By Amanda MacArthur • 04/24/2009
In case you haven’t heard, Susan Boyle is the unlikely star of Britain’s Got Talent, a televised talent show over in the UK (and a sister to the US-based “America’s Got Talent”.)
On April 11th, Susan Boyle’s audition was aired, a beautiful rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables”.
Since then, the video has been uploaded to YouTube and has been viewed over 42 million times.
The charm of Susan Boyle, next to her incredible voice, is her appearance. When Susan first walked on that stage, she was a little goofy, the judges didn’t take her seriously, and neither did the audience. But when she started singing, the laughter stopped. That’s what you call results.
Now, there’s been all kind of jabber in the blogs and on TV about Susan changing her look. As it turns out, her fans don’t want her to change. Susan has started getting her eyebrows done, and shopping for new outfits.
Not to say Susan is losing that special charm, but put simply, the audience liked the underdog.
This is what inspired me to write a post that compared the lovely Susan Boyle to—yes, a landing page.
Why? Because the underdog landing page surprises people too. You need to test a landing page in order to discover what results it will bring. You can’t give it to your best designer and say “make this look pretty”.
When we A/B split our landing pages, the “less pretty” version tends to win, almost every time.
Here’s where my Susan Boyle comparison to a landing page comes in.
1. Good landing pages captivate readers with a story
Great products seldom stand on their own or sell themselves without someone creating a story. A great landing page is a sales letter that begins with a story that heightens desire for the product and prompts a purchase decision.
While Susan’s voice could stand on its own two feet, it’s not what made her a worldwide sensation. It’s the story of the underdog who was laughed at when she first walked on stage, talked about her cats and how she’s never been kissed. It’s how Susan Boyle affected the globe, when we all realized how quickly we judge others.
From what I hear, Simon Cowell (producer of the show) is talking about making a movie about Susan, and she’s already been on a handful of talk shows.
Susan has a great story.
Buying decisions are largely emotional. Consumers buy what they want, not necessarily what they need. Compelling benefits (read reasons or rationalizations) provide the congruency required to justify a subconscious purchase decision. An engaging, believable story enhances this process.
2. Good landing pages talk, and talk, and talk
Susan Boyle wasn’t shy in her audition. In fact, if I recall correctly, she shook her hips at Simon a little bit at one point. We know that Susan’s never been married, never been kissed, has a cat named Pebbles, is almost 48, is currently unemployed and lives in a “collection of villages”.
Words work, they create involvement and they keep your attention.
Often someone involved with online marketing believes that “long copy doesn’t work on the Internet”—a myth we know to be patently false. In almost every A/B split we’ve tested— short vs. long—the long copy outperforms the short copy.
This works in dozens of different industries, both B2B and B2C. Especially in the B2B environment where products are more expensive, a short order flow with little detail is often not enough to convince a sale.
3. Good landing pages aren’t over-complicated
Susan Boyle is no drama queen. She didn’t walk up on stage and tell the world that she was singing to get back at the bullies who used to laugh at her. She was simple, she told the world about herself.
When designing landing pages, never let the technology outshine the sales message. Don’t let your readers be so dazzled by the bells and whistles on your site that they forget to buy.
Use a video, but don’t just use a video (people learn in different ways). Use audio, but don’t just use audio. Add a “twitter this” button, but don’t make it the focus of your page.
Technology should be used to enhance the sales message, not to replace it.
4. Good landing pages are consistent
Since Susan first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, she’s performed live. Talk-show hosts are all about her, and someone has even dug up an old charity CD with her singing “Cry Me a River”. Susan is consistent, she’s not a one-hit wonder, she’s the real deal.
Good writing is consistent in the use of spelling, abbreviation, terminology, grammar and punctuation. Web copy is no exception.
Does consistency matter?
Definitely, because inconsistency confuses readers and makes you look uncertain of what you’re doing. Words drive the brain. Good copywriting compels the reader to take action. Form follows function.
5. Good landing pages create a response, despite how they look
Beauty is relative, cultural, genetic and ever-changing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and aesthetic judgments are subjective. So how can you decide on the right design for your website?
We already know the response of Susan Boyle. 42+ million YouTube hits, dozens of magazine articles, hundreds of blogs, television, radio—you name it.
She wasn’t twenty-two, blonde-haired, blue eyed, with a sweet tan and high heels. She was forty-seven, gray-haired, a little on the hefty side with the start of a lady moustache and a beige frock.
But yet the world loves her, and they don’t want her to change.
In A/B testing, we’ve seen the “ugly” landing page beat the clean landing page time and time again.
The graphic design of your website should be comforting and trustworthy for the target user, and consistent with their mental model.
The look and feel of the landing page should support and reinforce the sales letter’s flow, as well as the product or service brand.
Visitors instantly judge your credibility by the way your site looks. If it looks good, a visitor might take the next step, reading some copy or clicking a link.
Luckily, Susan has the screen-time to convince a TV audience that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. A landing page doesn’t get that extra time unless it captivates the user immediately.
Test your landing pages, and go with the design that delivers results, rather than going with your intuition.
If the judges on Britain’s Got Talent had gone with their intuition and refused her audition, rather than “testing” her, what then?
Good luck, Susan! And good luck fellow publishers!
Posted in Landing Pages