Most businesses understand the importance of content. But they commit a cardinal sin while creating it: they let their competition write it.
They choose flashier templates than their competitors. Their content revolves around why they feel their product is better than the competition. The goal becomes to attract customers by saying “Believe us when we say we’re the best.”
Would leaders of businesses believe such claims when they’re in buyers’ shoes? But the sheer number of generic and boringly similar landing pages shows that they do it all the time as sellers.
Then there are the effective landing pages, the ones that achieve their goals. These pages put potential buyers at the center. Their content makes each reader feel like it was written for her, assures her that the business understands her problems, and promises to make her life better.
How can you write such content for your landing page? Simple. Make your target audience write it.
Of course, I don’t mean this literally. Your audience has enough on their plate already. So you can do the next best thing. Make them dictate it to you.
Here are three simple ways to do it with examples.
1. “Mine” Their Opinions
Discussion boards, review mining, and conversations on social media are a godsend, according to Joanna Wiebe. They hold plenty of undiscovered gems for your content copy.
“Because products and services like yours already exist, it’s likely that people who have purchased [them] have shared their opinions about them online. You can read through those reviews. Learn what people love, hate, are worried about. Learn what their expectations and motivations are for solutions like yours. And even find really sticky messages.”
While working on a project with a rehab center, Wiebe read over 500 reviews of books. One direct quote from a reviewer stood out and became the headline of the landing page, resulting in over 400% more clicks and 20% more form submissions.
I tried something similar while creating content for a company that sold Learning Management Solutions. Along with review mining, I pored through conversations and profiles of Learning and Development experts on LinkedIn. These steps offered deep insights to create content that resonated with the target audience.
Platforms like Reddit, Product Hunt, Amazon, Goodreads, and Hootsuite won’t just help you mine reviews and track social media conversations. They’ll also give you insights into what your customers really want. And that’s worth its weight in gold.
But the next step is even better.
2. Interview Them Personally
Wiebe couldn’t speak to customers of the rehab center because such conversations could trigger disturbing emotions. But Alex Turnball, the CEO of Groove, spoke to his. This alone helped them understand the experiences of users like no survey could.
Businesses and brands find it easy to send out email surveys so they can “avoid wasting time” speaking to customers and instead, focus on developing their product, marketing, and sales. But this has plenty of drawbacks.
Then, surveys limit customer insights. Your audience objectively answers questions you prioritize. (“On a scale of 1 to 5, how do you rate this metric that’s important to us?”) Or they vaguely answer open-ended questions.
But speaking to customers personally opens Pandora’s box for you.
Asking for feedback alone makes customers feel appreciated and strengthens their bond with you. Plus, you get raw, off-the-cuff insights into how they think and feel about your product.
Speaking directly also gives you insights into what you can do better. For instance, customers of a client I worked with mentioned that they didn’t know about the other products the company offered. So we began sending monthly informational emails about our products. Within three months, the company witnessed a 21% increase in leads from existing customers and referrals.
Pick up the phone and talk to your customers. Ask them questions. What do they like about the product? Why do they like it? Which problem does it help them solve? Why was that a problem? What are their objections?
The deeper you dive, the more gems you discover for your landing pages.
“The question gets you the answer. The follow-up question gets you gold.” — Jason Fried.
(On a side-note, you can also educate them about certain features they might be struggling with on the call itself. Or you can solve tiny problems that irritate them. These quick wins will delight customers.)
3. Ask Google for Help
I stumbled upon this insightful tip by John Bonini on LinkedIn.
When you run a Google search for a primary keyword, the questions that show up in the results will make your landing page’s outline write itself.
For instance, the following questions show up when I search for the keyword “landing page content”:
1. What should a landing page contain?
2. How do you write landing page content?
3. What makes a landing page effective?
4. What should a landing page look like?
Combine your insights from user interviews and data mining with your own research to create useful answers for these questions. The result? Your landing page won’t just keep visitors engaged. It’ll also rank better in search engines.
Bonus Tip: Write for a Friend
It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of drafting product-centric or “sales-y” content. Or to bomb your content with jargon and adjectives to describe superlative experiences, best-in-class features, or the unique, intuitive design.
Such content could make you feel like the product sounds unmistakably spectacular. But readers don’t think so. In fact, they get put off.
Your content should always focus more on the potential buyer than on the product.
In her brilliant teardown of Apple’s Sales copy, Henneke Duistermaat wrote:
The sales copy uses the word iPhone 81 times. And the name Apple is used an additional 26 times. But the words you and your are used even more often: 110 times. That means that one in 23 words of the sales copy is you or your. Here are a few examples:
So you can browse, download, and stream content at remarkable speeds, wherever you happen to be.
With one less layer between you and what you see on iPhone 5, you experience more clarity than ever before.
So with iPhone 5, the games you play, the words you read, the images you see, and the apps you love look and feel incredibly vivid and lifelike.
Shorten your sentences. Leave the technical details for the sales call. Let your content address your target audience’s pressing problems — the ones they really have, not the ones you think they have. Show them how they can be heroes in their own lives.
Intrigue your audience enough and they’ll take the action you hope for. That’s when your landing page has fulfilled its purpose.
This is work. But it’s incredibly rewarding. After all, it’s much easier to build an impressive building on a solid foundation than on a shaky one.
When you do the important things that don’t scale, scaling up the right way is inevitable.