Dedicated to Discovering How People Make Choices
Big brands, well-known in the business world, often get away with lousy landing pages. The power of their brand name alone is enough to propel customers up the decision funnel to conversion. But that doesn't work for most brands. We must actually engage in a carefully constructed conversation with our customer that provides clear guidance and compelling reason to travel up the levels of the proverbial funnel to that final "yes" we are hoping to achieve.
We can't communicate and expect to be believed if at first we are not understood.
—Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS
This brief excerpt comes from session 1 of the MMC5259: Customer Relationship and Effective Lead Management course of the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program created by the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute. The full session aims to introduce students to the unique and unprecedented nature of the web and how it can be used as a living laboratory to study the cognitive decision process of our customers and predict their future behavior.
Flint McGlaughlin: Value proposition is what we're really trying to understand. And indeed, the true or false question was this: “True or false, this is the best place for you to get your graduate or to get your marketing education.” Now, when you think about that answer, you're going to have to work with what you see on this webpage. And let's say that you need a preliminary answer. (Ultimately, you might be deciding if you're truly working through the thought sequence of someone potentially going to enroll in a program.) You might at least have to decide should I explore this option further. Well, I'm not here to optimize the page, but let's just unpack it for a moment.
Certificate in Marketing. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'll give that 1 out of 10 and say at least it tells you what it is that you can go for, but that could be a title with a compelling headline underneath it and a subheader. Is there anything about the top of the page that gives you enough clarity to make the capital decision you should be making right now? In fact, there are two ways to think about this. Ultimately, you're making a decision around “do I want to enroll in this program?” But you have many other micro-yes(s) that come before that.
And so frankly, let's just look at the top of the page and say that we're trying to at least understand a simpler question, and that is “what does this program offer that's unique enough that I should explore it further?” Hold on a second, hold on a second because you can't answer that very well I suppose. So let's make it even easier than that. “What is it about the top of this page that makes me want to read what happens on the next screen?”
Student, listen to me. We can't communicate and expect to be believed if at first we're not understood. Now, let's keep unpacking what this means. But what I've been sharing with you are the levels of micro yes(s) necessary to getting someone to engage with this page. Let's look at it in a little bit more detail.
Certificate in Marketing. OK. So we know what it is, but we don't know any of the important questions like why? Why I should be interested in it; why I shouldn't enroll in the many hundreds of other organizations’ programs around marketing. Let's look at what it says here. Underneath Certificate in Marketing, it says CERTIFICATE PROGRAM. Ask yourself a question. How much content is in that sentence or that title in those two words? How much additional meaning are you getting?
Well, let's go beneath it. ON-CAMPUS FORMAT. What does that even mean, and how is that helping me on any of the three levels that I described? Look underneath it. Request Information. Now, this university is not my enemy. I certainly want to help them, if at all, in any way possible. And so if you're from this school by coincidence, please know that we're not trying to make war with you. I'm just looking at this as a fine illustration of ... and by the way, we didn't scour the internet for this. We typed in a key phrase and this was the number one result. In fact, you can see the paid search ad and how it ranks at the very top. Now, obviously, they're paying for the impact and the placement, but is that a worthy investment when the page is doing such a poor job of helping me make the transition?
So we've talked about Certificate in Marketing, then we saw CERTIFICATE PROGRAM, then we saw ON-CAMPUS FORMAT, and now we have this powerful — they tend to work in two-word phrases — Request Information. Why on earth would I be willing to do that at this point? More importantly, what information do I get when I click that button? What happens next? Is there any value in this information? Is it something that I can't find on the site if I just look a little deeper? Is it long? Is it short? Do you mail it? Is it email? Is it a link to another page? I think you get the idea here.
Now, I'm going to help us for just a moment before we shift to another piece. I'm going to share with you the brand. Now, look, it's Georgetown University. Once again, they're a superb institution, but do you see the problem? In fact, if it wasn't for that brand, ask yourself, who would respond? Would anybody respond? Clearly, there's some small group of people who respond to almost anything, but if it wasn't for the power of the brand ... By the way, Brand covers a multitude of sins. Sometimes the reason big companies do so poorly is they're trading on the velocity of their brand without understanding, in fact without thinking through, what would happen if you took the brand out of the equation? That forces you to look at your marketing in a completely different way and ask how effective is it really?
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