They Clicked, They Left

Why aren't your Web site visitors buying?
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the April 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you're like most companies, you focus on driving traffic to your Web site via advertising. If too few visitors buy something once they're there, you blame your marketing program. You may say the media costs were too high or the clicks were junk traffic. True, some marketing campaigns will perform better than others. But in many cases, you can improve your visitor-to-buyer conversion rate just by modifying your Web site, not your marketing.

In his e-book, How to Develop a Landing Page That Closes the Sale, Dr. Ralph F. Wilson urges business owners to evaluate their landing pages, also known as entry pages. The landing page is the page shoppers see once they click an online ad, a search engine listing or a banner ad, for example. The goal of a landing page is to persuade visitors to complete a transaction.

Is your home page a landing page? You shouldn't consider it one. Your ad entices people to click for more information, while your landing page closes the sale. It shouldn't invite people to surf your Web site. It's a stand-alone page that hides your main Web site navigation. It offers few or no options other than taking the intended action. And the copy should expand upon the message revealed in the advertisement visitors clicked on. Keep in mind that different ads require different landing pages; each landing page should be customized for a particular audience.

There's more than explanatory copy at work on entry pages. According to Wilson, an effective landing page uses the psychological factors of enhancing desire, creating a rationale, making the offer compelling, and building trust to sell a product or service.

"Never underestimate the power of emotional selling," says Wilson. "A no-nonsense description of an offer may work for nationally branded companies. Most companies don't have that luxury. Today's shoppers are pressed for time and money. Address their emotional needs, and your sales will at least double."

To write copy that appeals to your potential customers on an emotional level, pretend to interview them. Start with the following questions: What problems are you dealing with now? How do you want these resolved, and what are your concerns? What would make you buy this solution today? Strip out the industry jargon from your reply for simple, results-oriented copy. This is the making of a good entry page.

What makes a good landing page better? Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. But it's an easy question to answer: Test a variety of pages. You can change your page design, reprioritize your benefits, or use case studies.

The Web audience is diverse, and individuals will respond to different marketing messages and presentation styles. It's up to you to discover which landing pages will get your visitors to become your customers.

Speaker and freelance writer Catherine Sedaowns an Internet marketing agency and is author ofSearch Engine Advertising.

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