3 Essential Ingredients of Landing Page Headlines That Convert

landing page headlines
Alphagetti art courtesy of some literary genius.

A headline can make or break your landing page.

It’s the first thing a visitor reads when they hit your page, and it’s the primary element that will help them decide whether they want to read on – or bounce.

Trouble is, oftentimes the headline on a landing page is an afterthought. Or worse, it’s written by a designer so that it “looks” good.

This is a surefire way to kill your conversion rate and ruin the effectiveness of your landing page.

What makes a landing page headline successful?

Any good landing page headline will have three key elements:

  1. Focus – An effective headline will not be vague. It will cut to the chase. Lose the fluff and keep things simple.
  2. Relevance – The headline should relate to the offer that is on your landing page.
  3. Benefits – Any great headline will tell the visitor – right away – what problem this page can solve.

(Bonus element) Urgency – Though it’s not needed in EVERY landing page headline, adding a sense of urgency (“act now!”) can add a serious boost to your conversion rate.

In order to pack in each of these elements, you might need to use a combination of a headline and a sub-headline. For the sake of simplicity, in this article we’ll refer to both of these as the “headline.”

Let’s take a look at 9 landing pages – some with laser-focused, conversion-driving headlines, others that need a bit of tweaking to reach their full potential and a few that just miss the mark completely.

Great Landing Page Headlines

Let’s start with some headlines that are right on the money. These headlines use a good mix of focus, relevance and benefits to draw in visitors and hammer home the offer.

Benchmark

benchmark

“Simple Email Marketing for Businesses”
“Keep in touch with your customers. Create, design and manage all your outgoing emails”

I like this headline because it keeps things simple. Notice how Benchmark isn’t saying they are “the best” or that you’ll “be successful”?

Instead, they focus on the things that matter. This headline tells the visitor what the product does and that it’s easy to use.

One thing that would make this headline even better would be to add some urgency about the 30-day trial. I might test something like “Space is limited, start your free trial now”.

Intuit Quickbase

intuit quickbase

“The better way to organize, share & track marketing efforts”
“Be a hero. Improve productivity in minutes!”

Here’s a landing page headline that really hits home with business owners. Let’s run it past our 3 key elements:

Focus – This headline is very straightforward. Intuit is saying that it can save you time, and every word in this headline is based around that concept. Well done.

Relevance – Though this headline doesn’t mention anything about the free trial, it’s relevant to the offer because it stays focused on the product. Remember to keep things simple and don’t get too clever with headlines.

Benefits – Here’s the real brilliance of this headline. Not only does it tell you that you will have a “better” way to organize your marketing efforts (and share them with your boss) but you can also be a “hero”! Who doesn’t want to be the hero on his or her team?

Magento

magento

“Test drive the Magento demo today”
“Discover how Magento’s powerful, scalable, and flexible eCommerce solutions can help you grow and succeed online”

This is a well-designed landing page. But best of all, the headline really hits a home run. Let’s take a look through the lens of our 3 key elements:

Focus – Does this headline stay focused on one topic? It sure does: How Magento can help you grow and succeed online. Well done.

Relevance – The very first line talks about the offer on this landing page (a free demo).

Benefits – I’m not talking about “powerful, scalable, and flexible” here. Those are closer to features than benefits. The real beauty of this headline is that it says Magento will help me grow and succeed online. That’s something that will change my life for the better.

Adding some urgency to this page via a “limited time trial” or “limited space” would probably be a worthy test, but I have a feeling this page performs pretty well as is.

Landing Page Headlines That Need a Little Work

Here are some landing pages with headlines that were well on their way to being powerful, focused headlines. All they need is a bit of tweaking.

Jugem Cart

jugemcart

“Open Your Store Today”
“Jugem Cart is an all-in-one hosted ecommerce solution. We offer all the features you’ll need to get your store up and running in no time. Start your 30-day free trial today!”

I actually really like this headline, and I had it listed above when I first started writing this post. But the first sentence, “Open your store today,” isn’t powerful enough to be so much larger than the sub-headline. The sub-headline is the real meat of this headline, but it’s so small that it’s easy to skim over. Here’s how I would rearrange it:

“Open Your Store Today with an All-In-One Hosted eCommerce Solution”
“Jugem Cart comes packed with all of the features you need to launch a successful store”
“Start your free 30-day trial now”

The first line tells the visitor what is on offer (focus). The second line takes it a step further by saying that these are the features you need in order to have a successful store (benefit). And the final line refers to the offer directly (relevance).

Extole

extole

“Referral marketing drives customer acquisition”

The problem with this headline is that it’s just not finished. Yes, referral marketing drives customer acquisition, but how does that statement help me, and what are you offering on this page?

Here’s how I would restructure it:

“Learn how you can use the power of referral marketing to acquire new leads and drive sales”

We are still focused on customer acquisition, but we’ve added a few elements. First, we say “learn how” which refers to the downloadable whitepaper (relevance). Second, we’ve changed “customer acquisition” into “new leads and drive sales” – something that business people will readily understand.

Epicor

epicor

“Get started! Choose the right retail software partner for your business!”

Wow, someone really likes exclamation points… and vague copy.

One of the problems with this page is that it actually has two headlines. The one on the right doesn’t add much value and seems more like a tagline. I would definitely test whether removing it affects attention on this page.

The headline on the left has some serious issues. The first sentence, “get started,” is rubbish and doesn’t add any value.

This headline just raises questions in my mind instead of answering them:

  • What am I starting?
  • Why am I starting it?
  • What makes Epicor the ‘right…partner’ for my business??

None of these questions are answered in this headline. Let’s try to restructure it:

“Retail software solutions”
“Learn how you can balance prices and profit with flexible retail software”
“Gain instant access to these reports”

This new headline is far more focused. It removes any vague statements and answers some questions right away. “Learn how” keeps our headline relevant to the offer on the landing page. And finally we have added a benefit by talking about balancing pricing and profit.

Business-software.com

business-software

“Reviews of 10 contract management software vendors”
“Vendor comparisons to help you find the best contract management software for your company”

This landing page headline is sooooo close to a win that to the untrained eye it may seem completely acceptable.

This headline has focus. It’s not vague and it’s to the point. This headline has relevance. The first line refers to the actual downloadable offer on the landing page.

But this headline does NOT have a benefit.

Helping you find the best contract management software is a feature, not a benefit. For this headline to be really powerful, it needs to tell me WHY I should care about finding the best contract management software.

Here’s an example:

“Reduce Costly Mistakes in your Contract Process”
“Find the best contract management software for your company. Get instant access to the top 10 contract management software vendors now”

The new headline stays focused on the end goal and doesn’t get vague. It is relevant to the offer on the page (“get instant access”) and it lists a possible benefit of the report: reducing costly mistakes.

As an added bonus, the idea of reducing costly mistakes actually acts as urgency in this headline by making a visitor wonder if they could be losing money RIGHT NOW with their current process.

Landing Page Headlines That Miss the Mark Completely

These are landing page headlines that need the most work. Okay, let’s face it – these headlines are garbage and need to be scrapped altogether. Let’s run each landing page through our key elements and write some great new headlines…

Goldmine

goldmine

“Goldmine Premium Edition Demo”

I see this mistake a lot. Companies will use the product name or the name of the giveaway as their headline.

Here’s why this headline sucks. If you don’t know what GoldMine Premium Edition is, why would you be interested in a demo about it?

Instead we need to make sure that we orient the visitor and give them a reason to care. Let’s run this headline through our 3 key elements.

Focus – Although this headline is currently focused on the demo, it really needs to be focused on something else: CRM software. Customers only care about the product name if they’ve heard it before. If they’re doing initial research into potential CRM software, they want to know why this option is worth their time. Let’s try this:

“Keep track of every customer using Goldmine CRM”

Relevance – Our headline is now about CRM software, but it’s still boring and not to the point. We need to make sure that it mentions the demo somewhere:

“Keep track of every customer using Goldmine CRM”
“See a free demo now”

Benefits – Our headline still isn’t a winner. It mentions the demo and says what a CRM will do, but it doesn’t really drive home any benefits. CRM software has hundreds of benefits to choose from, but I’ll pull some from Goldmine’s existing copy:

“Goldmine keeps track of your clients, allowing you to focus on sales”
“See a free demo now and find out how easy it is to optimize your customer relationships”

(Bonus element) Urgency – There are a number of angles you can take with urgency. The best angle will be determined by the traffic source of the campaign, and the keywords that Goldmine is targeting. Here’s one option:

“Have you ever lost a client note? Goldmine keeps track of every client for you. So you can focus on selling”
“See a free demo now and find out how easy it is to optimize your customer relationships”

Highjump

highjump

“Considering EDI? Consider These Benefits!”

This headline is utter garbage. Why? Because it doesn’t add any value to the page. We need to make sure that our three elements are present in this headline to make sure we’re not losing any conversions.

Focus – What is this page about? It’s about generating leads for EDI software. But what is EDI? It’s a way for manufacturers and distributors to communicate with each other. Let’s focus on that:

“EDI Solutions that allow communication between manufacturers and distributors”

Relevance – This headline still doesn’t mention our whitepaper download, so let’s try to implement that:

“Free download: Learn how an EDI solution can help your business communicate with your partners”

Benefits – We’re getting better, but we’re still not quite there. Let’s try to implement some benefits into this headline. One of the key benefits to an EDI system is security:

“Free download: Learn how an EDI solution can secure your business communications”

(bonus element) Urgency – If security is a concern, why not focus on the potential for security issues to be currently affecting their business:

“Free download: Learn how an EDI solution can secure your business communications and prevent costly loss of data”

Now we have a headline that has some teeth. It connects with visitors, lets them know they’re getting a free download, and pushes them to convert.

You’re Next…

It’s time for you to find opportunities for improvement in your own campaigns. Run your own headlines past the 3 key elements.

Stay focused.

Stay relevant.

Add benefits.

And as always, test like hell.

See you in the comments!

– Eric Sloan

About The Author

Photo of Eric Sloan

Eric Sloan is a digital marketing strategist working in Vancouver, BC. He helps people crush it online using landing pages with the content on his blog: Eric's Estimate. He works as the CMO of a Vancouver based startup called Urban Cultivator.
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Comments

  1. Danny Jaco says:

    Eric, we are in the process of redesigning our website. This information will be very helpful. I’m going into “write your headline first” mode now that I’ve read your post. Great info…thanks!

  2. Zac Pagin says:

    I hope you can restructure this article into more readable columns or paras. Its scattered and I’m losing my focus after a page down.

    • Eric Sloan says:

      Hey Zac. Sorry if you’re having trouble with understanding this article. What part of the article can I clarify? I’d be happy to explain anything in further detail.

  3. Patrick says:

    Good afternoon Eric!

    We’re a startup company still on developing stage and we’re using landing page to validate relevant hypothesis for our product conception.
    Do you think that giving a free article/eBook in exchange of visitor’s email and opinion on one simple radio button question is ok? Focusing on showing article’s relevance is important to our landing page’s conversion? Or do you think we have to focus on showing that the question is relevant?

    Thanks!

    • Eric Sloan says:

      Hey Patrick, thanks for your question.

      I think that if your giveaway is relevant to the question then that strategy would work just fine. The key to conversions is to focus on the visitor’s goals. Put yourself in their shoes. Does your offer make sense?

      Your eBook must solve some problem that the visitor is having. The copy (and your headline) on the landing page needs to stay focused on selling that solution to the visitor, because that’s what really matters to them, not your survey.

      I would test a couple of options. First, putting the survey question right on the landing page itself, and second, having the survey question on the next page. Something like: “Hey, before you download this eBook, may we ask you a couple of questions?”

      You’ll never know what works best until you test it! Good luck!

  4. Iulian says:

    IMO i think the headline should solve visitor problem. Plain and simple.

    • Eric Sloan says:

      The key part of any great headline is to get a visitor engaged – in other words, get them to read the next line.

      If you completely solved a visitor’s problem with the headline, why would they continue to read?

  5. Yuliya says:

    Eric, thanks for good and bad examples – it’is easy to understand what works!
    I just notice, that all your good examples have Call-to-Action button on the right side of page. Does it matter?

    • Eric Sloan says:

      Hi Yuliya, thanks for your question!

      The effectiveness of where you put a call to action on your page depends on a lot of elements (page layout, design, colour choices, copy etc.). The answer is really to test, that’s the only way you’ll know for sure.

  6. Your post is most helpful for everyone and also for mine. Also i want to share with you that a great landing page is the foundation of a successful online marketing campaign but it will only convert if you first understand that all your visitors are not the same. By trying to create a generic page that appeals to everyone you’ll end up appealing to no-one.

  7. Jason S says:

    Eric,

    Email me please… I’m in need of a conversion coach!