It's not every day I tell my readers to go out and spend $500 immediately. This is one of those days.
The words "insanely great" come to mind when describing the newly released second edition of the Landing Page Handbook from MarketingSherpa. I received a review copy from the company (I have no professional connection with them) and went through the 272 spiral-bound pages in a marathon reading session last night.
The book is targeted at professional marketers and designers who build destination pages for offers, registration, and other calls to action. Thinking of it from a webinar angle, this book will help you get people to register for your events by building better information pages and registration link-through pages, better registration forms, and even better invitation emails (although that is not its purpose, many of the guidelines in the handbook translate directly to invitation design).
MarketingSherpa is single-minded in its focus on measurable studies and results as applied to marketing practices. The Landing Page Handbook demonstrates this approach by detailing statistical studies, surveys, and outcomes from real companies showing measured effects of changes in landing page design and construction. This is not just some compendium of rules of thumb or brainstormed tips that "seem like they should work." It is a collection of specific pointers backed up by quantitative lifts in conversion rates from companies that implemented them. There are many examples spread throughout the book of before and after screenshots of landing pages that were tweaked by companies to achieve better results.
There is so much content that it might seem overwhelming at first. But as I read through it, I kept thinking that each clearly labeled guideline was a debate settler in itself. The next time you find yourself arguing with a designer over which color should be used for the action button, open the table of contents and find: "Chapter 2 - Color: Button graphics." Then turn to page 74 and settle the issue. Contents are segregated down to single paragraph entries sometimes, and the labels are unambiguous. The table of contents really does the duty of a full index... With 363 content entries, you'll never have difficulty finding the exact page you are looking for to address a topic.
At first, I started writing down representative examples of the kinds of things you can learn from the handbook. I was going to pose some rhetorical questions for you that are answered in the guide. Things such as:
- Should you lay out a list of selections horizontally or vertically?
- How many columns are optimal on a form? How wide should they be?
- Are radio buttons or check boxes more effective?
- Are there differences in behavior between male and female form visitors?
- Which is better: Short copy with links or long copy with scroll bars?
Eventually I gave up on this exercise. There were simply too many to keep jotting down.
Keep a copy of this guide in your office. Give a copy to your design team. And as the book says many times, test, revise, and test again when you build your pages.
One final footnote for web conferencing vendors: The default registration forms you create for your customers violate most of the guidelines in this handbook. You are causing your customers to lose potential attendees. Redesign your registration forms. Do it in your next release.
The Landing Page Handbook is available directly from MarketingSherpa on their website. Use this link for information and ordering.