How to Write a Landing Page That Sells

landing page writing

There are several elements that every landing page needs in order to convert.

If you don’t know what a landing page is, it’s a page on your site that is set up specifically to ask for an action: this could be signing up for a newsletter, ordering an ebook, or registering for a webinar.

Think of it as your 24/7 sales page.  The page that works night and day, answering questions, selling your products, and helping your customers (even when your company is closed).

Start with a headline

The first thing your page will need is  a great headline.  This is the first thing readers will see when they get there, and it has to grab their attention right away.  If not, they’ll just click away.

If you’re sending readers from an ad campaign or an email message, make sure the headlines match. This tells visitors they have come to the right place.

Build on the headline

Did that headline make a big promise?  Or offer to solve a problem?  Are you directing it at a specific group of people?

Build on the attention you got with that headline.  Tell readers how you will deliver on that promise.  Show them you understand the problem they are having and that you really can solve it.

Use simple words

When you know too much about something, and how it’s supposed to work, it’s difficult to look at it without that “curse of knowledge.” Instead, use clear, simple language.  This is not the time to show off your vocabulary or lard your page with jargon.

Resist the temptation to use technical terms (unless you’re absolutely sure that your audience knows them). I recently reviewed a site discussing great PC apps – the writer talked about P2P, winamp, and VPNs.  I know what those things mean (since I speak conversational geek).  The average computer user probably doesn’t.

Talk in terms your audience will understand (without running to Google, or worse, leaving your site in frustration).

Clear instructions

See the sign at the top of the post?  It’s in a park in Canada.  Should you go left? Or should you go right?  What would you find in either direction?  Restrooms?  Restaurants?  Lodging?  Flower gardens? I can’t tell what the people who posted the signs want me to do.  Can you?

Same thing with web sales pages.  If you’re not clear about who you are or what you want people to do, they’ll click away from your page, leave your site, and never come back.

Stay focused

Have a single object in mind (that sign up for instance). Know what you want people to do when they get to your page.  Sign up for a newsletter? Buy something? Click on more articles?

Ask for one thing

Don’t overwhelm or confuse people with too many choices.  Use those big call to action buttons. Explain what readers will get when they sign up, and how often they’ll receive it.

I spoke to someone recently who set up his website with several pages discussing his services…and no clear call to action.  Instead, he had links on the side he was hoping people would click on to find out more.  No clear call to action.

Experiment and test

If your page isn’t doing as well as you’d like, experiment.  Try different calls to action.  Move the buttons around.  Test different versions of your page against each other.  Track the clicks and the sales to see which version performs better.

The 5 Step Guide to Perfect Landing Pages

Landing shuttle

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“The goal of a test is to get learning, not a lift,” Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, CEO & Managing Director, MECLABS. (Marketing Sherpa, June 9, 2011)

Translated from marketing speak, that means when you test something, such as a landing page, or an offer, you want to get data and information – learn something.

If you get more sales, that’s great. If not, you use what you learned to make something better.

Failure is good

One company tested two landing pages (click link to see them) against their existing page. The responses tanked (down 53% from the original page). They realized that the original page was too copy-heavy – it was slowing people down, and actually making it less likely that they would sign up.

Back to the drawing board

So, they tried a new version (click to see it) – with much less text. This one increased responses by 78%. Aha!

Best practices for landing pages

1. Write a great headline

Don’t shout too much (ME! We’re here, we’ve been in business since the Jurassic era). You don’t want to be annoying (or arrogant), you want to be helpful – and relevant.

2. Be unique and interesting

Explain why you’re different. Perhaps you’re a wedding photographer, but you specialize in exotic weddings (underwater, on ski slopes, or on board yachts).

3. Cut the friction

The test showed that less was more (in this case). Fewer fields, and fewer words. They needed fewer words because readers already had enough information; they didn’t need to read it again.

4. Show value

If you want them to download an ebook (or buy one), show how valuable it is. You can do this by assigning it a price ($29 value), by adding testimonials showing how others benefited from the product, or even just a picture of everything they’ll get (even if it’s virtual).

5. Be trustworthy

This is both social proof (those testimonials again), and reassurance that you respect your readers’ privacy. (Tip: Chris Brogan recently said that he got much better results when he promised privacy, rather than “no spam”).

How to test your landing page

If you’re not sure of the technical stuff, you can do this by creating several landing pages and tracking with Google Web Optimizer (free). Or, you can try unbounce, which helps you create and track landing pages (even if you’re not a geek).

10 Tips for Successful Landing Pages

10 landing page tips

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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 Simple Five Step Formula for Effective Landing Pages

Graduated cylinders and beaker filled with che...

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When you’re ready to launch a new product, you’re pretty excited.  You’ve been living and breathing this for a long time.  You want everyone to love it as much as you do.

But how can  you share that excitement?  And how do you get others excited too?

The formula for effective landing pages is actually pretty simple.

1. Fascinating headline

Something that makes them stop and take a second look.  Pull them in with a headline that seems strange, such as Marketing Lessons From My Cat. Or, try the curiosity approach: Celebrities: See Them Bare All (thank you Bill Jayme), or those “one weird old tip” ads.

2. Bond with your readers

Show them  you understand their problems.  “Have you ever struggled with….?”  “When my computer broke…” If you had a problem (and solved it), talk about how frustrated you were, and your joy when you discovered the solution.

3.  Offer solutions

Remember that problem  you had in step two?  Tell them what happened when you fixed it.  How you saved time. Or earned more money. Or got more sales on your web site. Have a specific audience in mind.  Don’t write a job search guide for everyone, create one for older workers looking for a new job.

4. Prove it works

Get some testimonials.  Make them easy to spot in your copy (bold or quote). Add photos if you can.  Or, highlight how many other people have already used your product (if it’s not new).

5. Ask for the sale

Don’t be shy. Ask straight out. Make it absolutely clear what you want people to do.  Call.  Click here.  Fill out this form.  Use a big button that’s easy to see and stands out from the rest of the page.  The harder it is (the more friction) the fewer sales.  There’s a reason why paypal and amazon buttons are bright orange.

P.S. This works in print too. Shhh, don’t tell the online marketers.

Do You Make These Common Landing Page Mistakes?

An eye-tracking Heatmap showing where a subjec...

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Ever wonder why your marketing campaign isn’t doing as well as you’d like?

You’re getting plenty of visits, but nobody is signing up, or downloading.  Your conversion rate makes you want to weep.

Maybe it’s your landing page. A landing page that’s confusing, hard to read, or hard to navigate can turn a great campaign into a hot mess.

On the other hand, a page that’s easy to read, easy to use, and compelling will turn a failed campaign into a roaring success.

Here are five common landing page mistakes  (and what you can do to fix them).

1) Not having one

The first step in a successful landing page is having one. Many companies forget to do this. Even big ones. They invest lots of money in Adwords, banners, and social media marketing – and then forget to make a landing page. Visitors get confused and discouraged, and then leave without buying anything.

2) Drinking your own Kool-aid

Sometimes we get so caught up in our products we forget what other people might think. Do they care that your widget has 1,047 different uses? Or are they mostly interested in just one or two of those? And why? Sell the holes.

3) Too many choices

I confess, I did this once, with snail mail.  I listened to my then boss and included both a cheaper book and an expensive training program in the same offer letter. Guess which one people bought? Ugh!

4) A weak guarantee

Offer a strong guarantee – and stand by it. My favorite is the backwards and forwards guarantee: if you don’t find your purchase useful, return it for a refund (just ask). Send the product to someone else you think can use it. Let me know why it didn’t work, and I’ll improve it for the next version or suggest other people or resources that may help.

5) Fancy wordplay

I love words. I do. But when you’re writing a landing page, keep it simple and direct. Not everyone may know those big words. You don’t want them stopping in the middle of reading to click on a dictionary widget (or, gasp, grab a book off the shelf). If you have to, run your text through a reading level analyzer.  Most word processors have them built in, and if you have the Yoast SEO plugin, that will check your blog posts.  You want a higher number score.  For example, this post clocks in at 81.5, which is roughly 8th or 9th grade level.