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Flint McGlaughlin and I conducted live landing page optimization in a recent LiveClass with the MECLABS SuperFunnel Research Cohort (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa). We offered specific conversion optimization tips for landing pages in this Zoom meeting, while each member of the cohort offered even more ideas for improving those landing pages in the Zoom chat.
Some transferable principles that you can use to improve your own landing pages emerged from this session, and we’ll be sharing them today on the MarketingSherpa blog. They form a sensible process that you can use for your conversion optimization and marketing strategy.
PRINCIPLE #1: Don’t make claims; encourage conclusions.
The marketer’s job is to help people reach their own conclusions rather than tell them what to think.
Because? When we tell them what to think, they will naturally resist. When they come to their own conclusions, they will sell themselves.
So how can you tell if you’re making value claims or encouraging value conclusions? I like this simple test from Flint: “Print your web page and put a red pen over each declarative statement. See what you have left,” he said in The Prospect’s Perception Gap: Closing the Gap Between the Results We Want and the Results We Have.
If your landing pages and other marketing don’t do well on that test, here are some great examples from your peers to spark some ideas for improvement: Show, Don’t Tell: 3 Quick Case Studies of Companies Helping Customers to come to your own conclusions.
PRINCIPLE #2: Spend 5-10 times more on your offer than on your landing page.
As a writer my entire career, there are many times a marketing or business leader would come to me with a writing challenge that wasn’t really a writing challenge.
The real challenge was that they didn’t have a value proposition. Better-crafted headlines and body copy won’t move the needle much when you don’t have a value proposition. I always say that writing is 80% having something worth saying and 20% saying it well.
And it really resonated with me when Flint taught the transferable principle above: Spend most of your time, resources, energy, etc. on creating an offer that serves a customer, not on trying to sell the offer with your landing page.
As Flint mentioned on the call, that offer doesn’t have to be an ebook. He mentioned the surveys we have conducted here at MarketingSherpa as an example.
There are probably key questions your audience needs answered, whether it’s to shape their own strategy, as a proof point when selling an idea to a lead or client, or just out of curiosity. If you can answer those questions, you can gain a key “yes” in your customer journey: the ability to start a relationship with them and continue to build trust.
One way to do this is with survey research. Here are some ways we’ve answered these surveys before, to give you some ideas:
- With Nielsen, to your panel (a panel is a group of potential respondents, you may want to represent all American consumers, or you may want to gain insight from a specific role in a specific industry)
- With SurveyGizmo, to your dashboard (and I think SurveyMonkey offers similar options)
- For our own audience, or with partners/sponsors for both audiences
Please note that for the first option, Nielsen provided data science expertise, and for the second and third options, we used our own data scientists. Data science is important to make sure the results are representative of the population you’re talking about (again, this could be all American consumers, or it could be a specific group of people in your industry).
For all three options and each survey we conduct, we craft our own questions.
Two quick tips for asking questions. First, don’t prepare your audience; this means that you don’t lead them to a specific conclusion with the way you phrase your questions. Truly seeks to discover.
Also, have a plan for how you will message the survey no matter what the results are. For example, we asked 1,200 US consumers “In general, what type of advertising channels do you trust the most when you want to make a purchase decision?” And then we asked them about a series of traditional and digital channels.
I realized that if the digital channels won, it would help our audience to advocate for increased digital budgets and the digital industry would take notice of this and promote it. And if traditional channels won, it would help marketers defend traditional budgets and the industry behind traditional marketing channels would want to share it. You can see how we delivered the results in the marketing graph: which advertising channels consumers trust the most and least when making purchases.
We work with a public relations agency to share the results. And as Flint mentioned, it was covered by publications like The Wall Street Journal (The Marketing Virtues of Good Ol’ Snail Mail) and the Harvard Business Review (Why Marketers Are Going Back to Traditional Advertising).
As the example above shows, there are usually two potential outcomes of a survey question: the results will either reaffirm what your audience believes (in which case they can use it to win others over), or provide an “aha” moment by prompting them to ask. if what they believe is true (and gain more attention for their results, like the classic “man bites dog” journalistic aphorism).
Note that this only works if you have questions that your audience cares about.
Here’s the landing page we created for the survey results report, in case it gives you ideas for your own landing pages. Looking back on it now, I see many ways it could be improved (no subheadings?), but I hope it gives you some ideas for your own landing pages: MarketingSherpa customer satisfaction research study.
PRINCIPLE #3: Audit the landing page. Where would a potential customer be concerned? (Anxiety) Where is there resistance? (Friction)
Once you’ve created value and communicated it on your landing page, ask what might stop a customer from saying “yes” to your offer. What is the non-monetary cost to them?
Anxiety and friction are part of the MECLABS Conversion Sequence Heuristics and are explained here: Improve your marketing material with a proven methodology.
Classes: Worth proposal instances extra, transferable precept
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Marketing Funnel Strategy: 3 principles to help you make a high-converting landing page