Landing Page Makeover Clinic #17:

Landing Page Makeover

This is another addition to our ongoing series of tutorials and case studies on landing pages that work.

Martin Schloss and Cars Helping America wants to see a lot more folks donating cars to charities. In a recession, though, people are hanging on to their aging cars longer. The good news is that 1/2 the folks who call the toll-free number are ready to donate that day. Of the total donor base, more than 1/2 are first-time donors.

The pluses for CHA? : 1. they take junkers with free towing; 2. because of CHA’s many connections, they can get donors top dollar; and 3. they can act fast. They also belong to the BBB, a strong mark of consumer credibility.

The negative? Many other services offer, or at least say they offer, much for the same. Further, the current site needs a huge design and content overhaul. This makeover is for the site homepage, not a separate landing page, so some of my usual advice (like strip away navigation) won’t be mentioned here. However, many of the usual landing page improvements will work and are noted.

So let’s review and see what we can do to haul up a better conversion rate for Cars Helping America.

  • The Goal:
    Current conversion is 1-2%. Looking to double conversions in 6 months – getting more people to donate their cars for charity.
  • The Problem:
    Traffic is improving to site, but conversions are still lagging. Site, however, hasn’t been updated in years.
  • The Current Landing Page:
  • Value:
    $25.00 per car donation

The Maven’s 10-Point Critique

Cars Helping AmericaClick image for larger view

#1 – First and foremost, make your primary message relevant to the prospective donor’s self interest.

People are always happy to lend a hand or make a contribution, but when it can be matched to self-interest, you’ve got a winner.

Having donated my own beloved 17-year old junker to a local charity, I had an idea of what I wanted and what I wanted to get from it: 1/highest fair market value for my contribution; 2/that my non-working vehicle will be accepted and towed away without cost to me; 3/ease and speed – make it easy for me to donate and come get the car fast; and 4/the good feeling that I’m helping a local charity, one in my own neighborhood.

Your current headline – Car Donations – isn’t even really a headline. It’s a statement of fact. Let’s power-up this headline with something like:

Donate Your Car and Lend A Hand to Folks in Need, Maybe Right in Your Own Neighborhood
Top Market Value – Fast, No Hassle Service – Free Towing

Perhaps we could add a “Yes, we take junkers!” graphic adjacent to the headline.

#2 – Build credibility by answering the question, “Why CHA and not some other service?”

I’m talking about your value proposition here — what CHA does better than any other car donation service. This isn’t about knocking the competition. It’s about recognizing your prospective donors have choices and pushing your specific strengths forward for their consideration. How long has CHA been around? What special skills/expertise does your service have that others don’t?, etc.

What can you say about CHA that no other service can say that appeals to the self-interest of your donor? That’s your primary message.

#3 – Build even more layers of credibility.

I did a little research and many car donation sites tout themselves as #1. You do, as well. But can you prove it? By whose measure are you the nation’s #1 car donation service?. Don’t say what you can’t prove. But if you can prove it, put your proof upfront.

“We consistently get 10-15% higher value ratings than other services.” “We handle XXX donations per year, more than XX over others.” You get the idea. Perhaps you’re #1 in one aspect of the service, promote that instead.

Other credibility boosters – show the logos of the most recognized charities you work with. Show testimonials from charities AND donors attesting to your great service and how they’ve benefited from the donation, and so forth.

#4 – Lay out the car donation process, steps 1-2-3. Then edit, edit, edit.

Don’t make prospective donors hunt for this basic information. Put it right there in front of them on the homepage: “Here’s how easy it is to donate your car with CHA”, and list the key steps in the process. You can link these steps to interior pages for further description, if you like, but give visitors the quick “at a glance” rundown at first view. Eliminate all the redundant information you have now. Get your entire homepage content into the first screen. Add a closing big, bold [DONATE NOW!] button.

#5 – Use one strong visual to represent the good that the donor’s car will make in people’s lives.

Lots of little images distract from rather than enhance your message. Choose one strong positive image – children, a family, an elderly couple – to show the good that comes from a donation. (Also, I can’t imagine folks donating mint condition antique cars, no matter how good the cause, unless they’re Jay Leno.) :)

#6 – Keep the 2-column format, but flip the orientation, to be better seen and acted upon.

Eliminate the narrow left hand column, shift main content left, and add narrow right hand column so that whatever links, graphics you use are more likely to be read and clicked. I’d also eliminate all of the existing buttons as they don’t really add anything to you message. Keep the BBB badge.

#7 – Rework your current navigation. Give your 800# prominence in above the navigation bar.

When more than 1/2 your visitors choose to call you wanting to donate that day, then you need to make sure your toll-free number is big, bold and prominent. Upper right, above the navigation is where you want to be.

I’d split your navigation into 2 parts – primary and secondary. Primary navigation represents the focus of your viewer’s visit – it’s the reason they came in the first place. Secondary navigation shows the sweeteners or helpers to your visitor’s decision to act. You can do this with 2 horizontal bars:

PRIMARY: HOME – Why Donate? – How it Works – Supported Charities – FAQs – Donate Now!
SECONDARY: About CHA – Resources – IRS Tax Laws – Contact us

Make the Donate Now! orange or another bright color so it stands out from the rest of the nav links. You’ll also want to add a homepage link to your logo graphic since many folks expect it to be a quick click back to the homepage. Your footer navigation can repeat both nav links. I’d do so in two lines and add a third so you can add Privacy Policy – Sitemap. (No need to waste homepage real estate on Privacy when a simple link will do.)

Cars Helping AmericaClick image for larger view

#8 – Change the font and link colors.

The font choice is very hard to read in small point size. Change to Verdana or Georgia – both fonts were developed strictly for web use. Also, don’t use red for your links. Red is a wonderful accent color, but is very hard to read as text.

#9 – Organize the charities by state or region and type.

Make it easy for donors to see what charities are working in their own area or by their particular interest. Add an email link for folks who want to donate toward a charity not listed. Tell folks what the process is. If short, you can do this with a pop-up box. If long, direct them to a fuller info page.

#10 – More credibility boosters – add full contact info.

Donors today are more careful, mistrustful and skeptical than ever and won’t do business with a company that doesn’t list a phone number and a physical or postal address. I know I won’t. Get a PO box if you need to but let your customers know where you are. I’d also update your copyright line to 2009. Any out-of-date information on your site undercuts your authority and credibility.

BONUS – Use a secure page (https) to protect your donor’s data.

You actually imply this with the GoDaddy SSL badge, but don’t seem to use it. Use it. Your donors will feel better for it.

My thanks to to Martin Schloss for his patience and support of Heifer International. Look for my next makeover in approximately 4 weeks.

Here’s your chance to be the Copywriting Maven’s next landing page makeover!

Got a landing page that’s more poop than pop? Willing to share with Copyblogger readers? Prepared to put a little of your own “skin in the game” for a Maven Makeover? Then follow your click to Maven’s Landing Page Makeover page for all the details.

(The response to the return of the Copywriting Maven Makeovers has been tremendous – thank you! The downside is I’m booked for new gratis critiques until 6/1/09. If you’re interested in a private critique/makeover or other services, please email me directly.)

About the Author: Roberta Rosenberg is The Copywriting Maven at MGP Direct, Inc.

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Reader Comments (29)

  1. Mel says

    good article, very through. But I must add that careful proof reading is critical. Nothing says “unprofessional” (read “untrustworthy”) like misspelling “charity” on the second page in the “donate a car to chairty” link.

  2. says

    I seriously like your blow-by-blow rundown.

    The beauty is you know what you’re looking for so your inspection is fast and effective. It’s easy to see how they can change their site and get results.

  3. says

    There’s isn’t one best color per se tho the traditional blue link is an obvious choice. What you want is for your links to stand out from the rest of your text and still be readable without ‘tiring’ the eye.

  4. says

    I always thought the top banner area, particularly the right side was a bit of a blind spot. maybe I read too much and test too little.

  5. says

    Over time you’ll want to look for those items that have become usage conventions. Search boxes – one of the biggest visitor interactive points – are one of those items. The upper right corner is a favored spot for the Search Box. That’s why I also like to place the toll-free # or other ‘let’s connect’ message where it’s more likely to be seen.

  6. says

    Nice analysis. One of the biggest tasks I find is presenting changes in a way that clients are willing to kill their own little additions to the mayhem. It’s a consultative process that requires the client’s goodwill. If done right it brings me more work and referrals. If done without client buy-in, even a site that doubles conversion won’t help my referral business.

  7. says

    I agree with the praise, though you’ve given me a lot of work. A question: How do you get an ‘https:’ for secure? I’ve seen that, but don’t know how to make mine that.

    Am I making any sense? Thanks.

  8. says

    @Kali – you’ll want to ask your webhost about how to add ‘https” functionality to your site. You can share the host’s SSL certificate or buy your own and have your host install.

  9. says

    Thanks for laying this out succinctly. I’ll pass along to clients (we specialize in new business development for advertising agencies). Category/sector-centric landing pages have become a big part of our outreach.

  10. says

    Excellent article Roberta.

    I really love these make overs as they show simple solutions to real world websites. This gives me several ideas that I need to implement on my site – such as adding address to my my footer.

  11. says

    With thanks to the folks who go ‘public’ with their landing page challenges, I’m happy to help show the way toward more effective, response-generating pages. All in a day’s work. :)

  12. says

    nice review. what would it take for you to critique i’m sure you would lambaste the site, but better now than never.

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