Landing pages are a funny thing. In most cases, you’ve got about 15 seconds of a reader’s attention before she bolts. In that time, you need to give her a reason to stay. She wants to stay; after all, she clicked on something interesting enough to bring her to your doorstep. Now, you just need to tell her why she should walk in.
There are three elements that the reader is going to notice in that 15 seconds: an image or images, page style, and the headline. If any of those elements are off, you’re screwed. She’s getting the hell off your page and looking for greener pastures.
Let’s look at just the headline for a bit, shall we?
What the headline does
Your headline sets the entire tone for your reader’s time on your page. For at least the first two or three paragraphs, he’s going to think to himself, “what does this have to do with the headline?” The headline provides a voice – one that your content had better match or you’ll create a cognitive dissonance that will send the reader away fast.
Writing good headlines isn’t easy. In fact, a good headline can take as much time and thought as much of the rest of the page. When you get a good headline, though, you’ll pull in a relatively huge percentage of your readers. Not all will take your call to action, but if they leave the page that’s going to happen anyways.
Here are three types of headlines that will keep your readers around for the rest of the pitch:
1. The Command. A command headline tells the reader to do something. This kind of headline isn’t conversational or meant to draw interest; it’s meant to dictate an action. “Get rid of unwanted hair painlessly,” “Use your computer to make money in just minutes a day,” and “Stop sucking and learn to knit” are all great examples. Command headlines tell the reader to do something in a clear way. They also contain an inherent benefit that motivates the reader to obey the command. Removing hair painlessly, making money, and not sucking are things that people want to do anyways, you’re just telling them to follow that desire.
2. The Question. This kind of headline asks the reader a direct question with a predictable answer. “Do you know the best way to save on your taxes?” “Have you lost money in your 401k? Read this,” and “Do you have the wrong insurance?” are all good examples. The question should typically be answered with a “yes,” or with a “gosh, I don’t know, but I’d better find out.” It sets the reader on a quest for answers – which the rest of the page provides. (The headline for this post is a good example of a question headline.)
3. The Offer. Some headlines give the reader a promise from the start. “10 fastest to look younger now”, “Free and easy diet secrets,” or “How to end your money trouble forever” are good examples of offer headlines. Offer headlines promise to give a modicum of order and control to their lives. Notice I didn’t say “information.” People don’t want facts; they want power in their daily lives, and good offer headlines promise to tell them ways to achieve it.