Are you trying too hard in your sales letters and landing pages? Which elements are helping rather than hindering your conversions?
Join Tony Clark and Chris Garrett as they discuss how your efforts might be working against your goals, and how to make it easier for people to buy from you with confidence.
In this episode Chris and Tony discuss:
- What simple means when it comes to your copy, design and navigation.
- How to declutter and streamline the flow of your pages.
- Why context is king when it comes to getting people to happily take action.
Listen to The Mainframe below ...
Deadly Conversion Busters: How to Make It Easier to Buy
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Tony Clark: Hello everybody, this is The Mainframe.
I’m Tony Clark, I’m the COO of Copyblogger Media and I’m here with my co-host, Chris Garrett, who is the CDO of Copyblogger Media.
Today we are going to be talking about deadly conversion busters, and actually we are going to be covering it over the next few shows. There’s a total of nine that we frequently encounter. We covered a couple of them in previous shows in detail, when we talked about having no compelling benefit, and when we talked about having no reason for somebody to take action right now.
So those are two big ones. We are going to cover the others in detail over the next few shows.
Now today we are going to be talking about confusion, and this is a word that captures very succinctly what happens when somebody comes to an offer on a site and is immediately lost, or through the process becomes lost. We are going to talk about that today.
How are you doing Chris?
Chris Garrett: I’m doing great. I’m caffeinated and these are fun topics, so I’m ready to go.
Tony Clark: Yeah, these are sort of the stumbling blocks that we have all encountered at one point or another, and you tend to make notes about them, or you remember them very clearly on your next launch, or your next product release, and you try to avoid stumbling again. And this is one of those things that, because we have been through this so many times, we know where to look for these things and what it does, it helps us avoid running into the same pitfalls. It also helps everything become a lot more clear as we start to outline our offer, right?
Chris Garrett: Yeah, and if there’s an opportunity to do something wrong, I’ve probably done it multiple times. So we are not saying that we are perfect, we are not even saying that we will not do it again. Sometimes the harder you try, the worse it gets with confusion because adding to the sales page, adding to the offer, sometimes makes it less effective because it’s not streamlined. It doesn’t flow correctly and you are distracting people and it almost sounds like you’re panicking. You know, “Please listen.” That can actually take away from it, rather than give people buying confidence.
So it’s something we all encounter as some point, some more than others, and it’s so easy to get wrong. But actually if you take a step back, and sometimes get some fresh eyes on it, get a friend or a mastermind partner to have a look at it, it stands out very clearly where you are going wrong.
Tony Clark: Yeah, sometimes it’s almost counter-intuitive, the more you try to clarify your offer, your message, the product benefits, you run into putting in so much more information, that it actually becomes confusing. Then you get in this, it’s sort of what I think of as reverse analysis paralysis because you are actually doing the work. So you are not just analysing, but you are putting so much in, you are actually over-analysing those areas where you think your customer is going to maybe hit a roadblock or stumble. You end up trying to clarify in a way that actually makes it more confusing. So that’s a great point about having somebody else look at your offer because they can see it from a fresh set of eyes.
Chris Garrett: Exactly. And especially the two conversion busters we have already covered of having no compelling benefit and no reason to act now. Those things alone can make your entire promotion or launch stumble, and they are also examples of lack of clarity because if you don’t have a compelling benefit, then people get through the entire sales page and they just don’t know why they should bother. And if they have no reason to act now, then they don’t know why they should take up the offer now, rather than think about it and come back later. And so they are both examples of clarity but they are also places where it could have been caused by somebody trying too hard.
One of the symptoms of not having a compelling benefit and having a lack of clarity, which causes confusion, is when you have 20 bonuses and it looks desperate. It looks like you are just trying to pile as much into the offer as possible but you need a clear outcome, benefit, transformation from the offer. You need an overarching reason to take this up. You need people to have a vision of the future, that’s better than where they are now. Not a big box of stuff. Not 20 bonuses.
Tony Clark: We’ve all read books or seen movies or looked at offers such as this where we weren’t really sure what the message was, what they were trying to get across. What am I supposed to take away from this? And what that does is, it kind of reduces the confidence in the buyer because they are not really sure what it is they are getting out of it. So most of the time, you have to walk that fine line of explaining your benefit clearly, explaining the reasons why they are going to buy this, but also in a way that doesn’t overwhelm but provides just enough information.
We talk about this a lot of times with the whole long copy page argument that has been going on for decades about, is long copy better or is short copy better?
The answer is, you need the exact amount of copy to sell the product. You know, sometimes if something is a very complex product, you need a lot more copy. If it’s a simple thing, you can explain it in a short way but you need just the right amount, and not anymore. And trying to find that balance is the key to avoiding confusion when people hit that page and start reading the offer.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, and if you’ve been following our process that we have already outlined in previous episodes, you will have an engaged audience, and they will be talking to you. You’ll have encouraged them to give you feedback so they will tell you where they are getting confused. They will tell you if they have got objections and then you can then fold those answers into the copy without cluttering it.
Tony Clark: Right. So that’s the problem we all encounter, and that’s the main issue we have to address when we are looking at making our offer on our sales page in our copy, and our entire approach to our landing page, our site, email, everything. How do we make that less confusing?
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What Simple Means When It Comes to Your Copy, Design and Navigation
Chris Garrett: So it’s all about how we can make it easy to buy from you, and there is a trend in all of what we have been talking about.
It’s about making it comfortable and easy to buy from us, and the first thing is to simplify, and it sounds strange when you look at some really high-tech launches, you look at these massively powerful sales pages and you read the copy for the gurus from like 100 years ago, you think “That’s not simple, that’s really complex and they have put all this stuff into it and it’s really long. It’s four pages.” But actually, it flows.
So we are not saying that it’s a short copy versus long copy thing, what we are saying is, it needs to be simple, it needs to flow and you need to remove anything that makes it branch off, make decisions and takes away from that end goal of getting people to make a yes/no decision. It’s not necessarily about persuasion, it’s not necessarily about forcing somebody to buy from you because that’s actually a bad thing. But it needs to be simple, they need to feel confident, they need to feel comfortable, and they need to know what to do.
Tony Clark: Simplifying the language is key there because writers tend to over write sometimes and use a lot of flowery language, and one of the keys is simplifying that language in a way that gets the message across in the most basic ways possible. And like you said, it keeps everything flowing, but you know, it may take long copy.
If you do look at some of these old school ads from back in the day, the ones that did really well, they were pretty long pages but the language was very simple. The language was very clear, it told a story and it built a narrative, and that’s really what you are trying to do.
When we say simplify, we are talking about simplifying the message or simplifying the language and sort of distilling it down to the key story and narrative you are trying to sell. That’s one area you need to simplify is that language and getting it down to the really basic message you are trying to get across.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, and if you are a copywriter that’s paid to write or just a natural writer, you may try to be clever, and actually cleverness is a bad thing in a sales page. You don’t want to impress people with how you phrase things, you want to get from your keyboard to their brain with the least resistance possible.
I sat through a 30-minute presentation the other week and they were using phrases like “heuristic predictive analysis” and you know what this service did? It checked your copy to make sure it made sense.
So I could have said in one sentence what this 30-minute presentation, using words like “paradigm” and “leverage”, was trying to get across.
You want people to immediately understand and feel the benefit of your offer. You don’t want to impress them with your writing. You don’t want to impress them at all, and in most cases, they don’t want to read. In most cases if they have got a problem you are solving, they just want to buy the thing. They just need to feel comfortable about that.
So remove anything that is going to distract, or anything that is going to make them stumble, anything that doesn’t flow but also anything that doesn’t fit that particular audience. You are trying to target a group of people, not everybody. So use the language that works for them.
Tony Clark: Right. The goal of the narrative and the language you are using is to educate them about the product. You want them to feel smarter and more confident in what they are doing, based on doing business with you and developing a relationship with you. You don’t want them to feel inferior. So using a lot of flowery language a lot of the times makes people feel like you are trying to be above them. You want to be seen as an authority but in a way that’s very beneficial to them.
You know, this is like a good teacher versus a bad teacher, and you will see this a lot of times in schools. You have a teacher who tries to teach from a position, “I’m better than you,” and a lot of times they can’t engage with the student.
Then you have those teachers that are clearly brilliant and are clearly authoritative but they do it in a way that engages the student and gets them to really understand the message that’s getting across. And that’s what we are talking about here. We are talking about educating and using simple language in a way that gets your message across but also makes them feel like they are learning. They are more confident in their purchase.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, so it’s simple and in context, and that context is super important because we keep saying over and over again, you are not trying to appeal to every single person out there. It’s not everybody that’s got skin. It’s your particular target audience who you can reach, who you can help, who you can work with in the best way, and it has to fit into their life. It has to fit into their business. So it has to be simple, but it also has to be for them. It has to be in context.
So what we said before, why you? Why now? Who is this for? Who is this not for and how does this sales page, how does this offer, how does this landing page fit into everything else that you have been saying, so that it’s congruent and consistent?
Tony Clark: Yeah, the idea is to make sure that when you are developing your entire message, your entire marketing campaign around the product, that the context is very clear.
We are talking about this context in the terms of different areas and one of the main areas, as you just said, is the context of the buyer. What is their need? What result are they trying to achieve? And your goal is to make that message as implicit as possible, without any confusion or any doubt on their mind. So by knowing what context they are coming from, and in context of your site, you are able to develop an entire congruent message around this buyer’s journey – where they are going, where they are coming from, so they can see your product or service in their life, as part of the results that they are after.
Chris Garrett: And that’s one of the reasons the old school sales letters were so long. They didn’t know where the prospect was in the buyer’s journey. They had no context, so they had to fit everything in.
We know when we are making the offer, especially if you are using the modern tools – if you are using autoresponders or even marketing automation – you can actually remove a lot of the unnecessary stuff from your offer because you know so much about the prospect. So you don’t have to necessarily re-introduce yourself. You don’t necessarily have to say, “This is how bad the problem can be.” If you have already done that in the previous three free valuable ebooks you have given them.
How to Declutter and Streamline the Flow of Your Pages
Tony Clark: Yeah, that’s another idea of how to capture that context. And a third way is actually in the context of where the person is physically. Are they on a desktop? Are they on their mobile phone? And one of the things you’ll see a lot of the times is the actual physical decluttering of a site to make it a lot more clear to get your message across. Especially when you are dealing with mobile, when you are dealing with people on different contexts, that aren’t necessarily on their desktop computer, so you need to think of that context as well. So that’s three different types of context that you need to take into account.
And when we talk about decluttering, we talk about removing anything that’s not necessary to drive that message home. So a lot of times it’s removing navigation, it’s using just the right images for the right time, and all this ties back to context. And actually, it can be adaptive.
We will talk about this in later episodes when we go more into adaptive content, but making sure that your message, and not only the message, but the structure of the page itself is in context of where the person is in the buyer’s journey and where they are physically, and what they are looking at on their device.
So one of the ideas of removing things that aren’t necessary, both in language and also in physical page structure as well.
Chris Garrett: We often talk about removing sidebars, removing navigation but it goes further than that. And it sounds strange but we’ve had a lot of success adding animation to sales pages and people have asked Tony, “Well, you said you need to declutter but you’ve got these nice animations and these rollover effects, what’s going on there?”
So how does that fit in Tony, when we’ve got this message that we should declutter but then we are adding images and we are even adding moving images to our sales pages?
Tony Clark: That’s a great question, and the idea is, is it clutter? That’s what it really comes down to. Does it enhance the message and help, or does it take away?
I’ll give you a good example. Think about Guardians of the Galaxy and how they use visuals in that movie and the way that they did stuff helped tell this story – this basic hero’s journey. I think a lot of the computer animation and some of the other things they did really enhanced the basic story.
Now look at the Star Wars movies where Lucas went back and added a bunch of ridiculous computer graphics, just because he could. It didn’t actually help the story, infact a lot of us would argue that it actually took away from the story.
Chris Garrett: I’m one of those.
Tony Clark: I know, and I am too. So you can actually see where you put in your computer generated Jabba, and then you have to move Hans Solo around to make it look like he’s stepping around. It’s ridiculous.
So there’s an example of where you are adding something to something but you are not really adding to it. You are actually taking away by adding it. Where the visuals in Guardians of the Galaxy, especially some of the scenes with Groot and the spores and things like that, it actually helped you love the character more, and it drew you in.
There’s two examples of visuals where one context is just there for the sake of putting some eye candy in it, and it ended up detracting from the story, where others in the other context, it really added to the story.
And the same thing happens on a page. If you can use subtle animations or coloring photographs, anything that you can use that actually enhances the message and helps drive people further into the funnel or further down the page, or closer to the call to action, you want to do that. And we’ve actually tested this, and we’ve actually looked at it. The reason they are there is because they drive people further down the page or further into the narrative that we are trying to tell. They are not there for the sake of being there, and you’ll see the difference.
It’s funny, sometimes when you are developing this stuff, it’s almost a gut feel from the perspective of customers, it’s easier to see. You can look at it, and it’s like “Oh my gosh, that’s ridiculous. That’s just there for the sake of being there and it looks terrible.” Or, “Wow, that sort of drew my eye and helped me move down the page and helped enhance the narrative of the page.” So that’s really what it’s about.
Does it enhance the narrative? Does it further the message? Does it make things more clear or does it detract from it? And that’s something that you can use to determine whether it should be there or not. Is it distracting, making it more confusing? Or is it there to enhance and actually helps make things a little more clear?
Chris Garrett: Yeah, we want to draw the eye and we want to increase the flow. We want to pull them down the page. So some elements will be like a road block or a stumble, other elements will be magnetic. They’ll pull you down and two really obvious examples are faces and shapes.
Faces, if the eyes are pointing away from the copy can actually distract you because they are looking out, whereas if you have the eyes looking towards a key element, it can actually draw your eye in. It makes you subconsciously think, “What are they looking at? Okay, I should look at this orange button.”
And shapes can work like arrows. So you can actually point towards what you want them to be interested in, or point down the page and it will draw them down. And you’ll know that from testing and you’ll know that from getting someone to have a look and tell you, where do you look on this page, what stands out to you, where are you being pulled and drawn towards? But obviously, you are split testing and testing, and your results will tell you where you have done well and where you haven’t done so well, and we’ll talk more about that in future episodes.
Tony Clark: Yeah, it’s really about knowing it’s the right elements, the right copy, the right story at the right time. And all of these have to work together and anything that’s working against that, like we talked about in the beginning of this episode, sometimes putting stuff in to try and clarify, whether it be images and animations, or more copy, actually adds to the confusion. Sometimes you have to take things out. And actually a lot of times you have to take things out. So it’s really finding the right balance and you’ll know that through testing.
Chris Garrett: Yeah. So, if in doubt, put in images that support the offer. So it’s good to show what they get. So if you are saying, “You get videos, and you get ebooks and you get all this stuff” then it might be good to have a visual. You know, those 3D ebook graphics, just to show people so that they can see at a glance what they get. It’s not so good an idea to have a photograph of your team and the Chairman looking important. That’s probably not the best thing to have on your sales page.
Tony Clark: Right. So really what it comes down to, when you are trying to avoid confusion, this first conversion buster, is simplify in a way that you can make the message more clear. That’s the first step.
Then declutter. Remove those elements that aren’t supporting the narrative, that aren’t supporting the offer, that aren’t supporting the message, anything that distracts or detracts from what you are trying to say.
And then the context, the context of where the person is in their buyer’s journey. The context of how they are coming to the site, and also the context of what it is the message that you are trying to get across, their context and how do they see this in their world. So these are the main elements we are trying to capture here, right Chris? That’s what we kind of boil all this down to, to avoid confusion on this stuff.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, they need to know exactly what the offer is, and what they should do, and shouldn’t be sent anywhere else. They should not be sent away and shouldn’t be given anything to think about.
Tony Clark: On the next episode, we are going to go into lack of goodwill, and that kind of takes on from this because the next step after you’ve got the clear message and it’s not confused, you need to start to build that goodwill. And that’s one of those that people a lot of the time struggle with and run into problems with. So, we will cover that in the next episode.