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Keys to Conversion

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Board Member’s Memo

Keys to Conversion

July 2013

by Deltina Hay


“Sure, getting discovered [or getting exposure] is great, but how many sales were generated as a result?” That’s the question people consistently asked during my two sessions at IBPA’s 2013 Publishing University, even though the session topics were quite different. One session was about improving a book’s online discoverability using search optimization techniques, and the other was about increasing a book’s online exposure using content marketing tactics.

My answer was consistent, too: “That’s a topic for another session.” The topic is conversion, and I’m going to tackle it here.

Getting a book discovered or getting exposure for it is only the first step. Conversion, the next step, is far more critical. Once a potential buyer discovers your book and clicks through, what is waiting for them on the other side of that click—the landing page—will make or break your sale.

For the longest time, I scoffed at “Internet marketers” telling me to “Create landing pages that convert!” After all, my readers are more intelligent than the average bear; they don’t fall for such sales tactics, right? Wrong. Conversion has little to do with intelligence, and a lot to do with human nature.

It is our nature to be easily distracted. It is our nature to want to push big, colorful buttons. It is our nature to be indecisive when given too many choices. And it is our nature to buy impulsively.

A “landing page that converts” should, therefore, follow these best practices:

● Have one call to action that fits with why the visitor clicked through to the page. If you place an ad that announces your book on sale at a 30 percent discount, then the only call to action on the related landing page should be something like “Buy Now at 30 Percent Off!”

● Give your call to action a sense of immediacy. Even if you plan to run a special offer indefinitely, let visitors think they are going to miss out if they don’t act now.

● Make call-to-action buttons bright and large, with text that explains the action—like a big orange button that says “Buy Now at 30 Percent Off!”

● Make the bulk of the page—and especially the call-to-action button—appear “above the fold.” Never count on people scrolling down.

● Don’t put any distractions on the landing page—no banner ads, no graphic site navigation options, nothing that diverts attention from your call to action.

● If you are marketing to mobile device users, optimize the page for mobile devices (see the free video on how to create mobile-optimized landing pages at youtube.com/deltinahay).

The image below shows a landing page with a large call-to-action button and information above the fold. Note: Use video on a landing page only if it specifically sells your product and takes less than 75 seconds.


The Options Option

Many of you may already have detected a problem with applying these practices. The problem is that visitors to your site will expect more than one option for buying your book. They might prefer to do business with Amazon, or with Barnes & Noble, or with iBooks, or with Kobo, or with somebody else. My solution to this quandary is to have one main call to action (buy the book) with a few options for doing so, as illustrated here.

As you can see, I don’t tell people much about the book on this landing page. That is because they got to it from another page on my site that did tell them about the book, or because I sent them to it from an ad or a social media update. But note that there is a small link below the call-to-action buttons in case they want to learn more.

The screenshot below demonstrates a compromise. I do tell a bit about the book, but I’m still careful to have only one call to action (buy), and to keep everything above the fold. I also keep the text short and choppy: short header, short subheaders, and a bulleted list for the main description.


More Tactics and Tools

Using these tactics will greatly improve your conversion rates, and you can experiment with many other ways to improve the conversion power of your landing pages. Images, colors, wording, and placement of page elements all play important parts.

Luckily, there are one-page HTML and WordPress themes that incorporate landing page best practices into their design. Some of my favorites reside on Themeforest.net (search under Marketing/Landing Pages). But don’t assume that just because a developer calls a theme a landing page, it is a good landing page. Keep these best practices in mind when choosing your theme.

Another alternative is trying one of the landing page services. Unbounce.com is an affordable solution that not only helps you build nice landing pages, but has tons of examples and articles that can help demystify landing page science. Tip: When you go to the pricing page, scroll down a bit and you will find a link to the free (branded) option of the service. Salesforce.com and HubSpot.com are also good solutions, although a bit more expensive.

One advantage of using a service is that services track landing page performance, and can help you implement advanced tactics such as A/B testing, which is designed to track how small changes to a landing page affect its performance.

Whatever ways you choose to improve landing page conversion rates, remember that landing pages can also provide a great way to track your marketing initiatives. If you create dedicated landing pages for each of your major marketing campaigns and use Google Analytics to analyze the resulting landing-page traffic, you can shed a lot of light on how well a campaign is delivering.


Deltina Hay, who has just become chair of the IBPA board, is the author of The Bootstrapper’s Guide to the Mobile Web (TheBootstrappersGuide.com) and The Social Media Survival Guide. To learn more, visit DeltinaU.com.

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