 1 for images – Show the product.

One of the biggest fears people have in online dating is their date looking totally different in person than they do online. I can build trust by choosing recent photos without any fancy filters and by adding a date to my photos to assure nervous suitors that I probably haven’t gained 100 pounds since March of 2015, and that I look okay without the wonders of photoshop.

This is true for both online dating sites and your business landing page. OkCupid won’t even show my profile to users if I don’t have a photo.

Without an image, my dating landing page doesn't exist.

Without an image, my dating landing page doesn’t exist.

If your product is tangible it’s pretty easy. But if you offer a service or a downloadable PDF it might be more difficult. Choose an image that allows visitors to imagine what it will be like after they’ve completed the offer.

Video is classified just an image delivered at 30 frames per second usually with audio.

The same goes for my dating profile. To attract the kind of man I want to date I need to choose images that are fun, active, and show me – no photos of that hot friend I talked about earlier. I need my potential suitors to be able to imagine meeting me in person and having a good time doing something we both love. Your photos should capture the same feelings.

A Complete Page

If you want to get a reaction from your visitors, you have to have all of the components. We started with a pure webpage (or as pure as possible) and added and created an offer and a form thinking carefully about how our potential customers/suiters arrived at this landing page. We spruced the landing page up with a bit of proof and trust and carefully added appropriate images. Voila! We’ve mixed up the perfect landing page (aka dating profile) to attract the customer we want – in my case someone to hold my lab coat.

If you’re finding my project entertaining, you should also check out Amy Webb’s Ted Talk and book.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.