I spent 11 hours reviewing 64 startup landing pages. Here's how to convert more users 🐱‍🏍

“Provide value.”

That’s the core goal of every forum post on Indie Hackers, and two weeks ago, I joined in on the action with this short post Is your landing page talking to the reader_? _I offered each commenter a video review. And I did not expect the popularity!

Thanks to everyone’s awesome responses, I had to close it down in just 48 hours! Getting 28 votes and 115 comments hardly gives me viral status, but it’s the closest I’ve ever come, so thanks to the community for pitching in!

In the name of providing even more value, I noticed some recurring, easy-to-fix mistakes. If you want to test product-market fit, you need to pitch your reader properly. Bad copy can kill a good idea before you’ve even started.

So, open your landing page, and check it’s not making these 8 mistakes

Keep your headline focused on the benefit, not the product

You have 5 seconds to grab someone’s attention before they bounce. You’d be surprised how little people understand in 5 seconds (trust me, I’ve tested it).

I focus hero headline on one of three things:

  1. Key benefit or value proposition: eg. The only way to {your unique selling point}
  2. Pain based: eg. Stop {wasting time/money/your life}
  3. Solution-based: eg. All your {what you do eg. tasks, jobs, note etc} {verb eg. organized} {time-frame eg. in minutes}

One thing a headline can’t afford to be is clever. No one understands what “tomorrow’s predictions, today” really means for them. Avoid clever headlines at all costs.

Rather take it back to the user.

Don’t forget to include the actual outcome of using your product or service

Every single bit of copy needs to build up to the reader’s ideal scenario. Most people are too lazy to truly think and connect the dots. You’re not lazy if you’re on this forum! So make sure you tell the user what happens once they start using your awesome creation.

E.g. You use this fancy note builder -> You have all your notes when you need them -> you ace your work meeting ‘cause you remember the facts better than anyone else.

And don’t forget about the key pain points that a reader feels

I start outlining the top section of all my landing pages with this format:

  1. Hero headline
  2. Subtitle to explain/expand on the headline
  3. CTA (usually descriptive)
  4. Agitation section
  5. Main outcome/value proposition.

The agitation section is where I get into the real pain—that real driver behind someone being uncomfortable enough to seek out an external solution.

It doesn’t always make it into the final page; it’s often cut. But putting it there at the start reminds me to empathize with what my reader is switching from.

Understand the pain and selling the solution becomes much easier.

Avoid basic H2 headlines

One of the fastest ways to punch up your copy is to go through your H2s and take it back to your reader, the benefits of your product, or the end outcome they want.

Turn “How it works” into “Installs on your {site/phone/etc} in 2 minutes

Turn “Key benefits” into “You’re about to get a whole load better at {what your key benefit is}.

This makes your page way more scannable and helps your user understand how it will impact them instantly.

Speak to one reader. A reader with a story

The “one reader” concept has been covered a fair amount, so most people are halfway there. But a more focused approach boosts your conversions even more.

One reader often becomes something like a “faceless developer.” Try to flesh that persona out a bit into a story. Maybe they’re a pro developer who’s skyrocketing in their career; maybe they just started working online, maybe they’re a junior struggling to keep up with new coding languages.

Be specific. When people think, “this tool is for people like me,” they are far more likely to smash that CTA button.

Be clever with your CTAs

Is your product easy enough to understand that someone will click that button at the top of the page? If not, then you don’t always need to use a CTA. If you think it’s a maybe, turn your call to action into a call to value.

Copyhackers tested buttons and found that buttons that reflected the headline closest to them got clicked the most.

Instead of “start a free trial,” try “I want to ________.” - the blank bit there would become your button copy. For example, “Get my time back” or “start planning like a pro” You can also play with “show me how to ________.”

Check for repetition, title case & typos

Grammarly is my sure-fire way to avoid repetition and typos. You can also try reading copy aloud, reading from the bottom of the page up, or asking for help from a friend.

I recommend you use sentence case in almost every scenario. Headlines That Use Title Case Are, By Nature, Slower, And Harder To Read. Give your reader the best experience possible.

Formatting of text

I’ve left this one for last because it’s kinda my favorite. Formatting has nothing to do with writing but everything to do with readability and, subsequently, conversion. In summary, if you’ve made these mistakes, fixing them is super fast, and it’s going to have a massive impact.

Centered text:

Unless you are a designer, do not center _all _ your text. At most, center headlines with a short subtitle below. Centered text is harder to read, and if someone’s struggling to read, you guessed it, they bounce.

Width of text:

I like to keep my copy at a rough 960px width. Anything too wide, and your page can quickly become difficult to read and disjointed. It’s one of the reasons books are printed in portrait, not landscape. Keep it tight, keep readers reading.

Thanks, Indie Hackers <3

Despite all that energy & time, I’ve really enjoyed doing these reviews. Thanks to everyone who submitted their site! If you want to get resources I create in the future, here’s a newsletter. Or, if you want someone to help you out with your copy, check the link in my bio.

  1. 2

    Thanks Claire. Great tips we will put into action to review and improve our pages. :)

    1. 1

      It's a pleasure! Thanks! 🙏

  2. 1

    Great Post! Thank you!

    1. 1

      Thanks for reading!

  3. 1

    Thank you! I thought my copy was good, but I see improvements that should be made after reading this.

    1. 1

      Glat it's helpful! If you're unsure about something, feel free to ask :)

  4. 1

    This is fantastic. As someone who's asked for @Haikuka's advice for our webpage, I can tell you her insights were actionable, concise and sensible. Good stuff!! :)

    1. 1

      Thank you! Appreciate the support! 🤩

  5. 1

    Thanks Claire, super helpful 🙏🏻🤗

    1. 1

      Thanks! Glad it's helpful! Any requests for future content?

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