Discover more from Copywriting Night School
Lesson 51: Some practical tips for setting up your opt-in and sales pages
All about landing page implementation
Although your opt-in page is shorter than your sales page, there is actually more to worry about there — largely because you only have one chance to sell Sam, rather than many. So while what I say in this lesson is applicable to both pages, I am going to focus on your opt-in page.
Reduce form fields
This is a critical rule for your opt-in page; less so for your sales page, since Sam is quite committed by the time he clicks the CTA there.
Sam hates filling out forms. He really hates it. Especially when he’s using a mobile device — which it’s best to assume he is doing. Simply put, he builds a certain amount of “mental momentum” by the time he hits your button; but it’s not infinite momentum. In fact, it’s relatively meager in most cases.
The more friction you put in his way, the faster he slows down and stops.
Form fields create a lot of friction.
Most opt-in forms ask for at least Sam’s first name and email. Some even ask for his last name, business position, or other random questions.
Let me suggest that you do not need these details to send him a micro-course — and he knows it. If you remove those extra fields, you have halved or even quartered the amount of friction involved in committing.
Which could as much as double or quadruple your response rate.
A similar principle applies on your sales page: if you don’t need Sam’s physical address, phone number, and all those other miscellaneous details that tend to just get thrown into the sales form by default, then try to cut them out.
Expose form fields only when Sam asks for them
The question of how many fields to have leads naturally to the question of when to display them in the first place. On a sales page this is a no-brainer — you only show Sam the form after he clicks the button. But many opt-in pages don’t follow the same logic; instead, they present the full form — including whatever fields Sam needs to fill in — either under the copy or to one side.
If that’s the only feasible option for you, don’t worry about it — but if you have more flexibility, consider that having the form fields exposed right on the page page has a couple of disadvantages:
It increases visual clutter. This is especially problematic on small screens — and those are extraordinarily common these days. The more you have to fit on the screen, the harder it is for Sam to use; moreover, the less space you have for your content.
It increases perceived friction. Remember that Sam’s first reaction revolves around his lizard brain assessing the page and deciding almost instantaneously whether it’s worth the trouble. Mr. Lizard easily spots exposed form fields and adds them to the equation. Conversely, when all the lizard sees is a button, the initial impression it gets is that the page requires the absolute minimum effort possible to interact with.
These are, of course, exactly the same reasons that you don’t see payment forms directly on sales pages. But because there are comparatively few fields on an opt-in page, it’s easy to take the lazy option and include them — rather than adding a second stage to the signup process.
You may also wonder if adding an extra click to the opt-in process is a good idea — surely it is better if Sam can enter his email address and immediately hit the button to sign up all in one step?
Well, testing suggests that if you can expose the form fields instantly when Sam clicks, by immediately displaying a popup (“modal”) window, then a two-step opt-in process gets better response. However, if the form takes more than a few hundred milliseconds to load, then a single-step process is better. That extra load time slows the process down too much. Speed is critically important to response.
Here’s an example of a two-step opt-in process I have used:
You may have noticed that I haven’t made any comments about writing copy for your success pages. These are the pages Sam gets taken to after completing the opt-in or sales process. One of the reasons I haven’t mentioned this is that your success pages can vary so wildly depending on what you’re offering. Another is that for an opt-in process, you might not necessarily have one at all; many email platforms offer the option of simply showing Sam a success message on the opt-in page rather than taking him somewhere new.
Given that you are now well-equipped to come up with copy on your lonesome, without needing your hand held, I’m not going to say anything more about success pages here. I just want to remind you that you will need some kind of message to let Sam know that things went as planned, and that he’ll be getting what he asked for. I would be remiss if I didn’t ensure you had added this to your to-do list.
I mentioned before that speed is critically important to response. Mileage varies quite a lot here, but after you hit about one second, some tests show that you can lose up to a tenth of your audience for every extra tenth of a second it takes to load your page. Subsequently, optimizing your page to load quickly is quite important if you can. Especially since mobile use is so dominant now, and mobile users both have less patience and less connection speed.
The tool I prefer for testing web pages is GTMetrix. It is free. If your page is not getting a very good score there, the GTMetrix report will give you a pretty good idea of where the problem lies. It will be one or both of:
Your host (i.e., server). This will generally be indicated by a high time to first byte (TTFB). If this is the case, get a new host. You tend to get what you pay for.
Your page structure. In this case, GTMetrix will tell you where the major problems lie, so you at least have an idea of where to start. It may be impossible to do much if you’re using a landing page builder. This is why web designers still exist. If you can pay someone to create a bespoke and optimized page, I suggest you do it. You’re welcome to ask me, of course.
Lastly, hopefully I don’t need to tell you to check that your landing page works well on both a desktop and a mobile. Try loading it on a slow old phone and a bad 3G connection to see how well it fares. Not all your customers are using the same devices.
It’s time to take your landing page copy and turn it into actual landing pages.
Start with your sales page. You don’t want Sam signing up and trying to buy, only to discover that you haven’t created a page to let him do so.
Try to get the sales page up, and in a state that you’re happy with it, within a day. The longer the process drags out, the less you want to finish it.
Don’t forget to also create a success page that Sam will be taken to after he buys — unless your shopping cart creates one automatically.
When your sales page is done, create your opt-in page. Again, try to get this done within a day, and don’t forget the success page.
Once you have everything up and running, make sure you go through the process of opting in, and buying, to make sure there aren’t any glitches that will trip Sam up.