As an author, getting your website visitor to take the action you want when they arrive on your website is vital to building your platform. This post covers the 9 different things you need on your landing pages to get them to work.
In case you're thinking, "Great! ... But what's a landing page?" A landing page is simply a page that you aim to get visitors to "land on" when they first come to your website, followed by an action you want them to take. Rather than something like a blog post or your about page, a landing page is designed around getting your visitor to take a specific action, like signing up to your mailing list or buying your book.
The "copy" (a term I use below) is simply the words on the page. This type of writing where you're writing a sales message is known as "copywriting", so you'll hear that around the place as you learn more about marketing and selling.
Types of Landing Pages
Your home page is a type of landing page and one where you'll almost certainly be aiming to get your visitor to sign up to your mailing list.
Your book sales pages are types of landing pages, where you'll be aiming to get your visitor to buy your book.
Your mobile app page is a type of landing page, where you'll be aiming to get your visitor to download your app.
For nonfiction authors your product, course or services pages are landing pages, where you'll be aiming to get your visitor to either opt in for a free offer or to buy something.
A squeeze page, is also another type of landing page. This one is slightly different in that the visitor only has the option of opting in, or leaving your site, thereby "squeezing" them for a commitment of their email in return for a free offer.
The 9 Parts of a Landing Page
We're going to look at the 9 things you need on every one of your landing pages. We're also going to dive deep into why you need them because you if you understand what each of them do for your visitor at the subconscious level, you'll have a much better chance of creating a landing page that gets your visitors to take the action you want them to take.
Copywriters around the world will tell you that something like 80% of your visitors will never read past your headline. So you need an awesome headline to convince that huge portion of your visitors to take the action you want and to convince the rest to keep reading.
You want to show your visitors in your headline what you are promising to give them... and you want to do it from their point of view.
People don't want to "buy a book", they either want to solve their problem / get some information (nonfiction) or they want to be entertained (fiction), so this is what your headline needs to promise them. Focus on the benefit they get or the pain they'll avoid.
For example, with a romance novel, "Missing a Book Boyfriend? Michael is Waiting on Page 10 For You...". For a fantasy novel with dragons, "Ever Wondered What It's Like To Fly On A Dragon? Find Out on Page 32...". For our nonfiction book about author mindset, "Get the 'Mind Hack' that will Kick Procrastination Out of Your Life".
As an author you know how important book reviews are to helping you get sales. The reason is because they are a type of social proof that tells the visitor that other people have bought and read your book. People like to know they're not the first to do or buy something.
The same goes with anything you want to sell, even if you're "selling" something in exchange for an email address instead of money.
Having that social proof on your landing pages is vitally important to helping your visitor with their buying decision.
If you're the type of person who doesn't take other people's opinions into account when you're making a decision, this probably seems odd. However, very few people operate that way. Most take other people's opinions into account to some degree... afterall that's why we have things like the Fashion industry. It's just another form of social proof, where you can see what other people think about certain things before you decide whether or not to buy that top.
So how does this all work?
It all has to do with the way we mentally process our buying decisions...
We each have a mental program that allows us to make a decision about something. As with all these programs there are two extremes and people exist at some point along the line between them. The two extremes are "Internal" and "External".
People with an "Internal" pattern have zero need to hear what anything else thinks. They are completely convinced by their own thoughts on a subject and nothing anyone says will change their mind. On the other hand, people with an External pattern need to hear other people's opinions before they can make a decision.
Margaret Thatcher is a great example of someone with an "Internal" pattern. It allowed her to disagree with all 49 other people on a vote in the commonwealth and still believe she was right. Her response when asked how she felt about being the only person to vote no was "I feel sorry for the other 49".
As you can imagine there are very few people in the world who have that much of an "Internal" pattern, which means that the vast majority of people have some form of "External" pattern to their decision making and need to hear other people's opinions of something before they can make a decision.
Therefore, if you leave out your social proof, most people won't be able to complete the mental pattern of being convinced by what you're selling so they'll be less likely to buy / opt in and more likely to experience buyer's remorse if they do.
Call To Action
People get busy. I'm sure you've experienced this yourself. You sit down to do something, the kids yell or the dog barks and you go to investigate, 10 minutes later you can't remember what you were supposed to be doing.
This is why you need a call to action. Something that tells people exactly what you want them to do next. For instance, click this link to opt in, or click the button below to get my book.
When someone has half their awareness on your landing page and half on something else, they need that extra little bit of help to remind them to take action.
So make sure you have one or more strong calls to action (or CTA) on your landing page.
At first glance, this seems kind of an obvious one... You need to tell them what they'll get if they buy / opt-in.
The less obvious part of it, however, is that you need to tell them about more than just the physical objects they're getting (ie your book). You want to include some of the less tangible benefits in the copy for your offer.
"You'll get the book 47 Mind Hacks for Writers so you can get rid of off those mindset issues and blocks that are holding you back from your writing goals."
As you can see it says you'll get the book. It also says, "so you can..." and then spells out the less tangible benefits of getting the book.
You'll want to write your offer to include both the tangible items they get and the less tangible benefits they'll experience from it.
People buy on emotion. These benefits are what will give them that emotion as they picture themselves experiencing those benefits. Very few people buy a book purely for the benefit of owning or even reading a book. Afterall, a great book makes you feel very differently about your purchase than a badly written one does.
It's not about the physical book, it's about the content and what it gives the reader... So you want them to picture themselves reading your 'great' book. And what makes it great is what they get from it, which is why you need to include that on your landing page.
People love images. It's why we have the saying, "an image is worth a thousand words". So make sure you include an image of your offer on your landing page.
If your page is long enough that your reader needs to scroll down to carry on reading, then you need more than one image.
Personally I aim for enough images that no matter how much they scroll there is always an image on the screen if they're on a computer. (Mobile devices are a whole other ball game).
You want to make sure your images relate to your offer or to the feeling you are trying to invoke in the reader because "pretty", unrelated pictures don't add anything to the experience. An image showing your book, some social proof, or ones that evoke an emotion do to the page and help those people who prefer to communication visually
Page Design / Branding
We all know that people judge a book by its cover. It's just the way we work. What most people don't realize though is that the same goes for your website and landing pages.
People will judge the value of your offer, the competence of your business, your ability as an author and everything else about you from how your website looks.
I know when I've been looking for something online, like a new dentist when I move towns, or a new book to read, I will judge their entire business on how their site looks. If it looks professional and well made, I'll assume (rightly or wrongly) that they're good at what they do, or the book will be good. If, on the other hand, their website looks sloppy, it doesn't resize properly (called mobile responsiveness) and the copy isn't written well, I assume their business or book is sloppy, not up to date and they don't care.
When it comes to branding though you need something extra as well as just looking well made...
You want your website and landing pages to give that same feel or experience that reading your book gives your readers. So if you write mystery books, make your website "mysterious" with puzzles like Dan Brown does. If you write nonfiction cookbooks, make your website clean, fresh and colorful. If you write expert business books make your website look authoritative. If, like me, you write books that feel like your best friend who's an expert coach is helping you one on one, then make your website feel friendly yet insightful.
Just having that continuity with the experience will get you a lot more positive reviews on your book and testimonials for your business because you fulfil your reader's expectations of you.
This is where you tell your reader what your offer is worth. It's the value they will get by taking the action you're asking them to take. It needs to be a higher value than what they're giving you in return - at least to them.
When it comes to "buying" something, neither party sees the item as having the same value. For instance, if you're selling a cookie for $1 to Joe. Joe values the cookie more than his $1, or he wouldn't be buying it. You, on the other hand, see the $1 as more value than the cookie, or you wouldn't be selling it.
Your value proposition has to explain your offer in a way that lets your visitor see it has more value than what you're asking for in return. To do this well, you have to know what your visitor really wants and what they're willing to part with to get it.
A book that sells for $2.99 on a topic they're not interested in, isn't worth $2.99 in their mind and you don't get the sale.
If, however, you put the exact same book for the exact same price in front of a different person who is desperately looking for answers on that topic, that same book is easily worth $2.99 and you get the sale.
The funny thing is, where authors get stuck is that they think this sale or lack of sale reflects on the content of their work. Neither of those two people, though, have seen the content of your book at this point. All they know about it is what you've written in your value proposition and how you describe what it's worth.
So you need to have a good value proposition on your landing page if you want people to take action and buy your book or opt in to your list.
While it would be nice to simply tell the visitor what they'll get from your book, unfortunately that's not the way everyone's minds work when it comes to being motivated to buy something.
Some people are solely convinced by the potential of moving "towards" their goals, others are solely convinced by the potential to move "away from" their pain, and everyone else needs both.
This "towards" or "away from" is the mental programming that drives people to take action. Since you have no way to find out whether the visitor to your landing page want to move "towards" their goals, "away from" their pain, or both, you need to include copy that will take them through both possibilities.
If you skip putting pain points in your landing page copy, you'll fail to fully motivate all the people with a degree of "away from" programming in their mental motivation process, which is most people. This means you'll fail to motivate the majority of your visitors into buying your book.
Your visitor has read as much of your landing page as they need to and now wants to buy / opt-in. The only thought going through their head at this point is "how do I get this?"
The answer is, "Click the buy button".
This means your button has to be extremely obviously, extremely noticeable, and extremely accessible no matter how far down the page they have scrolled.
So put your button at the top of your landing page for those that just read the headline, and then put others throughout your page so your visitor can find it quickly and easily as soon as they make that decision to buy / opt-in.
Another thing to consider is the text on that button... Make it something they will be thinking, like, "Give Me The Book!" or "Sign Me Up!" This lets them feel they're in the driving seat doing what they want to do, which is always a nicer feeling than being told what to do by you. (eg "Order The Book Here")
There's an art to making good landing pages, however, if you make sure you have all 9 of these elements on your page, you'll be a long way towards having landing pages that get your visitors to take the action you want.