Talia is a frequent keynote speaker at marketing conferences, teaching conversion optimization and growth on stages such as Google, Unbounce, MozCon, GMIC, CXL live, Search Love, Learn Inbound and many more.
She is the Co-founder & CMO at Banana Splash and was recently listed as one of the most influential voices in conversion optimization.
Latest posts by Talia Wolf (see all)
- Are heatmaps actually effective? Interview with HotJar Founder - April 16, 2018
- Social Listening: How to Increase Conversions Using Social Media Insights - March 18, 2018
- How to go from blank screen to high-converting copy [webinar] - February 22, 2018
There are hundreds if not thousands of articles online offering best practices and tips for landing page optimization.
That’s probably why the most common way marketers optimize their landing pages is by reading “best practices” articles that promise a 300% uplift in conversions by making one simple change and following their advice.
Yeah… that never works.
Another way people optimize their landing pages is by hiring a conversion optimization agency, and getting them to optimize the pages for them.
The first option should be completely off the table for you.
Unless you have the time to filter through all the junk articles out there, and you’re absolutely sure these best practices are right for YOUR specific businesses and audience.
The second option is great, if you have the money to spend on an expert. Not everyone does.
However, I’d like to offer a third option.
I’m more of a ‘do it yourself’ kind of gal. I believe you should be able to critique your own landing page, find the leaks in it and optimize it yourself (with your own team).
The power of being able to look at your landing page, analyze it and follow a step-by-step process to optimizing it, is huge. Here’s what you gain by doing so yourself:
Once the test is complete, you get all the knowledge, you know exactly what worked, why it worked and most importantly you have a much better idea of what to do next.
Understanding what works best on your audience, what makes them convert and spreading that knowledge within the business is priceless.
Today, instead of listing another “100 tips / best practices for optimizing any landing page”
I’m going to give you the complete step-by-step process we use for landing page optimization.
A guide to optimizing your specific landing page, according to your goals and your audience.
This guide is the play-by-play of how I and my peers optimize our clients’ landing pages and come up with optimization suggestions.
Before You Get Started – Download These:
Landing Page Optimization Guide
Navigate your way through this guide:
- Google Analytics Analysis
- Heatmaps, Scroll Maps and Recording Analysis
- State of Awareness Analysis
- Customer Surveys & Interviews
- Content& Design Analysis
- Headline optimization
- Call to action optimization
- Social proof optimization
- Copy optimization
- Image strategy optimization
- Color optimization
- Registration form optimization
- Final landing page analysis
The first step in evaluating and optimizing your landing page is analyzing its numbers and existing data. Your goal is to understand how the page is performing, find any leaks or opportunities in the funnel, and identify any technical issues that need solving (e.g- loading time).
To get started, we’ve prepared a Google Analytics checklist for you. The checklist consists of all the metrics and reports you should look at and general setups you should make sure are working.
Simply follow the steps in the checklist below to identify the landing page’s current results and to find any key errors or issues:
Once you’ve completed the first round of landing page analysis, it’s time to analyze your heatmaps. If you haven’t set them up yet, now’s the time to do so. I use Hotjar, for all my heatmaps, scrollmaps and recordings, however there are many great tools out there you can use like Qualaroo or LuckyOrange.
With heatmaps and clickmaps analysis, your goal is to see how visitors are interacting with your landing page. Using heatmaps you can see what elements people are clicking on and what elements on the page may distracting or misleading visitors (for example – many visitors clicking on an element that isn’t clickable).
In the screenshot below you can see that while the main call to action is being clicked on more than other elements on the page (red means a lot of engagement while blue means minimum engagement), the 2 calls to action that get the most clicks on them are the login button on the top-right corner and the call to action which appears below the fold.
The call to action below the fold is actually a repeat of the main call to action. The fact that visitors prefer to click on the second one rather than the main call to action above the fold could indicate that the first call to action isn’t appealing enough to visitors, or is lacking certain information that does appear below the fold.
In addition to heatmaps, scrollmaps will show you how far down your landing page visitors scroll. It will give you an idea of where attention drops off, what content customers might be looking for and how to prioritize your landing page content.As Arnout Hellemans of OnlineMarkeThink explains:
Through our customer surveys we discovered that the ‘deals’ and the ‘clients’ section on the page were the most important information prospects were looking for, yet the scroll map showed that only <22% were reaching that part of the page. This insight led them to prioritize these sections on the page and test it.
Session recordings are another great way to see how prospects interact with your page. Spend some time viewing those sessions and see if you can find any common challenges or behaviors that come up.
Google Analytics data and heatmaps tell us where the story is and where challenges exist on the page. For example, we may discover there’s a low conversion rate for organic traffic or that certain geographical locations don’t convert. Your next step is to identify why these issues are occurring and how to fix them. To do that, you have to get to know your customers better, understand why they behave and how to create a better journey for them. Let’s do exactly that in out next chapter:
The number one rule of a high converting landing page is that it answers your customer’s questions, addresses their concerns and tells their story.
As the “Emotional Targeting” methodology dictates: Your goal is to make it about the customer. Whatever you’re selling, what customers really care about isn’t the WHAT it’s the WHY.
The only way to create a high converting landing page is by doing your research to identify your prospect’s intent (why they’re on your page to start with) the challenges they face and their goals.
It’s simple really, if you help your customers achieve their goals, you will achieve your own.
“Great Talia! But how do we do that?” (← That’s me imagining what you’re probably thinking about right now…) Ok, so let’s get cracking:
The Anatomy of a High Converting Landing Page
A successful, converting landing page addresses your one single visitor and delivers one promise for them. To do this you will need to:
- Figure out the state of awareness of your landing page visitors → to identify who your one single visitor is and who you’re talking to.
- Figure out what their goal is → this is where the promise comes in.
Step #1: Figuring out the state of awareness of your landing page prospects:
Prospects go through different stages of awareness while making a purchase, from identifying they have a problem to searching for a solution to finally purchasing one. The best way to deliver great content and a high converting landing page is by identifying what stage of awareness your prospect is in and creating a landing page that caters to that state of awareness.
For example if your customer isn’t yet aware they have a problem, you wouldn’t hard sale them and immediately tell them all about your solution. What you would do, is help them realise they have an issue that needs fixing, and only then address how to fix it.
It’s the difference between having a landing page headline that says:
The #1 Solution for Team Collaboration
and another landing page headline that says:
Start Communicating Better with Your Team
Back in 1952 Eugene Schwartz mapped out the 5 states of awareness in his book ‘Breakthrough Advertising’ (who some like to call the father of copywriting) that we use till today:
- Unaware: Not aware I have a problem → I’ve never actually considered we may have a problem communicating in our team.
- Problem aware: I have a problem but I’m not doing anything about it yet – I know there’s an issue with communicating and collaborating in the team but I haven’t thought to search for a solution.
- Solution Aware: I’m actively searching for a solution – I’ve realised we have a problem communicating internally so I’m searching for a solution online.
Product aware: I’ve found a few solutions, including yours – I’ve seen your solution, but I’m not entirely convinced you’re the one for me.
- Most aware: I’ve chosen yours and I’m ready to commit – “Show me the buy button”.
As an example, daPulse uses their landing page to explain to “Product Aware””prospects why they should choose them:
Your goal is to move prospects from their initial starting point all the way to the ‘Most Aware” stage within your landing page.So once you’ve identified your prospect’s stage of awareness, it’s easier to choose headlines, images, bullet points, social proof and essentially any piece of content for your landing page.
The best way to figure out the state of awareness of prospects is by:
- Analyzing the keywords (search queries) visitors are using to find you.
- Segmenting your ads to various awareness levels
- And analyzing whether they’re new or returning visitors. If they have visited other pages or your site, they’re probably more aware.
Every piece of content on your landing page should be written and designed for the state of awareness of your prospect, for that single visitor. How do you do that? Once you’ve identified their state of awareness you then need to figure out what content each state requires, you do this by doing customer surveys and conducting interviews.
How will you know what prospects are looking for if you don’t talk to your them?
I am continuously amazed by the amount of businesses who have never sent a customer survey, or have never spoken to a customer. Your customers hold the key to your content strategy, your unique selling proposition (USP) and basically the entire success of your business.
If you want to create valuable content for your customers, you have to speak to to them and get to know them better. Every single landing page I critique or create from scratch includes customer surveys and interviews, there simply is no way around it (and there shouldn’t be).
Customer surveys types
There are three main customer surveys you can perform to get interesting insights and ideas from your customers:
- Current customer interviews / surveys – This is when you send out a survey or a request for an interview with customers who have already converted on your site. These don’t necessarily have to be customers who’ve recently converted. Simply reaching out to old time customers and hopefully repeating customers can deliver some amazing insights.
- Post conversion customer survey – This is the type of survey you send out within 24 hours of the first conversion. The thank you page is the best place for these type of surveys. Rather than sending them to their email to check for it, get them to act right from within the funnel. This technique is called “Foot in the door” – since they’ve already taken one action with you they’re far more inclined to take another one immediately and fill in your survey. As I explain in the article 7 ways I’ve increased conversion rates with thank you pages: Floppi does a great job incentivizing people to fill in their surveys on their thank you page and collect valuable data:
- On page surveys – These type of surveys are conducted while prospects are on the landing page itself, prior to the conversion. These can be done with tools such as Hotjar, Qualaroo and Zendesk and should be triggered by certain predefined rules such as time on page, exit intent, new/returning visitor or scroll depth. Source:Hotjar
What to ask in customer surveys
Customer surveys are all about asking the right questions. Here are some of my favorite questions to ask in surveys:
- What problem does our product/service solve for you?
- What persuaded you to [action – e.g. buy / signup]?
- What are your biggest challenges right now?
- Did you have any concerns before joining? (if yes, what?)
To get more in-depth answers, I recommend adding a few personal questions to your surveys. These will give you insight into your customer’s emotional triggers and intent. For example:
- If our business were a person, how would you describe its personality?
- Who is your role model?
- What is your dream holiday spot?
This strategy has worked wonders for many clients of ours.
While working with an Ecommerce site we sent out a survey including the question “Who is your role model?”. Over 90% of respondents said their role model was a family member, and the vast majority specified it was a parent. Thanks to this insight we crafted a new landing page strategy that included a more family oriented message. It included new testimonials about family values, different images portraying a community, new bullet points and a different color scheme. All these changes led to a 62% increase in sales for our client.
“Lots of people talk about the value of surveying users with tools like Qualaroo and Hotjar to get qualitative feedback from users on landing pages to understand why they’re not converting, such as by asking questions like “If you didn’t sign up today, can you tell us why not?” Those are all well and good, but I think one of the best ways to figure out what’s really stopping people is to ask people who recently converted this question: What almost stopped you from signing up?
By asking people who recently converted what almost stopped them, you uncover speed bumps that while some people can overcome, there are likely many more getting hung up on those issues and leaving instead of converting. Dr. Carl Blanks at Conversion Rate Experts taught me that one, and it’s one of the best ways to discover insights for improving conversions I’ve learned.” Morgan Brown, COO of Inman News
At GetUplift we divide questions into categories, that later help us prioritize content and deliver the answers to the right teams:
- About the market
- About the product / service
- About the brand
- About the customer
If you have completed the first steps of this guide, you’ll be able to fill in the first half of the landing page worksheet:
Now that you know your prospect’s state of awareness and what your one promise is to that prospect, you can start critiquing your landing page to make sure it actually fulfills that promise.
“Landing pages convert when they answer the visitors questions and give evidence to support those answers. Although there are a lot of best practices, the key is to know your specific visitor and their specific questions. Visitors in general have questions about pricing and timing. But your specific visitors may wonder if the puppy is housebroken, if sweater will shrink or if the chainsaw will stay sharp!
So really, you can’t understand the page without understanding the visitor. Let’s assume our visitor wants a chainsaw and they’re wondering if it will stay sharp.
- Does this page answer the top questions for the visitor? Guaranteed to stay sharp!
- Does it add evidence to support the answer? “I’ve had it for years and it’s still sharp!”
- Is the call to action relevant to their question? BUY NOW and finally get rid of your dull chainsaw
During this stage we’ll review every part of your landing page, from the headline and call to action to the social proof on the page, the images and even the colors. Every single component and piece of content on your landing page matters and needs to give your prospects a reason to continue reading / scrolling and a reason to convert.
- Does the headline address the current state of awareness of your prospect? For example, if your customer is unaware of the problem they have, the title “The #1 SAAS Communication Platform” won’t work.
- Does the headline clearly state the promise to your prospect?
- Is the headline about the customer? Remember, customers don’t buy into features, pricing or products, they buy better versions of themselves. Once your prospects understand the WHY, they will read on to figure out the WHAT.
The technical checklist:
- Headline is specific
- Headline is centered
- Headline stands out from other subtitles or content on the page
- Headline is in Title Case
- Headline as sub-title below it (if needed)
Does the call to action fit the state of awareness your prospect? For example, the call to action “Subscribe Now!” won’t work well if your prospect has started looking for a solution but isn’t convinced yet. For this type of prospect you may want to have the call to action “Learn More about our Solution”, “Schedule a Demo” and other calls to action that help customers take the next natural step to choosing your solution. In our latest article about E-commerce optimization we mapped out a formula for choosing your call to action:
“Three Tested Formulas for Writing Call to Action Buttons:
#1 What + Why:
I’d like to what because I want to why:
I want to… “DONATE NOW TO SAVE A HUNGRY CHILD”
I want to… “BUY NOW AND SAVE 20%”
#2 “I Want To”:
This is said by the customer about himself or herself:
“I want to… GET THIS DEAL”
“I want to… ADD THIS TO MY CART”
#3 I Want You To:
This is said by the customer to the store. For example:
I want you to “SHOW ME THE LATEST DEALS”
I want you to… “TAKE ME TO CHECKOUT”
The technical checklist:
- Your call to action button is actionable
- CTA (call to action) is only asking for one thing (for example avoid: “Download & Subscribe!”)
- CTA stands out in contrast to all other elements on the page.
- CTA has whitespace around it
- Text on CTA is actionable
- Text on CTA is relevant to value proposition
- Consider adding social proof around the call to action button
- You have just one call to action
Is your social proof relevant? trustworthy and specific? The real purpose of social proof is to address your prospect’s concerns and pains within the landing page without having to actually say it yourself. For example, instead of saying you’re trustworthy, a good, credible testimonial can say it for you.
If you’ve completed your customer surveys and interviews, you should know what concerns prospects have, what challenges they face and what could stop them from buying. Use that knowledge to actively address those things within your social proof.
Once you’ve identified these main concerns by prospects you can reach out to existing customers and ask them to provide quotes about those specific concerns and how they were solved. As Mackenzie Fogelson of Genuinely, explains:
“Your testimonials should remove very specific roadblocks, rather than being general and just a lot of good praise.”
The technical checklist:
- Successful social proof is one that provides not just a random quote but includes a photo of the person giving it, their name, title, age and even their geographical location. Every detail you add to your social proof adds credibility to it.
- If you’re using logos of other companies as social proof, maintain one color for all logos so they don’t outshine more important content on the page
- Social proof types to consider:
- Ratings & Reviews
- Case studies
- Quotes by influentials
- Media and PR mentions
- Social media following
- Power by numbers (display amount of customers)
- Trust seals
- Certifications / awards
- Partner logos
- Customer logos (when B2B)
Pro tip: Read this later → “10 Advanced Ways I Use Social Proof to Increase Conversion Rates” and learn how to leverage social proof in more advanced ways.
Do all elements of your copy support your value proposition? (e.g bullets, case studies, paragraphs, graphs, subtitles and more).
Is your copy about the customer or about yourself?
Jennifer Havice of Make Mention, explains the 4 key pieces of the conversion copy puzzle that need critiquing:
- “Clarity – Telling your visitors what they need to know in a way that is easy to understand not only improves your odds that they will feel confident that they have landed in the right spot but will believe what you’re saying as well.
- Motivations – your copy must key into what your customers are truly looking for when they pop on your page. Take a look at your copy and ask yourself:
- Am I addressing my customers’ why?
- Does the page have bullet points or sections that highlight what my customers want to get out of my product or solution?
- Hesitations and Concerns – Friction happens when visitors to your landing page can’t easily take action. Do you help your customers feel more comfortable engaging with your page? Are you addressing their major concerns? I ask myself:
- Am I giving my customers enough information to make a decision or take action on my site?
- Does my copy reduce their anxiety or add to it?
- Distractions – This is where I think about all the things that may be distracting people from understanding what you’re telling them or being able to easily take action. For instance:
- Highlight the most important messaging and place it in its relative order of importance.
- Your main headline and sub-headline should be front and center.
- Tucking it into the middle of the page will make it more difficult for your customers to find it and understand if they’ve landed in the right place.”
The technical checklist:
- All elements of copy direct to one call to action
- Copy addresses the hesitations and concerns of prospects
- All copy supports your value proposition
- You’re speaking to your customers and not at them.
- Your copy is written in your customer’s tone and voice
- Your copy is personal and friendly
- Your font is easy to read
- Your copy isn’t hidden by images and/or other visual elements
- Your copy guides the prospects and tells their story
Microcopy is the words you use to trigger visitors into action. These can be anything from the text you use on your buttons, error messages, form fields, confirmation messages and more. While microcopy gets overlooked by most, it is an important element on your page, it’s there to support your entire landing page strategy and get people to perform an action.
Microcopy can be fun, witty and personal, but most importantly it’s there to reinforce your message and turn boring text or calls to action into a fun, engaging experience.
Pro tip – if you’d like to optimize your microcopy, download this free guide by Kinneret Yifrah.
As one of the first things prospects see on your landing page, the hero image is one of the most important elements on your page. It requires careful planning and continuous testing.
Almost 50% of our brain is involved in visual processing (Human anatomy and psychology), in fact our brains process images almost 60,000 times quicker than text, which means that the first thing people see on any landing page, banner, pricing page or email marketing campaigns is your images (and the colors). It’s not enough to just emphasize your promise and USP with copy, you have to help prospects feel it and see it within the first few seconds they land on your landing page with you images.
The most common image strategy I see used by marketers time and time again is highlighting the product or service. This is usually done in 3 ways:
- An image of the product
- An image of someone using the product/service.
- A video showing how to use the service or product.
However these type of images lack the one thing we’ve been working on throughout this entire guide – making it about the customer. We’re not the hero, our customer is. Our image should highlight our value proposition and show customers within seconds “what’s in it for them”.
When optimizing your hero image, here’s what you have to look out for:
- Does your hero image portray your value proposition?
- Is your image relatable and authentic? Prospects should be able to relate to the image by either seeing themselves in it (someone like them) or someone they want to be like.
- Does your image work as a directional cue? Thanks to their significance, you can use the image to direct your prospects attention towards certain elements on the page such as the call to action. For example, ‘Ritual’ places their images around the call to action button and even uses the vitamins as sort of an arrow pointing towards it.
Here’s another example by ‘Primary’: Notice how the lady on the bed is “looking” at the call to action buttons, which immediately directs our attention towards them too.
The technical checklist:
- There is high contrast between the image and the page content
- All distractions are eliminated from the image – clean out the noise and any unnecessary parts of the image.
- Avoid carousels and auto play videos – these type of visuals tend to be extremely distracting and reduce conversions. (Here’s an example of a moving image that distracts from everything else on the page and completely stops the flow of the page)
- Image is optimized for mobile
- Image isn’t distracting from the CTA
Angie Schottmuller created a scorecard to help marketers choose the best hero image for their landing page. Each image you choose gets graded by 7 persuasive factors:
- Keyword relevance – Visualizes the targeted keyword or referring link text.
- Purpose clarity – Helps identify the page purpose/offer.
- Design support – Support and enhance seamless flow of page design leading to the CTA.
- Authenticity – Represents the organization and offers in an authentic, credible fashion.
- Added value – Adds value by showing detail or context to demonstrate benefits, improve relevance, and answer questions.
- Desired emotion – Portrays desired qualities or emotions to resonate and inspire action.
- Customer hero – Depicts the customer as a “hero” once equipped with this solution.
Each factor is graded on a scale from 0-15and helps you ensure your images are high converting. Download the scorecard here.
Everyone loves to talk and write about color psychology. The only problem with color psychology… is that almost everyone is doing it wrong.
So often the discussion around color psychology ends up being quick and simple tactics to “get people to convert faster” but it is far more complicated than that. While most of the conversation evolves around “Red equals anger” or “Blue equals trust”, colors actually affect people in many different ways and unfortunately, one color does NOT have the same meaning or effect on every single person in the world.
So how does it work? People are affected by color on 3 different levels:
- And Experience
For example, while in some countries the color white is worn by brides as a sign of purity and one of the most celebrated days, on the other side of the world, white symbolizes death.
Bottom line: Using the wrong color could actually turn people away from you and reduce conversions. To get it right, you need to get to know your customers better so you can choose the right colors for THEM.
Download the worksheet below to learn how to use color psychology the right way and choose the right colors for your audience:
Grab our free guide to choosing the right colors
- Similar to images, colors work as directional cues. When choosing your color pallet make sure to have one color that repeats itself in all call to action buttons or links so people can quickly identify where to take action.
- Colors don’t work alone, their effect varies according to other elements on the page such as the main image, trust elements or your logo for example. When choosing your colors, consider all elements on the page and make sure they don’t clash with each other.
- Too much of one color may affect your customer in a different way than planned. The emotional affect of color also varies according to shades, tints, and hues. Refer to the diagram below to understand the range of emotions each color may have:
The technical checklist:
- There is strong contrast between the background color and the text color
- There are no more than three primary colours on the page
- Backgrounds behind any text are solid and plain
- Color alone isn’t used to convey hierarchy (for people with visual disabilities)
Though many tend to think it’s simply a matter of having “less form fields” and “one call to action” button, there’s far more to it than those “best practices”.
Your registration form or call to action button is the first place you ask the visitor to trust you and perform an action. Whether if it’s to subscribe, download or purchase a product, it’s important to make your customer feels safe and that they know exactly what is going to happen once they hit that button.
Many marketers miss this, however a great way to provide that sense of trust and reassurance is by including social proof around your call to action.
Other ways to increase trust include adding one liners below your registration forms or calls to action to give a little more detail to the visitor:
Is the registration form headline compelling? Don’t settle for “Sign up”, or “Create your account”, make sure you reiterate the reason for subscribing or joining your service. ‘Visible’ could have just written “Create an account”, however they added a compelling reason including social proof (join 1,700 companies) to incentivize prospects to get started:
The case for long forms:
Your friendly PSA for today: Short forms don’t necessarily perform better than long forms with many questions and fields.
- Increase retention: Though it is common to suggest reducing fields and requests to a minimum, many test have proven that while it may reduce immediate conversions, retention actually increases. People spend more time filling in the form and feel more committed to the process and seeing it through.
- Multiple-step forms: Forms that are broken into multiple steps are easier to take in, less overwhelming and have proven to increase conversions for many companies. Using multi-step forms you can ask more questions, learn more about your customers and increase conversions.
Pro tip: Consider using visuals for your forms rather than regular fields. Scales and pushbuttons are a great way to reduce friction, increase anticipation and increase conversions:
The technical checklist:
- You have one main call to action on the page
- You’ve placed social proof around the call to action or registration form
- Form is easy to fill in on mobile
- The right keyboard appears for each field (e.g – numeric keyboard for phone number field)
- Terms & services are mentioned (if applicable)
- Autofill is enabled on forms
- For long forms – consider using horizontal layout
- Form headline is actionable
- Form headline includes incentive or unique selling proposition
- Long forms are broken into multi-steps
- Consider adding a progress bar for multi-step forms
- Mobile forms use mobile form markup
Once you’ve completed all of these steps and have checked all the boxes in our checklist, it’s time to have one last run-through our page.
Using services such as ‘Five Second Test’ you can get a preview of how prospects will perceive your landing page. Simply upload a photo of your landing page to the platform and Five Second Test will show you page to thousands of people and ask them what they recall. While this isn’t exact science and doesn’t include your exact target audience, it will give you an indication if there’s anything glaring wrong that needs fixing immediately.
As Morgan Brown, COO of Inman News explains, “while there are lots of things you can do to evaluate and critique your landing pages, from button sizes, layouts and copy, is to really try and understand if the page is easy for a user to ‘grok’ and make sense of, is the drunk user test. The basic idea of the drunk user test is: is the page decipherable to a brand new, wildly disoriented, user who has no clue what is going on and what you’re trying to accomplish.
I used to do the drunk user test (no, not by actually getting drunk) by squinting at the page until it was blurry to see if the headline and the call to action were discernable. If they weren’t, the page probably wouldn’t be obvious enough to a brand new user. Now, there’s a browser bookmark called Drunk User Test which you can add and it will blur out your pages, so I can stop squinting and you can see if your pages pass the D.U.T.”
Time to get cracking! By now I hope you’ve downloaded all the worksheets and cheatsheets we’ve provided in this guide and have started to analyze your landing page. If not, what are you waiting for?
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