Lately I’ve been struck by a strange feeling I like to call non-buyer’s regret.
I define the term like this: regret about all the quality products and services a bad landing page has dissuaded me from buying, and a little sadness for the thousands of entrepreneurs whose good ideas have been killed by a landing page that turns visitors off rather than on.
If you’re trying to sell a product or service through your website (or if you’re open to the possibility in future), here’s an opportunity to get inside the mind of your average prospect and learn the thirteen things that make good landing pages go bad.
Sign #1: It can be measured in feet.
(Leave that for mountains and people).
Most written requests that come with a fourteen page preamble are unreasonable requests. If you need 5,000 words to explain why your product is worth buying, that’s an early indicator to potential clients that it probably isn’t.
Here’s another mistake copywriters make: assuming anyone has the time or will to spend an hour and forty minutes reading about your product or service.
I can’t think of any reason why a landing page should exceed more than 1,000 words per product/service you’re selling.
If that’s not enough space to say everything you want, link to a FAQ at the end and stick all the remaining information there.
People love FAQs a lot more than they love most landing pages. The process will also force you to be picky about what you include and what you don’t.
Sign #2: It Has Extra Special Sentences Where Every Word Begins With a Capital Letter.
If You’re Not Enjoying Reading This, You’re Not Alone.
Unless used within a title (note: not a subtitle), this method communicates only one thing: “Hey, you’re reading a sales page and I’m trying really hard to get you to buy something that you may not actually need.”
It’s also painful to read, which probably means most visitors to your landing page will skip it.
Sign #3: The text is centered.
When did copywriters decide that centering large chunks of text would be appealing? Centered body text looks unprofessional, it’s bad readability, and it’s straight out of 1998. (McSweeney’s is the only exception.)
Sign #4: It includes minimal information about the product or service being sold.
Most landing pages repeat the same core message over and over again:
- Why people should buy this product/service
That element is important, but without other information, it doesn’t hold water. Here is the trio you should be aiming for:
- What the product/service actually is (in detail)
- How it can help your target market get what it wants
- Why people should buy it
Sign #5: Its headings are in primary colors when the surrounding design is not.
Nothing screams sales page like garish headings in primary colors, especially if those same colors don’t appear anywhere else in your design. I’m also puzzled by the average web copywriter’s fondness for the color red.
“My number one want is to make new visitors feel comfortable and trusting… and I’ve got an idea on how to do that. I’ll make all my headings the color of blood.”
Sign #6: The writer’s rule of thumb is 1 paragraph per 500 words.
Massive blocks of text are intimidating. They’ll also prevent scanners from being able to get an accurate summary of what you’re offering, strongly damaging your chances that they’ll go back and deep read.
Sign #7: It tries too hard.
Thirty-six testimonials, forty-five exclamation marks and fifteen sub-headings later, a face-to-face salesperson delivering the same lines would be panting and red in the face.
If you’ve ever been dissuaded from a purchase by a pushy sales-person, a desperate sales page is the non-human equivalent.
If you’re anything like me, it’s those super-helpful sales people who’re willing to recommend a product cheaper than the one you were thinking of, will alert you to the potential pitfalls of a product and seem most unbiased that will have you shelling out more money than you ever planned on spending.
Is your landing page helpful or pushy?
Sign #8: The font size of your sales page is 2x bigger than the font size used throughout the rest of the site.
A sales page should never look like it’s been enclosed in H2 tags. Big, gaudy, overly formatted and over-emphasized text is only going to make your sales efforts look desperate and cheesy.
Your base text should be the same size as the text you use throughout your website or blog. Starting small also gives you somewhere to go when you want to use occasional sub-headings for emphasis.
Sign #9: It uses “quotation marks” for emphasis.
For most people, quotation marks around words in a sentence usually indicate terms with “questionable meaning”. You really don’t want the following in your copy:
“Honest and Hard Working”
Sign #10: Exclamation marks travel in packs.
Double or triple exclamation marks scream all hype and no substance. Single exclamation marks can be effective when used sparingly, but multiples of two and three will make your landing page look spammy.
Sign #11: It uses unattributed testimonials.
I could claim that Mark from Vancouver has said “Anywired is the best blog ever. Three times as good as Lifehacker and Zen Habits combined, in fact.”
Mark doesn’t have a website, business or a photo, so there’s no way to check if he’s a real person. Without some proof of his existence, visitors may suspect that the testimonial is fake (despite his opinion being so widely held).
I’d suggest that you only include testimonials with links to the blog, website or business website of the owner, with a photo.
If you can’t provide these things, I’d suggest adding more detail about who the person is and why they’re talking about your product.
Sign #12: The copy seems full of hype.
Does your landing page sell your product or just hype it? They are two very different things.
While hype around a product coming from someone without a vested interest can be a very effective persuader (for example, hype from a friend), hype from someone with a vested interest in what they’re hard-selling will make visitors much more wary.
It’s important to communicate the benefits of your product, but avoid hype-laden language.
Sign #13: It looks like every other landing page.
It seems as if one particular style was established for most web landing pages in 1995 and a lot of copywriters are determined to stick to it.
One of the things that has allowed web users to develop ad-blindness is that advertising generally looks the same.
If your sales page looks like every other sales page out there, the first impression it creates won’t be: “Oh, here’s some good information about the product to help me make a decision”.
Instead, it says: “I’m going to try to sell you something now — so get ready.” The effect will make it more difficult for your landing page to persuade, even if your product is truly worth buying.