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Improving the Thought Sequence in Your Email Acquisition

Published by Tim Kachuriak

Every time you ask for something – whether it’s a donation or just an email signup – you are entering a mental conversation with your visitor. To increase potential for success, it is important that the the thought sequence of that conversation take place in the proper order.

Briefly imagine if you were approached by a stranger on the street, and they said, “Hey, my name’s Tim. Can I have your business card? I’m going to call you later!”

You probably would give this person a weird look, and think, “No way, I don’t know you! Of course you can’t have my contact information! Leave me alone.”

We would never give away something valuable to us, like our contact information, just because someone asks for it. The same is true online.

Not only does it matter how we ask, but the order in which we ask for someone’s information is crucial. When we ask for it out of order, we create anxiety in the mind of the person on the other side of the screen.

Reordering the elements of your landing page

Experiment #1692

This is an email acquisition page for an e-book offer for the Stanford Graduate School of Business. They have a good headline at the top of the page, and they use a three-column layout that mirrors their branding throughout the site. As you can see, they include third-party credibility indicators at the bottom of the page.

Do you notice any problems?

Landing Page Thought Sequence - Experiment 1692 - Control

Notice your eye-movement as you work through page. A visitor has to read the copy in the first column, then move back to the top of the page to view the book, and then come back up again to complete the signup form. Up, down, up, down, up, down.

The horizontal layout forces you to slow down to work through the page, and affects the thought sequence leading to the final call-to-action.

We wondered if reorienting the thought sequence would affect the conversion rate on the page.

First, we put all these elements in a linear path from top to bottom of the page to create a more effective flow. We changed the headline to convey value, gave the copy contextual placement near the form, and moved the email acquisition form into the eye-path of the visitor. Then, we moved the book image and credibility indicators to the right column as supporting content. Below the first paragraph is the call-to-action restated as an opportunity to respond.

Landing Page Thought Sequence - Experiment 1692 - Treatment

The treatment produced an increase in conversion by 10.8%.

Matching branding throughout the site is not enough. Each landing page must be optimized to maximize perceived value and minimize perceived cost.

Re-ordering the thought sequence of your landing page

Experiment #2472

This example is based on a similar concept.

The design below is something I call “above the fold.” For some reason, we’ve been taught to include all the important information in a header at the top of the page.

Landing Page Thought Sequence - Experiment 2472 - Control

The “above the fold” idea was originally created for traditional newspapers so that a folded paper on a newsstand would still display the daily headlines. To see more, the reader has to physically pick up the paper and unfold it.

This problem doesn’t exist online, and yet, so often we follow this same practice! Scrolling up and down through a page is different than unfolding a newspaper, so our websites should function differently.

In this experiment, we reordered the elements on the page, removing the “above the fold” design and created a vertical sequencing path from top to bottom.

Landing Page Thought Sequence - Experiment 2472 - Treatment

The treatment produced a 7.7% lift in conversion on the page.

Wrap Up…

Re-ordering page elements to create a top-to-bottom flow is a simple, easy change you can make on any page. Think of it like a real, face-to-face conversation you’re having with the person on the other side of the screen. The order of the conversation is crucial. Don’t jump the natural sequencing process and require too much too early.

Having a natural and logical thought sequence on your landing page is essential to reducing friction and anxiety on your landing page. But there are many other factors that can cause friction and keep your potential donors from taking that first step to connect with you.

Friction Self AssessmentTo discover other areas of friction on your landing pages, check out our free, online friction assessment. We’ll ask you a few questions about your landing page, give you your friction score, and provide some tips to reduce the elements of friction and grow conversion rates.

Take the free Friction Self-Assessment.

About the author:

Tim Kachuriak

Tim won "Best Stage Presence" for the 1991 Pittsburgh Boys Choir.