On copy writing and landing pages

Recently I was tasked to create a landing page for a product, it’s easy to be tempted into diving right in since it’s only a bunch of pages, but it’s better to be orderly. So, out from my head and into paper: I produced a simple set of guidelines to follow.

On copy writing and landing pages

There’s a lot of relevant reading that can be found all throughout the internet regarding good copy writing for a landing page. A good landing page that converts visitors into something more has two essential elements: good copy writing aided by good design.

The Landing Page

By definition: what is a landing page?

A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result (3).

Basically it’s a “sales lead” page. The single goal of a landing page is to provide visitors with just enough content to get them highly interested in acquiring your services. This content is known as “copy” in marketing terms; text that is designed for direct-response advertising, text that is specifically structured to sell your product. Writing “copy”, or “copy writing” has it’s own techniques and quirks.

Important note: there are two types of landing pages: the “reference landing page” and the “transactional landing page”.

A “reference landing page” or a “product page”, (4) is a page that is relevant to the visitor. It usually contains information about the product and other details that the visitor is purposefully looking for. Unlike the “transactional landing page” (which a lot of people have just simply called it “landing page”), it is not specifically designed to capture sales and persuade people into taking action. A product page might have actions that can lead up to capturing sales, however, it’s sole purpose is to provide further information.

You can also write a product page with copy in such a way that the page can capture sales. Many successful product pages apply this: www.stripe.com, www.dropbox.com, www.trello.com, etc.

Copy versus Design

Great copy is always more important than great design. Filling up the ‘lorem ipsums’ of a polished HTML template after you write your content is not advisable (7). The purpose of the design in a landing page is to visually aid your visitor on the copy. The design alone will not prompt your visitors to take action. Open up a text editor, type up the copy and exchange it with your teammates. After polishing your copy, then you make it flow with the elements on your wireframe.

Practical tips on copy writing

  1. As much as possible avoid using “We”, use more of “You” and “Your” - Visitors don’t care about who you are, how big your company is and what you can do. Visitors care when your tone on the copy focuses on them, on their current problems and how you can help them. Scientifically, “You” is a power word. The usage of “You” in copy is highly recommended, along with “Free”, “Because”, “Instantly” and “New” (6)
  2. Headlines - A very crucial element of the landing page, in fact it is the most powerful element in a landing page. Make your headlines speak to a pain your visitors have, the rest of the copy should follow easily.
  3. Persuade, don’t attack - “Your business is losing revenue – ” How does that feel? It feels condescending. Don’t attack the visitors. Persuade your visitors and empathize with them, don’t tell them that what they’re currently doing or their current workflow is wrong. Instead, emphasize on the pain of their current workflow and how your product addresses these frustrations. (7)
  4. Verbs are more powerful than adjectives - Write action-oriented sentences instead of “description-oriented” sentences. Unless you’re building a product page (a page to describe your product), your visitors don’t care if “YourApp is smart, intelligent and beautiful”. On the other hand they do care if your product “delivers”, “produces”, and “examines” for them.
  5. Check your grammar - Anyone can get turned off by sloppy grammar. You’re writing about a serious matter, it’s on the subject of getting their money and attention. Check your grammar twice, make it clear and concise.
  6. Show, don’t tell - Don’t tell them that they’re frustrated with their current workflow, show them how their current workflow creates frustration. (7)
  7. Check the flow - It’s generally a bad idea to chunk up ideas in one paragraph and jump to a totally different subject on the other. Stop writing in paragraphs, start writing in narratives. The entire landing page should be a single narrative.

Practical tips on designing a landing page (4)

  1. Place compelling content above the fold - Users spend 80% of the time above the fold, it means they rarely scroll down (1). If a visitor scrolls down, most of the time they just skim past by the content. “Above the fold” is a specific margin on the web browser, around 570px to 600px. (2)
  2. Avoid bombarding it with links - The focus of the page is to get someone to take action. Avoid distracting your visitors by deliberately providing options for them to wander around. Get them oriented and focused on your copy. Go easy on the links.
  3. Page optimization - Sometimes sales may come from inside large megacorps that have slow internet due to bandwidth issues. Optimize page loading times, they just stumbled upon it, make sure it loads smoothly and quickly.
  4. Design 'obviously’ and keep it simple - Make your call to action button clearly visible, and clearly clickable. Use a one-column format with proper typography and use of white space to increase readability. Avoid inserting “additional stuff” and using multi-columned paragraphs. Don’t group up paragraphs, break them down. Format your layout to use the F-pattern (5). Make it a priority to think of the flow of your layout, is it properly “aiding” the visitor through the copy? Making it pretty should be the second thing in mind.
  5. Consistently use the same color palette and visual elements - Don’t place random images and clip art, make everything consistent from the margins and line-heights to the tone of the images you use (flat or skeumorphic).
  6. Check your competition - Go through their landing page, keep notes on your frustrations with their UI flow (UX). Go back to your own design and compare.
  7. Keep your input forms simple and extremely usable - Never make your visitors feel like they’re filling up a government form. Just get the minimum amount of information.

Getting it right

The above material has worked for a lot of people, but to you it’ll just be assumptions and theories if it doesn’t get tested and applied - go and test your assumptions. Test the layout and test the copy. Validate it. Iterate the copy and layout until you get to a version where you are getting satisfactory results. No one gets it perfect the first time. You can easily test assumptions using A/B testing. use http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/ or https://www.optimizely.com/

That’s about it, here ends the summary of the guidelines I follow, it may differ on certain cases but at least I got it down on paper.