10 Idiot-Proof Ways To Generate Trust With Your Landing Page Copy

by 24 01/09/2012

Landing pages are those web pages specifically designed to perform one task…it could be to sell your product, encourage people to sign up for an email newsletter or recommend an event.

No matter the purpose, however, a landing page must build trust from the very beginning and never let up. The moment it does, your prospect will likely take a hike.

Here are ten very simple ways to keep him from doing that.

1 – Match Ad Copy With Landing Page Headlines

More than likely people will arrive on your landing page from some other source, like a text ad. This is where the journey of building trust begins. In a nutshell, your landing page headlines and ad copy should match.

For example, I searched Google for “landing page conversion.” Here are the text ads that popped upon the left:

I chose the last one because it looked pretty unique and makes a pretty big promise. Unfortunately, when I clicked through I didn’t get that as a headline. Here’s what I got:

There seems to be a disconnect here, don’t you think?

I want to know more about “+191% conversion rate” but the only thing that satisfies that curiosity is a large, non-clickable icon.

Wouldn’t you think mentioning something as specific as “+191 conversion rate” merits an explanation?

I do, too.

This company makes the mistake of not answering that unique promise right off the bat, which will probably bounce people right off the page, which brings us to the next element.

2 – Write Seductive Headlines

Like I mentioned above, that text ad was pretty compelling. It was specific and had a benefit-laden promise. See, when a user hits your landing page, you need to pull out the big guns. You need to make a beautiful promise that solves one of their pain points. This is the trick to getting people’s attention.

Take a peek at the headlines that Russ Henneberry found on Prevention magazine:

Notice anything special about those headlines? They are unique, ultra-specific, urgent and/or useful. Your landing page headlines need to do the same thing. Your headlines needs to grab your target audience and force them to keep reading.

When you give your target audience what they want, you are naturally going to raise trust and landing page conversion.

3 – Create Compelling Landing Page Copy

Your next step to creating trust on your landing page is by writing great copy. Here’s a landing page from 37 Signals product Basecamp:

Basecamp Landing Page Copy

Notice the short paragraphs, short sentences and easy-to-understand language? Those are all elements that build trust. If you use words that people find hard to understand, then you can easily alienate then.

Avoid jargon.

Here are a few more elements to use in your copy that generates trust [and create scannable copy]:

  • Sub Headlines. If your landing page is long, then you need to give reader’s visual clues to what the entire page contains. Each sub headline should summarize in a compelling fashion the copy beneath it.
  • Bullet Lists. Because you can scan bullet lists, people love it when you use them. So, break chunks of copy up with a liberal use of bullets.
  • Limit the use of links. Since this is your landing page, the last thing you want to do is distract people with links that lead them away from the page. If you need to explain something to the reader, then do it on the page.
  • No typos. One of the quickest ways you can break trust with your reader is with typos. Make sure spelling and grammar is correct on the page. Readers are looking for reasons to leave your page. Don’t give it to them.

4 – Display Impressive Numbers

Another great way to create trust is to show how many people are using your current product or service.  This is a form of social proof and it goes a long way in getting others to sit up and take notice.  Here’s what Copyblogger does to encourage people to sign up for their blog:

Copyblogger Builds Social Proof

You also see social proof in action on how many comments have been entered and social media mentions. For example here are my social numbers on one of my Copyblogger articles:

Copyblogger and Social Proof

Social proof helps people make decisions based on limited information. Should I read this post? Gee whiz, 177 people commented and 888 tweets…I need to see what this is about.

This doesn’t only apply to blog posts.  The same is true of your landing page.  How can you show people that your product can be trusted?

5 – Supply Endorsements

Want to build credibility with your readers immediately? Then show off those impressive endorsements from those prestigious organizations have been giving you. Here’s 37 Signals again to show you what I mean:

It’s those organisations in the red box I want to point out to you.

Let me ask you a quick question: Before now, have you ever heard of 37 Signals? If not, seeing the companies and organizations who use their products…does that change your view of them from “strangers to be cautious with” to “people with a reputation you can trust?”

I bet that’s the case. And that’s the power of endorsements.

6 – Highlight 3rd Party Certification

Since your landing page is more than likely going to be selling something, you need to demonstrate you can be trusted.

In other words, since people are going to exchange their hard-earned money for your product…and probably over the Internet…then you need to demonstrate that you’re not going to take or lose their money or expose them to identity theft.

How do you do that? That’s where third-party certification comes in, organizations like VeriSign and Better Business Bureau. Here’s the bottom of the page of New Egg:

Both VeriSign and Better Business Bureau [BBB] are internationally-recognised as organizations that provide customers a safe way to buy products online. You really shouldn’t sell something online without these pieces in place.

7 – Display Press Mentions

If you have a product that has been mentioned in the press, then you need to mention what was said about your product and by who.

Here’s how Base Camp does it:

Press mentions work on the same level as endorsements. Press mentions tell your readers “You can trust the people and product behind this landing page because high-profile media is sticking their necks out by saying good things about their products.”

This is one reason that early in product development it’s important to try and bring media attention to your product.

8 – Don’t Skimp On Design

Short quiz…look at the two snippets of landing page design below and tell me which one you would trust more…

This one, exhibit A…

Or this one, exhibit B…

If you’re like me, then you probably chose exhibit B. I’m not into hypnosis, but if I was to put my money somewhere I’d put it with the guy who looks like he actually spent some money developing and designing his landing page.

Design is such an important factor when it comes to trust and making sales, Brian Clark at Copyblogger built a product around the concept.

Can you tell which one it is?

9 – Tone Down Those Terms and Conditions

When your product or service demands that you explain the terms and conditions of use…do not take the lawyer’s copy and place it on your landing page. Legalese does not make people feel comfortable.

Just the opposite.

Make sure people can understand what you are trying to say. In fact, put this copy to the test by having a friend or two read it. Then ask them to tell you what it says. If they don’t say what you hope they say, then re-write it until it’s clear beyond a shadow of a doubt what you are trying to say.

Here’s how not to do it:By the way, you can always summarize the Terms and Conditions on the landing page and then link to the TOS with legal teeth like the one above. If you’re going to link to anything, this might be a good one. People may feel like they can’t trust you if you don’t.

10 – Testimonials

A landing page is going to fall dead in the water if you do not provide testimonials.

If your business doesn’t yet have testimonials, ask your customers to send you some. Just shoot them an email asking to send you a short testimonial on how they liked your product.

Want to know a really great way to damage your credibility? Create fake testimonials.

By the way, when using testimonials, try to arrange the testimonials so they highlight different aspects about your product or service.

Where should you put your testimonials? Some people like to create a sidebar full of testimonials. Other people like to pepper them throughout the page when it’s appropriate. Even others use both approaches. I’ve seen them all work equally well.  The most important thing is that they are there.

No doubt there are more ways to generate trust on a landing page. Can you think of any?

Part of the Sales Letter Makeover Series. Other posts in the series:

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About 

Demian Farnworth is a freelance writer who hustles the finer points of web writing at The CopyBot. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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24 COMMENTS

Robin Cannon

Some very solid advice here. Most of it also highlights the importance of simplicity of landing page copy too. A landing page is a place to navigate from rather than to provide lots of information immediately.

Two of your points I’d probably take issue with.

#6 – Unless it’s a very specific, specialized service (e.g. something to do with finances), I don’t think showing certification has any impact. It’s certainly not something that I ever look for and, unless there’s a very obvious and recognizable verifying authority related to that service, I think redundant.

#10 – Testimonials can be beneficial if used properly. I will often choose to place selected quotes on a landing page, but I certainly don’t think it’s going to “fall dead in the water” if they’re not included. Testimonials can still have value even if they’re deeper in the site than the first page. In fact, I think there’s a good argument for using your #5 – supplying a more generalized endorsement – on the landing page, and having a small link to more detailed testimonials.

January 9, 2012 Reply

Russ Henneberry

Good stuff Robin! Thanks for your expert insight!

January 9, 2012 Reply

Demian Farnworth

Fair enough on no. 6, but I think a page can fail without the testimonials…although it may not be the dramatic fall dead in the water you suggest. It’s often that subtle, psychological push that someone needs to pull the trigger…or walks away if testimonials are missing.

What you said is important, though: “Used properly.”

Anonymous testimonials won’t do that trick. Neither vague “Timmy V. from Nashville.” Credible testimonials by real people with PICTURES and online presences are spot on. I should have done a better job of explaining that, so you are correct in taking me to task. As always, people should test with/without testimonials for themselves to see if it improves conversion. In my experience it always does.

Robin, thanks for taking the time to write such a great, detailed comment!

January 9, 2012 Reply

Josh Ledgard

Great post. This is all true. As we’ve added each of these things to our home page http://www.kickofflabs.com our conversion rate has increased dramatically.

January 9, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    That’s good to hear, Josh! and glad to see you’re watching the numbers. Too many people make changes without an eye to metrics.

    January 9, 2012 Reply

Rebecca

Great post – #1 is a huge pet peeve of mine. If someone really wants to sell me something, they best not make me look all over their site for it!

January 9, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    Yeah, talk about a bad disconnect…bait and switch is a bad profit model.

    January 9, 2012 Reply

Scott Martin

Tremendous post. As a copywriter specializing in landing pages, I read a lot of blogs about landing pages and your post is one of the best I’ve read in a while.

Of course, the copy elements you discuss are, and should always be, direct response copywriting techniques.

I especially like including a magazine cover reference. The headlines have to sell magazines and must be enticing…which is why they are almost always about getting laid. A lot.

To your list, I would add:

List the benefits, then the features.
Include a guarantee.
If you’re selling something, use ‘A’ v. ‘B’ pricing.
Use copy doodles.
If you’re asking the reader to take a big leap, give them lots of reasons why and yes, this means a lot of copy.
Make sure the offer is totally irresistible.
Organize the page for the scanner, the person who will read everything, and the person who looks at the pictures.
Include captions with the photos.
Avoid really bad stock photography.

And people, even if you think direct response is crass, USE DIRECT RESPONSE TECHNIQUES. They work.

Roger, over and out.

January 9, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Thanks for the well thought out comment Scott! Quick question — what is a copy doodle?

    January 10, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    You are spot on, Scott. You can NOT get away from direct response copywriting methods. However, I’d consider those in the realm of persuasion, less about trust, which is a subset of being persuasive. In other words, persuasive people are typically trustworthy people. Regardless, thanks for sharing!

    January 10, 2012 Reply

Navigator Multimedia

I love that we can learn lessons from print media, as pointed out in #2. The urgency and directness of the magazine headlines gives the reader the suggestion of solution. In the example of the “Prevention” magazine, the solutions are health based. When users land on our web pages, they should feel immediately supplanted by solutions, or a direct path to a solution. Solving problems, delivering benefits…that’s what we should aim for.

Cheers,
Sarah Bauer
Navigator Multimedia

January 11, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    No question, most of the grizzled veterans of direct response writing are still working on the print side of things and there is no end to the lessons to be learned from them.

    January 11, 2012 Reply

      Demian Farnworth

      Interesting statement, Russ…if it’s true, you have to wonder why. What do you think?

      January 11, 2012 Reply

        Russ Henneberry

        I think the money is still on the print side of things… but moving to the web. If I am a grizzled veteran I’m not moving until I have to.

        January 12, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    In the beginning…there was print. Well said, Sarah. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a great comment!

    January 11, 2012 Reply

zubair

thank you for the tips most of these ”If your business doesn’t yet have testimonials, ask your customers to send you some. Just shoot them an email asking to send you a short testimonial on how they liked your product.

Want to know a really great way to damage your credibility? Create fake testimonials” are very impressive.

February 17, 2012 Reply

Sretan

Another great article, Demian.

Let’s pretend for a second that I was creating a landing page copy for your “conversion” case study.

Since the text ad promises a 191% conversion increase, the landing page should continue the thought process of the text ad. Am I on the right track with this?

So in my landing page I would want a headline somewhere along the line of 191% conversion rate.

An example of this: “Do You Want To Increase Your Business By 191%?”

A prospect can also be skeptical when reading the text ad. They might have clicked it out of curiosity just to see what you were offering. You might have to address their skepticism if they don’t quite believe what you’re promoting is possible.

“These Proven Methods Will Show You How You Can Increase Your Conversion Rates By Over 191%”

Basically, you have to transition from text ad to headline, headline to opening sentence and so on.

Is this similar to the way you would tackle this problem, Demian?

These are just some quick examples. I’m still learning the craft so be easy on me :)

I would love to hear your thoughts on examples. Load up your constructive critisism artilery and fire away! :)

April 26, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Hi Sretan. You’re exactly right in your thinking. You do want to continue the same idea from your ad to your landing page, and creating that link in the headline is the best way to go. Your last headline suggestion is spot on. “Proven” suggests trustworthy information, so it makes people want to read.

    But you want to address doubts and objections in the copy too–especially, as you point out, if you’re making a big claim like this one does. Read more about how to overcome objections here: http://blog.crazyegg.com/2013/04/24/overcome-objections/.

    April 28, 2013 Reply


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