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Anatomy of a Novel-Sized Landing Page, Part 2

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You no doubt know that the landing page—a true "selling" page for a specific product or service—can be a vital part of your sales process. And although it may be more efficient to drive people from an email or a search ad directly to an order form or a simple one-pager of product features and benefits, you'll likely lose a significant amount of revenue by going that route.

Of course, it really depends on what you're selling. A 99-cent "widget" may sell like gangbusters with a simple order form. But when you're talking about higher-end products—especially if they're geared toward a specific niche audience—you're going to have to speak their language. And, typically, you're going to have to speak it with a lot of detail. We're talking volumes here, in some cases.

In Part 1 of this article, I talked a little bit about the necessary components to a successful landing page: You need "bones" to hold it all together; you need to keep the message on track and motivating by maintaining a consistent theme throughout; and you need to stir emotions... pique curiosity... make people go "ooh" and have them really feel something—right there in the old ticker. 

Once a prospect's heart (and all those emotions that go along with it) gets in the game, you're pretty much home free. Well... almost.

Getting wrapped up in a product or service by reading about it can be a beautiful thing to a prospect. But most people do need to see the logic behind what you're selling before they'll actually buy. That's where the brain comes in.


The "Brain": Using Logic to Enhance Credibility and Make the Sale

Keep in mind as you weave your landing page "story" together that you don't have to get prospects emotionally involved first and then delve into the logical details afterward. In an ideal world, you're accomplishing both at the same time.

Here's why you need to do this: Once prospects' hearts are in it, they then also need to see why they should buy your particular product. First they need to see what makes it so good. Then they need to see why it's better than a similar product offered by your competitors.

How can you make them see this? One way is to sprinkle (liberally) all the glowing testimonials from past and present customers throughout your page. Keep them short—one or two lines each with at least a first name and last initial—but make them real. If you have a business-to-business offering, be sure to include the company name of your customer (provided the customer has given you written permission).

Then, whenever possible, give your prospects solid evidence that your product is going to solve their problems. In the case of a natural-health product, you'll want to discuss the numerous studies that show that the ingredients in your solution have proven time and time again to do x, y, and z.

In the case of an investment offering, you'll want to outline your excellent track record over the last 10 years. You'll also want to note any mentions or accolades from ratings services or publications that review the "best of" in your specific category of service, such as Hulbert or Investor's Business Daily.

If your target audience is a company or business, detail the background of how your offering came to be. Give some substantiating evidence that your manufacturing process is, bar none, "the best." Provide tons of examples of how other similar products fall far short. And, whenever possible, cite solid reviews of your product or service, along with the credentials of your inventor/adviser/doctor/expert behind your product. And make sure that any reviews come from credible sources.

Wrapping It up With a Big, Pretty Bow

While this may be somewhat of a Reader's Digest version of how to pull together a true sales page, you can see why some landing pages print out to 15 pages or more. To really sell, you need to tug at heartstrings, prove your worth, and present it all in a systematic, logical format that makes sense to the reader. That takes time. (And space, apparently!)

A few words about the copy and design here—and please realize that I can't possibly distill the finer points of copywriting in one article, but there are a couple of key points I need to make here.

As mentioned in Part 1, one of the most important components of a successful landing page is the headline. It's part of the "shell" that holds it all together, but the heart and the brain can and should start to get involved here, too. 

A good headline draws people in to read more of your page. It should have a benefit, yes, but it should also pique curiosity. Remember, if your prospects have landed here, they have come from an email or a search ad (or elsewhere) that has already made them halfway interested. You just need to continue that thought process you started within them so they will take the road with you a little farther.

And a subhead directly below the headline helps support what you have to say in the headline. Ideally, the headline is short and to the point (although there have been some tremendously successful long headlines of 25 words or more!). Remember that the subhead is there to add fuel to the fire.

Here are a couple of solid examples:

Lies, Lies, Lies!
That's all we investors are hearing about
the financial crisis—from politicians, the
media, economists, and Wall Street itself.
And we've had it up to here!
But getting our money back is the best revenge...
Smartest ways to do it in 2009...

OUTRAGE!!
Billion-dollar drug company hides astounding discovery of a natural cancer killer.
10,000 times stronger than chemo—
but without the side effects!

Do you see how each headline-subhead combination not only draws you in but also provokes some emotions? (In both cases, the emotions were outrage and anger.) They also have the magical effect of making you want to read further, don't they? If they don't, you may not be part of their respective target markets.

I want to make one more quick point about the copy to help you punch it up. When your prospects are reading your landing page, keep in mind that they have this intangible bunch of words flowing in and getting processed through their brains. You can give those words more legs and muscle—make them stronger, in other words—by using "word pictures." (Do you see how the words "legs" and "muscle" create a visual that leads you to think in a certain way? I probably don’t even have to tell you that this was meant to make my words stronger. That's precisely what I'm talking about.)

After you've written your page, go back through it and see how you can punch it up using these word pictures. They can really make a huge difference and can carry a prospect much further along in your copy.

Finally, if you can include the actual order form at the bottom of your landing page, that's ideal. If not, don't start linking to the order form from your landing page until you've managed to accomplish all the tasks outlined here.

In other words, once your "presentation" is in a logical format, you've evoked strong emotions throughout, and you've presented an array of evidence that your product or service is the best, then and only then are you ready to start asking for the order.

It may be that you've actually done most of or all the necessary selling halfway through your piece and you can insert an early link to the order form. However, it's far more likely that you need most of or the entire page to do this. And that's OK. If that's the case, just save the calls to action for the very end.

If you can do all this successfully—and, granted, it's not always easy—you'll see conversions (meaning sales) on your landing page soar


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Kim MacPherson is founder and chief copywriter for Inbox Interactive (www.inboxinteractive.com), one of the first agencies dedicated solely to email marketing. Reach her via kim@inboxinteractive.com.

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