Website Copywriting Principles: No Loose Ends

website copywriting

So you’ve decided to start a blog or build a website. Besides figuring out how to design your site, you also need to figure out how to write and to keep your visitors engaged with the content. 

“I was quite good at writing essays in school. What else could I need?” Realities quickly dampen the ardor of future great authors – turns out, simply putting words together is not enough. 

In this article, you’ll find a few recommendations for aspiring website copywriters: how to create a good headline, build an outstanding landing page, and a few other tips to consider.

Let’s start with the basics.

Know your target audiencetarget audience

All of us are sometimes guilty of writing long and complex sentences. It’s the same with those who sometimes enter sparse or otherwise pompous words (see what we did there?).

The adage about knowing your audience is true for all writers and copywriters are no exception. Even if you write for a large audience, remember that not everyone can be a master of words like you are.

If you’re trying to sell something, the surest way to lose that sale is to confuse or distract your “victim.” Do you really want them to go away because you’re not clear? Make the copy simple and effective.

Do Not Reinvent the Wheel

Copywriting is not about creating a market that doesn’t exist. Your words alone can’t do it all at once. These wheels are the “needs” and “wants.” 

People will buy what they need or want. Writing a copy for the latter is really not that difficult. Now when it comes to the “needs,” you have to understand that they can’t be created by a copy. The things people need already have their market – your job is to “ignite the flame.”

Headline Copywriting

A headline is one of the key details in copywriting and marketing. Even the best material will not bring the desired result if your audience simply skips them.

So how do you write a perfect headline?

The headline’s main task is to select your target audience right, i.e. attract the attention of those people you really need and encourage them to take the next step. It does not necessarily have to be a purchase, in fact. You just have to “push” them into the sales funnel.

So the trick is to figure out what concerns someone who just found out about your product or compares you to your competitors. Learn what is important to someone who has already made up their mind and what is missing for the final step. There have to be different headlines and content for all groups – you need to be clear on who you offer and what. 

Now about that perfect headline. Their job is to grab attention and motivate the reader to scroll further, reading into the block material. Such headings help navigation and divide the page into sections.

Here are the three components of a good headline:

  • Clarity;
  • Conciseness;
  • Focus on a single benefit.

 

Clarity of mind 

As we read our news feeds, our heads are often full of various thoughts. Thus, it’s essential to grab your target audience’s (TA) attention either with a picture, color, or meaning (headline). Top solutions for this purpose are sentences like “How do you do this or that?”, “Why isn’t it working?” and, of course, numbers, e.g. “10 ways…”. Words like “templates,” “examples,” “tips,” “recommendations,” and “step-by-step instructions” work well, too. This basically due to the fact that most people are lazy – they want everything to be set and ready for them to take.

Now using the first step solely will get you an incomprehensible audience. With “hooks and magnets,” you risk gathering a crowd of teenagers, web surfers, and procrastinators. This scheme works as long as you only need low-quality traffic and nothing else. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.

Grabbing attention 

Tell your site visitors something that will determine whether they need it or not. Speak their language, use professional slang, acronyms, etc. You can also highlight it with small niche realities or put simply it straightforward like this: 

“For all you lovely ladies tired of constantly dying your gray hair.”

Engaging Your Target Audience 

Finish them off with pain, a dream, or an interest! This is where you need to figure out the very pain or dream of your TA. That is, first tell them “how,” then “who,” and only then “how to get it.” Pain is responsible for items of special need (health, wealth), and dreams are for items of simple desire (a new TV, dress, etc.). Remember to add something you can’t fit into the headline in your lead paragraph – it can be used to clarify the need of your TA or the audience itself.

The most common headline formulas are: 

  • Desirable phenomena or dreams (e.g. weight loss); 
  • Undesirable phenomena or fears (why isn’t smth working?); 
  • Comparisons, problems, client pain; 
  • Loud words (e.g. “only now,” “we can help you,” etc.).

Getting back to explosive content growth, most people today are simply browsing headlines. This means you have quite limited space to draw their attention to the rest of your presentation. Make full use of the keywords mentioned earlier and create a powerful offer. Compare these two headlines, for example:

  • “Access Any Media Stream with This Simple Tool;”
  • “Brand X VPN Can Help You Unblock Geo-Targeted Content.”

Admittedly, the first line is a bit clicky and doesn’t fit all brands. However, the difference lies in the different emotions each example can evoke. Think carefully about what emotions you want your headline to trigger. The content (and the design) of the headline has a big impact on clickability. 

What’s a good headline for a landing page, you ask? Here are a few tips:

  • Provides clear essence of your offer;
  • Is short, readable, and straightforward;
  • Offers a solution to the problem;
  • Continues the idea of the ad (or a different initial resource);
  • May contain a question or moderate joke.

Try different options!

Ask people 

After brainstorming, you and your team (or one copywriter) may come up with 10-20 or even more headline options that all look promising. Clearly, you have to test them, but how do you test 20 options? Multitest them – and you’ll have to wait forever for statistical significance. While putting two of them to a split-test will generate too many options. 

What you should do here is gather a focus group, relevant to your TA, and evaluate the response to all options to reduce them to an acceptable number (3-5), which will be easier to test.

Writing Copy for Landing Pages that Convert

landing page copywriting

If you see that despite the beautiful appearance and advantageous offer the page does not sell, this is a sure sign of illiterate/unworkable copywriting. Words mean a lot here, and it often takes a long time to polish the text on the page. It’s not always a matter of literacy – the main problem is usually irrelevance, i.e., the mismatch between the text and expectations of your TA. This is like communicating in different languages. You can speak the most exquisite and sensual compliments to your object of sympathy, but if you speak different languages, she/he will never appreciate it.

Misunderstanding between two parties typically leads to frustration and negative outcomes. Your site visitors should be able to receive information in the most capacious form. Because in a competitive environment, they will not really try hard to get thoughtful and look deep for answers to their questions on your landing page.

If you are not sure of the effectiveness of your landing page text, then pointing out these simple mistakes can help increase conversions.

1. Not enough information to make a decision

How many times have you come across situations when a landing page offers a service without specifying the price? Or, for example, represents an event without telling the location of it?

What were your actions then? Chances are you just leave the site and continue browsing search results.

If you’re selling something on your capture page, ensure your main information blocks are loud and clear. Don’t forget that people are more likely to decide in favor of a particular service when they understand what awaits them after clicking the “Buy” button.

Take a look at this landing page from Planable.landing page example

It has a headline that clearly states the topic of the landing page. The purpose is clear: you can download the ebook if you fill in your email address and your company name.

Beneath the fold, you have a list of the chapters in the ebook, with descriptions. At the bottom of the landing page you have reviews of “the manifesto”, and the author’s bio. You can see that no questions are left unanswered. The message is clear, and social proof is being used in a smart way with the purpose of increasing the chance for conversions.

 

2. Incorrect wording

It often happens that when writing text, every word in it seems to be clear and understandable. However this is an inside look – from the visitor’s side, the situation can be quite different. “Simple and accessible” can often turn out to be “ornate and confusing.”

To keep your text as straightforward as possible, you need to minimize what you’re selling. One landing page should offer one service. The more services, the more likely it will all get confusing.

If your landing page visitors must think for even a minute about what to expect – the sale may not take place.

Keep in mind, not all landing pages have to make the sale either.  For example, you may have a landing page that asks visitors to join a webinar you’re hosting.  While the end result isn’t a sale if they join, you could use that webinar to move them further along in the purchasing funnel. 

Potential customers become real when you provide a sense of trust and security for them. Set one goal and optimize your text content to achieve it – don’t require subscription, application, purchase, or participating in crowdfunding all at once.

 

3. Text content doesn’t meet the target audience

This is probably one of the most common mistakes. We’ve talked about it briefly above, now it’s time to elaborate on it. Your offer must necessarily be relevant to the traffic. 

Relevancy is a prerequisite for success. Imagine that you met someone really nice online, went to the meeting looking all fabulous and neat just to face a different person. This person may also look beautiful, but you know that a good relationship never begins with deception. Now if your customers will not find what they were looking for on your site, even a high-quality service will not fix the impression.

It’s not just a matter of text, but optimization. Keep an eye on queries used by people to get on your landing page – they should match your page content.

An honesty policy is the best way to build a long and productive relationship with your audience.

This means that if your target is made of Chief Technical Officers, that are really busy and want answers fast and not “marketing fluff”, your copy should relate to that. 

 

4. Text overflowing with faceless clichés

The worst thing you can have on your landing page is the text that doesn’t engage. Even if you formally adhere to what is written above, an abundance of clichés like “lowest prices,” “customer focus,” and “highly qualified professionals” simply kills your text.

You have to work not only on the content itself but also on the form. Learn how to “speak” to your customers in the same language. You can also contact an expert who will help you choose the right words, based on market research.

Look at the capture page in perspective – not statics. Slight changes during testing can often make a dramatic difference and increase conversion rates.

 

Landing Page Copywriting Myths

All converting elements should be at the top of the page

Now, this tendency is quite common in marketing. There is a belief that site visitors won’t scroll down or search for the information or lead form on it. This is partly due to the myth of proper content length. 

However, according to our experience, if users are sufficiently motivated, they will scroll down to the end of the page, read all the information material, fill out even a long lead form, and look for a CTA button.

Convincing and relevant textual content is one of the most important factors in increasing user motivation and converting them into leads and customers.

First, determine how much information you need to motivate your average visitor to take conversion actions. Split (A/B) testing can help you with this. Then, based on the data you get, start the process of optimizing your landing page. Often the length does not greatly influence its effectiveness.

Often times the length of a landing page is correlated to the pricing of the product/service being offered. And it totally makes sense. If you’re offering an ebook, a report, in exchange for an email address, landing pages can get pretty short. 

If we look at the landing pages CXL is using, you’ll see they are pretty lengthy. And that’s because they’re promoting advanced marketing and analytics courses. And details are a must. People need to understand what they’re paying for. It’s in their best interest to get into the details and scroll down. Wouldn’t you do the same?CXL landing page example

 

If you guarantee privacy, the conversion rate increases

Of course, everyone has information they don’t really want to share (credit card numbers, phone numbers, address, etc.). The thing is, after sharing this information, people hate being disturbed by pushy and upselling company representatives.

Even if you guarantee complete confidentiality of the requested information, be careful when creating your privacy policy. One little word can scare away a lot of users who might not even read to the end of your offer or lead form.

 

Someone else’s design will also increase my conversion rate

Reviewing your competitors’ landing pages (especially, if they’re successful) is very helpful, that’s 100% true. This should help you develop your own branding design. 

However, if your offer is located on a competitor’s successfully copied landing page, it doesn’t mean that you will have the same success.

There are so many various factors that all have to match each other like pieces of a puzzle to make your landing page successful. This includes the design, content, type of value proposition, incoming traffic, user experience, and much more. If you do want to copy someone else’s layout, you have to at least run split tests and optimize it for your product.
Or to make your site seem more unique, then it is better to create from scratch with the desired design, to involve specialists in this matter. 

 

One landing page is quite enough

Large business corporations have a lot of landing pages for a reason. If you think that one is enough, you risk losing your traffic, customers, and money right out from under your nose.

A truly successful business is based on multiple split tests, standalone landing pages for each offer, and traffic sources. Each new landing page contributes to a higher conversion rate for the entire project.

Creating a landing page is not the end of the long road to success. After all, you need them to deliver revenue and continuously convert more customers. 

Conversion rates aren’t the only metric for determining landing page performance. It’s more complicated than that. You also need to know how many leads on average become your real customers, as well as the average purchase value, your profit margin, and don’t forget about ROI and CPL.

Once you examine all the parameters, you may find out that a low conversion rate landing page has quite a few leads turning into sales.

Conversion rate means nothing, especially if you have nothing to compare it to. It’s much more important to know how well your experts are turning leads into profitable customers.

One last thing. Every time you have doubts, ask yourself. The more questions you formulate, the easier you will answer them. And don’t see what you do as a mistake – action is always better because it generates experience, and procrastination never yields results.

Landing Page Tips

Value Proposition

A value proposition is a succinct and specific phrase that reveals unique and appealing features of your product or service. It’s a concentrated gist that helps your readers match their problem with your solution.

  • Use simple words that a kid can understand;
  • Skip insignificant details;
  • Choose words that people will associate with the product. (If you have a flower delivery service, you should keep it that way in your text. In addition to clarity, it’s also for SEO);
  • Tell people who your product/service is designed for. (For example, you can use the following formula: {Perfect} [would suit startups / travelers / honeymooners].

Features and advantages

After convincing your customers that you understand their problem, tell them why your solution will work. In this part of the landing page, write about your product’s key features and advantages.

Do not confuse them.

  • What value does the customer get from using your product? (Advantage).
  • What part of your product helps the customer get that value? (Feature).

The conventional wisdom is that it’s better to tell your customers about the advantages (e.g., making life easier for the busy ones) rather than about its functional features (e.g., your server power). However, sometimes a functional feature speaks for itself and is an advantage on its own (e.g., a unique training program). There are no rules per se, just try to separate the main from the secondary.

Product showcase

What does the main screen of the app look like? What does the user of the product look like? How can the service be used in real life? 

You don’t even have to write accompanying text to the image. Support one or two key benefits from the previous block.

Step-by-step guide

Even the simplest product or service needs to be broken down into 3-4 simple steps. Some companies skip this, believing that an intelligent user will be annoyed by excessive details. This is totally wrong. Typically your site visitors never have enough time to get to the bottom of it. Thus, they will appreciate it if you explain everything in the fastest and simplest way.

Facts

People love facts. When scanning the text, the brain itself clings to the numbers and unwittingly fixes them. Add an info block with 2-3 large numbers in the second part of your landing page. When writing the text, use any data that helps form an opinion about you as a product, specialist, or company. This will draw attention to the block and increase credibility.

Buttons

You can’t talk about conversion rates without creating a single button on your landing page. Some studies compare buttons on websites to closed doors in an unfamiliar room. Therefore, it’s essential to put attractive buttons so that your readers will want to click on them without getting stressed out of surprise.

Social relevance

Your customers know about the advantages and disadvantages better than you do, so potential consumers believe other people’s reviews just as much as they believe your words. Take a few hours to collect visual feedback. You can write a line or two yourself and send it to a loyal customer for approval.

The biggest threat here is that the feedback may sound fake. 

To avoid this, ask your customers to talk about their personal experiences in detail, noting not only the pros but also the cons of the product.

Final screen (aka Thank You Page)

Your landing page should end with a strong CTA and a tool for your site visitors to take the first step toward what they want. This can be a button or a contact form.

Thank You page example

In this example, the landing page that was offering a free guide has a thank you page that is offering a promo code.

Do not limit yourself to a single text version on the Thank You page – write several of them and test to see what works best for conversion rates.

You can try to make them share your landing page offer, or to ask them to follow up on social media….there are tons of options.

 

Other Tips

Stay Positive

This doesn’t apply to you personally (although this helps, too) but to positive terms in your text. Even if you can’t always do this throughout the entire text, at least try to avoid using negative terms when writing.

The key difference in positive and negative wording is to better illuminate even bad circumstances. Positive wording is much easier to digest, often more direct, and works more expressively. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Negative wording: “If you don’t buy Product X, you will experience constant pain.
  • Positive wording: “Enjoy the pain-free experience with Product X.

Read your text out loud

Once you’ve created your perfect masterpiece, read it out loud. What looks good on paper and sounds great in your head may not sound so good to your ears. Simply put, we sometimes write stupid things, and reading out loud makes them more obvious.

It’s easy to forget that words we write on paper are read by real people. Thus, ensure your text always has a positive effect on your TA.

 

Conclusion

Copywriting is a combination of art and science. Knowing the latter behind writing effective text is the core, and tricks at the top are your art. One is unsustainable without the other.

Remember the rules, and you will be able to instinctively create effective copies at the speed that will shock others. If you’re still having problems, find out what’s affecting you.

Think about the most recent purchases you made because of advertising and reflect on them. If it worked for you, then the copywriter did the right thing… Right?

 

Yuliia Pavelko
+ posts

Yuliia Pavelko is the Senior Content Manager at Marketbusiness.com and has more than 20 successful projects. She collaborates with famous bloggers, authors of sites like Entrepreneur, and others. 

 

 

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