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Landing Page Copywriting Secrets the Pros Never Share

break-the-bank-650
You don’t need to break the bank to write a landing page that converts. Image via 401k Calculator.
PSST: This post was written by Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing, Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger, Amy Harrison of HarrisonAmy.com and Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers. You can see all four of them speak on a copywriting panel at the Call to Action Conference in September – so get your early bird tickets now.

If you could hire four top copywriters to write your landing page, what would they do for you?

What are the tricks they’d use to engage more visitors… and get them to convert?

To find out, you could shell out well over $1000/hr and get the likes of Henneke Duistermaat, Demian Farnworth, Amy Harrison and Joanna Wiebe to work on your landing page.

That’d be money well spent, BTW.

Or you could study every word written below… fo’ free.

Sound like a good deal? Read on for a roundup of copywriting formulas, tricks and cheats – courtesy of the pros.

Start by planning your visitor’s journey (Henneke Duistermaat)

Imagine having to drive from Amsterdam to… somewhere.

How do you plan your trip?

You can’t, right?

You need to know your destination first.

Writing landing pages is much the same. Without knowing your goal, you can’t plan your landing page. Options for goals include:

  • Learn more
  • Join now
  • Start a free trial
  • Download a report
  • Buy now

Just like on a trip, visitors travel through your landing page towards a destination (your goal).

And the length of your landing page depends on your conversion goal.

A landing page for a free report is typically shorter than a landing page to buy a complicated or expensive product.

Remove all roadblocks

You’ve left home and connected your phone so you can listen to the latest Call to Action podcasts. You’re on your way. Yay!

…But before you’ve even left the country, you hit a traffic jam. Sigh. You know this will be a long trip, but you have to keep driving.

Your visitors are less patient. When they face too many traffic jams on your landing page journey, they might click away – and you could lose them forever.

So, as you prepare to write, keep this in mind: you must remove all road blocks and make your visitor’s journey smooth to improve conversions.

Think about your potential customers. Which obstacles could prevent them from reaching their destination (clicking your call to action)? How can you help them jump over those hurdles? Here’s how:

  • Answer any objections they might have
  • Put the most important information first
  • Chop redundant information
  • Remove irrelevant links (or links not connected to the page goal)
  • Keep your text to-the-point, remove jargon and slaughter marketing speak
  • Make each testimonial relevant
  • Improve readability with a large font and short paragraphs

To get visitors to your desired destination, ensure they know how sunny that destination is. How will your product or service improve their lives?

Use an Impact Table to cover all your bases (Amy Harrison)

amy-harrison-headshotYou’re a smart marketer, and I’m willing to wager my favorite cowboys boots that you can relate to this:

  • I want to write copy that stands out and gets the attention of my perfect customer
  • I’m pretty insanely busy

If only there were a way to remove just a little of the blood, sweat and tears from writing compelling copy…

Fortunately, there is a tool that provides a shortcut to killer copy.

I call it the Impact Table.

An Impact Table gives you an at-a-glance view of the transformation you provide to customers – while showing how you do it.

The results? Compelling copy that doesn’t sound like hype.

You can build one in three very simple steps…

Step 1: The good ‘ol list of features

Take a sheet of paper and draw up three columns with the headings:

  • Features
  • Results/Impact
  • Emotion

The first column includes any hard facts about your service or product: what it looks like, how you use it and how it’s delivered.

List as many (ideally all) features that relate to your product.

Let’s say you offer a six-month intensive training program to small business owners.

Some features may include:

Feature Results/Impact Emotion
A clear business plan within the first week
1:1 mentoring with an consultant who has 20 years experience and worked with businesses in more than 40 industries.
Developing a marketing strategy that’s easy to implement as one person

Next up, you want to:

Step 2: Write down the results/impact of each feature

As you know, features don’t exist for the sake of it. Every feature of your product or service is working hard in some way to wow your customer.

Now is when we pin down the wow.

So for each feature, think about:

  • How does this help solve their problem?
  • How can this make the service more enjoyable, easy or fun?
  • How can this help them save time or money?

For example:

Feature Results/Impact Emotion
A comprehensive, tailored business plan within the first week A clearer vision of the future: knowing exactly what they should be working on day to day to get results
1:1 mentoring with an consultant who has 20 years experience and worked with businesses in more than 40 industries. Ability to ask questions and get tailored answers – saves time and avoids dead ends from wrong advice
Developing a marketing strategy that’s easy to implement as one person Ability to attract more leads and convert clients on a consistent basis

Finally, we need to…

Step 3: Dig into the emotions

How is your customer feeling after experiencing the impact of what you do for them?

For example:

Feature Results/Impact Emotion
A clear business plan within the first week A clearer vision of the future: knowing exactly what they should be working on day to day to get results More focused, less overwhelmed, more enthusiasm
1:1 mentoring with an consultant who has 20 years experience and worked with businesses in more than 40 industries. Ability to ask questions and get tailored answers – saves time and avoids dead ends from wrong advice More confident, reassured
Developing a marketing strategy that’s easy to implement as one person Ability to attract more leads and convert clients on a consistent basis In control, less stressed, ambitious

Using your Impact Table

Now you have a number of key phrases that you can pretty much plug in directly to your copy.

When you include details from all three columns, you create an attractive promise with credibility.

For example:

You’ll leave the course with a clear business plan within the first week. (Feature) This cuts through the overwhelm (Emotion) and gives you a clearer vision for your business (Results/Impact). You’ll know what you should be working on and when, and what efforts are most likely to generate more sales and increased income (Results/Impact). This alone can help capture the enthusiasm you felt (Emotion) when you first started out.

This combination of features, results and emotion is key.

  • If you only focus on emotion, your writing will sound wishy washy.
  • If you only focus on results, you can draw scepticism from customers who think “sounds great but how can they possibly achieve that?”
  • If you only focus on features, your writing will sound dry and you’ll struggle to make an emotional connection with your customers.

Using the Impact Table lets you combine all three to achieve the Goldilocks level of “just right.”

Identify a problem, agitate it, then solve it (Demian Farnworth)

demian-farnworth-headshot

One of my first jobs out of college – with an English Lit degree freshly minted under my belt – was to write descriptions for a world-famous televangelist’s product sleeves.

This was my first real job as a copywriter, so, naturally, I thought I knew it all.

But I knew nothing.

Given that the televangelist covered a lot of material, I needed a way to compress everything into a compelling, sticky little message. I had limited space. I had limited time. (I had poems to write.) So I did what every self-respecting copy cub would do: I dialed into AOL.

Typing in “write copy fast” and “faster copy” didn’t amount to much as I rummaged through the search listings. But as all things happen online, even in the dial-into-AOL days, one thing led to another… and I found myself pillaging some direct-response copywriter’s email newsletter archive.

It was exhausting, fascinating work. But a few hours into it I found the prize:

The problem-agitate-solve (PAS) formula

The formula works like this:

  • Identify a problem
  • Agitate that problem
  • Trot out the solution

Once I’d internalized the concept, I decided to experiment with the copy from the televangelist.

Here’s how one of my early attempts looked:

Insecure? (Identify.) You’re not alone. Millions of people admit to being insecure. Yet, remain that way and you’ll live a life in the shadows. A life on the fringe. Always wishing, never doing. (Agitate.) Fortunately, there’s an answer. (Solve.)

Then I’d introduce the televangelist’s teaching for that tape, which was the solution.

Worked like a charm.

Naturally, you’ll figure out ways to add variety. Otherwise the formula will get stale and you’ll get predictable. One way to add variety is to ask a number of questions (instead of just one):

Disappointed with your job? Hate your manager? Coworkers annoy you? Love to work for yourself? You’re not alone.

And so on.

Keep in mind: this formula works equally well for long-form copy. In fact, most successful sales letters use the PAS formula in some ways (even loosely).

So here’s my challenge to you: keep your eyes open for the PAS formula in action.

Make every message better with “So what?” and “Prove it!” (Joanna Wiebe)

joanna-wiebe1

It’s a universally-acknowledged truth that a prospect in want of your solution is going to have a damn hard time believing your copy.

See, the biggest problem with marketing copy is this: it’s written by the very people who want to sell what’s being sold. It’s not objective. So, in your prospects’ eyes, your copy is unlikely to give a balanced view of the product or service under consideration.

The result?

Prospects are always-already in a state of suspended disbelief when they read our words. They’re suspicious. They’re watching for gotchas. They, quite simply, don’t believe you.

Expect that to always be true.

Repeat after me:

My visitor doesn’t believe me.

Once we realize that that’s true, we can improve our copy to make every message far more believable.

Here’s how: whenever we write a message, we assess it using the following two questions.

  1. Is it clear what the value or outcome of this is for my prospect, and
  2. Have I proven it to be true?

Essentially: So what? And prove it.

Let’s say you’re selling at-home teeth whitening kits and you’re writing a lead gen page for a free ebook on DIY tooth whitening. You want to tell prospects that your free ebook will teach prospects the easy path to whiter teeth at home. You need to support that message with:

  1. So what: You won’t have to waste 20 minutes painstakingly brushing on peroxide one tooth at a time.
  2. Prove it: A testimonial that speaks to the promised easy path one will learn about.

You could even merge the two. Use a testimonial (prove it) that is about your outcome (so what):

I used to waste at least 20 mins painting each tooth with peroxide (one by one!) and worrying the whole time that I’d bleach my gums. But this one tip you gave – I think it was on page 7 – showed me what I was doing wrong… and how to fix it fast.
– Tess T. Monial

Let’s look at a real-life example.

So you’re selling insurance and this is your landing page:

kanetix-lp
Yes, that’s the whole thing.

Your lead message is “Compare life insurance quotes.”

That’s what you want people to do. You believe that is what people want to do.

Now let’s see if you’re making that message desirable and believable by assessing it against “So what?” and “Prove it.”

It may seem that “Get quotes fast” addresses the so what… but it’s actually just another layer of messaging that needs support. In fact, in its current state, this copy doesn’t express why the visitor should care or believe you.

So here’s what we do to make this copy work. We fill in a table like so (copywriters love tables):

So what? Prove it.
Compare life insurance quotes. You’ll instantly get the best prices – and waste absolutely no time hunting down great rates. Here’s a preview of the at-a-glance comparisons you can expect to see in less than a minute:
Get quotes from top providers in less than 60 seconds. If you looked for quotes from just 10 providers – a fraction of what we’ll give you – it could cost you more than an hour of your time. Average time to retrieve quotes from 5 providers: 48 seconds.
Now offering quotes from {names of top providers}.

Add those messages to the page. And now you’ve got copy that your prospects are more likely to believe and an offer that is far more desirable.

Your page gets longer, yes.

But the messages work harder – so the extra words are worth it.

Every word counts

Don’t underestimate the power of any line of copy on your page.

As you’ve now seen, there’s a lot you can do to optimize your copy.

We’re not promising better copy in 20 minutes or less – this isn’t pizza, after all. It’s your online business.

If you follow the tips outlined above for each page you write, your business is sure to see the kinds of results our clients see.


About Joanna Wiebe
Joanna Wiebe is a conversion-focused copywriter and the founder of Copy Hackers, where startups learn to write copy. Sign up for her free weekly newsletter and follow her on Twitter.
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Comments:

  1. Yann

    The content lived up to the title, thanks a lot for these useful methods!

    (1)
    Reply
  2. David

    Very nice, thank you Henneke, Amy, Joanna & Demian.

    In how far would ‘get to know your audience’ be a step before all that happens what you suggest above? Creating an ‘avatar’ of the person that you are addressing is massively important, right?

    Regards from sunny Greece
    David

    (0)
    Reply
  3. sultana

    The Innovation in Paid-to-Click Services. We are experts at providing new business solutions in a win-win environment. We specialize in incentivized traffic being the worldwide most used and reliable paid-to-click service.

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  4. Aurelie Chazal

    Wow such an incredible panel of experts, and even more incredible pieces of advice!

    I particularly love the “So What” “Prove It” method from Joanna. It’s so simple and yet so effective. Just asked the two questions looking at own landing page and yup we need to answer that.

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    Reply
  5. Sow Behl

    Gold. pure gold. And I haven’t even finished reading the whole thing yet. I’ll be reading this insanely.

    (0)
    Reply
  6. Rudi

    Excellent content! Thanks to all contributors! Can’t wait to edit our landing page copy…

    (0)
    Reply
  7. Joe

    The page lives up to it’s billing. My question is do any of these formulas work better on mobile or desktop pages? I am sure that extensive testing of these tactics/tips/tricks what have you has been studied… could you share some data?

    (0)
    Reply
  8. Claire

    Thank you so much for this valuable content! What a share. Much appreciated (and distributed…!)

    (0)
    Reply
  9. Marlene McPherson

    This is a great post! It is practical and applicable to more than one situation. Thank you all for this expert knowledge.

    (0)
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  10. Dedi Info

    Very long article, but I must read all if this article :D

    (0)
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  11. Al Gomez

    Best takeaway of this article? The Impact Table. For our copy, we always used the Problem-Agitate-Solve solution. It worked most of the time, but now we want something better. And the Impact Table is the answer. Thanks, Joanna!

    (0)
    Reply
  12. Cornel Ilea

    So, we can sum up everything in one framework:

    1. Identify
    2. Agitate
    3. Solve / Feature
    4. So What? / Results / Impact
    5. Emotions
    6. Prove It!

    Maybe you can’t use all at once, but … is interesting to see all tips in one place.

    Regards,
    Cornel

    (0)
    Reply
  13. Lee

    Brilliant article. Really useful frameworks to use.

    (0)
    Reply
  14. Josh Escusa

    Great tips. I found that you can improve conversions by also highlighting each step. Basically, I started adding borders to section each part off and that makes it much more reader friendly for people. Without the borders I noticed that people don’t stay as long and they tend to skim through the page.

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    • Cornel Ilea

      Hi Josh,

      That’s really interesting, I have seen the same thing on app form, but I never thought user behave the same way with content.

      Cornel

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      Reply
  15. Syed

    Very Nice Picks ! Thanks for sharing !

    (0)
    Reply
  16. Erin Verbeck

    As always, great tips for putting yourself in the right place when you are writing. My favorite tip: So what? They already don’t believe you when they come to your page. We usually, as marketers, assume that people come over happy and wanting to be sold to. That simply isn’t the case. Thank you for putting this together.

    (0)
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  17. Andres

    Love this blog! it’s full of great, practical ideas :)

    (0)
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  18. Muddser

    Very Good informations

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  19. Amithab

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  20. Stacey Way

    I like the idea of using an impact table (Feature… Results/ Impact… Emotion) and the concept of identifying prospect problems, agitating them, then offering a solution.

    (0)
    Reply
  21. Pim

    First of to all, very nice article with good advice.

    @Demian: What do you mean with “agitate the problem”. I’m not a native English speaker. And translating the word to my language doesn’t light things up.

    Could you please explain it a little bit more so I can understand the whole formula.

    Thanks a lot,

    Pim

    (0)
    Reply
  22. Rich Page

    Wow – fantastic ideas guys! I particularly liked the impact table, and the ‘so what, prove it’ idea. I’m going to use both of those for my clients! Thanks…

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  24. Jen Epstein

    Great post and I especially like Amy’s reference to the emotional benefit, which is tremendously powerful but is often left out of marketing as most landing pages talk about the product, feature/functionality and its benefits. We recently created an infographic highlighting 40 emotions that trigger a purchase, which might be helpful as you brainstorm what positive emotions are associated with your product/service (http://mygrowthadvisor.com/moresales2/)

    (0)
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  25. Phil

    What a great insight. The impact table look like a great tool to use with clients. Really enjoyed the post.

    (0)
    Reply
  26. Deoflecken

    Impressive article, helped me a lot! Thanks for posting!

    (0)
    Reply
  27. Olga Scott

    Joanna,
    Go Girl! Incredible article, I am going to post a link from my facebook page to this, it’s the least I can do for your hard work on this. I am also now following you on Twitter, keep it up girl:)

    (0)
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  28. Keith Patrick

    As a DUI attorney, I don’t have the time to find out what all I need to do for my sites. Love the info you have put together. I am having my secretary rewrite parts of our 2 sites because of your article, thanks Joanna.

    (0)
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  29. Cathy Goodwin

    These copywriters are rare – they not only write copy – they teach copywriting tips too. As a copywriter myself, I continue to learn from them … and also how to teach my own clients. The Impact Table is a gem: takes the basics every copywriter learns and makes them easier to implement as well as memorable. I’ve used the “so what” and “so what and prove it” gives you a double whammy. And Henneke’s tips on removing roadblocks should be engraved on everyone’s computer. I’ve found myself begging my clients to please, please take away the quotes from famous people who are remotely connected to the offers!

    Great idea to bring these copywriters together.

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