Learn from my experience and avoid the most common mistakes that keep your landing pages from being the kickass high-conversion machines you deserve.
When you look at marketing from a cold, strategic perspective, it’s easy to lose touch. Each decision becomes more about numbers, and less about the real people browsing your website. As a freelance copywriter, I believe in a human-centred approach to marketing. Learn how to apply these principles to improve the performance of your landing pages.
You’ve spent countless hours refining your site to pull in quality online traffic. Slaving away at your labour of love, you’ve become a master SEO hacker and, from the hundreds of visitors streaming in from paid traffic and campaigns, you’ve also become the verifiable Don Draper of online advertising. You’re on top of the world – ready to dominate your niche and send the competition scurrying to the corners of Google. Then the bubble pops.
Are you a business owner? An entrepreneur? A marketer? Perhaps you just want to improve how you write headlines? Then this guide is for you. In the following, you’ll learn how to create effective, compelling, high-conversion headlines.
Trello. Innocent Smoothies.GoPro.Apple. Old Spice. What do they all have in common? ...not much, you're probably thinking. They're outrageous. They're personable. They're silly. They're insulting. They're unique. They're engaging. Importantly, they're all companies who relate profoundly to their audiences. Coincidentally (or not) they're also kings of their respective industries.
But it doesn't happen by accident. In fact, it's one of the most carefully-orchestrated, deliberate elements to creating a successful brand. Your voice is important. And what you say to your audience - it's everything.
Keep reading for some actionable, no-bullshit tips on connecting and relating to your audience.
1. Speak To The Individual. Not The Collective.
When your prospect is engaged with your brand, it is as an individual. Not as a collective - no matter the situation. So why would you communicate with them in an impersonal manner?
This is a problem that's rife. Companies spend infinite time and money gathering data and statistics about their customers. Thing is...this puts the focus on the collective. It averages data and evens out the most important subtleties and eccentricities of your target audience. It limits the very thing you should be focussing on - the individual.
Think long and hard who your ideal customers are - and learn from them - individually. Talk to them on Facebook and Twitter. Ask them what they like. What they hate. Find out about their individual lives. In the process, you'll learn the most valuable thing possible - how your brand can be a relevant part of it.
2. Dare To 'Think Different'.
Yeah, it couldn't sound any more clichéd if it tried. It also couldn't be more correct. Will you be successful towing the line, following the herd, and copying from previous trailblazers?....Yes. But you'll be forever limited by your own derivativeness. Some of the most ridiculously successful companies thought outside the box. They took risks. They bared it all to the world.
Because your prospects can relate to the trailblazers. The people who think outside the box to solve their problems.
Look at the origins of 'Think Different'. Apple. One of the most successful, respected tech companies in the world. Their very existence embodies 'think different'. And people love them for it.
But should you 'follow their lead' and 'copy' their model for success? NO! Being different doesn't mean being the same as those who are different. It takes true guts and innovation. Could it fail? Definitely. Are there risks to being different? Sure. But it's the most worthwhile risk to take in the world.
3. Be Funny. But Think A Little.
Humour works. Like, really, really well. But it takes a profound understanding of your audience - and humour, for that matter - to get right. And when it goes badly?
Tip: Laugh with people, not at them.
Good brand humour is a careful calibration between your audience's sensibilities, your brand's identity, and timing. Taco Bell. Old Spice. Impact Design. They all know their audiences profoundly. And they know precisely where their audience's sensibilities overlap with their brand identity.
Next time you're trying to be funny...think a little deeper. Who is your audience? Who's your brand? Double-check your attempts. Or the consequences will be disastrous.
4. Show Your Imperfections. Even If It Hurts.
There's nothing more human than imperfections. And what - if anything - are you trying to connect with? Humans. From the houses we buy to the supermarkets we choose, us humans choose things that reflect our identity. Just look at Victoria's Secret. They advertised perfection. Perfect people wearing perfect products created by a perfect brand.
People went crazy....they hated it. Why? Because Victoria's Secret were advertising a lie. People simply don't look like that. In fact, the entire fashion and beauty industry is slowly, slowly coming to this realisation:
People desire self-improvement. But more importantly, people desire to be loved. To feel a sense of belonging. To feel they're worth something - not despite their mistakes, but because of them. And brands who can offer that? They'll win their customers for life.
Look at Dove. Their advertising is based on rejoicing in the differences (and imperfections!) of their brand and their audience. And their customers love them for it.
"Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine." - David Ogilvy.
5. TL;DR? Be Human.
There's a reason why we love wonky, imperfect artisan pizzas. Silly, tongue-in-cheek brands. The companies who speak to us as individuals. The companies who make us laugh or leave us awe-stricken.Because all of these things are inherently human. And in a world becoming increasingly sterile and technological, the value of 'being human' is an ever-inflating commodity.
Want to share your thoughts on relating to your audience? Jump head-first into the discussion. Add your comment below!
As I write this, I'm sitting in the sunny courtyard of a Grenadine cafe in the ancient Arabic district of the Albaicin. Birds are tweeting. Spaniards are nattering. Canas de cerveza and cafe con leches are flowing. I'm in Spain. But I don't live here - at least, not permanently. I work anywhere - and I count myself as - what is being described as - a 'Digital Nomad'.
The world is becoming more and more filled with this strange wave of cyber-savvy millennials. From Prague to Chiang Mai, 20 and 30-somethings are finally shedding the dream of security and conventional families in exchange for something far more exciting and fulfilling. Something that promises an infinity of experiences and flexibility. But is their world as glamorous as it seems? I take a deeper look at what’s quickly becoming the biggest work and lifestyle trend of the 21st century.
The phrase 'Digital Nomad' was coined by Tsugio Makimoto in his 1997 release ‘Digital Nomad’. The book itself reads as prophesy for a technologically-savvy generation:
“New digital technologies promise to enable large numbers of people to work wherever and whenever they wish and to choose between a stationary or nomadic lifestyle.”
However, in 1997, there were fewer than 70 million internet users. The number of digital nomads – we can presume – were a fraction of that number. In 2015, things are looking differently. 50% of the US workforce telecommutes – works remotely – at least partially. And with 90% of workers saying they’d like to do the same, we can expect a huge increase in that number.
The Digital Nomad Conundrum
But what is it that draws people to digital nomadism? Why sacrifice stability and familiarity? Talking about the attractions of the lifestyle, Peter Wall, co-founder of Hubud, says:
“Remember the telecommuting term 15 years ago? It was the dream. But it hasn’t happened. And why it hasn’t happened is, one, it’s really boring, and two, there is a real value in face-to-face interaction. And so I think what people are realizing is that there is a place I can do what I do, I can be in a community, and I can also be somewhere beautiful.”
It’d be easy to dismiss digital nomadism as a selfish millennial preoccupation. But it’s clear that it goes deeper than that. Digital nomads are on a continual path toward new experiences. Where their cubical office counterparts spend their money on things, digital nomads spend it on experiences - following that old millennial adage. And scientists have been telling us for years which of the two leads to happiness.
Digital nomadism isn't an isolated trend - it's a small microcosm of trends that are impacting a huge majority of the workforce. While a ‘vagabond’ lifestyle might not suit everyone, there are elements of the lifestyle that do. For example, 34% (or 53.7 million) of Americans are freelancing or self-employed. And the majority of those now earn more, expecting their income to keep rising. The era of technology has given us a level of personal liberty that would’ve left the Founding Fathers awe-stricken.
But what does a life of digital nomadism truly look like? Sunshine, self-fulfilment and rainbows? Well, not all the time. Yaron Budowski, digital nomad, talks about the struggles of working abroad:
“Working out of cafes is very romanticized, but it's impossible to work there because it's too distracting and the Wi-Fi's not reliable.”
The logistics of working from country to country can, at times, get complicated. You might have headache days with no wi-fi, or try to juggle projects with periods of travel in a foreign country. Not to mention juggling conferences in different time zones. All of that can have an enormous impact on your well-being. Jodi Ettenberg, a travel writer running Legal Nomads sees these experiences from a more positive light:
“It's not just about travel or about working from anywhere. It's the mixture of both and how you learn more as a person by forcing yourself to adapt to really disparate situations...It's been incredibly satisfying."
Dawn of a New Era
With a great range of experiences and opportunity for challenges, digital nomadism seems like the perfect solution to personal growth. As many Americans feel unfulfilled in work or bored with routine, digital nomadism offers the polar opposite. For a huge chunk of us, this is an alluring prospect.
It could be said that digital nomadism represents a paradigm shift. Long gone is the dream of a nuclear family and 9-5 job that our parents and grandparents sought after. Millennials – with divorced parents and first-hand experience of the destructiveness of modern debt-slavery - are starting to realize that the American Dream is all but broken.
But they have a new dream. One that promises real freedom – unrestricted by jobs, borders or governments. Their revolution will be neither tweeted or televised. Their revolution has already begun.
"In writing, you must kill your darlings." - William Faulkner
While the quote's origin is ambiguous, the power of the message is the same.
Whether you're writing content for your website, your latest blog post, or a cold sales email, being ruthless with each draft is one of the greatest things you can do.
When we spend hours slaving away at drafts of content, it's easy to become emotionally attached. Like soldiers, you've both been through a lot together. Late nights and early mornings...caffeine dependency...it's only natural to feel protective of your perfectly honed words.
We attach a disproportionate amount of value to the things that require the most effort. It's irrational, but hey, that's humans in a nutshell.
Remember - your thoughts, words and ideas are all disposable. They bend to your purpose, not the other way around. The quicker you internalise that - the quicker the quality of your writing will improve.
Applying the Tip
1. Ideas First - Then Words
We're often told to write as much as humanly possible, then edit. This is terrible advice. The more you slave over one idea, the harder it becomes to edit it. You become too attached, too close to the one concept - even if the concept itself is sub-par.
I suggest investing more time in coming up with the right idea/angle/approach. Write down 10 of these. Carefully choose your favourite. Then plan out your content carefully for your chosen idea. This will give you a solid base, and make editing far, far easier when the time comes.
2. Reveal it to the World
This can be a sobering experience. However, getting as many perspectives as possible on your writing can bring you back to reality. Nothing pops your bubble of creative delusion like a bit of objective feedback. Think about outsourcing a proofreader or copy-editor if you want to take it up a notch.
3. Weigh & Measure Your Idea
Write down guidelines for what you want your writing to achieve. E.g. desired tone, what benefits you want to communicate, and what actions you want the reader to take. Write these before starting on your content. Once complete, refer to these guidelines. Is your writing achieving all of these? No? Edit ruthlessly until it is. Yes? Good job!
Hopefully this writing tip has been of some use. Being objective with your writing is one of the most valuable skills you can have, regardless of what you're writing.
Daily Writing Tips is where I share my expertise on web writing, content strategy, online business, creativity, and more.