The landing page is one of your most powerful tools as a startup. Do it well, and you’ll convert a good chunk of that hard-earned traffic into leads that might just purchase your product. Do it badly, and you miss out on an enormous opportunity to grow. I’m Tobie, and I’m a landing page copywriter. Keep reading to find out some of the biggest mistakes you can make with your landing page – and how you can avoid them. Enjoy!
A messaging disconnect
You go into a store that makes beautiful, handmade wooden furniture. Perfect, just what you were looking for. The salesperson welcomes you, and you mention that you’re searching for a new, elegant dining table. Instead of showing you the styles you specifically asked for, he takes you to the outdoor garden furniture section, and starts rambling about how great the quality is, the sale on offer, etcetera. At this point, wouldn’t you be a little annoyed and inclined to leave the store?
It’s the exact same thing with your landing page. Whether its Adwords, Facebook, your sales email, or social media, there’s a reason people click on your ad or post. The message they receive on your landing page needs to perfectly match the messaging. Hubspot has a great article that explains, when it comes to landing pages, the more the merrier. Companies with 6-10 landing pages see a 55% increase in leads over companies with just 1-5. This is partly because the more landing pages you have, the more targeted and personal you can get with your messaging.
See below. I’m looking for a CRM for my startup. I need something specifically for startups; it needs to be lean, easy to use, and scaleable. So I search in Google. Insightly is the first result. Great! Something just for me!
But, low and behold, the landing page says nothing about startups. Or CRMs. Or anything about me or the product. It doesn’t even give me an action to take! Just a vague ‘Lifelong Customer Relationships’. Weak.
In fact, the landing page for this keyword chain “CRM for startups” is the exact same as their home page. Failing to tailor your landing pages to your ads is an easy way to lose out on customers. Don’t be like Insightly (sorry, guys). Create multiple landing pages for different ads, campaigns, offers, and products. That way, your messaging can be on point and hyper-targeted.
This brings us nicely to headlines. You’ve all heard the old adage ‘8 out of 10 people read the headline, and 2 out of 10 will read the rest’. Thanks, Ogilvy. In the attention-deficit age of the internet, this holds stronger than ever.
If your prospects aren’t drawn in by your headline, they won’t keep reading what else you have to say. And when that happens, you lose out on potential leads.
Take Multitouch, for example.
Marketing simplified? Firstly, what the hell are they offering? And why should I care? This is a great way to get prospects to bounce from your landing page, never to be seen again.
Instead, your headline should be hyper-targeted to your specific demographic, their pain points and desires, and their stage of awareness regarding your product. It should also capture your key USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Here’s an article I ghost-wrote that explores the science of writing headlines.
A winning headline…
- Matches the messaging of your prospect’s entry point (ad, article, etc)
- Matches their state of awareness (cold traffic? Existing freebie customers? Loyal advocates?)
- Connects with a pain point or problem in their lives
- Captures your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) relative to their problems and desires
- Uses engaging, direct, emotive language to capture attention
Lack of focus
Your landing page should be all about getting visitors to take one, desired action. Every piece of content should work towards convincing these leads to take that one, desired action. Here are some mistakes that’ll dilute the effectiveness of your landing page:
- Navigation – If your landing page is designed for one action, why would you allow visitors to visitor another page? Removing the navigation could make a seriously positive impact on your conversions.
- Multiple CTAs – Don’t give your visitors analysis paralysis. Figure out the most desirable action you want them to take, and focus on that.
- Messy layout – If your content is too dense, poorly-organised, or just downright ugly, you could put off visitors. Remember – people skim content and focus on headlines, subheadings, and bullets. Write proportionately lean content.
- Poor colour choices – Your landing page should be minimal. When it comes to colour, the most important thing to remember is creating contrast between buttons and the background. Never use ghost buttons – they have a marked negative effect on conversions.
- Not using heatmaps – Seriously, being able to see where people click, move their mouse and drop off your page are hugely beneficial. Check out Hotjar and CrazyEgg for some solid options.
See Trulia’s landing page? No navigations. No unnecessary content. Just a simple lead magnet, with a beautiful, stand-out orange CTA button. Be like Trulia.
Your copy is weak
Copywriting is seen as a soft skill. Everyone can write after all, right? So it often gets passed off to the designer, the company’s go-to marketing guy or, god forbid, the developer. But the copy on your landing page is your most powerful tool in converting your visitors – far, far more important than the design (which should subtly support your message).
Here are some common issues when it comes to startup copywriting:
- Jargon-filled – When you’ve been so involved in your project, you often forget that there’s a huge gap of information between yourself and your prospects. This is called the curse of knowledge. Using technical and complex language is an easy way to alienate and confuse the less-informed. To simplify your language, check out the Hemingway App.
- Wrong tone – Who are your prospects? How do they communicate? The tone of your copy should perfectly match how your prospects talk, and figuring out the right tone is all about user research. Use a service like PeopleFish to drive traffic to your survey to find out more about your target demographic.
- Me, me & me – So, so many startups focus on ‘us’ and ‘what we do’. But you’re not here to sell yourself. You’re here to sell the solutions you can offer your target demographic. Convert your copy to the second-person and engage your prospects in a direct conversation. They’ll love you for it. Okay, maybe not, but they’ll at least stick around.
- Not concise – As I previously mentioned, people skim. Rambling in large paragraphs about your product will quickly lose people’s interest. Cut edit, and edit some more. Capture what you want to say in as few words as possible. Write knowing that headings, subheadings and bulletpoints are the most read parts of your page.
No clear messaging hierarchy
Think of your landing page like an interview. Your prospect is interviewing you to assess whether you’re the right fit for them. Difference is, you control the order of the questions you answer. Oh, and you have to guess their questions. Sound difficult? It is! Most landing pages are erratic, and answer the wrong questions at the wrong time, or entirely forget others – missing out on conversion opportunities.
Follow this structure to answer your prospects’ most pressing questions in the right order (courtesy of Copyhackers):
- Is this relevant to me? – This should be answered above-the-fold. The headline should match their state of awareness and the problem they need solving.
- What do you do? – People should quickly be able to grasp what you actually do. So many landing pages fail to explain this quickly, and early on.
- Why should I care? – Explore the benefits of your product and why your prospects need it in their lives.
- Do others like me care? – Social proof – testimonials and brand endorsements – are vital to include at this stage.
- Can you really do what you say? – Prove the effectiveness of your product in the form of evidence like testimonials, screenshots or statistics.
- If I believe you, now what? – Driving your prospects to action near the bottom of the page is key once you’ve answered all of the previous questions.
Example: VividMotion Design (written by yours truly).
See the above. It clearly answers these questions in the above order (more or less). Create a messaging hierarchy for your landing pages, and you’ll see a boost in conversions.
Design encompasses so much more than pixel pushing. A badly designed landing page is a surefire way to lose trust and lose leads. Here are some things to focus on to make sure your design is working for you:
- Device-optimised – You know the drill. Make sure everything works nicely on mobile, tablet and desktop. You can’t afford to lose out on mobile users anymore.
- White space – A clean design with plenty of space lends more power and brings the eye to the content that occupies the space.
- Speedy – Loading times are vital. Make sure your landing pages are optimised, and keep image sizes small.
- Colour-smart – Use colour to create contrast and allow important areas (CTAs/testimonials/headlines/subheadings) stand out.
Not A/B tested
Creating a landing page simply isn’t enough. You’re essentially making an informed guess on what content, design and lead magnet works best. To truly get the most out of your landing page, you need to A/B test key elements in the following order:
Most landing page builders like Instapage, Unbounce and LeadPages have in-built A/B testing capabilities. If you’re regularly creating landing pages (as you should be!) I definitely recommend picking one of the above. I personally love Instapage, as it has a simple interface, great templates and it’s easy to connect with your favourite third-party tools. If you want something more powerful with far more capabilities, Unbounce is perfect.
Anyway, I hope the above was helpful! Keep creating, keep testing, keep optimizing.
Oh, and while you’re at it, download my free checklist to make sure your landing page is ready to kick ass and get you the conversion rate you want.