The VPM Blog

Hit the Beach! What the military teaches us about landing pages

Posted by Don Crow on Jul 24, 2010 4:00:37 AM

One of the things we believe in at Verge Pipe Media is the tenacity, discipline and precision with which messaging needs to be managed in today's crowded marketplace. We even go so far as to say, "delivered in a military manner," when we discuss our founding ideals of helping business and non-profits showcase their message.

We're going to quickly outline how tactical lessons from the military can help you organize your next landing page campaign in a "point of impact, point of decision" mindset.

A lot can be taken from a military exercise few, if any of us will see - an amphibious assault. It begins with meticulous planning and war-gaming taking into account the weather, time of day, tides, soil composition of the landing area(s), strength of the enemy awaiting and availability of resupply to name a few. Then the process gets more tactical by massing of forces and creating a beach head where follow on forces can safely stage. The point of impact, point of decision then becomes that area of shore chosen for strategic importance and logistical resupply as well as the most reasonable chance of destroying the enemy.

Think about how you try and drive customers to your web properties in the above context.

Hopefully, you’re already working on your strategic plan for the ideal customer and conditions to drive profits. If not, you might consider taking a step back from the landing page/conversion game until you do so. Assuming that step is safely squared away, we’ll continue.

You amass a string of traffic sources together, each tailored to their own specific audiences with a goal of creating a point of entry which will allow a relationship to begin (or grow) and more money to be spent (hopefully the ratio is in your favor!). The enemy is time and distractions, unclear messaging and lack of trust.

If you aren't approaching the view of your landing pages - and even website in general - with this goal in mind all you have is an online business or product listing. Sales may even be an accidental part of your online lead generation process.

Let's review some of the traffic sources first:

  • Pay per click (PPC) search marketing
  • Banner or illustrative graphic ads online
  • Email links
  • Blogs
  • Offline ads

Now let's comment on some of the enemies:

  • "Wait, this doesn't look the way I thought it would"
  • "What happened to the product I wanted?"
  • "Why do I have to fill out a form? Ugh! WTH!?"
  • "I'm not sure I'm giving my payment info to this site”

You can control where the traffic sources come from and you can even control, to some extent, the enemies.

Controlling the enemies is about creating compelling content and a strong call to action at the point of impact (landing page) which influences the visitors to favorably arrive at the point of decision – creation of a relationship by completing whatever course of action you desire.

Keep the number of decisions your visitors need to make to a bare minimum. We recommend one per landing page. If it is downloading more of your material to read later, make your messaging speak to the benefits versus time spent reading the material they download. Then direct them politely to the “download now” button. If you’re going to give visitors more than one decision to make, ensure at least one of those decisions gives you at least a way to follow up later. Have a back-up in case they choose not to take the desired action.

Don’t be afraid to test multiple landing pages and tie each of them to specific traffic sources. In fact, you will likely find higher conversion rates if you DO have multiple landing pages. They may each be trying to get visitors to ultimately do the same action (conversions), but messaged and built around the type of entry point and desired visitor to increase the likelihood of a conversion in the first place.

Once your beach head is established and the conversions are flowing, you’ve got to continue to test different traffic sources and landing pages. Just as the military minds who plan amphibious assaults will tell you, it is never a good idea to have a single beach head or point of entry. That makes you vulnerable to counter attacks and complacency.

To briefly sum it all up, our high level process map for winning landing pages goes this way:

  1. Know your traffic sources and great customer profiles
  2. Build landing pages that have a single point of impact, point of decision for each of those traffic sources and profiles
  3. Test and learn, test and learn
  4. Refine your landing page and measure conversions
  5. Seek new traffic sources and profiles based on the knowledge gained from your winning landing page

Topics: Landing Pages