Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with fresh links and new content.
Original Publication Date: August 20, 2015
Why are we bringing up landing page copy? Copywriting comes up a lot in marketing articles.
It’s one of the foundational building blocks of ANY marketing campaign.
There is literally nothing you can do, from a marketing perspective, that doesn’t involve copy.
In this article, we are going to provide a comprehensive guide to writing copy for the central piece of any marketing funnel: the landing page.
While we might have discussed landing page headlines (aka value propositions) in the past, you probably have no clue what to write after the headline.
Because literally no one writes about this.
Google “landing page copy” and you’ll find 100 articles describing copywriting tips and value proposition techniques, but what do you write next?
There’s a lot more to your page than just the headline.
But you don’t have to worry. We’ve got you covered.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to writing copy for your ENTIRE landing page.
Landing Page Template
It’s helpful for most people to have a visual reference for WHERE their copy is supposed to go.
Fortunately, I redesigned my own homepage not long ago, so you can follow along with the template I’m working from and see each step of the process.
Landing Page Copy Step 1: Identify Your Audience
The first step to creating landing page copy is to identify who you are targeting.
This won’t necessarily be your company’s target audience, as different landing pages will target different audience segments with different offers.
Let’s say, for example, that your business offers parenting information products. You will probably want to set-up landing pages for each of your products or channel visitors through an opt-in or free trial page.
But step one is to identify the exact segment you are targeting.
Landing Page Copy Step 2: Choose the Desired Action
Now that we know our intended audience, it’s important to identify the specific action we want them to take.
Your landing page should NOT be a brochure.
It should NOT be informational.
The entire point of landing page copy — and the rest of the landing page, for that matter — is to generate an action.
We want visitors to do “convert” in a specific way.
What action do you want?
- A phone call?
- A purchase?
- Sharing personal information, like an email address?
- A donation?
For service businesses and businesses offering highly customized products, the goal is often a phone call.
Businesses offering a more consistent product or service package will often prefer to automate the sales process.
They may go for an immediate sale, collect emails to nurture conversions later via an autoresponder or remarketing, or do a mixture of both.
Nonprofits will often use emotional pitches to generate immediate donations.
The important thing is to know exactly what action you want.
ALL your copy will be written with this action in mind.
Landing Page Copy Step 3: Identify the Core Problem
By now, you’ve determined your targeted audience segment and desired action. Your next step is to identify the key problems facing this segment that might be solved by your product or service.
When you identify this problem, think in terms of emotion, not just utility. Your problem, and your solution, should resonate emotionally with your target audience.
Using our parenting example, let’s say you are targeting first-time parents with an intro to parenting ebook.
What problems should you focus on in the copy?
If you’re stumped, you can start by making a list of common parental problems and concerns:
- Children who throw tantrums frequently
- Children being mean to other children or siblings
- Can’t get your child off off screen time
- Can’t get any sleep
- Concerned they won’t be good at parenting
- Worried about children getting sick
Once you’ve assembled a list of problems, it’s time to go deep.
Writing effective, conversion-focused copy is all about going past the “what” and diving into the “why”.
We aren’t simply looking for “what” parents are seeking help for.
We’re asking WHY parents want help in the first place.
And from the list we made, #5 stands out as more of a “why” issue.
At their core, most parents are most concerned about doing the best possible job of raising their kids.
The most pressing fear is that they somehow won’t accomplish this, either through ignorance or error.
This core issue should be a central theme in our value proposition and a guiding light for the rest of our copy.
Landing Page Copy Step 4: Write the Value Proposition
Now that we’ve identified the core problem for our target audience, it’s time to write our value proposition.
This is your business’ chance to demonstrate the value you bring to the table, IN THE CONTEXT of your audience’s needs.
Don’t talk about you.
Talk about the customer.
In this case, if your customers are parents, your value proposition could be something like: “Be The Parent You Always Wanted”
And since I’ve already written an entire post on developing your value proposition, I’m not going to spend much more time on this topic here.
Just remember to be very specific about what you’re offering.
And to use clear, explicit language.
Finish off your value proposition with a targeted CTA that encourages, requests, and/or demands the specific action you want the user to take.
Landing Page Copy Step 5: Write the Follow-Up
After the hero shot, I highly recommend creating a follow-up section.
This section is important because of how limited your value proposition wording must be.
But if you can succeed in getting visitors interested enough to scroll down, YOU ARE NO LONGER LIMITED.
You can follow up with an in-depth paragraph that explains exactly who you are, what you’re offering, and why visitors simply HAVE to get it.
Address Concerns and Present a Vision of Success
Let’s continue with our parenting example.
If your value proposition is “Be The Parent You Always Wanted”, you could follow that up with a paragraph to address parental concerns from the list we created earlier. From there, explain how this product takes you step-by-step through the first five years of your child’s life.
Be The Parent You Always Wanted
“As a parent, your children are you number one concern. You want to be everything your kids need you to be… and more!
Unfortunately, none of us start off as experts. How do you prepare to be a parent? What do you do when sleep eludes you? What is the healthy way to address tantrums or smartphone obsession?
In this course, we answer these questions and much, much more. By the time you’re done, you’ll have everything you need to be the parent you always wanted!”
This follow up is kind of like a 30-second elevator pitch, but think less “hard sell” and more “friendly explanation”.
The landing page for SumoMe‘s Share bar is one of the few great examples I’ve seen of this in action.
With 135,000 users, they must be doing something right:
Landing Page Copy Step 6: Write the How
As we continue through our landing page, it’s time to talk about HOW we fulfill our promises to our customers.
(Remember, never lead with the “how” — people don’t care about how until they resonate with you on “why”.)
But once we’ve connected with them at a core level and promised a central benefit that solves their problems, it’s important to give the audience information about how we’ll deliver to ease their concerns.
I use the icon-themed approach in the example below, but you certainly aren’t limited to that:
You also might want to create separate sections for each service.
The danger with that strategy, however, is that you can start to drift away from the main themes of your landing page optimization:
- Solving your target audience’s core problem
- Getting that audience to take a specific action
If visitors aren’t converting, it’s typically not an information problem.
Either they believe you can help them solve their problem, or they don’t.
It’s really that simple.
The “how” section of your landing page is all about finishing the narrative that you are the solution to their problem.
Going back to our parenting example, this section could discuss some different elements of the parenting course that facilitate success, like quizzes, month-by-month plans, recipes, etc.
You could talk about the different solutions needed at each stage of parenting, from pregnancy to toddler.
You have the freedom to go into detail in this area, but try your bring everything back to that central problem in a way that drives visitors toward the targeted action.
Landing Page Copy Step 7: Include the Social Proof
Your landing page, whether you realize it or not, is a narrative.
It presents a story that says YOU are the answer to your audience’s most pressing problems.
And one of the easiest ways to support this story is with social proof.
After all, anyone can make claims. But if you can show people that you’ve already solved their problems for others, they are far more likely to buy into your narrative.
Now, when people see the phrase “social proof” these days, they often think of social media icons with “like” counts, or tweets, or a whole slate of other random stuff.
Don’t do that!
There are only two ways to make social proof effective on your landing page.
The Two Effective Forms Of Social Proof
- Influential reference
In other words, you need one of two things.
- One reference from someone influential
- Proof of a massive, approving audience
So if your business has 500 or even 5,000 Facebook likes… no one cares.
Online, 5k is NOTHING.
Displaying that number could even work against you.
On the other hand, getting ONE recommendation from someone known by everyone in your industry is like winning Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket.
That recommendation is worth its weight in Bitcoin.
When using social proof, you either need an impressive volume to display (think 30k likes, 50k Twitter followers, 15k Instagram followers, etc.), or you need one highly influential name/brand to associate yourself with.
If you can get a direct recommendation, perfect!
If not, something like this will work:
I’ve worked with each of these brands on some level.
For marketing my site, highlighting these brands is better than showing a recommendation from a “no-name” business owner.
In fact, highlighting “no-names” could actually hurt my marketing. It might imply that I haven’t worked with any highly successful clients — which means my clients don’t become highly successful.
If you don’t have a big audience and you’ve never worked with any reputable brands, write guest posts for popular publications in your industry. Then slap an “as seen in” tag next to their logos on your site.
Landing Page Copy Step 8: Add the Final CTA
By now, you’ve written the copy for your entire landing page.
But there’s one last step.
Don’t forget a final CTA!!!
I can’t tell you how many landing pages I see that give an amazing pitch and then just… end.
If your visitors have read all the way down to the bottom, it’s time for the hard close.
It’s time to tell them to take that desired action.
They are interested.
They read your entire pitch.
If we were finishing up that parenting page, we could end with something like:
This Is EXACTLY What You’ve Been Looking For!
Enter your email, and we’ll show you EXACTLY how to be the parent you always wanted.
Don’t be generic.
Don’t be bashful.
Tell visitors precisely what you want them to do.
It’s that simple.
Final Thoughts Before You Get Started
Well, there you have it.
That’s everything you need to write copy for your entire landing page.
Take some time with your value proposition.
Get team feedback.
Have a few third parties take a look and describe what it conveys to them.
Run some A/B tests.
You get the idea.
The rest doesn’t need to take that long.
One Last Tip: If you’d prefer to just spend your time doing what you’re good at and let a professional handle the copywriting, you can drop me a line here.