How to Write a Landing Page Guaranteed Not to Sell

No SaleEver wish you didn’t have to bother with a landing page?  They’re sooo much work.  Writing them.  Designing them.  Tweaking them.  What a pain.  And if  you make a sale, well you might actually have to do something.  Ugh.

Don’t worry.  Here are 10 tips on how to get a bad landing page that will hardly ever sell anything!

1. Don’t use one

Why bother anyway?  Just send everyone right to your home page.  They’ll eventually find what they want, or maybe they’ll just leave your site completely and not bother you.

2. Write a boring headline

Use something like “20 Years in Business” or “We Stock Computers.”  If you don’t stand out, or give any sort of benefit, your headline, and the rest of the page, will be ignored. It’s hard to write headlines your readers can’t resist.

3. Talk mostly about yourself

Your visitors came to your site right?  They must want to know all about you then.  Tell them about your new puppy, or that great new cereal you had for breakfast.  And, of course, don’t forget to include the details of your recent colonoscopy. Never run the one-minute marketing test.

4. Never discuss what the reader gets

They’re here to find out about you (see point #3).  Why bother talking about what  your visitors will get from  your product?  Just tell them how proud you are about making it and how long it took.

5. Outsource design to an 8-year-old

A trained designer is too expensive.  Hey, your nephew is into the Web, why not let him take a crack at it? Tell him to use really small, light-colored type.  The closer they have to look, the more attention they’ll pay to your words.

6. Write the copy yourself

You learned how to write in second grade.  Anybody can put words on a screen.  Writing doesn’t matter, why not save some money and do it yourself.  And, who knows your products (and how great they are) better than you?

7. Sell to everyone

Picking a niche market is for sissies.  Everyone will want your product!  Who wouldn’t want tap shoes for cats?  Don’t try to pick just one niche, that’s way too limiting.

8. Gobbledygook for the win

The more jargon and insider words you use, the smarter you look.  Pepper your copy with lots of buzzwords and phrases like “forward-looking companies invest in three-dimensional management resources.”

9. Don’t use testimonials

Real opinions from real people never swayed anyone.  And never include pictures either.  They’re not terribly believable.  Neither are full names.  If you must use testimonials, just the initials are fine.

10. Write big blocks of text

Put it in big, long paragraphs.  Run them all together on the page, and use lots of complex sentences.  Go crazy with commas, semi-colons, and colons.  Show off all those fancy words you learned in school.  Never say “confuse” when  you could “obfuscate.”

What?  You’re not buying any of this? Good! Check out these pages to learn how to write landing pages that do sell:

The Simple Five Step Formula for Effective Landing Pages
How to Write a Landing Page
What do Landing Pages Have in Common with Grade School?

P.S. Thanks to Lorraine Thompson for the inspiration.

The Upside of a Website Crash

espadrilles missoni

Yesterday, demand for Missoni’s new line at Target caused the site to crash.  The traffic was higher than Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving in the US, and the unofficial start of Xmas shopping season).

Twitter exploded.  But this is not about that.

There’s a recession.  People are hurting.  Does anybody really need a zig-zag $400 Missoni bicycle?  No.  But they want it.

It’s cool. It’s fun. It’s different. And, people don’t buy what they need. They buy what the want (recession or no).

Something that stands out. That doesn’t look ordinary. That they can brag about. Or show off. Or be delighted with.

Purple cows, even.

What do you think?

Website Marketing Failures (and how to avoid them)

Hidden mineshafts

Image by AndyRobertsPhotos via Flickr

Even established marketers can make big mistakes. Sometimes, their focus is misdirected.  Other times, they use the unsuitable language, or talk too much about the wrong things.

Is Your Website Driving Readers Away? If you’re doing what this well-known guru does, you may actually be shooting yourself in the foot.

The Biggest Website Subscription Fail Ever Newsday (a newspaper in the New York area) just spent $4 million (US) putting their web site behind a paywall. Their intent was to limit access, and earn more money from paying subscribers.  That’s not quite what happened.

The Biggest Mistake Advertisers Make This error can cost you sales and alienate prospects.  It’s not only a big mistake, it’s also an extremely common one.

What Does A/B Split Testing Have to do with Shoes?

Women's sandals.

Image via Wikipedia

Some years ago, I was taking the garbage down the steps of death, and slipped. I fell down about half a flight.

Once I got outside and tossed the trash, I stopped for a second to check and see if I was bleeding or bashed up. As I was turning my legs this way and that a woman stopped, looked at me, and said, ‘Yes, those shoes are really nice.”


I was checking for wounds, not admiring my footwear (there weren’t any, but I was pretty black and blue for a while).

Assumptions can be dangerous

You know what people say about assuming. Assuming that you know the best headline, or the right wording on your offer, can be a mistake. The best way to tell is to test it. Run an A/B split and find out which really works better. The idea is to just change one thing (and one thing only).  That way, you know exactly what made the difference (if there is one).  Change the headline, and the button text, and the color of the subheads all at once and you’ll never know what helped (or hurt) your results.

Think you already know the answer, without testing? Check out Which Test Won and see how good you are.

Add or subtract?

If you don’t test, you won’t know if that award banner is distracting, or adding credibility to your offer.  The right graphic could increase your click through rate.  The wrong one might send people running to the delete button.  Testing the wording can make a big difference too.

And, always, walk carefully when going down the stairs with a big bag of trash.

Have you tried split testing?  What results did you get?  Share in the comments, or ask questions.

How to Write a Web Page vs. Writing for Print

writing for the web

Image via Wikipedia

Writing for the web poses some unique challenges compared to writing on paper.

It’s harder to read on a computer (even with retina screens) and people tire more easily.

Plus, there are more distractions. Unlike printed pages, web sites have ads that may move or blink. There are social media buttons, and of course, pinging email notifications.

All of this makes it a lot harder to keep someone’s attention on your article or post.

Here are some ways to overcome all of that.

Write in small chunks

A big block of text is OK on paper, but not on a screen.  The resolution on a printed page is much clearer than onscreen – and reading large blobs of text online can quickly become tiring.

Break up your paragraphs into small bits, three or four lines at most.  Then, add a paragraph break. I know, Strunk and White wouldn’t approve (but they never saw the web).

Use sub-headings

Add sub-headings to break up the text even more.  Many people skim, so a heading helps them stop and find exactly the information they’re looking for.  If  you catch their attention, they may go back and read more carefully.

Write with bullet points

Short bullet points also make skimmers stop and read more carefully.  If it’s a sales page, you want action words right at the front of those bullets.  If it’s tech specs or design specs, they’re much easier to digest than if you wrote them out in long sentences.

Use colors

Colors are free on the web.  Contrasting colors for headlines, or links, or buy buttons grab more attention.  Don’t go crazy though – you don’t want it to look like you’ve dumped a paint store on your page.  Don’t use too much of one color either (then it’s too bland).

Above all, keep editing and testing (unlike paper, it’s easy to change  your mind!)

Make the type larger

Even with ever-sharper screens, reading text on the web can still be tiring.  And, for older people (or those with poor eyesight) it’s difficult to read even a small section of text.  Increase the type size on your posts (or allow a zoom in/out feature). Unlike text on paper. the font size on the web is adjustable!