Tuesday, May 22, 2007

8 Tips To Create A Landing Page

By Ayat Shukairy (c) 2007


You need copy for your landing page but you're not sure where to start. First let's clarify what we mean by a landing page. A landing page can be a page that visitors come to after clicking on a promotional banner or link. Ultimately, the landing page must convince the visitor that they should stay on your site. You may also have a goal that you want accomplished, such as:

* Signing up for a newsletter or filling out a förm
* Buying a product
* Reading informational pieces

What's going to keep them there? The structure, the language, and the visual appeal all play a part of it. Chëck out these tips to create a great landing page, or reinvent the one you already have.

The Structure

People arrive at your site looking for answers. They scan to see if they're in the right place and assess whether it's going to be a quick and easy visit or a long grinding one. Your landing page is the welcome wagon inviting them in and feeding them the information they need. The structure of the page will either pull them in and encourage them to fulfill your goal, or distract and cause them to cut out of there before getting the whole picture.

The structure of the landing page in general should be matching that of the banner, äd or link they clicked on to get them there. So for example, if your PPC Ad is targeting SEO articles, your landing page should discuss exactly that. If a Victoria Secret's äd for lingerie shows up and you clíck on it, you will be transferred to a landing page with the exact image and structure of the äd.

The Visuals

* Copy placement – Strategic use of copy and graphics will catch the visitor's attention. Don't muck up the page with large, distracting graphics. Use plenty of whitespace and place your message in the central portion of the page rather than placing information down the sides, where the focus can be lost quickly. Keep the copy short. The visitor expects a precise message, so don't choke it up with tons of mindless prose.

* Beauty is in the eye – Use a consistent color palette. If you have advertising or banners that link visitors to your website, make sure the concept and color scheme match across the board. It's also a great visual indicator for the visitor because they can easily identify that they're still in the right place.

* Simplify – Remove any distracting elements like advertising banners, links, or additional blocks of information from the page and get down to the specific message.

The Goal

Before you design the landing page, decide what the goal of the page will be. If you're looking for newsletter subscribers, the goal will be to have the visitor enter their information and become a member of your mailing líst.

Be a Sleuth

Do your research. Keep your visitors in mind when building your landing page and tailor it to suit their needs. By narrowing your options and focusing on your visitor, you'll stay on target.

Keep Your Focus

Keep the focus on you. You've dangled a large poster board over their head and pulled them in. Now that you've got them, don't give your visitors a reason to wander.

Use a Call to Action

A call to action, such as 'subscribe now' or 'get this offër' reminds the visitor why they are on your website. Place them toward the top of your page. For users that want to clíck, it allows them to find it easily. For those who are still deciding, it's a great reminder.

Many sites place the consultation or contact förm directly on the landing page, which may not be such a bad idea. Again, you need glaring calls to action. Don't add several useless links on the page that will take the visitor back to your main site; rather include the links that will get them to actually purchase your product/service.

Write Like a Pro

No, you don't have to hire one to look like one. What's the best way to come off like a professional? Create landing pages with no grammatical or spelling errors. I recently hit a website offering 'discount holideys.' As I clicked out of there, I pictured the four-star flea-bag motel by the swampland I might have booked if I stayed.


People get leery when they're asked for their personal data. If you're asking for personal information, make sure you have a credible privacy policy to back you up.

About The Author
Ayat is the Director of the writing department at INVESP. She manages a team of writers that provide business writing services such as Grant writing, webcopy writing and optimized SEO article writing.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rethinking Website Content: Content That Entertains

In case you've missed it, the Web has changed; it seems like just yesterday it was good enough to take all your brochures and advertising collaterals and convert them to digital format, add a little search engine optimization, throw-in a little PHP programming and bingo, you've got a website. And if you wanted to show how cutting edge your company was, maybe you'd add a little dash of Flash animation, or some royalty frëe music. Well here's a bulletin from the frontlines, that isn't going to cut-it in the new multimedia Web-business environment.

Almost daily I receive emails from people asking me to review their websites and tell them why they can't convert visitors to customers even when they are attracting significant numbers of visitors on a regular basis to their sites.

The answer is both simple and complex: simple, because these websites fail to communicate the company's message in a meaningful manner to their visitors, which means no dialog is opened, and without a dialog, no business can be done; and complex, because the implementation of the solution requires a new way of thinking about communicating with your audience using sophisticated presentation techniques that put a higher premium on creativity than they do on facts, figures and old-school direct marketing tactics.

If you are looking for a mantra to begin any new website initiative or to correct an existing website disaster: Think Audience Not Customers.

New Words For A New Web-Business Environment

In the past while I've run across three newly coined words or phrases (Communitainment, Branded Entertainment, and Snack-o-tainment) that attempt to capture the fundamental change that has taken place among Web-user expectations.

All of the new terms have two things in common: one, they require the marketer to think of website visitors as an audience and not as customers; and two, they all require the marketer to use entertainment techniques as the basis for delivering content.

Communication + Entertainment + Community

The Piper Jaffray Internet Media and Marketing research team recently released a report entitled 'The User Revolution' in which Safa Rashtchy coined the concept of 'Communitainment,' a blending of the words communication and entertainment. Rashtchy uses the term to denote the "melding of communication, community, and entertainment," as a new formula for implementing the delivery of marketing content.

The report points out that "Video ads will be the driver of the next major growth in brand advertising" with the Web being "the leading medium at work and the second leading medium at home behind television."

For any business that thought they could conduct business as usual, this should be a wake-up call. The Web has changed: the market is no longer content to be informed, they must be seduced, and you are not going to seduce them with key-word density and biz-speak.

Contrary to popular belief you can deliver a marketing message faster, more powerfully, and with better recall using creative video presentations than you can with a page of text. Now no one is saying you shouldn't have text on your site, but your copy better be damn interesting and well written if you expect anyone to actually read it.

Meaning + Sharing + Experience

The idea of 'Communitainment' provides a conceptual framework for creating Web-video presentations that work: your business communication must convey meaning through a focused presentation that uses all the various techniques available to the savvy Web-producer; your audience must see enough value in the presentation that they are willing to contact others in their colleague-community and share it; and lastly, the delivery of the message must create a memorable entertaining experience associated with the product or service provided.

Branded Entertainment

Leta Baker writes in her 'Adobe Magazine' article 'Creative Persuasion: The Rise of Branded Entertainment' about her concept of using entertaining online video presentations as a means of effectively creating brand awareness.

What Baker is talking about is video that doesn't hit you over the head with a hard-sell salës pitch or bore you to death with meaningless platitudes, but rather presents entertaining short programs that companies can attach their brand to so viewers gain a memorable positive impression of your company. This is a long-term strategy that takes into account the reality that not every genuine prospect that comes to your website is ready to buy your product at that moment but might, when and if they remember who you are, when they are ready to buy.

There are many ways to implement this 'branded entertainment' concept and they all don't have to be completely devoid of salesmanship. The Apple iPod commercials are an example of what I would call 'branded entertainment,' even if Leta Baker would object. Unlike most commercials that people race to avoid, the iPod commercials are actually anticipated: people want to know what Apple is going to come up with next, and the result: iPod has the lion's share of the MP3 player market.

The Apple Macintosh commercials are another form of 'branded entertainment' that involves a salës pitch. Here we have an ongoing campaign with well-developed characters that the audience has gotten to know over the length of the campaign. The audience looks forward to what these characters are going to do next. This does not mean that every PC owner is going to run out and buy a Mac, but over time Apple is getting people to recognize their product as an alternative.

Because the commercials are entertaining, people are listening and waiting for the next installment of the campaign. Audiences are getting the message and that is all any good marketing campaign can achieve.

And here is the big hurdle for many small businesses: good marketing requires patience and should be aimed at opening a dialog, not just making a quick sale.

Most website salës pitches are like bad 'pick-up' lines: crude and ineffective; an audience needs to be wooed with tender loving care before you can expect to see any results. If you're not willing to invest the time and creativity in opening a dialog with your audience, you can forget about using the Internet as a marketing tool.

Snack-o-tainment: Fast Food Entertainment

The term 'Snack-o-tainment' was used by Nancy Miller in her 'Wired' magazine article 'Manifesto for a New Age" in which she equates consumption of new media to societies addiction to fast food. If the audience is addicted to entertaining media, we as marketers must feed that addiction.

It wasn't that long ago that the biggest objection to online video was it took too long to load; now we see it compared to fast food. The fact is video can deliver a meaningful message in the quickest possible way because it conveys content using the full arsenal of communication tools.

We can look to television for a blueprint of how to deliver these bite-sized morsels of corporately nutritious, entertaining, marketing manna.

The thirty-second commercial is an example of just how much memorable content can be crammed into a short period of time if a little entertaining creativity is added to the mix. And unlike television, there is no costly premium associated with time on the Internet, so content can be as long or short as the message requires.

A campaign based on this formula can come complete with plot-lines, character development, and signature music all designed to deliver your marketing message in an entertaining way that will not only get stuck in your audience's memory, but will be anticipated by that same audience. The famous 'Taster's Choice' soap opera style campaign of years ago was one of the best examples of combining entertainment with a commercial message.

Even the lowly jingle can be resurrected to provide some 'sit-up and take notice' to an otherwise mundane presentation. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't know the recipe for MacDonald's Big Mac, based on their fabulously successful commercials, even though they haven't been aired in years. In fact MacDonald's current roster of commercials are so forgettable that you wonder why they haven't brought the old standby back to life.

Another bit of delicious marketing entertainment was the series of Chili's Restaurant commercials featuring various singers interpreting their 'Baby Back Ribs' jingle, which provided far more entertainment in thirty seconds than a full CD of Britney Spears. More importantly that infectious 'baby back ribs' song has become deeply rooted in the public's subconscious, and when the inevitable question comes up, 'where are we going to eat?' that jingle starts playing in our heads. If you want to be successful, learn from what works.

Can You Afford To Wait

If your business is expanding as fast as it can with an ever-growing líst of customers and continuously increasing profits, then perhaps you can afford to ignore the changes taking place, and the expectations of your audience. But if things could be better, and if you yearn to improve your Web-marketing, then you have to adjust to new ways of delivering content.

You can't let out-dated thinking get in your way. There is a difference between twenty year's experience, and one year's experience repeated twenty times. There is no point in continuing to repeat old methods that no longer work.

You know things have changed so get ready to deliver your content in a way that will allow your company to become the next great Web success story.

About The Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, www.136words.com and www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Social Bookmarking and Increasing Web Traffic

By Lance Winslow

One of the newest ways to increase traffic on your website and get your business ranked higher in the search engines is thru social book marking. In fact social book marking is all the rage. Moreover it is a natural tendency of to think in this way and it is helping smaller website entrepreneurs and Bloggers get their messages out to society.

Social Bookmarking and Increasing Web Traffic was recently the number one topic on the ezines of the top online website marketing consultants and already there are over 300 eBooks out on the subject and available online to help you develop your own Social Bookmarking Strategy to increasing your Web Traffic.

Social Bookmarking is an evolution of the social networking revolutions occuring on the Internet with the next up and coming generation of Internet users and surfers. Although just recently social bookmarking has become popular it actually started in 1996 when the Internet was just really getting going.

If your website has more people bookmarking it, your rankings will go up and it will drive more traffic to you, thus it makes sense to work with others doing the same thing to advance both you and them. Search: Social Bookmarking and learn all you can and then develop a strategy to insure your website is viewed and bookmarked by the most number of people.

Social bookmarking works, do not let yourself be left behind, this train is leaving the station. Toot, toot, All Aboard! I certainly hope this article is of interest and that is has propelled thought. The goal is simple; to help you in your quest to be the best in 2007. I thank you for reading my many articles on diverse subjects, which interest you.

"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; http://www.WorldThinkTank.net/. Lance is a guest writer for Our Spokane Magazine in Spokane, Washington