Writing landing pages can be a heavenly thing.
Tragically, the aftermath of getting them wrong … is anything but.
After all, landing pages are the hinge of your online marketing. They exist for a single reason: to get your reader to act.
Unlike so much online copywriting, landing pages are intimate and immediate. You don’t have to worry about editorial guidelines, pagerank, or SEO nonsense like keyword count, alt-image tags, or backlinks. The people on your landing page are there for a reason. They’ve come with intent; intent you’ve paid for.
All that means, you just get to write.
Sort of …
Unfortunately, few things are more crushing than pouring yourself into a landing page, mustering all your creative, intellectual, and persuasive power … only to have the whole thing flop.
The pain of watching traffic flow in — especially paid traffic — and converting even at the industry average of 2.35% isn’t just costly … it’s embarrassing.
In fact, I’ve been there. Three years ago, I wrote my first landing page for a supplement company. I didn’t know much about the industry itself, so I dug into the research. I read. I wrote. I crafted. I delivered.
Then, a month after it went live, I got the call:
“Aaron, we had to take the page down.”
“Because the original out performed yours by 258%.”
Talk about hell. They came to me with a 2.9% conversion rate. And what I gave them clocked in at 0.81%.
Thankfully, there’s hope. I had to learn the hard way … but you don’t.
You see, landing pages aren’t blog posts. They aren’t white papers. They aren’t product description pages. And they aren’t case studies. If you try to treat them like they are … well, you know what happens.
At their core, landing pages that convert speak directly to real people with real problems in search of real solutions.
And people are people. This means that the rock-bottom, non-negotiable, absolutely essential elements to every high-converting landing page are the same.
The internet didn’t invent them. And you don’t need to either.
Instead of going it alone and starting from scratch, what you need is a plan: a proven checklist based on data, real-world examples, and actionable insights to deliver you from the hell of low-converting landing pages.
And the key to finding heaven … is to drag your reader through hell.
That’s exactly what this post contains: how to nail the six on-page elements of every great landing page … along with — number seven — the most overlooked off-page ingredient.
7) The Follow-Up: Custom…Not Canned
This guide is intensive — over 7,000 words as well as 93 real-world examples and formulas — but that doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated.
1) The Goal: Yours … Not Theirs
Let’s get one thing straight: everything else in this guide is going to revolve around one principle: but it here it is again: a landing page that converts speaks to real people with real problems in search of real solutions.
In other words, landing pages are about them … not you.
The starting point for your landing page is about you.
And it centers around a single, all-consuming question: “What is your goal … the one, smallest, easiest thing you want your reader to do?”
This is the only step you get to be self-centered on. So enjoy it.
But how do you decide what your goal should be?
First off, don’t follow the crowd. Marketing mastermind Frank Kern says “get [their] email first.” And plenty of other experts echo that advice.
The reason to prioritize email is clear. As McKinsey discovered, e-mail is 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.
However, in the face of such well-meaning names and numbers, resist the temptation to adopt pat answers. Your goal shouldn’t be prescribed. Instead, it should grow out of the kind of relationship you want your reader to have with your offer.
Your goal should be the next, smallest, simplest, least-work-for-them step they could possibly take … in the direction of becoming a customer.
This means, what you want your readers to do can take many forms. The best way to do this is to complete the following sentence:
I want my reader to …
- Join my email list.
- Follow me on Twitter.
- Preview my app.
- Like my Facebook page.
- Schedule a demo.
- Watch my video.
- Give me their phone number.
- Get a quote.
- Access my report.
- Arrange a consultation.
- Redeem a coupon.
- Sign up for a webinar.
- Download my ebook.
The possibilities are endless. But you can’t be.
Above all, burn this into your consciousness: you only get one!
When it comes to your goal, singularity is paramount.
Because your goal will be the guiding principle of everything else you write: the judge, jury, and (yes) even the executioner.
Start with your ultimate goal and then … work backwards.
Everything you create — and everything you ultimately keep — must propel your reader toward that one thing.
If anything else sneaks into your landing page copy … murder it.
For example, E-file’s landing page — for the keywords “online taxes free” — has one goal: to get their visitor to “Start.” In other words, to get them to enter the process of — ding, ding — filing their “Taxes Online for FREE.”
This means over and over again, the same button appears, surrounded by the very terms I used to discover the page in the first place.
Clicking any of the “Start” buttons funnels you directly to their “Create an Account” page. And just in case you missed the big idea — i.e., what they want you to do — the exit-intent pop-up hits you over the head with it one last time:
I’ll say more about keywords, headlines, CTAs, and consistency below. For now, the important thing to take note of is how all-consuming E-file’s goal — their one, driving purpose — is.
And E-file isn’t alone.
memit — a clipping, capturing, and cloud-storage tool — follows suit. Their goal is get visitors to sign up for the app. And so — while their page contains multiple buttons with various directives — they all lead to the same, single end:
Neil Patel’s QuickSprout does this too … giving you just one option — front and center — to login with your Google account and start his “Make Better Content” process.
Likewise, all the buttons on Neil’s personal site — along with his exit intent — guide the visitor down just one path, to sign up for a webinar:
Yep, just one.
KlientBoost themselves does this masterfully. For arena’s “Optimize Your Product’s Development Process” landing page … they only include one option, twice on the page: “Send Me My Custom Demo.”
In fact, nearly all of the other examples you’ll see in this guide are firmly built on the exact same starting point.
Your goal. Your need. Your end.
The one thing you want most must be the foundation of everything else.
2) The Call to Action: Salvation … Not Sales
Alright … enough about you.
Landing pages may start with what you want, but — and this an enormous, internet-breaking “but” — they all end with what your reader wants.
Countless A/B tests prove that just by swapping out generic, impersonal lingo for trigger words like “You” and “My” (as long as they’re both referring to the reader) boost conversions.
That’s because driving action — getting your visitor to do the thing you want them to do — isn’t about your products, your services, your guide, your demo, your emails, your webinar, your consultation, nor even your sale.
It’s about them.
More to the point, it’s about their problems.
In a word: fear.
Fear is the most dominant human emotion. According to Daniel Goleman, who wrote the book on Emotional Intelligence, “Fear, in evolution [and neurology], has a special prominence: perhaps more than any other emotion it is crucial for survival.”
The truth is, fear motivates … more powerfully, more persuasively, and more physiologically than any other emotion.
This means that crafting your CTA — along with the rest of your landing page copy — isn’t about sales … it’s about salvation.
Conversion in the purest sense of the word.
To start thinking theologically, put yourself in your reader’s shoes and ask yourself two questions:
- What hell will clicking this button save me from?
- What heaven will it deliver me unto?
Your audience — that is, your single, well-researched target market — wants to convert. As the great Jay Abraham put it, “People are silently begging to be lead.”
How do you package salvation within a CTA?
In perhaps the greatest CTA-button formula of all time, Joanna Wiebe makes applying these universal principles simple. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and finish this one sentence:
I want …
Whatever completes that sentences is your CTA.
Moreover, as Joanna explains:
Never introduce work in your CTA copy. So if you’re writing a newsletter that leads to a landing page where the user will have to sign in to watch a video, don’t write a CTA in the newsletter that goes, “Sign in to watch the video.”
That’s introducing work.
It doesn’t matter that, in fact, they will have to sign in to watch the video; all that matters is what the end user wants. What do they want? To watch the video. So test CTA copy that reads something like “Watch the video” (and then add a few words about the value of doing so).
All of these insights demand radical empathy. In Ramit Sethi’s words, “When you can truly deeply understand people, even in fact better than they understand themselves, then your sales skyrocket.”
All that’s great … but again, what exactly do radically empathic, salvation-promising CTAs look like?
Let’s start with what at first appears to be an example that’s far from theological:
Don’t be misled by the CTA’s seeming banality. Words like “personalized” and “the music you love” speak directly to the heaven Pandora’s visitor’s crave. And the CTA offers them an immediate experience of that heaven … for themselves.
Cranking up the emotional tone just a bit, Piktochart leans on the hell of how difficult it is to create compelling infographics with both their headline and subhead. Then, their CTAs throughout the page invite the visitor to dive into their specific need immediately:
Alternatively, Happify starts with the hell of worry and waste, and then turns the corner to the heaven of starting “My Journey.” This is especially compelling for students of happiness who’ve been exposed to the psychology of progress: that true happiness comes not from the destination but (you guessed it) the journey:
Slack’s heaven is a messaging app that makes “your working life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.” And their CTA button invites you to experience it firsthand:
Naturally, Joanna Wiebe has her own stellar example.
Instead of a generic “Sign Up Now,” her copy for Dressipi.com promises deliverance from the hell of ill-fitting clothes — “Big bum? Thick waist? Not-so-perky boobs…?” — and her CTA offers the heaven of “Show Me Outfits I’ll Love”:
As Joanna explains, “from ‘Sign up now’ to ‘Show me outfits I’ll love’ … we got a 123.9% lift in clicks.”
Bottom line: your call-to-action must be about your visitor … not you.
This means getting theological and using the “I want …” formula in one of two ways:
1) I want … to be saved from THIS hell.
2) I want … to be delivered unto THIS heaven.
3) The Headline: Stolen … Not Created
Headlines are as necessary to landing-pages as water is to life.
But don’t let this fact intimidate you.
Even more to the point … don’t go into the headline writing process alone, armed only with your ingenuity, creativity, and well-meaning desire to connect.
Instead, steal it.
Writing headlines is no time to be starting from scratch. This is the big leagues and there are tested headline blueprints that will bring you the success you deserve.
However, before we dig into those formulas, you have to steal something else first: your audience’s keywords. Those keywords will form the soul of all the formulas you throw up against the wall.
Because the vast majority of your landing page traffic will come to you through keyword-targeted PPC ads.
Including those same keywords in your headline is nonnegotiable. Afterall, these are the words your audience has already committed to. These are the words they’re using and searching for.
For example, when I was running the PPC campaign for an elementary-level Spanish language curriculum, we discovered that what our target audience really wanted wasn’t generalities on the developer’s approach or success rates on learning retention.
What they wanted were free samples … plain and simple.
And not bogus free samples. Free samples of the real curriculum they could print up and try out.
Going back to our salvation metaphor, the hell they wanted to be delivered from was getting snippets of curriculum, buying the whole thing, and then discovering that the full curriculum didn’t measure up.
The heaven they wanted was to get an entire, one-hour lesson with everything they needed to test drive it for themselves … in their actual classroom.
Ironically, the ads and landing pages I inherited didn’t contain any of those keywords. Instead, they were packed with generic copy about what the curriculum contained. Not surprisingly, the result were dismal:
So instead of the generic ads, we built custom ads targeted at the search terms they were after:
From the lowest — 0.11% — to the highest — 6.85% — that simple change produced a 6,127% increase in click throughs.
What’s more, we then created a landing page that matched those same keywords in the headline:
Consistency matters: from the ad to the headline … to the body copy. Consistency matters so much that Oli Gardner’s very first question in his massive A 50-Point Checklist For Creating The Ultimate Landing Page asks:
Does your landing page headline match the message on your ads?
After you’ve settled on your keywords, your next step is framing them in the headline itself.
Four online resources standout:
- Jon Morrow’s (Boost Blog Traffic) 52 Headline Hacks
- Kevan Lee’s (Buffer) 30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails
- Brian Clark’s (Copyblogger) 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work
- Henneke’s (Enchanting Marketing) 47 Headline Examples: Steal These Nifty Formulas
While I myself regularly go back to these resources, unfortunately, they’re far more focused on article headlines than landing page headlines. They’re phenomenal creative starting points, but we can do better.
I mentioned before that the internet didn’t invent landing pages. The formulas for effective, high-converting headlines have existed for generations.
John Caples, in the early 20th century classic Tested Advertising Methods, lists a number of rules for writing headlines: “First and foremost, try to get self-interest into every headline you write.”
In addition, two other tips that stand out are:
If you have news, such as a new product, or a new use for an old product, be sure to get that news into your headline in a big way.
Long headlines that say something are more effective than short headlines that say nothing.
Those are phenomenal guiding principles, but we can get even more formulaic.
That’s precisely what John did with his “Thirty-Five Proven Formulas for Writing Headlines and Direct Mail Teasers.”
Here’s the first-word cheat sheet I use to get the ball rolling …
- “At last”
- “How to”
- “Who else”
Armed with your own keywords and John’s cheat sheet, finding the perfect headline is about quantity … and testing.
Jeff Bullas, channeling another pre-internet icon, drives this home:
David Ogilvy was famous for having written over 100 headlines for one advertisement.
You have to crap out 25 headlines for every piece of content.
To “crap out” those 25 headlines here are 25 fill-in-the-blank formulas focused directly on the driving principles of heaven and hell. Let’s use KlientBoost’s soon-to-launch affiliate program landing page as our test case for each one:
Stop [hell] …by [offer]
Stop [Throwing Away Money on PPC Referrals]… by [Grabbing Your Partnership Guide]
The only thing keeping you in [hell] … but with [offer] you can [heaven].
The only thing keeping you [from making money off your client’s PPC are lame affiliate programs] … but with [our Partnership Guide] you can [get 10% of every referral’s total monthly PPC budget. (And you don’t even have to close the deal yourself!)]
You hate [hell] … but we love it. So let us [heaven].
You hate [PPC management (and so do your clients)] … but we love it. So let us [do it for you. (We’ll even pay you every month!)]
For [audience] struggling with [hell] we build [offer].
For [copywriters] struggling with [their client’s PPC results] we built [a Partner Program that pays you every month … and we’ll even close the deal].
[Hell] sucks … that’s why we build [offer] to [heaven].
[Optimizing PPC] sucks … that’s why we built [our Referral Program] to [wow your clients and get you paid].
Discover [heaven] … just by [offer]
Discover [how to get paid for you client’s PPC spend] … just by [downloading our Partnership Guide]
You want [heaven] without [hell]
You want [to get paid for jaw-dropping PPC results] without [having to actually manage your clients’ accounts]
You love [heaven] … but you hate [hell]!
You love [getting killer PPC results] … but you hate [selling, closing, and managing PPC]!
Get [heaven] … just like [client]
Get [paid $1,500 every month for one PPC referral] … just like [Alan Li from Lyft]
Without this [offer] you’ll never [heaven] … even if you [hell]
Without this [PPC Partner Program] you’ll never [get paid for your client’s PPC spend] even if [your referral to another PPC agency pays off for them]
Stop Struggling with [competitor] by [offer]
Stop Struggling with [WordStream’s Affiliate Program] by [Connecting with One that Does the Work for You]
[Competitor] Has [feature] … but Doesn’t [heaven]
[WordStream] Has [an Affiliate Program] … but Doesn’t [Optimize or Manage Your Client’s PPC for You]
The one thing [competitor] can’t do is [heaven] … and that’s why you’re [hell]
The one thing [WordStream’s affiliate program] can’t do is [run your client’s PPC for you] … and that’s why you’re [stuck with all the heavy lifting]
[Competitor] promised [heaven] … but instead you got [hell]
[WordStream’s Affiliate Program] promised [to deliver results] … but instead you got [just another PPC tool]
We love [competitor] too … except that it [hell]
We love [WordStream] too … except that [its Affiliate Program Doesn’t Pay You for Letting Them Deliver Amazing Results]
[Client] discovered the secret to [heaven] … and we can do the same for you.
[Lyft’s Alan Li] discovered the secret to [making $1,500 per month from a single PPC referral] … and we can do the same for you.
The [pop-culture] guide to [heaven] and/or escaping [hell]
How to Find the Right PPC Partner: The Taylor Swift Guide for Unlucky Lovers
How to Find the Right PPC Partner: The George Clooney Guide to Settling Down, Being Happy … and Getting Paid
The [counter-intuitive principle] to [heaven] and/or escaping [hell]
The [Give-Away-Your-Client’s-PPC-Accounts Secret] to [Still Getting Paid Every Month]
9 out 10 [specific data] won’t/can’t/don’t/ever [heaven]
9 out of 10 PPC Agencies Won’t [Pay You a Dime for Your Referrals: Our Partnership Program Pays You Every Month]
How to [heaven] … Even if You [hell]
How to [Get Paid for Your Client’s PPC Campaigns] … Even If You [Don’t Want to Run Them Yourself]
The only [offer] made for [audience] who hate [hell]
The only [PPC Partner Program] made for [copywriters] who hate [running PPC]
Finally … an [offer] for [audience] that [heaven]
Finally … a [PPC Partner Program] for [Copywriters] that [Pays You 10% of Your Client’s TOTAL Monthly Spend without You Lifting a Finger]
Our [offer] made/saved [client] $X … but you can have it for $Y
Our [Partner Program] Makes [Lyft’s Alan Li $1,500 Every Month] … And You Can Get Started for Free
Start Getting [heaven] Today by [offer]
Start Getting [10% of Your Client’s PPC Spend] Today by [Downloading our Partner Program Guide]
Give us [small cost] … and we’ll give you [heaven]
Give us [one PPC referral] … and we’ll give you [10% of everything they spend]
4) The Subheads: Seductive … Not Structural
How many times have you read a landing page from top to bottom, start to finish … every single word?
Better yet, how many times have you done that with any piece of online content?
If you’re like the rest of the internet … rarely.
That’s why subheads were invented. Human beings are “scanners.” We don’t dissect copy, we peruse.
Long before web copy existed, subheads were saving sales.
When Claude Hopkins’ wrote My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising in 1923 and proclaimed “nobody reads a whole newspaper,” this human reality was already true. Internet and especially mobile browsing has brought this to a whole new level.
This means that your subheads need to flow from your headline and be able to stand alone.
BoostBlogTraffic’s The Ultimate Guide to Writing Irresistible Subheads put it perfectly:
The name sub (under) head (headline) literally means a headline under the main headline.
And what do headlines do?
They hook, they entertain, they shock, and, above all, they create curiosity. They pull readers further into your epic content so they stay with you long enough to realize that it is, in fact, stellar writing.
What the headline does for the post, the subhead does for each individual subsection of copy.
While the initial temptation with subheads will be to use them to structure your landing page — to serve as a kind of big-picture road map whose primary job is to direct and organize — resist that temptation.
That works okay for blog posts — like this one — but it won’t for landing pages.
Instead of focusing on structural subheads … make your subheads seductive: snackable, bite-sized morsels of “I want more” copy.
What are the ingredients of a seductive subhead?
First, balance. Each of your subheads should be roughly equal in length.
Second, direct. Each of your subheads should speak directly to your audience.
Third, benefits. Each of your subheads should embody either your page’s heaven or its hell.
Brian Kurtz’s 21,000-plus-word landing page for his Titans of Direct Response Conference DVDs is a masterpiece of subheads.
Clocking in at roughly 88-full pages of text, the subheads are built for skimming … after all, they better be. What’s more, each one propels the reader through a journey toward the ultimate heaven of becoming a titan themselves.
Once the big-picture pay-off stage is set, Kurtz turns his subhead focus directly onto the reader:
Perhaps the most powerful insight — especially if you dig through all 21,000-plus words — is that none of the subheads are about the features of the DVDs. Literally, there’s not one explanation of how many discs you’ll get, their recorded quality, or even their running time.
Instead, every single subhead is about the benefits, from top to bottom. I reached out to Brian to ask about both the insane length of his page and the results:
This letter, in its original form when it sold the conference, sold out the room … over 350 of the best marketers on the planet attended.
Then we created versions of the original letter for the DVD’s, other physical and digital products and additional live events.
Total sales for the initial event followed by the DVD/digital programs, residual products and subsequent events has topped $2 million.
But just in case a 21,000-word beast seems daunting, take a look at Mint’s landing page that follows the exact same rules using far less real estate.
Again, the subheads are aimed directly at the benefits: first, being delivered from the hell of online finance — namely, complexity — and second, being delivered to the heaven that is Mint:
Your financial life, in one place and easy to understand.
Simple and free to set up
Stay up-to-date as it happens
Custom tips and savings
Mint’s landing page shows — with appropriate use of curiosity, personality, and direct appeal — that subheads don’t have to be fancy. But they do have to be focused and clear.
At the risk of being shamelessly self-promotional, KlientBoost’s own subheads also include these same three ingredients.
First, they’re balanced. Each subhead follows the same syntactical pattern and even contains the exact same number of syllables.
Second, they’re direct. Each of the subheads speaks to its reader by starting with the word “You.”
Third, they’re about the benefits: money, talent, and growth.
Without reading the entire page, the most basic-yet-convincing message is delivered.
That’s the true beauty of subheads. They’re bite-size hooks scattered all through your landing page meant to appeal to humans who have no time but a lot of curiosity and self-interest.
5) The Body: Their Words … Not Yours.
When it comes to body copy, the one thing everybody wants to know is, “Should it be short … or long.”
That’s the wrong question.
There are outliers on both ends of the length spectrum. The right question is, “What does my audience need to believe?” We’re right back to the bedrock: real people with real problems in search of real solutions.
And the only reliable way to speak to your audience’s needs is to steal from them. To unearth, mine, polish, and regurgitate their own words.
The problem is … unless you have a wealth of in-house data — qualitative data, not quantitative — most of us get stuck.
So, where do you find their words?
- Blog comments
- Amazon reviews
- Social media
- Forum sites
- Customer FAQs
- Qualitative surveys
- Email responses
This is what’s known as review mining: digging into your customer’s own feedback and comments on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Amazon, Reddit, app stores, blog comments, and especially your own on-page questionnaires. You can also use email surveys and person-to-person interviews to find the statements you need.
The key, however, is to get inside the mind of potential customers by eavesdropping.
This applies to positive comments, but the real gold is found in negatives. If comments reflect a distaste for something, address that in your copy (or build a better product).
Let’s get practical about review mining by using a common example: car-seat shopping.
Your goal is to create a repository of user generated comments to help shape a landing page that offers parents a car-seat buyer’s guide, but the same process works for whatever you happen to be selling.
Search as if you’re a customer.
First, we’ll check Amazon by digging into a product that’s rich with reviews.
Select two of the “Top Customer Reviews” that are positive: a four star and a five star work great.
Notice the “What I Like” and “What It Lacks” sections. Jot down verbatim quotes under each in a Pros versus Cons spreadsheet (see below).
After the positive reviews, grab two negative reviews. Avoid one-star ratings … those tend to be outliers: angry, disgruntled folks who don’t represent your average consumer. Instead, stick to the two-star reviews marked “helpful”:
Again, add verbatim quotes directly to your Pros and Cons spreadsheet.
Next, we’ll do a similar search on social media.
Facebook holds a treasure trove of honest feedback, especially when it comes to getting inside your consumer’s head.
Take note when customers are repeatedly mentioning a specific feature. In our carseat example, numerous comments were made on personal Facebook pages that cast a strong negative opinion of the alert tone feature. This means your landing page copy must address that deficiency.
Based on those user-generated comments, your end result should look something like this:
Armed with actual comments, here’s how to put them together in a sample landing page that offers parents a car-seat buying guide.
The Safe & Easy Car Seat Buyer’s Guide:
How to Find the Right Car Seat at the Right Price …
without Paying for Extras You Don’t Need
Forget about all the complicated extras and annoying bells and whistles.
You want a car seat that’s reliable, reasonably priced, and tested to ensure your child’s safety.
What you don’t want is to skimp on comfort.
The problem is … not all car seats are created equal.
In fact, did you know?
- Approved weight ranges (5-40 lbs) don’t always come with enough padding for infants.
- Little things — like cup holders — aren’t just weak … sometimes they’re designed so poorly your kids can’t even reach them.
- Rear-facing car seats and bucket seats don’t always fit … and often they’re incredibly unsafe.
Most infuriating …
- “Made in the USA” doesn’t always mean Made in the USA.
Don’t get stuck with a car seat you have to wrestle into place. (Cut thumbs, anyone?)
Even worse, don’t get stuck with a car seat your kids will fight over to avoid.
Download our free Safe & Easy Car Seat Buyer’s Guide
Find out exactly what car seats …
- Accommodate infants all the way through toddlers.
- Adjust easily and install in seconds.
- Fit your car, especially if you’ve got more than one seat in the back.
- Stay cool even in the hot sun.
Grab your Safe & Easy Car Seat Buyer’s Guide today!
Remember. It’s about them, not you.
Landing pages are about the life your readers lead, the results they desire, the questions they ask. Their joys. Their pains.
Another approach you can use — especially when it comes to addressing objections — is to put words in your customer’s mouth.
That’s what Marlon Sander’s Book of Secrets landing page does:
From I Will Teach You to be Rich … here’s another example of that strategy.
And this leads us directly into our last on-page element: the proof.
6) The Proof: Snipers … Not Shotguns
You’ve heard the saying before, “People buy with their hearts. They justify with their heads.”
Naturally, this means your landing page should major on issues of the heart. That’s why we’ve spent so much time digging through your visitor’s own fears, dreams, words, objections, desires, and salvation.
But … this doesn’t mean you can ignore the head.
And what the head wants is proof. Rock-solid, it’s-been-done-before, here’s-the-numbers proof.
Proof on landing pages comes down to one thing: testimonials.
Sadly most testimonials suck at the very job they’ve been created to perform.
They’re not relevant. They’re not detailed. They don’t include product or service specific statements. And they’re not problem-solution focused.
Here’re are three examples from big-name sites that go from lame to just plain horrible:
On the surface, those testimonials look fine. But each lacks real specificity.
- What is it about the “payment options” that makes not using PayPal so unimaginable?
- How does PaySimple eliminate “worry”?
- And for Cisco … sadly the reader doesn’t even get to the meat of the testimony before hitting a “Read More” roadblock.
If you’re going to make claims on your landing page, use testimonials to prove them. If you’re going to make promises, use specific details to support them.
Take Hootsuite for example.
What makes Hootsuite’s testimonial connect?
First, the “world’s top brands” using Hootsuite are prominently displayed. Big names build trust and gather crowds.
Second, the testimonial explains what the product does — “essential tool for managing social networks” — and then supports that with specific benefits — “efficiently track conversations and measure campaign results.”
Third, the author of the testimonial is one that the reader will recognize immediately, both their brand and their role.
However, there’s still something missing: data.
When Zendesk chose a testimonial to showcase — and they have over 60,000 companies to request testimonials from — they selected an equally big name and title: the Director of Revenue Operations at Shopify.
While the 60,000+ number is a good start, the testimonial itself — just like the ones before it — still lacks results in the form of numbers.
Similarly, Linode jumps in by demonstrating the size of their existing customer base. And yet, while the testimonials are packed with glowing remarks, neither of them offer actual proof.
In contrast, take YouEye’s testimonial and see if you can spot the difference:
They not only lead their testimonial with a big brand and recognizable job title, but they also include real numbers.
Conversion Rate Experts nails this one-two pattern — name plus numbers — with a cascade of examples that all include the crowning glory of truly effective testimonials: data-backed proof.
Notice also that each one of the above testimonials contains a play button. One of the most relevant ways to present a testimonial is with a video.
On their homepage, for instance, GetResponse starts with the data, adds a recognizable face and name, and then links to an even more in-depth endorsement on a customer-centric landing page.
Not only does Neil Patel resonate with GetResponse’s audience, but his credentials are noteworthy even if you’re not familiar with him.
What else is great?
- Comparison statements resonate: “I’ve used Aweber, Marketo, Pardot, and quite a few other marketing automation solutions and the one that won me over — out of all of them actually — is Getresponse.”
- Specific details back up Neil’s reasoning: “when I tested deliverability rates … GetResponse won.”
- Lastly, Neil highlights GetResponse’s features by sharing his personal favorite: “They have this calendar feature, in which, if you’re not a technical person (like me) you can pick what emails you want to go out on what day. It’s a drag and drop functionality, they have easy to use templates, the emails are compatible for both web and mobile …”.
This level of relevance and detail is exactly what I mean by “snipers … not shotguns.”
Most testimonials take a generalist tone, firing off vague “these-people-are-great” buckshot. What you want is to zero in on your target with a clear, data-backed, “they solved this specific problem and outclassed these specific competitors because” statement.
The question is: why do so many testimonials suck?
Because, the truth is … you don’t get the testimonial you deserve; you get the testimonial you ask for.
It’s on you — not your customer — to craft a killer testimonial.
Here’s exactly what I send out for generating testimonials not only for myself but my clients:
<One to two relevant sentences about the relationship or your biggest win.>
Do you have 10 minutes to put together a testimonial?
Here’s a 1, 2, 3 format that’ll make it SUPER easy:
1. Start with the problem.
What problem(s) brought you to [product or service]?
2. Describe the solution.
What did we accomplish together: new products, new features, new methods, lifts, increases, boosts, new ideas, saved time, etc? (DATA please.)
3. End on a personal note.
Were we easy to work with, consistent, insightful, creative, data-based, and solution-oriented? Did we deliver on time? Were we trustworthy and an asset?
Lastly, what is the ONE THING you’d want people to know about [product or service]?
Proof-based testimonials make specific claims with specific numbers from specific people who had specific problems and found a specific solution.
7) The Follow-Up: Custom … Not Canned
So far, we’ve dug through every on-page copy element of a high-converting landing page.
However, you can’t stop there.
The last thing you have to ask yourself is, “What comes next?”
The follow-up is crucial. And yet many people simply ignore it, slap something together like a “here’s your free download” email, or just let their email provider toss out a default “click here to confirm” message.
All this is conversion death.
Not so with Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to be Rich follow up.
Aftering opting into his email list, the first screen you’ll be redirected to isn’t a traditional, “Thanks for signing up. Be sure to confirm your email address” page. Instead, you’re guided — by the digital hand — where Ramit wants you to go next:
This confirmation page does two amazing things. First, it adds urgency by including a countdown clock. Providing the reader with a countdown to gated content or a limited-time offer is a psychological trick you can — and should — use too. Scarcity inspires action.
Second, clicking the “Confirm My Email” button takes you directly to your Inbox complete with an automatic search result for exactly what Ramit wants you looking for: “firstname.lastname@example.org RESPONSE REQUIRED:”
Inside is this email:
Far from being a default “Click here to confirm” email, Ramit’s smacks of personality. As before, there’s a countdown clock as well as a P.S. message that’re both focused on urgency and scarcity: “Don’t wait. 80% of people who confirm do so in the first 5 minutes — and the rest never see my best material.”
Then — as if Ramit’s follow-up process wasn’t action packed enough — when you confirm your email address, you’re taken to a Welcome page with access to the promised material and a final CTA: “help spread the word by re-tweeting the tweet below”:
Your follow-up process doesn’t have to be quite so involved … but it does have to be just as personal and direct.
For example, Sujan Patel’s insanely personal follow up even duped Oli Garner — the man who’s “seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet” — into engaging.
As Oli admitted on Unbounce’s own podcast:
Two days ago I downloaded an ebook by Sujan Patel. … And that’s when the trickery began because I got an email, an automated email, that was so well crafted that I thought it was real.
He made it sound like he recognized me.
So I responded.
And then I was like, “Mother [expletive]!” I looked at it again and realized, “He didn’t write this to me. He put it as an autoresponder.”
As a model for your own follow ups, here’s that thread:
Of course, tricking someone into writing back is neat. But do these conversational follow ups produce results?
Let’s look at the numbers.
For reference, Sujan’s site has three basic offers:
- “Subscribe” to the Blog
- “Preview” the Ebook
- “Buy” the Ebook
You’ve already seen how simple the preview-the-ebook follow up is. Sujan’s autoresponder to blog subscriptions is equally stripped down:
The numbers, however, are anything but stripped. As Sujan told me:
First, of the people who subscribe to the blog, 6.6% click on a link to one of my two software products — Narrow.io or ContentMarketer.io — or on one of my two books. And 39% of those clicks eventually convert into either a product trial or a book purchase
Second, of those who preview my ebook, 12% purchase the full book and an additional 3% start a trial of either Narrow.io or ContentMarketer.io.
Third, of the people who buy my ebook, 1.9% end up buying the other book and another 15% start a trial of Narrow.io or ContentMarketer.io.
That can sound like a complex process, but bear in mind that these are all the results from a single, stripped down, incredibly personal follow-up delivered after someone accepts one of the three initial offers.
You can also dramatically impact engagement by simply building your first email around a question. Here’s a welcome email example from Groove, a help-desk software service provider, that generated a 41% response rate.
Scott Stratten’s Unmarketing follow up uses the same response-generating format:
If you operate more in the realm of ecommerce, give new subscribers a special offer or a freebie. Just be sure to limit their access to a specific timeframe.
The follow up is no time to get sloppy. This is a privilege and an opportunity to connect deeper, to build a foundation for a life-long customer relationship.
HubSpot knows this and regularly uses their initial follow-up email — the forms for which require nothing more than a name and email address — to dig deeper and nurture their leads by asking for more information.
Whatever tactic you adopt as your follow up, the guiding principle should be make it custom … not canned.
Landing-page hell … and landing-page heaven
Few things are more disheartening than pouring yourself into a landing page — mustering all your creative, intellectual, and persuasive force — only to have the whole thing flop.
Remember, landing pages that convert speak directly to real people with real problems in search of real solutions.
This means landing pages are about salvation, not sales.
They offer an escape from hell … and the hope of heaven.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go into the landing page copywriting process alone.
There are legitimate, proven formulas to writing your next landing page. These methods for convincing and converting aren’t new by any means. The internet didn’t invent them. And you don’t need to either.
So the next time you’re facing down the barrel of a blank page and the hell of performance anxiety is creeping up your spine … keep in mind the seven crucial elements of every high-converting landing page:
1) The Goal: Yours … Not Theirs
2) The Call to Action: Salvation … Not Sales
3) The Headline: Stolen … Not Created
4) The Subheads: Seductive … Not Structural
5) The Body: Their Words … Not Yours
6) The Proof: Snipers … Not Shotguns
7) The Follow-Up: Custom … Not Canned