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Landing Page Copywriting Mistakes That Leave Your Visitors Confused and Frustrated

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Is your landing page copy sending mixed messages? Image by Alan Turkus via Flickr.

Keep ’em guessing.

It may work on a first date but it’s not a good tactic for your landing pages.

Why?

Because ambiguity in your copy can be a conversion killer.

Many marketers seem to have a difficult time writing copy that keys their prospects into exactly what they need to do. More often than not, that leaves them with landing page copy that keeps prospects guessing.

And guessing leads to confusion… which leads to frustration… which usually leads to a bounce.

Not sure if your landing page is riddled with less than straightforward copy? Worried that ambiguity is hurting your conversions? Here are a few common copywriting mistakes to avoid.

1. Not giving your visitors enough information to make a decision

How many times have you arrived on a landing page with an offer but struggled to find the price? You search and hunt… until you realize the person who created the landing page is going to make you click through to get it.

In this landing page for the Knoxville Bridal Show, we’re told that we can save $2 off tickets for a limited time. Sounds great… except we’re not told how much the tickets cost or how long “limited” really is.

bridal
If you’re selling something on your landing page, make your price front-and-center. Image source.

The page generates more questions than answers. We’re left wondering whether we really want to click that pink button when we have no idea what the price will be on the other side.

Solution: Give people known outcomes

Studies on ambiguity aversion have shown that people would rather choose an option with known outcomes over options with unknown outcomes. Even in situations where the probability of coming out ahead is higher but the risks are unknown, overwhelmingly people will opt for the “devil they know.”

The Ellsberg paradox demonstrates this aversion to assuming any risk that is difficult or impossible to calculate. In multiple experiments, individuals were asked to bet on the probability of picking a colored ball out of an urn.

One urn had 50 black balls and 50 white balls, while the other urn had 100 balls total, but the ratio of black to white was not disclosed. When told they could win $100 by picking a black ball, participants routinely chose the urn where they knew the ratio between the ball colors.

Since we know that ambiguity can wreak havoc with the choices people make, simply adding the ticket price above or below the button can help to reduce any anxiety about what’s on the other side of the click.

How you can apply this to your own landing pages

  • If you’re using “limited availability” urgency triggers, be specific about how long the limited availability lasts. Don’t leave people guessing – remember, people like to know their odds of having a positive outcome.
  • Test placing micro copy below the button that tells them what they can expect as soon as they move on to the next page. You may find that it makes them more likely to complete the desired action.

2. Sending prospects mixed messages

Sometimes we think we’re being clear in our writing when we’re actually doing the exact opposite. Have you ever been on a landing page that tells you one thing and then contradicts itself elsewhere on the page?

This guitar lesson landing page can’t seem to decide if it’s a sales page or a lead generation page:

basslessons
This landing page is having an identity crisis, and that’s not helping conversions. Image source.

The call to action tells us we’ll get a free lesson by giving our information. The bullet point copy talks about the paid course – then teases us with a free assessment.

Read the fine print after the asterisk and you realize the freebie assessment is part of the paid course. Suddenly, I’m confused… which means I start questioning what’s going to happen after I hit the orange button.

Not good. As Steve Krug, the web usability expert says, “Don’t make me think!” Now I’m thinking about hidden charges and if I really want that so called “free” bass lesson.

Solution: Create trust by sending a consistent message about your offer

Consumers are looking for reasons to trust you.  A 2012 global study from the Edelman Trust Barometer found that a whopping 90% of the 11,000 people they polled claimed they wanted companies to be as transparent as possible.

When your copy is presented in such a way that is contradictory or misleading, you’re giving your visitors a reason to think twice about taking you up on your offer… and trust in your message.

Bass Guitar Lesson’s landing page references way too many offers interchangeably (a free assessment, a paid course, and a free guitar lesson). To eliminate confusion, the copy should focus on the main goal of the page: telling the visitor why trading his email for a free guitar lesson is a no-brainer.

How you can apply this to your own landing pages

  • Make your landing page copy all about the offer on the page… not about something further in your sales funnel.
  • Choose one goal for your landing page and make sure all your copy supports it. When you focus on one goal, visitors are less likely to feel confused or misled.

The upshot of being crystal clear about your offer? If your visitors have confidence in getting something free from you, purchasing down the road won’t feel like such an insurmountable hurdle.

3. Writing copy that leaves visitors wondering where the H-E-double hockey stick they’ve landed

As Oli Gardner has talked about multiple times, your landing page must have good message match with the ad sending traffic to it. Here’s how he defines message match:

Think expectations and meeting them. Your goal is to make the experience seamless from one page to the next so that there’s no confusion as to whether or not your prospect has ended up where they wanted to go.

Check out this ad from Expertmarket.us:

googlead gps

Much like any other PPC ad you’d find on Google, it leads with keywords people will be searching for, along with copy letting prospects know what they will find after they click – in this case, a variety of pricing packages and a comparison of competitor deals.

But click on that ad and this is where you end up:

gpstracking2
There’s a clear disconnect between the above ad and its landing page. Image Source.

With Expert Market’s landing page, the first thing that draws the eye is the moving block that says, “Packages from $99” (yes, it moves on the live page.) There’s no discernible headline – only what’s in the call to action box.

What’s worse, the ad headline “Top 5 GPS tracking systems” is subordinated to the middle bullet point. It’s not even the first one.

Plus, the landing page uses “tracking systems” and “tracking prices” interchangeably. In the bullet points, it tells us we’ll get quotes, but in the button we’re told to compare prices.

We’re left wondering if this is where we really want to be and if the solution will give us what we need.

Solution: Keep language consistent to assure prospects they’re in the right place

For the Expert Market landing page, I’d recommend creating a headline that uses the same language as the ad to indicate to prospects that they’re in the right place. Because it’s so clear, the second bullet point would make a great headline:

Get quotes for the top 5 GPS tracking systems

To continue with the seamless experience, I’d change the sub-headline and button copy in the CTA box to reflect the action in the headline. For example, a sub-headline of, “Get quotes with packages from $99” with a CTA button that reads, “Show me quotes now.”

How you can apply this to your own landing pages

  • Start by creating message match between the headlines on your ad and landing page.
  • Keep actions consistent throughout the copy on your landing page. If your headline tells people they will be getting quotes, then your call to action should do the same.
  • Use button copy verbiage that doesn’t imply work on the part of the visitor (eg. “Show me quotes now” instead of “Compare prices”).

When in doubt, ask yourself…

Not sure if your landing page is playing a guessing game with your visitors?

Try this. With each copy element on the page, ask yourself:

Can absolutely anyone coming to the page understand exactly what this means?

You’re offering a “Free Demo.” Great… but will your average prospect know that it’s an online video demo and not an in-person demo? It may seem obvious to you. Your prospect may disagree.

It’s these small details that can mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce. How much is it worth to your business to test and find out?

— Jen Havice


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About Jen Havice
Jen Havice is a conversion copywriter at Make Mention. She’s a firm believer that data-driven research combined with a brand’s personality can make copywriting magic. You can find her on Twitter @jenhavice and her latest gig: The Conversion Class.
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  • Thanks Jen for this informative blog article. It’s topical to a landing page project I’m working on today. When in doubt, I try to keep things simple and transparent … and I try to put myself in the mind of the user or prospective customer. Thanks again!

    • Jen

      You’re very welcome! So glad it’s come in useful for you right now. You’re doing the right things. Start with what your customer wants and needs and work out from there.

  • Thanks for covering another of The Pink Bride’s dedicated landing pages. I’m happy to say that the new design we’ve been working on for the past few weeks not only looks different, but does in fact include price and “limited-time” dates for better clarity and user experience.

    • Jen

      Terrific! Please, please let us know how it does and if the addition of those elements helps with a lift.

  • Daniel

    This is very helpful. I ran a recent Facebook ads campaign going to a landing page and I can see where I made a few of these mistakes. It explains why my conversions were so low. I’m going to revamp the landing page and make some alternate versions that match the ad copy and see if I can increase those conversions!

    • Jen

      Awesome! Please let us know what happens after you make the changes. I’d love to do a follow up post highlighting what happens. Keeping my fingers crossed you get a lift.

  • Mac

    Newly presented ideas. Great points Jen! We can’t allow bounce rates to overflow in our marketing so there should be a way to avoid it. And surely, the content is one great thing to consider. I totally agree with point #2. There are many businesses which think they’re baiting (literally) fishes. Customers can tell whether or not, you are a credible source of their needs. Confuse them and you’ll get a sea of bounces. Glad I’ve read this.

    • Jen

      Hey Mac
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Baiting like a fish – love it. And, you’re right. Most of the time I don’t think people realize they’re doing it. They think they’re being clear when they aren’t. That’s why I also go through my copy and make sure it’s obvious to my readers.

  • Jas

    Whats your general approach to testing copy? Use something like optimizely to test a single word, or change the whole message and just measure conversions? How do you single out copy as the key factor?

    • Jen

      The best approach is to do some qualitative research, i.e. customer surveys, look at reviews of comparable products services on places like Amazon, Yelp, etc. Then, pick out the key messages and test if you have enough traffic. In the above cases, we’re talking about some basic issues with clarity. These are things worth exploring and possibly changing to see if it helps with conversion rates whether or not there’s enough traffic for A/B testing or not. If you’re using Unbounce, they have A/B testing baked right in. Otherwise, you can use something like Optimizely or VWO.

  • Hi Jen,
    Thanks for a great article. I hope I don’t make too many of these mistakes but I’ll bookmark the page just in case and go through it next time I write a landing page!
    Thanks again : )
    Sally.

    • Jen

      Thank you for commenting! Just remember what works for one page doesn’t necessarily work the best for another. These are simply some places for possible improvement and things to think about. Good luck with your pages and let us know how you do.

  • Well, you have some solid points here. Thank you. My only follow-up question would be: Should I go for long copy, short copy, or just as long enough to make the message go through?

  • Many thanks. I’ve been in search of this data. Superb information and facts I will be back to get specifics of web design must have.

  • Shanda Henley

    Jen – I’m so glad to have run across your article. I’m a new entrepreneur working on website layout, copywriting, and such for my business and this article is so timely. Thank you!

    • Jen

      Shanda! Terrific that you found this helpful. Right now I’m working on an ebook about how to put together the most important pages of your website. It’s going to be mostly geared towards creatives but will have good info for everyone with a site. Stay tuned.

  • What are peoples view on form submission data and required fields?

    I have a client who wants 6 fields of data (email, name, phone number, postcode of event, date of event, message info) all required from the user in order to submit the form.

    They are useful fields but I feel it’s too much to request in the first instance. Surely 2 or 3 fields max and the rest can be discussed via email or phone?

    We 100% require an email address but I personally feel asking for email and phone can put people off. I often don’t want to give out my phone number on the first contact.

    What are your thoughts?

    • Jen

      I would definitely suggest testing out a shorter form or having a 2-step form where you get people going with name and email address then send them to the next page where you ask them for additional information.

      If your client won’t budge on the number of form fields then make sure you’ve added some micro copy around the field letting people know why it’s necessary to get the information. This can alleviate some of the friction.

      Here’s a post I wrote that addresses this:
      http://makementionmedia.com/call-action-copy-isnt-converting/