The Flexible Framework for Writing High-Converting Landing Page Copy

By , November 19th, 2012 in Landing Pages | 16 comments
Is your writing framework this flexible? (Image source)

The main thing I’ve learnt from having spent the last 4 years producing, optimizing and testing landing page copy is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that works every time.

Therefore, you don’t need a set of fixed rules to follow, but rather a flexible framework that will help you write and structure your copy so it guides your potential customers logically towards the conversion goal.

Today I’m going to give you a simple, yet highly effective framework I’ve developed and used time and time again to achieve dramatic results and conversion lifts. The framework is flexible in the sense that you can use it as a guideline for any type of landing page, regardless of the subject matter.

First, I’m going to show you the framework as a simple wireframe with comments. Then I’m going to show an example of how a real landing page fits into the framework.

And last but not least, I’m going to go through the individual sections of the framework to elaborate on the most important aspects.

The Flexible Framework for Writing High-converting Landing Page Copy

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Example of the framework in action

This is an example of a landing page I built for a client using the framework to structure the copy. The landing page pitches a new SEO tool that resolves locates and helps resolve duplicate content issues. Check out the live landing page here.

In this case I used the framework to optimize and already existing landing page. When we tested it against the control page it generated a lift of 119.94% in conversions.

1. The Headline

Your headline is the most prominent part of your landing page copy. It’s the one thing you can be 99.9% certain that all visitors will read. You can’t afford to lose any qualified leads here, and it’s well worth your time making sure you get your headline just right.

In my experience super creative or cryptic headlines are dangerous as they can backfire in a major way. I always recommend going the safe route with a clear relevant headline that gives your potential customers a really good reason to invest their time in reading on.

Your headline will lose its impact if you need to think a lot to understand it (that’s what often goes wrong with over-creative messaging), so make sure your headline makes sense right off the bat and independently of the body copy.

Humoristic headlines work in some cases, but it’s a matter of taste, and it’s hard to be certain that your potential customers share your humor and are going to “get it”.

It’s my clear experience that your best off with relevant, concrete messages that focus on tangible, specific benefits.

I tested to variations of the headline on the DCfinder landing page. The control copy emphasized the functional aspects of the software and read: “Pinpoint and Eliminate Duplicate Content”

Treatment A emphasizes the true benefit of using DCfinder – that you can: “Avoid Losing Rankings, Traffic, and Money”

When reading the control copy, you need to “translate” what it means to “Pinpoint and eliminate duplicate content” into something more tangible. Treatment A, on the other hand, skips this step and supports the prospect’s decision-making process, because it gets straight to the point and emphasizes a specific benefit.

Result: Treatment A generated a lift of 68% in conversions on the landing page.

Bonus tip: Most landing pages get traffic from specific campaigns. Make sure that the there’s a clear connection between the messaging of the campaign and the landing page headline, so the prospect is certain he or she has arrived at the right destination. If your traffic comes from PPC campaigns, make sure to incorporate relevant keywords in the headline.

2. The Sub-header

The complexity of your offer and the layout of the page will greatly influence how long your sub-header should be. Experience tells me that the more complex the offer is, the greater the effect of your sub-header will be – and vice versa.

The goal of your sub-header is to elaborate on the headline and substantiate the claims you made – in other words it’s all about making your offer credible. Also, your sub-header plays an important part in bringing your potential customers further into the content so they’ll invest time it takes to move through the rest of the content on the landing page.

There are 3 obvious approaches for writing an effective sub-header:

  1. Present concrete data that supports your offer and the headline
  2. Emphasize aspects and facts that mitigate anxiety and/or compel the prospect to read more
  3. Identify a problem and briefly explain how your service or product will solve it

On the landing page for DCfinder, I actually opted for a hybrid of the 3 approaches that involves specific data supporting the offer, facts that compel the prospect to keep reading, as well as a solution to the issue of duplicate content:

Bonus tip: You don’t always need a sub-header. If your offer is very simple and straightforward – or if your potential customers are highly motivated – using just bullet points might work better.

3. The Primary Information (Need to know)

Focus on the key details, sales points, features, benefits, and data that directly impact the decision-making process of your potential customers. In most cases, using bullet points to make the content more scannable is a good idea.

It is usually makes most sense to place your call to action in this section. Nevertheless don’t follow the “above the fold” best practice blindly. I’ve conducted experiments where variants with low CTA positioning have generated lifts of several hundred percent – here’s an example.

Essentially, marketing is about answering questions and making prospects feel secure that they are making the right decision in accepting whatever it is, you’re offering them. Ideally, your primary information should provide them with answers to their most pressing questions and mitigate any anxiety they might be feeling.

The complexity and scrutiny level of the offer directly impacts how much content you need to present to the potential customer before she can feel confident and safe in her decision. Again, the more complex the offer, the more content you need – and vice versa.

Here’s an example of a landing page with very simple low-scrutiny offer – buying a gym membership. In this case the shorter landing page with less copy got most conversions.

Here’s an example of a landing page with a complex high-scrutiny offer – signing up for a home energy audit. In this case the long landing page with more copy got most conversions.

A few tips for writing high-impact bullet points

As mentioned, bullet points are great for making your copy scannable and easy to read. But more importantly, they are perfect for emphasizing the most powerful selling points and benefits and serving them in clear-cut, snack-size portions.

However, bullet points aren’t automatically awesome, and you can’t just hack your copy into bits and arrange them as a bulleted list. Think of your bullet points as small headlines, and give them the time and effort they deserve.

The goal is to optimize the decision-making process of your potential customers. So do your homework, find out what’s most important for them to know about the offer, and focus on giving them the information they need.

Short bullets are good because they are easy to scan. But remember, it’s all about communicating the value of the offer as specifically as possible. In some cases this means writing bullets that are 3 or 4 lines long.

The point is that it’s better to write long bullets that communicate a specific value to you prospects than it is to write short bullets that convey no value. You can experiment with different formats, but the length is generally determined by the complexity of the points you want to emphasize.

In the example from DCfinder, some of the bullet points ended up being pretty long, while some of them were kept short and sweet:

Bonus tips

  1. A great technique for writing bullet points is to ask yourself the question “What will my potential customers get out of this offer?” Make a list of all your answers and prioritize them according to what research shows will have the greatest effect on your prospects’ decisions. Then tweak and polish till you have a final list of 3 to 6 high-impact bullet points.
  2. Your call-to-action copy has major impact on conversions, and optimizing your CTA copy is one of the most valuable low-hanging fruits in LPO. Make sure to read the complete guide to writing CTA copy that converts.

4. The Secondary Information (Nice to know)

Although secondary information isn’t crucial to the conversion scenario, it works well for supporting the decision-making process, and giving the prospect the last push in the right direction.

It can be difficult to assess what constitutes primary and secondary information, and in some cases the line between the two is very fine. But in essence, it’s anything that you could omit without it having a directly negative impact on conversions.

Examples of secondary information on a landing page could be testimonials, case studies, reviews, figures, illustrations, images, videos etc.

By placing this content after the primary information, you’ll be able to give the more thoughtful prospects an opportunity to spend time gaining insight – without it having a negative effect on the more spontaneous types, who just need the primary information to make a decision.


What you should do now

Like I said in the beginning of the article, this is a flexible framework – not a set of fixed rules. So use it as a guideline for writing and structuring your landing page copy for maximum conversions. But remember – you need to test your copy on your prospects in real life, that’s the only way to gain certainty that you’re on the right track.

– Michael Aagaard


This is a guest post, all opinions are those of the author.

Michael Lykke Aagaard is a self-employed, self-confessed split test junkie and copywriting fanatic who’s obsessed with finding out what really works in online marketing. He’s Danish and hails from the fair city of Copenhagen. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+ or check out his newly launched international blog ContentVerve.com.

Comments

  1. [...] http://unbounce.com/landing-pages/writing-high-converting-copy/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Conversion Optimisation by leapb4ulook. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  2. HypeBuzz says:

    Amazing tips for creating Landing Pages. Example is little different then pic shown in article. Is better to have video on left side?

    • Hi and thanks for the comment!

      Actually, I’m testing the position of the video right now ;-)

      The best position for video/image depends on the individual landing page. In many case, having copy on the left and image/video on the right works best. But I have performed tests where the reverse positioning converted better. I’ve also seen cases where it made no difference.

      It’s really something that you need to experiment with and test in order to find out what works best on your specific landing page.

      - Michael

  3. Leon Altman says:

    Actually a good test would be to include “The World’s First Software to Pinpoint…”) against the winner. That’s a huge claim and would’ve made the alternative a stronger contender.

    • Michael Lykke Aagaard says:

      Hi Leon – that’s a very good observation and a great idea for a follow-up experiment! Thank you ;-)

      - Michael

  4. [...] The Flexible Framework for Writing High-Converting Landing Page Copy. Tomado de:  unbounce.com Categorías: Landing Page, Marketing Online [...]

  5. Semanticlp says:

    very useful info, thanks.

  6. Nathan says:

    Fantastic read Michael. I have just started a PPC campaign so will be applying these strategies to my landing page and begin split testing.

  7. Henry Laiden says:

    Michael, this is one of the best pieces I have seen on headlines. I took away a lot from it.

  8. Thank you very much Henry – It means a lot to me!

    - Michael

  9. Greg says:

    Do your techniques in the ebook apply to affiliate websites? Also for websites that focus on product reviews, and cannot easily shorten the length of content on the landing page- Can your landing page builder work with that? Do you have screenshots of it? I’m not bill gates number two or anything, so before I signup I want to learn as much as I can. Right now my bounce rate on landing pages is between 60-85% (bad I know, regardless of niche). I would like to lower that, and obviously increase my conversions. and finally last question- Do you offer one on one consults of websites?

  10. Isreal says:

    Great tips! I’ve always found the headline and image makes the biggest different (80/20). Bullet points always work a treat too. The other variable to test is landingpage colours. Sometimes clashing colours can work great!

  11. […] what you really need is a blueprint to tell you what to do, this flexible landing page framework fits the bill. Learn the essential components of high-converting landing page copy and how to […]

  12. Stefan says:

    Hi there,
    how to avoid duplicate content. A FAQ or similar is typical static, i have heard that DC could effect dramatically the other content and ultimatively ggle could ban you.

    Is this correct? If yes the only solution would be to target unique content on every landingpage.

  13. Thank you for clearly pointing out these guidelines. I just started learning about PPC and with my self-confessed still-thin understanding of its concepts, even an effective ad copy becomes useless when its corresponding landing page doesn’t sell.

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