When you read a novel or watch a movie, it typically follows a structure.
Although there are many forms of structure or formula and some writers prefer one formula over another while some try not to subscribe to any formula, there is a certain pattern in which stories are told in most cases.
It goes something like this:
- Initially, all things are normal
- All of a sudden a problem occurs
- The hero (or protagonist) starts looking for a solution
- The struggle begins
- A guide or advisor appears to help
- Hero discovers something (in the form of new information or technique) that changes the game completely
- Finally, the climax where the hero overcomes the problem
A similar pattern is also present in many successful sales pages. In this post, I'll use 2 case studies to explain the idea in greater detail.
When a visitor comes to our page they already have a problem. They are in step 3 of our hero's journey.
In order to build a connection with the hero's journey, we tell our visitors a story as marketers where we mention the problems that might have happened in the hero's life and how the solution can be reached.
Now, 2 things can happen here.
1. You can tell a story about the problems you have faced yourself and how you solved it by applying some techniques that others can learn from (or benefit from). In this version you are the hero.
2. In the second method, you start with explaining the problems, make the reader the hero and then present yourself as the adviser who helps the hero to get out of the problem.
The above 2 methods make a huge difference in the style of storytelling (and therefore conversions) adopted by different marketers.
When marketers don't know much about their target audience they often try to adopt the first method. They project the business itself as the hero.
But companies that really kill their copywriting spend an insane amount of time researching their audience.
In the end, they build sales pages where they talk about their customers' problems in such a detailed manner that customers feel that they are living through the story. The story is often told in their language, with realistic examples and exhaustive details.
The prospects never feel for a second that it's someone else's story where they just have to follow the steps to arrive at a solution. They feel it's their own journey and the business is just an adviser helping them coming out of a problem.
That's the secret behind conversion-focused user acquisition where you plan a conversion strategy (story and other elements) before spending money and effort on user acquisition.
Let's now have a look at how it's implemented in real life.
Below is the landing page of a Window Cleaning Company. I'll not get into the details of the company because this is just an example.
But from my experience, if you visit the websites of any local business, more than 98% will have a structure that follows the first approach of story-telling- where they act as a hero to save the customer from a problem.
The landing page looks very professional with quality images and SEO optimization.
But the copy is not something that'll differentiate them from any other window cleaning service. It's not something that'll convince a prospect that they are the best you can get for your money.
But that doesn't matter much as long as you are getting free organic traffic by being at the top of Google search for certain keywords specific to your city or area. Your conversion will be low but you can manage.
But unfortunately, there are only 3 top spots in Google for any search term. So if you are not getting organic traffic and are paying for advertisements to bring in visitors to your website, every conversion counts.
And that's where the second method of storytelling becomes so important.
But before I get into the second method of storytelling in a while, let me explain what happens when the prospect reads this first method of storytelling.
They get objections in their mind.
I'll now deconstruct the copy of this website to explain what happens in the buyer's journey for such a copy.Tweet about this article
1. Headline: High Quality Professional Window Cleaning for the Tri-state Area
For a second, put yourself in the shoes of a prospect. What are you looking for when you need a window cleaning?
1. First, you want to know if they are good at their job? If they do what they claim, how do they specialize, types of work they have done, testimonials and reviews etc.
2. Second, you'll need your specific concerns to be addressed which can depend on whether you are looking for a service for your residence or business, the type of property you live in, the type of cleaning you need (regular wash, post-construction wash etc.) and other such things.
3. Third, you'd like to know the price. If this is within your budget.
4. Finally, if all the above conditions are met, your concern would be about safety and security. The reason I mentioned it as the last point is because most people don't even get to this point. They assume that a business operating under a license will be taking care of safety and security issues.
The headline doesn't give you any new information about the business except for the fact that they serve the tri-state area.
The given headline only speaks about the business as a hero and not you.
2. Images and text
- Commercial cleaning
- Residential cleaning
- Competitive rates
Again it's not much of information except that they serve both residential and commercial properties.
By saying "competitive rates" you indicate that your rates are not the cheapest.
I can understand if they are not competing on price- but if that's the case, they have to highlight why people would pay a premium for their service.
"Competitive rate" is vague as it neither serves you as a premium customer (unless you already know that they are premium service provider offering a competitive price) nor as a value seeker.
Again, the image and texts speak about the business and not you as the hero looking for a solution to your problems.
3. Call to actions (buttons): <Read more>
If you are really patient and have a ton of time you'll probably "read more". 99% of visitors will just skim through these sections.
"Read more" is just a distraction to the overall story. Ideally, one should never interrupt a good story unless they want you, the hero, to take the desired action.
Let's now have a look at how the ideal Hero's journey should look like.
Hero's journey- approach 2
To be honest I had a hard time finding a landing page for a local business that keeps the customer at the center of their story. I'll present an example that did a good enough job.
Here's how the hero image looks like:
The hero image starts with a very basic question, you- the hero, have in mind while on the page. And then they go on:
This beautifully captures your next objection- what do I get from a professional that I can't do myself.
This also explains (albeit indirectly) how they are good at their job.
Only this time you'll be more interested to read because they made this whole thing about you.
So now it's established that you have a problem, your hesitations on how to proceed (your struggle), and an advisor has come into the picture (the business)
But are you ready to move to the next step?
That brings us to our earlier questions. We have discussed them earlier but here's a quick recap:
1. Are they good for the job?
2. Specific requirements are met?
The first question was already answered when they explained how they are good at the job.
Notice how they changed the comparison from "their business vs competitors" to "their business vs you doing it on your own". In the case of services, it's practically impossible to prove in a convincing manner that you are better than others. (do people really trust Yelp reviews that much?).
It's easier to explain how they are better than you in achieving this task.Tweet about this article
The next question is how specific requirements are met? The business has explained it here.
In my opinion, it could have been done better by explaining the problems people face under different scenarios like Acid wash, Post-consutruction wash etc. so that the reader could easily relate to the story.
Many times cost is the biggest component that determines the decision depending on the type of business and the type of customers they are targeting. In my opinion, window cleaning would be a fairly competitive business.
An important stage in the journey comes when the hero needs the motivation to take a step to solve the problem. Many times cost is that motivation. Offering a quote reduces the uncertainty in making a choice because people can predict if it fits their budget.
What could have been better?
The business could have offered an instant quote calculator to help the hero make up his mind.
Usually, waiting for a quote impacts decision-making negatively. Till the time quote appears, the visitor may change their mind, find an alternative solution or even decide to do it themselves. There are multiple services available these days for offering instant quotes.
The above case studies make it clear how the conversions are impacted by different methods of storytelling.
There are various other ways to increase conversions on landing pages that you can find here.
Thank you for reading 🙏. If you have any questions, my Twitter is open for DMs here.