What Bestselling Fiction Can Teach You About Writing Better Landing Pages

What Bestselling Fiction Can Teach You About Writing Better Landing Pages

Reader Comments (51)

    • I concur. I like the step-by-step sequence of this writing strategy. The only thing that I would add is that you also need to take into consideration the personality type of the person you’re trying to reach. There are four personality types, and this strategy works well on three of them.

      • That’s very true. It seems like there are always clients who can’t make up their mind. They are going to be so ADD that you can’t hold their attention with a single thought. Anyone who is organized is going to appreciate that you kept to a single point and didn’t drift off like that teenager would of.

  1. wow, I luv the systematics here.

    Like a real tactician, making sure every line delivers its target.

    I feel guilty – I have NEVER ever used such a tactical approach in writing copy, but I will now thanx to you !

  2. Great advice! I can’t tell you how many landing pages I’ve had to focus down for my clients. I understand you want to throw the biggest net possible to attract a wide audience, but you don’t need to answer every question at once!

  3. Great analogy Sean. I get it. Sometimes I just so happy to have words to write that I think I have to use them all up at once. I’ll let them out slowly from now on. Thanks for teaching us this technique.

  4. That seems to push the actual company/solution pretty far down the page. How would you prioritize explicitly conveying such information above the fold?

    No matter how compelling your headline and problem, a significant portion of your visits won’t take the time to invest in a scroll down.

    • If you want them to scroll down, focus on them and their problem (which is what Sean’s putting above the fold here).

      If you want them to click elsewhere, focus on yourself and your solution before you’ve covered their problem.

    • The purpose of any conversation (and sales copy or article writing is conversation) is to get you into the conversation. A reader will read, if you pull them in. Having everything above the fold isn’t completely necessary at all.

      Having everything above the fold is like having breakfast, lunch and dinner together at the same sitting. Sounds nice in theory, but there has to be pacing. And copy has to unfold. 🙂

      • I’m not advocating everything (breakfast, lunch and dinner, as you put it) above the fold. But your central point should be able to be digested without scrolling down, in my opinion.

        While it’s nice to believe readers will thoroughly engage with your message, any content heat map or similar metric indicates otherwise. Yes, some will. But, by and large, and message below the fold will receive attention from far fewer readers.

        And as to Brian’s point, consumers buy books with the intention of reading every word. Web users don’t tend to browse with this intent.

  5. We can learn a lot from fiction. One of the most valuable experiences I’ve had as a writer was taking sketch writing courses at Second City. They teach a very tight structure. Every single line in the sketch must support the premise. So even if you have a wonderful gag that’s funny, if it doesn’t support the main point, it has to go. I compare it to a tree. Your writing should follow a straight line from the base of the trunk to the tip. Any time spent out on branches or (God help us) twigs is a distraction and dead end.

    And when I’m writing for a group’s approval, I put the objective of the copy up top and point back to it any time someone suggests exploring a tangent.

    • That’s correct. Every comedian, every good script writer and every writer needs to understand how to connect and disconnect from the original premise. And needs to know why they’re connecting or disconnecting. If you distract, there must be a way to pull back—but strictly on purpose and not randomly.

      Article writing has more leeway in terms of disconnections. Copywriting has a lot less space to go off on any tangent.

  6. I trust a lot of your readers will also find this book useful

    Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting [Book]

    Robert McKee’s

    • That’s a great resource for anyone creating stories. It can definitely be translated to copywriting at times, although it can take some creative wrangling to see how.

    • Robert’s book is good, but as Sonia said it’s really tough to pull those elements into copywriting. You can use some stuff, but a lot of it would seem out of place. This is because of the media. The copy you see above is fine for a sales page but is totally useless for a TV ad. Or a yellow pages ad.

      When the media changes, almost 95% of the stuff in the advertising changes. The only thing that does remain the same is the core problem/solution/consequences.

  7. One of the toughest things about writing copy for me is sticking to one defined storyline, especially when I’m selling a product that has tons of different advantages. So I definitely appreciate this article and its examples on how to sort through all my thoughts and come up with a cohesive flow.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Sarah: Copywriting is often taken as one big salesletter. But in fact every part of the salesletter has ONE written all over it. On Psychotactics.com we analyse every testimonial, every objection. Every thing needs to be driving home one point as far as possible.

      Now you don’t have to stay with ONE point. You just have to complete one point. So you go into detail into one point, then move to the second. Complete that in detail, move to the third. And so on. The trick is to keep my attention on that point while I’m still reading.

      That’s what creates the cohesive flow.

  8. Hey Sean, great to see you on Copyblogger.com! It’s surprising how scattered a simple sales letter or even blog posts can get because we want to tell the whole story. I have to keep bringing myself back to focus on the main plot, and make that plot as interesting as possible. That’s the beauty of a blog or email newsletter: you can continue to communicate additional points over time.

    • It’s a common mistake. Most writers lack discipline. And they don’t even realise it. It then spills into speeches and videos and audio. You can literally pick the good speaker from the crappy ones. The reason?: Lack of structure and bouncing from one fact to another.

  9. I will definitely benefit and learn a lot from this post which contains such vital information that certainly speaks to many bloggers. Thanks for the post.

  10. This is more then awesome post in my opinion. If we are able to write our landing page like this i am sure my sites traffic will increase many fold. Thanks dear for this great write-up. – rakesh kumar

  11. Great, compelling writing should always be subjected to an editing process, which, in and of itself, makes the format inherently different from a teenager’s off-the-cuff speech. Here you’ve laid out a great structure by which to set your landing page content, but an editing process afterward is crucial.

    • There’s editing for style (making the words sound good, fixing grammatical errors, etc.) and then there’s editing for structure.

      Structure matters more, which is why sometimes you see a novel that’s “poorly written” (full of cliches, awkward sentence structure, and stiff dialogue) that sells a kazillion copies — it’s because the structure is so good that you overlook the clunky part.

  12. So glad I read this. It offers the structure many of us are eager to learn. Thanks a million.

  13. I posted this on Brian’s Google+ post, but it bears repeating. If you look at some of the posts both on Google+ and here, the conversation goes all over the place. So while the topic is about plots and sub-plots, the conversation veers madly into KISS (keep it simple, stupid), about scanning a sales page, about editing etc. All possibly relevant, but not specific to the topic at hand.

    This is precisely what happens on a sales page. We think we’re getting a message across, but we’re jumping back and forth incessantly from one topic to another. And of course, you pay the price for it.

  14. Hey Sean

    I love the way you drill down on the fundamentals of copywriting: problem to consequences to solution. It’s so simple but devastating in practise.

    It reminds me of the top football coaches who won’t even look at their team’s gamesmanship, strategy or flair without relentless drills on kicking, catching and passing for months and months on end.

    I’m going to put a sticky-note on my computer to make sure I use this genius ‘PCS’ each and every time.

    Genius! Thank you 🙂

    • It’s so simple but devastating in practise.

      Yup, you got that right, Fin. Things that look extremely simple aren’t always as simple as they seem. But if you keep at it, they reveal their secrets over time. 🙂

    • It reminds me of the top football coaches who won’t even look at their team’s gamesmanship, strategy or flair without relentless drills on kicking, catching and passing for months and months on end.

      That’s why they’re top coaches. It’s like Karate Kid—Wax on, Wax off!

  15. This advice is right (write?) on, as you already know.

    When I saw the headline tho, I was expecting a post about how to write a dramatic opening that would hook your reader. You know, something along the lines of starting the action already in play.

    Funny thing is, your post actually Does address the reader’s attention. Just in a way I wasn’t expecting. 🙂

  16. What fun to meet up here, Sean. As always, you make a masterful argument.
    ” . . . how do you know which point is your main plot: It’s the client’s most pressing problem.”
    Focusing on the client’s pressing problem makes it about them, so they stay interested.
    I think fictional highlights in copywriting introduces a sense of the dramatic; it’s very useful to help maintain interest – and there’s nothing more dramatic than a teen – or the opening to your article 🙂

  17. Great post. Not at all what I thought it was going to be about … based on the headline. But excellent advice.

    Sometimes it takes a bit of client education. Some clients want to stuff ten messages into a webpage, a print ad, an email – or, even worse, a 30-second TVC!

    Fiction also serves as a great model for dissecting the masterful word play that goes into creating tone of voice, generating emotion, transporting readers into a moment, etc. I’ve used fiction excerpts to train copywriters myself because I believe there’s a lot it can teach us as copywriters.

  18. I just made about 12 tweaks to my homepage using your advice in this post and it looks and reads soooo much better. I am excited about the changes and I know they’ll make a difference. There’s no doubt in my mind. Thanks for hitting it out of the park with this insight.

  19. In each of the following, the word “that” should be “who” —

    Contractors that don’t call you back or even show up?
    Are you done with contractors that lack the ability to communicate in a timely manner?
    How about contractors that run away from problems that crop up during and after a project?

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