This is another addition to our ongoing series of tutorials and case studies on landing pages that work.
Bjorn Furuknap wants to improve the work lives of SharePoint users with great information. I don’t know how many tech-types use SharePoint, but as a major Microsoft product, I’m thinking big numbers.
So two things occur to me:
- There’s a pretty big prospect universe of SharePoint users to draw from.
- There’s gotta be a lot of competition for the SharePoint user eyeball.
Despite the obvious competition, Bjorn’s online journal, “Understanding SharePoint”, should be a bigger sales winner than it is. Let’s look at the stats and see what we can do to pop the numbers for Bjorn.
- The Goal: Increase subscription sale conversions from a current base of 500 unique monthly visitors.
- The Problem: Conversions are low. A few newsletter sign-ups, but not sure as to what the main problem is – which is why he’s asking the Copywriting Maven for advice!
- The Current Landing Page: http://www.understandingsharepoint.com/journal/volume-1/issue-1
- Value: $14.95 per issue? **
** My confusion will be addressed below.
The Maven’s 10-Point Critique
Bjorn has published additional issues since he asked for a makeover. The landing page listed above reflects only his first issue. Subsequently, each issue has it’s own ‘landing page.’ After navigating his site for a bit, I found this page on my own, and this kind of page should be the primary landing page. It’s where prospects can see the benefit of the journal as a whole, as opposed to a series of parts.
I strongly recommend Bjorn combine the elements of these two pages into a single, more effective landing page for the journal. (He can keep the individual pages per issue but sell the journal as a complete concept.)
#1 – Declutter your landing page of all distractions – sidebars, widgets, etc.
If there’s any song I sing more than any other, it’s this. A cluttered page will distract your visitor from even the most compelling selling message. I realize, of course, that as more of us use WordPress and other CMS platforms, getting to a clean, pristine field of white nothingness isn’t easy. But there are ways around it. Use the “page” as opposed to “post” format – some CMS-themes will allow you to specify how many columns/which widgets are used where. Or create a static html landing page and link to your main CMS from there.
But if you’re serious about landing pages, you gotta clear and clean the decks so that the only “shiny, sparkly” object on the page is the copy/design elements that direct them through your sales message toward your conversion flavor. Also, remove the Comments function from the page, as well. A landing page is a solo act with a single voice.
#2 – Create a headline that immediately addresses your prospect’s “pain point.”
If everyone knew everything, no one would have a reason to buy information. We’d all be wise and wonderful. But since we’re not, pain is usually the main driver toward an information product sale.
Prospects want to do something easier, faster, better. Perhaps they want to be the SharePoint Hero/Guru at work. Whatever the core reasons, Bjorn’s copy has to show how “Understanding SharePoint” will help lead to a happier, more productive SharePoint user experience. That’s the job of your headline. Begin the promise of pain relief and connection right upfront.
#3 – Define the product you’re selling and specify your offer … and test.
Even if each issue covers a different topic, what can a reader expect in every issue? What are the common elements? How can you pull individual issues under a single umbrella? An easy, every issue of “Understanding SharePoint” contains (or covers): 1 … 2 … 3 …, etc.
In reviewing your site, I wasn’t sure whether I’m being asked to pay for $14.95 per issue or for a full subscription of XX issues in Volume 1. (If it’s there, I missed it. If I missed it, so have thousands of other prospects since you launched.) I’d recommend a simple, 2-tier subscription model. Order individual issues at $14.95 or a full volume/XX issues (depending on how many issues in a specific timeframe), a $XX annual price. Test price-points and time-frames.
#4 – Show the product with a strong visual.
If it’s a journal – print or online – it has a cover. Even if you can’t tell a book by its cover, show one anyway. It makes “real” a virtual purchase. Add a little depth to the cover, give the impression of pages. (You have a 60+ page periodical. Don’t be afraid to give it its due.)
#5 – Promote your value proposition early and upfront.
I talked about competition for the SharePoint user eyeball in my introduction. There are books, ebooks, and a ton of available information. Some of it free, some not. So, where’s the “Understanding SharePoint” value proposition? There’s a dry, little bit of business on the welcome page. But you’ve actually written an effective value proposition elsewhere.
I found it in your introduction to Volume One. Use these ideas for the core of your promotional copy and accessorize from there.
#6 – Highlight all the “sweeteners” that helps to reduce perceived risk and smooth the way to conversion.
Use subheads, bolded text and image elements to highlight the Free Issue Preview and your money-back guarantee. Add testimonials from everyone who uses your material. (Bonus – don’t forget to “ask for the sale” on the last page of the free preview!)
#7 – Have all content proofed by folks with standard English spelling and grammar skills. Use standard nomenclature.
I appreciate anyone who’s more than merely functional in one language. Two or more languages? You are a person to be respected! (My grandmother was fluent in 5 languages as her little corner of Hungary was an intersection of several other central/eastern European countries.) But when you’re committing to print, you need to up your spelling and grammar game.
There are typos and some odd turns of phrase in the copy that made me stop and re-read sentences. You don’t want to throw any obstacles in the way of your prospective customer. (I’m the world’s worst proofreader so please do as I say, not as I’ve been know to do. :) I wasn’t sure if your $14,95 was done purposely or not. To my eye, it looked like a typo. That made me stop. Again.
#8 – Listen to your customers. Give them what they want as long as you can still make $$$ from it … and test.
I noted in a comments section that users were asking about permission to share an issue. (How honest!) You responded that you were working on finding the right model. Don’t work on it too long. Start testing some possibilities now.
In the traditional B2B publishing world I grew up in, we had different subscription rates based on whether the subscriber was an individual, or representing a corporate or not-for-profit organization. How did we know? We looked at where the subscription was registered, residential or business address. Is there a way to translate that to today? Corporate credit card versus an individual PayPal account? A corporate email address vs a hotmail account? Does the software-model work better for you? Ask your subscribers with a short survey. Who’s buying and for whom? Find out what they want, and if you can, begin delivering it immediately.
#9 – Make your order buttons larger, brighter and test the button copy.
Prospects can’t click what they can’t see. (Why does Amazon use orange? Because it’s bright and jumps off the page. You just can’t miss it.) Also test your button text. You’d be surprised at the differences in click-thru rates just by testing this one element alone.
#10 – Enhance readability with more contrast between text and background color
Designer aesthetics aside for a moment, if you’re serious about closing sales, you want to do everything possible to increase readability. Darken the text, lighten the background. I might also pop the point size up a little. Don’t make it hard for your visitor to read your material.
BONUS: Be strategic in your use of pop-ups/pop-unders … and test some more. When I visited your original landing page, I got a pop-up in my face well before I had the chance to read word one of the page content. Very oft-putting to me. (For some visitors, it might be reason enough to exit the site right then and there.) It interfered with my ability to engage with your message. I also noted that the pop-up didn’t support a sale, but offered me the chance to get on your mailing list – again, well before I had enough information to make a decision about you, your product, or your company.
I’d recommend testing some sort of “pop” when a visitor tries to leave your page. You could use the pop as a reminder about the free, no obligation preview or, to help ensure folks don’t leave without leaving something of themselves behind, invite them to join your mailing list. Keep the message short, concise and to the visitor’s benefit.
My thanks to Bjorn Furuknap for his supreme 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 10/15/09. If you’re interested in a private critique/makeover or other services, please email me directly.)