A study in landing pages, or why you don’t know your customers as well as you think you do
A very reputable and successful tech company contacted us wanting us to help them with a digital marketing campaign. They were offering new services, and wanted new campaigns and new landing pages to market these offerings. We were initially very excited about the project, but soon ran into some obstacles.
The Predicament: A Fundamental Disagreement on Landing Pages
The client had a very different idea about the landing pages than we did. They loved the graphic design, but were less than thrilled with the messaging. In truth, they absolutely hated our copy-writing. Our landing page was broken into 3 sections:
- A bullet point overview which emphasized price (they were typically significantly cheaper than their Fortune 500 competitors) and reliability.
- A section explaining why the service is needed in the first place, with specific reasons set forth in layman’s terms.
- A section explaining why the client was the best choice for this service, with a brief detailing of important features, with lots of links to pages that provided more in-depth explanations of the features.
The client believed this approach was fundamentally wrong. The people they worked with were very tech savvy. They would feel talked down to by our verbiage and the entire second section. They didn’t care about price. They were more interested in security features and guarantees. The client was convinced we didn’t understand the customers they worked with day in and day out.
I was 100% confident we were correct, and the client was 100% confident they were correct, so we did what any good digital marketer would do. We created an A/B test. We left the central marketing idea of our test page unchanged. We also created a second piece of ad copy, the control page, in conjunction with the client, This was essentially what the client wanted and believed would resonate with their customers. It was more technical and contained the following 3 sections:
- A bullet point overview that emphasized guarantees and security features and did not mention price.
- A streamlined list of features heavy on industry jargon and light on explanations and links.
- A testimonial section with high praise from some very noteworthy organizations.
The Results: A Landing Page that Made a Real Difference
Of course, if I was totally wrong, I probably wouldn’t be broadcasting this out into cyberspace. In truth, though, the results of the test were stunning. The bounce rate on our page was more than 10 percentage points lower than the control page. More noteworthy, the time on site and pages per visit were each more than 500% bigger. Most important of all, the only conversions that took place during the test came through our landing page.
But why? This was a client who had worked for more than a decade in this marketplace. The client did not simply sell a product, but worked alongside their customers and knew them far, far better than we did. I assure you that they knew their product 100 times better than we did. How, then, did we understand how to market to their customers better than they did?
The difference is that we understood where we were in the sales process. A recent, highly touted study has indicated that B2B sales decisions are made by, on average, 5.4 decision makers. That is a lot of people with a lot of competing agendas and different priorities. We understood that we were not just appealing to the leading tech specialist, but to the committee (for lack of a better word) of people who were making this decision. While we still had to convince the Director of IT (who knew the jargon and could quickly compare features between competitors) to choose our client, we were also marketing to a hypothetical CEO or VP of Operations who wanted clear explanations of benefits in layman’s terms, and to the hypothetical CFO who was really only concerned about the bottom line. Even if the person doing the search was a Director of IT, he or she knew they had to be able to turn around and “sell” the service to the rest of their team. An IT Director is usually more than willing to dig through a few pages to get the technical specs they need, if you can help them sell their bosses on the project. That’s what our landing page did and the control page did not.
The important thing to note, which is much larger than a better understanding of landing pages, is that large purchasing decisions are often not made in isolation, and your messaging needs to have something for everyone likely to be involved in the decision making process.
— Derrick DeYarman, Director of National Account Strategies