“If you build it, they will come….”
Sound familiar? I am sure many of you immediately jumped up and shouted:
“Kevin Costner from ‘Field of Dreams’!”
If you did, you wouldn’t be too far off. If, however, your second thought was:
“Wait a minute, that actually sounds like my digital marketing strategy!”
Well, now we are getting closer. All too often in the digital age, young entrepreneurs and marketers have fallen victim to this popular buzzword cliche of the times. For the marketers of today looking to increase website traffic and landing page conversion rates, there is no more dangerous a fallacy than what I like to refer to as “The Field of Dreams Myth”.
This myth is based on the notion that once a landing page is built, the hard work is over, and it is time to sit back and enjoy the spoils of digital age success. Unlike the movie, this is not an Oscar worthy idea as the merits of this strategy couldn’t be further from the truth.
Contrary to what certain marketing pundits will have you believe, in order to develop long-term and sustainable business success, you can’t simply “build ‘em and leave ‘em”. As the backbone of today’s digital marketing funnel, it is necessary to not only build multiple landing pages, but to test them and adapt them over and over again until the perfect conversion recipe is concocted.
How exactly does the “The Field of Dreams Myth” affect landing page ROI?
Well, while it has the potential to interfere with almost every stage of landing page construction and optimization, one of the most egregious manifestations of the myth is with landing page copy.
I know what some of you are thinking.…
“But landing page copy is the easiest part! All you do is use some keywords, describe your product/service, insert your CTA and BOOM! Conversion!”
Unfortunately, it is not that easy.
While writing landing page copy sounds pretty straightforward, once the laptop is open and you get to work, there are any number of variables that can confuse and lead to poor decision making. From keywords to headlines to CTAs, there are many important decisions that need to be implemented via an organized and step-by-step process.
It is important to remember that no matter how well designed your landing page is and no matter how amazing your products are, if you fail to provide potential consumers with engaging and optimized copy, your landing page will fail.
The digital age foundation for successful copy is built on meeting consumer expectations.
In order to help facilitate this process and combat “The Field of Dreams Myth,” we have put together a four-pillar copywriting blueprint to help streamline landing page success. We will cover the basics of high-converting copy and give you what you need to know to build a landing page that even Kevin Costner would be proud of.
Let’s take a look!
Pillar #1 – Know Your Target Market
Perhaps the most important of the four pillars, a clear understanding of who your ideal consumer is, including their wants and needs, is a piece of value-driven knowledge that affects all stages of digital marketing. Remember, the point of digital marketing is to meet consumer expectations. This already difficult task is made even more so if you fail to fully understand your ideal consumers.
While not the focus of this post, one great way to begin to better understand your consumers is by focusing on social media. As detailed in a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers retail survey, social media has the potential to not only influence consumer purchase behavior, but it is an ideal mechanism for consumer engagement and customer insight. With social media, consumers are more inclined to share truthful opinions regarding their wants and needs. Social media posts are also likely to garner comments from older customers and prospective customers as well. This information also happens to go a long way in shedding light on consumer demographics.
With basic demographics, you can build ideal consumer profiles by asking a few simple questions:
- Male or female?
- Millennial or Generation X?
- Under $50K or over $50K?
- Married or single?
Let’s take a quick look at the photo above. Farmers Insurance is an American insurer of automobiles, homes and small businesses among other financial services and products. Those three product/service offerings alone encompass a diverse range of individuals both old and young. And yet, it’s immediately clear who is being targeted in this campaign: first-time homeowners with young families.
The great copy aside (more on that below), it is clear from the image and service offering that the company completely understands who their ideal customer is, and they are being directly addressed on this landing page. Once you know who you are targeting, you can begin to ask the pertinent questions: What do they want? What do they fear? How can my product/service provide security?
Whatever methods you ultimately choose to research and analyze your target market (social media, surveys, focus groups, etc.), this process is an important first step in developing highly effective landing page copy.
Pillar #2 – Create Compelling Headlines
Apart from a landing page’s overall design theme, the first (and most important) thing that visitors will notice is headline copy.
It is a sad but well understood truth that visitors to your page are not going to read all the great things you have to say about your product or service. Remember, we are talking about millennials here, the smartphone and data-driven generation of today. If they cannot quickly analyze and understand your value message, they will not lose any sleep over closing the page and moving on. Studies show that, unlike the purchasers of the past, today’s consumers are more likely to scan web pages and absorb well-placed keywords than they are to read your copy word-for-word.
Therefore, the first place to start when it comes to optimizing headline copy is with text alignment. While a “perfect” alignment does not exist, there are certain influencing factors that should be considered on a case-by-case basis, including type of product, subject matter, target audience, etc. A good default rule is to have your main headline or text positioned in upper-left alignment. It is important to remember that the basic information consumption pattern for an audience will normally be to start in the upper-left corner of the page and read down in an “f” pattern (i.e., the Netflix photo above).
For this reason, the upper-left corner of the page is a leading candidate for informative text. By beginning their analysis with the most important and value-driven information, visitors will immediately understand what your product/service is and what actions they should take next.
After alignment comes content. As you will have one shot, and one shot only, to make a good first impression, it is supremely important to include information that catches the eye. This can be done in three easy steps:
- Use Numbers: We all know the saying that numbers never lie. If you want to add credibility to your landing page and score bonus points with today’s notoriously skeptical shoppers, employing the psychology of numbers is the way to go. For example, “20,000 consumers agree” is much better than “consumers agree!” Numbers are a good icebreaker and go a long way in building the necessary trust for any new purchasing relationship.
- Inspire Emotion: Sales psychology has existed since the dawn of the Neanderthal salesman. It is a grouping of mental manipulation techniques employed to help win sales and influence potential customers. Does it work? Absolutely. These same techniques can be applied via your headline copy. Start with the basics and look to include the emotional triggers of pleasure, security and avoiding pain.
- Speak to Consumers: The idea of speaking to consumers really means reaching out to consumers with the language they use. Try searching through customer reviews and social media to see what keywords and phrases occur over and over again. Remember, part of the digital age value transfer is to align your goals with consumer goals. If your consumers are continuously asking “How do I achieve X?” put that line right in your headline – “With our product, you can achieve X!”
Let’s move on to non-headline copy!
Pillar #3 – Optimize Call-to-Action Copy
Outside of your headline copy, consumers are most likely to notice your call-to-actions (i.e., your CTAs). These attention-grabbing pieces of copy are buttons or links you place within your landing page to drive, persuade and encourage visitors to become leads by entering in a mutual exchange of value. Potential consumers provide you with their contact information, and in return, they receive some type of added value. In the best-case scenario, they opt-in via a direct product or service purchase.
The first technique that can be employed to improve CTA copy is to think outside of the digital marketing box. While CTAs can vary in style and size depending on your design goals, the most common examples include:
- “Add-to-cart” buttons
- “Download” buttons
- “Free trial” buttons
We have all seen ad nauseam the typical “Download Now!” and “YES, I Want It Now” CTAs. The truth is, if you want your landing page to stimulate potential consumers, you have to apply copy that is unique and eccentric. For a perfect example, we can look to the picture above. The official website for Humboldt County (California) is a beautiful and interactive experience, one that is easy on both the eyes and the ears. It is clear the designers are trying to entice visitors into engaging with the page and learning more about what the tourist destination has to offer.
Yet, instead of your standard practice “Learn More!” CTA, Humboldt County’s call-to-action button features a unique bunny icon and the words “Follow The Magic”. Not only does this CTA take advantage of the beautiful footage the visitor is experiencing, but it makes it seem as if you are actually about to go on an adventure.
The second method for CTA copy optimization is to “break the ice.”
In the digital age, consumers are very often non-committal throughout the duration of the purchasing process. Much like you wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) look to be invited in on the first date, you should not ask for an immediate purchase commitment from consumers. Remember, landing pages begin the process of relationship building with potential customers. This process is one of give and take as well as intimate trust. Nothing is more annoying to a potential customer than clicking on a page of interest and immediately be bombarded by “download” and “subscribe” forms. Landing pages should be viewed as an introduction and an icebreaker … intimacy comes later. Every relationship of trust is built from scratch and with landing pages, it is no different.
What is the best way to break the ice? Micro-commitments!
This means instead of asking your potential consumer to purchase, download and opt-in ASAP, try offering a free trial or a test run of your product or service. Consumers with a preference for small steps as opposed to big commitments will positively respond to your offer because you reduced their fear of the unknown.
Other additional CTA copy best practices include:
- Visually appealing copy (with a contrasting color pattern)
- Concise copy
- Action-oriented copy
- Copy with easy to understand directions
Whether you’re looking to generate/nurture leads, encourage social sharing or close a sale, the basic principles described above will go a long way toward improving and optimizing CTA copy.
Pillar #4 – Focus on Benefits (Not Solutions)
As a general rule, marketers should remember that products and services in the digital age are homogenous … they look the same, feel the same and more or less function the same. For every product or service that finds digital age success, there are countless similar offerings that fall by the wayside.
What does this mean for your landing page copy?
It means that consumers and potential consumers no longer care about your product or service solution; they care about the tangible benefit you are providing. As the Harvard Business Review put more bluntly, it is the “end of solution sales.”
Today’s consumers know what they are looking for and are likely to have already engaged in hours of product research and peer-to-peer review before activating their individual purchase process. In the age of information, consumers are aware of the solutions that are available and they just want to understand the value-added benefits of your product. In the same way that you should direct your CTA and headline messages towards emotional triggers, you should draft your copy to demonstrate to the consumer what value they will receive as a part of a “mutual value exchange”.
Let’s take a look at the photo above. The Dollar Shave Club is a California-based company that delivers razors and other personal grooming products straight to consumers by mail. It positions itself as a cost-effective and convenient alternative to retail stores. Their landing page is a great example of how to incorporate all four pillars of the landing page copywriting blueprint:
- Target Market: Young to middle age working men looking for convenience and hoping to avoid the hassle typically associated with shaving.
- Compelling Headlines: With “A Great Shave For A Few Bucks A Month,” the headline is bold, clear and directly to the point. The color contrast makes it stand out, and in nine words, the company effectively hits the emotional triggers of security and pleasure.
- Optimized CTA’s: The call-to-action button containing “Do It” is not only concise, action-oriented and easy to understand, but it is eccentric and outside of the norm. The color contrast also does a great job of drawing the attention of the reader as well.
- Focus on Benefits: While the headline clearly and effectively relays the benefits of the value exchange, so does the additional copy of “No commitment. No Fees. No BS.” These highlighted value points are those directly sought after by their target market who can now easily understand the benefits of the product/service offered by The Dollar Shave Club.
A final point worthy of note and one that should already be well understood by digital age copywriters, is the importance of writing like a human being. No one wants to read the opinion of a robot, let alone engage in a value exchange with one. By using short sentences and normal words, you will have an easier time breaking the ice and developing a dedicated consumer relationship. As copywriting wizard Roberta Rosenberg says, “English is hard.” We should all aim to follow the example set by The Dollar Shave Club and employ easy to understand/plain English messages. A Ph.D. dissertation is not necessary.
Now that you have your four-pillar copywriting blueprint in hand, you are ready to write some killer copy. With these techniques firmly in place, and with some dedicated practice (test, test and test some more), you will soon see higher conversion rates and ROI with your clear, concise and value-driven copy.