Let's start by identifying the three common landing pages:
These pages can be structured identically using the following template. Generally, the more you detour from the template, the more confused the average visitor becomes.
Think of your landing page from the perspective of a visitor's likelihood to purchase:
Purchase Rate = Desire - (Labor + Confusion)
To increase a visitor's purchase rate, increase the visitor's desire while decreasing their labor and confusion:
This means we shouldn't do something avant garde with our homepage structure unless we have a good reason to. Here’s the typical structure we'll be using:
Here it is visualized:
I'll walk through each of these elements.
"Hero" is jargon for the big section at the top of your page—what visitors first see before they scroll down. It's also called your above-the-fold.
Your hero consists of header text, subheader text, and often an image. You must put a lot of thought into each of these. Nailing header copy has the highest impact on whether people continue scrolling and reading. Consider how people don't actually have short attention spans:
Instead, they have short consideration spans: they must be hooked quickly. So, don't fear writing a long homepage. But, ensure your hero is incredible.
The header must be fully descriptive of what you're selling. Because, if the visitor doesn't understand precisely what you do immediately upon landing, they'll bounce out of laziness or skim-read the rest of the page and risk getting the wrong impression.
Here's the litmus test for whether your header is sufficiently descriptive: If the visitor reads only this text on your page, will they know exactly what you sell?
Bad headers—found all over the web—are those that read like slogans instead of descriptions. For example, "Improve your workflow!" or "Supercharge your collaboration!" are useless. If that's all I read on your page, I'd have no idea what the product actually is. And I’ll probably leave.
What does a good, descriptive header look like? Like this:
Those help me understand what you're selling. And I can immediately self-identify as someone who does in fact want what you're pitching, which means I'll have patience to read through the rest of your site to get the details.
Let’s look at more examples.
On the left, we have a bad header. Pay attention to what makes the right example better.
The right one is better because:
Again, the right one is better because:
The right one is better because:
What these improved examples have in common is increased specificity.
Specificity is step one to strong header writing.
To write our header and subheader text, we'll follow two steps:
Value props are the ways people "get value" from your product.
Here's an exercise for finding your product's value props:
As an example, let's use the free language learning app Duolingo. It offers short-form, interactive lessons.
A few more examples:
Adding a hook to your header can take two forms:
Hook option #1: Add a bold, specific claim
On the left, we have a vague statement. On the right, we have a specific, bold claim about the benefit users will receive.
Now that's more enticing. Readers want to know how that's possible. So they keep reading.
In short, a bold claim is:
Hook option #2: Address objections
As an alternative to including a bold claim, another way to create a hook is by addressing a key objection in your header.
Let's use the website design tool, Webflow, as an example. Below is their header copy, which hasn't yet been paired with a hook:
"Build your own website."
Upon seeing this, objections readers have could include:
Your job is to identify which of these is a major buying objection—and to proactively address it.Don't let visitors retain their unaddressed concerns that cause them to bounce before scrolling. See below:
In the examples above, we're expanding our header's first sentence plus adding a second—in pursuit of our handling a key objection.
This requires balance. If you bloat your header with extraneous details, it becomes hard to read. Don't try to address every objection—you can do that with the rest of your page.
Backing up, how do you go about identifying your customers' biggest objections? Survey them:
Let's revisit our earlier examples—this time with objection handling:
To recap, once you've identified your value prop, add a hook: either inject a bold claim or proactively address an objection.
If your product targets multiple major personas, you can prompt visitors to choose which persona they fit into at the top of your page. Then route them to the appropriate section of your site. I call this "choose your own adventure." In the example below, xealenergy.com creates different paths for apartment and workplace owners:
It's time to complement our header with a subheader, which will expand on what makes our product special.
The subheader is commonly used for expanding on two thoughts:
In the example above, we address what our platform is (green) then we explain how its claim ("new way to grow your startup") is possible (blue).
Similarly, jupiter.co's first sentence explains what their product is (green). Then it explains how its claim ("In just 5 minutes") is possible (blue).
As a rule of thumb, your subheader should only be one or two sentences. Don't make this an essay. Keep reading breezy so visitors sustain their momentum.
Let's look at more examples:
Let's re-orient where we are in our page's structure:
We're on row three now: social proof.
Your social proof section is a collage of logos showing off your press coverage and/or your most well-known customers. Or if you're an ecommerce product, you can state how many customers you have (if it’s an impressive amount).
Your goal is to make it seem like everyone in the world already knows about you, and to make the visitor feel left out of all the excitement. Foster dat FOMO, am i rite.
Effectively, that's the goal of social proof: creating intrigue by getting people wanting to be part of your elite club.
If you don’t yet have noteworthy customers, you can provide your product for free to people at well-known companies. Then place their company logos on your site if they wind up using you.
The Features and Objections section spans the bulk of your page. Its job is to deliver your product's complete sales pitch.
To put this back into context, see "Features" below:
This section contains multiple features—often 3 to 6. Each is a value prop paired with copy addressing objections that arise upon hearing that value prop:
The best feature sections carry a running narrative: Each feature ties back to the dominant value prop pitched in the hero section.
For example, if your hero value prop is “We help you put down your phone so you can focus on the rest of your life,” a description of your Push Notification Blocking feature could include a callback to the header such as this: “… so that you put an end to the habit of constantly looking at your phone for updates.”
If you’re having a hard time deciding which value props and objections to highlight, study your competitors' sites to learn how to differentiate yourself from what people already know about your space.
For a feature header, write a short value prop. Don't use vague language like "Empower your sales" or "Revolutionize your workflow." Just bluntly describe the value prop so visitors can quickly decide whether the value prop is relevant to them and whether they should read the feature paragraph.
For example, here are feature headers for a portable grill:
In your feature's paragraph, concisely describe the feature and optionally address objections if they're important ones that often prevent people from purchasing.
If this is a complex or unintuitive feature for which going into extreme detail is will materially improve apprehension, either link to a separate page where visitors can learn more or have a button they can click to reveal additional details.
The latter is preferable because it keeps users in the flow of your current page.
Features are paired with an image so that your landing page isn't a giant wall of text and to reinforce what you're describing.
For your feature image, consider two goals:
In the example below, HelloSign includes a GIF of their product in action. It's showing us what we're about to sign up for. It's de-risking our time investment and removing the uncertainty.
Further, instead of making the visitor read tiny text, they blur it out so you can focus on what matters: how the product works.
Another example: If you're selling physical goods, consider doing two things: (1) show off the various use cases and (2) show close-ups of the build quality. This gives visitors a fuller appreciation of the product's magic.
Let's talk about the "call-to-action" (CTA) buttons on your page.
Think of your CTA as the actionable next step to fulfilling the claim in your header. Below, we have two strong examples. "Find food" and "Start learning" are continuations of the magic teased in the header copy:
It feels natural to click these CTAs because they help the visitor continue the narrative the hero kicked off.
In contrast, below is a weak CTA.
The copy is vague and it's not clear what the product is, so why would I request a meeting?
Once you have a landing page draft, pass it by two types of reviewers:
For both types of reviewers, ask them to assess six criteria for you:
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