A landing page is a like a conversation with all the subtlety thrown out. This is not a conversation you have on a first date when you are extremely polite and trying to pick up hints (“does he really like me?” “Did that anecdote from my time in jail scare her?”).
A landing page is where you, savvy marketer, are extremely upfront. You tell people who you are, what you have, and why they want it. People glance at you. They either run screaming for the door (the ‘x’ button) or settle in for a few seconds longer.
There is nothing subtle about this, which is why you need to beat your message into visitors when they arrive. Continuing with our series on college information landing pages, we’re taking a look at a landing page from SearchSchools. The page has a lot going for it, but it needs to lose the subtle hints and start slapping us in the face.
Is there anything I can’t do?
The first impression of the page is great. The layout is clean and the graphics are sharp. The image of the woman on her computer draws attention to the form. All these are good things.
But the page is a little vague on the details. It’s being too subtle. The logo at the top, for instance, clearly tells me that I’m here to search for schools. I look at the image of the woman, and, ah yes, she appears to be searching too. And look, I can use this nifty form to start my own search.
But I don’t want to search for just schools. I want to search for online universities. I don’t want my search cluttered by results from traditional colleges or local grade schools. I want you to take all that stuff out for me. Hmmm… maybe I should try a different site?
The visitor stops here to think, and that’s always bad. Some people will figure out, “yes, I see this headline mentions ‘online,’ and this tiny text seems to imply ‘online courses,’ so maybe this is the right place.” But not everyone will bother with thinking. They’ll just leave — even though you have exactly what they want. This is why you must tell them exactly what you have.
If I’m looking for an online class and you tell me that’s what your page is for, then I’m ecstatic. You have already done the hard work by separating the wheat from the chaff. Now I can sift through the wheat and find exactly what I want. I can’t search for traditional schools — but I don’t want to, so that’s great.
Slap me in the face!
The page’s headline, “earn your degree 100% online,” does suggest that we can search for online schools, but it doesn’t slap us on the forehead with it. Also, the top-half of the page draws the most attention, so the headline is not noticed right away, which makes its message even more subtle.
We need to add emphasis to the top of the page, and we should start with the headline. Move it up so visitors see it right away, and tweak its copy so it’s dead obvious what we can do and why we should do it.
Work is a four-letter word
The page’s form is very nice. It is short, simple, and direct. There are only three fields to fill out, and two of them are drop boxes. The amount of work required is minimal, which is great, because everyone hates work — especially visitors to landing pages.
Where the form goes wrong, though, is the button. The call to action at the top of the form looks great, but the button’s term “search” implies work, and work is always bad. You don’t even want to border on suggesting that people work. We’re talking about college students here!
Instead, use a phrase that points to why people should search. Some test suggestions:
- “Get my education now!”
- “Start today!”
- “Find now”
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