The Secret Landing Page Headline Formula

Peter Boyle

Writing high converting landing page copy is easy, right?

I mean, all you’ve got to do is figure out what your prospects need and demonstrate how your service answers all their earthly desires.

Tap out a first draft, complete a simple edit and boom, you’re done.

But what about its length?

It can’t be too long, or too short.

What about the structure?

You’ve let your creative side really shine, but now you’re thinking that maybe you should have kept to a more established structure.

Hold on!

Your designers moved things around for a better user experience and has erased the latter half of your killer headline!


We’re wondering that too, Francis – image source

There are no easy fixes when it comes to conversion optimization and effective copywriting is no different.  

Sure there’s lots of advice out there, but in all honesty the majority of it is overly generic and just plain shit.

“You need a compelling headline.” Well, duh.

“You need to address your prospects biggest need.” Thanks Einstein.

I’ve got to say that the points you see touted on every copywriting website aren’t wrong.

They’re just so generic as to be pretty much useless.

The fundamentals are generally the same whether you’re writing a blog post promoting a product, a landing page, sales letter or PPC campaign.

Instead of simply listing some general best practices that apply to all areas let’s take a closer look at some real templates and live examples to drive the point home.


How to Write a Kick Ass Headline

Landing page headlines are the single most important element in any piece of copy.

Good headlines attract prospects.

They persuade people to click through to your content and build a level of fascination that’s going to hold attention throughout your opening few sentences.

If you create an uninspiring headline your advert, article or landing page is going to be completely ignored.

That’s not to say that following the upcoming tips is going to get 1,005 of visitors to click through and engage.

In fact, according to David Ogilvy we’re probably aiming somewhere in the 20% region for a well optimized headline.

One of his most famous quotes states that:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as reads the body copy. When you’ve written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

So 20% is a realistic target.

Can you honestly say that your landing page headlines garner a 20% CTR?

If not, here’s a few tips that should help get you close to that target and maybe even a little bit beyond.


The Ingredients of the Landing Page Headline Formula

Buzzfeed is one of the few companies universally recognized as producing high converting headlines.

You’ll see a lot of articles that pick apart their process and highlight how you can adapt their methods to your own site.

I’m going to go against the grain here and say that you really should be staying away from Buzzffeed-esque headlines.

Sure they manage to pique a little curiosity in readers, but overly vague, hyped up headlines don’t instill confidence in your prospects.

Sure a high CTR is nice, but TRUST is what you’re going to leverage to actually make a sale.

Instead of following Buzzfeed’s lead and creating ‘The Top 10 Headlines of 2015 (You Won’t BELIEVE Number 3!)’ follow these steps and templates to really boost your headline effectiveness.

Keep it Value Centric
 – Remember that your headline is a promise of the value you’re delivering in your content.

What are your prospects going to get from your content?

Identify the main benefit, sum it up in a handful of words and voila – you’ve got yourself a good little headline.

No Abstractions
 – Please keep your landing page headline specific.

Trying to be clever, abstract or unnecessarily witty isn’t going to convince anyone.

Prospects are searching for a solution to a problem, show them in no uncertain terms that you’re able to solve that problem.

Include Numbers
 – People are busy and don’t have the time to work their way through numerous several thousand word articles every day.

Highlight what’s in your article with a number in the title.

Audiences love to know how much information they have to scan to pick out the key points.

– The best copywriters understand and actively study developments in basic human psychology.

One of the most useful studies you need to read is this one on our capacity for processing information.

The study outlines the sweet spot as seven plus or minus two which means that five to nine words is the optimal range for a high impact headline.

Write Several and Choose the Best
Some of the best copywriters out there write up to 100 headlines for every campaign they send out.

If you’re not a full time copywriter then 100 different headlines might be pushing it a little.

However, you should still aim to create as many headlines as you can before combining the parts you like, cutting those you don’t and ultimately refining your headline selection to the most impactful samples for A/B Testing.

Make use of a Sub-Head
 – With only a handful of words to play around with it can prove difficult to really demonstrate value and persuade your prospects.

Instead of just relying on a single headline, include a sub head which builds upon the initial statement.

It’s not a method which is applicable in every instance.

You’d struggle to use sub heads in banner ads, but they can have a huge effect on landing and squeeze pages.

Neil Patel of KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg and Quicksprout uses this method often to great effect.

Here’s the landing page of his own site,


landing page headlines

See how this sub head works it’s magic?


So let’s round this area off with a couple of headline templates proven to get your audience to read the rest of your copy.

The Direct Headline

        No frills, no fluff. You simply state what your product is about. Easy, right?


  • Sign up for your free ebook
  • [Reputable company’s] favorite [service]

The ‘Making Your Life Easier’ Headline

        Deep down we’re all lazy. We all want to complete tasks in half the time and get back to something we enjoy. Focus on how your service can accomplish this.

  • The [desired outcome] without [undesirable action]
  • The easy way to double your income without wasting time on lead generation

The Benefit Driven Headline

        The primary action of a good CRO agency campaign should be to ensure that the value outweighs the cost. The benefit driven headline taps into the primary benefit you’re offering and uses it to attract prospects.


  • Grow your business to six figures in three months!
  • Create high converting popups in minutes

Let Your Prospects Speak for You

        If you’re really struggling for a message look at your testimonials and customer reviews. Chances are someone’s left a comment somewhere that can speak greater volumes about your product than you ever could.

Here’s a great guide from Joanna Wiebe at Copyhackers on review mining.

There are literally hundreds of templates and formulas available on the web. Instead of listing everything here and growing this article to mammoth lengths I’m going to link to this, this and this as they’re some of the most useful headline files and articles on the web.


Kill Your Darlings

You’ve got a lot to say.

You want to highlight every benefit, outline all the features and thoroughly explain why your product or service is simply the best on the market.

I get it.

You’ve spent a long time developing this product so you pack in every bit of information you can, not only to show how awesome the product is but also how difficult it was to get there.

But high converting copy is never about you, it’s always about the audience.

It’s like having a conversation with someone who drones on about themselves.

You know, the type of person who takes ten minutes to communicate a sentiment that only needs a single sentence?

It’s not fun, and you’re more than likely were too busy looking for a way to escape the situation instead of listening to what they had to say.


No one wants to hear you ramble on and on – image source

That’s why the rule of one is so important in keeping your copy tight, to the point and most of all, persuasive.

The rule of one is the driving force that takes good copy and makes it great.

Scrap your confusing, multi faceted draft in favor of a laser focused piece.

I know you want to highlight everything that’s so important to you, but if it’s not important to your audience then it’s got to go.

Choose one idea to communicate, one emotion to target and one benefit to highlight.

It may seem a little counter intuitive but it’s been a recognized element of incredible writing for a long time now.

Here’s what Ernest Hemingway had to say on the matter:

“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.”

Ignore the rule of one and you’re going to produce copy that resembles this incredibly confusing advert from Scott Hoy. 

I’m not sure what Scott Hoy wants us to stop, but I hope it’s overly complicated copy.  

If Scott Hoy has inspired you to stop producing confusing copy (God bless that man!) but you’re not sure how to go about it.

Check out these short form examples from Eat24 for some awesome short form copy that doesn’t sacrifice their irreverent, humorous tone.


great headline copy

Their humor comes through as they get straight to the point.


headline copy

I’ve always wanted to know what smelled so good next door.


Notice how they focus on one issue.

There’s no confusion, just a laser focused approach letting you know what they offer.

There’s a beauty in its simplicity.

Whilst you may well be passionate about an element that’s helped drive your business forward or a particularly difficult problem you struggled to overcome, ask yourself if it adds to your copy.

If it doesn’t and only serves to pad out your copy with useless, confusing extras, it’s time to kill the darlings you hold so dear.


Keep it Scannable

What’s the first goal you should be aiming for with your copy?

It’s not make a sale, it’s not even to convince or build trust.

No it’s something far simpler than that.

It’s goal is to get read.

That’s it.

You could be the most persuasive mother trucker alive but if I don’t read your copy, then what good is it all for?

All that time you’ve spent optimizing your headlines and cutting your favorite anecdotes from your copy is for nought if no one can make it past the first paragraph.

Before you work on optimizing the actual copy, you’ve got to make it look appealing. 

There’s a lot of information out there nowadays and no one wants to slog through a solid wall of text.

You’ve got to make your copy easily scannable with the information easily assimilated.

Without taking these steps your prospects will turn their backs before even starting on your copy.

It’s like ordering a dish in a restaurant.

You look over to your left and see two dishes, one looks fabulous whilst the other looks like it was prepared by a blind chef with serious case of the ‘IDGAFs’.

Which dish do you order?

Of course you order the fabulous looking dish, right?

But what you don’t know is Blindy Mc Don’t-Care is the world’s top chef.

His presentation is terrible, but the food is delicious.

You’ve missed out on a life changing experience because it simply didn’t look inviting.

Thankfully you don’t need a decade at the copywriting equivalent of culinary school to improve the image of your copy.

There’s a few simple steps you can take to really make your copy pop.

1)  Make use of bullet points

This is the best way for you to demonstrate the benefits of your product in a succinct manner.

Prospects are able to quickly scan your copy and pick out the main benefits.

Choose the right messages and bullets alone are often powerful enough to provide a conversion.

Unionen tested the effect of bullet points and saw a 15.9% increase in conversions!

2)  White space

Make use of white space.

A huge wall of text is an intimidating sight.

In a world where we’re short on time and bombarded with too much information the thought of having to assimilate thousands of words is enough to cause most visitors to immediately leave your site.

3)  Typography

One of the most important aspects of creating awesome copy is to draw the eye to the most persuasive elements.

Bullet points help highlight benefits and features, white space makes the page more manageable and typography helps to highlight key points that need to be understood.

Try not to overdo it though, or else you’ll end up with one of those bombastic websites from the early nineties that highlight and bold every second word.

It can be a difficult concept to fully understand.

Thankfully, Rafal Tomal has provided some awesome images which really highlight how these three elements can make all the difference when it comes to creating some beautifully readable copy.


good copy for landing pages

You can immediately see how much easier it is to read when using bigger sub titles.

Rafal Tomal also shares how space creates an easier experience for the reader seen here:

great copy for landing pages

Ahh, much nicer.


Keep it Conversational

Do you know what I hate.

Overly complicated business or technical speak.

I immediately cringe when I see copy that uses god awful business buzzwords or industry specific jargon.

The internet has widened the number of prospects a business can approach, most of whom will be casual browsers rather than serious shoppers.

Copy filled with confusing, professional terms isn’t persuasive, but in fact turns everyone but the hardcore away from your business.

Prospects want to feel a connection with a brand and the best way to achieve this is with a conversational, friendly tone of voice.

If you head to the website of any successful modern day business you’ll notice that they’re relying more heavily on friendly accessible language rather than confusing jargon.

Take UK based drink company, Innocent as an example.

They’ve really nailed their tone and produce some of the best conversational copy out there.


conversational copy

Okay, I think I trust you because you come off as friendly and totally normal – image source


It’s a great way to build a much better connection with your audience, and here’s how to do it.



A Crash Course in Conversational Copy

As soon as we’re old enough to put pen to paper we’re taught to write in a castle different manner to how we speak.

Any educational writing is completed with an academic tone and the years spent adhering to these rules make it incredibly difficult for us to get out of our heads and produce something that resembles a real person’s speech.

It’s not impossible to achieve though, all it takes is a little practice and a knowledge of the following techniques.


  • Don’t Write to the Masses

Instead of writing to everyone, imagine you’re only writing to one person.
The most common piece of advice is to imagine you’re sat across from an individual prospect and simply having a chat about the product over a cup of coffee.
It’s a great starting point and should help get rid of the stiff informal tone.

  • Don’t Write

Yup, you heard me.
Don’t write anything at all.
Instead, say what you want and either use an automatic transcription software or simply record yourself to transcribe what you’ve said later on.

  • Read it out Loud

When you’re focused on getting the job done it’s difficult to get out of your head, even if you’ve managed to imagine you’re chatting to a friend or transcribing some spoken word.
As with any piece of copy the magic happens in the editing phase.
Don’t be afraid to read what you’ve written out loud.
You’ll notice any cumbersome sentences or awkward phrasing and it’ll be far easier to change them.

So, great copy looks at all of these elements and manages to roll them up into a tidy package.

It’s no easy feat so don’t expect you’re going to become a copywriting god overnight.

Stick to these principles, put in the hours to hone your abilities and before you know it, you’ll be converting with the best of them.

So what other tips and tricks have you discovered that help produce copy that converts like crazy?

None yet? That’s okay. In the meantime, check out some other tips for landing pages you can put into effect…

P.S. Did you learn something new? Share it with your followers so you look even smarter 🙂