From Hustler to Brand Builder: Rethinking The Squeeze Page

You Mustn’t Be Afraid To Dream A Little Bigger Darling

Eames, Inception

Most web marketers have a strong bias towards optimizing our interactions with the public at a tactical level. Got you to click on our site? Fantastic, let’s keep you from leaving. Ah, you’re interested in our massive guide? Fine, just fork over:

  • Your Name (Don T Call)
  • Email  (welcome to my spam file)
  • Phone number (555-1212)

At which point some poor soul in your lead development phone bank gets this shining nugget of a “qualified prospect” dropped into their queue and starts badgering me every week. I’ll probably get stuck on some stupid “nurturing email” queue and spammed with weekly self-prompting fluff. Your data analytics-driven marketing strategist is likely nodding their head at this point, pointing to the XX% lift in progression down the funnel.

Want to know what customers think of your brand after this? Particularly the 99% that doesn’t convert?

  • You’re probably a bullshit artist and know nothing of value.

Legitimate thought leaders like Mckinsey or Bain rarely gate impressive content, they want it to be read and shared. You know who is obsessed about “getting your number”? Used car salesmen. Timeshare hucksters. Clueless recruiters. Sleazy pickup artists in the bar downstairs. Great group to associate your brand with.

  • You’re annoying and difficult to work with.

The flow of our interactions makes that very clear. You demand information from me. You send me what you decide I need to read, based on your goals and opinions. This has become a one way conversation. Where are you taking this? Do you seriously expect to bully me into giving you a high dollar sale?

  • Why did this idiot call me?

Cold outbound telemarketing sucks. And let’s be clear – these are very COLD leads, regardless of the fluff your web strategist is spouting. I reluctantly gave you my digits due to a passing interest in a topic; I may or may not be actually interested in a purchase and you know nothing about my needs or problems.

So since the leads are frequently garbage, the only cost-effective way to work them is to pass them to a junior person to pound through the list and “qualify” them. Anyone else is too expensive to justify the investment. Which sets up our next relationship building fail: when the prospect knows the product better than your rep. Good luck advancing opportunities where your junior rep can’t answer basic questions from a veteran buyer.

  • I gave up my information for THIS drivel?

The ultimate scumbag lead generation tactic: forcing the prospect to give up their personal information for a download that’s a flimsy list of generic information. A fast path to generating buyers remorse – before a sale!

This strategy, executed vigorously, reduces the long term potential of your brand to improve a marketing metric that may or may not turn into sales. Furthermore, you’re burning investment on lead generation and inside sales time.

Is there a better way? Perhaps. I’m going to share an insight from an offer test that opened my eyes.

From time to time, like many web publishers, we promote affiliate offers on our sites. We identify products which appear to be a good fit with our audiences interests and present a banner or a text link inviting them to learn more. Once they click, they are directed to a “landing page” intended to explain the value of the offer to that visitor before we send them to the merchant, where they will actually make a purchase. Most of this is pretty standard.

What was unique about this particular program is we went absolutely nuts with offer tracking. This was new offer on a recently redesigned piece of content, so we loaded it up with a bunch of tests and tracked each separately, tracing the click all the way through to actual conversions at the merchant. There were three basic paths to get to the offer:

  • Clicking a big banner in the sidebar that went directly to the merchant.
  • A large text link in a sidebar panel that led to a landing page that promoted the offer
  • A tiny text link buried in a massive text block below the fold that led to the same landing page

Not surprisingly, the large text link generated the most clicks – people have learned to ignore banners. The tiny text link generated almost no clicks.

However…. our highest net conversion rate and most of our conversions came from the tiny text link.

Yes, you read that correctly.

In retrospect, it made perfect sense. That tiny text link sat at the intersection of customer engagement with our content and prospect qualification. You’re not even looking at the tiny text link below the fold unless:

  • You think we know what we’re talking about
  • You see how the idea can make you money

From that place in a customer relationship, the path to a sale is pretty straightforward.

So back to that squeeze page, particularly on traffic that just hit your site…. do you seriously believe:

  • We trust you know what you’re talking about?
  • We understand how the idea makes money?

Of course not! There’s no trust here. So why do you waste time spamming me with garbage? Madness!

What if we tried this?

  • Remove Roadblocks For Casual Visitors: Seriously, just give me the white paper, without a squeeze page. We both know you’re not going to put any massive trade secrets in there. But tell me enough, from an objective perspective, that I’m going to wiser when I’m done reading it and impressed with your capabilities. Victory at this stage is creating a new advocate for your brand.
  • Offer Real Value for Contact Information: Want my number? Offer me a real benefit to investing more time reading your email or taking your call. It could be a personalized consultation. A free trial. Or discounts, assuming the prospect is already familiar with that type of product.
  • Show Me The Money (Value)! People don’t buy buzzwords, they buy value. In some form or another. Your materials need to clearly make this connection, using common language and very simple examples.

Seems to me this might do a couple of good things…

  • More people see more of our content – builds credibility in our brand
  • Better opportunity to build trust
  • Customers know why to buy…

Oh wait – and from a sales perspective – fewer but more qualified leads means I can work them much, much harder….

Pinch me, I must be dreaming. This could actually work….

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