When it comes to copywriting, landing pages are an important part of your clients’ website. Sure, there’s the home page, the About page, the blog, the product and services pages. But as vital as though as those pages are, the big difference between them and landing pages is that landing pages convert visitors into leads. With the exception of the blog, few (if any) of the other pages of copywriting on a site actually do anything beyond providing information and raising awareness. The landing pages are the ones where your client gathers intelligence on prospects, and yet, for some reason, the copy on them is often poorer quality than on other, less significant pages.
Here are five of the most common copywriting mistakes affecting landing pages:
#1: The Copy is Too Long / Too Short
This might sound like a paradox, but both are common mistakes. Copy that’s too long and presents the reader with a solid block of text is not going to get read, while copy that’s too short might miss out on conveying exactly what the page is selling. To provide your reader with a return on time invested (ROTI), the landing page needs to tell him just enough to make it worth his while to stay there.
#2: You’re Keeping ‘Em in Suspense
One of my pet peeves is that landing pages so often send the reader (me!) on a hunting expedition. I’ve read the pitch or blog; I’ve clicked on the CTA and I’m here. Now, don’t make me scroll back and forth hunting for what to do next. Make it clear what I’m here to do, how/where to do it and what I’m going to get in exchange.
#3: The Message is Inconsistent
Landing page copywriting often tries to say too many things, and in the process your primary message can get lost in translation. Web usability expert Steve Krug says you shouldn’t make the reader have to think. If you’re offering product price comparisons in your CTA, don’t lead your landing page with the benefits of a particular product or a subscription to your e-newsletter. Make the landing page all about a single message and stick to it. It’s like golf—the purpose is to get the ball into the hole, not check out the scenery on the way.
#4: Not Using Doing Words
Make the landing page copy actionable by using verbs as much as you can. There’s a reason why copywriting principles focus on direct, active voice instead of passive and indirect. What’s more effective here?
Example 1 - This is a comprehensive network engineering program that:
- Utilizes your existing Nortel phones
- Integrates smart phones, laptops, office telephones, home phones and tablets
- Collaborates with others in real time without boundaries, across multiple locations
- Improves responsiveness to customers
- Simplifies technology systems
- Maximizes your telephony investment
Example 2 - With this program, you will:
- Reduce your capital expenditure by utilizing existing Nortel phones
- Integrate your smart phones, laptops, office telephones, home phones and tablets
- Collaborate with others in real time without boundaries, across multiple locations
- Improve your responsiveness to customers
- Simplify your technology systems
- Maximize your company’s telephony investment
The first one isn’t too bad because it uses action words, albeit indirectly. The second, however, speaks directly to the reader. It makes the message personal.
#5: Choosing Creativity over Clarity
You’ve been creative, with the copywriting that brought your reader to the landing page. Now, it’s time for clarity over creativity. Imagine you’re on a timer and it’s set for 4 seconds. That’s the amount of time the average Internet user takes to decide whether to stay or go. So whatever you say on your client’s landing page, you have to make the point as briefly and clearly as possible. After you’ve written it, delete all the fluff and extraneous words. Remove all the “in facts” and “actuallys” and make the copy as concise as it can be without losing meaning.
We all have clients who don’t know what they want. Or, if they do, we know they are wrong. If you want to maintain your integrity as a writer, you can’t just subscribe to the principle that the client is always right. There’s a reason he’s asked you to write the material—because you’re supposed to know what works and what doesn’t. So don’t go along with a landing page that you just know isn’t going to work. Explain and educate.