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Aug 19, 2003
Case Study

Two-Step Landing Page Gets More Leads Than Single-Page -- Involve Prospects to Raise Responses

SUMMARY: If you are involved in landing page (A.K.A. splash page) strategy or design, definitely see this Case Study. Includes best practices tips and test results showing what happens when you break them. Fascinating data, especially useful for business-to-business marketers who need to generate sales leads.
CHALLENGE

"I really don't give a crap about my click rate in campaigns," says Joel Bines President Crossover Solutions. "I care about my conversions."

"I don't need thousands of leads. I want to focus my marketing activity in a place where I know I'm speaking to a high percentage of people who will recognize I'm selling something they desperately need."

To raise sales this summer, Bines needed to create what he calls a "classic lead gen campaign." "The challenge is we're a little- known company in the marketplace. The campaign had to introduce us, talk to them about how we address their needs, do a little education and generate leads."

CAMPAIGN

First Bines chose a low-risk (under $5,000) media to test, sponsoring an email newsletter. He researched the range of newsletters serving the marketing professional demographic. There are quite a few of them, so Bines made his final decision based on two specific elements:

a. A strong and unique editorial personality because Bines
hoped readers would be more passionate about it than
competing publications, and that passion could rub off on
his offer.

b. Previous sponsors with offers that Bines respected, which
Bines hoped create an environment in which readers took
sponsors seriously. "You don't see ads for crappy things
in Sherpa newsletters."

Next he did something very smart (which very few other business marketers take the time to do). Well ahead of ad creative deadlines, he sent his suggested copy to the newsletter's publisher asking for input.

Bines only had nine lines of copy, including white space and headline, to convince readers to click on his offer link. He had to make every word count.

His first try:

Sponsor: How-To Guide for Landing Pages & Targeted Microsites
==================================================
Step-by-step guide provides 11 useful tips and all the
information you need to use landing pages and microsites to
convert more prospects into qualified sales leads. Want
measurable results? Want to customize your campaigns for
different audience segments? Want to track response instantly?
Want to adjust campaigns on the fly? Want more sales leads? Use
landing pages and microsites. Get your no-obligation How-To
Guide: (URL to go here)
==================================================


The newsletter publisher replied with the following advice:

"a. Nobody reads solid copy blocks, so cut copy and add white
space and bullets
b. Perhaps put the prospect's pain-point in top line
c. Love the '11 useful tips' offer - numbers rock."


Adjusted with these tips in mind, Bines' final ad read:

Sponsor: How-To Guide for Landing Pages & Targeted Microsites
==================================================
-> Want to generate more qualified leads?

New step-by-step Guide provides 11 useful tips you need to
improve your campaign landing pages and microsites:
o Easily customize landing pages for niche audiences
o Measure campaign results instantly
o Adjust search marketing campaigns on the fly
Get your How-to Guide today - there's no cost & no obligation:
URL here
==================================================


Next Bines focused on creating great landing pages for the visitors he hoped the ad, to run two weeks in a row in June, would bring him.

He helps clients create landing pages for a living, so he already knew most of the best practices backwards and forwards. "I want people focused on what I want them to do on a landing page. You're directing their attention. I'm not going to allow them the opportunity to lose that attention somehow. This is a direct response vehicle."

His rules-of-thumb for a lead generation page included:

- "Try to avoid Flash and scrolling. Try to make the brass
ring as easy to grab as possible. My corporate site has
some Flash in it, but not landing pages."

- Do not put your main site navigation on the landing page, you
can redirect them to your home page after they have taken the
action you wanted them to take on the landing page.
Otherwise it is distracting and will hurt results.

(Also, if prospects really deeply want to learn more about
you, they can always find your URL in a search engine and
get to your home page on their own in a heartbeat.)

- Keep graphics as clean and simple as possible, do not
distract from the offer.

- Match your copy to the copy in the ad they came from, and
keep copy short so they can move on to the action.

However, Bines found it is much tougher to act on best practices than it is to preach about them.

He could not resist the temptation to gussy up his landing pages with a few attractive but unrelated graphics, and to add an extra navigational link to his product "just in case" prospects were at the right place in the sales cycle to want immediate info.

He tested two different landing page strategies (one for each week the ad ran), hoping that one or the other would result in higher-conversion rates (link to samples of both below):

-> Test #1. Single-step page

This was a very soft offer. Visitors could click on a link to get a copy of a PDF "Guide" without registering or handing over any personal details first.

Bines explains, "I always err on the side of being gentle. You can always move up the channel with harder offers later, but you can never get back their attention if you turn them off with too hard a sale at the start."

He hoped PDF readers would be impressed enough to contact his company for more information of their own accord. In addition, under the download link, he added an optional button visitors could click to learn more about how his product could help them. On that secondary landing page, they were asked to register.

After visitors downloaded the PDF, they saw a brief thank you page and then were quickly automatically redirected to Crossover Solutions' home page.

-> Test #2. Two-step page

This was a slightly harder offer. Instead of being able to download the PDF right away, visitors were asked to input their email address "and we'll immediately send you a link to the article."

The copy reassured visitors, "And don't worry, we won’t spam you and we won't email you anything else unless you specifically ask us to after you have read the article."

Bines set up an autoresponder letter that was sent instantly to everyone who input their email address. He carefully deleted the list of names received so he ran no risk of ever emailing them anything else.

The letter linked to a page that was almost identical to the initial landing page for Test #1, with a download link and a button to click for more product info.

Again, after visitors downloaded the PDF, they saw a brief thank you page and then were quickly automatically redirected to Crossover Solutions' home page.




RESULTS

"I generated business from this campaign, and I've still got people in my sales cycle," says Bines.

He was also "floored" by the test results. Turns out by making people jump through another hoop, a higher percentage of clicks converted into downloaders and registrants. Here are the numbers:

Week one ad run with single-step landing page:
1.1% Clicks
30% of these downloaded the PDF
3% of all clicks registered via more info button


Week two ad run with two-step landing page:
.9% Clicks
77% of these entered email to get link
93% of these clicked on their emailed link to second page *and* downloaded the PDF
10% of these also registered via the more info button

Bines says, "This is amazing. You’d think there would be lots of attrition in the second page process, right? Wrong." Why would people behave so differently than expected? His theory is, "They were more engaged in the process."

Perhaps by taking an interactive step, visitors began to think of themselves as being in a relationship with his company, and relationship marketing always outpulls offers to total strangers.

Plus, by putting a small barrier before the PDF, it may have become slightly more valuable in visitors' perception.

Bines also notes the first test results have taught him a hard lesson about breaking the rules of landing page best practices. While 30% isn't a terrible conversion rate, it is not remotely outstanding either.

He could have done much better the first time around by removing extraneous graphics and links, to focus visitor's eyes on nothing but his offer. You can get away with your logo and perhaps a thumbnail of the PDF "cover," but that is about all.

One final fascinating fact: Under 1% of visitors from the first test, and under 2% of visitors from the second, lingered for "any amount of time" when they were automatically redirected to Crossover Solutions' home page after the PDF download. The rest bailed almost instantly.

It is not that Bines' home page is bad, it is that these prospects simply were not at a stage in the sales cycle to be interested in continuing to interact on it.

This is useful test data to show people who insist on adding obvious home page and other main navigational links on first- touch campaign landing pages. You are just not at the right stage of the cycle to have these be appreciated. The only thing they will do is distract prospects from taking a useful action.

Link to samples of the landing pages Bines tested:
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/crs/ad.html

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