First up, here’s some reassuring news if you’re new to writing landing pages and not sure where or how to begin. Landing pages aren’t magic. Nor are the art. And they’re definitely not some complicated jumble of neurolinguistic programming and marketing techniques.
Nope. In fact, an effective landing page is an unusually simple piece of writing built around three basic concepts: authenticity, empathy, and — for want of a better word ending with the letter “y” — humility.
Want to write an effective landing page? Here’s how you do it.
Be Authentic. Add Real Value
If you like shortcuts, just read this first rule and call it a day. If I’m super-honest, you can break pretty much any other rule of writing and still cobble together a way to make your landing page work. But this first rule you absolutely can’t break, for one simple reason.
People aren’t stupid.
Now to clarify, people as a group can be incredibly stupid. But individual readers in isolation are smart, fiercely independent, and don’t take at all kindly to being manipulated. You need to have something real to offer on your landing page.
Sure, you’ll deliver your message in your own voice. You may even add some repetition, spin, and hyperbole here and there. But here’s the litmus test. If you cut all of that bonus content out and find yourself left with a blank page, keep it that way. Don’t write a landing page if your starting premise is “how do I make them think this is real?” instead of “how do I make them see how truly great this is?”
Here’s a great example of real value add. Check out The Economic Secretariat — a site I don’t write for — and pick a review at random. Each review on this site happened because the site owner has a real opinion of the product. They’ve tried it and can share helpful insights from actual experience.
Place a real pot of gold at the end of your proverbial rainbow.
Empathize With Your Reader
A landing page is, if nothing else, an appeal to another person’s self-interest. Part of this is purely stylistic. Instead of writing about why your product is great, couch the same information as to why your reader’s life will be better, once they have your product.
But it’s more than that.
Humans are self-centered. It’s easier to write about yourself and for yourself than it is to write about and for someone else.
Here’s an exercise for you. Write a sales pitch pretending you’re writing a script for a TV commercial. Now write your landing page as though you’re directly pitching a prospect (someone you just met) to their face. Now write the same pitch a third time, this time imagining you’re sitting next to your best friend, telling them why they should buy your product. If you felt the center of your pitch shift away from you and toward your audience with each successive draft, you’re getting a taste of what empathic writing feels like.
When you pitched your friend, you (hopefully!) cared that they got a good deal. You personalized your message to what you knew they liked. You sold your idea to them with a keen awareness that if you were misleading them, they’d let you know all about it, probably telling all your mutual friends as well.
It’s important to recognize that the mindsets of a vendor and a potential customer are fundamentally different. Good landing pages start with a point of familiarity with and empathy for your customer.
Be Humble, And Self-edit Like A Vicious Wolverine
Now we’re delving into more conventional writing techniques, but my first advice is not to lose sight of the abject humility these methods require.
Have you noticed that most people writing content for themselves to avoid editing their own work? It’s like the act of editing is the emotional equivalent of a cobwebby attic filled with weirdly lifelike dolls and an assortment of rusty scissors.
Most people hate to ruthlessly edit their own words not because it’s time-consuming or boring. The deeper reason is that it’s hard to be wrong. It’s painful and humiliating to believe you wrote something perfectly, only to re-read it and suddenly realize it was just plain horrible.
But it happens all the time, to all writers.
So, the advice here is simple on one level, but most people will avoid it at all costs. Write in drafts. Expect your first attempt to suck, and be prepared to blank your page and start over. And even once you’ve written a landing page you love, avoid rush-publishing it. Sit on the text a few days and reread it. Attack everything that doesn’t work. Be a vicious word wolverine with your own work. If it hurts, you’re doing it right.
Oh, and here’s the killer question to ask yourself. Is it too long?
Hint: it’s almost certainly going to be too long. First attempts always are.
Less Is More. Less Is Also More Difficult
Landing pages are an important part of any website. It’s natural to feel more pressure writing a landing page than a conventional blog post or article. However, if you can approach the task with a commitment to authentic content, an empathy-driven perspective, and a willingness to be (sometimes horribly) wrong, you too can write an effective landing page.
Oh, and snacks. You’ll definitely need snacks.