Your Landing Page is finally online and you got some traffic but it isn’t generating any leads?
Does your Landing Page contain all the information to communicate the key benefits your target audience is looking for?
What other strategies are out there to increase your conversion rates?
In this blog post we’ll explore a simple strategy you can use to create a Landing Page which resonates with your target audience and therefore results in more leads.
Why Landing Page templates and builders aren’t enough
Bootstrapping a business is hard. Really, really hard. Every founder has to wear many different hats throughout the journey of starting and running a profitable business. There’s Marketing, Product, Sales, Development and so many more aspects you as a founder have to juggle in the day-to-day.
Luckily enough there are products and SaaS services which help you streamline the work you have to do on those fronts. One of such products / services are Landing Page templates and Landing Page builders.
Your Landing Page is one of the most critical aspects of your business you have to get right. Every visitor to your website judges your product in a matter of seconds and decides whether it’s a good idea to dive deeper into your solution or move on and close the tab.
There are dozens of articles describing in great detail how your Landing Page should be laid out and which copywriting you should use to make your visitors stick. Over the years companies have spent a lot of time and resources running different A/B tests to eventually derive their “magic” Landing Page formula.
As a bootstrapped founder you don’t have the time, resources and most importantly traffic to run such tests to find out which Landing Page format converts the most users.
That’s where Landing Page templates and builders come into play. Given that the main goal of every Landing Page is to clearly communicate the benefits your product has to offer it’s possible to define a common structure every project should follow.
Such structure usually looks something like this:
- Sub Headline
- Description of the pain
- Description how the product makes the users life better and alleviates the pain
- Benefits with screenshots
- Testimonials / Social Proof
- Call to action (CTA)
This structure is based on a common understanding as to what a Landing Page needs to contain in order to result in high conversion rates. Following these best practices you should be able to download the template, fill out the blanks, maybe rearrange some blocks and have a decent Landing Page which delights your visitors, correct?
Well, not quite… There’s more to a converting Landing Page than following the de facto standard.
Your product and your customers
It’s always a good idea to put yourself into the shoes of your future potential customer and think about what you’d expect your products Landing Page to contain to get excited and give it a try.
Are there certain aspects you pay special attention to? Is there anything that’s currently missing? Maybe a short video is better suited than a gallery of in-app screenshots? Is there a way to embed a live demo of your product (e.g. the way Intercom does it with their live chat widget)? Are there crucial features your product offers to differentiate itself from the competition?
All those questions and their answers are very specific to the solution you’re offering and the audience you’re serving. While generic Landing Pages are a good start they don’t and can’t provide guidance as to what product and audience specific questions you should answer.
Putting yourself into your users shoes is one way to tackle this issue but there’s a trap almost all of us fall into: Bias.
What’s a good way to get more out of our Landing Pages without us analyzing it in a biased way?
Your product and your competition
Chances are that if you’re bootstrapping your business you’re not entirely reinventing the wheel. If you’re not VC backed it’s usually a good idea to work on a solution for a well known problem specifically tailored for a niche audience rather than coming up with something entirely new.
Defining new markets is expensive and time consuming because you have to raise awareness and educate your customers as to how your product benefits them.
Given this nature of our business we can use our competition to get some inspirations on what their customers were looking for when visiting their Landing Pages back in the day. If our competition is successful nowadays we can be pretty sure that they did something right back when they pitched their product for the very first time.
Let’s take this idea for a spin and see how we can reverse-engineer the parts that were crucial in the success of our competition.
Reverse Engineering the competition
For this example we pretend that we’ve developed a live support chat application similar to Intercom or Drift.
1. Finding your competitors
The first thing we want to do is to figure out which companies we’re competing with.
Chances are that you already stumbled upon this question when you did your market research and product validation. However if you haven’t done that you can find your main competitors easily via business review sites such as Capterra or G2.
Given that we’re offering a live support chat service we’re tying “support chat” into the Capterra search box:
While we see some products at the top of the page we’re more interested in the “Software Categories”. If we scroll down a little bit we can see the category “Live Chat Software”. That’s exactly what we’re looking for so we click on that link.
The information on the “Live Chat Software” page confirms that that’s the category our product belongs to. Scrolling down a little bit we can finally find our competitors such as Zendesk, HubSpot Service Hub and Intercom.
Looking at the ratings and reviews it might be a good idea to study what Intercom did back in the day.
2. Gathering information about your competitor
Now that we know that one of our main competitors is Intercom it’s a good idea to learn when they first launched. Getting this information can easily be done by visiting their Wikipedia page.
If that doesn’t return any results we can use Crunchbase which is a huge database containing tons of relevant information about startups and businesses.
As we can see Intercom was founded on August 2011 and their domain is intercom.com. That’s all the information we need.
A note on domain names:
If you dig a little bit deeper into the history of Intercom you’ll stumble upon the fact that they didn’t own the intercom.com domain from day one. In fact they bought it after they launched and started with intercomapp.com. If you want to go the extra mile you could try to figure out if your competitor had a different domain name when they launched. However most of the time it’s enough to know the “final” domain name because that’s usually the time when the company started to attract public interest and therefore gained traction.
3. Their Landing Page back in the day…
Armed with this information we visit the Internet archives “Wayback Machine” which is a non-profit project dedicated to record the internets history.
In the search bar we enter our competitors domain and select the year when they launched.
On the calendar view we select one of the very first recorded snapshots to see how their Landing Page looked like back in the day.
And there we have it. Intercoms original Landing Page.
We should now take some time and look for what aspects of their product Intercom paid special attention to. What you’ll notice for example is that they put a special emphasize on “building relationships” via their software. Another interesting data point is that they started with a free plan during their private beta period, meaning that they didn’t launch publicly on day one.
What you now want to do is spend some time to navigate around and take notes while you browse. Reverse-engineer their website and the way they communicate their customers pain and their solution to such pain. Look at what features and benefits they highlight and how they reflect that in their copywriting.
Now you might be thinking that you don’t want to be a copycat of your competitor and you’re right about that. Being a 1:1 copy shouldn’t be your goal. However there’s a very high likelihood that the audience your competitor is serving is similar to the one you’re about to work with. Hence they’re receptive to a similar messaging your competitor uses.
A note on using the Wayback Machine:
The Wayback Machine is a truly awesome tool and important initiative as it tries to record the internets history as accurately as possible. However as you browse through old, preserved websites you might recognize a minor hiccup here and there. That’s totally normal. Keep in mind that the project is a non-profit and the vast amount of data they have to store and process. Just pick another date on the calendar if you get stuck. And always keep the year in mind when browsing old websites. What looks dated today was trendy back then.
We’ve now seen how we would use this process to drastically improve the Landing Page of our imaginary live support chat application. Now it’s your turn. Take some time this week to figure out who your main competitors are and how they communicate their products benefits on their Landing Pages.
Pay close attention to the features and solutions they highlight. Those aspects might be interesting for your target audience as well. Also note how they present their application. Do they use a lot of screenshots or go with video? What is their launch pricing structure? Did they charge on day one? If so, how much?
Try to learn as much as possible and incorporate some of those learnings into your Landing Page as well!
As the old saying goes:
Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal
While Landing Page template and builders are a great starting point to get your products initial marketing page off the ground they’re usually generic to suit as many different use cases as possible.
The main task of your Landing Page is to clearly articulate the benefits your target audience will experience when using your product over the competition. Your future customers should be inclined to dive deeper into the solution you’re providing rather than leaving your website after the first few seconds.
Doing so cannot be done with a generic template you’ve downloaded and filled out. You need to tailor your messaging to your future potential customers. One way to learn what your users will pay attention to is to study what your competition did back in the day when they published and promoted their very first Landing Page. In this blog posts we learned a structured way to identify your main competition and reverse-engineer their Landing Pages in great detail.
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Originally published at https://philippmuens.com on October 6, 2020.