Adwords landing page redirect

how to improve landing page performance and landing page relevance adwords and dynamic landing page adwords
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Published Date:03-08-2017
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Landing on Your Web Site hen (potential) customers click your ad and your Web site appears, Wthey will decide to stay and shop or return to Google within seven seconds. Everything about your landing page will either persuade your visi- tor to stay and play, or hit the Back button and never darken your door again. Don’t just send customers to your site’s home page. You have the ability to send your visitors to the page of their dreams, the one that quickly grants them their fondest wish, that scratches the itch they’ve never quite been able to reach before, that dreams the impossible dream — sorry, I was channeling Richard Kiley there for a minute. Deep breath. Orchestra fades. Where was I? The text, the pictures, the design, the loading speed, the contact information, the logos, the multimedia, and the opportunities for interaction all combine to create a gestalt, an instant impression of Perfect Fit, Run Away Screaming, or something in between. Old-school direct marketers have favored text over graphics, based on years of experience with ugly magazine ads and Courier- font, direct-mail sales letters. That works for some markets, but not most. The Web is a different medium from print, one in which design speaks as loudly as words. Your AdWords landing page must impress two suitors: Google, and your Web site’s visitor. This chapter shows you how to make landing pages that are highly relevant to the keywords and ads that point to them. You discover thePart IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 204 most important purpose of a landing page, along with several strategies for achieving that purpose. You find out a few sneaky tricks for building multiple landing pages by doing the work just once. I show you the elements of a land- ing page that you can tweak to improve performance, and discuss briefly the things you need to know about search engine optimization to increase the quality scores of the keywords pointing to your landing pages. Making Your Visitor Shout “That’s for Me” Perry Marshall shares a wallet-walloping cal- culation that should convince you to spend a lot of quality time working on your landing pages: Let’s say you pay 50 cents for a click and Barbara in Oregon goes to your Web site and spends eight seconds seeing what you’re selling . . . then leaves. 50 cents divided by 8 seconds is 225.00 per hour. Barbara in Oregon’s attention is pretty expensive, wouldn’t you say? Now, maybe Barbara was never your customer. She clicked because your ad aroused her curiosity, or was cute, or implied or promised something for nothing. Oh, well, can’t win them all. But most Web site owners are told to be satisfied with conversion percentages that are pathetically low: half a percent, one percent. The Web is a numbers game, they’re told. Get enough traffic and even a mediocre site can pay the rent. The Web is a numbers game, true. But who says you have to be satisfied with the numbers? The entire premise of AdWords — in fact, the feature that rock- eted AdWords past what is now Yahoo Search Marketing within months of its birth — was the ease with which campaigns could be tested and improved. This improvement doesn’t have to stop at the AdWords border with your Web site. You can deploy the market intelligence you gain by testing key- words and ad copy to create compelling landing pages that continue to attract and guide your best prospects. The goal of each landing page is to build an instant emotional bond with your prospects, show them you understand their needs, and can take away their pains. From that platform, you present your offer and guide them to take Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 205 action. Your home page, the one that says, “Welcome to Acme Online Sock Emporium,” is hardly ever the right place to take AdWords traffic. If someone walked into your retail Sock Emporium and told you, “I’m looking for red-and- white-striped, over-the-calf dress socks,” you wouldn’t take them back to the front door and say, “Welcome to Acme Sock Emporium, for the finest in men’s and ladies’ dress and casual socks; sporting socks; and never-washed, vin- tage baseball stirrup socks worn by members of the 1958 Championship New York Yankees.” Instead, you’d lead them directly to the wall displaying the red-and-white-striped, over-the-calf dress socks and ask them, “What size?” That level of specificity is the purpose of your landing page. Your retail sock store is probably not located next to other sock stores. But your online store’s landing page is precisely two clicks away from just about every other online sock store in existence. If your landing page doesn’t look like the next point on the shortest distance between your prospect’s A and B, whoosh Barbara from Oregon is here one second, Oregon the next. (Hah Chapter 10 and my first pun. My sister owes me a dollar.) Achieving relevance based on keywords As I discuss in Chapter 5, keywords are the keys to your search visitors’ desires. You bundle similar desires into ad groups, and send the traffic from each ad group to a landing page focused on that desire. Everything true about ad copy is also true about Web site copy; the message, the tone, the balance of features and benefits, the next call to action all must connect with the conversation already going on in your prospect’s mind. The only differ- ence is, on the Web site you are free from the space constraints and most of the editorial shackles imposed by Google. With great power comes great responsibility, as Peter Parker, another famous Webmaster, learned the hard way in the Spider-Man comics. Use the power of your Web site to focus not on your business, but on your customer’s desires as suggested by their keywords and the ad that triggered their visit. If your traffic is derived from AdSense, you don’t have a specific keyword to build on. Instead, you know which ad interrupted them like a talking white rabbit and caused them to detour into the rabbit hole of your site. In that case, your landing page should continue the conversation begun by the ad. For example, if you sell computer training videos on DVD, part of your AdWords account and landing pages might look like the example shown in Table 10-1.Part IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 206 Table 10-1 Linking Keywords and Landing Pages Ad Group Subject Sample Keywords Landing Page Headline Ad Group Microsoft Microsoft access “Master Microsoft A1 Access tutorial,access Access at Your Tutorial tutorial,ms Own Pace with This Keywords access tutorial, Award-Winning access database DVD-based Course” tutorial Ad Group Microsoft access training, “Microsoft Access A2 Access access data- Training at Your Training base training, Own Pace with this Keywords Microsoft access Award-Winning computer training DVD-based Course” Ad Group Microsoft “Become Certified ms Access A3 Access in MS Access Best in Just 6 Weeks Performing with This Award- Keyword Winning DVD- based Course” Ad Group Microsoft excel xp “Receive A4 Excel training,excel Professional Excel General training,excel Training from the Keywords 2000 training, Comfort of Your excel 2003 Home with this training Award-Winning DVD-based Course” Product-focused landing pages If you sell physical products, like home office telephone systems or paper shredders or runners’ watches with GPS, your landing page presents the most specific product you can offer, based on keyword and ad. The keyword runners watch takes visitors to your entire display of runners’ watches. Casio runners watch produces a page dedicated to that brand (or, if you don’t carry Casio, make it a turn-the-corner page that explains why your watches are superior to Casio’s). And a search forCasio GPR-100 should take them to a page devoted to that particular watch. Concept-focused landing pages Many online stores do not sell a wide variety of merchandise. Instead, they sell one or two items that solve a certain range of problems. For example, maybe you’ve invented a clever filing system that automatically purges old Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 207 files, or reminds people when to pay the energy bill, or sends flowers and chocolate to key people on Valentine’s Day. You probably will generate most of your traffic not from searches for the solution (because people don’t yet know it exists), but from descriptions of the problem: paper clutter messy filing system messy office Or they search for the one aspect of a potential solution that resonates with them at that moment: bill pay reminder system self-purging files holiday and birthday reminders Each of the six keywords listed previously should go to a specific land- ing page that addresses that problem or need. The final destination will be the same for all buyers, but the paths they take from problem to solution depends on where they’re starting. Turn-the-corner landing pages Sometimes the thing you’re selling is related only tangentially to what your prospect is looking for at first. The entire field of consultative sales is based on the premise that your prospects don’t really know what they need, and your value as a salesperson is to help them discover “the need behind the need” and help them solve their problem at the most fundamental level. For example, many visitors searched for ways to improve their cold-calling performance. The Web site doesn’t offer any sug- gestions or tools for cold calling, except to stop doing it. The job of my land- ing page is to get my visitor to turn the corner from “I’ve got to learn how to make better cold calls” to “Cold calling is a flawed strategy, and here’s a strat- egy that works much better.” Pleasing Google with the Title tag At the very top of your Web browser, above the URL even, you can read the “title” of the page you’re visiting. For example, the title forwww.askhowie. com is “ AdWords Help, Advice and Tools.” The title tells Google what your page is about. (Most human visitors to your site never even notice the title, so use it to show Google the connection between your keyword and your landing page.)Part IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 208 You or your Web master can edit the title tag in any HTML authoring pro- gram. You can find it in the source code for your page, near the top: AdWords Help, Advice and Tools/ title If your landing page has a nondescriptive title, like “Page 3” or “Welcome to,” Google will charge you more for clicks to punish you for sending traffic to a nonrelevant page. Using PHP to increase relevance Through the magic of a programming language called PHP, which either stands for Personal Home Page or PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (thrilling fans of recursiveness everywhere), you can increase the relevance of your landing page based on your visitor’s keyword, geographic location, type of computer, and several other factors. Online marketing coach and PHP consultant Rob Goyette has been quoted as saying, in a phrase borrowed from Napoleon Hill, “Anything the mind can conceive, PHP can achieve.” Following are some of Rob’s favorite uses of PHP on landing pages. You may be able to use dynamic keyword insertion (described in the next section) on your own, but the rest of the applications require considerable PHP expertise combined with marketing savvy. As they say in the car ads, “Professional driver on closed course. Do not try this at home.” Meaning, of course, that the following sections describe what’s pos- sible with PHP, but you will need to be, or work with, an experienced Web site programmer to achieve those results. I can’t go into detail about program- ming Web sites, because I don’t know squat about it — I mean, it’s beyond the scope of this book. Dynamic keyword insertion Chapter 6 shows how you can include the exact keyword in your ad through a technique called dynamic keyword insertion. You can configure your land- ing page to perform the same trick. For example, if your visitor surfed to your site on the keywordmessy office, you can insert that phrase anywhere you like in your headline, your page text, or your call to action. You’ll need to configure the destination URL for each keyword individually; then add PHP code where you want the keyword to appear on the landing page. If your Web site consists of.html files (rather than.php), you need to enable PHP in your.htaccess file. If you don’t know what this means, ask your Webmaster or Web site host. Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 209 Magically changing the landing page based on keywords The first Harry Potter book featured a cool gizmo called the Mirror of Erised. People who looked into the mirror saw an image of what their heart desired most. An advanced PHP application turns your landing pages into Mirrors of Erised based on keywords. This function allows you to create one land- ing page that changes itself like a magic mirror. You save a lot of time by not having to create new pages for each keyword. A site selling college sports clothing and gear could create PHP code that would show Duke basketball shirts and sweatshirts to visitors who arrived withDuke andbasketball in their keyword, and similarly create a UNC page for UNC fans. Likewise,baseball,lacrosse,basketball,Missouri,Gators, and Princeton would all trigger the dynamic creation of other pages, specifi- cally mirroring the desires suggested by the keywords. The program would also serve a default page for keywords not in its database. Split-testing with cookies Split-testing, which I cover in Chapter 13, is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. You can use cookies (tiny snippets of code that identify an individual computer as having visited before — like having your hand stamped at a carnival, except each stamp has your name and address on it) along with PHP to discover which of two different landing pages is doing a better job of converting visitors into leads and sales. You can test headlines, bullets, offers, guarantees, frequently asked questions, placement of forms and buttons and links, as well as colors, fonts, inclusion or exclusion of video or audio, or just about anything else. Done correctly, you don’t have to worry about your visitors seeing multiple versions of the same page. When a visitor returns to your page, the cookie your site places on her computer tells your Web server to show the first version she saw (provided the visitor is using the same computer). Survey to customized sales letter or report Ask your customers what they’re looking for before showing them content. Insert their answers into your page, or show them different content based on their answers. If you sell a diet plan, you can show different sales letters to vegetarians and meat eaters, people who travel a lot and people who don’t, and people with diabetes or wheat allergies or berry phobias. If your site asks visitors to opt in (see Chapter 11) in exchange for a free e-book or report, PHP can customize those as well. Based on location When you surf the Web, the sites you visit know a lot about you, including where your ISP is located. You could program your landing page to show Duke basketball tank tops to visitors from Hawaii and fleece hooded sweatshirts toPart IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 210 visitors from Wisconsin. You can display local phone numbers and store locations, and even translate your site into different languages based on the physical location of your visitor. Based on operating system You can show different pages to Windows, Mac, and Linux users, a valuable feature if you sell software. Instead of prompting your visitor with too many choices, simply provide the download link appropriate to the visitor’s operat- ing system. Scraping the Internet You can triangulate your visitor’s geographical location with other informa- tion you can find and scrape from the Internet, such as the local weather and traffic reports. I could to greet you with, “Hey, it’s noon your time, and it’s sunny and warm today. Here’s a great exercise you can do in your back yard that will only take five minutes.” Scratching your customer’s itch Showing a “That’s for Me” page will keep your visitor on your site for 30 seconds rather than 8. Your next task is to scratch their itch by fulfilling the promise of your ad. Giving them what they want If your prospects know exactly what they want, then give it to them. Are they ready to buy an Epiphone Les Paul Special II Sunburst electric guitar? Put a photo, a price, a shipping policy, and a Buy Now button right on the landing page. Are they looking for more information to help them decide what to do next? Give them the information. Do they need to talk to a real human being? Put a phone number on your site and hire someone to answer it 24/7, or during business hours, or whenever your customers call. Agitating the problem I don’t want to get too disgusting here (actually, I don’t mind, but my editor does), but I have to point out something important about this itch meta- phor. Scratching an itch feels good for a while, but actually makes the itch worse. Sometimes you can scratch so hard that it turns red and swollen and bleeds. Sometimes in the sales process, you have to agitate the problem and make your prospect feel even worse before they will take action. If you sell a product that prevents rather than cures, you must be willing to paint the awful picture of what happens when the preventable event — hard drive crash, flood, heart disease, death without a will, yellow teeth, whatever — occurs. Scratching the itch in a case like that means taking Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 211 advantage of your visitors’ momentary spasm of responsibility and making them quake with fear at the prospect of not addressing the issue this very minute, and trembling with relief at having found you. Guiding them with a headline Each page on your Web site is about something. The headline — a prominent phrase or sentence near the top of the page — helps your visitor decide whether to spend time on a page by summarizing the content, promising a benefit, or tickling curiosity. Imagine a newspaper without headlines, just articles. How would you decide what to read and what to skip? The headline is a relevance shortcut that also primes the reader for the message to follow. Establishing credibility In his popular book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, (published by Little, Brown and Company), Malcolm Gladwell shows how we make snap judg- ments about most things before we’ve even thought about them. The neural pathways that establish an emotional reaction are pre-thought. Before your prospect has read a word, identified the subject of a photograph, or listened to a word of audio, they’ve already decided whether they like you and trust you. They’ll never be able to tell you why they feel the way they do because those decisions are outside of consciousness. They’ll come up with justifications for their gut reactions, but are usually clueless as to the real causes. Overall look and feel Visitors will react instinctively to the design of your landing page. They will assume things about you based on logos, colors, shapes, border styles, text fonts and sizes, and movement. Different markets respond to different gestalts. If you’re selling a “secret” of some sort, don’t put up a standard corporate Web site. If you want to appear like an established company, spend some money on elegant design elements rather than putting up an ugly sales letter. If you offer bereavement counseling, use a subdued color palette. If you sell violent video games, consider light text on a black background. And so on. The Web tested two landing pages, identical in every respect except for the border and the header. (See Figure 10-1.) The second page, lacking the graphic elements, received twice as many opt-ins as the first. Photographs can enhance credibility, especially in a medium comprised entirely of electrons. Show visitors your face, your store, your warehouse, your products. Asepco, a firm that manufactures valves for the pharmaceuti- cal industry, put a photo slide show on its site that documented the odyssey of one of its valves from the mountain where the ore was mined to the fin- ished product. It changes location frequently, so valve for the updated Web address.Part IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 212 Figure 10-1: The graphi- cally rich page (top) convinced fewer visitors to request the free CD than did the sim- pler page (bottom). Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 213 Basically, you want to subliminally get across the message that “this trust- worthy business will be around tomorrow.” To achieve this, visit successful competitors’ sites, talk to graphic designers, and test different designs just as the Pro Basketball Referee site did. Specific visual cues In addition to the overall look and feel, you can add specific graphical ele- ments that lend credibility by association, as shown in Figure 10-2. These include credit card logos, PayPal, credit card processors like VeriSign; ship- pers’ logos (such as those of UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service); as well as Web site certifications, such as the Better Business Bureau’s BBB Online Reliability Program, Hacker Safe, and Trust-e. Figure 10-2: The My Wedding Favors site devotes a large amount of space to “credibility- by- association” logos. Another type of visual reassurance is the presence of subliminal “I Am Not a Crook” links, including privacy policy, Web site terms and conditions, ship- ping and refund policies, disclaimers, and so on. I’m not sure anyone actually reads these documents, but their very presence can be reassuring. Finally, the more contact options you include, the less you look like a fly-by- night with something to hide. Post office boxes don’t cut it; instead, get a real mailing address that gives the impression of an office. Give a phone number. Put your e-mail address where people can find it.Part IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 214 When you display your e-mail address on your Web site, put it in an image file rather than a live link. This will prevent spambots from harvesting it and send- ing you hundreds of unwanted e-mails every day. Defining the Most Desirable Action for the Landing Page Before creating your landing pages, as well as every page on your site, ask yourself the big question: What’s the one thing I want my visitor to do as a result of visiting this page? The possible actions include reading, watch- ing, and listening; clicking a link; completing a form; making or requesting a phone call; or engaging in live chat. Most clients I’ve worked with can identify a “point of no return” for their cus- tomers; a place in the sales cycle that, once reached, typically leads to a sale. For example: ✓ “Once they request the free DVD, 90 percent of them become customers.” ✓ “Once I get them to call, I sell 75 percent of them right there on the phone.” ✓ “After they request a quote, almost all of them sign up for the service.” If you have a step in your sales process that converts lookers to buyers, then everything about your landing page should be engineered to get as many visi- tors to that step as possible. And in most cases, the first step on the way to the point of no return is getting your visitor’s e-mail address. “Bribing” your visitor to opt in Sometimes your landing page can go for the sale. In other cases, your pros- pect needs more information or more time before taking out a credit card. In either case, the big goal of your landing page is to make sure your visitors do not leave your site without giving you a way of contacting them in the future. If that way also includes a financial transaction, so much the better. But it’s often more profitable to aim for a second date than to propose marriage on the first date. Business on the Internet is a multi-step process — a series of small, safe, mutual commitments that allow your prospect to begin to trust you — and allow you to qualify the prospect. This process is the business equivalent of dating. Your job is to get on your prospects’ wavelength so quickly and completely that they regard you as their “one and only.” Remember, the page Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 215 after your landing page is three clicks away from your competitor, using the Back button. The deeper they go, the more of a psychological commitment they’re making to you. An opt-in, in Internet marketing parlance, refers to a visitor who has given you an e-mail address, at the very least, before leaving your site. Essentially, an opt-in is permission to call them for a date. In the old days of the Internet (pre-2001), all you had to do was offer a free newsletter to get opt-ins. These days, with everyone protecting their e-mail inboxes from mountains of spam, visitors hesitate to sign up for anything. The last thing they need is more e-mail from someone else trying to sell them something, even if you’re not peddling fake Rolexes and enlarged body parts. In order to get their e-mail address and permission to follow up, you need to demonstrate value and promise future con- tains a long letter about cold calling and its alternatives, which many people have told me is eye-opening in its own right. In several places on the home page, I offer visitors a chance to download two free chapters of Leads into Gold, so they can sample the product before making a buying decision (as shown in Figure 10-3). The request for the opt-in makes sense because I need their e-mail address to send them the free chapters. It is natural, not forced, so it works well. Note that I also ask for their names, which gives me the ability to address my follow-up e-mails to them personally (“Dear Ralph Lauren”). Figure 10-3: Following up with prospects requires getting at least their e-mail address. Part IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 216 Many marketers make the opt-in the only option on the landing page. The so- called “squeeze page” provides no links, no other navigation, and no context to the visitor. Google now frowns upon these pages, largely because they dis- covered that their users hated them. Online marketing strategist Sean D’Souza has crafted a Web site —www. — that still gets visitors’ names and e-mails without forcing anything. Here are his (and my) opinions about opt-in strategy: Squeeze or No-Squeeze Imagine you went for a date with a person you hadn’t met before. And your date wore a paper bag on his/her head. He/She refused to show you his/her face. That date refused to tell you anything about his/her past. Or let you into any information at all. Yet you had to give them information. Like your first name, last name, blah, blah, blah. How do you feel? Well that’s exactly how the customers feel. They feel irritated, frustrated, and to choose a mild word: trapped. They know they want the information, but they can’t seem to get any information from you without filling in that stupid form. Squeeze pages are contrary to human nature. They force you into a corner. They force you to part with information based on some random headline and bullet points. So why do we have so many squeeze pages on the Internet? Why do people catch colds and coughs? Yes, one person has it, and then it spreads. One person put in a squeeze page, then everyone else decided to follow suit. Don’t get me wrong. Squeeze pages work. They work wonderfully. Well, so does Bruno, who’s six foot nine inches and weighs 400 pounds. Just because it works doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Because there are other things that work. Like non-threatening, non-Bruno, no-squeeze pages. Pages that get you to sign up not through intimidation and fear. But pages that get you to sign up because you want to do so. Because persuasion is stupid. Persuasion implies that you acted against your nature. And why get customers to act against their nature when they will gladly give you information? A good opt-in page should entice. It should give you lots of details. It should answer your every question or objection. It should not make you feel icky, like being on a blind date. At Psychotactics, we’ve collected names, addresses, home numbers, postal addresses, mobile numbers, city, country on our opt-in pages. All without twisting anyone’s arms. We’ve done it to entice customers to subscribe to the newsletter. Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 217 Or to opt-in to a workshop. Or to buy a product or service. Our customers give us bucket loads of information, because they trust us. They believe in us. They know they’re not on a yucky blind date. I’d rather have that kind of customer, wouldn’t you? Sure beats being squeezed Go and have a look around. And if you do subscribe (which I highly recommend), you’ll experience Sean’s noncoercive, warm and fuzzy opt-in process for yourself. (I can attest personally to the effectiveness of this method, as I use it with great results.) The folks sell mind-mapping software. The top goal of their Web site is to entice visitors to download the free 30-day trial version of the product. Because they know that visitors who try the software typically buy the software, they don’t even require an e-mail address. If you can afford to spend real money on leads, you can collect snail mail addresses by offering a physical packet: a CD, a DVD, a book, a report, a 5-day supply of wrinkle cream, and such. E-mail is very cheap, but not very stable. A physical mailing address is not subject to spam filters or the whims of unre- liable servers and switches. Also, the avalanche of spam e-mail that floods most people’s inboxes daily makes it hard for your legitimate sales messages to get the attention they deserve. The motto for e-mail could be, “When you absolutely, positively don’t really care if the message ever gets through.” Getting permission to continue the relationship is such a fundamental goal that I devote all of Chapter 11 to the opt-in and e-mail follow-up. Engaging visitors in real time The opt-in allows you to follow up with your visitors by e-mail, in what online geeks refer to as an asynchronous fashion. This fancy word (asynchronous, not fashion) means there is a gap between when the message is created and when it is received. This book is an extreme example of asynchronous communica- tion, as I’m writing it long before you will read it (unless you believe, based on my prescience and wisdom, that I am actually a time traveler from the year 2036 who came back to the first decade of the 21st century and couldn’t land a better gig than this book). This form of communication fits well with the pie-in-the-sky dream of the Internet as a business medium where you never have to deal with customers: You just create a Web site, write a bunch of e-mails that are sent automati- cally, and check your inbox for incoming orders. That strategy can work, to a degree, but everyone I’ve worked with has found that adding real-time, live engagement to their Web site boosts sales significantly.Part IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 218 The telephone is a much underused online marketing tool. Get a toll-free phone number, place it prominently on your Web site next to the calling hours (“24 hours a day, 7 days a week” is a good policy), and offer them a reason to call. Figure 10-4 graces the top of home page, while Figure 10-5 appears at the top of thewww.mywedding site. Figure 10-4: Around the clock customer service. Figure 10-5: Set your phone hours to conve- nient times. Selling the Most Desirable Action After you define your sales process, your next big question is, “What stands between customers and the next step?” If you want them to download your free report, what do they need to be feeling and thinking in order to go ahead and do it? If you want them to call, what might cause them to hesitate and then bail? If you’re asking for the sale, what action-freezing second thoughts might they be entertaining? A cliché in the sales world is that you have to work as hard to sell a 10 item as a 10 million item. On the Internet, you have to work just about as hard to give something away free. Your landing pages must answer your prospects’ questions, reassure their doubts, assuage their fears, and guide them clearly to what they should do next. I have an entire library filled with books and manuals dedicated to the cre- ation of effective sales copy. The masters of persuasive copy know a lot of tricks and techniques, but the basis for their effectiveness is a deep knowl- edge of what their prospects want to have and want to avoid. As you can read in Chapter 4, marketing tricks without having your finger on the pulse of a substantial market is like doing a technically perfect triple gainer into an empty swimming pool. So the following copywriting tasks can be accom- plished effectively only against the backdrop of market insight. Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 219 Using bullets Sales bullets are the foundation for all effective sales copy, whether they appear in actual bullet form on the page or not. Ken McCarthy, my copywrit- ing teacher, gave me a very useful phrase to focus on whenever I sit down to write sales copy: Bullets Wound. (Wound here rhymes with swooned.) In other words, the purpose of the bullet is to highlight and stretch the gap in your visitor’s mind between their current and ideal situations. The cure for the bullet is the next action you want them to take: read, click, download, call, chat, buy, whatever. Figure 10-6 shows some benefit bullets that I use to sell my Traffic Surge telecourse Figure 10-6: Bullets can arouse curiosity, make big promises, and bring features to life. Translating features into benefits As sellers, we become intimately acquainted with the facts of our products and services. It glows in the dark; it comes in extra large; it has a self-cleaning button; it’s made from shea butter; and so on. After a while, we are in danger of operating under the illusion that our prospects understand why these features are important and beneficial. They don’t have a clue, and if we fail to translate features into benefits, then we are asking our prospects to do interpretive work they have no interest in doing.Part IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 220 Here’s a quick formula for figuring whether a particular statement is a feature or a benefit. Write down the statement. Look at it. Ask yourself whether your most impolite and brash customer could conceivably read it and snarl, “So what?” If so, you’ve got yourself a feature, not a benefit. To turn a feature into a benefit, write down the feature, add the words “. . . and what this means to you is . . .” and then complete the sentence. Ken McCarthy thinks of this as “bringing the facts to life.” For example, one of my clients, poly-D, is a company that manufactures a metered dispensing system (MDS) for household, pharmaceutical, and industrial applications. Isn’t that exciting? Actually, the technology is exciting. But calling the feature a “metered dis- pensing system” asks the prospects — for example, brand managers in charge of cleaning products, toiletries, and food and beverage lines — to do way too much work. The first pass at turning a feature into a benefit often creates not a true ben- efit, but a clearer feature set. For example, the MDS uses a button-operated vacuum pump to dispense the liquid, gel, or ointment it contains. It’s the job of the product marketer to bring each of these features to life. The fact that MDS dispenses a product via a button-operated vacuum pump means the product ✓ Can be dispensed one-handed ✓ Gives a consistent dose ✓ Eliminates leaks and spills ✓ Gets 98 percent of the liquid, gel, or ointment out of the package Each of those features can become a benefit: ✓ One-handed dispensing: Tired parents can hold a sick, thrashing tod- dler in one arm and pour the medicine into a cup with the other. ✓ Consistent dose: The tired parents don’t have to worry about finding a measuring spoon or misreading the dosing directions. ✓ No leaks or spills: The tired parents don’t end up with cough syrup run- ning down their pajama tops or oozing between their toes into the shag carpet. ✓ 98 percent product evacuation: The tired parents don’t have to hold the cough syrup upside down for five minutes, waiting for the final drips to exit the bottle. No waste — they get to use what they’ve paid for. The sales material we created for poly-D brings the features of the MDS to life for the brand managers, as well as for the end user. We didn’t assume the brand managers could translate the experience of a tired parent with a sick Chapter 10: Giving Your Customer a Soft Landing on Your Web Site 221 kid into a benefit relevant to them, so we did it for them. In the white paper available, we explain that the MDS instantly gives their existing products a new and dramatically different marketing story. We help them see how effective their advertising campaigns could be, with a real consumer benefit to tout. Make sure your benefits relate directly to what you know or believe your prospects want. Your goal is to help your prospects visualize the movie of their future, a future made rosy by the action they’re about to take. Provoking curiosity If the next action involves education of your prospects, you have to whet their appetites for the information you have and they don’t. Bullets that provoke curiosity include teasers (“The most dangerous seat on an airplane — page 5”), hidden information (“Best-kept secret in the travel industry”), promise of valuable knowledge (“How to spot slot machines that pay off most often”), warnings (“Surprise Choosing the wrong private school for your child can cost you a bundle in tax breaks”), and questions (“Would you know how to keep your ticket safe if you won the lottery?”). Useful But Incomplete: If I wanted you to go and read the entire sales letter, I would tease you with a partial list in Figure 10-6 and imply that the really good stuff is just behind the curtain, waiting for your visit. Including third-party testimonials For several reasons, third-party testimonials can sell more powerfully than you can. They can pull off this bit of magic because they are ✓ Believable: Your visitors have (unfortunately) been taught many times that salespeople will lie through their teeth to make a sale. Until you prove otherwise, you’re presumed to be in that category. Your custom- ers who say nice things about you don’t have anything to gain by lying. On the contrary, they’re risking their own “credibility capital” by going out on a limb and endorsing you. ✓ Polite: Grandma said that it’s impolite to brag. If you can get your satis- fied customers to do it for you, you can look bashfully pleased instead of boastful — while still getting your message across. ✓ Benefit-based: Testimonials are already formulated to highlight benefits because customers create them rather than you. You can deploy four testimonial media on your landing page: video, audio, written text, and contact for more information. Video can be extremely effec- tive if done well, but tends to be expensive, time-consuming, and a pain for your customers to give you. Ken McCarthy uses video testimonials effectivelyPart IV: Converting Clicks to Clink 222 at sales page. Because all his customers were in one place — his seminar — it was cost-effective to hire a video crew and collect the testimonials. Audio testimonials can be almost as powerful, and are much less expensive and time-consuming to produce. You can collect audio testimonials just by asking your customers to pick up a telephone and talk. Try it now: Call (214) 615-6505, extension 6900 and say something nice about this book. I may post your comment You have to pay long-distance charges (because I’m a cheapskate), but you can set up a toll-free audio line for just a few dollars a month. for recommended services and advanced testimonial-gathering strategies. Written testimonials by themselves are the least powerful, simply because you might have written them yourself. But by adding the written text below an audio or video, you can have the best of both worlds: believability and multiple modes of message delivery. Finally, you can let your visitors know you have “references available upon request.” This can work for big purchases later in the sales cycle; on the land- ing page, focus on delivering needed information immediately. Giving clear instructions in the call to action Somebody once said, “A confused mind always says ‘no.’” In fact, if you’re reading this book out loud, you just said it. Make sure your instructions for the action you want visitors to take are so clear and free of ambiguity that a reasonably intelligent hamster could follow them. Not only will you explain exactly how to fill out the form, where the form is located, and what to click, but you will also tell them what happens next. What page will be served after they click “Send me the two free chapters”? What will appear in their inboxes and in what time frame? Do they need to add you to their spam filters’ white lists? If they phone you, who will answer? What extension should they ask for? Tony Robbins likes to say that humans have a simultaneous need for cer- tainty and excitement — a balance between what is known and what is unknown. At the point where someone is considering entering into a rela- tionship with your Web site, your job is to reduce the already considerable uncertainty.

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