June 15, 2021

The Byliner

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Copywriting tips for creating persuasive landing pages

12 min read

As a modern marketer, you’re expected to be a multitasker with a diverse skill set. “Multiple hats … love ‘em!” In reality, though, it’s a pretty tough gig.

So, of course you’re constantly looking for ways to shrink the workload—and that includes beefing up your landing page copywriting skills to maximize conversions. What are the highest-performing landing pages doing that makes them so effective? 

Though the world has changed, this question comes back to the same stuff that Greek philosophers were preachin’ back in 350 BCE. See that confident-looking guy in the middle draped in baby blue?

Raphael’s School of Athens ft. Aristotle

Yup, that’s Aristotle. He argued that persuasion consists of three appeals: emotional, ethical, and logical. 

You may be wondering what he can teach you about landing page copywriting. Surprisingly, a lot. Much of what he said centuries ago is true today. To start, we’ve narrowed it down to six quick and effective copywriting tips:

Tip #1: Write like a human (with empathy).Tip #2: Encourage action.Tip #3: Be clear and concise.Tip #4: Validate your copy using social proof.Tip #5: Use statistics strategically.Tip #6: Argue a strong value proposition.

Approached with these tips in mind, every element of your landing page copy can be an intentional play towards winning more conversions. From your headline to your call to action (CTA), sometimes all it takes is swapping one word for another to turn more of your prospects into leads, sales, and sign-ups. 

What’s more? These tips aren’t going anywhere any time soon. We think it’s safe to say that many of Aristotle’s persuasive techniques are timeless. (No, not your mother’s 70’s wedding dress kinda timeless.) Let’s explore how you can apply them to your landing pages.

 

The Emotional Appeal (Pathos)

When people talk about adding emotion to their copy, it becomes a bit of a guessing game in terms of which emotion we should appeal to. Should we tug at their heartstrings? Scare them into buying our product? Make them laugh so hard that their fingers slip and press the “Buy Now” button?According to Unbounce’s 2020 Conversion Benchmark Report, it really depends on the industry. Medical practitioners tend to use words associated with sadness and fear, for instance, while marketers in finance and insurance rely on trust-related language. Take a peek at the full report to see all the industry-specific data. But for now, I’ve got a coupla Aristotelian tips that are foolproof across industries.

Tip 1: Write like a human (with empathy).

How can you do that?

Use inclusive language: Aristotle acknowledged that emotions and experience vary from person to person—and to evoke feeling and persuade, the speaker had to understand and relate to the audience fully. But let’s be real; he was still speaking to people who were a lot like him (Facebook Demographics: Men, Greek, 40+, Likes: Philosophy and Box Wine). He never really had to worry about alienating visitors. But your audience is likely much more diverse, so define your target audience according to what problems you solve, instead of whose problems you solve. On HomeLoanGurus‘ landing page, we can see that they target homebuyers with poor credit scores who are seeking a loan: “Poor credit score? We help when the banks say no.” Getting a loan can be a frustrating, embarrassing process—but by using words such as “you” and “we,” its copy comes off empathetic. They’re here to tackle problems with you, not sell a solution. High-converting landing page copy exampleImage courtesy of HomeLoanGurus and Conversion Lab (Click to see the whole thing.) Use hypophora to frame the problem: Hypo-what? Hypophora is a rhetorical device used when a writer raises a question and then immediately answers it. It’s a great (non-aggressive) way to remind your audience of their pain points, that you totally get it, and you have the solution to fix it. Like Symmetrix does in this supporting copy, by listing off customer pain points in the form of questions: “Were you going to the gym but didn’t know where to start when you got there? Do you want to save yourself the extra time of driving to the gym and getting changed when you arrive?” (As I sit here in my pajamas staring out at the Vancouver rain, the second question speaks to me.) This image is a landing page example that demonstrates hypophora.

But be wary of…

Sounding inauthentic: Expressing empathy can create a connection between you and the audience, but overdoing it comes off as insincere and may harm your brand perception. There are many things going on in the world (#2020WorstYear) that you can incorporate in your copy to engage your audience. But if it’s not done thoughtfully—it’ll seem like you’re just jumping on the bandwagon.Take the business world’s response to Covid-19. It’s one big blur of marketing campaigns appealing to these “unprecedented times.” This compilation video by Sam Hadley sums it up pretty well:

I’m not saying you should avoid talking about the important challenges your audience is facing. But take care that your brand isn’t just repeating cliches. Instead, highlight the unique ways you can help—that’ll resonate more. Looking for examples? Here’s how you can write landing page copy that tackles Covid-19 in an empathetic way.

Tip 2: Encourage action. 

How so?

Focus on concise, powerful action verbs: It’s tempting to dust off the adjectives when hyping up your product, but make sure your copy doesn’t digress. It’s not only hard to follow (and convert), it also may come off as disingenuous. (Think of those long-winded explanations to your parents when you came home past curfew. “You’ll never believe this, but there were no cabs … and then I realized I left my purse back at Jim’s house…”) Since the goal of your landing page is to increase conversions, keep your copy purposive and give your prospects clear direction on how to get there.Actionable CTAs are especially important for conversions. Check out this CTA copy from McDonald’s—we can’t say we’re lovin’ it.

From the hero image, the audience can see the landing page is promoting its coffee. However, how the prospect gets the coffee—through the CTA—is pretty weak. “Find a Location” just adds another step for its caffeine-starved prospects. Instead, we would’ve connected prospects to its delivery service right away: “Order McDelivery” gives prospects a clear direction to a sweet, sweet cup of Joe.

Consider point of view: What POV are you writing in? First and second person POV—through words such as “me” and “my” or “you” and “yours”— helps the audience envision themselves buying or using your product. A simple word swap may be the final nudge they need to convert. Mixmax is an app that accelerates productivity. Using second-person POV and powerful action verbs (my personal favorite is “Mixmax-imize”), it’s pointing at you (yeah, you over there) to take action. How do you take action? Mixmax does a great job sticking to one, clear CTA: “Get Free Demo.” Image courtesy of Mixmax (Click to see the whole thing.) Suggest scarcity: Create a sense of urgency in your copy by noting deadlines, expiration dates, and limited supply. Most people will claim a deal immediately out of fear that it won’t exist tomorrow. In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini points out:

The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.

LIV Watches uses this persuasive tool to promote its latest product launch. (“Don’t miss out!”) Picture the landing page without it. Visitors would just be reading about a snazzy new watch design. Maybe they kinda like it, but perhaps not enough to buy it right away. To Cialdini’s point, for many, the thought of having this watch simply isn’t enough to drive immediate purchases. Many will sleep on it. And most will forget about it or lose interest.

High-converting landing page copy exampleImage courtesy of LIV Watches (Click to see the whole thing.)

By adding the copy that suggests a limited supply—“only 500 will ever be made”—it becomes an exclusive item and time is now ticking to snag one. You could be the 501st person to try and order it—and get denied?! (The horror!) By introducing this idea of potential loss, LIV motivates those indecisive prospects to make the purchase right now. FOMO is a real thing, friends.

Want a quick assessment to see if you’re on the right track? Snag a personalized analysis of your landing page copy here using our Landing Page Copy Analyzer.

The Ethical Appeal (Ethos)

Aristotle described ethos as persuasion through character. In other words, you need to demonstrate to the audience that you’re a credible source of information. For your landing page, we’ve got a couple of ways to increase authority through copy—and it actually requires less writing.

Rather than spinning a big story, show confidence in the value you bring by being transparent. Keep your copy short and simple, and use social proof to uphold your promise. Let’s break it down.

Tip 3: Be clear and concise.

How can you achieve this?

Use fewer words and simpler language: In almost every industry we analyzed in the Conversion Benchmark Report, the reading level of the copy and the total word count are both related to better conversion rates. Rule of thumb? Try to keep it under 300 words and written at a middle-school reading level. (It’s always “use”—never “utilize.” Don’t write “circumlocution” when you can just call something “unclear.”) For example, in the graph below you can see SaaS conversion rates increase as copy becomes shorter and easier to read. Not in SaaS? Check out your industry’s performance in the 2020 Conversion Benchmark Report. Bullet points or lists: Make it easy for your reader by using lists of bullet points. Aristotle would’ve called this “eutrepismus,” but following our discussion on reading ease, we’re gonna take our own advice here and keep it simple. Bullet points and lists are especially great for laying out all the juicy benefits of your product or service. Like what Caneggs does for its protein-packed pancake mix: Repetition: Don’t try to cover everything your product or service can do for every potential customer. Stick to one USP (unique selling proposition), put it in your headline and CTAs, and then repeat it a few times throughout the landing page. Because we see so many ads every day, we’re conditioned to skim for the good bits. Repetition signals what’s important. Tip 4: Validate your copy using social proof.

Yes, you really shouldn’t be writing social proof yourself—see my point above about being authentic—but curating the right testimonials and reviews can do loads to validate and support your landing page copy. In a 2019 survey, 91% of respondents said positive reviews make them more likely to use a business’ services or products. But how do you source and edit your social proof so it’s as persuasive as possible?

How to optimize your social proof:

Source testimonials from your top customers: You may have a ton of customers, but which ones would go to bat for your brand? Using customer engagement tools such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey helps you identify your biggest fans. If they’re clickin’ 9 or 10, you can depend on them to leave a rave review. So follow up with an invitation to leave one! Get specific reviews: Social proof works off of the idea that there’s safety in numbers—but people seek safety in numbers with people just like them. When building landing pages (and variants), it helps to use testimonials that speak to each buyer persona and the products they’re pursuing.Unbounce customer, Woolx, offers a variety of wool apparel for both men and women. But they’ve done a great job sourcing testimonials that are specific to each of their products. This way, when they build out landing pages for their different products, the copy is backed up by reviews with substance (not just a bunch of 😁😁😁 and !!!). Like they do for the Avery leggings: Image courtesy of Woolx and Ad Logic. (Click to see the full thing.) Use relevant endorsements: Social proof can also be in the form of a relevant expert or influencer endorsement. On its landing page, Woolx highlights five outdoor magazine features and includes a quote from Backpacker Magazine. With over 500k Facebook likes and 150k followers on Twitter, Backpacker Magazine says Woolx is the warmest wool they’ve tested?! To some, this endorsement means nothing. To others, Woolx is droppin’ all the right names. 

But be mindful of: 

Using negative social proof: We may think that we’re making an impactful statement by incorporating negative social proof into our copy. But it can give mixed signals. For example, imagine an environmental organization building a landing page for its recycling campaign. It may be tempting to exclaim that 65% of Americans don’t recycle in hopes of motivating their audience to join the movement.But would this statistic get the audience up on their feet to recycle? Or is it normalizing this behavior? It’s certainly a risk. The Logical Appeal (Logos)

While our emotions dictate a lot of our buying behavior,  we all like to believe we’re making smart and logical decisions. So to round out your landing page copy, tap into this consumer tendency to look to reason. (Awkwardly, this just taps into another emotion: trust.) If you can validate your pitch with a statistic or fact, they can validate their purchase and convert. Win-win!

Tip #5: Use statistics strategically. Incorporate the framing effect: As objective as statistics may seem, we can actually frame the same information in various ways to create different effects. Take the earlier example of America’s recycling habits. We could call out the 65% of Americans that aren’t recycling. Or, we can applaud the 35% that is. But is 35% something to brag about? What if we reframe it as 114.87 million Americans recycled in 2019? Much better. And that, my friends, is the framing effect. The purpose of the framing effect isn’t to manipulate, but to express numbers in a way that resonates with your audience. The Ocean Cleanup does a swell job demonstrating how each sale contributes to its cleanup operations on this landing page:

Each pair of sunglasses sold will help clean over 1.5 miles of ocean—which is a lot, but hard to picture if you’re not the nautical type. The organization uses football fields as the metric to show the impact of just one sale. (Now you’re speakin’ our language.) And it seems to be working—there’s over 162, 440 football fields of ocean already clean.

Tip #6: Argue a strong value proposition.

What makes a value prop strong?

Focusing on the benefits: Up until now, we’ve danced around this tip, but it’s one of the most important ones. Sometimes we get so excited about showing off all the flashy features of the product, we forget what visitors really care about. Dedicate your landing page copy to the specific benefits for your customers—because if they can’t see how you directly solve their problems, they will seek a solution elsewhere. We’ve got a whole article on copywriting tips for keeping the spotlight on your customers that you can access here.Drizzle Honey’s landing page offers a sweet demonstration of a benefit-focused value prop. Fact: Drizzle Honey’s products are jam-packed with superfoods. A feature-driven value prop would leave it at that. (“It’s got turmeric and ginger—our work is done here.”)This is just the benefits section. Click to see the whole thing.

Whereas, here they hold up a magnifying glass to each ingredient and its benefits to the consumer. Better digestion, reduced inflammation, improved intestinal health and waste elimination? Now that’s what I’m putting in my tea the morning after taco night.

Anticipating the objection: Procatalepsis, also called prebuttal, is a rhetorical device used to strengthen an argument by dealing with possible counter-arguments before the audience can raise them.On its Unbounce landing page, Peakon anticipates the internal battle we all have when we sign up for a free trial that requires credit card information. (Will I forget and get charged the next month? Will I be too lazy to cancel? Will I even use this free trial?) Right at the top, they assure prospects that no credit card is required. Zero commitment.High-converting landing page copy exampleImage courtesy of Peakon. (Click to see the full thing.)

Peakon also addresses usability-related arguments in the copy supporting the CTA button: “Works everywhere, for everyone.” And they mean it! No matter the language you speak or the size of your business, they’re confident they can “handle anything you throw at them.” Using procatalepsis gives visitors fewer reasons to bounce—leading to more conversions on the spot.

Persuasion: A Tale as Old as Time

Taking the time to understand how to incorporate persuasive techniques into your landing page copy is worth it. Although we feel like some of Aristotle’s terminology could use a little updating—procatalepsis sounds like something that’d send you to the emergency room—you now have six simple copywriting tips in your back pocket for your next landing page.

After you start seeing the conversions roll in, you may be curious how your mastery of persuasion stacks up against the rest. Check out the competitive landscape in our 2020 Conversion Benchmark Report.

Read more: unbounce.com

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