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[Checklist] 5 Copywriting Elements to Test on Your Landing Page

Ah…copy.

It’s the life-blood of any landing page and ought to be tested often.

(RELATED: [DOWNLOAD] The 15-Point Landing Page Audit)

Testing copy as an element on your homepage is one of the simplest tests you can run that will actually move the needle.

One of the best things about any copy test is that they are easy to run. Before you get the pitchforks—I’m not saying writing copy is easy, because it is, in fact, very hard.

What I am saying is that testing copy as an element on your homepage is one of the simplest tests you can run that will actually move the needle.

You could have the best offer, but if you can’t articulate it in a way that’s convincing and easy to consume, your prospect will not convert.

More often than not, you are too close to your own copy efforts. Before you begin to change all of the copy on your site, grab some qualitative insights (user surveys, eye tracking, etc…) to give you more direction.

Even though copy is important, not all copy should be treated equally. Use this checklist to dive into some of the most effective copy types on your pages that are worth testing.

Copywriting Element to Test #1: Headlines

The headline is one of the most persuasive elements on your page and is one of the first things a visitor sees on your page. Visitors have been trained to look for the headline, so it has to be one that drives them to convert.

Marketers love to get cute with their headlines, but what visitors really want is clarity.

Headlines that don’t answer these two questions almost always kill conversions.

Your headline needs to answer two crucial questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. What does it do for me?

Headlines that don’t answer these two questions almost always kill conversions.

Another good rule of thumb: If a person can’t tell you what your business does after seeing your page for five seconds, then you need a better headline.

Here’s an example of a great headline on a homepage:

Infusionsoft headline on their homepage

The headline tells you both what Infusionsoft does and what it can do for you. Anyone who lands on this page who isn’t familiar with the brand has a pretty good idea about what Infusionsoft does almost instantly.

Take Action

If your headline isn’t answering these two questions…

  1. What is it?
  2. What does it do for me?

…about what you offer—you have your next split test (or use something like UsabilityHub to get user feedback).

Copywriting Element to Test #2: Sub-Headlines

The sub-headline is also an incredibly important piece of copy on your page for much of the same reasons as the headline.

The sub-headline has the added benefit of being close to an element that demands the most attention, so it is crucial that you test your message.

Look how much attention this sub-headline gets on this heatmap:

Heatmap showing the activity for a sub-headline

Image Source: WholeGrain Digital

If you use a sub-headline, make sure that the font size is smaller than the headline and the content is a pure extension of the headline. The sub-headline supports the headline.

Take Action

If you have a long headline, try breaking some of the message into your sub-headline. Why? This…

  • Meets your user’s expectations
  • Maintains your message
  • Creates a strong visual hierarchy

…keeping the user engaged with the most important message they first lay eyes on.

(NOTE: Want DigitalMarketer’s proven 8-Step Optimization Process for turning existing traffic into more leads and more sales? Get our Optimization & Testing Specialist training and certification. Learn more now.)

Copywriting Element to Test #3: Bullet Points

People don’t have time to read—they skim and move on.

Though your visitors’ focus is dependent on your individual industry, it stands to reason that people want to consume content quickly and easily.

Your first step is to drill down your copy and your next step is to make the bullet section visually appealing.

Bullet points are one of the preferred methods to display content on landing pages because they work.

If you don’t use bullets on your site, I’d recommend running a split test between your current layout and a new bullet point layout immediately.

Bullet points, by design, are short, so they need to provide both clarity and persuasion in one small punch. This is terribly difficult to do but can really move the needle!

At DigitalMarketer, we obsess over our bullet points on our landing pages and it takes hours to craft the perfect set.

Need proof? Michael Aagaard, a friend and copy test junkie, also recognized the power of bullet points when he ran this test:

The two bullet points Michael Aagaard tested

This small tweak on a single bullet point increased downloads by 18.59% at a 98% confidence rate.

Just switching to a bullet format isn’t enough. You need to polish your copy to make sure you are getting the most out of your pages!

Action Item

If you aren’t using bullets, start immediately. There are also other items to consider outside of the copy:

  • Bullet Icons (Optimizer Ton Wesseling stands by the green checkmark)
  • Copy length
  • Number of bullets

Your first step is to drill down your copy and your next step is to make the bullet section visually appealing.

Copywriting Element to Test #4: Captions

Yes, captions.

The small bits of text you put under your images. Despite the size, we’ve found that captions are a type of copy that gets the most attention on your site, sometimes 300% more attention.

Eye tracking has shown that people generally look at images first and headlines second—we are trained to look for images (especially images of people). So captions have the benefit of the eye tracking appeal of images and are the mechanism for a visitor to get a clear understanding of that image they just saw.

Don’t overlook captions and try testing out different variations. You’ll be glad you did. If you’re having trouble writing captions, check out this article by Conversion Scientist Brian Massey.

Take Action

Get captions on your images!

  • Use “intent driving” copy
  • Don’t just describe the picture, explain the value in it
  • Incite action in your caption

Copywriting Element to Test #5: Call-to-Action

Your call-to-action (CTA) is arguably one of the most important pieces of copy on your page.

In the last two years, I’ve seen less generic CTAs and more focused CTAs that include:

  • Verbs
  • Ownership
  • Persuasive adjectives

For example, the CTA “Get Your Free eBook”  is likely going to perform much better than “Submit.” Though there are always outliers, it is important to make sure that your CTA is inciting action versus causing more confusion.

Here is an example of simple CTA test that increased clicks by 90% for Unbounce:

An example of simple CTA test that increased clicks by 90% for Unbounce
Image Source: Unbounce

When it comes to your CTA, there are tons of other elements you can test such as its…

  • Location
  • Coloration
  • Style

…you get the idea. 🙂

All of these changes will make a difference, but the copy is what you need to perfect first, then start testing all the other design-based variables.

Take Action

Don’t keep your CTA because it “works just fine.”

Test out some more descriptive CTAs that both stand out and set user expectations.

Oh, and if you set expectations don’t forget to deliver! If you have a CTA that says “Buy Your [Product] Now” don’t send them to a page that says “Create Your Account.” That’s an abandonment waiting to happen.

Of all of the copy elements on your site, I believe that testing these five will have the greatest impact overall on your page.

Keep this checklist in mind while you’re evaluating your landing page and you’ll be well on your way to moving the needle on your conversions. Happy testing!

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