Blog

by Sean Martin
on December 1, 2016

Tell a Singular Story with Your Landing Page

Landing pages are your users’ (and potential customers’) first impression of your business. And first impressions count. Optimizing your landing page performance is one of the first checks on every search marketer’s checklist for a simple reason. They are where the action happens.

The goal of your landing page is to take the traffic that your ad generates and make it count.

What every PPC campaign is looking for—even more than traffic—is conversions. You need to take those leads and turn them into revenue in order to balance out your ROI (return on investment).

 

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So… how do you transform traffic into conversions?

Well, first, let’s consider what users are looking for when they land on your page. Put yourself in their shoes. If you are targeting your ads properly and ranking for the right keywords that are being used by the right searchers, then it’s safe to assume that your first-time visitor is interested.

(That is, providing you aren’t guilty of click-baiting the poor suckers.)

So if they are already interested enough to go “with the flow” of traffic to your landing page, what do you need to do to bring them that short distance from lead to conversion? You tell them one heck of a killer story.

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Forget trying to overload them with sales statistics or—even worse—tricking them into converting with false offers or confusing calls-to-action (CTAs). In today’s post-digital world, mobile users are savvy and experienced, and are quick to smell spam from a mile away.

Instead, focus on telling one, singular, delightful story to engage your user and move them from one side of the trust leap the other.

Keep it simple. Keep it direct.

And keep it classy.

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Above the Fold

Let’s start with some basic landing page anatomy. The term “above the fold” actually comes from newspapers, which usually come folded in half. The best stories make the front page, the others are pushed to the bottom of the page, in the back half of the fold.

Keeping your most important copy and content “above the fold” means making sure that your user doesn’t have to scroll down the page at all. Everything he or she needs is available right away.

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So what goes above the fold and what can be saved for later on down the page? How do you prioritize the anatomy of your landing page? Once again, you can glean the answer by taking a look at the problem from the user’s perspective.

The most streamlined search campaigns align the ad text, ad targeting, and content keywords around the actual questions users are asking. Instead of simply focusing on keywords that funnel general traffic, a real targeted ad campaign will be looking to directly answer the user’s search query.

For example, if you are a do-it-yourself search marketer and you are looking to hire a PPC agency, what questions would you type into the search bar? And how would the syntax of your search entry effect the SERP?

  • What are the best PPC agencies in the local area?
  • What are some different PPC agency pricing models?
  • What results can I expect from a PPC agency?

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Check out the Youtube link above for more tips on how to identify which questions your users are typing into the search bar.

These are the questions that your landing page should answer… specifically, directly, and as soon as possible. Remember we are looking at this from the user’s point of view, right? How fast would you hit the back button if you were looking for answers and the ad you clicked on took you to a page with none of the right information?

That’s what “bounce rate” is: the percentage of your visitors that leave the page after seeing only one page. Telling your user one streamlined and convincing story is how you get them to stay.

Answer the questions above the fold and hook them with a killer intro to your story.

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Speak in their language and tell them a story of how your service will benefit them. Don’t worry about “convincing” them into converting.

You’re a storyteller, not a salesman.

Calls to Action

So you’ve hooked your user and they are on your landing page. The sniffing has begun. There are countless different factors that can have your user bouncing off your page in an instant. But only one “golden rule” to keep them reading your story.

Keep it simple and direct.

Optimizing your landing pages means making the conversion path of your user as easy a transition as possible.

You want to answer their questions as best you can, yes. But you don’t want to provide superfluous information that will distract from the main goal of your landing page.

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No matter how silver your tongue is, if you start weaving some ridiculous and complicated story you run the risk of putting off your audience.

This can manifest one of two ways. It can result in your viewer identifying your page as sketchy or spammy and immediately bouncing off. The other negative possibility is that you can overload your user and send the poor soul into analysis paralysis.

Explicitness matters. Each of your specific landing pages should have a specific ad and a specific goal to match with it.

And your Call to Action is that exact goal.

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Don’t settle for generic and vague CTAs like “click here” or, worse, a blinking read button. If you have a specific goal for your landing page your CTA should match that exact goal.

For example, when exchanging an email and contact information for a free ebook, you CTA can read “download the free eBook now!” Or “click here to subscribe to Youtube channel,” if you having landing pages advertising your other service pages.

Whatever the goal you choose, make sure that all of your content and all of your CTAs area all pointing towards that singular goal.

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Remember that your job is to eliminate any and all friction from the conversion path. So don’t distract you users with multiple offers that can divide your traffic and confuse your visitor. Keep it clear, unified, and provide reasons for any claims you may make.

The internet is no place for bold, unsupported statements.

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If you are relying on the pathos of “urgency” (which many landing pages use) make sure that you are telling you audience why the situation is urgent. We have strong cognitive biases that incline us to rationalize urgent matters away when we aren’t given solutions. We are quick to think “eh, it won’t happen to me,” or “it just isn’t worth the time.”

Providing the reasoning behind your sense of urgency, on the other hand, will increase their action potential and make them more likely to convert.

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Being direct in your story is a great way to engage your readers, but evoking an emotional response is how to really convert.

Playing off the different moods and emotional triggers that you can activate will bring your user out of skeptical analysis and into a personal interaction.

Where the “heart” of a story is located – the personal, emotional evocation of the audience.

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Page Design

There are a few different models of focused landing page design. Each of them emphasizes different priorities of your landing pages.

  • Conversion centric page design focuses all of your design efforts on converting the maximum amount of users by emphasizing statistics, special offers, and the benefits of your services.
  • Attention centric page design uses directional design features on your landing page to highlight your CTAs and different content pieces. For landing pages that have diverse forms of media like copy, infographics, and videos, directional design is a great way to prioritize the different features on your page.
  • Finally, user-centric design focuses on delighting the user and creating the easiest, most direct, and most delightful user experience possible. This includes color theory, neuromarketing, consumer psychology, and selective attention research.

Now, for telling the most delightful story to sell your service organically, which do you think we are going to go with?

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That’s right – the user comes first once again!

Now, there are countless different studies on how to implement user-centric landing page design. User-centric landing page design is a strongly supported school of design strategy because it plays strongly into the A/B testing format.

If you are hoping to choose different color combinations or different orientations of media features to optimize your page, you’ll have to get real comfortable with comparison testing.

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Here is a list of user-centric design theories that you can check out to look into the specifics.

As far as rules of thumb go – user centric design follows the following core tenants.

  • Use colors that evoke the specific emotional response that will inspire conversion.
  • Don’t overcrowd and over clutter your landing page. Use white space in a healthy manner.
  • People have a natural selective attention that prioritizes motion, then images, then text in that order. So if you are really looking to crank up the engagement force behind your landing page story, start implementing video and interactive media features.

User-centric page design is all about pleasing the user. So, for the umpteenth time during this post, you get to step into those shoes you’ve been changing in and out of. Making all of your design decisions with the user experience in mind will always keep you on track.

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Proof in the Pudding

Sadly, as much as we creative writers and like-minded interaction designers would like to hope, we aren’t telling fictional stories here. We are hardcore non-fiction. It’s all about the facts. Setting up your paid campaigns and landing pages is all based around providing evidence for the quality of your site and services.

And, as with everything on the internet, the proof is in the pudding.

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Remember the note from earlier. The internet is no place for bold, unsupported claims.

So if you are relying on logos instead of pathos to tell your story, remember how important evidence is.

The types of proof you provide can vary, but what method of brand justification you choose should reflect the unified goals of your landing page. For instance, if you offer social media promotion services to DIY search marketers, you may want to offer social proof to justify the success of your brand.

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Here’s a golden rule of marketing for you to remember: nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.

Seeing that other like-minded users support your brand and services is a huge evoker of both pathos and logos in the minds of users.

Customer testimonial videos, infographics comparing your success to your competition (or the efficiency in time), even citing how many five-star yelp reviews you have each legitimize the quality of your brand.

You are telling your user a story, after all. This is how you bring it into the realm of non-fiction.

And the real world is where conversions happen.

Streamlining your Story

In the end, the best stories are always going to be those that walk the tightrope in between intense emotional evocation and hard earned facts to support your claims. You want the user to be delighted, affected, engaged, and confident in your assertions.

If you are telling a story to a first-time visitor, they should cross the rainbow with you to your pot of gold and leave the interaction knowing you are an expert.

Or at least believing it.

And as Faulkner once said, “memory believes before knowing remembers.”

And he was a pretty good story teller, wasn’t he?

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Plus, with A/B testing, landing pages are the only stories out there that you can go back and edit over and over again!

(If it doesn’t work, out the window it goes!)

Telling a story that delights instead of sells will make your business more approachable and your content more enjoyable. And remember, happy users are converting users.

Build your Landing Page with your users’ experience in mind and you will always be telling a story your users want to hear.


Sean Martin is a Content Marketing Manager at Directive Consulting, a digital marketing agency in Southern California. Directive Consulting specializes in integrating SEOPPCSocial, and Content into our online marketing campaigns. Check out Sean’s posts on the DC blog to see how he and Directive Consulting are innovating and changing the game.


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