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Thursday, Mar. 8, 2007 at 4:40 am

Landing Pages & the Value of First Impressions

By Melissa Burdon
March 8th, 2007

It’s probably rare that anyone walks into a physical store, unaware of what products or services they sell, but (thankfully) this happens every day online. Because of this, websites have the challenge of explaining what they do in a snapshot. Ah, but so very few do it well.

What if you went to a health supplement store and this happened?

Nutritionist: “Tacky font logo! Top navigation! Select product category! $49.95! Buy now?”

You: “Um, yeah… Hi, I’ve recently become a vegan and decided to cleanse my digestive system. There’s a history of colon cancer in my family and, uh, I want to be proactive about it while I’m young–not to mention that the word ‘Gastroenterologist’ makes me cringe. Anyway, I’ve never taken natural supplements before, so I’m pretty skeptical about the claims they make. Are there any in particular that have worked well for your customers?

Nutritionist: “Sale items! Add to cart! More info! Click here!?”

You: “Okay, well, uh… Wow, look at the time! Nice talking to you.”

proper05.jpgProper Fitness is an example of one such customer un-focused website. They neither explain what they do nor show how their value is unique from competitors. But they are good at providing us with an example of what not to do.

When thinking about landing pages–homepage or otherwise–you should keep in mind that a portion of the traffic coming to your site are first-time visitors, and they’re all coming at different stages of their own buying process. Although it’s nice to to think you can go straight for the sale, your sales process isn’t of much concern to the visitor at this point. Have you ever gone out of your way to buy something at a store just because you know they have better customer service? Such is buying online (although it happens much faster).

Your potential customers simply don’t have time to figure out who you are and what you do unless you explicitly tell them. Unlike Proper Fitness, you need to present this information to them within the active window (read: top-center) of your homepage and within the top banner of every landing page (we often call this the Unique Campaign proposition) on your site.

Contrast the previous example to one of our newer clients, See how quickly showing your Unique Value Proposition makes all the difference?

Introduce yourself in terms of the value you offer your customers. Use a clear logo in the top-left corner and provide the visitor with a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) next to the logo that reinforces the visitor’s sense that he’s in the right place. Place this on every page throughout your site. (Remember, your homepage is not the only entry-point, so each landing page needs to make this same introduction.) This is especially critical on those Pay-Per-Click (PPC) landing pages you create.

The UVP is your site’s first chance to begin a dialogue with its visitors. In very simple language, clearly describe what you do, how it’s unique from your competitors, and how your customers benefit from your products and/or services. Don’t try to figure out the magic of persuasion until you’ve first addressed this one critical–and criminally overlooked–element.

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Comments (21)

  1. [...] Landing Pages & the Value of First Impressions “The UVP is your site’s first chance to begin a dialogue with its visitors. In very simple language, clearly describe what you do, how it’s unique from your competitors, and how your customers benefit from your products and/or services. Don’t try to figure out the magic of persuasion until you’ve first addressed this one critical–and criminally overlooked–element.” [...]

  2. Marj,

    Here’s a good resourse/article for designing web pages…


  3. [...] * I’ve been on a conversion kick lately. The smart guys at Future Now discuss landing pages and first impressions with a dose of humor thrown in. The first section certainly made me chuckle. They also pointed me to nobody actually reads what you’ve written from The Wizard of Ads, a good blog I just found. [...]

  4. Hey, great article. Very useful couple of example sites to prove your point. However, you fail in one regard (and I’m surprised you did it): you jumped to using acronyms that only an expert in your field could remember the meaning of. Please, please, please, please, everyone, quit relying on acronyms unless they’ve actually become part of Webster’s dictionary. Just don’t do it. It’s laziness on the writer’s part not to spell it out. I’ve seen this so many times in books. They think that since they introduced the full terms in the introduction they can use acronyms freely throughout the rest of the book (causing me and countless others to constantly look back to the intro to remember what UVP and PPC means–if I even knew to look in the intro). There are many “accidental” marketers among us that are trying to make our websites more meaningful, relevant and understandable for our audience who do not know any of the acronyms of the trade.

    Okay, end rant! Still it was a great article and I got plenty of value from it!

  5. KD,

    Thanks for pointing that out. We’re not immune to our own medicine. UVP was spelled-out before, but the acronym wasn’t made clear. Anyway, enough with the excuses; good catch!

    (Our apologies to RSS* readers for the edit/appearance-of-multiple-posts.)

    *RSS = Really Simple Syndication ;)

  6. Brilliant description of the real life scenario, Melissa. Made even the more painful because I recognise that we’re STILL doing some of this.

    Thank you.

  7. Thanks for the good artcile. My company has always had hard time holding back with the SALE on it site. It hard to make a conversion when we only aim our content at the converted.

    Some other sources on this topic:
    There is a good chapter on first impressions in Seth Godin’s book “All Marketers Are Liars”. He talks about the value of telling stories that connect with the people who read them.

    He also draws a distinction between first impressions and first views – how many times does someone have to see my company’s site before it actually makes an impression (ask the old owl).

    I also just read an article in the March 2007, EContent “The Opiate of Content -Search” where the problem of paid search linking people to poor content is said to result in a vicious circle of repurchasing the same ‘eyeballs’ due to the lack of a first impression.

  8. I think the recommendation for the UVP next to the logo on every page is worth its weight in gold. Especially for the PPC landing pages. Thanks!

    Ross Kilburn

  9. You don’t see our company publishing negative articles about your website on our site. Why do you wish to write negative stuff about our company and our website?

  10. Dear Proper Fitness:

    We’re sorry if you took offense to our critique of your site. It’s certainly understandable. Please know, however, that this blog post is meant only as a critique–and was not at all intended to be mean-spirited.

    The same goes for all blog and newsletter posts where we critique other websites. In fact, that’s exactly what Detoxologie hired us to do for them. Since implementing our recommendations to their site (within the last few months), they’ve seen a 650% increase in sales.

    Likewise, it’s our sincere hope that you can profit from our advice here. By saying that there’s something missing in terms of customer focus on your site, we’re certainly not suggesting it’s something you’ve done intentionally. Rather, we hope to point out that the same key information we see as lacking from your site as it is today is also a problem on countless other e-commerce sites.

    Thank you for reaching out.

    -GrokDotCom Blog Editor

  11. [...] about a solid Unique Value Proposition: Stop Talking to Machines and Talk to a Real Human. Tired of dialing 1-800 numbers and not being [...]

  12. [...] skits remind us of Melissa's post on the value of first impressions.  Funny/sad stuff, ain't it? No wonder conversion rates stink!) Technorati Tags: Amazon, [...]

  13. [...] get a head-start on the competition, here are some of our favorite landing page & testing resources.  Good luck! Technorati Tags: AB [...]

  14. [...] look and feel — which evokes Windows 95 far more than it does an airline — the site lacks a Unique Value Proposition. Nowhere does it concisely explain what it is they do, or why they should bother flying with [...]

  15. [...] a better job of explaining the scientific fitting and how that is actually the brand's Unique Value Proposition. "The perfect bra in 3 minutes" is a nice final tag-line, but inserting information [...]

  16. [...] your unique value. Do you have a unique value proposition? Is it present across the site and particularly on your landing [...]

  17. [...] website and test the most effective way to present it. According to FutureNow/GrokDotCom’s Landing Pages & the Value of First Impressions blog post, “The UVP is your site’s first chance to begin a dialogue with its [...]

  18. [...] If you are unfamiliar with what your unique selling proposition, or value proposition is, an article by Melissa Burton can give you some pointers. A landing page is essentially any page that appears in the SERP for a [...]

  19. I have to write the landingpage everyday for my company, because it is growing at a rapid speed!Boring!

  20. Hi Melissa Burdon,

    This is an Great Article. Very useful information.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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