Before you start: copy on your website is more important than practically anything. If you’re able to light the desire and keep it burning long enough for the customer to buy, they’ll buy even if it’s not perfectly optimized. Knowing how to write a good copy is of the most important superpowers online. And it’s too often overlooked or undervalued. Don’t do that.
Now for the article…
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. (see below: section “The foundational elements of effective landing page copy”)
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.
Disarm 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. One.
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.
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 need 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
Let’s see a few examples and analyze them, for better understanding.
First impression: make an accurate, trust-building, and lasting introduction.
What it does: Free website monitoring
Landing Page Challenge: We-focused copy
The Fix to Apply: “The Rule of You”
Correct “we-focused” copy by rewriting every sentence to begin with the word “you” or a verb. Here’s how WebGazer can change three sentences on its landing page:
We monitor your sites without a rest, see what we have done today yourself.
WebGazer checks if your website is up as it should be and notifies you if anything goes wrong.
We help you keep your business running.
You can rest easy. Because we’ll monitor your site without rest.
Keep your online business running without interruption. WebGazer monitors it night and day. And notifies you if anything goes wrong.
How would you know if your website was suddenly down?
Market maturity: reflect the state of your market in your copy.
What it does: Editing and proofreading services for English documents
Landing Page Challenge: Understanding scale and results
The Fix to Apply: Visualize—don’t just display—data
Overall, the copy on this page is strong. But copy is not always words, but numbers.
Further down the page, there is some impressive proof of impact on clients served, words proofread and editors in action:
These are striking figures, but they also come with complications.
First, many people may misread 1.6B as 1.6M. That sounds like a lot, but how many documents does that mean?
It’s better to keep the data as is, but add in a visual that shows the scale of the achievement. Here’s one way to back into a compelling visual via a quick calculation: 1.6B words is actually 6.4M pages. That’s 318,939 millimeters. That’s 1,046 feet. That’s amazing. That’s more than half the size of the CN Tower in Canada—or insert your local landmark relevant to your audience.
Help your prospects visualize the work you’ve done—and don’t be afraid to reference something outside your market to make the case for your market. Numbers are good. But the saying goes: whoever draws a picture wins.
Customer awareness: map your customers’ awareness.
Company: eCourt Date
What it does: Timely, digital court date reminders
Landing Page Challenge: Unclear who the user is
The Fix to Apply: “Ideal for” statement
Here’s the first—and most important—question about eCourt Date’s landing page: do people land on this page and know if the service is meant for them?
One of the cleanest, easiest ways to optimize your copy is to use an “ideal for” statement. That statement can appear anywhere on your site, but it’s best that it appears closer to the top of your landing page. That’s especially true for a service like eCourt Date, where the user is unclear. It might be for lawyers, police officers, the court, defendants and plaintiffs—maybe even those serving jury duty.
Whichever one it is, put that on the page in an ideal-for statement, like:
Ideal for lawyers with criminal and DUI cases
If it’s for more than one user, that’s fine. Put those names on the page:
Ideal for criminal lawyers, traffic cops, and courthouse administrators
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 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.
Writing copy for landing pages
PS. Before you start working (or even considering) any conversion optimization quick-fixes or “hacks”, start with reviewing your copy first. It can work wonders. It did for me. Many times.
PPS. If you want more examples or full analysis for each example, see the full article (link above). You’ll be able to understand each aspect more clearly.