Are the words on your landing page making visitors press the back button?
This simple 3-step guide will help you create words that get results.
Why are you sending your customers away?
Every day, prospective customers are performing searches on Google looking for a business just like yours. They scan your home page, stay for 3-5 seconds and then leave, never to be seen again. If you don’t believe me, go and take quick look at the engagement rate of your website in Google Analytics.
As well as losing sales, Google now ranks a website lower in the search results if it fails to engage visitors when they click through from a Google listing.
Dull, generic copy on your landing pages causes your Google ranking to drop, loses sales, loses traffic and damages the reputation of your brand.
Studies show that improving your landing page copy generates far more sales than simply attempting to drive extra traffic and at considerably less cost and time.
By using this simple 3-step process to creating better website copy, my clients have seen conversion rates increase by 300%-500% and their sites jump in ranking to the top position on Google for highly-competitive keywords.
First, we need to understand why visitors are leaving your site.
People who come to your site from a search engine are very different to those who come via a personal recommendation.
Search engine visitors have no special preference to buy from you or anyone else. They always have the option of clicking the back button to find any number of other businesses similar to yours.
Search visitors will stay on your landing page for an average of 3-5 seconds before they decide to stay or leave. In that time, they won’t scroll down the page or click on any of the links.
They are trying to understand as quickly as possible:
1) Do you supply the service or products I am looking for?
2) Why should I buy that product or service from you?
3) How can I tell that you are trustworthy and reputable?
4) What do I do next?
The design and wording of your landing page must answer these questions as quickly and as succinctly as possible. If it doesn’t, your visitors will click the back button and move on to your competitor’s website.
Is your landing page copy as dull as this one?
Look at this example from the website of a real domestic cleaning company. It is typical of the copy many search visitors are forced to read with when they land on a commercial website:
Affordable, Fully-Insured and Professional Cleaners in Croydon
Call 07777 123456 – Our domestic house cleaning services include one-off cleans, End of Tenancy Cleaning and Professional Carpet Cleaning to suit your budget and requirements. Our cleaning packages and charges are tailored to your needs and size of home. We are a family-run business, not a cleaning agency or franchise, so our prices are affordable. We are very flexible and we tailor our cleaning plans to your exact requirements.
1) The words focus entirely on the business and not the prospective customer. As a prospective customer, I really don’t care that much about their business, I care only about how their business can help me.
2) Are the benefits described those that matter to me most? Isn’t it stating the obvious that “… charges are tailored to the size of the home”? Is “low-cost” the most important factor most people consider when looking for a domestic cleaner?
3) The wording is generic and conveys no sense of personality. This same copy could be reproduced by a thousand other cleaning companies. It reveals nothing at all about the people behind the business or how suited they are to me, the customer.
4) The copy doesn’t help me to differentiate this cleaning company from any other. If the owners of the business can’t decide why I should use them over any other cleaning company, what hope do I have of answering this question myself?
5) All this copy manages to achieve is to inform me that they are a domestic cleaning company. It answers only one of the four questions I need to satisfy before I can take an action.
The 3 easy steps to effective, persuasive landing page copy
So now we know what not to do, let’s use this cleaning company as an example of how we can transform those dull, generic words into copy that helps visitors understand what you do, how you differ and why they should take an action on your website.
Step 1) Find out what problem you are really solving for your customers
The people who manage a business are often those least qualified to understand why people really buy their products or services.
If I asked the owner of a cleaning company what problem they solve for their customers, they might say that their customers don’t have enough time, or just don’t want to do the cleaning themselves. That’s a very superficial understanding of what motivates someone to hire a cleaner.
For someone working long hours in a stressful job, the idea of coming home to a clean and tidy house might be what makes their home a sanctuary. To someone running around after children or looking after an elderly parent, hiring a cleaner might represent freedom and time to themselves; time for coffee with friends, to practise yoga or get a manicure. Hiring a cleaner could even be preventing marital disputes. It might be making someone’s life actually bearable.
Of course this isn’t only true of cleaning companies. The underlying reasons why people book a holiday, start a pension, buy a car or hire an accountant are often quite different to how the people who work in those industries perceive them to be.
When the copy on your website indicates that you have a really good awareness of the problems your products or services solve, you demonstrate an immediate sense of empathy for your prospective customers.
Instead of being someone just wanting to take their money, you become a business that genuinely understands them and wants to help them solve their problems.
When we understand what matters most to our customers, we can transform the copy on our landing pages from meaningless, generic statements to words that make people sit up and think, “Now here’s someone that really understands me!”
Instead of using copy such as, “Affordable, Fully-insured and Professional Cleaners in Croydon” we might say, How would it feel to come home every day to a beautifully clean and tidy home?”. Which of these headings do you think would be more likely to get someone’s attention?
Listening to your customers
Imagine that you own a car showroom. A customer walks in and starts looking at one of your cars. Without any prior discussion, you inform her that the car accelerates from 0-60 in less than 5 seconds. You also mention that the car has a top speed of 185 mph and 414 brake horsepower.
In fact, the customer was wondering whether the boot space was big enough for her baby’s buggy, how fuel efficient the car was and how safe it would be in a collision. By not taking the time to listen to the customer before you attempted to sell the car, you alienated the customer and made her feel that the car is unsuitable for her needs.
Website copy that has been written without first trying to understand what matters to the customer is no different from the car salesman described above.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get
If you have an existing database of customer’s email addresses, I suggest you conduct an online survey using a free tool such as SurveyMonkey.com.
At no cost at all you can run a survey of up to 200 responses to ask your existing customers the following questions:
- How would you describe my business to a friend or colleague?
- Why did you choose my business over my competitors?
- What prompted you to look for my product/service?
- What do you feel you gained most from using my product/service?
Keep it short and let them be free to answer the questions any way they choose. From my experience, customers love being asked for their opinion. It helps them feel valued and important.
If you don’t have an existing database of customers, another option is to see what customers say when they leave reviews for businesses like yours.
Take a look at this Word Cloud I created free of charge with the free tool at Tagxedo.com
It took me approximately 10 minutes to create this Word Cloud by copying all of the testimonials left for a cleaning company on a popular review website and then pasting them into Tagxedo to create the Word Cloud you see above.
The Word Cloud displays the words used most often in the largest font and those that were mentioned less frequently in the smallest font. We can now see what factors mattered most to people who hired a cleaning company.
These words then form the key benefits we highlight on the landing page of our website using the exact terminology that the customers use themselves. This will help to signify an understanding and empathy with people in the precise target market we are trying to reach.
Step 2) How to be different
If every cleaner’s website we visited used the same language and offered the same benefits, the only way we could differentiate one from the other is by price.
When price becomes the only differentiating factor, customers will always buy from the cheapest.
By failing to communicate the difference between your business and your competitors, you not only risk a significant drop in profits, you also create less choice for the consumer. Understanding your Unique Selling Point (USP) is a fundamental principle for marketing any business.
What’s interesting about a USP is that the difference really doesn’t need to be something startlingly innovative or distinctive. The difference could be something as subtle as your branding, your smile or your location. You don’t need to revolutionise an entire industry to find a difference that matters to your target market. For example, Is the car you drive substantially different from every other model of car on the road?
Competitor Analysis Exercise
I want you to experience the same journey that your customers take when they are looking for a business like yours online. As hard as this may sound, I want you to try and forget that you work in your industry. Try to imagine how it might feel to know as little about your field as your prospective customers.
Take another look at the Word Cloud you created in Step 1 and try to put yourself in the mind-set of someone to whom those issues matter most.
I then want you to perform a search on Google using the same search terms that your customers are most likely to use when searching for the products and services that you sell online.
If you are unsure what search terms they might be using, either ask your friends or family what terms they would use or use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to find out.
Now visit the first five websites you find on Google that you consider to be viable competitors. It is possible that your opinion may be so subjective and prone to bias that you have to ask someone who is not involved in your business to pick out these competitors for you.
Once you have a list of five competitors’ websites, I want you to get a sheet of paper, draw a vertical line down the centre and add the headings “Good” and “Bad” at the top of the two columns.
You will then list all of the good and bad points about each of these five websites in the relevant column on the sheet of paper.
I will demonstrate this with an example here using a few cleaning company websites I found on the first page of Google when searching for “Cleaning companies in London”:
Website 1 – Twinkle Cleaners:
Website 2 – CCL Cleaners:
Website 3 – Friendly Cleaners:
This isn’t a time-consuming process and you don’t need to look any further than the landing page of the websites.
We then group all of the good and bad points to arrive at a refined list of features that my own website must and must not have.
- Professionally designed
- Professional branding and logo
- Simple, clean design
- Photographs of real people involved in the business
- Prominent trust signals such as reviews and contact details
- A clear Call to Action button
- A sense of the personality of real people in the business
- Perfect spelling and grammar
Must not haves:
- Lots of dense text
- Generic text that lacks personality
- Stock images
- Pop-ups or intrusive, hard-sell messages
- Moving images that distract visitors
- A template-feel to the design
As you can see, I am building up a clear list of “do’s and don’ts” for my web designer. By including all the good points of the sites I visited and excluding all of the negatives, I will create a unique, new website that should make my prospective customers happy.
Sometimes, the only USP your business needs is to communicate what you do better than your competitors.
Step 3 – It’s really not about you
I hate to be the one to break this to you, but your prospective customers don’t really care about you at all.
They don’t care that you are passionate about what you do, that you have 20 years’ experience or that you provide a wide range of products or services.
They don’t much care about any of the features of your business, your products or your service. They care only about how those features translate into benefits that matter to them.
When you create copy for your website you need to stop talking about yourself, your business or your products and instead talk only about how your business will provide real benefits to the customer. Even your “About Us” page must become a page that doesn’t talk about you at all but what you will do for your customers.
Let’s look at a few examples:
“We have over 20 years’ professional experience”
“20 years’ of professional experience means you always come home to a sparklingly clean house”
“We supply only trustworthy, English-speaking cleaners”
“All cleaners are vetted to ensure that you can communicate with them in perfect English and never have to worry about leaving them alone in your home”
Although the difference may seem subtle, the “me” version talks about the business, the “you” version talk about benefits to the customer.
Most websites are designed the wrong way around. The business decides what they want to say to their customers and then instruct a web designer to build a site for their business. This is a process destined to fail.
The website you are building is for your customers, not for your business. By using your customers own language and only talking about the things they care about most, your business will stand head and shoulders above your competitors and your conversion rates will go through the roof.
1) Find out what matters most to your customers by using a survey or customer reviews.
2) Find the key benefits that make you different from your competitors and communicate those differences clearly on your landing pages.
3) Talk only about benefits to the customer, not about your business.
If you want to see this process in action, take a quick look at the home page of this website. Notice how often the words “you” and “your” appears in the text.
If you want to learn more about online marketing, follow me on Twitter Follow @DannyRichman