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The Green Sheet Online Edition

January 28, 2008 • Issue 08:01:02

Marketing 101
Landing pages: Convert interest to action

By Nancy Drexler
SignaPay Ltd.

Effective e-mail campaigns don't necessarily end when you hit the send button. Unless every one of your e-mail recipients has signed up for the product or service you are selling, you will probably want to do a bit more work to help close some deals.

To turn interested prospects into actual customers, you will want to create a landing page as the final step in your e-mail marketing campaign.

Landing pages are Web destinations created for distinct reasons. Typically, they speak to prospects who are interested in a certain product or service offered via an advertising or e-mail marketing campaign.

These customers have clicked on a link or typed in an Internet address given to them, and they expect to learn something more about the offer. The landing page makes it fast and easy for them to do just that.

Roping 'em in

If your e-mail campaign attracts traffic to your landing page, you should consider it a successful first step. The tricky part is nailing the purpose of your landing page - converting each visitor to an actual customer.

You want your visitors to not only look up information, but also to take action. Typically, you either want them to give you information about themselves, or you want them to immediately make a purchase. Your landing page is your best chance to accomplish your goal.

Visitors to your landing page have taken one step closer to becoming customers, meaning momentum is on your side. Don't let the ball slow down. Make sure the sole thrust of your landing page is to acknowledge your customers' interests, provide the information they seek, and make it fast and simple for them to take the next step.

Put yourself in the place of your prospects. They have read an e-mail and found something that entices them to click on the link to your landing page. The first thing your page must do is reassure your visitors that they are in the right place.

Several things will help you do this. First, the look and feel of the landing page should mirror your e-mail setup. Colors and type should also be consistent. And the product or benefit featured in your e-mail should be the obvious attraction of your landing page.

Your e-mail and landing page language should be similar but not repetitive. Your readers are not interested in re-reading the e-mail's text. They want amplification of what they've already seen. Repeat your main offer or benefit, and then provide bite-sized information.

Gaining momentum

If you are lucky enough to get someone to your landing page, be smart enough to understand what got them there. Your job at this point isn't to get your readers interested; your visitors are already there. Your job is to address and answer unresolved issues and gently nudge the visitor closer to becoming a customer.

Think of it as a deal closer. You've already done the selling. The job of your landing page is to do the closing - right now.

A landing page should not be confused with a Web site. It could be used to present every last detail about your products and services. But there is a precise formula to making a perfect landing page. It should not be all inclusive, multipurpose or even terribly informative.

Instead, your landing page must capitalize on the interest expressed by your prospects and cement it. Focus on benefits, not features. Use persuasive, punchy words. Tell your readers why they have to take immediate action. Make it clear how they will benefit from purchasing the product at this time or lose from waiting too long. At the same time, show your readers how easy it is to get started.

Maintaining focus

Stay focused on the kind of experience you would like your readers to have. They want to know more; they are moving forward; they are progressing quickly down the path you ultimately want them to be on. If they deter from that path at any time, it is quite easy to lose the sale. And you don't want your landing page to cause you to lose potential customers. Make sure everything about your landing page is designed to get the response or action you want.

Don't shift ideas around or compete against yourself with multiple offers. Don't go off on tangents, or try to upsell or resell. Begin with the major benefits of your offer, address any questions or objections a reader might have, stress the benefits of acting now and tell the visitor what to do next. Lead the eye with color and graphics, but don't distract with it. Don't bunch too much copy together. Make it visually pleasing and easy to follow.

Wherever they are on your landing page, visitors should always be able to see how they can take immediate action. Landing pages should never include navigation bars or links to anything other than your primary destination. If prospects are involved in your offer, the last thing you want them doing is waiting for a Flash download or linking to (and wandering around) your Web site.

Taking it easy

Distraction is the most common way to disrupt the closing process. But there are others. The name of the game here is simplicity and ease. At any step of the process, if you don't make it effortless for visitors to go where you want them to go, chances are they will move on without buying your product. Make sure all your essential information is "above the fold." (This is the virtual line at the bottom of the viewer's screen where they must scroll before they can see further information.)

Your visitors should recognize that they are in the right place, be reminded why they are there, and be able to make a decision and act - all without scrolling.

Even then, you can still lose a customer who has decided to take action if your landing page lacks functionality and usability, so be careful with your forms.

Questions that feel like an invasion of privacy or threaten a user's sense of security can cost a sale. If your forms take too long to fill out or require too much information, your hot prospect may very quickly become cold.

Speed and ease are essential, so make sure your forms are optimized. Remove all unneeded fields. If you want an e-mail address, ask only for that. You probably don't need a name right now.

Can you make do with a ZIP code instead of requesting the city and state? Can you have the cursor hop to the next text field after the user finishes the current field? Stay as lean as you can.

Turning interested prospects into customers will take more than shooting off an e-mail that advertises your product. People want reassurance that what has piqued their interest is a quality product at a good price. You can give them what they're looking for by creating a landing page that dazzles the eye, which will reward you in the end. end of article

Nancy Drexler is the Vice President, Marketing for SignaPay Ltd., an ISO headquartered in Dallas. Reach her at nancyd@signapay.net.

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