How To Write A Landing Page For Readers, Scanners and Bottom-Line Viewers

by 10 02/12/2013

It doesn’t matter how good your offer is, if no one reads it, it can’t convert.

That’s why you need to write your landing page for all types of people — readers, scanners and bottom-line viewers.

To do this, tell your story in these five places:

  1. In the headline and deck (subtitle)
  2. In the body
  3. In the subheads.
  4. In the close
  5. In the P.S.

sales-letter-parts

How do different people approach a landing page?

Readers start at the top of the page and read every word straight through to the end.

Scanners read the headline and a sentence or two in the lead (the opening). If they’re still interested, they scroll through the landing page, focusing primarily on subheads, bolded words and images to decide whether it’s worth stopping to read a section word for word.

Bottom-line viewers tend to read the headline and a sentence or two in the lead, then jump to the P.S. If they’re still interested, they scroll up to the offer and close to make their final decision.

A bottom-line viewer’s eye and scroll pattern might look like this:

sales-letter-parts

But by telling your story three ways: in the headline and close, in the subheads, and in the body of the offer, every type of reader gets enough of your core message to decide whether it’s right for them.

How do you do this? Let’s review a landing page that does it incredibly well, AWAI’s “Can You Write a Letter Like This One?” promotion.

This letter has been selling AWAI’s beginning copywriting program for nearly a decade, and it’s a great example of copywriting that reaches every type of reader.

Telling your story in the headline

All readers use the headline to decide whether a landing page is worth reading. So it needs to tell enough of the story to get people interested.

Let me clarify something before we go any further. When I talk about “telling a story” in the headline, I’m not saying you should make it longer.

The key is to include basic information about your offer that gets people’s attention and builds interest.

Like this:

Can You Write a Letter Like This One headline

The main headline is just eight words. It’s easy to grasp at a glance, and while it doesn’t tell the whole story, it does make you stop for a second.

It’s the deck (or subtitle) that tells the story. In 43 words, it tells you why the eight-word headline is worth attending to. It’s loaded with benefits and so intriguing that you feel compelled to read more.

Notice that it doesn’t answer every question. If you tell your story too completely in the headline, people won’t feel the need to keep reading.

Take this headline, for example:

It tells the story, sure. But it doesn’t get me curious and it certainly doesn’t make me want to read. After just a glance, I decide I’m not in the market for NLP certification and exit the page. Not good.

Tip: Write a short(ish) headline and a benefits-oriented deck that hint at the bigger story in your promotion. Make it intriguing so people want to read more.

Telling your story in the subheads

If your headline does its job, it will make people want to learn more. A few people will start reading right away. But most will skim your subheads first.

This preliminary scan is their way of vetting your offer without having to invest a lot of time. Some skimmers will make their decision based solely on your headline and subheads. Some will stop to read sections that interest them.

Their on-page behavior might look like this:

sales-letter-parts

For this type of reader, it’s best to write subheads to communicate your biggest benefits and overcome objections.

Let’s look at how the AWAI promotion does it.

The first few subheads list benefits:

No Bosses, No Commute

A Chance to “Reinvent” Yourself

 Deeper into the letter, they overcome objections and give more information in the subheads:

Is This for You?

You Don’t Even Need to Be
a “Writer” to Be Successful

Need $20,000? Write a Couple of Letters

 Other subheads clarify the offer:

You Can Make Between
$80,000 and $540,000 Per Year

Everything You Need to Know

“The Best Course on Copywriting … Ever”

$99.25 Can Get You Started …

Notice that none of the subheads will win a writing award. They’re not clever. They’re not cute.

They’re clear and communicative, so when readers look for specific information, they can find it.

Create a list: When you’re preparing to write a landing page, write out your biggest benefits and strongest objections. Then write subheads to address each one. Arrange them in a logical order to create a framework for your landing page.

For instance, the list of benefits and objections for the AWAI promotion look something like this:

Benefit Subhead
Primary benefit: regain control of your life No Bosses, No Commute
Secondary benefit: make a fresh start A Chance to “Reinvent” Yourself
Objection
I’ve tried things like that! They never work for me. Is This for You?
I can’t write! I barely passed English. You Don’t Even Need to Be a “Writer” to Be Successful
Six figures? In this economy? Need $20,000? Write a Couple of Letters
I’m still not convinced You Can Make Between $80,000 and $540,000 Per Year
Does it really teach you what you need to know? Everything You Need to Know
I found something cheaper on another website. “The Best Course on Copywriting … Ever”
I can’t afford something like this now. $99.25 Can Get You Started …

Don’t start writing yet. Read over just your subheads and decide whether they give enough information to drive sales without having to read any body copy.

If the answer is yes, then write your body copy to fill in the details.

Telling your story in the body copy

The headline tells your story in brief. It’s the introduction, setting the stage for more to come. The subheads provide a framework for your story and gives a high-level overview of your offer.

The body copy fleshes everything out. Concisely. Clearly. Persuasively.

Here’s where you paint pictures of how great life will be when people accept your offer. People usually buy products for emotional reasons, not logical ones. So you need to help them visualize the solution you’re offering.

In the AWAI promotion, the primary benefits are “life on your own terms,” and “make a fresh start.” They’re vague ideas that could be different for anyone. So the copywriter provides concrete details that help you visualize how they might look for you:

I have no bosses, no commute.

I write from an extra room I set up in my home. Some days, I’ll head to the little writing studio I decided to rent in the heart of town, just for a change of scenery.

For a break, I’ll walk over to the old Equinox Resort for lunch … grab a coffee at the local market … or take our new puppy, Yukon, over to Hildene Meadows for a run.

Throughout the copy, make promises and give proof that your offer is worth the investment.

There’s so much demand that no marketer in his or her right mind would pass up the opportunity to have another winning letter ready to mail!

After all, a good letter can generate millions in sales over the course of a month. So why wouldn’t they be happy to pay you $6,000 to $10,000 and a cut of the action?

And it’s very easy to learn how to write these letters.

Just a few simple secrets … including one called the “barstool test,” which I’ll share with you in a minute. (Learn it and you’ll not only be well on your way to writing letters like this one – it’ll make you a far better writer, period!)

Strengthen your claims by providing scientific proof, statistics, results. You want every claim to be easy to believe.

Of course, most successful copywriters don’t write just one letter a year. They write 10, 15, 20, even 30 letters. (There’s plenty of work, don’t forget – from long letters like this one to half-page emails.)

And once this very close-knit industry finds out you can write winning copy – your phone won’t stop ringing!

That’s why, over the course of a year, you can easily earn anywhere from $30,000 to $240,000 in writing fees alone. And if you have just average success with half of them …

 … royalties could put an additional $50,000 to $300,000 in your pocket!

That’s between $80,000 and $540,000 a year – depending on how many letters you choose to write!

And don’t forget to tell stories of satisfied customers. These stories can be some of the most persuasive elements in your promotion, providing “social proof,” or evidence that the product has worked for other people.

Joshua B. won our $10K Challenge in 2006. Today, he makes over $300,000 a year working from the farm he lives on with his wife and 9 children. Who knows, you could be next – and earn $10,000 before you even finish the program!

Even non-readers turn into readers when they’re serious about buying something. So assume people will read your entire landing page.

Tell your story as completely as possible. Give them as much information as they need to justify the purchase.

Tip: Write the lead (the first 100 to 600 words) and the offer first. Then fill in the copy for each subhead, one at a time. It isn’t necessary to write them in order.

Telling your story in the close

The most critical spots in any promotion are the beginning and end. So it’s important to put as much energy into the close as the headline.

Here’s how the AWAI promotion handles it:

So if you’re ready to put the “workaday life” behind you – and choose a lifestyle that’s richer, freer, and infinitely more rewarding … get AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting through this very special “Test-Drive” offer today.

Click here to Order Now!

Or if you’d prefer to place your order with someone in our office, please call Barb, Pat, Cameron, or Debbie at 1-866-879-2924 during regular business hours. (We’re in Florida, on Eastern Time.)

Remember, there’s no risk for an entire year.

And if you love it – and decide the writer’s life is for you – your very first letter could be the next one to rock the direct-response world … and lead to, among other things, a $10,000 writing contract from AWAI with your name on it.

Notice how it returns to the theme introduced in the headline: of living life on your own terms (headline and deck) by putting “workaday life” behind you (close).

Like the headline, it sums up the entire offer. It stresses benefits. And it reminds people of what they can achieve if they respond.

Together with the P.S., it provides a summary of everything that was talked about in the promotion.

Which brings me to the P.S. Whenever possible, include a postscript that gives a little extra incentive for responding. Try to add urgency or offer an additional premium, for example.

Here’s AWAI’s post script,

P.S. Also for you … a very timely and special report titled “How to Safely and Quickly Change Careers.” It’s everything you need to know about leaving your old life and embarking on your exciting new copywriting journey. Remember, this is just one special bonus you’ll receive. Be sure to click on the Order Today button to see a complete listing of everything you get when you order AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting – as well as information on how to get started on this remarkable program as soon as tomorrow …

Tip: Bottom-line viewers often skip straight from the headline to the P.S. before deciding to skim your offer or — in some cases — respond right away. Notice how the AWAI offer includes enough of the story in just these two places that a reader could respond without reading another word.

Writing for every type of reader

People are busy. Even when they’re interested in something, most don’t take time to read every word.

Bottom-line viewers focus on your headline and close. So be sure your beginning and end are strong.

Scanners and readers take more time reviewing everything in the middle. Provide enough information to answer all their questions and build desire.

But all readers want to glean as much information in as little time as possible. Be sure to tell your story for all of them. In your headline, subheads, and in-depth in your body copy.

Do that and, in the end, you’ll sell more.

About 

Kathryn Aragon is editor of The Daily Egg and publisher of the C4 Report. She is committed to helping businesses communicate, connect, convert... and capture their market. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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10 COMMENTS

Vernon Riley

Excellent article – with some real meat to work on. A real challenge for those of us determined that people should read and take action… Thanks

February 13, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Thanks, Vernon! Hope it helps. I think we all struggle with the knowledge that our pearls might not get read. But hopefully we can get people to take action whether they read every word or not. Thanks for commenting!

    February 13, 2013 Reply

Graham

Thanks for the excellent article. Breaking it down into specific components is very helpful.

Cheers,
Graham

March 13, 2013 Reply

Helen

I am definitely a scanner, but I read every word of this, and some of it twice. Thank you for this in-depth article. I’m off to write my landing pages!

March 14, 2013 Reply

Anthony Wall

Hi Kathryn

Thanks for this article. It is very scientific! Do you have any advice for landing pages viewed on mobile devices?

Thanks,

Anthony

PS – I also wrote a more basic article with 5 top tips for writing landing pages and would love some feedback.

May 10, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Good question, Anthony. The biggest issue I see with writing copy that can work on mobile devices is formatting. With that in mind, it’s important that you keep lots of white space with short, easy-too-read paragraphs. A good responsive plugin can also make a difference. I’m testing WPtouch Pro 3 on my own website, and it works great.

    Hmmm, maybe that should be an article here on Crazy Egg. :)

    May 10, 2013 Reply

Celia R. Rankin

Thank you for clearly pointing out these guidelines. I just started learning about PPC and with my self-confessed still-thin understanding of its concepts, even an effective ad copy becomes useless when its corresponding landing page doesn’t sell.

November 20, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Glad it helped, Celia. You’re right… the landing page should never just stand alone. It has to fit into the context of your other marketing (especially ads). Thanks for stopping by.

    November 20, 2013 Reply


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