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SEOMoz Landing Page Optimization Contest - not “advanced”?

Rand over at SEOMoz announced a cool project - an open landing page optimization contest, verified by third party conversion tracking. This is cool enough to get even me to participate, except for one fatal flaw: a good landing page sells, and to sell, you have to know your product.

The product in this case is Premium Membership. I have no clue what is behind the Premium Membership at SEOMoz So how can I sell it? Oh sure I can make a great landing page anyway, but I shouldn’t be able to compete with the premium members in a conversion contest. If I could beat them without any knowledge of the inside, what would that say about their skillz? What would it say about landing page optimization? That it’s all about page design? Phooey.

A good landing page has to not just sell, but satisfy and convince. Consider yourself the visitor. You came to this page already predisposed with an opinion and an expectation. The job of the landing page is to match those aspects of your beliefs, allay your concerns, and satisfy your hopes. The copy uses information to do that. In the case of a landing page encouraging SEOMoz visitors to sign up for premium membership, many of the common beliefs involved are well known. What is the value expected to come to me in exchange for paying? What will I immediately gain right away that will make my purchase a no brainer? What guarantees do I have that I am not getting scammed, that I have no risk? How sure can I be that if I do get scammed, I am in a safe place and can get out without damage or big hassles? Answer these business questions, and I can design a landing page strategy and guide a designer in building it. Absent this sort of analysis, all you can do is play with page design or hype with promotional copy. That should not be enough to win a landing page optimization competition.

Oddly, the very same things I would need to build Rand a killer landing page and win this contest, are the very same things I have not seen myself while watching SEOMoz in the past. I bet the absence of those details is what has been keeping me and the masses from signing on, separate from any landing page. But to Rand, that is the reason for the contest. See the problem?

Rand, you don’t need a killer landing page to get premium members. You need killer value.

Seriously, absent any obvious problems, the landing page for premium conversion will only work if it clearly demonstrates value on the spot. If the premium membership actually has value like that, we need to present it on the landing page. Identify the 3 most likely incoming demeanors and show them what they seek is inside. Use examples. Use testimonials from inside. Etc etc, and add technology to exploit any available a-priori knowledge (can you spell referrer?). BUT, if there really isn’t such value in a premium membership to SEOMoz, then what is the “killer landing page” trying to accomplish? See the problem?

Let me clarify this: I have complete expectation that there is adequate content within that premium SEOmoz site to enable someone to make a killer landing page that converts. SEOmoz isn’t popular for no reason. However, I can’t see it, and unless you’re a premium subscriber, neither do you. So how could you win this contest? When I went to read the page that has the details for the contest, where I expected to find the guidelines that would enable a strategy for the conversion page (what can be offered, for example) I got hit with a member’s only login screen. Even the contest promotion failed to convert. See the problem?

I don’t believe that Rand views this as merely a page design exercise, because it’s presented in the context of copywriting and accompanied by a report that proposes sales conversion tactics including things like modified pricing structures. You know, strategic issues that drive landing page design. Something is missing.

A free, limited trial would achieve your goal, Rand. Plain and simple. If you’ve got value, show it. Having tasted it, we’d hate to lose it and we’d pony up the monthly fee to secure access. If you can’t do that, then, well, why not? It’s just a hunch, but I bet the answer to that question will tell you much more than Offermatica’s conversion reports.

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5 Responses to “SEOMoz Landing Page Optimization Contest - not “advanced”?”

  1. randfish Says:

    John, not sure if you missed this part:

    I’m Not a Premium Member - How Can I Author a Landing Page?

    No problem! If you’re not a premium member and want access to the guides, tools, Q A and tips so you can effectively craft a landing page submission, simply email Rand Fishkin - Rand@SEOmoz.org. I’ll verify that you’re on the up-and-up (and not just trying to get a temporary membership) and grant you access for the week.

    It’s on the submission page and mentioned in my post! :)

    As for convincing folks of the value of premium membership - you’re right, we haven’t done a great job of it. Despite offering lots of cool tools, lengthy and (IMO) valuable guides, new tips every week, an online Q A service, and invites to events, we’re clearly not getting the message across as effectively as we should.

    As for giving away free premium membership to everyone (or anyone) briefly, the fact is, you could go in and download all the content pieces (obviously not the tools, though you could get lots of data from those, too) in a couple hours. Granted, we add new content every day and a large piece of new content every 30-60 days, but it would still suck to have everyone get access for free to what a thousand people have already paid for…

    Feel free to email me if you’ve got a good idea on this.

  2. john andrews Says:

    Hmmm… I maybe I’m blind, Rand, but I still don’t see that note about getting access anywhere in your post at http://www.seomoz.org/blog/announcing-seomozs-landing-page-competition, and that “submission page” is (correct me if I am mistaken) behind a login. (click the image or link for http://www.seomoz.org/submissions - user account required).

    I agree with the “download it all” problem with trial access to paid content, but I’ve been in several of those that managed to limit the consumption during the trial period, enough to deter piggishness anyway. Most take a credit card to enable the trial, and one even had an agreement that if you tripped the consumption limit, you’d convert to paid subscription. I actually enjoyed that one, because I was well aware that I was enjoying the content and more than happy to permit the charge to go ahead.

    Anyway the point is, showroom visits sell a lot of cars, and luxury showroom experiences help sell a lot of luxury cars. The other point is, a good landing page addresses more than design issues (traffic quality, traffic sources, etc).

  3. Josh Says:

    I think that a limited trial may be the way to go. The landing page DOES need a lot of reworking and an optimized landing page would help conversions a lot,(Rand, your designer kicks ass, but there is so much valuable eyeball space lost on your website with all the flashy graphics filling up the screen above the fold) and if I hadn’t read the post too late in my reader I probably would have had a crack.

    Anyway, if it was possible, I would trial a free trial set up for your premium section and if you are worried about people downloading your content and abusing your tools, only make sample chapters available and limit usage of the tools. This way it stops people from leeching your quality content, but genuine possible clients are able to sample your wares. I am willing to bet your conversions would sky rocket. And as John says, the best way to sell your product is to show people they must have it.

    Also I think your premium membership is a bit expensive and out of reach of people like me (home business whilst looking after first child). As much as I would love access to them, I just can’t justify the cost. Maybe you could think of a tiered membership system with different cost options? Gold, silver, bronze? Just a though.

    Josh

  4. Lyndon Kanehl Says:

    Landing pages are designed to prepare customers for making a purchase at a different page. Squeeze pages are different; their goal is to collect information on prospective customers and form lists. Both of these types of pages are important for your company’s internet marketing efforts. You need to understand the different between them, as many Internet marketers confuse them.

  5. Lee Says:

    Hi enjoyed reading your pos.
    I must admit I am new to Internet marketing. I have just set up my first niche site and I am in the stage of trying to rank it. I have been looking in to which is the best way to ranking the site. One thing that keeps coming up is do I sign up to an seo service or do I try to do the back linking myself. That is my dilemma at the moment. Will put another comment on when I can decide. To let you know how I got on .

    I’ll be back as someone once said

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