How To Fix 8 Common Landing Page Mistakes Made by Early-Stage Startups by@clairehagin

How To Fix 8 Common Landing Page Mistakes Made by Early-Stage Startups

A copywriter for startups has picked up some common landing page mistakes that are super easy to fix. Keep your headline focused on a benefit, not your product, not the product. Take your hero headlines back to the end result of using your product or service. Talk about the outcomes of using their product and how it will impact them personally. Talk to one reader with a story, or talk to a different reader about the pain they’re in the process of switching from an external solution to a new product.
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Claire H

Copywriter for startups who like converting traffic into users

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I’m a copywriter for startups. The founders I help tell me they take 2 weeks plus JUST writing up a single page. No ad copy. No marketing plan. No customer research. And, most importantly, no dev time.


Let’s change that.


Recently, I opened up my calendar to startups in various early stages of development. In the end, I spent over 11 hours recording 64 video reviews.


I’ve picked up some common landing page mistakes that are super easy to fix.


If you’re a tech guy, speak English as a second language, think your copy is ‘meh’, can’t get sign-ups, or don’t know how to explain what you’re doing…

Hey 🖐 I’ve got some fast tips for you.

1. Keep your Headline Focused on a Benefit, Not your Product

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


Most of the headlines I reviewed were okay, but they weren’t really clear on what the product did. Nor did they quickly tell me if this site was for someone like me.


I focus hero headlines on one of three things:

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


If you only take one thing from this entire article, take this: A headline can’t afford to be clever. No one understands what “tomorrow’s predictions, today” really means for them. Avoid being vague. Take your hero headlines back to the end result.

2. Talk About the Outcomes 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 launching a startup! So make sure you tell the user what happens once they start using your awesome creation.


Check out how this product page nails down the outcomes of using their product.


Feature + benefit = outcome

Feature + benefit = outcome

3. Let the key pain points inform the angle of your benefits

I start outlining the top section of all my landing pages with this format: Hero headline - Subtitle to explain/expand on the headline - CTA (usually descriptive) - Agitation section - 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.


This doesn’t always make it into the final page, it’s often cut. But putting it there at the start reminds me to have empathy for what my reader is switching from.


Understand the pain, and selling the solution becomes much easier.


Knowing the pain points makes the copy way easier to write. And your landing page way more convincing.

Knowing the pain points makes the copy way easier to write. And your landing page way more convincing.

4. Avoid Standard 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’s going to impact them personally.

5. Speak to One Reader. A Reader with a Story

This concept has been covered a fair amount, so most people are halfway there. But a more focused approach could boost conversions even more.


One reader often becomes “all developers”. Try to flesh that persona out 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 your tool is “for people like me”, they are far more likely to smash that CTA button.

6. 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 you think it’s a maybe, then turn your call to action into a call to value.


Copyhackers 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 is button copy.


You can also play with “show me how to ________.”


HOWEVER. Most SaaS companies use ‘Try it free’ or ‘Get started’ as button copy on their homepages. Test what works for you.

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 To Read. Give your reader the best experience possible.

Format your Website’s Text Like a Book

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 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 hard 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.


Make your startup's landing page easy to read

Make your startup's landing page easy to read

Hop into your landing page, and make some tweaks

If you’ve stayed to the end of the article for that extra bit of sage advice, here it is:


A poorly converting page costs you users. Every. Darn. Second. Take action fast.


Right now you might be converting 1% of your traffic into a user or a lead. What if you could change that to 5%? With the same amount of traffic, 5x more people will sign up!


If you believe in your idea enough to go through the effort of developing it and putting up a landing page, it deserves the best sales copy possible.


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