The world today is cluttered and busy. With millions of pages online, people have been forced to filter their content intake. They consume only the content that is relevant to them.
The unfortunate bottom line is no one will read your great offer on your stunning landing page if it isn’t relevant. And, it can’t convert if people don’t read it. That’s why you need to write your landing page with all three types of viewers in mind – readers, scanners, and bottom feeders.
The Three Types of Readers and How to Reach Them
You can optimize your landing page to appeal to each type of reader. By looking at the behavioral psychology of different viewers and how they consume information on the web, you can create an effective landing page that will result in the most conversions.
1. Readers are your most loyal viewers. They start at the top of the page and read every word throughout the post. They are your ideal viewer. However, we live in a world with increasing Internet “clutter” and decreasing attention spans. Therefore, the vast majority of your audience will not fit into this category.
How to reach them – To take care of your readers, there’s just one thing you have to remember. Content is king. All you have to do to win over a reader is present clear, powerful body copy.
2. Scanners read your headline and a few sentences in the introduction. If they’re still interested, they continue to skim through, focusing on your subheadings, highlighted terms, and images to determine if a specific section is worth taking the time to read. Scanners read very little of your content, focusing instead on the words and images that visually stand out.
Scanners, most likely, will make up the majority of your audience.
Web usability consultant Jakob Nielsen found in his groundbreaking eye-tracking studies that scanners view web pages in an F pattern, first reading down the left-hand side, and then scanning across from left to right at the sections that interest them.
The classic “F-Pattern”
Additional research has shown that scanners spend about 80 percent of their time looking at information above the fold (that is, the part of the page that’s visible without having to scroll down).
How to reach them – To entice scanners, you should state your most important points first so the scanners don’t have to scroll down to find them. You’ll also need strong subheadings along the left-hand side and an abundance of bolded key words and phrases, so they can easily identify which sections they care about.
3. Bottom feeders read your headline and a few lead sentences, and then jump right down to the end of the post, where they expect to see a summary of your message. According to the Gutenberg diagram, bottom feeders spend most of their time in the bottom right quadrant, or terminal area, of your landing page.
If they like what they see there, they’ll scroll back up and read your actual offer.
How to reach them – You need to make sure the bottom right area of your landing page features an urgent and specific call to action. It also helps if your conclusion and postscript can stand alone, without any essential information missing, in case bottom feeders don’t actually follow through and scroll back up.
The Importance of Relevance
One thing that all viewers have in common: they decide whether to even glimpse at your landing page in the first place, or not, based on its relevance. Time is of the essence, and people aren’t going to take time out of their day to read or even scan content that doesn’t have any significance for them. That’s why you need to really get to know your target audience and write content that will specifically appeal to them.
According to e-commerce professional Angie Schottmuller, viewers are looking for content that matches three criteria for them in “the triangle of relevance.”
- The content is important based on the current season. That is, the content is relevant because it is timely.
- The content is associated with the viewer’s area of expertise or business. People are interested in content that will help them with their professional development.
- The content is significant because it coincides with the viewer’s personal interests. Content that appeals to a person’s hobbies, interests, curiosities, goals, or dreams is relevant because people like to read about things they enjoy.
While you may not be able to incorporate all three criteria into your landing page, you always should try to target at least two. Find out what’s relevant to your users, and then create the corresponding content to encourage them to stay.
The Five Most Important Sections of Your Landing Page
In the previous section, we discussed that:
- Body copy is important for readers.
- Conciseness, subheadings, and bolded terms are important for scanners.
- Your postscript is important for bottom feeders.
- Your headline and conclusion are important to all three types of readers.
You can use five important parts of your landing page to not only appeal to viewers, but to convey relevance as well. By telling your story strategically in all five areas, every type of viewer will be exposed to your take-home message.
1. Landing Page Headline
All three types of readers use the headline to determine the relevance of a landing page, so it needs to convey your message in a way that will spark initial interest.
Your headline should be specific and succinct, while focusing on one benefit you provide that you think your viewers desire. If you can, you should use the words your customers use themselves.
When it comes to your headline, remember that formatting matters. Your headline should be big, dark, and centered so it’s the first thing readers see on the page. It should be written in “title case” (capitalize the first word, the last word, and all major words in between).
Break up lengthy headlines with ellipses and em-dashes to give your viewers an “eye rest,” and do not use a period at the end of your headline, as it presents a mental stopping point for your readers.
Here are some of blogger Joanna Wiebe’s easy formulas and examples for creating killer headlines:
Formula A: All Gain, No Pain – for when your audience has a clear pain they want you to eliminate
“Get the [Rarely Seen but Relevant Adjective] Power of [What Your Product Does] Without [Pain]”
CrazyEgg homepage example:
Formula B: The Promise-Based SEO Headline – for when SEO is a major consideration for you, and you offer a highly desirable outcome
“[Adjective] & [Adjective] [What You Are/SEO Keyword Phrase] That Will [Highly Desirable Promise of Results]”
AppDesignVault homepage example:
Formula C: The Explicit Promise – for when you know that your visitors will believe a promise from you
“We Promise You This: [Highly Desirable Promise of Results]
Laura Roeder sales page example:
Formula D: The Comparison – for when you know your visitors are using or considering one of your competitors
“[Known Competitor] [Does This Undesirable or Unimpressive Thing], and [Your Brand Name] [Does This Highly Desirable or Impressive Thing]
KISSmetrics homepage example:
Formula E: The Value Prop – for when you offer something that’s both unique to you and highly desirable to your visitors
“[Your Company or Program] is an [SEO Keyword Phrase] that provides [Highly Desirable Outcome or Benefit]”
Clarity Way homepage example:
2. Landing Page Subheadings
Your headline identifies your message. Subheadings then provide the framework.
Just in case you didn’t know – the red arrows are pointing to subheadings :)
Subheadings also can provide relevance to your viewers. The Nielsen study we mentioned earlier found that content written to take advantage of the F pattern produces a 124 percent improvement in visibility.
Since subheadings are the primary way that scanners skim down the left side of the F pattern, they’re crucial in keeping viewers interested and generating conversions.
A good subheading is clear and informative. It will communicate your biggest benefits and overcome any objections you may face. Effective subheadings also should be visually larger and more prominent than your body copy so that scanners don’t have to search to find them.
Here’s a great method for creating subheadings that are both relevant to your message and relevant to your audience:
Try creating a list of your biggest benefits or the strongest objections your offer might face. Then, write informative subheadings that address each one. Make sure your subheadings give enough information to drive sales without any body copy at all. Then, arrange them in a logical order to create an outline for your landing page.
3. Landing Page Body Copy
The job of your body copy is to give detailed, clear information to persuade viewers to accept your offer. Since people usually buy products for emotional reasons, you need to help them visualize your offer by appealing to their senses.
How to Write Body Copy
According to marketing psychology, the easiest way to appeal to the senses is to tell a story. People love to hear stories, especially ones about other people. Your service or product is designed to help people, and thus, has a human component you can use to your advantage. Consider stories of how your brand has helped people in the past, or find a compelling human interest story about the brand from your co-workers or employees.
The first paragraph in your story should pack a punch, but it also should be short. It should mention your customers’ most dire needs and then promise to fulfill them in two or three direct sentences. You want to spark your viewers’ interest with the first paragraph, but you don’t want to scare them off with a block of text. An effective introductory paragraph will pull the viewer in to the second, and the second will pull them into the third, and so on. But you need to get the ball rolling.
A good rule of thumb is to use short, common words that a general audience can understand. The average viewer is at a ninth grade reading level, and nothing will make him/her leave your page quicker than not being able to understand your words.
Using general words doesn’t mean your content won’t be interesting. An entertaining, educational, stimulating or inspiring tone can add value to your content and make it more readable. Emotionally charged words like love, pride, passion, etc. can add even more value and cause positive emotional reactions to your product.
The secret to writing that is both concise and interesting is to use active language. Your aim is to engage your viewer and get them hooked on your message, and action verbs are a great way to do that. Many writers tend to complicate their writing by using long nouns that convolute their big ideas. This weakens your impact and ultimately affects your conversion rate.
Here are some examples of ways to take those complicated nouns and reword them into exciting action verbs:
Noun: Our specialization is in Internet marketing, web design, and all things online.
Verb: We specialize in Internet marketing, web design and all things online.
Noun: What’s special about us is our passion for cars!
Verb: We are passionate about cars!
(The word “passionate” is an adjective, but you see where I’m going with this…)
Seducing your customers can be as easy as that. It’s a fairly simple exercise, but it can make all the difference between static content and active content. Active content leads to active viewers.
What to Write About
So, you should use action verbs in the place of long nouns, but what should you actually write about? Listed below are three elements for some “sexy body copy”:
I. Concrete details that help the viewer visualize how the offer might help them
Example – Our new weight loss pill will help you lose the pounds without having to lose the foods you love!
II. Promises and scientific proof, statistics, and results that show the offer is worth the investment
Example – 87% of people lost 15 pounds within the first 3 months of using the supplement.
III. Stories of satisfied customers that provide social proof that your product has worked for others
Example – Suzie Q. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania said, “I’ve loved this product since day one! It helps me feel fuller faster without having to diet and cut out my favorite foods. I lost 30 pounds in just four months! You’d be crazy not to try it.”
By focusing on what you offer, and more importantly, proof of your ability to provide it, you establish credibility and gain your viewers’ trust. And viewers who trust your brand will buy your brand.
4. Landing Page Conclusion
Your conclusion is your headline’s partner. Again, all three types of readers will look at it. Therefore, you should put just as much energy into it as you did your headline.
The goal of the conclusion is to remind viewers what they can achieve if they respond to your offer. Your conclusion should sum up your message nicely and re-stress the benefits you provide.
Use the same writing style as in your body copy, while emphasizing the one benefit you incorporated into your headline.
5. Landing Page Postscript (P.S.)
Next to the headline, your postscript is the most critical spot in your promotion. This is the terminal area we talked about earlier where your call to action should be located. Since this is where you’ll get your conversions, it’s really important to make an impact here.
Postscript sections should restate your offer and give a little extra incentive for viewers to accept it. They should be clear and urgent, and possibly offer an additional benefit.
Lea Pierce, founder of Wine Country Wordsmiths, has four strategies to add some extra oomph to your postscript CTA:
- Add a bonus offer, restate your unbelievable guarantee, or mention a recent study for an extra bit of credibility.
- Use multiple lines of P.S.
- Add a deadline to push viewers to take action.
- Use a short testimonial.
People are busy these days. Readers will read every word on your landing page, but scanners and bottom feeders don’t have the time or the desire. Therefore, you have to consider their specific habits and optimize your landing page to appeal to them.
Scanners view your page over the fold and in an F pattern. Put your most important information first, and emphasize your subheadings and key words to gain their interest.
Bottom feeders focus on your headline and conclusion sections. Make sure those two parts independently convey your message so your bottom feeders never even have to scroll back up.
Remember, all viewers look for information that is timely and relevant to their professional or personal interests. Relevance is their motivation to read. Make sure you emphasize why your product matters all throughout your page.
With a strategic beginning and ending, an informative and persuasive body, and evidence of relevance throughout, all of your viewers can get to the point of your offer as quickly as possible. That will help you earn more conversions.
About the Author: Shane Jones is the Director of Earned Media at WebpageFX, a Central PA Internet Marketing Agency. Additionally, Jones is a reporter at Econsultancy US, where he writes on conversion marketing. Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, or check out his Consumer Psychology blog.