This is a guest contribution from Stephan Spencer.
Web entrepreneur and founder of hugely successful ShoeMoney Media Group and the Shoemoney blog, Jeremy Schoemaker has found incredible success in the use of long form sales pages. Although at an early point in his web-marketing career he questioned the effectiveness of such approaches, once he actually started using long form sales pages to market his online products, he was amazed by their success.
Surprisingly, they work.
People actually take the time to read the page and become familiar with the product you are offering. And if you’re still hesitant to believe this, consider that Jeremy uses these pages to generate well over a million dollars in annual infoproduct revenue.
The long form sales page alone won’t necessarily make you millions, but the use of Jeremy Schoemaker’s personal Ninja tricks to optimize your page will take you well on your way to online riches.
Ninja Trick #1
Pre-populate fields on your sales page
Pre-populate your sales page using information you have already gathered from people visiting the site. This will shorten the time it will take to fill out the form and decrease the amount of effort visitors to your site will have to put forth.
Some information you can gather from affiliates, like the visitor’s email. The affiliate will encode it, you can decode it, and then on the actual form when people submit it, you can pre-populate their name and their email. You can do that for all sorts of information based on whether the user sends that information.
You rarely see pre-population in action, but it helps conversion incredibly because of the amount of people that type in their email or name wrong or make an error filling out the form for whatever reason.
In addition, you can use geo-targeting data to help you pre-populate location-based data. You can fill in the state they live in and the city for the most part. By the time you are done pre-populating fields for the visitor on the form there are only a small number of boxes they will have to do themselves. It makes signing up convenient and simple, thus increasing the likelihood of conversion.
Ninja Trick #2
Take actions based on the merchant response code
In addition to information you can gather from affiliates, be sure to take advantage of the information you can gather from your merchants. When you’re logging this stuff in real time, you can see that some of the merchant response codes give you valuable information. For example, a 201 code means “insufficient funds” and a 202 code means their “credit card is over the limit”.
This is interesting in that you can pitch that potential customer instantly at a lower price point if they qualify, offering them a special deal, knowing that they would be unlikely to purchase at full price. A message like “Congratulations! You’ve been randomly selected to receive 50% off!” would help to legitimize your offer.
In addition, if you see a number of visitors fail to sign up due to language difficulties or for whatever reason, it may be beneficial to automatically take them to a PayPal checkout or to show them a PayPal icon on the page. These consumers may not have a credit card readily available, but they tend to have a PayPal account.
It is important to use the merchant codes to your advantage, so you can take advantage of otherwise lost sales.
Ninja Trick #3
Include international traffic first
If you are going to do an offer like this and you’re going to optimize it, Jeremy highly recommends including international traffic first. This is because you can get it for around 12-13 cents CPM and it will actually help you to optimize, using very cheap traffic.
You could look at this like a “cart before the horse” scenario: you can’t really optimize until you have traffic, but you don’t want to buy traffic until it’s optimized. International traffic helps you solve this conundrum.
Ninja Trick #4
Make use of Visual Website Optimizer
Visual Website Optimizer is Google Analytics Content Experiments (formerly known as Google Website Optimizer) on steroids. You can tell it which URLs you want people to go to and assign goals to it just like you would do with Google. However, while Google’s tool has problems with delay and cross-domain tracking, Visual Website Optimizer excels at those things.
The best thing about Visual Website Optimizer is that it is amazingly simple to set up. It offers a simple interface to continually edit and optimize your pages through real time multivariate testing. Changes are made as soon as you save, so it eliminates the painful delay you can have with other testing tools.
Once you load in everything you want to test, Visual Website Optimizer will try out all your variables in varying combinations and then hone in on the very best performing combinations and only run those, cancelling out the poor performers.
This is really what Google Analytics Content Experiments should be, and it will help your optimization efforts incredibly.
Ninja Trick #5
Make use of ClickTale
ClickTale tells the story of what your visitors are doing. It records the sessions of each visitor to your site so you can see exactly how they interact with its elements and its sales form. You are also able to create funnels and perform form analytics that identify the stumbling blocks on your form (where people are constantly having trouble) and demonstrate how your form converts.
ClickTale records each person that visits your site, allowing you to watch their session and see in real time how they interact with your page. It also combines all of those sessions into heatmaps so you can see where people are moving their mouse on your site.
The online world is very competitive, so every little advantage helps. Whatever gives you that extra edge, use it, because the competition doesn’t play by the rules. Jeremy’s aforementioned Ninja techniques will help you gain this advantage and thrive online.
Stephan Spencer is co-author of The Art of SEO, now in its second edition, and author of Google Power Search. He is the founder of SEO agency Netconcepts, acquired by Covario in 2010, and inventor of automated pay-for-performance SEO technology platform GravityStream. He is a contributor to the Huffington Post, Multichannel Merchant, Search Engine Land, Practical Ecommerce, and MarketingProfs.