WEBSITE COPYWRITING AND CONTENT CREATION IS AN ESSENTIAL SKILL
What exactly is copywriting? It’s copying someone else’s writing right?
Website Copywriting is actually the art of using words, images, video and audio to persuade someone to take some sort of action. That action as it relates to websites really revolves around three key drivers, to share your content on social media or with friends (growing your traffic). To turn web traffic into subscribers of your website (growing your prospects) and/or to persuade people to buy your products or products you recommend (growing your bottom line).
Otherwise, use this tutorial to learn actionable tactics for your online content today.
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- Design and Copywriting
- Headlines are Important (extremely important)
- How To Write and Design For The Web
- Crafting Landing Pages & Sales Pages for Your Products and Services
- All product and no pitch – How To craft offers and sell your product online
- How to use scarcity to get more people to buy what you’re selling
- English Grammar Mistakes You Still Make
Copywriting is all around you.
Did you know that Land Rover in an effort to connect the “off-roading” lifestyle with its target audience gave away an edible survival guide (see the picture above)? The pages are made out of edible paper and ink, the binder can be used as a skewer for food and the book is reflective (so you can signal planes and helicopters when you’re in distress.
Copywriting. It’s in the slogans you hear on the radio, it’s in the sales pages you find online, its the words and one liners you get from TV:
- You’re in good hands with Allstate – Allstate
- I’m lovin it -McDonalds
- What’s in your wallet? – Capitol One
Copywriting is in the offers you see around you:
- Buy one get one free
- Kids eat free on Tuesday
- NO ATM fees
- Delivered in 30 minutes or less or it’s free
Copywriting is part art and part skill which makes copywriters some of the highest paid writers in the world apart from professional, well known, best selling authors.
There are plenty of paid options that exist to help you become a better copywriter too, and if you’re serious about learning how to write effectively you should invest in yourself as to become truly proficient at anything takes a substantial amount of time, energy and effort to learn. A course on copywriting teaches you the essentials and more which makes it a great start to teach you what you need to know in a very short time.
Design and Copywriting
With building your own website the areas you will want to excel at are web design (or at least developing an “eye for design”) and copywriting. These two skills go hand in hand with one another because after you set up your website you’re going to be spending the majority of your time writing, publishing content and designing your website. So it’s very smart to learn how to write effective copy that has a purpose whilst also understanding how best to design your website to enhance your copy.
If courses are not a good fit for you right now it’s not a bad idea to pick up some books on copywriting over at Amazon. In addition to Amazon, take an hour or two and go through this free tutorial which will help get you up to date with the concepts of copywriting, how they apply to your website, human psychology, and actionable things you can do (and not do!) to improve your current website or a website you’re planning on build.
CONTENT CREATION FOR WEBSITES AND BLOGGERS
Below is a summary of each with a link to the specific content on copywriting. Off to the side is a menu box with links to each of the mentioned sections. After going through each page you will have a fundamental understanding of copywriting, specifically: how to write headlines for people and for search engines, how to design your website for your copy, a rough idea of how to make a good landing page and sales page, how to demonstrate proof, and how to make products people want to buy by answering each objection they have to purchasing.
Design and Copywriting
Good design is a form of good copywriting because a well designed website converts it’s ideal user at a better rate than a poorly thought out website. Designers and armature webmasters often neglect the importance of good design as it matters to copywriting. This chapter will discuss why copywriting is important, why design is important, and how to blend the two together to help you achieve your online goals: Copywriting for the Web
Headlines are Important (extremely important)
Your headlines are the most important aspect of your published online work. They are the first impression and perhaps only impression you get to give to random traffic as a way to convert them into readers, subscribers, and customers. Get lazy on your headlines, and you will quickly wonder why no one is reading what you wrote: Headlines – Why “It’s My Blogs Birthday” is a Stupid Title.
What makes content go viral?
What makes content addictive? What makes content go viral? What is the underlying structure to this content and how can you use this structure when crafting your content? Read The Structure of Compelling Content to find out.
What are Landing Pages and Sales Pages?
How exactly do you make a landing page or sales page for your product or service… and no a landing page is not simply a WordPress page with a “buy now” button on it. Learn tactics copywriters and webmasters use to build high converting, high quality, non-sketchy landing pages and sales pages: What is a Landing Page?
Marketing your product or website the right way
Making a product alone is not enough. Neither is having a website to sell that product. Help boost product sales by learning how to market your product online with effective copywriting. If your traffic does not convert, what’s the point? Learn how to market your product online with copywriting to maximize sales.
Scarcity is the most powerful marketing tool business owners can leverage in order to increase sales. When done right, not only does it reward your right people for taking action, it also allows them to feel like they got a good deal. Unscrupulous marketers and con men however do use scarcity to sell crappy products. Learn all about using scarcity and avoiding scamarking.
You’re going to make mistakes with your published content. It’s not the end of the world, but I decided to create a piece of content that demonstrates some of the most common English grammar mistakes online so you can do your best to minimize turning off new readers with egregious mistakes. Read: Common English Grammar Mistakes.
Content Creation For The Web – How Design Should Enhance Your Copy
GOOD WEB DESIGN ENHANCES THE CONTENT OF A PAGE.
As a webmaster, at the helm of a website, you’re on your own with copywriting for the web. You don’t have a marketing and design department working together to build your website and it’s content. That burden falls upon you and anyone with whom you decide to work with.
This makes it absolutely necessary for you to understand copywriting (mixed with a sufficient knowledge of web design).
Your web design needs to capture the essence of what your website is about, meaning if it’s a dating blog for women you should have some idea as to what kind of design and colors will appeal to your ideal user (i.e. single women).
1) Design with one purpose per page in mind
Each page should be crafted with a call to action. These actions, depending on what kind of site you have, will entail your visitor either sharing your content, buying your products, clicking ads or subscribing to your website.
Building content driven websites, content is always the focus as without content, design is simply decoration. A one page one purpose mentality helps to focus ones attention on the essentials of the design. To enhance the message of the website, and to enhance it’s content and products…not the other way around.
What you can specifically do
Take a look at successful competitors in the space you’re wanting to enter. What similarities do you notice in regards to colors and navigation? What similarities are there with the logo design? What do you think the ideal user expects from a website in xyz market?
You want to differentiate yourself in regards to your selling point, so the dating advice site for women market as an example, use a design and color scheme one would expect from such a website… NOT what you in particular like. Then drive home your content by making your tag-line and published content meet your unique selling point again and again.
2) Why would they NOT want to use your website?
Write your content in a text editor with no distractions so you can focus on the message of the website. Who is your target audience? Who are you seeking to appeal to with your words? Why would they object to the website and how can your design help minimize this? You don’t want to take a website you like from another market, say personal development or some lifestyle design website and apply that design to your dating blog or finance website. This is a mistake new webmasters make because you’re simply wire-framing someone else’s design and simply giving it a new coat of paint. “I want a design similar to ____.com” >>The winning design now becomes an inappropriate mess.
Instead of saying that you want your personal finance website or dating blog to look like another website in an unrelated market; take a look at the websites in your market, meet your users expectations, differentiate yourself based on your selling point and use your answers to the question of who is your target audience, what is the message and selling point of the site and why would any visitor object to the website as a foundation to design your website.
3) Functions over features
In addition to the one page one goal concept, also incorporate the functions over features concept too. Web design that is effective is one that focuses on the essentials in the beginning to help you achieve your online goals. You can get more complicated later after you have web traffic, an email list, products, and a lot of published content. At the very beginning though, you have none of this so only have features that serve some purpose, not because they look cool or that people may use them. But because they look good and have a purpose.
So no, don’t add a forum, or a tool bar, or AdSense until you build your website out in regards to the amount of content as well as the traffic.
People see a website
I paid $1,000 for a professional design for a website I had bought because I was certain it would pay off in the long run. It didn’t… BECAUSE the content was not up to par. Lesson learned is this: Design is critical in supporting the message of a website, but poor content can’t be saved by a pretty design. This is because people see a website. They don’t see the design and the published content as two separate things. Both of these two elements combined make for the end user experience for your website. One that is either engaging or one that is a turn off.
So both elements are important, you can not neglect one or the other. But content comes first.
4) Don’t be cute with your copy, be specific and targeted:
Is it obvious as to what is going on in the picture? Do you see how the design helps the copy? How the design helps enhance the written words. Let’s notice a few other things.
Look at the word choices: “Start accepting credit cards today”.
How does this phrase make you as a reader feel? Does this offering seem technical or complicated? No. It’s specific, but more important, it’s about you. Particularly if you’re a vendor selling products. Why? BECAUSE:
“Clearer and more specific subject lines convert better.” – Bob Kemper
Instead of telling people what you do, just get to how it benefits them and what your credentials are. So for your website it’s not effective to say we do this or we’re about that. Instead just get to the features and benefits that your website provides for your right people.
5) People also don’t read – Make Your Content Scannable
Most of your website traffic will skim your web page. They won’t actually read it word for word. This is because they’re not vested in your online work and want to be cautious before spending time on something that is of low quality or irrelevant.
This has other implication too. Since most people don’t read (79%), you need to make your web page scannable. You do this by having large fonts, pictures, and breaking up what you write into paragraphs with clear titles. Otherwise, people won’t read and will leave if you present them with a massive wall of text.
Now what about the other 21%?
They read everything.
So a few things. If they are hitting a sales page or a landing page give them as much specific information they need in order for them to make a decision, and be mindful of every word you use (keeping to features and benefits).
Of course, this only applies if your traffic is targeted. That is, you are getting visitors who are interested in what it is your website is about. Getting shared on social media while helpful for long term growth and for diversifying traffic streams, is not the best in terms of targeted traffic.
Visitors by way of a search engine or an ad campaign you’re running is a different story as they are finding a website with content they are looking for.
Copywriting for the web design for your homepage
Your homepage depends on what your website is about. You should have a homepage, even if you’re starting a blog. Key features should include a call to action for your email list, an introduction to what the website is about (not by telling people what the website is about but by giving the benefits of using your website). This introduction should be a short specific 1-2 sentence.
There is no one right way to go about copywriting for the web.
There are plenty of formulas to follow as well as best practices too. But writing copy, as with most things is a skill that needs time to develop. To become a better copywriter you simply need to write a lot, read a lot, and track your web pages effectiveness as well as invest in courses and books to teach you the things you don’t know.
The best copy does not trick or manipulate people. It does not use physiological techniques to induce impulse buys. The best copy sells the features and benefits of your offer using the words you target audience uses. It provides full information and full transparency, making it clear to anyone reading if it’s right for them. Your design enhances all this. Supporting your message and connecting visually with your right people.
Writing Headlines – Why “It’s My Blogs Birthday!” is a Stupid Title
WHAT YOU WRITE MATTERS.
HOW YOU WRITE IT, MATTERS.
A sentence or two takes but a moment to write. No real work involved in writing a sentence. But a headline, a headline is a sentence that’s mission critical for your website. It’s the most important aspect of your published online work (and new publishers always, always neglect this).
Headlines matter because they are the first impression and perhaps the only impression you give to prospective traffic in order to turn that random traffic into active readers. You either get their attention with the headline or they ignore what you read.
This is even more true online than it is in print media
With print media you can still skim an article to get the general idea of what it’s about. Maybe the headline was not a tremendous attention grabber. You’ll still spend a few seconds skimming the article to determine its worth. But with online publishing however, your online content does not get this benefit.
People share you content on Twitter of Facebook – they only share the title. New traffic hits your website and they will within the first 5 seconds determine if this website is relevant to their goals and if this website is worth their attention. Otherwise, they’re going to ignore what you have to say.
Why won’t people read what I write!
Way back when I started in the mid 2000’s I struggled to get people to actually read what I wrote. I was able to get traffic because I understood SEO and had a diligent work ethic. But my stats for my main website at that moment in time were grim. Traffic was great but the time on site and page views were terrible. People came to the website and either stayed 10 seconds or clicked on one page and spent 30 seconds on that second page.
The causes of this could be a few different things:
- Your website is loading slowly.
- You’re getting traffic that is irrelevant to what the website is about (e.g. traffic from a website on running marathons would be a terrible fit for a dating website).
- Your content is difficult to read because of grammar errors, and it’s not easy to read because of small text (people want to skim easily).
- Your headlines suck.
The culprit was my headlines.
With publishing content online, you need pithy, original and purposeful headlines that convey what the content is about. This headline also needs to have some basic SEO principles tied into it but more on that in a moment.
A bad headline:
It’s my blogs birthday!
Bad because it conveys no value. It has no pressing reason for me to read it. I feel like my time would be better spent NOT reading it.
A good headline:
12 bits of wisdom from 12 month of blogging freedom
Good because you can instantly know if this content is a good fit for you or not. It’s also good because you get the general idea of what the content will be about WITHOUT actually saying what it will be about.
“How to” works for specific people looking for how to do the specific thing I wrote about but the best headlines leave a little to the imagination. Like:
- The stunning truth about XYZ
- How XYZ evolves
- On embracing XYZ in a digital world
- Th Facebook exodus and the…..
- Fuck Facebook, why I’m quitting the Internet for good
After you have written content online for a few years you begin to understand what words, phrases and sentence work towards driving the highest click through rates and what phrases go ignored. It becomes an subtle skill you develop. One which you don’t even realize know you have.
So where to start with learning how to write headlines?
First read, read and read. Develop a substantial vocabulary of words. Next, take note of post titles on other websites that seem to have gotten a lot of attention via Twitter, Facebook, and Stumble Upon. Next, spend some time over on Digg.com and Reddit.com (find sub Reddits related to your topic) and take not of what people are sharing (and the titles of the content they are sharing).
Next go to some of the most popular websites in your industry and take a look at the “most popular” post section and notice how each post title is crafted.
If these post titles worked for them, you can craft them in such a way that they will work for you too. Remember, no idea is original. It’s the execution, timing, and your selling proposition that makes the difference.
Isn’t it bad to copy? Isn’t that sort of like stealing? No, professional copywriters do this too (and probably these blogs/websites too). They keep a collection of “winning” copy known in the industry as “copywriting swipe” for inspiration and to use in their work. Develop your own swipe file of killer titles for your own inspiration.
SEO and your Headlines
Now, you could post title after title with a small bit of hyperbole like:
“How to Get 5,347 Facebook Likes for your content in one day”
…but if you have no traffic it does not matter how clever, interesting or outrageous your titles are – no one is on your website so no one is going to read it, share it, and spread it. You need traffic to get the proverbial ball rolling, and the best traffic for long term growth is from search engines.
To write content that ranks well involves many factors that you don’t even have direct control over. The things you do have control over however, the things you should obsess over, is your content and headlines. Titles need to include your keyword that you are trying to rank for. Let’s examine this.
The “How to Get 5,347 Facebook Likes for your content in one day” is a good title because specific details are simply more believable than broad meaningless assertions. Any one can write what they think, but if you have data and a methodology that led you to getting 5,347 likes to something you wrote on Facebook, people want to know (meaning you can’t just write hyperbole, you need to back up what you say).
There is no right way to incorporate your keywords into your titles unfortunately. You simply need to know what your keywords are and figure out how to incorporate them into some winning titles you have curated from other websites. That’s it.
You should be spending a significant time on your titles. Stress over your titles. Worry about them. Make them good. It’s worth it because otherwise NO ONE is going to read what you write.
Your traffic also needs to convert, otherwise what’s the point?
Another lesson from my old high traffic website with poor titles and low engagement. Your traffic needs to convert, otherwise whats the point? Getting a lot of traffic is addictive. It feels like you are making progress. But traffic does not pay the bills. Traffic does not necessarily grow your readership and reach. Engagement does. Engagement is people taking action because of your copy.
So SEO is important for your headlines, and it’s important for your copy to rank well for it’s respective keywords and phrases. Not because you played the search engines in some way, that you created content search engines love but people hate… because that just brings us back to the first point. Traffic does not pay the bills. Your content needs to convert or again, what’s the point?
Instead, create content people love. Create content that search engines love. Write post titles that are purposeful and pithy. Titles that also contain your keywords. Your headlines are more important than you realize. Put the time in to create something that people simply can NOT ignore.
WHAT MAKES CONTENT GO VIRAL?
People have seriously studied what makes something go viral and truth be told, there appears to be no specific formula. I uploaded a video once entitled “women lose their power in their 30’s, men in their 40’s” on a dating related channel.
When I first uploaded it, it was safely ignored and got a few hundred views. I deleted it because I changed my mind about the video and thought I could do a better job on the topic. A month later I changed my mind again and reuploaded the video.
That second time the video got A LOT of views. At it’s peak it was doing 2,000 views a day.
This is not viral of course, but why was it a dud the first time and a rocket the second time?
It’s simply unclear.
THE INEXACT SCIENCE OF VIRAL CONTENT.
To make viral, compelling content is an inexact science, there is no one thing you can do that causes your content to explode, or one thing you forget to do or neglect to do that causes it to go no where.
One thing is for certain however. Beyond the headlines, beyond the grammar and writing quality… what will determine if your content becomes addictive or not is this:
Brainstorming ideas is a topic covered to death and talked about ad nauseum online. Instead, let’s talk about making content that ranks and also attracts by going to the core of what your content is about, your ideas and how to make them better, stronger, more convincing and worthy of attention.
Better ideas start with design
We live in a weird time right now. Ideas can spread not based on who makes up the idea, how important that person is, or how much money that person has. Ideas now spread based on how good the idea is. How novel it is. How it moves you emotionally enough to want to share it.
Sometimes these ideas are deep and important like this, other times they’re humorous memes with entire web business built around them (I Can Haz Cheeseburger anyone?). Regardless, a quote, funny cat picture, video, or a blog post can spread through a network of people faster today than at any other time in history. Ideas have in them the power to change the world, to connect people around a singular idea or notion. To make us feel more connected (not less – the web is evolving away from a broadcast platform, and into a second life.. and it serves us better as such).
We have the ability now to become catalysts ourselves for the ideas we care about.
No longer are our ideas restricted to our close nit circle of friends or acquaintances at cocktail parties where are our ideas would never materialize from anything more than a passing thought. Now, despite the world pushing us to connect less in person, we can connect our ideas more through new mediums. Reaching and convincing the right people to care and take action.
What makes content addictive and so compelling?
How do ideas spread? How does content go viral? What is exactly the structure of compelling content?
Ideas, and the ability to reach people with them is a tremendous gift. You are very lucky to be alive at this moment with the ability to crowd source funding for your project, build a profitable audience for your website based around the idea infused content you create… or to just share a silly picture of your cat that everyone seems to love!
How to make your ideas better
To make your ideas (and your content) better, you must devise ways to connect what it is your publishing to knowledge and concepts already familiar with your target audience.
How do you do that exactly? Here’s how…
The complete guide to not giving a fuck has been liked over 70,000 times on Facebook. Why? What are the elements that made it go viral?
The author (Julien Smith) was able to craft compelling content that connected what he was publishing to knowledge his audience already had. Moving them emotionally.
- The story telling
- The sharing of the vulnerability of being concerned with what other people think
- Admitting to foolishly wasting time.
- A novel, high quality headline that grabs your attention
- Instructing people what to do next:
Take back your self respect. Do it today– try it right now. Wear something ugly. Do something stupid. Tell someone the truth. It doesn’t fucking matter.
This was a perfect example of driving out a strong emotional response in your readers… and this is not an easy thing to do at all.
Playing the heart strings
Viral content obviously induces strong emotions (usually positive). After reading Juliens article which speaks to you about the things you already know are true but have simply been unable to put words (no worries he did it for you) you feel like you spent your time well. That you got something profound out of reading Juliens work. That you will approach your life slightly differently from that point on.
Same goes with this post by Adam Baker over at Man vs Debt about “How To Not Suck at Blogging“. This post is much more practical for everyday use. Also, it’s only relevant if you’re a blogger who is struggling or someone who wants to become a blogger. While appealing to a smaller audience, it plays to the frustrations of a specific group and it still follows the same guidance of having your published content match concepts your target audience knows while also inducing a strong emotional response.
Steve Kamb over at NerdFitness.com credits this post as being the foundation for turning around his then struggling website. After reading Bakers work, Kamb went about his publishing a radically different way which eventually enable Steve to build a full time income from Nerd Fitness. This is why Bakers content went viral. It had a profound emotional impact on people.
Does any of your published content do that?
Positive content is the easiest to get shared. But any content to have a chance of going viral at best and being compelling at worst has to hit some sort of strong emotional response:
Benefiting from beginners luck and Seth Godin
Seth Godin publishes and extremely popular blog that reaches 100,000 readers every single day. He writes short, pithy ideas at about an average of 150 words a post.
Do you think you could do that? It’s not the publishing part that’s hard…
Craft and mold the ideas you already have like they’re clay or rely on beginners luck. Beginners benefit from beginners luck because their approach is totally random. It’s like striking the lottery. Professionals, especially those dealing with the trading of ideas can’t simply rely on beginners luck however. They need to develop a methodology for how they present their idea. They need to quit the stuff that does not work, pay attention to what is working, understand why it’s working, make it better and stronger, then do more of it.
You’ll end up over time with an amazing skill to craft better ideas. It’s no accident that Seth is able to publish 50-200 word posts everyday that reaches 100,000 readers. It’s because his ideas are good, it’s a type of genius he has developed in that his good ideas are always so close together and he knows how to best present them.
10,000 visitors vanity trap – A cautionary tale
Why do you want to create compelling content?
We’ve gone over the structure of it. How it needs to have a powerful headline. How it needs to connect to information your audience already knows. How it needs to induce a strong emotional response. But one last thing before you set out.
Whats the point of it all? Why do you want traffic? Traffic is not the end all and be all of websites.
It’s fun to get a ton of traffic based on something you created, but if that traffic does not convert to any sales or subscribers it’s all in vain. Another way to put it, if 10,000 people were to hit your website tomorrow would your website be ready?
Me getting a bunch of views on a silly dating video I made resulted in a lot of attention, but little else.
Compelling yes, viral no
Viral content is surprising. There is a structure to compelling content. A structure that makes it much more likely to get shared, to get read, to have it paid attention. But is there a structure to viral content? I don’t think so.
Take the Kony 2012 video:
This video went viral and has been watched 100 million times. It breaks every conventional conception of “viral” content:
- It’s long
- It’s sad
- It’s drawn out
- It’s not funny BUT it does induce a strong emotional response.
Once something works well, the door closes on that process for a period of time. You can’t re-engineer the Kony 2012 video for your own content because it won’t work. It won’t be original. It will simply be an echo. Did the creators of this know it would have ended up being viewed over 1/10th of a billion times? No way. You can’t create something with that goal.
So what do you do?
Just focus on the structure of compelling content. Craft and mold your ideas. Make them better and stronger. Focus on your headlines. Focus on inducing a strong emotional response from your readers. Connect your content to ideas and concepts already familiar with your target audience.
This is difficult to do if you’re starting out, but you will get better at this over time. Eventually you may become Seth Godinesque. Able to publish 150 words that will be read by 100,000 people because you know something most do not:
How to make you ideas better, stronger, and more compelling.
What is a Landing Page and How Do I Make One That Works?
LANDING PAGES & SALES PAGES THAT TURN TRAFFIC INTO SUBSCRIBERS AND MONEY
Which one is this? A landing page or a sales page:
- Traffic comes from a specific paid source
- Traffic comes from an email newsletter broadcast that sends traffic to a page to buy something
- Traffic comes from your blog posts or sidebar to content on a special page you crafted that pre-sells a product or service you’re offering
You thought it was a sales page didn’t you? What is a landing page exactly?
Landing pages are not sales pages but sales pages are landing pages
Sort of like how a simile is a metaphor but not all metaphors are similies. Anyways, I’ll stop being pedantic.
Both a landing page and sales page generally have the same elements:
No sidebar, no navigation bar (for the most part), perhaps not even a header image (logo). Just pure, “get right to it” content with no distractions. Here’s an awesome sales page (and landing page) for a copywriting course (a sales page), and another one for Empire Building Kit (a landing page).
What is the difference?
The only difference between a sales page and a landing page is that a sales page is prompting you to make a purchase at the end where a typical landing page is designed to capture emails or attention of a specific segmentation of your traffic and force them take one of TWO actions:
- The action you want
Want to see an example of a landing page?
Here’s one for “How To Program With Java“.
Trevor was interviewed on two very popular websites and created this blog post as a way to guide new readers who clicked over from those two websites where he was interviewed on. The goal of this page is not singular. Trevor want’s you to sign-up for his email list, check-out his products, and to thank you for clicking over to spend a minute on his website.
Trevor’s landing page kinda sucks 🙁
Using your regular blog post design
A landing page, in this case a “hey welcome readers of super popular website” welcome landing page, you want this new traffic to take some sort of action. Most likely, if they’re from a relevant website, you want them to subscribe to your website as a way to grow your traffic, pre-sell them on your products over time, or to just establish trust and a relationship.
Trevor did this right with an email list sign-up form at the bottom. Where he went wrong was using a blog post.
There is nothing wrong with a blog format, but for a landing page it’s irrelevant to have a sidebar and all your other design elements. You don’t need share buttons on the side, a sidebar with links, AdSense above your email form. A comment box with no comments below your form.
Clean and simple works best when directing people to do something, which on this page looks like the sign-up form. What is a landing page again? NOT a blog post unfortunately.
One page one goal (not two)
Next, every single page or blog post should have one goal, one idea, one concept, one call to action on it. Not two. Not three.
Look, choice is good if you’re selling a product. Make ONE product have 3 price points, then the middle price point physiologically become the most appealing to your customers and you will actually sell more than you would than if you only had 1 price point BECAUSE:
It turns customers from bargain buyers into value purchasers.
But with calls to action, directing people to buy your products, sign-up to your list, read your content, click your advertising, leave a comment, use your navigation bar…it’s just too much. Even if you’re trying to direct people to do one thing, by having all these other options on the page you’re also inadvertently directing people to do something other than what you want.
These other elements on your page are distractions from the one action you want people to take, so just remove it all.
Headlines are your one and only chance to sell people on your website. Just like how you determine if you’re attracted to someone or not within the first 10 seconds of meeting them, same goes with your content and headline. Either it steals attention or it doesn’t.
It’s a common practice to create a welcome page for traffic from a high traffic website aimed at converting those specific readers to do something. BUT people have seen this before so make it unique. Use a more original, pithy and compelling headline that “welcome readers of XYZ website”.
Now for any landing page YOU ABSOLUTELY want to name the specific source where the traffic coming from… but do it with a purposeful, clear, and persuasive message.
Answer their objections head on
I’m on your website, why should I care? I did not find your website via a search query for JAVA programming in a search engine so why should I stick around? With traffic from other websites coming to your website because of a guest post or by being featured, craft your landing page with words and concepts that this specific audience will understand.
Also answer objections this new traffic will have to your website. Like, JAVA is hard – what’s the benefit of learning JAVA – what can I do with it – why would I want to know JAVA – how can JAVA help me grow my online business.
Lastly, get them to sign up for your email list or have them subscribe to your website. Get them to share your website with someone who might be a better fit if the traffic is irrelevant to your website. Build a relationship with these new people too.
An an example of a good but not great landing page
Fit Marriage crafted a decent landing page here. It still has unnecessary elements like the navigation and the sidebar, but overall it’s fairly compelling because the language used is specific, and customized to the readers of the website where the traffic is coming from:
Find out exactly how to find time for exercise in your life as a busy online businessperson
Keep in mind, this website is called FIT Marriage. It has nothing to do with busy online business people.
What is a landing page and how do I make one check list:
- A single column page, works best for landing pages. This should be tested however. If you wish to add a sidebar of some sort make it purposeful to the main page of the website. So if you’re selling an ebook or a course, have a sidebar filled with testimonials for example and test that againt a regular single column page.
- Don’t be cute or clever with your writing. Be purposeful, pith, and original with your headlines and content. If you’re making a landing page or sales page you’re obviously doing some sort of commerce online. That means you’re building a business. It’s time to be professional, not to express your inner artist.
- People read pages in an “F” style manner, so keep this in mind by having important information and images off to the left.
- People who are very targeted to your offer read everything. Pay attention your grammar, answer objections, and show proof that your product works.
- Some say people don’t scroll so keep the important stuff in the first couple of paragraphs, others say that’s stupid! Of course people scroll… if you make something compelling enough. What do I say? Steal their attention and they will scroll. First impressions matter, so make your design and headline work to steal attention.
- Focus on benefits. Don’t write we do this, I do this, we can help you with that, bla bla bla. No one cares. Instead write like you’re talking to one person, your ideal person you want to help: You should sign-up because I’m going to show you how to build your first Iphone Application without any cost and without even needing a “good” idea.
- Your “right people” read everything. If you’re making a sales page GO LONG (write a long page). If you’re crafting a landing page to collect emails GO SHORT.
- Of course, depending on the quality of your web hosting, go easy on the scripts and images. You want your page to load fast.
- Do other people have a similar product with sales page for something your offering? Great! Read through that and notice the points where you feel the copy is weak. Weak in the sense that it does not go into enough detail, it does not provide enough proof, it’s irrelevant, whatever. Then go back to what you have created and try and look for the same weaknesses that you could improve upon.
- Don’t link to anything on a landing or sales page. Why? Because these pages act as attention funnels, as little journeys you’re taking people on. To link to something interrupts this journey. If you must link to something (supplemental material, whatever) make it so the link opens up into a new tab.
- Your landing page or sales page should match the tone of where the traffic is coming from. So if traffic is coming from an ad you’re running somewhere, or from a guest post or article, use a tone that matches the traffic source.
- White space if your friend. So is text size 14-17 px for reading. Break up text walls with headers and sub headers that use different font sizes to make it visually more interesting and easier to read. Keep your first paragraph short and powerful also. 1-3 sentences.
- Don’t guess. Test.
Marketing your product or website the right way
Remember that old Taco Bell commercial? The one with the chiuaua who would say that cute, clever little catch phrase “yo quiero Taco Bell?”
This was some awesome creative advertising. Perfect for raising brand awareness. It was catchy, unique, and totally different from what other fast food commercials were doing at that time. The problem?
It did not drive sales of tacos at Taco Bell.
(It actually hurt sales because nothing says quality food like a talking dog!)
You get all this attention for yourself but whats the point? What is the value of creating brand awareness and not making any sales? What is the value of learning how to to market your product but then not being able to close the deal? In website terms, what’s the point of driving traffic to a landing page, and not converting that traffic into sales? It’s all in vain.
The wrong target audience
Taco Bells’ marketing, while catchy and clever, was off base because nothing is less appealing than a dog trying to sell food. NOW, if the target audience was for people wanting to buy say, dog food then it might have had better results in terms of sales.
Their current approach with the idea of a late night “fourth meal” is much better because it’s focused on benefits and value for you the consumer… instead of just stealing your attention with a dog.
AXE Body Spray
Why do teenage boys spray this stuff on themselves to no end? Because teenage girls love the way it smells. Also, the advertising is marketed perfectly at young men. Instead of taking the angle that it helps you sweat less and smell better, Axe goes after a direct benefit of using their product…to get cute girls who want to have sex with you. Nothing more appealing to an 19 year old guy than that.
…the freshmaker. Stupid, I know. But those old commercials of eating a Mentos and magically coming up with a clever idea to solve some difficult problem you found yourself in while some antagonist looks on is extremely memorable. You don’t remember any of the actors, they don’t rely on celebrities to push their product. Instead, they make the candy seem fun (and the commercials are memorable).
So next time you’re going to do an impulse buy for mints, Mentos will pop up in your head as the front runner. Even that jingle… something you can not forget.
Marketing your product or website the right way
There are some clear lessons we can take away for our own websites and products despite not having a million dollar marketing budget. They’re well known, but they do need repeating and repeating when writing content for your website or writing copy for an online product:
WHO is your avatar, your right person, the ideal person who would buy your product. E.g. who does Taco Bells 4th meal appeal too? A 35 year old woman with kids…no.
WHAT is it specifically that your product does to solve the pains and difficulties of your right person. E.g. What pain is AXE body spray solving for boys? It’s not being sweaty or smelly.
WHERE do they hang out online and how can you reach them? How does Mentos jingle reach their consumer? Hint, it’s while standing at the cash register (doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-do-whaaa)
WHEN is it time to change your methodology, your approach to what it is you’re doing if you’re not producing results? “Yo quiero Taco Bell” did not work, should it have been ended sooner?
WHY do people need your product? Why are they better off using your service than not. E.g. why do you buy these products?
How To Market Your Product – What you need to do next
Websites are not the end all and be all towards selling your products online. If you build it they will not come. You know this.
You need promotional methods when you’re learning how to market your product, but ANY tactic or strategy will be in vain if you do not intrinsically understand why a person should select you in a crowded market with other options.
For bloggers this is often a lack of NOT having an offer at all (something to sell for example), for websites with products it’s not tying the benefits properly to your “right” person and focusing too much on features and not the benefits the product provides.
- Fullness from cheap tasty food – Taco Bell
- Getting girls – Axe
- Being fun and clever – Mentos.
Webmasters make this mistake that web traffic will just “get” what their website is about and just naturally”understand” the level of value the webmaster is able to provide.
But value is communicated through words, action and your products. If you have no product to sell, no action you wish your traffic to take you’re not communicating value.
Communicate value. This could be in the form of a product that’s marketed with the right words or it could simply be an offer to subscribe (using language like “over 6,543 people can’t be wrong”).
To learn how to market your product online you need traffic. But more importantly, you need that traffic to convert. You can do this.
..otherwise, what’s the point?
How The Use of Scarcity Leads To Buying
A decade ago my best friend and I were at one of those sketchy “free” seminars for a real estate product we saw on TV…
It was run by this scam marketer named Russ Whitney. He belongs in jail as far as I’m concerned. We were teenagers and forked over a couple hundred dollars for a course on how to get started building a real estate empire…or at least a reliable side income.
This product was the opposite of all product and no pitch, as mentioned earlier, it was ALL pitch and no product. The videos kept telling use that they were going to teach us how to do the thing we paid to learn how to do, that is, buy and sell property… but then they never got around to teaching that!
They just kept selling on the benefits of learning how to buy and sell property.
4 hours worth of videos that just kept saying “we’re going to show you how to do XY and Z” and never actually teaching XY and Z.
Since we bought the product we had access to another free seminar, only for people who bought the product. We decided this would be our chance to get them back a little or perhaps get a refund.
This second seminar is part of what is called a “sales funnel” and even I as a teenager even was smart enough to know that this was all one big scam fest after being ripped off the first time around (fool me once shame on you).
In this new seminar the goal was to sell you on a higher price coaching product (at around a couple thousand dollars).
It was brilliant marketing, but I spoiled the fun…
Is it true that your company is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, that Russ Whitney is convicted felon, and that you’re being sue by multiple attorney generals in different states for fraudulent claims?
read more here
They probably were not expecting this from some kid. Needless to say I was rushed out of the seminar to have a chat with a lawyer who would be happy to answer my questions. I wasn’t interested. We packed up and headed home. Out a couple hundred dollars, but with a small level of revenge satisfied for being ripped off.
Why did we buy this product to begin with? The infomercials we’re great at hitting on the triggers of their “right people”. That is, people who wanted to become rich, or at the very least substantially wealthy by using some sort of life hack to obtain wealth they could not obtain otherwise from working ordinary jobs or by building an actual business.
Then they used scarcity to make you want to attend the free seminar while watching TV:
“Time is running out people! You need to sign up or your seat might be taken. Once this infomercial is over we’re not taking anymore sign-ups”.
You felt like your chance at wealth potentially slipping away.
Pro tip: My friends’ dad said this and it something that stays with me:
The circus comes back around. Don’t you worry, if they want your money they can wait.
When we got to this free seminar advertised on TV they talked a lot about the financial success the speaker had using Russ’s system. At the end they employed the scarcity tactic again:
“For the first 10 people who purchase, we’re giving away a discount of 20% off the full price”.
People were literally running to the back of the room to sign up..idiots.
This little seminar is what got me deeply interested in marketing, psychological triggers, and copywriting. Through my time working online, one thing holds true.
Scarcity is the MOST powerful trigger to get people to do something NOW
- It’s quick and easy to apply to any offer or product you already have
- It works in any and every market.
Scarcity is a classic trigger to get people to buy what your selling. It should not however, be used to sell crappy products and services. Instead, it should be used to:
- Reward people for taking action
- Get people who are on the proverbial fence, to make a decision.
How can you use scarcity to increase email opt-ins, increase product sales and double or triple your income?
Having a product there are a few strategies you can take. For example, the 3 price point strategy makes the middle product seem like the best deal and it turns bargain buyers into value purchasers.
You can give a free trial of your product.
Offer coupon codes or sales.
Get people to sign-up for an email list by giving away something then gently sell the benefits of your product.
Lastly, you can use scarcity, which is the strategy of limiting access to something based on a time frame to take action or by only allowing a limited number of people to sign-up. Like a product discount, or even the ability to purchase the product itself.
Market Samurai uses scarcity to build a multi-million dollar business
The guys over at Market Samurai (a professional level SEO and keyword research/competition tool) make use of all the classic marketing strategies to help sell their products and services.
From high converting sales pages, copywriting, and video. All these elements help convey what the product is and why you would want it and how it will help you achieve your online income goals by taking the pain out of market research and website promotion. The biggest element they employ however is scarcity, and a free trial.
They use scarcity in this creative way.
You can right now download your very own copy of Market Samurai and use it risk free. However, if purchase a license within the first 7 days you get $50 off the full purchase price. After the first 7 days the prices goes back up to $147 (and there is no way to reverse this).
They honor the price increase, and this is critical because without doing so the “scarcity” tactic would simply be just that. An artificial ploy to get you to do something. When you use scarcity, follow through.
Scarcity in this way is not used to sell a crappy product; instead it’s used to reward people for taking action and becomes a win-win for all involved by Market Samurai making a sale and the end user getting an awesome deal.
How scarcity works for websites and information products
Landing page to collect emails >>
Email person who signed up. Direct them to a >>
Content page that also allows them to purchase. If they don’t purchase >>
Email that person again but this time offer a discount and send them to a >>
Sales page >>
Person either buys or offer expires.
This creates a scarcity based sales funnel that works 24/7 for every single person that signs up to your email list.
This funnel will typically out perform a non-scarcity based funnel because scarcity is a trigger to get you to do something. If you’re highly targeted at the offer, scarcity is usually that final push to make you decide: yes or no.
WOOT.com is another fun example. They changed their model over the years due to their success, but the originally started out offering ONE product on sale ONCE per day. Your choice was to either buy it today or not buy it at all. This is an excellent form of scarcity and content marketing because it’s not done in an overtly arm twisting way.
Now for your website, normally you would need a team of coders to create a custom platform for you in order to add this scarcity function to a website. That is:
- Be able to create a time sensitive offer that really does expire when it says it’s going to expire.
- Have a time limit and be able to SHOW that time limit, (and not have it restart if the visitor simply refreshes the page).
- When the offer does expire, the visitor can not simply hit the “back” button on their web browser.
If you’re a WordPress user, you’re in luck as the team over at Market Samurai is underway putting the final touches on their new product called Scarcity Samurai. It adds all the functionality you would want in order to create a time sensitive scarcity offer without needing a team of coders to custom build this for your website.
This product is currently in BETA however, so it’s not available anywhere for sale, but this page will be updated as appropriate when it’s released.
Curious of more ways to leverage scarcity?
A scarcity based sales funnel is but one way to leverage scarcity. You can also use things like:
Closing down sales
Closing down sales online are when you cut off access to a product, membership site, or service for a long period of time or forever. By long time you should close down your offer for at least 3 months, otherwise people won’t believe you when you run a closing down sale again. Not to mention you will leave a bad impression with people who followed through on your offer.
Pro tip: Another clever strategy I’ve seen with closing down sales is to use the scarcity tactic again by “re-opening” your offer again for one day only or two days only because the demand was so “high”.
Early Bird specials
When you launch a new product reward people who take action first by giving away a big discount to your first customers. This is a win-win because you make sales, get feedback on how to make the product better, and people get a good deal.
Did you know that GMail was invitation only at first? This caused people to demand access to the GMail and invitation request from their friends because they felt like they’re getting in on something special and difficult to find.
The best way to do this for your website for example is if you have an email list and a new product coming out and you want ALPHA or BETA testers. Use the scarcity model, invite only 1/10th of your list to join and then from that 1/10th only accept those who sign-up within the given time frame.
What to do next
USE scarcity in your online business. Even if you don’t have a website or a product yet, think of creative ways to leverage scarcity in your marketing when you finally do have a product. It works when done right. It’s not mean’t to trigger people to buy crappy products, it’s supposed to reward people for taking action and to get people who are undecided to make a decision on way or another.
10 Excessive Grammatical Mistakes You Still Make
To end this massive blog post on content creation and content marketing, it would be a mistake not to mention grammar mistakes.
There are two types of readers:
- Strong readers who naturally read over a mistake or two because they read for meaning.
- Weaker readers who pay more attention to grammar and words.
You need to make your grammar spot on for the weaker readers, and for the stronger readers not to make any blatantly obvious errors.
Now, you will make grammatical mistakes when publishing content. Fix any you catch and learn how to proof read your own content.
A side note to publishing online :
Publishing online is NOT equivalent to a college paper, an article in the New York Times, or a research document. Online content should be informal, conversational and fun.
It should be mixed with videos, images, different font sizes and font positioning as to make the user experience easy and pleasant to read (as opposed to a wall of text).
With that said, grammar and spelling still matter. So let’s cover the most common grammar mistakes with online content.
1) Your & You’re
Your = “Your” is possessive.
Your name, your age, your phone, your boyfriend, your website.
You’re = You are.
You are reading this. You’re reading this.
2) i.e & e.g.
i.e = To clarify something.
I’m drinking tea, i.e a hot beverage made from soaking the leaves of a plant in boiling water.
e.g. = Example.
I’m drinking tea, e.g. jasmine tea.
3) There & Their & They’re
There = A place or an idea.
I got there at 9:00 am. When did you get there? There are many places you can go get a massage in Bangkok.
Their = Possessive
Their name, their age, their phone, their boyfriend, their website.
They’re = They are
They are not going to win. They’re not going to win.
4) Affect & Effect
Affect = To act on
I will affect the outcome of the election by spending lots of money!
Effect = The results of change
He was effected by the pollution.
5) Its & It’s
Its = possessive
Its name, Its age, Its website.
It’s = It is
It is good to have a computer. It’s good to have a computer.
6) A lot & Lots
A lot = To a very great degree
I have a lot of money! I feel a lot better!
Alot = ?
“Alot” is not a word.
Lots = plural of lot
I will spend lots of money!
Lot’s = possessive of a person, place or thing named “lot”
Lot’s wife is really beautiful!
7) Then & Than
Then = Used for time
I went here, then I went there, then I went home.
Than = For comparison purposes
I like girls more than guys.
Moot = A topic of discussion and disagreement NOT a trivial idea.
How to design the logo for the website was a moot point for the designer and the client ( meaning the designer and the client argued and disagreed over the design of the logo, not that the design of the logo was a trivial and unimportant issue).
Moot however is used by Americans to mean just the opposite, a trivial idea.
9) To, Too & Two
To = used as a preposition and as part of an infinitive ( to + verb)
Preposition = I’m going to the store.
Infinitive = I need to talk to you.
Too = Used as a synonym for “also” and to amplify the meaning of words (when it comes before a verb or adjective).
Also = You’re going to the store? Can I go too (also)?
Amplify = I ate too (more than I should have) much!
Two = 2
I have two motorcycles, one of them broke so I have to drive the other one.
10) Could of / Would of / Should of
Could of, would of, and should of are grammatically incorrect and you should never write these phrases together. HOWEVER native English speakers do speak phrases that sound similar to “I could of gone to the game”, or “I should of gone to the game”.
Because the contractions for could have, would have, and should have are: could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. When pronounced out loud it sounds like “could ove”. Emphasis on the V sound. Similar to could of, but slightly different.
So we English speakers are not actually saying would of, we are saying would’ve; the contraction for would have.
So don’t write would of; write would’ve or would have. You should write I could have gone to the game, I should have gone to the game, I would have gone to the game, or any of the appropriate contractions 😎
11) Lay & Lie
This one always makes my head explode.
Lie = To not tell the truth
He is a liar. He lied to her. She always lies about her age. She is lying about her age.
Lie = To recline back
I’m going to lie (not lay) back in this comfy chair! I was lying (not laying) in that chair for the last 5 hours because I fell asleep! I want to go lie on a beach. Mike had lain (not layed) on the beach for hours. I had lain in that chair for hours too.
Lay = To put something down
I will lay the paper on your desk in the morning OK? Hey did you get that paper I laid on your desk? It was laying there all afternoon!
12) Comma (,) & Semicolon (;)
Comma (,) = Used to separate ideas in the same sentence
I need to get some apples, pears, and a bag of mangosteens.
Use a comma when contrasting ideas with the use of conjunctions like: and, but, for, nor, so , yet, …hey I just used like 6 commas there!
I wanted to date that attractive girl there, but I noticed she does not shave her legs.
Semicolon (;) = You can use a semicolon instead of a period in some instances (.), or as the British, New Zealanders, and Australians call it; a”full stop”.
When you make two complete sentences but want to eliminate the pause between them, use a semicolon.
When you make two complete sentences that are related to or contrast one another, you can use a semicolon (but you don’t have to).
Again, it must be two complete sentences in order to use a semicolon:
I need to get some apples at the supermarket; my girlfriend loves apples.
You can use a “.” in the previous sentence, but I choose to use a semicolon because both sentences are related to apples.
Semicolon (;) = To separate lists of ideas
I need to talk to Brad, Mike, and Ashley (use a comma).
I need to talk to Brad, my best friend, Mike, my second best friend, and Ashley, my girlfriend (wrong, you need to use a semicolon)
I need to talk to Brad, my best friend; Mike, my second best friend; and Ashley, my girlfriend.
Content creation in combination with copywriting is a skill, a very valuable skill. If you can master content marketing, copywriting and content creation you have the ability to sell products and services.
Because, that’s the whole point of all this. You and your product or service trying to find potential buyers. Most people never learn CEO skills, that is, the actual work of marketing and selling a product or service. Most people learn how to be cogs in the machine someone else built – like an analyst or an accountant.
If you’re goal is to make money with your blog or website, learning how to sell, how to write and how to market through content marketing, content creation and copywriting is a long term skill that will serve you well in multiple domains.
Anything I miss? Would you like add your own content creation or content marketing tips? Let me know!