Over the last three years as an online publisher, my business has undergone a complete transformation in its approach.
Whereas I previously slapped some code from a couple of ad networks into my blogs’ templates and relied upon people clicking those ads to generate income, I’ve increasingly focused my energy upon creating my own products (largely ebooks) to sell.
The change in approach has been gradual and it has been a lot of work, but the results have made it worth doing. Last week the total of ebooks that we’ve sold moved past 62,000 units, with a combined revenue of around $1.1 million (note: that’s not all profit).
The cornerstone of my new approach
Numerous factors have contributed to these results, but one that I’ve recently been focusing on more and more is that of “landing pages.”
A landing page is a page on your site to which you direct traffic with the goal of converting those who land on it to take a specific action. This action can be many things, but might include:
- convince your reader to buy your ebook (or other product)
- get your reader to opt in to your email newsletter list
- convince advertisers to advertise on your blog
- convince your reader to buy an affiliate product that you’re promoting
- welcome anyone arriving from a social media account, and convince them to follow you
- introduce your blog and give new readers a tour of content that’s especially relevant for them
- thank people for subscribing, and encourage them to confirm their opt in to your list.
The list could go on and on, but the common thing is that these are pages to which you drive traffic, and on which you call readers to take a specific action.
Landing pages have been key in my own approach. I’ve used them in all of these ways, however, using them as sales pages has been the most effective tactic in selling ebooks.
Specifically designed landing pages work better
One of the key progressions in my own use of landing pages was to transition from using the default layout in my WordPress theme, to using specifically designed landing pages.
Previously, I used the default page that came with the theme that my blog used. As a result, landing pages looked pretty much the same as any other page on my blog. The result was good, but not great.
The problem I faced was that readers not only had a call to action to buy my ebook, but also numerous distractions in my sidebars and navigation areas (calls to subscribe, advertising, calls to visit other parts of the site, etc).
Readers were distracted from the main call to action on the page—to buy my ebook. A change of approach was needed, so we designed a landing page that had one single focus, and one call to action only.
You can see an example of this page on our latest product page at Digital Photography School—Going Pro (an ebook for helping photography enthusiasts to make money from their photography).
While the page is consistent in design with our normal dPS theme (in terms of color and branding), it doesn’t have any of the distracting elements of a normal page on the site.
There’s none of the normal navigation to other parts of the site in the header area, and there’s no sidebar. All people can do when they arrive is to read about the product—there are no other options to click or read.
When we switched from using default pages to a specifically designed landing page for the sale of our ebooks, we saw a significant leap in conversions. I don’t have the specific figures but it was in the order of a 30-40% increase—which in time has lead us to many thousands of dollars in extra revenue.
These landing pages were something I knew I should institute for a long time before I actually did it. The reason why it took me so long was simply that, as a technologically-challenged blogger, I consistently put it in the “too-hard basket”. In the end I only did it when we redesigned the blogs and I had my designer create a template specifically for the job. That was a couple of years ago, and about a year after I should have done it.
As a result of that inertia, I lost considerable sales, and I still kick myself about that regularly. That was two years ago—today it would have been a lot less difficult.
Landing pages made easy with Premise
Earlier this year, the team at Copyblogger released software for WordPress that’s all about creating landing pages that convert—it’s called Premise.
I can safely say that if I’d had this plugin when I first started selling my ebooks, my sales numbers would have been a lot higher. It takes the “too hard” part of landing pages, and completely eliminates it.
The idea with Premise is that instead of having to have a designer create a template specifically for each type of landing page for your blog (or having to learn to do it yourself), this plugin helps you create those landing pages yourself.
Premise focuses on three areas:
- Creating pages: they let you choose from seven types of landing page styles, and then add graphics and copy to them to create clutter-free and beautifully designed pages.
- Creating compelling copy: the design of your page is one thing, but the real magic happens in the copy that you create for the page to convince readers to take the action you’re suggesting. Premise gives advice on how to craft the type of landing page you’re creating, right in the WordPress interface. You also get access to some great copywriting seminars (keep in mind that this is from Copyblogger—the masters of creating compelling content and copy).
- Optimization: improve your conversion rate and search rankings with more tools and guidance, including easy split testing and SEO features.
One of the most amazing features of Premise is the graphics library. You could easily pay more than Premise costs just for a set of graphics like this, and it ensures that every landing page you create is unique.
Check out Premise for yourself. Just like I learned, the extra income you earn from quality landing pages will make Premise pay for itself many times over.