Copyblogger’s Sonia Simone kicked off her Authority Rainmaker presentation with a question that has certainly been asked before.Is marketing evil? Unfortunately we’ve all come across misguided campaigns that seem intended to trick people rather than help them. But that’s not how it’s supposed to be.
“Like brushing your teeth before going out on a date, marketing is about putting a good face on what you have”, explains Sonia. You may be able to pull the wool over people’s eyes in the short term, but tricking your audience is a sure path to failure in the long run. Every brand’s reputation is pretty easy to research on the internet these days and people just aren’t dumb enough for a truly ‘evil’ strategy to work.
So, effective digital marketing is decidedly not ‘evil’, but can we learn something from evil people? According to Sonia, we certainly can. Drawing on some classic villains including Dr. Evil and the Joker, Sonia laid out how well-meaning digital marketers can benefit from adding just a little ‘evil’ to their landing pages.
Always Try to Shoot Fish from a Barrel
The best way to generate conversions from your landing pages is simply to make it easy for people to convert. Like a barrel, a well-constructed landing page puts visitors directly in the firing line of your offer and doesn’t include ‘leaks’ or distractions to divert them from converting.
To get more ‘fish’ into your barrel, it needs to be inviting to your audience. Make sure your landing pages (and by extension your whole website) look professional, are easy to use and load fast. Test your forms across all major devices and browsers, then test them again. Even better, ask your grandma to test them.
Also, your offering needs to be something that people actually want. As Sonia explained, if you’re trying to sell broccoli ice cream, it doesn’t matter how well you market it, because nobody wants that.
Social Proof is Scarily Effective
Just like nobody wants to miss a party that they know their friends will be attending, people are much more motivated to join a list, download an ebook or sign up for an offer if there is evidence that others like them have already taken the same action.
Smart marketers have been aware of the power of social proof for a long time and the really smart ones are incorporating it into their landing pages to help them convert better.
A few ways to take advantage of the evil power of social proof:
- Endorsements from influential people in the industry
- Case studies
- Social share count widgets
- Facebook Like Boxes
Don’t Be Too Clever
Catchy clickbait headlines may work well for BuzzFeed, but they are notoriously poor performers on landing pages.
One of the fundamentals of high-converting landing page is clarity of messaging. While clever headlines may be attention grabbing, they are often confusing and confusion is the enemy of action.
In addition, confusing messaging can lower the perceived trust people have for your company, which is absolutely the last thing you want when potential business is on the line. Would you prefer to trust your health to a doctor who knew her craft, or one who could entertain you with jokes?
There’s a time and place for cleverness, but landing pages are rarely a good fit for either.
A Good Call to Action is Like Jedi Mind Control
When it comes to landing pages, your biggest competitor is inaction. Everyone’s attention is extremely limited, so make sure you aren’t wasting your audience’s time by being confusing or ambiguous with what they are supposed to do by including a good call to action.
Really killer calls to action have the following attributes:
- Incredible clarity
- A clear benefit
- Builds trust
Provide Multiple Paths to Your Evil Lair
Any evil genius with any credibility has at least a few routes to reach their lair. There’s the hallway with spikes that pop out, the ventilation shaft hidden behind a bush and of course the front door (with lasers or something…).
Each of these distinct paths to the inside of your lair appeals to a different kind of secret agent or commando. The cautious and pragmatic spy will likely prefer to take their time and slink in through the ventilation shaft, while the overpowered bruiser henchmen will crash their way through the front door.
Similarly, visitors to your landing pages are likely to respond to different paths to conversion. Varying degrees of experience with your brand, places in the sales cycle and personal values are a few factors that can cause people to respond better to different messages or formats.
Boiling it down, Sonia says there are two major categories which your visitors are likely to fall into:
- Already sold – These are the people who know what they want, know you can deliver it and are ready to convert. Make sure you have a direct, frictionless, straight-to-the-point path to conversion for these visitors. Don’t waste their time.
- Need some convincing – There’s a reason these people made it to your landing page (perhaps a useful blog post, ebook, or webinar you created?), but they’re not quite sold yet. A softer call to action will likely work much better for these visitors to help convince them it’s worth it to become a customer.
Make People Feel Safe
In order for evil geniuses to be successful, they must be able to build trust. In order for your landing pages to convert visitors into customers, you have to do the same.
According to Sonia, your audience’s single biggest fear is feeling stupid. Most people want to believe that your offering is everything you claim it is, but they can’t be sure until it’s too late. What if they buy your product and it doesn’t work? What if they join your email list and receive nothing but spam? What if they come to your webinar and you share incorrect or unhelpful information?
All of these unfortunate outcomes can make someone feel pretty stupid. Unfortunately, anyone who has used the internet for a while has probably been in at least one of these situations before, so they have built in wariness about it happening again. Therefore, in order to convert visitors to customers, you need to help them overcome the fear that you’ll make them feel stupid again.
In order to help your audience feel safe to do business with you, make sure your landing pages:
- Project credibility
- List endorsements from trusted authorities.
- Include references to other clients you work with.
- Reverse the risk
- Offer a money back guarantee.
- Start with a free trial.
The objective of any strategic digital marketing campaign is to translate attention into action. A well made landing page can be scarily effective at doing just that. But, as the decidedly non-evil superhero Spiderman famously said, “with great power comes great responsibility”, so please make sure to use these evil landing page optimization tips for good.
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