April 17, 2007
I recall a couple years ago, my wife who was pregnant at the time, was in “mass project” mode and decided to convert our conventional white front door of our house to a trendy red color. While I initially had some concerns, she was 9 months pregnant at the time and I was not about to stand in her way!
She had originally envisioned that this door would be a quick and easy project. Well much to her dismay, it turned out to be mega project in which she proceeded to slap 8-10 coats of paint on this poor door until it finally transcended beyond a ghastly pink to the preferred red. So what was the missing element in this project? The Primer! She quickly learned that a primer coat would have eliminated much of the blood, sweat and tears she had invested into this endeavor!
So, what does this have to do with pre-launch campaigns for your web business? Well, it is important to view a pre-launch campaign as the primer that sets the tone, builds momentum, and creates a buzz for the upcoming launch of your new product or service. An effective pre-launch campaign will eliminate some of the legwork and expedite the “ramp up” period for your new web business endeavor.
It is evident that many web companies today do not capitalize on running effective pre-launch campaigns prior to the introduction of a new product or service. From my own experiences and research, a well executed pre-launch campaign can be a secret weapon for:
i) Building Momentum and Buzz (Good Viral Effect)
ii) Igniting Web Exposure
iii) Kick-starting the indexing process for the Search Engines
iv) Capturing targeted leads for your product or service
Based on my own previous pre-launch campaigns, I have found that the “make-it or break-it” factor comes down to the effectiveness and draw of your Squeeze Page.
Squeeze Play – What is it?
While many of you may know or regularly throw around the term Squeeze Page, for others, it is a lesser known term that may require some clarification. A Squeeze Page is a landing page (one page website) designed to peak user interest and draw them to potentially opting into a subscriber list.
For pre-launch campaigns, the Squeeze Page functions as a primer or “sneak preview” for your upcoming ebusiness endeavor. If your content, marketing message and layout are compelling then users will potentially sign-up to learn more about your products and services. The squeeze page is a non-threatening way of engaging your visitors and educating them on your new product or service without expecting a buying decision right away.
Short vs. Long Squeeze Pages
So, should your squeeze page be short or long? This is an interesting, ongoing discussion in our industry, so let me briefly weigh in on this debate. From my own experiences, I believe that shorter copy featuring a compelling headline, key features and benefits, a testimonial (where possible), an easy to access sign-up button or form and an incentive or free bonus should yield the best conversion results.
Now, there is a good argument for including enough relevant content to satisfy the palate of the Search Engine Spiders since some squeeze pages with very little copy have actually been penalized in Google and other major SEs. The other consideration involves the two types of individuals that may be visiting your site:
- The “Show Me the Goods” visitors as I like to call them do not want to be inundated with copious amounts of copy, but simply want to know: “What value does your product or service have for me?”
- The “Processor” visitors require more detailed information and prefer to be educated on the function and value of your products and services before taking the next step in the conversion process.
To accommodate both types of users, you might consider including a “More Details” link on your squeeze page to provide additional information for the processors as well as potentially satisfying Google’s requirements for relevant content. If you look at my recent squeeze page at www.esalesguru.com, you will see that I have chosen to go with just one page, but have included some additional content below the fold for the processors that would like to hear more about the benefits of our service.
One last thought… you might consider developing both a shorter and longer squeeze page and incorporate some script so you can split-test the two to compare results. This is the best and most analytical way of settling this age old debate!
10 Elements of an Effective Squeeze Page for Your Pre-Launch Campaign
Studies have shown that as many as 50% of users (originating from the search engines) will bail within 0-8 seconds after briefly glancing at a website or landing page. The site has apparently not met their initial expectations or approval and they make a quick exit! Now, given the fickleness of the Internet user at times, it is essential to incorporate some compelling components to your squeeze page in order to further entice the user to stick around and potentially convert to a lead.
Here are 10 key elements that may have a profound impact on the success or failure of your squeeze page and subsequent pre-launch campaign.
1) Compelling Headline
The headline of your squeeze page is the first and potentially only impression that will set the tone for the rest of the content. It needs to be clear, concise and possess “The Hook”. “The Hook”, that is, that draws the users into your body text and closer to a conversion. A compelling headline will sell the benefit, solve the problem and ultimately influence the split second decision the user makes to stay or bail.
2) Bulleted features and benefits
It is imperative to identify those distinguishing features and benefits that will clearly define the true value of your product or service and will answer the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) question.
I would highly recommend listing your key features and benefits in bulleted action points that are quick and easy to read. As you will see on our ESalesGuru.com squeeze page, I incorporated a couple short paragraphs (no more than 2 or 3 sentences) to go along with my bulleted points, but I made sure to bold or highlight the parts of the copy that were critical to the conversion process. It is fine to use paragraphs in conjunction with bulleted points, but make sure to incorporate the necessary highlights and bolding for those users that are quickly scanning or skimming your copy.
3) Effective Use of Testimonies
Since we are talking about the use of Squeeze Pages in “Pre-launch” campaigns, it is quite possible that you may not have any specific testimonies at this point. However, if you already have a beta version and have tested your product or service with a focus group, then I would highly recommend using a testimony from that group. A testimony can really validate the value of your product and aid the conversion process.
I would recommend strategically placing the testimony above the fold in the visible screen (based on 1024 x 768 resolution) and potentially near the sign-up form. Our company recently designed a squeeze page for Affiliate-Software-Review.com and you will notice that we specifically placed testimonies to the left of the sign-up form as well as just above the opt in fields for maximum effect.
4) Good Incentives
It is essential to incentivize your squeeze page with a relevant giveaway or bonus such as a free ebook, report, podcast or even a demo or tour of your upcoming product or service. I am firm believer in providing an incentive that is clearly spelled out and directly relevant to your respective product or service. I get frustrated with squeeze pages that say something to this effect: “Sign-up Today and receive a bonus wealth-building tool absolutely FREE!” This incentive is not specific and comes across as yet another gimmick. Do not pull the wool over your prospective consumers eyes, but treat them with the respect they deserve.
5) Easy to Access Sign-Up Forum
Whether you choose to build a squeeze page with shorter or longer copy, I would advise you to include a sign-up button or form above the fold in the first visible screen. You do not want to miss a prime opportunity to convert those “Show me the goods” users that will quickly review the headlines and bulleted statements and want to make their decision right then and there. At ESalesGuru.com, you will see that we strategically placed the sign-up form just below the image since Marketing Sherpa’s Eye Tracking studies have revealed that “People look at People” and it is essential to include good copy and important components of your site near the image.
6) Minimal Navigation and Hyperlinks
Since the primary function of the squeeze page is to build buzz and drive signups, it is important to limit any navigation or additional links that might distract the user during the conversion process. Again, as mentioned above, you may choose to include a “more details” link for those that require further information, but be sure to make your best effort to keep the user focused on the intended goal – the conversion!
7) Keyword Rich Content
This of course is a no-brainer, but it is imperative to choose 2-3 targeted keywords that you will strategically place in the Page Title, H1 Header Tag, Headline and throughout the copy. Be sure to make your Squeeze Page as search-friendly as possible.
8) Audio/Vido Intro
An Audio or Video Introduction on your squeeze page can be a nice way to personalize your site and build a rapport with your visitors. I think there is much power in the spoken word to further entice the user towards a conversion. I have personally used simple tools such as instantaudio.com or instantvideogenerator.com to generate audio and video content on my sites. At ESalesGuru.com, you will see that I have an audio introduction that requires you to press play in order to listen. I would recommend allowing the user to choose to listen to your audio or view your video as opposed to automatically starting it once your site loads. Again, this is personal preference – I might suggest testing this one out to see if you notice a significant difference in exit rates or time duration of page visits.
9) Tagging Strategies
It is definitely worthwhile to include social bookmark and media tags on your site for those that may not choose to opt in for your offer at this time, but might like to sign-up later or check back after your site has officially launched. Providing such tags as Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon are excellent for bolstering traffic and generating one-way back links to your site. Good way to make your squeeze page SEO friendly or should I say SMO friendly (Social Media Optimization). I would recommend accessing a simple tool like addthis.com to incorporate tagging into your page.
10) Effective use of Auto-Responders
This final component is more related to the follow-up of your subscribers or leads, but nonetheless an integral part of the squeeze page. I would recommend purchasing a simple auto-responder service like aweber or constantcontact where you can provide relevant and worthwhile follow-ups to those users that have opted into your list.
If you are running a 30-60 day pre-launch campaign, I might suggest that you include approximately 7-8 auto-responder messages spread out over that period in order to keep your subscribers captivated and excited about your upcoming product launch. It is imperative that your follow-up messages provide useful content and information for your users that build a rapport with these prospective consumers. I would advise against including multiple 3rd party offers in your auto-responder messages during your pre-launch campaign unless there is a clear tie-in with your own products and services.
While the first 9 elements above play a role in drawing the user towards an initial sign-up, it is the auto-responder process that will be instrumental in further engaging the user and potentially leading them towards a conversion.
Finally, I would recommend including some sort of contact information on the squeeze page for those visitors that might have more questions or require further information. Great customer support is always a key ally in the conversion process.
Now, the process of building a winning squeeze page for your pre-launch campaign is only half the battle. The next part is to develop innovative strategies for driving a steady stream of traffic to your squeeze page during the pre-launch campaign. We will discuss that in Part Two.
Author: Craig Cannings is the owner and managing director of ESalesGuru.com, an innovative outsourcing portal connecting ebusinesses with niche Internet Marketing Specialists and Firms worldwide. Visit www.esalesguru.com or contact Craig for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org