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Master the details of strong conversion architecture in incremental steps and with testing

Every website landing page should be designed with a complete organization, labeling, and navigation scheme that enables users to fulfill their goals effortlessly. But where do you start?

Learning how to increase landing page conversion rates can mean the difference between the success and failure of your Internet marketing program.

You can have first-class products and create a beautiful website, but if your site is difficult to use, it will be nearly impossible to get casual visitors to become loyal buyers.

You can write persuasive sales letters and feature informative video product demonstrations, but it’s not enough.

You can even couple the lowest prices with the strongest guarantees and still fail.

Because if the potential customer arrives at your website and can’t easily figure out what to do or how to do it — in a matter of a few seconds — she will click away, never to return.

Poorly designed landing pages, regardless of the quality of the content and graphics, leave users confused, frustrated and angry. When that happens, all your expenditures of time, money and effort add up to nothing!

The potential customer who was lured to your website via organic search, advertising or any one of 30+ other methods, has been lost.

It’s almost as if Wal-Mart set up a huge bricks-and-mortar store, and then failed to install cash registers. The customer’s attempts to buy anything are thwarted by an incomplete or inadequate business system.

Alternatively, a well-crafted website landing page, with strong conversion architecture, maximizes the possibility that the user who lands on that page will take the action you desire and not click away to some other site.

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Mastering the details of strong landing page conversion architecture to increase conversion rates can be the single most important difference between an Internet marketing program that succeeds and one that produces mediocre results or worse.

What to do first? How to overcome the frustration of redesigning a weak or broken online business system

Recently, an old friend was overwhelmed by our harsh remarks about his ecommerce website. In our formal website design review, we issued his site relatively low marks on navigation, affordance, labeling and language, organization, etc.

“I don’t know what to do,” he lamented. “I can’t scrap the existing site that I spent months and thousands of dollars building. I am about to cry and then quit!”

It’s understandable that he has invested a lot of time and money in his current website and simply wants to improve it. We advised that he prioritize our recommended changes into manageable “chunks,” attacking it one piece at a time.

Chances are that he can re-use some of what he has and, in many cases, even moderate modifications will make an improvement. We advised him to start with the “low-hanging fruit.”

Like every other online marketer, he wants sales. We advised him that both order forms in editorial (OFIEs) and floater order forms (interstitial ads that appear to float on top of the web page) will dramatically increase conversion rates for any publisher who tests them.

While they may look like pop-ups, floaters do not open in separate windows and therefore cannot be blocked or banned, as pop-ups can. Website publishers we’ve talked with report a 2-3X increase in conversion rates when pop-ups are replaced with floaters. Although a floater looks like a separate document floating on top of a website page, it is really just a layer in the HTML code.

Deploying floaters requires a template redesign. And there are two ways to program a floater. Either you can hardcode them into the pages, or call them up via an ad server.

If programmed to be served up by an ad server, the same floater can be displayed throughout the website. Alternatively, every page on your site can belong to an ad-server segment.

Therefore, a website with 10 topics might have 11 segments, with one segment that matches each topic and serves up floaters that are contextual to the topic. An 11th, generic topic might be appropriate to the home page.

Alternatively, an ad server might display floater ads based solely on the keywords on each page. But it is highly unlikely that the website design will jump from not using any floaters, to using floaters based on keyword analysis. It’s also unlikely that our friend will want to hardcode the floaters into the pages.

So the questions become, how should he add floaters, how should he upgrade the existing site over time, and how can he justify the cost? In some cases, adding floaters will require an entirely new content management system.

Our old friend has some hard choices to make, but we will guide him through a thorough needs analysis process that’s intended to help him get the greatest results for the least cost and effort.

A word about website developers

Almost anyone, with some minimal training, can design and implement a website. Many computer professionals have moved into this specialization because it’s in vogue, it’s where the money is and it also can be fun.

Unfortunately, they often don’t know anything about website architecture, testing or usability. As Internet marketing has grown, so too has the science of creating websites to achieve success. This has been an evolution and, suffice it to say, not everyone is yet on board.

There’s a right and wrong way to create websites. The right way is supported by lots of research and testing. Unfortunately, some website developers don’t ever realize they’ve gotten it wrong — they simply lose online visitors and don’t get orders.

One of the core values of the Mequoda Marketing System is that it’s a continuous improvement system that relies on testing, not guessing.

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