10 Tips for Successful Landing Pages

10 landing page tips

10 via Wikipedia

A successful landing page means more subscribers, more queries, and more clients. But what 10 things can make or break your page?

Here are ten tips for designing and writing a landing page that converts.

A good landing page has to be relevant, has to appeal to its audience, and, of course, has to convert (turn visits into subscriptions or leads or sales).

These simple steps will make your landing page better.

1. A catchy and relevant headline

This is not the place to be funny or cute. People don’t want to admire your writing (sniff). They want to solve a problem. If you sent them to the page from an ad or an email, keep the two related to each other (so they know they’re in the right place.

2. Testimonials

Use real people, with real names, not initials. If they’re in the same industry as your audience, that’s even better.

3. A photo of the product

Advertisers call this the “hero” shot. It’s the big, beautiful picture of everything they’ll get (all the mp3 files, ebooks, worksheets, and videos in one glorious pile). This is especially important online, as it makes e-products look real and tangible. Make it a clickable image (people click on everything).

4. Your logo or your photo

This is another good way to establish trust. It shows you’re not hiding behind spammy content – you stand by what you sell and your proud of it.

5. A simple form

The more fields people have to fill out to get something, the less likely they’ll do it. If you can create a form that fills in information automatically, or has check off boxes (rather than long menus), even better.

6. Benefit statements

Use lots of them. Bullet points are good. Or, if not, then short, to the point paragraphs. Break them so they’re easier to read. If it’s an ebook, point to the page numbers where the information is found in the book.

7. Sub-headings

It’s long been a truism that people don’t read (Claude Hopkins complained about it in 1920). However, they do skim.

Some read just the headlines and sub-heads, others will look at headlines, skip along, and then read more closely when they see something of interest. Write for both kinds of readers.

8. Several order buttons

Some people take one look at your page and shout, “Eureka! My problems are over!” Others need a bit more information to make up their minds. Include more than one order button or form.

9. Simplified format

Leave the subscription page, the links, the other offers, away from your landing page. You want to keep it simple. Break up the paragraphs into small, easily-digestible bits. Don’t use long (10-15 line) paragraphs. It’s just too hard to read onscreen. Use a lot of white space (this also helps readiblity).

10. Value statement

Also called anchoring, this means comparing the cost of your product to the cost of something else – or, stating a high value for it – and then telling the reader that it will actually cost much less. It’s a steal!

The Connection Between Copywriting and Home Improvements

one year and four months later

Image by eye of einstein via Flickr

Ever hear of “so long and might as” project syndrome?

It’s what happens when small projects slowly (and sneakily) turn into big ones.

It all began when a family friend started remodeling his house.  One thing led to another, and the project kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Here’s what happens

For instance, the living room looks kinda grungy.  So you repaint it.  Then, of course, the dining room starts to look dingy in comparison. So you think, “well so long as I’m painting the living room, I might as well paint the dining room too.” Then you notice that the wooden floor in the hallway looks all scratched up.  So you refinish it.  And on and on and on.

This happens with copywriting and marketing projects too.  So long as you’re placing an ad  or writing a landing page asking people to download your ebook, you might as well ask them to sign up for your newsletter too. Oh, and maybe follow you on Twitter or Facebook.

Stop the scope creep!

Keep that up with home renovations and pretty soon you’ll be buried in paint, lumber, new plumbing, new fixtures, and large appliance boxes.  You’ll swiftly turn a $200 project into a $2000 project.

Let that scope creep affect your copywriting and your marketing and you’ll confuse people.  They won’t know what to do first. The danger is that they may be overwhelmed and end up doing nothing at all.

The other variation on this is when a simple project (write three blog posts) turns into three blog posts, plus a landing page, plus a newsletter, plus an email campaign.  This is great if there’s additional payment to go with the additional work.  Make sure you stop and make it clear to your client that adding to the project adds to the bill too.

Keep your call to action simple

The best thing to do is to focus on one thing.  Ask for that thing, such as downloading that ebook, or calling for a free quote.  But just that one thing, don’t add sharing buttons to your landing pages.

It’s OK to offer several ways to contact you (email, web, phone). Some people prefer to talk to someone, while others would rather just send an email and be finished with it.

Options that make your customers lives easier are fine.

Just don’t end up like the poor guy in the photo (still working one year and four months later).

Oh, and the family friend? He ended up starting a renovation business called “So Long and Mightas”

How to Write Copy That Fascinates Your Readers

fascinating bullet points

Are your bullet points so fascinating they can keep a baby’s attention?

There’s a little-known, but fascinating copywriting trick used by top copywriters and direct marketers such as Mel Martin, Eugene Schwartz, Boardroom, and Agora.

Direct mail may be considered old-fashioned by some, but the writing techniques developed decades ago by top copywriters still work. And, they also work online.

One of these old tricks is fascinations.  They’re called “fascinations” because you just can’t resist reading them.

What’s so fascinating about fascinations?

Fascinations are simply little bullet points. Bullet points by themselves are not particularly interesting, but these are different.  They’re specially constructed to make you curious, to tease, and to tempt you to read more (much more).

The key to writing a successful fascination bullet is to state a fact and then add a benefit. Sounds simple, right?

It is simple.

How to write fascinating copy

First, keep your bullet points short.  Just write a single line, or two at most.  The goal is to make the bullets quick and easy to read.  You don’t want to slow people down or confuse them.  Don’t use subheadings or run-on sentences with lots of commas.  Edit them ruthlessly.

The bullet points don’t even have to be complete sentences.  You want your copy to be easy to read and easy to scan.

Think of them as “mini-headlines”: short, attention-grabbing, and so compelling that your visitors can’t stop themselves from reading further.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • bills it’s OK to pay late
  • the one thing you should never eat on an airplane
  • try this weird old (________) tip*
  • how to quit sending queries and have business come to you
  • the decades-old copywriting technique that still works today

*fill in the blank with the topic of your ad, such as retirement planning, IT management, etc. and yes, it’s been abused in the age of BuzzFeed, but that’s because it works.

All of these promise inside information that will make your life easier.

First they make a statement, and then they add a surprising twist the reader wasn’t expecting.

Two great practitioners of this art were Mel Martin and Bill Jayme.  They’re both gone, but there are two places you can see examples of their work:

Mel Martin swipe file

Bill Jayme swipe file

Why fascinations work

They arouse your curiosity.  They almost tell you something – but not quite.  The only way to find out what those bills are, or the secret weird tip is to click the link, subscribe to the newsletter, or open the envelope.

What do you think about fascinations?  Have you ever tried them?

7 Calls To Action You Should Be Using

Calls to Action

Are your readers looking at your site but not clicking or buying? If not, you may need a “call to action.” What’s a call to action?  Read on to find out, get some call to action examples, and  learn how they work.

The best call to action

It may sound silly, or obvious, but if you really want people to do something you need to ask them first. It’s what copywriters call a “call to action.”

It’s simply a request to do something. It could be trying to get a reader to download a pdf, buy a product, or subscribe to your newsletter.

You can spend a lot of time and effort tweaking your calls to action to see which works best.  The first rule, however, is simply to have one.

Why calls to action are important

Because they ask someone do do something. And, oddly, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

It’s not necessary to be pushy, just clear and obvious. The goal is to encourage people to click (or call, or mail back a response).

You’ve gone through a lot of trouble to write an irresistible headline, outline the benefits of your service, and make an offer they can’t refuse. But, it will all be wasted without a call to action.

Call to action examples

“Ask for a free quote today”

“Join Now”

“Start My Free Trial”

“Start Now”

“Download Demo”

“Sign Up Here”

or even the much maligned “Click here” (which, incidentally, works really well for people, even if search spiders don’t like it).

Be clear about what people should do

For example, tell them exactly what to do (click here), explain what will happen next (your download will start), and stress the importance of doing it right now (not two days from now).

Your readers are busy, possibly a little nervous (will this work? will downloading hurt my computer?), and easily distracted. Get them to act quickly – before Joe from accounting comes over with a question about last month’s timesheets.

Test your calls to action

Don’t just stick with one. Try different variations and test them against each other to see which works best. You can use Google’s Website Optimizer (free) to do this.

Test the colors, size, position on the page, or wording. See which gets more clicks.

Using more than one button? For example, you might have a subscribe button as well as a read more button. Make the subscribe button bigger or a different color than the other buttons on your site.  It’s the most important action to take and you want to make sure it stands out.

A Copywriting Tip from Graffiti

Graffiti, Lower East Side, NYC

Image via Wikipedia

We New Yorkers love to express ourselves (shocking, I know). We’re noisy, opinionated, and like to let everyone know it.

Graffiti is everywhere, but if you put up something in this town, you’d better be prepared for wisecracks, kibbitzing, and takedowns.

For example, here’s a sample of graffiti spotted on a subway platform long ago:


Underneath that, someone wrote

Bartok? Lugosi? or Abzug?

One was a composer, the second starred in horror movies, and the third was a member of congress (famous for her big hats and her wit).

Clarity matters

When you’re marketing your business, there are three things you need to do:

1) tell the right people about your business

2) set yourself apart from your competition

3) be clear about what you do (and what you don’t do)

Don’t confuse your prospects

Otherwise, your readers could end up with horror movies when they wanted music.  Or staring at a gallery of hats when they were looking for zombies. They may like both (but they may not).

Before you hit that button, launch that site, or push that email campaign, show it to someone who hasn’t been directly involved in the project. It’s best if they closely match your target audience, but any smart person will do.

Ask them if they understand your product or your page.  If anything puzzles them, ask them why and how you can make everything clearer.

Confused readers and prospects won’t buy from you.  They’ll just click away, close their email, or turn the page.