Write copy that delights visitors, persuades prospects, and wins customers.
In the beginning, there’s the landing page.
It’s often a company’s first impression: a digital introduction to an organization, the problem it tackles, and the solutions it offers. The sophistication of landing pages can vary. Some companies use their homepage as a landing page. Others create specific pages that target discrete customer profiles and move them through a marketing funnel.
Landing pages also take various forms depending on the growth stage of a company. But that’s one of the common missteps: landing pages prioritize the story of the startup, rather than the journey of the customer with the startup.
Landing page copy improves the more customers see themselves in it. Rethink and revise your landing page by building it around three elements. If that’s too much effort and you’re looking for fast fixes, the following tips will improve your current landing page copy.
Quick wins for better landing page copy
Focus copy on them
Landing pages often say “we offer” or “our solution,” which focuses on the wrong thing—your company, not your customers. Go through each sentence in your copy and rewrite it to address your customers. One way to do this is to begin with the word “you.” Another tip is to start your sentence with a verb. Focusing on them nearly guarantees that your copy will address—and speak to—your visitor. Modern Fertility provides a good example of what this looks like:
The only possible exception to leading with “you” in your copy is if you’re a service business, where prospects want to see what you do differently as a service provider. That’s often expressed as “we” language. But it doesn’t have to be. It just very often is.
Add pattern, texture, and shine to a block of copy
Accurate, succinct, and grammatically correct copy can still feel flat. Patterns, texture, and shine can add another dimension to your copy, making it more engaging and memorable. Here’s how:
- Apply a pattern to a sentence. Patterns may be used to subtly reference a logo or map out a theme. Take a logistics company that transports goods by railway. Perhaps it not only wants to deliver a message, but also simulate a train with a pattern of evenly spaced dots in a horizontal line. To mimic that visual, rewrite landing page copy to link only words of similar length, such as three- or four-letter words.
- Vary sentence length and formatting to create texture. Texture can make copy feel more conversational, natural, and engaging. To create texture, write a smooth, polished sentence and juxtapose it with a more staccato sentence. Throw in some short sentences. More. More. And maybe one more. And then add a sentence that goes a lot longer, using clauses to lure your reader along. Then stop. The result? Texture.
- Include a glossy word or two for shine. Polish might mean swapping in a few new words. Find a bland word in your copy, and replace it with a more dazzling synonym.
Defang objections with an “even if” clause
If you can anticipate what might keep someone from believing your claim or assertion, undercut that opposition by acknowledging it. It’ll hint that you understand their fear, uncertainty, and doubt—and suggest that your solution takes those considerations into account. The formula is simple: “[Claim] even if [objection].” A very simple example is: “Be creative even if you’re not creative.” Here’s an “even if” clause in the wild:
Limit each sentence to one idea
Sentences have the capacity to carry a lot of information, but your reader cannot. Your readers depend on periods, question marks, and even exclamation marks to give their brains a short rest—just enough of a reprieve to absorb information before moving on. The more you help readers with information digestion, the more appetite they’ll have to read on. So edit every sentence to have just one thought. Not two. Not three. Apple is skilled at this technique, but even it has opportunities:
Take its copy for Apple TV 4K. Most of the sentences don’t qualify as sentences, but they absolutely follow the rule. Here’s the one that doesn’t: “Apple TV 4K lets you watch movies and shows in amazing 4K HDR—and now it completes the picture with immersive sound from Dolby Atmos.” This sentence merges two distinct features. The average reader would be better able to take in the information if that sentence was broken in two:
Apple TV 4K lets you watch movies and shows in amazing 4K HDR. It’s got immersive sound from Dolby Atmos. Streams your favorite channels live. Has great content from apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and ESPN. And thanks to Siri, you can control it all with just your voice.
Create a landing page that’s not your homepage
If you’ve recently created a website for your company, your landing page might be your homepage, but they’re two different creatures. A landing page is designed to convert prospects into customers. It speaks to visitors looking for something specific, features content relevant to that particular item, and contains a call-to-action customized to that precise offering. On the other hand, a homepage serves a broad audience, features widely-relevant content, and may not have an immediate CTA.
More sophisticated companies will route visitors who, say, search for products for large companies to a page geared toward enterprises rather than a homepage with general information. If you have a website with more than one page—or a more advanced information architecture and sitemap—consider linking to the page on your site that best addresses a visitor’s intent.
The foundational elements of effective landing page copy
First, the spoiler: landing page copy is never done. Like your company, it will—and should—evolve over time. It’s an iterative process, and can always be improved. There are hundreds of copywriting formulas that can help you craft a headline, draft bullets, or structure a CTA. But if you don’t have the fundamentals down, the improvement will be incremental, not game-changing.
Copy for a high-performing landing page has three foundational qualities:
It delivers a convincing first impression for the startup. At a fundamental level, this involves direct, specific, and grammatically-correct copy. That level of precision and professionalism sets expectations and raises the bar for future engagements with a company’s product and team.
It considers the maturity of the market. Every market—like every company—is in its own stage of development. Companies in highly mature markets can use short copy, because most visitors already get the ins-and-outs of the solution or category (e.g. disposable razors). Their focus should be on product differentiators, the brand story, and who’s using it. If a market is still emerging (e.g. cryptocurrency in 2018) customers likely need more information, because a company is not only educating about its solution, but also helping define the category more broadly.
It reflects the customer’s stage of awareness. Effective landing page copy mirrors customer comprehension, which is layered and includes: how well a customer understands the challenge the company addresses (e.g. data privacy), what’s at stake (e.g. personal data and/or compliance), the changing landscape (e.g. GDPR), and tools that help (e.g. a specific product).
In short, great copy demonstrates that a company grasps how aware customers are of the market, its pain points, and potential solutions. The best copy does all that and signals that the company is clued into precisely how aware the customers are of themselves. Here are the five stages of awareness for any visitor to your landing page:
- Most aware. Visitors totally understand your solution and likely believe it’s a top contender for them. They just needs nudging. Purchases happen here.
- Product-aware. Visitors are learning about your product. Free trials, demos, and purchases happen here.
- Solution-aware. Visitors are considering solutions to their pain or problem.
- Problem-aware. Visitors are feeling pain or dealing with a problem.
- Unaware. Visitors haven’t experienced a need that would drive them to your solution.
Landing page copy reflects the customer if you can answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Is the language accessible and does it mirror a visitor’s stage of awareness?
- Does the copy move them from where they are to where they want to be?
- Are visitors prompted to take action once they become Product-aware or Most aware?
The elements of landing page copy in action
Every landing page should deliver a convincing first impression, consider the maturity of the market, and reflect the customer’s stage of awareness. The best way to see how the absence or presence of these elements alter a landing page is to review real-life examples.
The full article (link at the bottom) has detailed analysis (with screenshots, descriptions, and suggested fixes) of the landing pages of nine companies—from member management software to a vegan candy brand to a court date notification service.
Landing page copy is an underleveraged, powerful tool. Done right, it builds brand, engenders trust, and sells product—to anyone with an internet connection, on their schedule. But it’s not automatic. Landing page copy must deliver a convincing first impression, consider the maturity of the market, and reflect the customer’s stage of awareness. It must meet prospects where they are and get them to where they—and the business—want them to be . Once it does, hand waves became high fives, and high fives turn into handshakes—and conversions can happen without much human intervention.
Don’t overthink where you should start. Just get started. A landing page can—and must—always improve. If you have limited time and resources, run through the quick wins (listed at the top) to make tweaks that generate outsized gains. If you have more time, revamp your copy to orient around making a lasting impression, the maturity of the market, and customer awareness.
PS. As wis any sales copy, the goal of the headline on your landing page is… to make people read the second sentence. And the goal of the second sentence is to make people read the next one. And the goal… you get the idea.