Landing page optimisation for content marketers

At the moment there is so much talk about content marketing and creating valuable content, yet few discuss distributing it out for maximum effect and fewer mention landing page optimisation. Quite simply, if you neglect your landing page, no one will convert.

So, this post is about landing page optimisation to ensure you get that conversion. In the case of this post, we’re going to focus on content downloads – those meaty, premium, high-value pieces you’ve put a lot of effort into creating.

First, a little bit about this kind of valuable content.

Valuable content is the kind of content that you need to lock behind a form. It’s valuable, therefore in exchange for the value you offer, you ask for the recipient’s details. A value exchange.

Content that offers this kind of depth is often associated with individuals who are self-educating or in the early part of consideration. These pieces are typically not used for awareness, although the promotional elements around them would drive awareness. Because the visitors landing on your page are looking for deeper, richer content, it’s more likely that they’re going to be good prospects, further down the proverbial funnel.

Be selective: Only lock your best content behind a form

There’s much debate about what kind of content to lock behind forms. Ultimately, you want your content efforts to pay off, but some content just shouldn’t be locked away, for example, infographics, top line analyst reports and case studies (feel free to disagree).

So in order to get the best conversion rate, start with only locking away your most valuable content. After all, I only want to give you my contact details if I get something of value in return. I’m also more likely to engage with your nurture emails after I’ve consumed something that’s highly valuable as it leaves a sweet taste in my mouth.

Introduce the content piece: Don’t scrimp on copy

If I’m going to download a piece of content and give you my details, I want to know that it’s valuable. It’s important to introduce the piece and give key highlights of its contents.

We often see a short paragraph and three bullet points, well, quite frankly it’s not enough. Landing page copy often lets down the page and ultimately will have a negative effective on conversion.

Marketo do a fantastic job of giving you good reasons to download their content. Below is a screenshot for one of their Definitive Guides – a hero piece of content for those in consideration mode.

They provide 3 to 4 paragraphs describing the content and then pull out bullet points detailing the key benefits.

What’s more, they include reviews from key industry leaders giving endorsements to evidence the value of the content.

Imagery: Make it beautiful

It’s easy to simply plonk a picture of the content piece on the landing page. Often you see the front cover in-situ on a device and other times you see it in the form of a fake book (nice). Whilst this is good, adding additional imagery is going to increase engagement.

The visual impact of additional imagery gives an indication of the content topic and the quality of the produced piece. Better quality will go a long way to driving increasing form conversion.

What I like about the Marketo example above it that they include a visual of the front cover of the piece on the form. Other tactics might be using images to direct people to calls-to-action or specific parts of the content – see the example below with an arrow drawing attention to the form fields.

Landing page forms: Think carefully

Whilst it may be nice to ask every last detail about the person downloading the form, the more you ask, the less likely they are to give you the information. Therefore, when it comes to landing page optimisation, keep form fields to the minimum.

You can always progressively profile website visitors to get additional information on return visits (assuming that your content is good and they come back for more).

Return visits: Remember me

If I come back to your website and want more of your fabulous content, don’t make me fill in the form again. You’ve cookied me, right? So prepopulate the form as a minimum. Ideally don’t give me a form, just welcome me back with open arms. To achieve these two elements, you’ll need a marketing automation platform of some kind with some sophisticated functionality.

If you take a look at the Marketo example above, you’ll see that they do this. The example below shows their original form. They only ask what they need to in order to understand who I am and get a bit more information on my company.

Give me social proof: Validate and share

Having people endorse your content is a great way to increase conversion. If others are downloading it and sharing it, then it must be good, right? Social proof is validation of the value, so add sharing buttons to prove your worth and give me and others the opportunity to validate you, too.

Tell me what to do: Clear calls-to-action

It may seem obvious but give me clear calls to action. Tell me what you want me to do and I’m much more likely to do it. If you want me to subscribe, tell me. If you want me to download, tell me.

By making it clear what you want me to do, you’re also telling me what’s going to happen. It’s a nice clear user journey and so I’m more compelled to act.

Test: Continually improve

If really want your landing pages to work hard, then you shouldn’t set it and forget it. Ultimately, lead generation is the key and if you can discover a simple change that can improve conversion, you should do it. Develop a testing programme, even a simple one that looks at headlines, imagery and calls-to-action to increase conversion.

Testing can yield significant results. For example, President Obama raised an additional $60 million using A/B testing (Event360) and Eyeview Digital discovered that using video on a landing page can increase conversion by 86% (Eyeview Digital).

Don’t forget about the download experience

It’s easy to focus on the conversion, but what happens when you’ve hit the download button is incredibly important. That experience informs me of how much you care about our relationship. At this point, I really need that value to be delivered.

What I mean by this is I want to get the download now and make it as easy as possible for me to access it. An immediate download as a PDF is best, followed up by a well-crafted email with a link to the PDF.

Make sure you test what happens and set up your form process to provide the best experience.

When you do send that first email to your new contact, make it really work hard. It’s your first contact with them and your opportunity to start gently nurturing.

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