Optimization, Applied (Review)

CXL Growth Marketing Minidegree Week 6: Landing Page Optimization, Sales Page Copy, and Email Marketing

We’re at the half way point! During week 6 of CXL Institute’s Growth Marketing Minidegree, I completed the conversion module with courses on landing page optimization and product messaging. I also began the extensive channel-specific growth skills module with a course on email marketing.

This week’s learnings brought in learnings from my university classes and built on the general research, test, and optimize frameworks presented earlier in the CXL Minidegree. The more I know about a subject the more connections I find with other subjects and experiences. This week, I found links to my college introduction to graphic design class (visual hierarchy, design principles) and Eddie Shleyner’s Very Good Copy newsletter content on copywriting (goals, clarity, editing process).

The optimization module as a whole mixed the data & analytics section with the foundations of psychology and “why” of optimization presented earlier in the Minidegree. Although parts of the landing page optimization course felt a bit repetitive, the reminder helped build on the content from several weeks ago and apply it to a specific part of a website.

Landing pages

A landing page is the entrance page to a website. It’s the first page a user sees and has one goal: move the visitor to a specific series of next steps. The copy on the page and design therefore have to to build momentum and answer questions to move visitors onto the next page. Optimizing a landing page isn’t just about functionality and visual appeal. It’s very much a key webpage that can transform a bounce (someone who lands on your site and clicks off) into a lead with potential for revenue. The placement of this course in the Minidegree made logical sense — at this point I’m familiar with the general optimization process, and it all starts with applying the concepts to the landing page.

Wireframing and information hierarchy

Crafting a high performing landing page begins with a plan. A wireframe is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a page or website. Laying out the bare bones of a page helps visualize the landing page early on, helps prioritize content and build structure, and makes it easier to align copy and design. Often, a webpage is designed with blank content blocks in which copy in placed in at a larger step. Without knowing the type or quantity of copy needed, though, the design can conflict with the landing page’s goal.

Information hierarchy is the way we process the website copy. If people see answers to their biggest questions first, they’re more likely to stick around to learn more. A good information hierarchy determines what information is most important (to your customers, not your team) and how much information is necessary. Those with low awareness at the beginning of a the buyers journey need more information about the problem and why X brand’s product is the best solution. Repeat customers, on the other hand, already know all about the problem and brand and come with questions about product features, shipping, discounts, etc.

When organizing the relevant copy, you have to keep in mind:

1. Who are you communicating with? (target audience)

2. What do you want them to do? (goal)

3. Where is the traffic coming from? (source)

Once you’ve identified the answers, you can work backwards from your conversion goal by laying out questions, motivation, and barriers for each step.

The specifics of how find the answers to the above questions almost completely overlapped with the general optimization methodology: a heuristic walk-through, qualitative and quantitative research, testing, and implementation.

This module was one of my favorites so far. I loved the format of each lesson (concept, steps, template, walk-through of how to use the template, and specific example.) I loved the continuity of using the same website (petdoors.com) at the end of each lesson. The discussion of how to quantify qualitative data was exactly what I did during my summer internship at AWS, so all the templates and best practices resonated with me. The systems and templates would have saved me hours and hours of time had I known about them sooner, but the experience of going through the process less efficiently helped me understand the value of what the instructor laid out. This course dove deep into how to discover and prioritize consumer insights, not to hand off to another team, but to write specific, strategic sales copy. Absolutely fascinating. The video lessons also had very little repetition or “extra stuff,” so I felt I was learning during every minute.

Strategic copywriting

Conventionally, copywriting (choosing the words that go on your website) is based on heuristics and opinions. Someone with ample copywriting experience provides their opinion and that’s as scientific as it gets. This course provided a fascinating alternative: a series of steps analyzing qualitative data to find what will work, not just what likely wont. The instructor presented how to do a copy tear-down, message mining, and research, create message hierarchies, and transform the insights into sales copy. I know I’ll be doing voice-of-customer (VOC) and value proposition research/building in my next marketing role, so I made sure to save and annotate all the in-depth templates and resources provided.

Email marketing is one of the older forms of marketing, right along with direct marketing and field marketing. So the stats on its effectiveness always surprise me. For example, on average, email drives $38 per $1 invested. Unlike other channels, email has the power of one-on-one reach, mass customization, automation, and a high engagement/conversion rate. However, it loses all of its advantages when done wrong. I was generally familiar with email best practices such as don’t buy email lists, use double opt-in, and optimize for mobile, but this course went much deeper. For example: some email platforms (encompassing 25% of all email subscribers) automatically disable images, so you need to play with the background color behind images to retain content and legibility in the event the images don’t load.

I’m looking forward to diving further into the remaining 12 channels in the Minidegree. Until next week!

P.S. :)

Recent undergrad business graduate with a passion for personal growth, professional development, and tech marketing.