Posted May 14, 2007 4:13 pm by with 11 comments

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By Greg Howlett.

MarketingExperiments just released a new research brief discussing how to make landing pages more successful.  As always, their conclusions are very relevant to online retailers and other companies who are trying to generate an action from their visitors.

A key part of the study involved trying to determine whether long copy or short copy performed better when the desired action was a simple email capture.  As it turns out, the short copy was more successful.

In the past, many studies have shown that long copy is more effective in certain situations.  However, MarketingExperiments believes that there are four factors that should influence your decision about whether to use long or short copy–the cost of what you are selling, the perceived risk, the commitment level, and the motivation.

In other words, if you are selling a high priced product, asking for a lot of personal information, requiring a time commitment, or using logic as your selling strategy, use long copy.  On the other hand, if you are giving away something for free without commitment and selling with emotion, use short copy.

MarketingExperiments identifies six elements that affect the performance of landing pages:

1) Friction – how much work the visitor has to do (this includes the reading)

2) Incentives – extras that are thrown in to sweeten the deal

3) Visitor motivation – how much they want what you have

4) Value proposition – the perception visitors have of you and what you are selling

5) Anxiety – the perceived risk to the visitor

6) Credibility – how well you convey trustworthiness

To increase site conversion, you should focus on these elements.  It is important to understand that few changes will in themselves make dramatic differences.  My company tripled our conversion rate over the past year, but we did it with a huge number of very minor changes.  Even very modest improvements in these six areas can cumulatively add up to a significant increase. 

While studies such as this one provide valuable information to online marketers, they can at best provide useful guidelines to begin your own research.  If you sell online, it is imperative that you develop a platform to do your own research.  The simplest way to do this is to use split A/B testing.  This involves splitting traffic randomly between two pages that are identical except for the factor that is being tested.  A split A/B test will quickly give you answers about how you should be marketing, and is very simple to implement.

Having launched two multi-million dollar online companies, Greg Howlett has been working in the trenches of internet marketing for over eight years.  He currently is the President/CEO of Vitabase, a leading health supplement company, selling hundreds of products under the Vitabase label.