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Is Egocentric Copy Alienating Your Prospects?

woman lifting weights and looking in mirror
“Who writes the best copy? I write the best copy.” Image via pixabay.com

Do you know what the most common advice is for people trying to make new friends?

Stop talking about yourself and ask about the other person.

People love to talk about themselves, so by giving into the other person’s desire to do so, you come across as ultimately likeable.

Well guess what? The same is true of landing page copy.

It’s an all-too-common mistake that business owners and marketers make when crafting their own campaign landing pages. When tasked with making their online business stand out from the pack, they default to shouting their own virtues from the rooftops. They think that if consumers know all about how wonderful they are (or their product is), conversions will hop right into their lap.

But the harsh reality is your audience couldn’t care less.

Landing pages can be tricky. You need to be persuasive enough in a single page to convince the casual visitor to take action and convert. By simply talking yourself up, you’re missing the mark completely for one very important reason:

It’s not about you, it’s about your audience.

Just as you might be inclined to go on and on about how great your business is, your audience is only interested in how you can help them. It’s human nature — we are innately wired to be most concerned about number one.

In other words, to engage your audience and convince them to convert, you need to write copy that appeals to their own self interests. If you can’t do that effectively, your audience will likely seek a solution to their problem elsewhere.

Let’s explore a few different types of self-indulgent copy — mistakes you may not even realize you’re making — and how you can do better.

Signs of ego-driven copy

Landing page copy should be written with one goal in mind: To convince visitors to convert. If you go into it with any other motivations, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

When it comes to egocentric landing page copy, there are two distinct varieties: author-centric copy and company-centric copy. Let’s dig into both.

1. Author-centric copy

Author-centric copy can creep up when the copywriter is more interested in showing off their writing talents than writing persuasive copy designed for conversions.

You may be a prolific writer with an Ivy League vocabulary and a style all your own. But once you start writing to impress, rather than to persuade, you have already lost a large chunk of your audience. Some may not understand your word choices, but the bigger problem is that you are missing the point of landing page copy to begin with.

Note the example below. HLT is an online learning platform. After careful consideration, I figured out that this landing page is meant for it’s partner program, but it’s still hard to know what that entails or what the benefits are. The author of this copy seems to be more concerned with setting a tone than with enticing a conversion.

landing page screenshot

Take the headline for example: “Embracing the Mobile Mind Shift.”

Do you have any idea what this means? Does it entice you to fill out the form next to it? Not at all.

It might be thought provoking, it doesn’t make for a very enticing headline. It doesn’t make it crystal clear what you’re going to get by filling out the form, which is a missed opportunity.

While there is certainly a time and place to win readers over with your thoughtful prose and witticisms, a tightly honed landing page isn’t it. Copy containing overly flowery or clichéd language may make the writer feel good about his or her abilities, but it does very little to make potential partners feel confident that their pains are understood (or that they’ll be addressed).

2. Company-centric copy

This is a much more common form of landing page narcissism that can destroy your conversions. Consider the headline in the following example from Co-Construct, the self-proclaimed “#1 Highest Rated Remodel and Custom Home Building Software.”

company-centric landing page

Everybody is looking for “#1,” so what’s wrong with this? The problem is with what’s missing:

  1. Why is it rated the best? Who rated it number one?
  2. What’s the unique value proposition? What can this software uniquely offer me that its competitors can’t?
  3. What specific concerns, pain points or fears does it address?
  4. How will this particular software benefit me? How will it make my life easier?

By simply speaking to how great your company, product or service is, you’re missing a huge opportunity to convey what your prospect will get out of the deal.

Never mistake your own enthusiasm for what will motivate your customers.

How to turn it around

So now that we know some of the more common mistakes, how do we turn the mirror away from ourselves and toward our audience?

Turn your brags into benefits

When it comes to persuasive landing page copy, it’s all about consumer benefits. So you must ask yourself: “How will my offering benefit my target customer?”

Start with what you already have. Go through your existing copy, and every time you see a braggy statement about your business, rework it so it concretely addresses a validated pain point with a benefit. For example:

“#1 Highest Rated Remodel and Custom Home Building Software” becomes “Complete Your Home Remodel Faster & Under Budget.”

Addressing the pains your product or service alleviates and offering concrete solutions is incredibly effective in landing page copy. Chances are, your current landing page partially addresses these elements, but it’s up to you to polish each point to make them overtly obvious and benefit-driven.

Lyft is an on-demand car service currently in hard-core recruitment mode for drivers. Their driver-targeting campaign does a great job of using two separate benefits in one succinct headline:

lyft landing page
Lyft’s driver campaign combines two benefits into one super compelling headline.

Final thoughts

One of the most fundamental principles of winning people over is to stop talking about yourself, and ask about them. It is incredibly effective when it comes to making friends, and the same is true when trying to maximize online conversions.

By simply asking, “What worries my customers?” or “How will my product help them?” you will be in the right frame of mind to craft much more persuasive copy.

When you put your own ego on the shelf and start speaking to your ideal customer’s self interests, you can expect to see your conversions take off like crazy. Which is, ironically, a nice little ego boost.


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About Wes McDowell
Wes McDowell is the creative director for The Deep End, a website design agency in Chicago. He loves keeping current on everything related to web design, marketing, and branding. In addition to helping clients achieve their online goals, Wes co-hosts a design-related podcast, and blogs for the design and marketing industries.
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Comments:

  1. Carlos Aguilar

    This was my nightcap article from Feedly. Had to come here and leave my 2 cents.

    I once read that when writing persuasive/converting copy we should write it as so each person that reads it identifies with it.

    We AB test a rehab landing page. The main CTA button where:

    A) Get help today
    B) Save your love one

    Both CTA where persuasive. But B was more compelling because addicts are never the ones that “want help” instead is someone that “wants to help” them, the people that are looking for answers.

    One really small change made a big difference in conversions.

    Goodnight people.

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    • Wes McDowell

      Very true Carlos! So the moral is, it shouldn’t be written for everyone who reads it to identify with it, (because you can’t ever be persuasive when targeting EVERYONE.) So instead, figure out who your #1 customer is, and write to THEM. This is where personas come in handy, and allow you to speak specifically to the people that you are targeting.

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  2. Steve Palmer

    We have all this technology available to us to create beautiful landing pages and yet we forget the most important aspect of a page, how to influence people.
    This subject has been around for 1000’s of years but no one really teaches it, very few understand it and not many apply it to their landing pages.

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  3. hunterlee

    The information of this article is really useful for me. I liked it reading.

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  4. Patrick Mahinge

    This is a great article, Wes. So many times, brands are concerned with speaking about themselves, completely forgetting it is not about them; it is about the prospect.

    I have found myself in falling for the mistake now and then… which is why it is important to constantly revisit landing pages and try to look at them from the prospect’s eye.

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  5. Corey Zeimen

    How true can a simple lander with a killer headline can be all it takes to make a good ROI on a campaign or vise versa…

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  6. Ingrid Cliff

    Definitely agree with this one Wes! Most of my new small business clients with existing sites have me-centric web content. They are justifiably proud of their businesses but struggle with thinking about what they are saying from a client’s perspective. The penny drops when I explain that they currently sound like that annoying braggart at a party that only talks about themselves and their achievements. No-one wants to be the person people avoid.

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  7. Rita Ritvin

    Wow. Great article! I have been struggling with some of these, and it’s a great and clear way to present the solutions. Can’t wait to read more stuff by you.

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