Understanding the Architectural Elements of a Web Page

All online direct response transactions begin on landing pages

Mequoda research indicates that on most websites, a maximum of 20 percent of the traffic arrives at the home page. In fact, on many sites, as little as four or five percent of website traffic arrives at the site’s home page, with the rest arriving at much “deeper” pages.

Unlike traditional direct mail or retail marketing, where the user experience is more linear, every page on your website is a potential landing page. That’s because a landing page is the first page a user sees when entering your site, and a user can enter your site and “land” almost anywhere.

The challenge is to “convert” the casual visitor; to entice her to enter into the coveted direct response transaction. This usually means offering up her email address and, in the case of paid transactions, the details of her credit card account.

The Internet is a direct response medium. Unlike print or broadcast, online marketing is a measurable medium. Whatever you prompt users to do on your website, you can quantify, whether you count page views, clicks, signups, downloads or purchases.

Strategically designed and optimized landing pages prompt users to subscribe to an email newsletter; purchase a product; download a digital product, such as a free report or a software application; register for an event; fill out a survey; or join a membership site.

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Any webpage where there is a direct response transaction—whether or not money is exchanged—is a landing page. For every type of direct response transaction you initiate, the user should be taken to a landing page that has been designed and optimized to complete that transaction.

The success of the transaction depends on:

  1. the user recognizing what it is that you want her to do, and
  2. understanding the conversion architecture of your webpage that enables her to do it.

Conversion architecture is the configuration of graphics, text, data entry boxes and other elements that enable some sort of direct response transaction to take place between the user and the webpage publisher.

Buttons, links, order forms, and editorial copy that directs a response are all examples of conversion architecture. All the elements that are part of an online transaction constitute conversion architecture.

In a larger context, conversion architecture includes page flows, or the user experience as she works through the online tasks. Conversion architecture is all the pieces of your website that enable the user to accomplish a transaction.

OFIEs, or Order Forms in Editorial, are direct response ads that have at least one data entry field and a button that enables the user to submit a piece of information and transmit it to the site publisher. Most of the time, that piece of information is an email address.

OFIEs are located in the main content area of a Web page, where the article or tip is displayed. Typically, the OFIE interrupts the flow of the editorial content with a request to “sign up.”

OFINs, or Order Forms in Navigation, serve the same purpose, but are located above, below or around the navigation elements of a Web page.

A floater is a piece of HTML code that causes a box or an ad to appear to float on top of a Web page. The floater covers up content that is part of the basic Web page and interrupts the user with a marketing offer and a request to respond.

A floater is analogous to a blow-in card in a magazine. Unlike pop-ups, floaters are built into the page code and can not be blocked by web browser technology.

A pop-under is a separate window that is presented to the user when she leaves the website. Pop-unders generally present the user with an alternative or additional offer—often a “last ditch” effort to encourage the transaction.

Using OFIEs, OFINs, floaters and pop-unders on a website are relatively
simple ways to improve the conversion architecture across your website network.

Buttons are clickable graphic elements, often with a beveled edge, that resemble a keyboard key or button. When clicked, a button takes the user to an order flow or additional data entry form, or transmits information to the website publisher.

Mequoda research shows that adding long instructive copy to a large button increases recognition of its function and aids usability. “Yes, I want my free downloadable report” is a better button label than “Submit.”

A Display Ad is an online advertisement that uses graphics, as opposed to a classified ad, which uses only text.

A Text Ad is an online advertisement that uses text links, or text-based hyperlinks, without graphics.

Text links are clickable, standalone contextual hypertext within an article, or part of a navigation bar. When clicked, text links also move the user along the order flow, or bring up additional data entry pages.

Text links are the most recognizable of all conversion architecture, and users are generally confident of what will happen when they click a text link. For some online publishers, the contextual hypertext links on a page account for 60-80 percent of all clicks versus buttons.

Hypertext links in editorial or navigation that lead to a rapid conversion landing page are the best form of persistent conversion architecture because they are subtle, yet very effective ways to drive traffic to a rapid conversion landing page with the ultimate goal of increasing email database circulation.

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