Is Your Landing Page Suffering from Bad Copy? Here’s How to Fix It

doogie-howser
These pages suffer from a case of bad copy. Here’s what the doctor ordered. Image source.

Copy is the lifeblood of your landing page.

You can pour your heart and soul into the design of a page, but if your headline is boring or your body copy is irrelevant, it’ll all be in vain.

Copy is so important that even minor changes (like changes to to a single word) can make a big difference when it comes to your conversion rates…

Not to mention your bottom line.

Yet with tight deadlines and disjointed teams, the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing. And very often landing landing page copy isn’t succinct.

Let’s take a look at 10 landing pages that suffer from a case of bad copy. Then, lets see what could be done to tighten up the pages… and hopefully convert more traffic.

1. Bizness Apps

bizness-apps

This headline actually hurts my brain

I can see that it’s free, but I’m not entirely sure what “it” is. This headline tells me nothing about the problem that the offer will solve – not to mention the awkward grammar.

On top of that, the sub-headline has call information in it. Make up your mind and choose whether you want the visitor to call or if you’d like them to fill out the form, then focus on that.

Here’s a headline that focuses on the offer and orients the visitor quickly:

How to Build a Business Selling Mobile Apps
This free guide shows you how you can build your own local business selling apps

The body copy doesn’t add value

The body copy talks about what is included in Bizness’ main product rather than focusing on selling the offer on the page. Instead of a list of bullets far too long to read anyway, why not cement the offer with some social proof and a few short bullets about what visitors are going to learn from the guide?

2. Canadian Retail Solutions

canadian-retail-solutions

I almost fell asleep reading this headline…

The phrase, “Our solutions. Your success!” is like bad stock photography in copy form. It doesn’t mean anything to a visitor and certainly doesn’t add a lick of value.

This headline should be telling me that I’m in the right place. To do that, the headline needs to tell me what CRS is selling and demonstrate that they understand my motives for choosing a POS software solution.

Here’s an example:

Simple-To-Use Point of Sale Software
Powerful features and intuitive design let your staff focus more on customer service… and less on technology

Clean up the bullets and talk to the visitor directly

These bullets take a up a lot of space considering they basically say nothing. Since they are likely the second thing that a visitor will read after the headline, you should use them wisely!

Here’s an example:

  • Custom Point of Sale Solutions
    Let us build a solution for you that meets your needs and budget.
  • Track Just About Everything
    Stay on top of your numbers with just a few clicks.
  • Everything You Need In One Place
    Choosing a POS system can be daunting. We provide everything you need to get started in one convenient place.

TL;DR. Shorten up the testimonial

This testimonial could work, but it’s way too long. If you want a visitor to read the praise you’ve received, pull out the points that matter and punch up the size.

3. Friesenpress Publishing

friesenpress-publishing

Here’s a new one… a rotating headline

If the point of a landing page is to focus the visitor on one goal, then this one accomplishes the exact opposite with its rotating headline. The sad thing is not one of the headlines in rotation is very good.

Here’s the thing: The headline and copy need to tell the visitor what is being offered on the page. Quickly.

Ask yourself what the real goal of the guide is. It’s to teach the visitor how to self-publish in Canada without hassle, right? The other thing to take into account is that authors interested in this type of service are probably trying to realize a dream – one they’ve likely had for a long time.

With this in mind, let’s try a more customer-centric approach to this headline:

Realize Your Dreams: Learn to Self-Publish in Canada the Right Way

Simple but effective.

4. Gorilla Conferencing

gorilla-conferencing

Buy me a drink before you try to close the deal

The very top piece of copy on this page is telling me to select a rate plan. Care to buy me a drink first before trying to close the deal?

This page needs to focus on introducing me to the product and selling me on its merits before telling me that I need to sign up.

Something like this:

Advanced Audio Conferencing With Pay-As-You-Go Pricing

Oh, and exclamation points don’t make your argument more convincing. Use them sparingly… or better yet, not at all.

Consistency in copy goes a long way

Always make sure that you’re consistent in the way you spell words throughout your landing page. If you say “Pay-As-You-Go” in one place, then don’t spell it “Pay As You Go” (without the hyphens) elsewhere.

Consistency will help drive your point home through repetition. Being inconsistent works against you.

The large block of text at the top of the page is useless

I’m willing to bet that only a tiny percentage of visitors actually read the paragraph at the top of the page. Aside from being repetitive, the paragraph is too long and reading it feels like a chore.

Break up your paragraphs to make copy easy to scan. It will help you get your point across.

5. LinkedIn Sales Solutions

linkedin-sales-solutions

Finally, a benefit-driven headline! But…

…the sub-headlines are useless.

Why put in all that work grabbing my attention, just to squander it with a floating sentence like, “Request free demo?”

You need to tell me why I need to see the demo in the first place. To do that, LinkedIn needs to tie the benefits from the headline (higher quality sales leads and more pipeline) back to the offer.

Here’s an example:

Find Higher Quality Sales Leads and Generate More Pipeline
Watch a 5 minute demo and learn how LinkedIn can deliver better leads to you

Next, hammer the point home

Don’t stop there. In point form, tell me exactly what I’m going to learn in the demo. Like this:

In this quick demo you’ll learn:

  • How LinkedIn helps you find the right people in less time
  • Key insights and information about your leads not found in traditional lead gen
  • Easy ways to eliminate cold calling and pre-qualify leads

Pretty straightforward, right?

Seal the deal

This should go without saying, but can we please stop using “submit” for calls to action? That phrasing doesn’t exactly inspire any action from the visitor. How about something like this:

“Watch the Demo”

6. Minneapolis Media Institute

minneapolis-institute

Wait… are you selling houses?

How about some context? What is the open house that you’re holding, and why should I care about it?

The only reason I’d want to go to an open house is if I was interested in attending the school. So first sell me on the school, then sell me on the open house.

Here’s an example:

Get access to all the tools you need to launch your career

More inspiring, right?

The cart is pulling the horse

All of the body copy on this page is found below the form and the main image. The problem with this is that the body copy explains what I will get at the open house. In order for the page to flow logically, the copy should be moved up to the top of the page, under the headline.

Oh, and it would be nice to have at least one testimonial from a student who not only attended the school, but is also working in their chosen career.

7. Online Trading Academy

online-tradeing-academy

Am I signing up or am I searching for a class?

There is a disconnect between the headline and the form on the right. If I’m signing up for a class, why do I need to fill in my postal code? Am I signing up or searching for a class? Something feels off.

A better approach would be to first sell me on the class and then tell me that I can search for the nearest one. Which brings me to my next point…

Why do I want a free class?

You haven’t even told me yet what the class is about or how I will benefit from it. The leading headline should be something like this:

Learn the Art of Power Trading
Find a free workshop near you and discover how to build a successful trading plan that fits your life

Use testimonials that matter

These testimonials fall flat on their face because they are not specific. Powerful testimonials are examples of exactly how someone else benefitted from the class, not vague claims that “anybody can benefit.”

8. Savo Group

savo-group

You build me up just to shoot me down

Why yes, my reps have forgotten what they learned in training. Now what do I do?

If you use a question as a headline, you need to answer that question with an action for the visitor to take if they say yes.

Here’s an example:

Have Your Reps Forgotten What They Learned At Training?
Watch this 1 minute video to discover how SAVO can help your sales team drive more sales through continued online coaching

This technique will get your visitors moving in the right direction… if of course your question hits home with their needs.

9. Soffront

soffront

I think this headline takes the cake for worst of the bunch.

Which would you rather have: a piece of software that is “not complicated,” or a piece of software that is easy-to-use and time-saving?

Consider this instead:

Easy-To-Use Contact Management Tools
Build relationships. Save time. Make more sales.

The headline above is much more likely to resonate with leads who have experienced the chronic pain that the service solves.

Be clear, not clever

Statements like “See us in action” don’t add value to the page. What does that even mean? Even something more specific like “See Soffront in action” would be terrible.

The whole reason why a visitor would want to “see it in action” is to gain some sort of benefit. So why not lay out that benefit in plain terms:

Watch our free demo and see just how easy your workflow can be

Are you selling a demo, or a solution?

The title of the opt-in form box is, “See a demo.” You sure sold me there!

Instead of completely wasting this space, try a title that ties in a benefit while dispelling any objections (like a long demo done by an annoying sales rep). How’s this:

View the 5 minute demo instantly and see how Soffront works

Submit?

… ‘nuff said.

10. Sungard

sungard

Don’t use acronyms in your headline copy

Don’t take for granted that all visitors will know your jargon. Instead, spell everything out as if you were explaining it to someone at a party.

Also, the way this headline is written is pretty dull. Try to use direct words that have a deciding action associated with them. Instead of “look for” we can use “choose.”

Here’s an example of what I mean:

10 Ways to Choose the Right Disaster Recovery Provider

It’s your turn

I hope that you’ve seen a recurring thread in these examples.

Clarity and focus are key to having a successful landing page. Keep your copy focused on the offer and its benefits. ALL of the copy – your headlines, your testimonials, your body copy and bullets.

Do this and you too shall prosper.

See you in the comments!

– Eric Sloan

About The Author

Photo of Eric Sloan

Eric Sloan is the president of Urban Cultivator, and a conversion marketing specialist from Vancouver BC. He writes about business, management and digital marketing on his blog: Eric's Estimate.
» More blog posts by

Comments

  1. Jon Burnham says:

    Very, very good Eric. Certainly one of the few articles worth my valuable time reading. Thank you. More thoughts please.

    Think Human! << our new mantra :-)

  2. Gobinda Roy says:

    Hi Eric ,

    Thanks for showing the case examples . This will help me plan to for my next Landing page design . Thanks – Gobinda

  3. pushkaraj says:

    Superb stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Oli Gardner says:

    Nice one Eric!

    I really like the fact that you spent the time putting thought into how the copy could be improved as opposed to just the commentary.

    Well played sir.

  5. Brian says:

    Great job, Eric! This is how I learn what works/doesn’t work!

  6. Very useful case studies. I will save this page for future reference!

  7. This is a great reference! Defiantly bookmarking NOW! However I hope these studies get notified about some of the improvements they can do!

  8. Dana says:

    Great post Eric, very useful info. There’s a ton of LP related content out there but most focus on CTAs, conversions etc., but not to many on copy. Enjoyed, thanks!

  9. Dan Mitroi says:

    wow! thx, this post has open my eyes on big mistakes i was making!

  10. Fab post! TY for taking the *time* to find these examples and giving your input. I agree with everything you point out. Made me laugh. It’s always tricky putting together a kickass landing page, but these examples really drive home best “do not” practices.
    Best, Yasmin

  11. Wow, 15 minutes well invested in learning something really useful!
    Not just every copywriter should read it, but those who manage copywriters too should have that insight!

  12. Pragmatic advice. Make it conversational, “Get your quote”

  13. Great post! Copy should not take a backseat when it comes to landing pages since it is the one that potential clients will read to better understand what product or service is being offered to them, and will aid them in making the decision on whether to purchase or not. Bad copy can really be a deal breaker because it can send the wrong message, not to mention can have an impact on the reputation of the business itself.

  14. Ramesh says:

    Awesome lading pages! I have searched so many site like this but here i have found the good landing pages stuff…thanks eric

  15. Pauleen says:

    Great!

    This article indeed shows a good criticism to fix each mistake that these listed landing pages have.

    Landing pages have been very essential in your conversion process. In fact, this is the page where the conversion takes place. So, it is a must that your landing page are engaging enough to effectively convert your readers into buyers.

    A good, effective landing page must have a magnetic and benefit-driven headline, must have a valuable copy of brief content, and must have consistency in the entire copy. An attractive design, a clear statement of what you offer, and as well as a powerful testimonial also helps to create an effective landing page.

    I agree with you that clarity and focus are the keys in building a successful landing page.

    Thanks for the post!

    -Pauleen
    P.S. I’ve found this blog post shared on Kingged.com and leave the same comment there.

  16. Dina Dadian says:

    Eric, just wanted to tell you – what an excellent read. One of the best pieces of advice on the web copy I have read online. Extra kudos for the examples and re-write samples. Certainly helps to get a better perspective – especially for the “visual-oriented” like myself. Thank you!

  17. Marian says:

    This is very good Eric, Very informative, well detailed and easy to understand. It’s very important that your landing page has all the information that your user needs so they get to stay longer and hopefully turn into conversion. and don’t forget call to action it’s very important as well.

  18. Ben says:

    Hey Eric,
    Great post. You had some really nice tips that I think our readers will find it useful, so I included it in my roundup of the best SEO content in June. http://www.northcutt.com/blog/2014/07/june-round-up-best-seo-social-media-content-marketing/ Thanks for the valuable insight. Cheers.

    Ben

  19. Dave says:

    Cool stuff Eric! Excellent Landing Page content. Awesome value. Thanks!

  20. Mare says:

    Thanks for flagging our landing page as an example of a “worst practice.” (#10) I actually disagree that acronyms are always bad in landing page copy…we’re not targeting the landing page to the general public…only those searching for “disaster recovery” or “disaster recovery providers,” etc. Those people would definitely know what the acronym “DR” stands for, and we shortened it on purpose to signal that we speak the same language.

    That said, we’ll A-B test a new landing page without the acronym to see how it compares. Thanks for the tip!

  21. Thanks for this article! I work in higher ed and lots of landing pages get made without all that much thought. I think a lot of what you have to say applies pretty directly with email marketing as well.

    The POS acronym always cracks me up. My first thought is always piece-of-sh**, so especially if you read their line “POS Software… Your Success!” with that in mind it really seems like their writing themselves out of a sale with a contradiction. :)

    Higher ed LOVES their acronyms and abbreviations and it’s hard for many of them to understand that not everyone who visits their pages will understand the jargon.