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The Hip Hop Guide to Landing Page Domination

I was eleven when I first heard Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and — despite being a prepubescent, white kid from the less-than-hard-knock streets of Pueblo, Colorado — my life was never the same.

Hip hop struck a chord in me: a rebellious, artistic and just-go-out-there-and-get-it chord.

However, it wasn’t until last month that hip hop struck a new chord… one that I never saw coming. Growling through my $20 earbuds at the gym, DMX put it like this:

X gon give it to ya. [Forget] waitin’ for you to get it on your own. X gon deliver to ya.

Suddenly, it all clicked. What does hip hop have to do with landing pages?


That’s why I’ve put together these five data-driven lessons (and oh-so-sharable memes) straight outta hip hop’s most iconic lyrics to prove to you that everything we both know about landing pages, we learned from hip hop.

1. Bring qualified visitors to you with high-intent ads


Paid advertising gets a bad rap… pun intended.

There’s myth running around that free traffic (i.e., SEO, email marketing, social media marketing) is the “smart” conversion rate expert’s go-to strategy. Why pay for leads when you can get ‘em for free?

Because paid advertising can buy you higher-converting leads… when you know how to use them right.

The key is understanding the searcher’s intent.

What is the best way to [specific product feature]?” and “How much is [specific product or service]?” are two very different searches and require different ads. The first is a research question and your ads should be offer educational content. The second reveals a person who is ready to buy, but is concerned about price, which is where guarantees and comparisons shine.

Using specific products as keywords — rather than a general category — targets people who are already close to purchase. As SparkPay’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to PPC explains:

Think about what people are searching for when they are going to buy your product. Don’t come up with keywords like “best online golf store.” Nobody searches for that. They are searching for a product, and we want to bid on product-based keywords.

To create successful high-intent paid ads:

2. Focus on your buyer’s real-life journey


Optimizing your landing pages isn’t just about optimizing your landing page.

It’s about stepping into the shoes of your leads and guiding them through a journey (i.e., your funnel): moving someone from your paid ad, to your landing page, to your follow up, to your offer.

Two principles are paramount:

  1. Craft this real-life journey like a human and
  2. Track it like a robot.

On the human side, think of your funnel like a conversation

Your paid ad is the opening gambit. This means it all starts with them — high-intent keywords — rather than you. Your landing page — especially, its headline, subheads, and CTA — must all build on that opener.

That singular thread is what Unbounce’s Oli Gardner calls conversation momentum: maintaining the same conversational style and tone across all campaign channels.

This means matching the phrasing of your ad with that of your landing page copy (message match), and maintaining the same tone and design.

And as obvious as it might sound, your messages themselves have to be authentic. Real-life journeys are full of emotions. Avoid jargon, and, above all, tell a story.

On the robot side, get analytical

Start by tracking your entire funnel with Google Analytics Goals. In a previous post, I wrote about the “fatal mistake” marketers make when it comes to funnel focus: namely, losing themselves in the “wide end.”

Setting GA Goals allow you to create easy-to-use visualization to measure each step in the journey:


At a glance, GA funnels allow you to see where people are dropping off. In this example, CTR is being tracked from an initial page, to a second goal (such as a pricing page), to the final goal: the checkout.

This allows you to determine which parts in the journey have the highest drop off rate, and give you the information you need to optimize areas with the biggest potential for improvement.

3. Only have one call to action


A powerful CTA button is the acme of CRO. Knowing that, the temptation is to overdo it. If you’ve created multiple CTAs but struggle with conversions… I feel bad for you son.

The truth is more buttons do not mean more conversions.

In fact, when Unbounce reduced the number of registration options for their Master Unbounce in 30 Minutes webinar by eliminating just one excess CTA, conversions increased by 16.93% with 100% confidence.


What does this mean for your landing pages?

If you’re drowning viewers in buttons, one of two things is happening:

  1. You’re not being clear about what the exact next step is.
  2. You’re paralyzing them with too many choices. Barry Schwartz, the master of choice, revealed the counter-intuitive truth of too many options in his TEDx Talk:

With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all… even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.

When it comes to landing pages, Oli Gardner calls this “attention ratio:” the ratio of links on a landing page to the number of page goals. And Oli explains that it should always be 1 to 1. Why?

Because every campaign has one goal, every corresponding landing page should have only one call to action – one place to click.

On top of selecting a single, clear, and driving CTA, high-converting buttons also follow these two basic rules:

  1. They look like buttons that can be clicked, with contrasting colors and other affordances.
  2. They answer the question, “Why should I click?” Use the “I want” formula presented by Joanna Wiebe: have your buttons complete the sentence “I want to ____.”

4. Don’t neglect the backend


What makes a landing page convert over the long term?

The secret is mixing in a lot (wink wink) of targeted follow-up, based directly on the information you gathered from your leads.

In a word: the backend. Backend is a sales and marketing term that refers to what happens after your customer’s initial opt-in or first purchase. This includes lead nurturing, customer retention and upselling.

A tight backend includes at least four parts:

  1. The initial opt in and follow up: When a visitor opts in, any information they submit needs an immediate response. More than that, because selling is a process, not an event, you’ll also need a multi-step follow-up. Why? As Oktopost recently pointed out, “nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.”
  2. Cart abandonment: The average ecommerce site can expect cart abandonment rates of around 55% to 75%… so why not send personalized emails to give prospects a friendly reminder? In a classic case study by Marketing Experiments, Smiley Cookie was able to regain 29% of its abandoned carts by reaching out within 24 hours.
  3. First purchases and upselling: Crossing the threshold from lead to customer is huge. And in the excitement of that moment, many business fail to keep the purchase-ball rolling. Immediately follow up with customers, guide through the onboarding process, and think of ways you can upsell them with items that supplement their purchase.
  4. Reviving the “dead” lead: Dead leads — visitors who opt in but never actually purchase — can give marketers anxiety. But there are simple thing you can do to rekindle your relationship (it could be as simple as a magic nine word email).

5. “One shot” isn’t enough


While designing your landing page with a “one shot, one opportunity” mindset might sound inspirational… it’s decidedly bad business.

Enter remarketing.

Remarketing is a form of advertising that uses pixel or cookie-based technology to “tag” specific visitors and present ads to them based on their previous visit. Essentially, these ads “follow” your visitors when they leave your site and are displayed to them on other sites, most notably, on YouTube, Google Display Network and Facebook.

As Johnathan Dane of KlientBoost points out:

Retargeting ads have a 10x higher click-through rate than display ads – and visitors subject to retargeting are 70% more likely to complete a conversion compared to non-retargeted visitors.

If you’re just getting started with retargeting, check out this post by Johnathan or grab HubSpot’s A Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting Ads.

A couple quick pointers

  • Create remarketing ads with as much specification as you do PPC ads: focus on retargeting ads that highlight specific products based on specific pages. In other words, don’t retarget your brand or site… retarget exactly what your visitor showed interest in.
  • Use psychological tactics like social proof and urgency to draw clicks from pre-exposed leads.
  • Select your channels strategically. Place remarketed ads where your audience is most likely to be thinking about your product.
  • Lastly, don’t be afraid to retarget converted leads with upsells.

Applying hip hop to your landing pages

Fun, games and punning aside, hip hop is an amazing resource for learning how to dominate your landing pages and entire online sales process.

I’d love to hear your own favorite lyrics and lesson in the comments.

Oh, and don’t forget to add a meme.

Continue reading: 

The Hip Hop Guide to Landing Page Domination


The Weird and Wonderful Ways You Never Thought to Use Landing Pages

There’s more than one way to make a great landing page.

Landing pages are so effective for lead generation because they eliminate all of the distractions of a typical website — navigation, social sharing, and any links that do anything other than convert.

That’s why we never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page. (And neither should you!)

But the unique talents of a landing page aren’t just useful for selling products or generating leads. That they stand alone from a larger website and are designed solely to draw attention to a single goal make them well-suited for all kinds of projects, both personal and professional.

In this post, we’ll go over some unusual landing page use cases along with examples for each. Let’s dig in.

Event marketing

Here at Unbounce, we (of course) use landing pages for all our events, be they for our employees or open to the public. Landing pages are a great fit for events because they let us collect RSVPs on the same page we use to market the event.

Unlike simply adding a page about the event to your website, a landing page has no conversion leaks. Prospective attendees can come to the page, learn about the event, and convert without getting lost.

Click to see the full page.

This page was used to invite employees to the Unbounce 5.0 launch party! This is, crucially, a separate boat party from the one where we crashed a drone into the river.

We used the built-in form to collect RSVPs, along with information on dietary restrictions and additional guests.

Because this page was meant for our own employees, we felt okay with sacrificing a bit of clarity for the sake of surprise and delight. But our pages for public-facing events focus a bit more on the why than the what:

Contrary to what this copy might imply, we actually vacuum at least once every few months.

One notable difference on this page is that rather than collect RSVPs through Unbounce’s built-in forms, we opted to distribute tickets via Eventbrite instead. Eventbrite is a great tool for event ticketing, but the level of customization offered by their event pages is extremely limited.

Thankfully, you don’t have to pick between having a landing page and using Eventbrite’s ticketing: all you need to do is insert Eventbrite’s embed code into your landing page and visitors will be able to book their tickets directly on the page.

It doesn’t have to stop at office parties, either. The Couple’s.co, a wedding design firm run by Unbounce product designer Vivi, custom-crafts wedding landing pages that do more than just tell you when and where to be. They tell a story.

Click to see the full page.

It also tells a lot more, with listings for nearby restaurants, attractions and places to stay. While weddings are all about the lucky couple, it’s nice to see some consideration for those who are traveling from far away!

The biggest advantage of using a landing page for events is their complete flexibility. You can design them how you want, prioritize the content that’s most valuable to prospective attendees, and collect RSVPs and information in whatever way is most valuable to you.

Hiring (and applying)

At Unbounce, we don’t solicit resumes from applicants. Instead, we ask them to build a landing page telling us about themselves and their inspirations.

Asking applicants to throw out their resume and do something new from scratch gives us the opportunity to ask our own kinds of questions and thus determine fit for the role, rather than basing our decision primarily on prior experience.

You could argue that a cover letter accomplishes the exact same goal. But I’ve never seen a cover letter that looks anything like this application from our growth strategist Brian:

Click to see the full page.

Just like with events, the inherently freeform nature of landing pages allows applicants to show the information they feel is important. Most cover letters, for example, don’t include screenshots of Google Analytics, nor do they off-handedly mention an ebook produced about staying fit while sitting inside of a tractor.

Here’s another sweet application landing page: our designer Luis Francisco used his page to show off his design skills:

Click to see the full page.

One applicant even ran a Facebook advertising campaign targeting a list of 20 Unbounce employee email addresses. (And yes, he got an interview.)

Interviews are awarded, then, not on the stature of one’s resume, but by the real-world demonstration of one’s skills and dedication. And we’re not alone: HR and payroll startup PaySavvy is also asking applicants to build an Unbounce landing page for their application.


Contest submissions

Job applicants aren’t the only people who’ve used retargeting to get the Unbounce team’s attention. The same thing happened in a contest we ran to give away tickets to Call to Action Conference 2015. And it probably won Andrea Getman the top prize.


Considering we ran it, you’ve probably already guessed the gist of the contest: create an awesome landing page convincing us that you’re the one to send to the Call to Action Conference. And while Andrea’s clever ad strategy may have sealed the deal, her page was strong enough on its own:

Click to see the full page.

Remember, building these pages is so easy that applicants who’ve never built one before are still able to do a great job of it. Because of the drag-and-drop nature of Unbounce, it’s not much harder than designing a nice slideshow presentation. That makes it a great format for any contest type that combines both writing and visuals.

You can also use landing pages to accept contest entries, like we did for our copywriting contest:

Click to enlarge.

A blog post presented the contest and laid out the full details, but entrants were directed to a landing page that focused on the rules and entry process.

And contests are probably the most fun way to get someone to give you their email address.


Who hasn’t spent an afternoon feverishly refreshing Twitter for updates on the latest gadget, the newest software, the super-cool conference that’s happening right now? And isn’t that the kind of energy you want to cultivate for your business?

Liveblogging is a powerful content format that can bring you a ton of attention, but where do you liveblog? Of course, you could do your liveblogging on Twitter… where you’re limited to 130 characters per post. Not to mention the opportunities missed by accumulating traffic on a social platform instead of on your own website.

Thankfully, there’s a pretty simple way to set up your own liveblog on your own page, by combining your landing page with Google Docs.

Click to enlarge.

We know it works because we’ve been doing it ourselves for quite a while. We took live notes at MozCon, HeroConf, and CTA Conf; notes were accessible both during and after the talks, written and formatted on the fly so attendees could follow along or use them as a reference later.

It’s easy to embed a Google Doc into a landing page, and it will update live as you edit the document. And because it’s within your own landing page, you can take it as a lead generating opportunity – like we did:


Idea validation

Landing pages offer a distraction-free environment to focus on marketing your product. But what if your product doesn’t exist yet?

Before investing time and money into building a new product or feature, you can actually use landing pages to validate interest in the first place.

That’s exactly what social media monitoring company Mention did to gauge interest in a new kind of mobile interaction, pull to react.


By pulling downwards and then sliding horizontally, you can toggle between actions and lift your finger to select them. (I wish every app I used had this.)

Mention emailed their list to drive traffic to a landing page to gauge interest:

The landing page used by Mention to gauge interest in Pull to React.

They ended up receiving conversions from 250 people who were interested in the feature. Not only that, but of those 250, 43 developers volunteered contributions to the project on GitHub.

Ultimately, Mention used landing pages to validate interest in the feature and refine the product, all while engendering a sense of community.

The unexplored frontier of landing pages

A few of these examples were still designed to generate leads, but I hope this post shows you that they don’t have to be just for that. You can run contests, create fully-featured pages for your personal events, see if your next-great-idea is really that great, and so much more.

In a lot of ways, the power and flexibility of building drag-and-drop landing pages in Unbounce reminds me of when I first started designing websites at 12 years old, using Geocities’ terrible-but-seemed-like-magic-back-then WYSIWYG page builder.

I spent several hundred hours building websites in this thing.

Whether it’s for your next campaign or for your dog’s bark-tacular birthday party, I hope you’ll take this as inspiration to push the boundaries of what a landing page really is.

Or you could just make the next great Squint Eastwood.

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The Weird and Wonderful Ways You Never Thought to Use Landing Pages


Kick-Start Your International Marketing Strategy by Leveraging Your Content


Global marketing. Localization. International marketing. Entering emerging markets. Basically, world domination.

These are large, terrifying words because they represent an even bigger, intimidating marketing strategy. And when you think of putting that strategy into action, the reasons (excuses) start to pile against it:

  • “Global marketing is for deep-pocketed Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola or Salesforce.”
  • “It’s just too large of a project to take on right now.”
  • “We really don’t have the bandwidth or time or budget.”

So you shy away from the thought of expanding beyond the borders of where you set up shop. Until eventually, you hit a ceiling and your company stops growing…

But the fact is that doing the same ol’, same ol’ won’t allow you to continue to grow (how do you think you become a Fortune 500 company, anyway?). There are massive opportunities to be explored in different markets — opportunities that others may see as obstacles or risk.

And investing in a global marketing strategy isn’t as daunting as you might think.

There are small steps you can take to develop a global digital marketing strategy — starting with your content marketing — and they’re all pretty digestible and straightforward.

Start with what has worked in local markets

At its core, international marketing strategy isn’t rocket science. It’s about taking what works and doing more of it.

Think about how you grew your current marketing channels, drove leads and ultimately got more customers. Then replicate that strategy and localize it in other markets.

From the beginning, at Unbounce, we’ve focused on growing our content channels and distributing that content through an engaged online social community. As co-founder Oli Gardner puts it:

Unbounce has been a content-driven company since day one.

So when we set out to tackle international marketing, looking beyond our North American customer base, we knew that focusing on the content strategies that brought us growth over the last six years was a great place to start — from writing epic blog posts to comprehensive ebooks and revenue-generating webinars.

Knowing that these content marketing campaigns brought us growth in North America, we set out to replicate them for the German market.

An international marketing strategy ≠ starting from square one. What has worked locally?
Click To Tweet

Leverage content that has performed well

A study of Fortune 500 companies showed that those that localized their content were two times more likely to increase profit and 1.25 times more likely to grow earnings per share year over year.

As Heidi Lorenzen, Chief Marketing Officer at Cloudwords puts it:

Localization of content is critical for engaging audiences outside company headquarters because it represents marketing personalization in its purest form.

You can’t just translate all your landing pages and pricing pages and call it a day. Like any other leads, leads in other markets expect you to deliver value.

So how do you get started on localizing content and driving leads?

1. Prioritize and identify opportunities

If you think of about creating localized marketing campaigns for the world, you’ll easily get overwhelmed and it will seem like a massive undertaking. Take it country by country, step by step, and you’ll see results faster.

Which markets represent the biggest opportunity for you? To determine the potential of various countries, you should ask questions like:

  • How many customers do you currently have in specific regions and how much success have you had in that market?
  • How much revenue do you pull in from that country? How much revenue per user?
  • What’s churn like in that region?
  • How easy it will be for your company to do business in that market? What are your emerging markets?
  • How mature is the market? Will you have to educate the market about your product/service and create more top-of-the-funnel activities?
  • How easy will it be for people to pay you? Do they readily use credit cards? This article about selling through a subscription model in Brazil shows how laws, politics, taxes and bank rules can all represent hurdles for SaaS companies looking to expand their reach.

Make it a goal to identify your top three growth markets. Once you have a clearer picture and a deeper understanding of where you should go… well, go there.

2. Hire a unicorn

Once you’ve chosen a country, you’ll want to hire a local marketer.

Ideally, this person will be a full stack marketer who has a deep understanding of that specific region (whether they’re originally from there or physically living there).

You’ll want a marketing ambassador who can communicate effectively with that regional market while simultaneously driving results for your business. In short, you’ll want someone who gets sh*t done.

Meet Ben Harmanus, our Community and Content Marketing Manager for the DACH region
Meet Ben Harmanus, our Community and Content Marketing Manager for the DACH region

Fabian Liebig has quickly become the face of Optimizely in Germany, just as Inken Kuhlmann has become the face of HubSpot in the German, Austrian and Swiss region (DACH). At Unbounce, we’ve got our very own DACH marketer too: Ben Harmanus.

Locals value being able to interact with an ambassador for your company — whether via email, Skype, webinars or live events — in the language of their choice.

The day a brand gets a local ambassador is the day they truly become a local player.

(Psst. We are hiring a Content and Community Marketing Manager for Brazil right now).

3. Look at your data and identify popular content

Once you’ve got your country and your marketer, it’s time to start marketing. But where to start?

When it comes to content marketing in these new markets, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Think of the the current content that attracts new visitors to your website and converts them into leads and customers:

  • Dig into your traffic data to see which evergreen blog posts are performing well. Translate those posts or write original content on a similar subject.
  • Evaluate which of your ebooks has brought you the most leads. Don’t forget to ask yourself if the content is still relevant to the market you’re expanding to.
HubSpot, the masters of lead gen, translated and localized an ebook to grow their Latin American leads and customers.
  • Instead of subtitling webinars, get local experts to hold webinars in the language of the market you’re expanding into.

4. Translate and localize content pieces

Equipped with a list of content validated by your original market, it’s time to start preparing content for your new market by translating it. But translating your content word-for-word isn’t enough for it to resonate with new markets. You’ve also got to localize it.

What exactly does this mean? You need to be flexible and react to trends in the particular region. For example, while North Americans love football, baseball and ice hockey, everyone in Europe is talking about soccer (or football – you need to localize language as well!).

This will determine which pop culture references you make in your content, but also which tactics and strategies you should write about. In the words of our DACH marketing manager Ben:

The knowledge level in Europe or Germany is very different. All the marketing trends from North America take 2-3 years or even longer to become some kind of trend over here; 4-5 years to become a best practice.

I have to be careful what topics I pick to position the brand. You need to adapt. Choose your topic and combine your content with trending topics in your local market.

From there, create a new category or WordPress install for your new, translated blog content and get to posting.

Unbounce’s German blog homepage.

Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you’ll also want to email your current customers from that region and invite them to read your blog content, subscribe to a webinar or download an ebook in their native language.

This is the email we sent to our German customers, telling them about the launch of our blog and inviting them to subscribe.

Chances are they will be delighted to find content in their native language, which could potentially lower churn and increase customer lifetime value. They might even share the piece with their friends.

You know what that means, right? Leads on leads on leads!

5. Create localized landing pages to generate leads

It’s nice to think that if you create content, people will come, but you need to give people opportunities to convert.

To get started, you’ll want to translate a number of your landing pages:

  • Blog subscription landing page: Don’t forget to give people an opportunity to subscribe to regular blog updates, whether in the blog sidebar or on a dedicated blog subscription landing page.
The email prospects receive upon signing up for our German Newsletter.
  • Lead gen pages for ebooks and webinars: Just as you would on your current blog, be sure to optimize posts for lead gen. For example, have a look at this CTA our German community manager Ben placed at the end of a German blog post:
A CTA on the bottom of our blog post promoting a German webinar.
The corresponding landing page, localized for the DACH market and in German.
  • Pricing page/trial sign up page: Building out an entire localized website can take some time. If you don’t have the development time (who does?) or budget to fully translate your website site at first, get your local marketing manager to build and localize a simple landing page that they can send traffic to in the meantime.
This is our product page for the DACH region. While we localize our website to give our DACH region a dedicated web experience, we send traffic to this. Click for full-length landing page.

6. Build localized communities around your content

Once you’ve got your content and lead gen landing pages in place, you want to drive as much traffic as possible.

Ideally, you’ve hired a local marketer who can now begin to help you build a community and audience around a specific region.

Eventbrite, HubSpot and Hootsuite have individual, region-specific social accounts to target a localized audience.

Have your unicorn run these accounts — their deep understanding of the market will help them speak to audience members in language they can really relate to.

Are you ready to take on the world?


Moving into different markets can feel daunting and intimidating.

But if you take it one step at a time, leveraging past content marketing campaigns that you’ve run, it starts to feel much more manageable.

And then you no longer feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Want to know more about how to approach global expansion? HubSpot has an amazing ebook titled The Global Marketing Playbook that dives into Global Marketing even further. Be sure to check it out.


Kick-Start Your International Marketing Strategy by Leveraging Your Content

Fluff is Thy Foe: 6 Insurance Landing Page Examples + Critiques

Fluff can seem harmless, but it’s a conversion killer. Image source.

Insurance is a complicated thing to market: it’s the only product that people will willingly pay for every month yet hope they never have to use. Of course, this is reasonable when you consider that it’s something used only during times of strife, injury or death.

So it’s no surprise that insurance companies find all sorts of ways to minimize the focus on those more unsavoury aspects of the deal, instead opting to push messages of security, reassurance and convenience — or they just skirt the subject altogether, focusing solely on discounts and savings.

But avoiding specifics rarely goes well, as you’re about to find out. Below, you’ll find my analysis of six insurance landing pages, along with critiques and lessons you can apply to your own campaigns within any industry.

1. Amica Home Insurance: It’s not all about you

Click to enlarge.

I’ll defer to copywriting expert Joanna Wiebe on the subject of using the word “we” in your landing page copy:

“We” is a bad, bad word in copywriting. You should reword every line of copy you have that begins with “we”. […] Because your visitors don’t want to hear about you. They want to hear about themselves – about their problems, about their needs, about their futures.”

The word we is used four times on this page. But even when that word isn’t being used, Amica seems to find it impossible to not talk solely about themselves:

Amica home insurance: Experience the Amica difference.
Extraordinary customer service that makes you feel right at home.

What does that mean? It does nothing to speak to the prospect’s needs. It does nothing to communicate how this service will improve the customer’s life. And it doesn’t make any effort to capture the reader’s attention nor compel them to continue reading.

If you want to talk about your extraordinary customer service, demonstrate it up front: be honest and transparent. In Amica’s case, they should consider communicating the real-world benefits of their service versus other providers, instead of dedicating so many words to saying so little.

2. StateFarm: Remind me how I got here

Click to enlarge.

Can you guess what this page is about?

That it doesn’t explicitly mention insurance might seem unimportant. Surely the person who clicked the link to this page doesn’t need to be reminded what they came for, right?

But message match — how well the message of a landing page matches the message of its gateway, like an ad on Google or Facebook — is one of the pillars of creating an effective landing page. Essentially, the copy of an ad and the headline of its landing page should mirror each other. Why?

  • It’s a reminder. Admit it: you’ve opened new tabs in your web browser only to immediately forget why you had done so. That’s probably because your attention span is literally worse than that of a goldfish.

    It’s not hard to imagine that someone could lose focus on what brought them to the page in the first place.

  • It’s a reassurance. Even if the user doesn’t forget what brought them there, they could think that you’ve brought them to the wrong place, or pulled a bait-and-switch. When ad copy and page headline match, they send a clear message: “This is exactly what you were looking for.”
An example of strong message match, from Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner’s 2013 post on the subject.

Since State Farm’s page would likely be displayed in results for searches for automobile insurance, it’s crazy that the only place those words are even mentioned is in this itty-bitty footer text.

Crystal clear!

3. AIG Direct: Specificity is a good thing

AIG Direct
Click to enlarge.

So many of the insurance landing pages I came across in my research asked for extremely little information up front — often just a zip code to begin the quote process. So I was surprised when I saw this monster of a form from AIG Direct.

But I actually think this makes a lot of sense. While it’s true that the number of form fields tends to correlate negatively with conversion rates, this isn’t always the case. Introducing more friction up-front can help pre-qualify leads, and in the case of an insurance broker, having to provide that kind of information is almost reassuring.

If the length of the form alone is enough to make the prospect hesitate, AIG’s headline serves to make the task seem almost effortless:

It takes 2 minutes to request your term life quote.

While one could feel overwhelmed by the number of fields, this one line makes it clear that it’s not really that bad. Plus, two minutes is a pretty small investment when we’re talking about life insurance.

This page excels in some other areas, too. Rather than rely on fluff and wishy-washy philosophizing about the nature of life and family, AIG sets concrete expectations, thereby holding themselves accountable for meeting them.


By solidifying their trustworthiness by linking to reviews and security certifications, and keeping the focus on the customer rather than themselves, AIG comes across as credible and transparent. And a real dollar amount, no matter what it is, is always preferable to nebulous “savings.”

4. AAA Life Insurance: Make your form friendly

AAA Life Insurance
Click to enlarge.

I feel confident in saying that most people probably don’t enjoy shopping for life insurance very much. So it’s in your best interest to make the process of doing so seem as easy as possible.

This page from AAA makes this process seem so much worse than it (likely) actually is. And it all starts with the strange visual decisions made in the form’s design.


In web design, an affordance refers to a visual indicator of a digital object’s function. The most obvious example is adding bevels, borders, and background colors to links in order to make them resemble physical buttons. These details make it easier for the user to understand what these intangible objects actually do.

This form’s affordances are, frankly, all messed up. Not only are many of the form fields — text fields, in particular — nearly unnoticeable, but form labels and form fields are both contained within identical boxes, making the labels also look like fields.

Not only is this confusing, it has the unintended result of making the form appear twice as long as it actually is.

This, combined with the fact that most of the content on this page is dedicated towards explaining all of the subsequent “steps,” make this entire process seem extremely unapproachable.

Maybe they should’ve written that it only takes two minutes.

5. Farmers Insurance: Show me the way

Click to enlarge.

This page from Farmers Insurance is likely to lead visitors in the wrong direction due to inaccurate visual cues and confusing copy. If you’re on this page to get a quote online, where would you think to click?

Would it be, perhaps, this big button-looking-square that says Get a Quote Online on it?


You’re likely already aware that this isn’t the case: the actual call to action is the green Click & Save Today! button. But I actually completely missed it at first.



  • It’s framed identically to the stock photo next to it, which I glossed over
  • It’s also shares a colour palette with the photo, making it blend into the page
  • The family is both walking and moving away from the call to action, rather than directing attention towards it
  • The copy — both “Get a FastQuote®” and “Click & Save Today” — were both less related to what I was looking for than “Get a Quote Online”

While there’s lots of talk in the conversion optimization world of color psychology and which colors correlate with which emotions, all of this is secondary to the most basic notion of CTA design: make it contrast with the rest of the page. (Psst — learn more about driving conversions through design in our new Attention-Driven Design ebook!)

And with regards to the button copy, it needs to indicate action and also speak directly to the user’s desire. For a smart formula, I’ll quote this oft-repeated advice from Joanna Wiebe:

Write button / CTA copy that completes this phrase: I want to ________________.

6. Health Insurance Sort: Cheap photos cheapen your page

Click to enlarge.

Insurance is a pretty serious thing, let alone insurance that would, in a time of crisis, allow me to remain alive. So I would expect anyone selling it to me to take it equally as seriously as I do.

But everything about this page screams, “we’re not credible.” And while the copy isn’t great, the most glaring issues relate to its design.

Stock photos such as the ones shown above are often used to add “visual interest” to a page. This, despite the fact that usability testing shows that while photos of people are effective at capturing attention, they subconsciously gloss over images that resemble stock photos.

Many of the examples in this post are clearly using stock imagery, but this page is exceptional. Each photo has a completely different lighting and style, and the hero image is so obviously a poor composite of two different images that I can’t believe anyone would ever enter their zip code into that misaligned text box.

Now we can recklessly grapple in the middle of this lovely autumn road, knowing any injuries will be fully covered! Thanks, Health Insurance Sort!

Fluff is thy foe

When crafting landing pages, “fluff” is thy foe. Whether it be pointless stock images that desperately try to jazz things up, or copy that talks its way around the real benefits and value of your offering, attempts at obfuscation via feel-goodery are as exactly as transparent to customers as they are to us.

And landing pages aren’t mere repositories for information; they’re designed to be a response to a specific need or expressed intent. If someone comes to your page and finds it confusing or deceitful, you can kiss that conversion goodbye.

Excerpt from: 

Fluff is Thy Foe: 6 Insurance Landing Page Examples + Critiques

The Dreaded AdWords Plateau and What You Can Do About It [PODCAST]

Are your AdWords campaigns plateauing? Image via Flickr.

Have you ever run a PPC campaign that was working pretty well, but never seemed to get to the next level?

You may have experienced what PPC insiders call the “AdWords Plateau,” the point where your campaigns are maintaining their value, but are no longer driving the kind of growth you need.

So, do you just sit back and rest on your laurels? Heck no! We want your campaigns to always be converting better. That’s why in this episode of the Call to Action podcast, we talk to Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo, about advanced AdWords tactics that can push your campaigns up and off the plateau.

You will learn:

  • Why categorizing your campaigns based on product can be holding you back.
  • The importance of geography in AdWords.
  • How one company added a call extension and increased mobile leads by 110%.

Listen to the podcast

Listen on iTunes.
Prefer Stitcher? We got your back.

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo.

Stephanie Saretsky: Hey podcast listeners, I’m Stephanie Saretsky and you’re listing to Call to Action, a podcast about creating better marketing experiences — powered by Unbounce.

Are you running PPC campaigns? Are your results pretty good but you never seemed to be able to get them to be even better? You may have experienced what PPC insiders call the “AdWords Plateau,” the point when your campaigns are maintaining their value, but aren’t doing any better and aren’t doing any worse. So, do you just sit back on your laurels? Heck no! We want your campaigns to always be converting better. That’s why our Content Strategist Dan Levy got in touch with Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo, about advanced AdWords hacks that can push your campaigns up and off the plateau. Take a listen to this.

Dan: Before we get into brass tacks, let’s talk about the infamous AdWords performance plateau. What is it, and how do I know if I’ve reached it?

Igor: You know, if you’ve been advertising on AdWords for a long time and have been trying different tweaks in your campaign, and you come across that moment where you’re sort of like, “Hmm, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get the number of conversions up from week to week, can’t seem to get this CPA down any further.” That’s kind of what I think of as the plateau. And if you’ve optimized AdWords campaigns for a while, it happens and it comes pretty quickly if you’re good at this.

Dan: So what are some signs that you’ve reached a plateau and it’s time to try something new?

Igor: Honestly, I think the biggest thing is that those metrics are staying steady. Can’t seem to get over a certain number of weekly conversions, can’t seem to get under a certain CPA. If other metrics are staying unchanged or you can’t get them higher or better than they were last week, that’s definitely a sign. Especially if you’re doing rigorous testing in the account. If you’ve got an A/B test on your ads live at all times and still, no matter what, you’ve got incumbent ads always beating the new variants, that’s an indicator that the account’s in pretty good shape. It means that things might have plateaued.

Dan: And of course, things are in good shape, then – it’s a good problem to have, but you always want to be optimizing and doing better, of course. So, one of the more common challenges that I think performance marketers find themselves butting up against has to do with the volume. Can you explain why I might want to get more campaign traffic and what I can do to get that?

Igor: So everybody’s looking for more traffic if it’s qualified. It’s easy to spend money on AdWords on traffic that isn’t qualified, so put that asterisk next to the idea of more traffic and why you would want it. But let’s say that you’re getting good traffic through AdWords and you want to get more of it. Basically, there’s two ways that you can get more traffic through AdWords. #1 is expanding your keyword approach and different topics that you want to capture searchers on. #2 is actually creating better performing campaigns. So you might only be able to get a certain percentage of the impression share available on your terms if your ads are not kind of very historically vetted and have been shown to Google to perform really well. Once you pass that test — once you kind of show Google that you can drive consistent performance and you’re going to keep spending in that area and you’re going to outperform in a consistent way the other competitors in that space — you’re going to be able to get more volume. Because Google will trust your ad. Google will know if they serve it a certain number of times a day, they’ll make a certain amount of money from people clicking that ad and you’ll be happy from the results from a conversion standpoint and ROI standpoint. So it’s not a risk for Google. So those are the two main ways to increase traffic.

Dan: And of course, getting more traffic, though, usually means spending more money. How do you know if it’s worth cranking up the budget for that?

Igor: Well, like any performance marketer, I would tell you that if you’re making more money than you’re spending, you’re in good shape. But that’s where people start talking about the concept of lifetime value. You know, sometimes the conversion that you’re tracking in AdWords doesn’t trace all the way back to the credit card or the revenue that comes back to your business. So when you’ve got a sophisticated enough model, when you can take into account lifetime value, if you can feed that back into AdWords through their offline conversions import feature, you can really be in good shape to understand your overall ROI.

Dan: Well, the next tactic, now that we’ve got the basics down, the next one that you look at in your post has to do with lowering cost per acquisition. Most marketers manage CPA by campaign or keyword and ad group. But you’re right that this means that you’re prioritizing search topics over the searcher herself or himself. What do you mean by that?

Igor: So if you’re just adjusting bids based on a specific keyword, basically what you’re telling Google is red shoes are converting better than blue shoes. What you’re ignoring, potentially, is the person that’s typing that in and what experience they’re going to have when they click through to your site. So in the case of an ecommerce site, where maybe you’ve got a high-ticket item and a very considered purchase, maybe the desktop version of the site converts better than mobile, because sometimes it’s tougher to make an ecommerce buy on your mobile device. It’s small and there’s a lot of different options. And so if you’re not optimizing bids at the device level, for example – and there are other dimensions too like geography and we’ll talk about that later – then you’re really doing yourself a disservice to just focus on the thing being searched and not also the searcher and what experience they’re having coming to your site.

Dan: Ultimately, you’re trying to reach a person, so user intent is something that I think maybe some marketers forget about but really should be driving your campaign for the most part, right?

Igor: Absolutely.

Dan: I’d like to dive into device type. Can you take us through what making bid adjustments looks like in the context of a mobile campaign?

Igor: So we just talked about the example of an ecommerce site where you might have a better desktop experience than mobile, and thus your mobile CPA might be higher so you might want to adjust your bids down on mobile to account for that. There’s also the possibility that your mobile experience is the primary experience and you want to bid up on the mobile ads. So an example of that might be that you’re advertising for your restaurant and you want somebody to set up a reservation on OpenTable. That’s something that people often do on their mobile device and they want to have a map handy of the restaurant. They’re not going to be doing that as often from their desktop. So in that scenario, you might bid up by 50 percent on mobile devices and not so much on desktop.

Dan: Another way to adjust bids is by geography, since some products and services convert differently in different places. I get how someone selling raincoats would want to focus on Seattle rather than Phoenix, for example. But could you explain why a marketer in a less tangible place-based industry like SaaS or healthcare or education would want to adjust their bids geographically?

Igor: Yeah, it’s a really good question. But you’d be surprised when you go into the dimensions tab in AdWords. Sometimes it’ll go into a campaign and California has a $40.00 CPA and in Illinois, we’re looking at a $150.00 CPA. Like why would that be? But it happens. The raincoat example is the one that Google kind of gives and that makes sense to everybody. In software as a service, it might be something more subtle. For example, we have a client that’s in usability testing software. And they get a lot of university students going and searching for their software to go and play around with the idea of usability testing and what it means. And those university students aren’t going to be great converters. But you know, in the name of education, they’ll go and click through and look around. And so you might have, in a university town like Berkeley, California, a lot of people kind of going that route and so not converting as often. Whereas across the bay in San Francisco where you have lots of tech startups, there might actually be buyers of the usability testing software. For them, you might have a lower CPA and better converting numbers. So that’s just a scenario where in micro geography, you might have higher bids for San Francisco where you have the tech startups and lower bids for Berkeley, which is a college town.

Dan: That makes sense. Google suggests that you make bid adjustments in the 15 percent range. Why – what’s so magical about that particular number? Do you know?

Igor: That’s a good question. Google usually suggests this; the reps often talk about the 10 to 15 percent range. And I think the reason really is that Google AdWords is a sensitive machine. And if you go in and start tweaking levers at 30 or 50 percent bid increases, there’s not as much stability to that and it can take longer to learn. Whereas if you go gradually, you can learn more and I think you can learn more quickly. I think gradual is the key to a lot of things in AdWords, not just the adjustments.

Dan: So it’s sort of Google giving a hint a little bit about how their algorithm works there?

Igor: I think so.

Dan: Yeah, a lot of AdWords is reading the Google tea leaves, isn’t it?

Igor: I think so.

Dan: The last conversion that you suggest optimizing your AdWords campaign for is click-through rates. Before we get into some of the techs about how to do that, when might you find yourself in a situation where it makes sense to optimize for clicks?

Igor: Yeah. So I think the main caveat here is of course, clicks are good but conversions are better, right? So it’s not that I’m saying you want to go out and get as many clicks as possible, because that can be expensive. But click-through rate has long been known to be the main determinant of Quality Score, which is Google’s 1 to 10 scale of how good of a search result your ad is, in the end, as an experience for the visitor. And the better experience that your ad provides, the more often Google is going to serve that ad, and also the less Google is going to charge you to put that ad in the top three spots because they know that it’s going to get clicked because it’s just such a good quality ad. And so by getting your click-through up and optimizing for clicks, you’re actually going to improve that Quality Score and hopefully take it to the 7, 8, 9, 10 out of 10 range. And that’s really going to help you from a cost perspective and from an impression share perspective. I would say the other reason to optimize for clicks is just if you’re in a very competitive SEM landscape. So if you’re in real estate, if you’re in legal, every qualified click counts. And so getting that impression share optimizing for clicks can be the life blood of your account.

Dan: Yeah, Quality Score I guess is another one of those things that’s a little bit mysterious and Google doesn’t give a whole lot of advice about how to get that up. So I suppose anything counts.

Igor: Exactly.

Dan: So let’s talk about ad extensions, which are one of the key ways that you can set up your PPC campaigns and set them apart from noobs and competitors. So what are ad extensions? What do they look like and why should marketers get really excited about them?

Igor: There’s a couple of different types of ad extensions. I’ll just call out a few. There’s site links, which are up to four different links that will show up underneath your ad headline and will point to specific content on your site; so not just to the landing page that your main ad headline links to, but to an “about us” page, or a partnership integrations page or testimonials page or something like that. The other exciting thing about the site links extension, though, is that it really gives you more real estate on the page. So if you are fortunate enough to have your ads show up in those top three spots in Google, you’re going to take up more room when they show those four site link extensions and so you kind of get more billboard real estate out of that.

Dan: Is there a tradeoff there, though? Because you’re also distracting people from getting to that landing page where the conversion actually takes place, no?

Igor: That’s a really good point and something I’ve had to attack with a client this week — you might have people going to another place on the site that’s less of a direct path to conversion. And so what that tells me is: man, every page on this site has got to have a strong call to action. Even if you’re telling people about your great quality of work and where your product is made and all that type of more informational stuff, you’ve got to have a call to action on the page and be able to point people toward the conversion that way. Otherwise, the site links could well distract more than they add.

Dan: Wouldn’t it depend, then, on where the user that you’re targeting is in your customer lifecycle? Like if it’s a little bit more of a lead gen or brand awareness play, then those site links getting that attention might be worth it. But if you’re looking for that conversion, then maybe not?

Igor: Yeah, that can absolutely make a difference. Another way the companies will use it is that a player like Zappos might have a site link that’s all about their free returns and how you can return something for 365 days out of the year. They might think that if they work that into their 35 character description one line, that’s okay. But having a whole site link and page and description of that policy can be really beneficial for them because that’s one of the big reasons that people buy from Zappos.

Dan: Interesting. So in a way, it’s just a way – well, I guess that’s why it’s called an extension, right? It’s a way to extend your ad and your messaging without –

Igor: Absolutely.

Dan: – messing up your peppy headline, I guess.

Igor: That’s right. And there’s a couple other versions of the extension, also. There’s location extensions for brick and mortar business to show the location of it, there’s call extensions which will bring in a phone number right there into your ad. And there’s a callout extension, which is not a clickable piece of text but it allows you to put a couple of dinger benefits right below your ad about your service.

Dan: I wanted to ask you about the call extension. Can you talk about how an organization called A Place for Mom added a call extension and increased their mobile leads by 110 percent in the process?

Igor: Yeah, absolutely. So A Place for Mom is one of Google’s case studies and they’re in elder care. And you know, at the end of the day, it’s pretty obvious. You add a call extension, you allow people who are searching for information about your service on mobile to call in rather than using the form on your site. And of course they’re going to call so it makes sense that they were able to increase calls. But I think that the real takeaway from this one is that calls can be a much more qualified lead than somebody who just fills out a form on your website. Because what ends up happening is sales teams that call on leads that submit through a landing page form, they’ll usually find that at least half of the submissions are not good leads for whatever reason; either they can’t reach them on the phone number, or by the time they get a call from the sales rep, they’ve filled out three other forms of competitors and so they’re going with a different option. Somebody who’s calling you right there on the spot, they’ve made a lot more effort to pick up the phone and get in touch with you. And something like eldercare in this example — there are lots of other businesses like this. It can be something that people want to talk through on the phone and not just read a couple of bullet points on a landing page and submit a form. And so these people that are calling are treasured leads. They should be viewed as a lead that maybe would be willing to pay three or four times as much to Google to get that lead.

Dan: Yeah. Again, it goes back to that user’s intent and where they are in your funnel, and whether it makes more sense to get them on the phone right away, or what you really want to be doing is getting their email address so you could continue to nurture them through the funnel until it’s time to maybe ask for that big conversion. So yeah, in most cases, the conversion doesn’t happen over the phone but it does happen on that landing page. Can you leave us with one tip for optimizing your PPC landing pages for more conversions?

Igor: Yeah. You know, I think that the last couple years, the trend has really been minimalist text: the idea that people don’t read so much on a landing page and really having a bare bones form where we don’t ask for a lot of fields. So the trend has been don’t ask too much of the consumer. But there’s a flip side to that. I think trustworthiness is one of the main reasons that people do choose to give their information on a landing page. And so sometimes it can take a little bit of content to build that trust. So I guess maybe the tip is this: if I see a great testimonial with a picture of the person that it’s coming from, and it’s from somebody who is just right in my demographic. So I’m a cofounder of a marketing firm. If I see this tool that – I’m looking at their landing page – is used by an executive at a marketing agency and he’s saying, “Man, this tool saved us a bunch of money and you’ve got to try it,” coupled with a lot of other landing page elements that kind of build out the case for that tool, I’m much more likely to convert than if somebody is just using a snappy headline, a really short form, and really bare bones content.

Dan: Yeah, it’s amazing how many marketers still don’t include that sort of social proof on their landing page. That said, our cofounder Oli used to say that 99 percent of marketers still aren’t even sending their AdWords traffic to a dedicated landing page. I think recently he said it’s gotten a little bit better so it’s more like 98 percent. I don’t know what you’re seeing, but where do you think we are, actually, with the state of AdWords and using dedicated landing pages for PPC campaigns, and why do you think most – or why do you think more marketers still aren’t doing it?

Igor: It’s something that’s been changing a lot and certainly there’s really sophisticated companies out there that are building out highly specific landing pages for every search term. I think that, at the end of the day, it takes resources to build these dedicated pages. And so in the spirit of minimum viable product and kind of straw manning something together to get proof out of AdWords before you go and put a lot of technical resources behind it, a lot of companies and a lot of our clients will build kind of the minimum viable landing page approach, which will not necessarily be super specific, keyword by keyword and ad group by ad group. And once they see that work well, one of the optimization steps that we recommend, months down the road after that, is to build out a very specific approach. But it can be really tough to get technical resources devoted to that type of thing and you have to believe in Google AdWords, you have to believe in landing pages that are highly tailored and really put the money there and make it happen and make it beautiful.

Dan: If only there were a tool to help you easily build landing pages.

Igor: Wild idea.

Dan: Shameless plug. Cool. Well, thanks for sharing all these really insightful tips and for the great post, Igor. It was great to chat.

Igor: Dan, thank you.

Stephanie: That was Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


The Dreaded AdWords Plateau and What You Can Do About It [PODCAST]


Affordance: You Can’t Afford Not to Use This Design Principle on Your Landing Pages

Imagine you’re an extraterrestrial visiting earth for the first time. Upon landing, you stumble into someone’s home and find a toothbrush, which you’ve never seen before.

While you may not immediately understand how to use the thing, there are certain clues about the object that hint at how it can be used. Its handle, just a little longer than your humanoid palm, implies that you can grip it.

Similarly, certain types of door knobs provide clues as to whether a door should be pushed or pulled…


These visual clues, also known as Affordances, act as signals that an object can be used to perform a certain action. They’re all around us in the real world, but they’ve also bled into the digital realm.

When your visitor first lands on your website or landing page, they’re much like an alien visiting earth for the first time. You need to show them how to use the page by using familiar visual cues.

PSST. You can read all about Affordances and other conversion-boosting design principles in Unbounce cofounder Oli Gardner’s latest ebook, The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the world of Affordances and explore how the principle can be applied to your landing pages so you’re not alienating prospects.

What is Affordance?

Cognitive scientist and usability engineer Don Norman first used the term Affordance in his book, The Design of Everyday Things (1988). In it, he quipped:

Affordances provide strong clues to the operations of things. Knobs are for turning. Slots are for inserting things into. Balls are for throwing or bouncing. When affordances are taken advantage of, the user knows what to do just by looking: no picture, no label or instruction needed.

So, the door with a handle on it is meant to be pulled, while the door with the plate on it is meant to be pushed. This should be clear without having to expressly inform a user of the purpose of either the plate or the handle.

Perhaps one of the great examples of Affordance in modern digital life is the play button, as you see below.


There are very few of us who wouldn’t know what to do with that button, and even someone who does not recognize it may be able to easily ascertain its purpose — within a certain context, at least.

The play button drawn on the side of a fence makes little sense, but place it on an MP3 player, and you may be able to guess at its Affordance.

In a nutshell, Affordances should really do two things:

  • Get the attention of the person who should use it
  • Imply its function

With these two principles at play, an object can be used without having to give a user an extensive user manual. Because at the end of the day, your landing page shouldn’t require instructions, right?

Make Affordances on your landing pages explicit

There are certain design features that tell landing page visitors explicitly what they need to do. A blank field begs to be filled in. A three dimensional button begs to be clicked.

As self-proclaimed “massive nerd” and web designer Natasha Postolovski describes in her Smashing Magazine article about the seven types of Affordances on webpages:

Explicit Affordance is signaled by language or an object’s physical appearance. Text that reads “Click here” explicitly affords clicking. A button that appears raised from the surrounding surface seems tactile and affords pushing.

Here’s a good example of that in action on an Unbounce landing page (below). The play button, bold and 3D, explicitly shows that it is meant to be pushed (or clicked).


Similarly, this page from Asana uses a greyed-out mock email address (“name@company.com”) in a box to instruct users on where to put their email address.


Using visual language that prospects are already familiar provides gentle instruction that makes your landing page easy to navigate. And that sets people at ease.

Beware of Negative Affordance

Just as certain visual cues imply that an object is meant to be used, other visual cues suggest that items are not to be used. Think of a grayed-out “Save” button that only appears once you’ve entered all required information in a form. In her Smashing Magazine article, Postolovski calls this Negative Affordance.

While this sort of visual cue can come in handy in checkout forms, it is more often than not the enemy of conversion on landing pages.

Think of the recent design trend of ghost buttons, for example:


We have been trained to ignore grayed-out buttons, so when a ghost button or button lacking contrast is used, our first instinct is to overlook it.

To add insult to injury, the button copy does a poor job of serving as Explicit Affordance. “Let’s Go” as a call to action does little to inform the user what will happen next.

When in doubt, test your copy. Test your ghost buttons. But err on the side of being as explicit as you can.

Applying Affordance on your landing pages

Affordances are found everywhere. You can see them on your stereo, your iPad, entranceways and on roads.

When used effectively, they show people how to use an object intuitively. When used poorly, you make your visitors feel like aliens from another dimension.

You want your landing page to be so simple to use that even the kid in the Far Side cartoon above could successfully complete and submit a form on your landing page.

Of course, there are many other principles to consider when designing your landing page. To learn more about using design to convince and convert customers, check out Oli Gardner’s latest ebook, Attention-Driven Design: 23 Principles for Designing More Persuasive Landing Pages.

Originally from: 

Affordance: You Can’t Afford Not to Use This Design Principle on Your Landing Pages

The 5 Skills Every Content Marketer Must Have [PODCAST]


Jobs in print media may be drying up, but content marketing has created thousands of jobs for writers.

On this new playing field, what exactly does it take to set yourself apart from the army of other content marketers?

According to Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger, it takes great determination, a healthy dose of usability knowledge…

…and a whole lot of caffeine.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Demian breaks down the anatomy of a successful web writer.

You’ll learn:

  • Why any compelling piece of content needs to begin with thorough research.
  • The difference (and similarities) between web writers, content marketers and copywriters.
  • Why having a working knowledge of SEO is no longer optional.

Listen to the podcast

Listen on iTunes.
Prefer Stitcher? We got your back.

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger.

Stephanie Saretsky: Jobs in print may be drying up, but the demand for writers on the web is booming due to the success of the content marketing industry. But what does it take to truly make a splash in the web writing world?

Determination. SEO knowledge… and a whole lot of caffeine.

Unbounce’s Dan Levy spoke with Copyblogger’s Demian Farnworth about his concept of the web writer’s anatomy – the parts that make up a successful web writer and how to pick a well rounded writer out of the crowd when hiring.  Plus, they discuss how to tackle that dear old friend, writer’s block.

Dan Levy: All right. Well, before we get into the anatomy of a modern web writer, we should probably address what exactly you mean by web writer. We know what copywriting is and there’s lots of talk about content marketers. But are you thinking about something specific when you talk about a web writer?

Demian Farnworth: I think everyone who writes on the web is a web writer. And so I make the distinction because I grew up in my career online and actually about six or seven years in, I went and did print for a while. I did both, but I went and did print, and I noticed that the people who were bred in the school of print did things differently. It seemed like a lot of what we were doing online was bleeding into what was being done in print. So, yeah, really the distinction I’m making is a person who is focused on writing for the web.

Dan Levy: That’s interesting. So you actually started online and then went into print – that’s unusual.

Demian Farnworth: Yes. And I make that distinction because like someone who writes in print strictly, which I think is a dying breed, but wouldn’t need to know a lot about SEO or maybe something about usability but that’s in some sense kind of out of their control because of the constrictions on real estate in the print world. But SEO, they would never use that.

Dan Levy: Fair enough, yeah. How did you find that the online world was bleeding into the print world?

Demian Farnworth: Well, in the sense of brevity and headlines we lean towards more sensational provocative headlines online vs. print even though I think that’s been through the print world. It’s always been in there but I think as people saw how it worked and influenced the way people read online that people in the print world began to take notice and say things like that need to change. It’s in the way we write and how we write and mainly being brevity.

Dan Levy: Interesting.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, I actually worked for a traditional publishing company for a little bit, and I found that – it was a magazine company – and there’s a big tradition in magazines of having kind of like colorful and like maybe undriven titles and stuff.

Dan Levy: Yep.

Demian Farnworth: And in this case I actually found thinking about things like SEO and being super clear and leading with the benefits – I’m using keywords even if they didn’t think of them as keywords that people were searching for – just that mentality was trickling its way into print as well so.

Dan Levy: That’s a great point yeah, right, instead of benefit laden and what’s the actual article about and the lead-in paragraph being well written.

Demian Farnworth: Totally. Well, I mean, that’s the first characteristic that you see a modern web writer should have is an average understanding of SEO.

Dan Levy: I was wondering why only average do you think, when search engines are so fundamental to how content gets discovered these days?

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, that’s a great question. So two things really. So when I say average understanding, I mean you need to know like how search engines work, and you need to know how people use them, they go on, they’re searching, and then like what is it exactly Google does to deliver those actual pages and not these other pages. So having an understanding of page rank and just the keywords that are used and how those are used in ranking pages and links. When you’re thinking through I always try to start with the customer. Start with the reader, you know, the end user, like how are they coming to what you’re writing for so you have to know that. But I only say average because really like we live in a world now where CMS, content management systems, do most of the SEO work for us, behind the scenes, where you can just drop in the title tags.

But a lot of the code is already enhanced for you, it’s clean already for you, and really what you have to worry about as a writer is just “am I using the right keywords?” because really ultimately it only comes down to writing for people, and that’s what Google’s been telling us all along. When you write for humans, you’re actually doing us a favor. We’re gonna love that kind of content, and that really kind of came home to me when Google released Panda, and in that sort of mix of things they were turning out these blog posts. One of my favorite blog posts that they shared was this one where they it says “here’s what you needed to worry about with Panda. Think like a Google engineer and here are some of the questions.” There were 21 questions that they asked, and I was like that’s the framework… that’s all you really need to know about SEO.

Are you sort of solving these things? Are you answering their questions or are you giving original in-depth research? Are you presenting a trustworthy persona with what you’re doing? Is this well edited and it’s not sloppy and it’s proofing. It’s a lot of these basic things, and that’s always what I thought about. SEO is complicated, and yet when it comes to huge sites there is a lot of backend work and you need people who are – that’s their profession to take care of that stuff. But I think from a writer all you really need to know is that sort of fundamental of what Google is looking for.

Dan Levy: Yeah, you don’t have to know how the sausage is made, you just have to know the intent I guess behind making that sausage or who that sausage is for… if I’m gonna belabor the metaphor.

Demian Farnworth: You also see that web writers need to have an average understanding of usability when you talk about things like white space.

Dan Levy: We talked about the importance of a white space before with regards to stuff like landing pages, but why do you think this design principle is something writers should think about as well?

Demian Farnworth: I think because when you are publishing something online you’re presenting it in a way because it’s always about getting people to read what you wrote. So you want to draw people, invite people in, so when they see a lock of text for instance, and I’m like okay that’s just not very inviting. And I always talk about do you want people to kind scrabble down the page. So using a latter metaphor instead of you using short paragraphs, short sentences, that sort of thing, there’s more white space there than there is actually text. I think that just the looks are sort of aesthetic beautiful at the same time too because it’s just simple and it’s elegant, especially and particularly if you’re fighting and you run a large site. And there are ads all around you; you have to compete with that, so I think about usability.

When I write stuff I write it on my own blog, and I will hit preview. I’m always hitting preview to see “okay how did that certain turn out?” even though this is gonna go on a different website. I’m always looking like “so how is that going to look on the page?” because I think at the same time and maybe this is just me, but to me writing is an art and not just the craft of writing yourself but the way it appears on the page, and is it appearing inviting? Is there for every three sentence long paragraph, how many one-word paragraphs do you have that just allows that, so people can just kind of tumble down the page.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I mean there’s definitely a rhythm to it that’s like an auditory thing but it’s also a visual thing.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, two books or just like sort of fundamentals is the usability thing for me and one of them was Ginny Reddish’s Cutting the Words. Jacob Nielson was saying this back then too was that whatever you write for the web what you think should go on there if it’s in the print word, cut it in half, and so it’s like that thought of “okay well so I need to say things a lot more.” In some ways the web gives us real estate and it seems to be kind of infinite in a sense. If so, we’re not really forced to write in compression, but I think if you want to write well online you need to write within compression. So giving yourself – in fact, okay I can say this in a thousand words. What could I say in 100 words, and that’s in my mind usability.

Dan Levy: Let’s talk a little bit about copywriting. That’s a topic that I know that you are known for in particular. You say that web writers need to have an outstanding grasp of not just an average grasp but an outstanding grasp of. You write in your post that copywriting begins with empathy for your customer.

Demian Farnworth: Uh-huh.

Dan Levy: What do you mean by that?

Demian Farnworth: They’re the end users and that’s who you’re writing for, so when you’re writing you have to understand what is it they really want because we all have great ideas. But is it actually something meaningful or useful or entertaining or educational for that person on the other end. So like looking at your audience. Understand what do they want, and copywriting for me, that’s the lesson that I’ve always learned from my mentors and from the books that I’ve read is just like know your audience, know your consumer inside out. Because then you could use their language. You can use authentic language that resonates with them. The other thing about copywriting too that’s so important and it’s a sense of writing to persuade from your headlines to the first sentence and to the end. Because we talk about copywriting is the difference between that and just sort of your average writing. You’re looking for a reaction.

You’re looking to get people to perform some sort of action, and so having that thought of not only do I need to get attention, but I also need to create a desire throughout that. So what is it that makes my consumer tick, so that’s the empathy part, and then finally how can I then write in such a way to get them to perform this particular action. I think that mindset changes. Copywriting helps change that mindset of I’m just getting out there and saying something to getting out there and saying something very persuasive.

Dan Levy: Yeah. It also actually now that I think of it, it relates back to what we were talking about with search, which is putting ourselves into the mind of the person who might be looking for this content.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah.

Dan Levy: In the search world I think they call it user intent but what we’re talking about is empathy.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Dan Levy: Well, the next web writing organ that you zero in on if we’re gonna go with the anatomy analogy is storytelling, and storytelling has become something of a buzz word in the last few years. But what does being a great storyteller really mean from your perspective?

Demian Farnworth: That’s a good question. So, yeah as you said it’s really kind of the hot topic lately, but it’s always been with us, and we are born to tell and to hear and to want to hear stories. And I think the thing about stories, and again, this goes back to user intent and thinking about the customer. But what’s the most entertaining way that you can “preach” at them but not make somebody feel like you’re preaching at them. So that’s the lesson for storytelling because it’s that essence of being able to open up even if you’re going to teach somebody something as sort of kind of technical like SEO or usability.

I think opening up with a good story maybe even trying to weave that metaphor through it helps people not only get them onboard, but could help them stay onboard, I think too people like, whether it’s a personal story or just a made up story, people just generally enjoy hearing stories, and that’s just what really kind of good journalism is really all about. I think we have a lot to learn as copywriters and sort of marketers and stuff like that is like what we can learn from journalists, the stories they tell, and everything doesn’t have to be sort of bare bones educational pieces of content. But it can actually be a story because I also think too like the stories that you tell help because we do also live in this world where it’s like marketery writers, it’s like companies are allowing writers to be their own brand, and that’s why they hire them because they bring them on.

And so in the story you tell you have to sort of help carve that image of who you are because we’re always online and we’re always kind of sculpting our image in a certain way through the stories that we tell. It just helps communicate particularly complicated issues a lot better.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I guess that’s sort of where copywriting becomes content marketing is when you bring in storytelling and journalism and more of a narrative to it than just getting across whatever selling your product and pushing people towards action in the clearest way possible.

Demian Farnworth: Right. I think too with content marketing really is about educating and obtaining and forming, but really this is not a hard sell. So we have space to tell stories and not every blog post that we publish needs to be some sort of hard hitting advanced technique. It could be like just what happened in the office today some daily piece like that. But the consumers come back for the content, and so when you think aloud and show your human side of yourself through stories, you can accomplish that.

Dan Levy: Any examples come to mind of brands or content marketers that are great storytellers?

Demian Farnworth: Great storytellers, well, I think Airbnb – I mean this is a borrowed story it was a ball and chain that they did, but they told a great story. That was a story that’s not necessarily pushing Airbnb; it’s just showing the unique connections that can be made. But again it’s about creating that brand awareness, and my favorite example is this content marketing company that actually sells a product – Red Bull – because they turn out all this content for extreme athletes, and oh by way, they also sell a high energy caffeine drink.

Dan Levy: Right. So they do like a job with that stuff.

Demian Farnworth: Right, yeah, I mean I’m sure there are people out there that think of them as publishers or a media brand just as much as an energy drink.

Dan Levy: Exactly. One trait that I was especially happy to see included in your list for all web writers to have is research skills. I guess you can sum that up as everything that needs to take place before you actually start writing, right?

Demian Farnworth: Exactly.

Dan Levy: Data and surveys and actually speaking to experts in your field. Let’s say I’m looking to hire a writer for my team, how can I evaluate whether she or he brings those skills to the table?

Demian Farnworth: That’s a good question. I think the best way that I would probably handle that is to say pre-interview or whatever is just tell them: hey listen here’s my hypothesis. Go out and find me the answers to that or go out and find the research for that, and so just to demonstrate whether they can do it or not. Because like you said it is really about preparation. I think too the part that I like about the research is that demystifies in a lot of ways in what we as writers do because people think like “I can never think like that where did he come up with these ideas?” It starts with a hypothesis, right? It starts with an idea, a hunch I have like if I think if X then maybe Y.

But then I have to go out there and find the research or find answers or find experts and stuff like that, and then allow that hypothesis to be changed or confirmed by that particular research. And then once you have all that information then you can sit down and write the article because it’s, you’ve probably experienced this before, so much easier if you over-prepared than to sit down and just sort of gush out like what you’re trying to say.

Dan Levy: Oh yeah for sure. I feel like this is one of these characteristics that is probably in short of supply out there right now.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. It’s unfortunate because we have this high demand for content, and then really aggressive publishing schedules and so the amount of research you get it might be like three inches deep, but it’s like a thousand miles wide and it’s like okay. That’s one of the things that I really keyed on with Google when they rolled out that in-depth feature for their search that’s because they were saying we want original in-depth research. We want stuff that goes deep, like ten percent of the market kind of wants that stuff so.

Dan Levy: And it doesn’t just mean linking to whatever comes up first in the search results.

Demian Farnworth: Right.

Dan Levy: Like it’s not enough to just link, you have to actually look into those sources and see if they’re credible, and try to also do some original reporting ourselves.

Demian Farnworth: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. And that’s why I love it because it’s like it starts leading you down trails because it’s really what you’re ultimately after. I mean the last thing you want to do is have a hunch, do research, pull it together, and then rewrite what everybody else has rewritten on. It’s like you said, it’s coming up with an original kind of angle and theory and hypothesis and communicating that like “well this is my commentary and this is why I think it’s wrong.” Because that’s what people want. They want, like you said, original and people with conviction too with a little bit of backbone who say “here’s why I believe this.” And that’s what I tell writers all the time: “listen you may have a bad idea, but if you can defend it I think people are gonna take you seriously.”

Dan Levy: One thing I was surprised to see on your list was average caffeine appreciation as an essential part of the web writer’s anatomy. I can’t tell if that one was tongue and cheek or if you think that caffeine really is essential to the writing process.

Demian Farnworth: It is tongue and cheek but I think that it’s essential to the writing process. That was actually our editor she recommended that of course it needs credit. I think there is a stereotype that writers are caffeine consumers, but we could have just as easily put booze on that list. We chose to go with the more PC route.

Dan Levy: Fair enough yeah. I think you had a quote in there though that your best ideas come out of booze, but when it comes to actually executing them that’s when you want to turn to caffeine.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. There’s actually research. There was an article I forgot where it was published, but yeah the headline was Write Drunk – well, that’s actually Hemingway, Write Drunk but Edit with Caffeine or something like that. I think that’s how it was because of the idea being that all inhibitions should be out the door when you’re writing the rough draft. But then you should then invite that critic back inside when you sit down and be on point, and I think caffeine in some ways helps some people to be really on point when they’re doing the editing process where you actually make your money. You don’t want drunk people driving heavy machinery.

Dan Levy: That’s right. This brings us to the last aspect of the web writer’s anatomy that you zero in on, which is an above average combative work ethic.

Demian Farnworth: Uh-huh.

Dan Levy: What do you mean by combative? That word surprised me.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. I always think of what I do for a living is like it’s hard work because the metaphor I always use is people seem to have this idea of writing which is you write when the muse inspires you, you know, when the lightning strikes. So it’s like no not really. It’s like plumbers don’t get like plumber’s block and electricians don’t –

Dan Levy: Plumber’s block is something else I think.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, right. That didn’t come out right. But speakers don’t get talking block or whatever, so there’s this tendency to when you walk to creativity’s door it’s like knock and nobody answers and you kick the damn door in and you make yourself at home and you’ve got the refrigerator and you do everything you can because there’s so many things. I think writing is it feels to me at least in some sense like you can find every excuse not to write. So the other combative part about it is that when you’re dealing with a lot of editing and stuff it’s like there’s the tendency you want to give up, and there’s a lot of self-doubt. So the metaphor really comes from – there’s a scene in the documentary It Might Get Loud with Jack White, it’s Jack White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page, and there’s a scene where Jack White is talking to the younger Jack White.

He’s telling the younger Jack White he’s like “you have to fight the guitar”, and then he said “you have to win.” I love that metaphor because it’s like sort of vacant lot advice you give to your little brother, but it’s not just like “you have to fight”. No, you need to come out of this alive, and I think that’s true. I don’t know about you, but writing for me has been one of persistence because it can be lonely and it can be hard. It’s like you have to really just kind of think like militant about what you do, so that’s where the combative comes from.

Dan Levy: Yeah. Man I need to see that documentary it sounds cool.

Demian Farnworth: It’s a great one. It is really neat.

Dan Levy: I guess it also relates back to what you were saying about you should have an opinion and be willing to defend it.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s hard too like Joan Didion, what they said about her is like she’s this very petite small woman, but when she writes she’s very aggressive and she’s very combative and she’s not afraid, sort of like she becomes a tiger behind her words and stuff like that. I like that and I think for a lot of people like the writers they become alive behind the laptop and actually have a voice. So people get heard when they’re combative – I don’t mean combative in that sense of like you’re a jerk, but you’re willing to say, like Joanna Wiebe said, something of consequence, say something of consequence that makes people pay attention and actually take you serious.

Dan Levy: So any last words of advice for someone looking to break into the field of web writing?

Demian Farnworth: I read books. I read a lot of books about copywriting. I read a lot of books about writing in general. A great place to start would be Stephen King’s book on writing. If you’re interested it’s part autobiography, but it’s part of advice and I think it’s been one of those books that really kind of helped me just demystify the act of writing and just realize that it’s a craft and it’s just a discipline just like any other discipline. You just have to dive in and work towards, you know. Like the confidence that I have now I didn’t have 16 years ago, but that’s because I sat down and just started doing the hard work.

Dan Levy: For sure. How about any words of advice for companies who are maybe looking to add a writer, maybe a combative writer, maybe an introspective writer who is not used to working in a team, and adding that to the marketing team?

Demian Farnworth: So how do they find those people?

Dan Levy: How do they find them or any maybe words of advice for working with them.

Demian Farnworth: For working with them, yeah, great. I love it when employers, clients like that respect your discipline meaning like they recognize okay the reason I’m hiring you is because of what you do, and I’m fortunate at Copyblogger that Brian’s always been like hey I need a series on this. And that’s all the instruction he gives to me, and I’m turned loose to go do how I see fit. So those are the higher level, top level writers, but then if you have a writer who’s just coming in on their own, they may need more direction, they may need more encouragement, and sort of correction, which I think correction and feedback is always, always so good. But to encourage those people to write, give them direction, and give them feedback on what they’re doing.

Dan Levy: That’s really good advice. Like any other team member that you might manage whether there’s someone who likes a lot of autonomy or someone that likes direction.

Demian Farnworth: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Dan Levy: Very cool. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Demian, this was great.

Demian Farnworth: Thank you so much for having me, Dan, I loved it.

Stephanie Saretsky: That was Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Writer at Copyblogger. Be sure to check out his podcast, Rough Draft, in the iTunes store.

That’s your call to action, thanks for listening.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.

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The 5 Skills Every Content Marketer Must Have [PODCAST]

Here’s What a Winning Click-Through Landing Page Looks Like

These pages got all the stock image hand models clickin’. Image source.

Last month we held a contest on the blog, challenging marketers to create a click-through landing page to promote our latest ebook, Attention-Driven Design: 23 Visual Principles for Designing More Persuasive Landing Pages.

It was an experiment to determine which design principles and “best practices” make for a seductive click-through landing page. But instead of getting a panel of judges to wax poetic about which landing pages they thought were great, we thought we’d publish the pages and let visitors decide: which ones would actually get people to click through and then convert?

Before we talk about the winning pages and what made them so darn titillating, a quick review session. Let’s take a look at how click-through landing pages differ from their lead gen landing page cousins — both in form and function.

WTF is a click-through landing page?

Click-through landing pages do exactly what it says on the tin. Unlike lead gen landing pages, they don’t have a form on the page asking people to opt in. Instead, they have a goal of convincing visitors to click through to another page (where the actual conversion happens).

They’re frequently used in ecommerce funnels to describe a product in detail and “warm up” visitors for their purchasing decision. They combat the cognitive dissonance that is created when someone clicks on an ad for a specific product and they wind up on a seemingly irrelevant generic product page.

In Attention-Driven Design ebook author Oli Gardner’s words:

Click-through pages are a great way to create an interstitial experience that confirms the intent of your ad in a simple way, maintaining the attention of your visitor, and then guides them through the purchasing decision before taking them further down the funnel.

Simple enough, yeah? But if you’re gonna use a click-through landing page to “warm up” visitors and reassure them that they’ve made a “good click,” you also wanna be sure you’ve optimized the heck out of it.

Without further ado, let’s look at our winning click-through landing pages — the ones that lead to the most ebook downloads  — and see which Attention-Driven Design principles they employed to get people to convert.

4th place winner: Conversion Lab

Conversion Lab’s landing page does an excellent job of teasing visitors with sneak previews of the ebook above the fold:


A little lower on the page, for prospects who need a little more information to be persuaded, they include a SlideShare preview of the core concepts from the book.


Even with all the additional information, the page is really easy on the eyes. Here’s how Oli Gardner put it when we asked him about the page:

The information hierarchy is strong with a nice linear top-to-bottom reading experience and nicely balanced font sizes for easy reading. Overall, a very clean design – which I’ve come to expect from Conversion Lab.

Indeed. Congrats on placing 4th, Conversion Lab!


3rd place winner: Tim Ruof

What really stands out about Tim’s page is his generous use of directional cues to guide your eye down the page.


One minor quibble: Oli pointed out that the model is looking downwards — under the CTA — so there’s no benefit to the angle of her gaze.

Still, this is somewhat counterbalanced by the arrow pointing to the call to action button, along with the other arrows on the page. Oli elaborated:

I like how the continuation arrows are used to guide you through the reading experience. It may not seem like a big deal, but this really helps both the visual and information hierarchy.

Tim also got crafty with his social proof, pulling actual quotes from Twitter as testimonials:


Oli suggested a couple of improvements to test:

I’d remove the links to the tweets though and perhaps cut and paste the actual tweet so it looks exactly like Twitter.

We’ll forgive Tim for upsetting the attention ratio of the page with those external links, because he blew us away by creating Twitter cards to drive traffic to his page:


Talk about going the extra mile. Awesome job, Tim.


2nd place winner: Winsome Writing

Winsome Writing’s landing page is shorter than most of the other entries we received, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sweet. Like our previous entry, they use screenshots and a SlideShare preview to tease visitors with the juicy content:


Interestingly, they haven’t really included any social proof, and chose not to lead with a strong hero shot of the ebook itself. Oli suggested that this might be a good thing to test:

This designer chose to keep the model hero shot. It’s interesting as to what impact it would have. As it’s an ebook download page, it could be posited that the model may confuse matters and she does look kinda sad.

Oli also congratulated Winsome Writing for including a bold CTA button which contrasts nicely with the rest of the page.

Overall, a solid effort that secured Winsome Writing second place in the contest. Pat yourselves on the back!


1st place winner: Sherif Makhlouf

Drum roll please…

This landing page scored creator Sherif Makhlouf an all-expenses-paid trip to Vancouver for Call to Action Conference 2016!


As Oli pointed out, it’s pretty clear that Sherif read the book — he employed several Attention-Driven Design principles. There’s Direction: the way the model’s gaze directs your attention to the CTA, and the Contrast of the big pink button. Finally, the third page section uses Continuation effectively, helping to draw your eye down the page.

But Oli also praised Sherif for employing other classic landing page best practices. For starters, look at how decked out the social proof section of the page is:


And then there’s the counter by the CTA button, which displays how many copies have been downloaded:


But Oli especially appreciated the way Sherif employed a healthy dose of scarcity and urgency:

The use of “only 27 free copies left” is a nice touch, not mentioning price but insinuating that it will become a paid ebook soon.

It’s worth mentioning that this is in fact false scarcity — the ebook will remain free forever, we swear! But that this page is the winning page speaks volumes about the psychological power of these tactics.

Before you run off and employ false scarcity on your own page, step back and remember that, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Because if prospects suspect that you’re trying to trick them, you could lose them forever…


Create a winning landing page of your own

Thanks to everyone who submitted landing pages to our Attention-Driven Design contest — you guys never cease to amaze us.

And special congrats to Sherif, you sneaky-but-super-smart marketer! We can’t wait to meet you at Call to Action Conference 2016.
Want to create a landing page that replicates the success of Sherif’s? Check out Oli’s latest ebook by entering your email below…


Here’s What a Winning Click-Through Landing Page Looks Like

How Google’s Customer Match and Instagram Ads Are Rewriting the PPC Playbook

It’s a whole new ballgame with these ad feature releases from Google and Instagram. Image source.

Recently, Google announced Customer Match, a new method of ad targeting that allows marketers to upload a list of email addresses — which they’ve been collecting in a CRM or a mailing list — and target ads at those users and audiences similar to them.

If that doesn’t really sound so new, well, you’re right. Facebook and Twitter have had this functionality for quite a while. Facebook’s offering in particular is extremely powerful due to the immense amount of information it knows about each user. In this aspect, Google is playing catch-up.

But it doesn’t really matter. The power of being able to target ads across YouTube, Gmail, and Google search cannot be understated. As long as the email address is associated with an account on any of those services, your ads can reach them.

And it’s not just users whose emails you already have. Google is also allowing advertisers to target similar audiences based on a Customer Match list. However, they can be targeted on YouTube and Gmail only. Search, at least for now, is excluded.

There’s one limitation to Google’s Customer Match that doesn’t exist in its more social-oriented competitors: to target a matched list, it needs to have at least 1,000 valid entries. Since the likelihood of all of your leads having Google accounts is pretty low, you’ll likely need a larger list than this in order to run a Customer Match campaign.

With most of the major digital advertising providers now accepting email lists, the trend line is clear: businesses that prioritize collecting information early and nurturing a prospect into converting are at a huge advantage when it comes to remarketing.

Get a head start on collecting leads to match: Check out Unbounce’s free 7-Day Lead Gen Landing Page Course →

Instagram campaigns now available to all Facebook Power Editor users

While Customer Match is an obvious and belated shot across the bow in Facebook’s direction, the social media behemoth has a big announcement of its own. Instagram ads are finally available to all, and better yet, they’re accessible through the same tool you use to run campaigns on Facebook: Power Editor.

Power Editor, Facebook’s self-serve advertising tool for managing many active campaigns at once.

That means all of Facebook’s targeting options — including Custom and Similar Audiences — can be used to target ads at Instagram’s 400 million (and counting) monthly active users.


Instagram ads come in a few different formats, all of which allow clickable calls to action that lead to links or apps.

  • Image ads, which look like a standard Instagram post, except for the CTA.
  • Video ads autoplay in the feed and can be up to 30 seconds long — double the length afforded to regular users for their own video uploads.
  • Carousel ads allow you to attach multiple images to the same ad, which can be swiped through by the user. It remains to be seen if they’ll follow in the footsteps of web carousels, which users generally don’t explore beyond the first slide.

One of the benefits of advertising on social networks is that the advertisements are native; they’re presented largely in the same way as user-generated content, within the stream of content that the user is already viewing.

On mobile devices, the impact is amplified further by the fact that these ads take up the whole screen. While this is hugely beneficial — directing attention towards your advertisements is significantly easier — it’s also a double-edged sword.

Check out this tweet from developer Marco Arment:

A tweet from celebrity developer Marco Arment (Tumblr, Instapaper, Overcast) reacting to seeing ads in his Instagram feed.

This is the perception you’ll be fighting at every turn.

Perhaps more than any other social network, the Instagram feed has a cadence, a unique feel all of its own. Users have spent years curating their feeds into the perfect digital magazines, tailored around who and what they love.

This means your ads should ideally be beautiful, genuine photographs. And in fact, Instagram has taken steps to enforce that: ads on Instagram can’t have overlaid text (which naturally betrays the expectation of a photograph) nor a logo — although a logo printed on a product is A-OK.

More than in any other channel, crafting ads that are carefully tailored and targeted at specific audience segments will be crucial. It’s great then, that Facebook’s Custom and Similar Audiences allow you to do just that.

The final caveat: while Instagram has already become big business for #brands, it remains to be seen whether that same success will materialize for lead generation and non-ecommerce conversions. Instagram’s existing case studies focus almost entirely on ad recall — how likely a user is to remember an ad later — rather than hard conversions. And its unique cadence may make it a tough fit in for certain kinds of products and services.

In the war between Facebook and Google, we’re all winners

Facebook long ago surpassed Google in revenue collected from advertising, and Instagram is set to explode, as well: eMarketer is already predicting that revenue from advertising on Instagram will reach $2.81 billion in 2017.

The success of Facebook’s advertising product for both Facebook and advertisers is largely due to the level of targeting specificity that Facebook offers, enabled by its rich user database.

Now that Google has responded with a nearly identical offering, the stage is set for volumes of the PPC marketing playbook to be rewritten. More than ever, building customer databases and crafting hyper-specific campaigns — in both their targeting and their creative direction — will be crucial to winning clicks and conversions.

Read the article: 

How Google’s Customer Match and Instagram Ads Are Rewriting the PPC Playbook

Oli Gardner Wants to Improve Your Campaign Landing Page. For Free.

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Oli Gardner Wants to Improve Your Campaign Landing Page. For Free.