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How Big Brands Use Urgency to Drive Conversions During the Holidays

urgency-holidays-blog
Hurry! Holiday shopping is upon us, which means big conversion opportunities await. Image via Shutterstock.

What’s worse than not being able to find the perfect Christmas gift for someone you love?

How about finding it, then realizing it’s sold out? Sold out.

The thought alone is enough to cause a pre-Christmas meltdown, but while we’re all fretting over the perfect gift, big-brand retailers and ecommerce site owners are off singing carols, waiting for the dollars to roll in. But how do they do it? How do they make us want to buy so feverishly every year? It’s not as if holiday marketing differs significantly from one year to the next.

Holiday marketing is — and always has been — all about urgency, about creating a real (or at least semi-real) timeframe in which people need to act, or they’ll miss out.

In this post, we’re going to look at how brands including Apple, Toys R’ Us, Target and Starbucks use the power of the ‘limited time only’ offer, to turn browsers into customers, who combined will spend billions of dollars online and in-store over the holidays. Then, we’re going to show you how to apply those same principles to your landing pages, so that you can create high-converting offers in time for the Christmas sales.

Urgency: Nothing new at Target

If anyone knows when these Target ads are from, please drop a comment below. They certainly predate the internet, but look at the copy; it wouldn’t look out of place on landing page made today.

The ad features a catchy headline with a clear CTA (“Charge it!”), a descriptive subheader (“Open to midnight! Every weeknight till Christmas.”) and a few simple visuals to show the reader exactly what to expect.

target-full-page-ad
This ad may be decades old, but the principles that made it a success then still ring true today. Image via Target.

It might be a print ad from the 1950s or 60s, but this Christmas ad from Target has almost everything a great landing page needs. Let’s examine it a bit more closely.

target-headline

We talk about headers and headlines a lot at Unbounce. They’re the first port of call for visitors to your landing page, and if you’re not pitching something worth their time, they’re going to bounce.

Your headline creates intrigue, suggests benefits and, especially in the case of holiday campaigns, creates urgency.

Target’s “Be gifty, be thrifty” approach is cutesy and memorable, but also totally appropriate for introducing a holiday sale — it’s about gifts and savings. But “Be gifty, be thrifty” isn’t strong enough on its own. Adding ‘but hurry!’ turns the appreciative smile that comes with a good rhyme, toward a sense of urgency. Better hurry, this ad says, or all the best deals will be gone. It’s a technique that’s been used since cavemen first scratched ads for saber-toothed tiger skins onto the walls of their caves, and it works every time.

Show ’em what you’ve got

Here’s something else we see on modern landing pages — show the people what you’ve got. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ad, a landing page or an overlay, it’s a pitch. You’re showing people what you’ve got, and at Christmas time, the best way to show people what you’ve got, is to literally show them what you’ve got.

target-featured-products

Make it easy

There’s another key tactic at play here: Make it easy. That means, make it clear that shopping with you is going to be simple and straightforward (more so than if you were to shop with the competition). Time is short, and you need gifts — we’re here to help. Target makes it easy by telling its customers that their Dayton’s credit cards are good there.

Apply it: Target’s four simple rules for creating urgency

  1. Create an attention-grabbing headline which mentions gifts, savings and timeframe.
  2. Ramp up the urgency by getting specific about limited availability.
  3. Show the people what you’ve got.
  4. Suggest to the people how easy the shopping experience can be.

Buy one get one free at Starbucks

For Starbucks lovers, the BOGOF on holiday drinks offer is legendary. And so is the three-hour window in which you can redeem that offer. You’ll rally your friends, you’ll take a half day if need be, but you’re getting to Starbucks between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00.

starbucks-bogo
One for me, one for you… or maybe two for me, none for you. Image via Starbucks.

The variety of holiday drinks on offer is actually secondary in this ad. The focus here in on getting you into the store at a very specific time (between 2:00 and 5:00, when Starbucks is likely to be less busy because everyone’s at work.)

Where’s the urgency? It’s unlikely that they’ll sell out of your favorite, unless they run out of gingerbread syrup. The urgency lies in getting in before the offer closes. You can always come back tomorrow, but Starbucks has us by the brain and we want it now.

The BOGOF offer is so effective, and not just on Starbucks holiday drinks, it almost doesn’t matter what you’re giving away, because one of them is free. That’s evidenced here by the headline and subheader, which are literally a statement of the what/when/where of the offer — no frills required!

Use images that resonate

You go to Starbucks for one reason and one reason only — coffee. Starbucks creates urgency with its visuals by showing customers what they want to see — red cups.

Apply It: Create urgency using limited time offers

Whether it’s a countdown, an end date or a specific timeframe during which people can redeem your offer, or sign up for your webinar, create urgency on your landing page by guiding visitors towards not only what they can get, but also when. Making your countdown highly visible, with either a static image or an animated countdown, only adds to the sense of urgency, too.

Super crazy Christmas cracker bonanza!

If it looks urgent, it’ll make people feel urgent. Most of us are highly receptive to design elements such as color, font, font size and the shape of various elements. Seeing lots of different sized fonts on an ad can be distracting, but it can also create a sense of urgency and liveliness. Look at this example from Toys R’ Us:

toys-r-us
Only a toy store at Christmas could get away with design this over the top. Image via Toys R’ Us.

Most of this is just branding — it’s the way Toys R’ Us does its thing — but around the holidays, the mixing of lower and upper case letters, the bouncy font and the enlarging of certain words has the effect of creating a sort of… hysteria. That’s perhaps not the right way to describe it, but you get the idea, right? It’s all SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! THOUSANDS! TOYS! SHOP EARLY! BIGGEST EVER! QUANTITIES ARE LIMITED!

Apply it: No holds barred

Let’s just go ahead and list every bit of urgency and sale-related copy in this ad:

  • Biggest Cyber Monday Sale Ever!
  • Online only!
  • Save up to 60% on THOUSANDS of items!
  • Quantities are limited, so SHOP EARLY!
  • Shop now

Liberal use of the exclamation mark, capital letters in the middle of sentences and restrictions on when and where you can shop, turn this ad into an assault on your sense of urgency. You know what they say: Go big, or go home. When you’ve got product to move, and if you’ve got the confidence to shout about it from the rooftops, then you go all in.

Stuff, stuff stuff: Shop now for some stuff

What was true fifty years ago is true now; people love stuff, and if you show it to them in a thoughtful way, they’ll buy it.

apple
Apple might have all the budget in the world, but the principles they leverage are free for the taking. Image via Apple.

This ad from Apple is actually for the Black Friday sales, but it works just as well as a Christmas sales ad. Remember in our first vintage Target ad where they showed us what was on offer? Apple doesn’t just show us what’s on offer, they base their entire design on it.

Normally, it’d be pretty crude (and difficult) to sneak your logo into the same ad five times, but don’t forget, when it comes to Christmas sales and ecommerce, as with your landing page, those who dare, win.

Ready. Set. Shop.

How many times do we need to say this? There’s nothing subtle about creating urgency in Christmas sales ads. Apple’s “Ready. Set. Shop.” headline pulls no punches. This is a race, son, and if you’re not quick, all the best stuff will be gone, gone, gone before grandpa nods off after his second cup of eggnog.

And, like old-school Target wanted you to know that your Drayton’s credit card was ok with them. Apple wants you to know that you can shop online or in-store, it’s totally your choice.

Apply It: Leverage your products

There’s a theme running through most of these Christmas ads, and it’s that your product is your greatest asset when it comes to creating urgency.

There will be people who want what you’ve got, and those people are your target audience. The Christmas sales are not a time to pitch for new customers, necessarily. What they are, is a chance to ride the wave of urgency and raise both awareness and revenue. If that means pushing your product more than usual, now is the time to do it.

As quick as a kiss underneath the mistletoe

There certainly is plenty of room for festive cheer, and we encourage you to Christmas up your landing pages as much as possible. But the fact is, people respond to urgency, we don’t want to miss out. It’s why the same techniques work year upon year, and why creating a high-converting holiday landing page really isn’t so complicated.

Still not sure how to build high-converting holiday landing pages?

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Excerpt from:

How Big Brands Use Urgency to Drive Conversions During the Holidays

Simple Recipes for No-Fail Landing Page Copy [+ Free Downloadable Worksheet]

cake ingredients
Who knew landing pages and cake had so much in common? Image via Shutterstock.

In some ways, building a landing page is like baking a cake. Certain people prefer chocolate, and others like cream fillings, but there are some fundamental formulas (for both cakes and landing pages) that are tried and tested, and proven to produce positive results.

This post is a recipe for a solid vanilla sponge landing page. For advice on design (a.k.a. the buttercream frosting), check out these posts on user experience and essential design principles.

Here are the formulas we’ll cover in this post, using examples from great landing pages:

  • Action words + Product reference = Winning headline
  • Your exact offering + Promise of ease = Winning subheader
  • Your best offerings + Worded in the form of benefit statements + Appropriate sectioning = Winning body content
  • Active words + ‘I want to…’ + A/B testing = Winning call to action

Want to test the formulas out for yourself?

Download our FREE worksheet for creating no-fail landing page copy.
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The header is always active — it wants you to do something. The header almost always directly references the product or service, as well. As Kurt Vonnegut said,

To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

What are active words?

In the same way that active voice makes a sentence stronger by shifting focus onto the subject, active words help to promote action and create urgency. Active words in headers are usually verbs like build, get, launch, unlock, pledge, invest and give.

Here are a few examples of effective, action-led landing page headlines.

Codecademy winning headline
Codecademy’s headline is about as close to perfect as it gets.
Lyft winning headline
Lyft doesn’t use the “Get started” CTA we’ll talk about, but that headline is a winner.
Pro tip: To maximize your conversion efforts, ensure there’s message match between your click-through ad and headline.

Your exact offering + Promise of ease = Winning subheader

Your header is an active statement, introducing your product. Your subheader is the second wave, there to support the header and give visitors a reason to continue reading. In the subheader, you tell your audience exactly what you have to offer, and highlight how incredibly easy the whole process will be.

Easy as pie

Online, all it takes is a few taps and a few clicks to make a potentially big decision, but if it’s not easy, a lot of us won’t bother doing it. That’s especially true of a landing page, which is essentially a 24/7 elevator pitch for your business.

As a visitor to your landing page, I need to know if what you’re offering is going to benefit me, and that by handing over my details, you’re going to do most of the heavy lifting for me (at least to begin with.)

In our model for the no-fail landing page copy, the relationship between header and subheader looks like this:

Header: Introduces the idea or service in an active way (inspire your audience to do something).

Subheader: Backs up the header by giving a reason for your visitor to read on.

Outbrain winning subheader
Ooo, easy setup — just what we all love to see.

This example from Outbrain might not have the prettiest header or subheader, but both illustrate exactly what we’ve been talking about. The header is active, and so is the subheader, which tells you exactly what the main benefits of using Outbrain are, along with the promise of an easy setup.

Your best offerings + worded in the form of benefit statements + appropriate sectioning = Winning body content

The bulk of your landing page copy does the same job as the header and the subheader: it presents the benefits of your product to the user, and encourages them to act.

It’s tempting to go off-piste in the body content, to talk about your values and how you donate half of your profits to charity, but hold off. You need to make sure that your product is one your audience wants first. Stick to the benefits, and expand on those.

Break up your content

You’ll probably have more than one point to make on your landing page, but even if you don’t, breaking content up with headers and bullet points increases the chances of something catching your reader’s eye. It’s the equivalent of a supermarket arranging its products into categories and shelves, rather than bundling everything together in a big bargain bin.

With your body content, just like with your subheader, focus on what you have to offer, why it’s better than the competition’s and how you’ll do most of the heavy lifting should your prospect hand over their valuable email address. Let’s take a look at how MuleSoft connects header, subheader and body content.

Mulesoft body copy

The header: In this case, the header is just what the product is, which is likely the most appropriate approach for this audience.

The subheader: The subheader — or supporting header — focuses on the main benefit of the handbook. Clearly, MuleSoft knows its audience, and is giving it to them straight.

The body: It’s still laser-focused on those main benefits, giving visitors ample opportunity to become engaged.

Pro tip: A landing page is a pitch, and like any pitch, your job is to put forward your best offerings and do your best to secure a follow-up. If you’re struggling to prioritize your offerings, consider the following:

  • What does your product do, and how does it make your prospect’s life easier?
  • What are your product’s most ground-breaking or useful features?
  • Who does your product help?
  • How easy it is to get started?
  • Who else uses your product?

Here’s a great example from Startup Weekend. The body content answers all of the main questions, with no BS:

Startup Weekend landing page copy

Active words + “I want to…” + A/B testing = Winning CTA

Since we’re talking about no-fail copy, like blueprints for you to riff from, we’ll tell you straight up that the most common call to action phrase that makes it to live landing pages, is “Get started”. That’s followed closely by anything with the word “get” in it.

Why does ‘Get started’ work?

It needs to be clear that your call to action is where the next step happens. If you want serious leads, then the call to action button is not the place to test out your funniest one-liners. Just like the header and subheader, the call to action is active, it’s job is to create momentum.

“Get started” suggests a journey, it suggests self-improvement, which is probably why it works better than “Submit” or “Subscribe.” It could also be that “Get started” works because it finishes the sentence we’re thinking when a sign-up is close: “I want to… get started.”

Pro-tip: Best practices are best practices for a reason, but don’t use a “Get” CTA just because I suggested it. Do some research, craft a sound hypothesis and A/B test your button copy for maximum conversions.
Fluidsurveys CTA copy
FluidSurveys‘s button copy is active and timely.
Cheez burger CTA copy
Cheezburger pairs tried and true button copy with another one of our favorite words: free.
blab cake CTA copy
BlabCake uses a slightly different version of the “Get” formula for their coming soon page.

Conclusion

Let’s look at all of the formulas together:

  • Action words + Product reference = Winning headline
  • Your exact offering + Promise of ease = Winning subheader
  • Your best offerings + Worded in the form of benefit statements + Appropriate sectioning = Winning body content
  • Active words + ‘I want to…’ + A/B testing = Winning call to action

What you’ve got in these formulas, is the recipe for a basic vanilla sponge — the foundations of a successful landing page. Put them together and then — like any good marketer — your job becomes testing that landing page to see what works best for your audience.

What are your favorite copywriting formulas? Share ’em in the comments!

Original article – 

Simple Recipes for No-Fail Landing Page Copy [+ Free Downloadable Worksheet]

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BLUF: 4 Examples of High-impact Copy Inspired By this Military Tactic [+ Free Downloadable Worksheet]

Woman morse code
Imagine you’re tapping out a telegraph the next time you write your landing page copy. Image by Everett Collection via Shutterstock.

Right before the Titanic sank, at around 1:00 a.m. on April 15, 1912, somebody sent the following telegram, an incredible — albeit sad — example of BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):

CQD CQD SOS SOS = FROM MGY (RMS TITANIC) = WE HAVE STRUCK ICEBERG = SINKING FAST = COME TO OUR ASSISTANCE = POSITION: LAT 41.46 N. = LON 50.14 W. MGY

BLUF is originally a military communications technique, in which the conclusion — the most vital information and actions — is placed right at the start.

As a copywriting tool for your landing page, BLUF is effective for a few reasons, including:

  • highlighting your best copy right away,
  • reducing the likelihood of people bouncing due to lack of clarity and
  • giving the reader what they need to make an informed decision (respect people’s time and intelligence and they’ll respect you).

Look at this example from the Starbucks website:

Starbucks ad
Starbucks proving that sometimes less is more.

When the folks at Starbucks released their Italian-Style Ham & Spicy Salami sandwich in January, they knew that all they really needed to do was show the sandwich and tell you what’s in it. Throw in some colorful words, like handcrafted, splash and tangy, and you’re salivating.

This is BLUF. Starbucks has given you everything you need to know about whether this sandwich is for you, all in about 30 words. If you really want to “Learn More”, you can  (it has 480 calories and little pickled peppers, if you’re interested).

Now that you know what BLUF is and have some idea of how it works, let’s look at some more examples, and then how to put BLUF into practice on your own landing pages. Get ready to nerd out.

Download Your Free Learn How To BLUF Worksheet

Craft killer BLUF-inspired copy that converts with this FREE downloadable worksheet.
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BLUF example #2: Gumroad

Gumroad landing page
Gumroad’s landing page is a strong example of BLUF, giving visitors the pertinent info they need right up front.

What is Gumroad’s BLUF?

Sell music directly to your listeners.
See higher conversion, lower fees and more customer control.

Gumroad’s bottom line is that it allows musicians to sell directly to listeners. That might be enough for some people, but the landing page includes some key features of the service, like lower fees and the possibility of higher conversions. If you’re a musician, Gumroad is sounding pretty good by now, so the next logical step is to attempt to seal the deal by inviting you to sign up for free.

There’s more information in the page section below if you’re in need of a bit more convincing, but essentially everything you need to know to make a decision is right there up front.

BLUF example #3: Human

Human landing page
Human recognizes that we humans have very limited attention spans.

What is Human’s BLUF?

Human’s BLUF is even simpler than Gumroad’s; its app will encourage you to do 30 minutes or more of exercise every day. It’s a fitness tracker that feeds you little nuggets of praise, pushing you to do more.

Like Gumroad, the copy on Human’s landing page passes the Blank Sheet of Paper test, giving visitors only the bare necessities in order to make a decision.

Again, the call to action mentions that the app is free to download, making it harder to refuse.

BLUF example #4: Dyson

What if the thing you’re offering is complex? Further, what if you want to highlight the fact that it’s complex, but still have people understand it? All the more reason to use BLUF. Nothing changes.

The Dyson team prides themselves on making things that are intuitive and easy to use. They also want you and the competition to know that there is absolutely nothing else like a Dyson. They’re not shy about giving you the technical details, but look at how they do it.

This unique 360 vision system uses complex mathematics, probability theory, geometry and trigonometry to map and navigate a room. So it knows where it is, where it’s been and where it’s yet to clean.

What is Dyson’s BLUF (and what else have they done right?)

Dyson landing page
Dyson effectively blends simplicity using the BLUF tactic with the complexity of it’s high-tech product.

Nobody who’s just looking for a bog-standard vacuum cleaner is going to be interested in the ins and outs of the 360 Eye — or its $1,200 price tag. The people who are interested in this cleaner are gadget geeks and tech brains with money to burn.

The folks at Dyson know that, and they sell based on the vacuum’s features. The bottom line is that the people who are most likely to buy the 360 Eye will be attracted by certain words and phrases, like “robot navigation technology” and “probability theory.”

Dyson knows that the people who buy this cleaner will want to stand and look at it with their friends and say,

It uses trigonometry to figure out that it still needs to clean near the fridge.

Plan your copy using BLUF

Planning what to write on your landing page with BLUF is easy.

If I’m a visitor to your landing page, I have a specific need to fill. I want you to:

  • show me how your offering meets my needs (whether it’s a car alarm or a cake decorating set),
  • give me reason to think that your thing is better than everyone else’s and
  • invite me to learn more, sign up or buy.

If I want to know more, I can scroll, but if you can fulfill my need convincingly right there in your opening, I’m less likely to visit somebody else’s landing page, right?

Consider this: How often do you stare at an article or landing page and have no idea what you’re reading? Let’s avoid that.

Exercise: Learn how to BLUF

This is just for fun, so don’t panic. Thinking about the examples above, pick a product or service (your own or someone else’s) and have a crack at this. I’ve filled it out for PayPal as an example:

Words/phrases you associate with this product/service Problems this product/service solves Things which make this product/service better than the rest
Money, finances, security, payments, safety, ease, simplicity, universal, send, receive, business, invoice, used by millions, trusted, fraud protection • Sending and receiving money safely
• No need to hand over bank details
• Trade in different currencies
• Keep track of business payments
• Can receive payments/send invoices to people who don’t have PayPal
• Work easily with any currency
• Access your money anywhere in the world

Visualizing your thoughts and features like this starts to give you an idea of what your conclusion, key points and actions might be. It’s the framework for your BLUF copy.

We’ve now got plenty of material to create a PayPal landing page with. We might say something like:

Send and Receive Money Safely
Access your money anywhere. Trade business invoices in any currency.
Start trading today

Outlining your copy first can be useful for informing your design. It’s something that copywriter Alastaire Allday talks about in his ebook, Think Like a Copywriter.

Wrapping up

The essence of BLUF is about giving your reader the information they need right away, and allowing them to make an informed decision about a follow-up.

While being so scant in your introduction may sound scary, just like in dating, confidence pays off big time. It’s much easier for people to buy into your idea when you’re completely behind it yourself. You still need to be descriptive, but highlight your best parts straight away. Don’t beat around the bush.

Good luck using BLUF to take your landing page copywriting to another level.

From:

BLUF: 4 Examples of High-impact Copy Inspired By this Military Tactic [+ Free Downloadable Worksheet]