At time of writing the sports world (OK, maybe not the US) is riveted towards the UEFA EURO 2012™ – Arguably the highest-level of soccer competition (with the only notable MIA nations being Brazil and Argentina). What does this have to do with marketing, you may be wondering? Well, the most popular sport in the world (sorry baseball fans) has a basic set of tactics and strategies that can easily be transposed towards running any type of marketing campaign, be it brand awareness, advertising or a promotional effort, in particular when it comes to optimizing your landing pages.

For instance, the emails, tweets, and ads you have out on the field/web are your defenders and midfielders, carrying the ball/customer towards the end goal. The landing page is your striker, the one that ‘closes’ and gets you on the scoreboard, or revenue-reporting dashboard in this case. Let’s take a look at all the parallels that can be drawn between football (as it’s known everywhere else in the world) and landing page optimization:

1. Eyes on the Prize: While in soccer, the basic objective is to have the ball cross the opponents’ goal-line using any part of your body except your arms and hands; in marketing, objectives can be multiple, from lead generation to making a sale. But it’s up to you to determine exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

2. Place Your Shot: Once you have a clear goal defined, make sure it’s clear to the people visiting your landing page as well. Just like the big posts with nets are visible on either end of the soccer pitch, your call-to-action (CTA) should stand out from the rest of the content on the page. Unlike in soccer though, avoid any zig-zags or fake routes, get straight to the point and make it obvious what you want them to do.

If you’re trying to collect data from a potential customer, make sure your web-to-lead or opt-in forms are in plain view and constitute the main point of focus of your page (without asking for too much information at first, you don’t want to scare them away on first contact). Same thing if you’re trying to get someone to complete a purchase from your webstore – your CTA button should pop and make it crystal clear what the next step is (play with wording and colors to see what people respond to best).

3. Load the Box: On a set-piece, especially when behind on the scoreboard, you’ll often see everyone and their goalie come up and crowd the opposing penalty area. The more people there are, the higher the chances of someone kicking the ball in the net, simple logic right? The same applies to securing a conversion. While the landing page should provide the final push, multiple touches through Pay Per Click (PPC) or banner ads, emails and social posts lay the groundwork. That way, once the customer finally decides to click through any of those and visit your landing page, there will already be a sense of déjà vu and your chances of ‘scoring’ are way higher. Also, make sure your page is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-proof, making it easy to access through a simple web search in case the prospect/customer forgot where he last saw your ad (for tips on SEO, check out our two-part series here and here).

4. Put on a Good Show: Teams such as 1970s’ Ajax or today’s FC Barcelona are revered thanks to their beautiful play comprised of short passes, one-touch combinations and fluid ball movement leading to spectacular games and goals galore. The marketing equivalent would then be, first and foremost, good copy. As we often say in this blog, content will always be king and exciting, engaging copy rules. Make sure to have the right amount of imagery and white space as well, resulting in a landing page that’s easy on the eyes, while removing any distractions (secondary CTAs, extra links, navigation bar…) as clutter can prevent your visitors from performing the primary desired action. Remember, this is the final step toward your ultimate goal: the conversion. After all the sweat and hard work that went into crafting your entire campaign, make it count!

5. Don’t Get Carded: As I’ve previously mentioned, your landing page should serve one purpose, and that is to seal the deal and generate a conversion. The other side of that coin is to not make any false promises or claims about your product/service. Deliver what you say you will. If you’re trying to collect data from a lead, don’t flood his/her inbox without expressed consent (follow CAN-SPAM rules, always). Similarly, don’t have any shady cookies lying around memorizing credit card information or anything else your visitor hasn’t given you permission to store, as no conversion is worth destroying the brand image and integrity you worked so hard to build. Make sure to avoid these pitfalls and avoid the dreaded red card, booting you out of the game.

6. Leverage the Crowd: Chants and cheers can often be the difference between a win and a loss; there’s a reason fans are called the 12th player in the stadium. Your customer base can also be the clincher when it comes to scoring that conversion. If you have a loyal and vocal community following, don’t be afraid to use their quotes, testimonials and reviews on your landing page. People always relate to what their peers have to say about a given product/service, so give them reasons to trust and want to do business with you.

7. Try Different Line-Ups: Building a team isn’t always a matter of lining up the best players available, but rather the players that have the best chemistry in order to bring the best results. It takes a lot of tweaking before finally finding the right formula. The same can be said about building a landing page: test, test, and when you think you’re done testing, test some more. You can do A/B testing, offering 2 versions of the page to 2 different sets of customers (you can have A and B running on 2 different servers, for example); or Multivariate (MVT) for slight variations of the same page (a different image here or CTA there).

8. Review Tape: After each game, coaches and players reconvene and gobble an inordinate amount of tape in order to break down their performance, seeing how they can do better and what areas to improve on for the next game. Similarly, bookmark your analytics tool (heck, make it your homepage even) and regularly check on how your page is performing, from basic metrics such as page visits, bounce rate and of course conversion rate, to more complex ones like funnel reports. Compile, analyze all these results and tweak your page accordingly, then rinse/repeat.

Do you have any tips of your own on how to best optimize landing pages? Share away!

© 2012 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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