Time to read: 4 minutes
I’ve been doing reviews of startup landing pages for quite some time. And so, I noticed a clear trend: Nearly 90% of people make the same 4 mistakes writing the copy for their first landing page.
So, I decided to share what these mistakes are with you and give you some heads up. ;)
Mistake #1: Failing to capture attention
I often say that you have 8 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention. At least, that’s how much the human attention span is according to latest stats.
So, it’s very important what information you present to your website visitor in these first 8 seconds.
The headline is what people notice immediately. It’s the first impression of visitors about your website, company and product.
That’s why it’s the headline’s job to capture attention and to intrigue. It’s the headline’s job to pull the reader in and make them read the subheadline and potentially scan the rest of the page (people don’t read on the Internet, they scan)
You can’t afford a vague and generic one.
For example, let’s take a look at one of the websites I reviewed recently. That’s their former headline:
Do you have trouble focusing?
The problems here
- This headline is vague: Focusing on what? How does the lack of focus impact my life? How does more focus benefit my life?
- This headline is neutral. Neutral = boring. If you want people to take action, if you want them to stay on your landing page and read, if you want their attention, you have to evoke emotion. Either positive or negative. “Boring” is not an emotion.
How to fix it
When writing your headline:
- Be vivid. Make people imagine a particular situation or object.
- Make a believable quantified promise. Tell people what they will get or what they will be able to do with your product.
- Or ask a painful question. Be careful with this one. You don’t want to insult your website visitors. You just want to remind them of the issue you’re solving for them.
Btw, if you have trouble coming up with a great headline on your own, take the free ecourse Bootstrap your kickass startup landing page. It goes through the process of writing the copy for a startup landing page.
Mistake #2: Trying to sell people on features
Talk about benefits, not features.
You must’ve heard that piece of advice a thousand times before.
But actually digging up the benefits is much harder than it looks.
Because, when you are the product creator, features look much like benefits to you.
So, what’s the difference, exactly?
Features are what your product does.
Benefits are what people can do and want to do with it or what they will get by using it. Benefits are the positive effect your product has on people’s lives.
And here is an example of confusing benefits with features:
The problems here
- “Access analytics” is not a benefit. It’s a feature. Nobody really wants to “access analytics”.
- Wherever there is a glimpse of benefit, the copy is vague e.g. “Improving life” is a claim that you can make for any product—anything from the Coke which improves your life by making you happier(sugar inside) to the Rolls–Royce that improves your life by giving you social status. It really depends on your definition of “improved life”. So, that’s not really a benefit.
How to fix it
Turn your features into benefits:
- Ask “Why?” e.g. For the above website, “Why do people want to access analytics?” “To be able to…” The benefit is what you put in the place of the three dots. Rule of a thumb is that benefits start with an action verb or “get”
- Be absolutely clear. It helps to ask “What is X?” until you can imagine a real-life object or situation, e.g. ‘What is “affordable”?’ To one audience $100/mo is affordable, and to another it’s $1/mo. In this case, I’d replace ‘affordable’ with a dollar value or with the equivalent of daily expenses, e.g. “affordable = at the price of your daily Starbucks Iced Coffee”. You can imagine that coffee, right?
Mistake #3: Not having a clear goal
Your landing page has to have one and only one goal—to make the website visitor commit to one particular action.
Design-wise this means that you should have one (type of) call to action that stands out from all the other content on the page.
If you put too many different calls to action, you’ll distract people. You’ll make them wonder what to click. And when they have to choose, they’ll choose not to click anything a.k.a. “The Paradox of Choice”
Yet, I keep seeing multiple calls to action on startup landing pages, e.g.:
The problems here
- Too many calls to action. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do here. Giving people too many options isn’t going to get you more clicks. On the contrary.
- The text doesn’t suggest an action. It’s more like a label. Since it’s a call to action, it has to start with an action verb and it has to tell people what will happen when they click that button.
How to fix it
- Determine the goal of your landing page. What exactly do you want people to do?
- Remove extra buttons and links that don’t correspond to your goal. They are not helping you.
- Make sure all other elements and text on your landing page support the goal.
Mistake #4: Not knowing who your customer is
This is actually the number one reason why a lot of startup landing pages have a low conversion rate.
And that’s the reason why you’d come up with vague copy like “Improving your life” or “X simplified”. Vague + V. bad when it comes to copywriting.
So, how do you come up with great copy?
It’s not about being creative. Not at all. Great copy is actually very easy to acquire because it comes straight out of your potential users’ mouths.
That’s why you want to eavesdrop on them. You want to steal their words and use them on your website. You want to research them.
And in the 21st century this couldn’t be easier. Because everyone hangs out online.
This is called “market research” and it’s the only way to actually know who you’re trying to sell to and to make a product and a landing page that resonates with these people. And when it resonates, you’ll have conversions.
Copywriting starts with “Who?”, not with “What?”