By Paul Parcellin, Staff Writer
March 26, 2015

Like most marketers, you probably would love to get better PPC conversion rates. Sure, with AdWords you may be "the man," and you might also be the grand master of landing pages. But then sometimes your creative well runs dry and you can't come up with any new testing ideas. What then?

You've got all of your bases covered, you may think - bids, negative keywords, landing page headlines and even button colors have been tested and optimized to the max.
It may be a good time to consider multi-step landing pages.

Multi-step landing pages are exactly what they sound like. Many landing pages try to get the job done in one step: a single page has a form that is used to capture PPC leads, but with multi-step landing pages the questions and fields are spread over multiple landing page steps.

Once you set up your multi-step landing pages and they go live, your next task is to increase conversions on each of the steps you created. That way, an increasing number of prospects make their way to the final step of converting as your sales funnel keeps growing.

You may find that not only are you increasing the number of prospects that are coming to you, your conversion rate is also starting to climb, and you might find that the quality of the leads you're getting also improves.

There are a handful of reasons why a multi-step landing page can outshine the single-step kind:

Greater Access to Information Equals an Informed Public

These days, people are spending more time taking in digital media than watching TV. Clearly, people are logging more hours on their computers, tablets and smart phones than they do sitting in front of the TV. With the detailed information available on a myriad of topics, digital media users can form a great many opinions on what is important and what is not.

Visual stimulation, it is thought, has caused an increase in intelligence over time, and this theory is backed up by the Flynn Effect - research that charts the overall increase in the public's IQ rates. The amount of online material continues to increase, and perhaps digital media users are searching for and reading more narrowly focused, detailed information, and they are forming opinions based on their online experiences.

Users now virtually ignore ad banners automatically, after having achieved a studied blindness to that kind of peripheral media. The same goes for traditional PPC advertising. So, it should come as little surprise that once-reliable strategies no longer deliver the same results.

Let's say that you've set up a one-step form with a couple of dozen fields on it. It might stun your visitors a bit at first, and then they'd likely soon notice that you're requesting detailed contact information. In all likelihood they will decide to retreat and leave your form blank.

In general, your prospect don't want to offload a bunch of information to you about themselves and their needs and requirements. They probably want a quick price quote so that they can start comparing your product with that of the several dozen or so competitors who are chasing the same dollars as you.

If you've ever been faced with filling out a long, single-page application you know how daunting the task can seem. It's no wonder that prospects asked to fill in eight, ten or more pieces of information on a form might get discouraged.

Instead, the process will likely seem easier if you break it down into multi-page steps. They'll be filling out the same quantity of information, but psychologically it's easier for most people to face four short steps rather than one long one.

People Often Find it Hard to Stay Focused

All it takes is one fuzzy headline or a form that looks complicated to make visitors bounce. Attention spans have declined some 33%, from 12 seconds in year 2000 to 8 seconds today, and that means it's going to be even harder to make visitors see the entire conversion process through to the end.

For you, the lead generating affiliate marketer who needs to drive traffic to your site and persuade the right prospects, there is one word that you must take to heart: "simplicity."

You know that your visitors can be easily distracted, and will quickly become bored if there's no apparent reward in the offing. So, set up landing pages that have a clear function and offer a precise reward. There should be no vague promises, veiled offers or confusing directions facing the visitor. Make each step simple, clear and easy to follow, or risk losing them to your competitors.

Qualifying Questions Add Legitimacy, Build Anticipation

As visitors walk through the steps of a multi-step landing page, their anticipation builds. With each step they are more invested in the process of getting what they want, so long as the steps seem reasonable. If you're expecting to get a quote on carpet cleaning, it's reasonable to answer questions about your location, the square footage you want cleaned and the kinds of carpeting in your home.

If prospects are then required to provide their email address and phone number, they may feel more open to doing so after they have answered some qualifying questions. It stands to reason that you can't receive the quote you want if the vendor has no way of contacting you.

Your visitors will almost certainly realize this, and they will probably be open to providing information that will get them what they want.

In addition, you're more likely to get people to complete any task if you break it down into baby steps.

Multi-step landing pages can divide up what might otherwise seem like long, tedious forms, and make the task of filling in the information more palatable. Who wants to be faced with an extended form that looks like it's time-consuming to complete?

Irrelevant Questions Can Actually Help Hook Prospects

You've probably seen landing pages that ask a visitor for his or her zip code. That's supposed to determine whether or not that prospect is qualified to receive whatever is being offered. In truth, the marketer may be accepting prospects from all zip codes. The question is aimed at making the prospect feel included in the group chosen to receive the offer.

Everyone wants to feel like he or she belongs to something important or special. If handled properly, letting visitors "qualify" themselves with an irrelevant question may actually give more visitors the incentive to finish your form. And with that you may see an increase your conversion rate.

Making Prospects Feel Included

Kissmetrics reports Namify, a maker of branding and promotional products, found its conversion rate increased exponentially when it did a four-step PPC landing page, leading with zip code as step 1. There was a 311% increase in conversion rate, a 74% increase in conversions, and a 73% decrease in cost per conversion.

The same result can be reached if you make up questions, related to demographics or your products or services. Prospects will see them as steps that will bring them closer to receiving the quote, or whatever else you are offering, that they want.

Post Script

Whenever you're trying a new conversion rate optimization tactic it's important that you first test it and see what results it brings.

Jason Clegg of Convert with Content, a firm specializing in small business traffic strategies, suggests that a three part multi-step form can be effective. He recommends:

Step #1 = First Name & Email
Step #2 = 3-5 Quick Survey Questions
Step #3 = Mailing Address & Phone Number

You may find that a three-step process converts best for you. But until you try it out you won't know. Hypothesize, test, then test again, and you will get a better idea of what works for you.

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