Testing: Take Off… and Landing (Page)!

My last column was about testing: basics about structuring tests as well as ideas of what and why to test. Funny, I seem to have such trouble preparing a topic, then when I sit down to write I have trouble shutting myself up! As you may have guessed, this week is a follow-up on testing. It’s important to talk more about what happens when customers click through and arrive on your all-important landing page.

Landing Pages Keep the Customer Focused

You spend time crafting your offer, copy, headline, subject line, and all the minute details of the message sent to customers. You need to be just as conscientious with where they arrive once you get them to click. We link to a unique landing page whenever possible. In the best case scenario, you control the customer experience on the landing page.

This is another area to test. If your open and click-through rates are strong, the effectiveness of this page (or wherever you send them) directly affects conversions of leads or sales. You may want to test here for things such as cross-sells or ways to increase average order size. If you are already having success, move cautiously and deliberately. Here are some tips:

  • The landing page should reinforce the offer and message of the email. Use similar language, repeat the headline when appropriate, and use the same copy techniques.
  • If you use HTML, create a landing page that uses elements similar to the outbound message.

  • Don’t supply too many options. “Submit” or “Order Now” should be the only hot links other than maybe a logo linking to your home page. You can avoid that link if you include a static listing of your URL.

  • If you require more copy than can effectively be presented on a single page, create a microsite (a mini Web site providing more information and detail about the product or service you are offering). Control the experience. Any link in the microsite should be to the “Sign Up” or “Order Now” page. That way, you can provide more information without losing them to other options or offers presented on your main site.

Reduce the Clicks Needed to Complete the Call to Action

A basic rule, but one many forget. Often, the rationale is as long as we’re sending an email, let’s showcase other services or products. Think about basic direct response principles. Options suppress response. Email promotions need to follow this rule even more diligently. The Web enables attention deficit disorder, and there’s too much to distract your customer. Reduce those distractions!

I’ve seen business-to-business (B2B) clients attempt to send customers to a page listing more services, thinking they would capture a broader group. If you’re promoting an event, take customers directly to the page with information about that event. Two great reasons: First, you sent them information about a specific “Thing”; odds are if they were not interested in the Thing, they would not have clicked. Second, every time you make a prospect search for something, you risk losing her along the way.

Acquiring Leads? Make Data Capture Brief!

The longer the form, the more intimidating and time-consuming it is. If you want to acquire names or customers, or even data from existing customers, think carefully about what information you need. Eliminate questions whenever possible. If you’re talking to new customers (rented lists, banner responders, etc.), try to limit the information to email address, first and last name, and one or two other items.

Online Catalogs or Product Offers?

Take customers to the product you highlighted in the email. Sounds simple? You’d be surprised how many times I click, only to become confused or lost. Like the Thing scenario mentioned above, if your site has a product listings page that takes customers to detailed product information, take them to the product information! Site navigation should provide options if they want to surf around once they get there.

Often, a dedicated landing page is unrealistic for certain catalog offers. Take customers to the product page. When choosing your deployment tool or system, look for tracking/reporting options that allow you to identify that user as he moves through your site, as opposed to systems that track only the click-through.

Landing pages are an integral part of campaign planning. If you don’t use them, at least consider a test to see if you can improve that conversion or sales rate.

Well, folks, hopefully you found a nugget or two to help you develop your next email campaign. Until April 22! Have a great week.

Jackie G.

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