Landing Pages by Apple: Borrow Apple’s Best Copywriting Techniques for Your Own Copy

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Question: Does it really matter what a company like Apple writes on its landing pages?

Seriously… would people have been less excited for the iOS 8 release if the landing page they built had looked like this?

This is what would happen if Apple didn’t care about copywriting.
This is what would happen if Apple didn’t care about copywriting.

Okay, so the fact is Apple actually does put effort into writing copy that makes sense.

Why?

Because even when you have top-notch products, hundreds of millions of customers, and great design, you can still use copywriting to give yourself an advantage over your competition.

Here’s the deal — this landing page isn’t really designed to get you to buy something right away.

It’s about building excitement.

It’s about legitimate hype.

It’s about craftsmanship.

And it’s about placing you, the customer, squarely in the middle of it all.

In this post, I’m going to dissect exactly what copywriting and marketing elements went into building a beautiful landing page that is guaranteed to excite Apple’s loyal legion of customers.

A screenshot of what’s above the fold on the iOS 8 landing page.
A screenshot of what’s above the fold on the iOS 8 landing page.

Four Questions to Ask Before You Create Any Landing Page

When designing and writing copy for any landing page, there is one thing you should consider before anything else — context. This means asking questions like:

  • How are people landing on this page?
  • What has been the average user’s experience prior to landing on this page?
  • Who is this landing page for? Existing customers? Potential customers?
  • What is the one action I most want visitors to take when they visit this landing page?

Answering these questions will force you to put purpose behind every image, every line of copy, and every call-to-action on your landing page.

With these questions in mind, it doesn’t take long to see that Apple created this iOS 8 landing page primarily for existing customers who are fairly fluent in Apple’s language.

Because Apple knows who they’re writing to and why, they’re able to do a few unconventional things with the copy on this landing page.

Notice: You don’t see “iOS 8” anywhere above the fold, or any mention of what “iOS 8” is. In fact, you have to scroll down to see it mentioned in the subhead that reads: “What makes iOS 8 the world’s most advanced mobile operating system.”

There are a couple factors that play into this:

  1. Apple knows their audience. This landing page is for the initiated. For those who speak the language. For the believers.
  2. Apple also knows that no one really gets excited for a new operating system. They get excited for a new experience.

But perhaps the biggest factor? Apple’s track record with epic releases.

Just like with any Apple release, the most exciting thing about the iOS 8 release is that it’s an Apple release. We, the consumers, know it and so do they.

That gives Apple the leverage to simply trumpet the release itself as opposed to getting super-specific about exactly what iOS 8 is. It’s not about the product — it’s about the customer’s experience of using the product.

Consider the first paragraph after the headline:

The first paragraph on Apple’s iOS 8 landing page.
The first paragraph on Apple’s iOS 8 landing page.

At this point, you’re sold on this amazing new experience, now they hit you with the specifics of what it is: “the world’s most advanced mobile operating system.”

You’re allowed to rock superlatives like “most advanced” and “innovations” when you have a history that backs them up.
You’re allowed to rock superlatives like “most advanced” and “innovations” when you have a history that backs them up.

This is where they appeal to the droves of gadget lovers who call themselves Apple loyalists (while again trumpeting the “experience”).

Building Up the Event… and Then Placing You Right in the Middle

It’s easy to see from the start that this landing page is based around the event of the iOS 8 release. It’s not about getting opt-ins. It’s not about getting shares. It’s not about getting immediate sales.

It’s about excitement.

The iconic “8” logo. The headline: “Huge for developers. Massive for everyone else.” And, of course, the tastefully understated “Coming This Fall” box.

Exciting, right? But here’s where Apple takes things to the next level — they place every new feature, every new experience, every enhanced function… in the context of your life.

Take the unveiling of the new features in the Photos application:

  • “Every photo, every edit, every album now lives in your iCloud Photo Library, easily viewable and consistent on all your devices. Automatically.”
  • “…simpler than ever to find and rediscover your favorite photos.”
  • “And you can make every shot look even better immediately after you’ve taken it with powerful new editing tools.”

They don’t just talk at you about the new features, they place them in your everyday context and show you the benefits. And they back it up with visuals that are impossibly colorful and happy:

I know it’s that little girl’s party, but I refuse to let her cry if she wants to. It just looks too awesome.
I know it’s that little girl’s party, but I refuse to let her cry if she wants to. It just looks too awesome.

Apple does this with nearly every new feature on the landing page:

  • Messages: “Tap to add your voice to any conversation. Send a video of what you’re seeing the moment you’re seeing it. And easily share your location so they know right where you are.”

  • Keyboard: “It even recognizes to whom you’re typing and whether you’re in Mail or Messages. Because your tone in an email may be different from your tone in a message.”

  • Family Sharing: “Whenever one person buys a new song, movie, or app, everybody gets to share.”

  • iCloud Drive: “The good news: you can work on any file, anywhere. The bad news: you can work on any file, anywhere.”

  • Connectivity: “Now you can start an email on one device and seamlessly continue on another.”

Remember, it’s never about the features — it’s about the benefits to your customers.

The 3 Ingredients That Create Apple’s Tone

The tone of Apple’s copy mirrors their design — clean, minimal, and a few dashes of personality. It’s a perfect complement to the sleek product images featured throughout.

Let’s take a look at one section in particular that serves as a nice microcosm of the entire landing page’s tone:

CAPTION: A section showcasing the benefits of iOS 8’s new iCloud Drive feature.
A section showcasing the benefits of iOS 8’s new iCloud Drive feature.

All the ingredients that make up Apple’s tone can be found in this chunk of copy. Let’s analyze.

Ingredient #1: Clarity

Most copywriters will tell you that copywriting is not the time to unleash your inner Shakespeare. You need to be clear, not creative.

As E.B. White wrote in his classic manual for better writing, The Elements of Style, “Use definite, specific, concrete language. Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract.”

Apple took this advice to heart. Everything is plain and simple. Consider the headline:

“iCloud Drive. Any kind of file. On all your devices.”

As opposed to something like, “iCloud Drive gives you instant access to your files wherever you go.”

Ingredient #2: Conciseness

If there’s one thing that gets under my skin it’s an unnecessary word. Particularly when the word is “of” or “that” (seriously, “that” can probably be deleted 50% of the time it’s used — you’ll notice I didn’t just write “50% of the time that it’s used”).

In the headline, Apple made my dreams come true and omitted a useless “of” — “On all your devices” vs. “On all of your devices.”

This might not seem like a big deal when looking at just one instance, but it can add up over the course of an entire landing page. Vigilance for unnecessary words keeps copy both concise and clean.

The most impressive factor, however, when considering the copy’s conciseness is how Apple strives to explain complicated and/or extensive features (and how they apply to your life) in four sentences or less.

Seriously — not a single paragraph explaining a feature is longer than four sentences.

In fact, most articles that summed up the iOS 8 release contained more words than this landing page that described almost every new feature.

Ingredient #3: A Dash of Wit

These were my favorite lines in the iCloud Drive paragraph:

“The good news: You can work on any file, anywhere. The bad news: You can work on any file, anywhere.”

It’s clever, not forced, and taps into the conflicting emotions many customers who want to remain constantly connected experience (in a fun way).

It’s Apple’s way of saying, “We’re always here for you…even though we know sometimes that’s a pain in your butt. ;-)”

The Goal of a Landing Page with No Call-to-Action

So what’s Apple’s main goal with this landing page? After all, there’s no buy button or email opt-in. And that’s exactly the point. Because the main goal is to delight their existing customers.

Tell me, do you see any copy remotely resembling any of the following statements?

  • The perfect time to switch to iPhone.
  • Now with even more functionality than Android.
  • Pre-order now.

Apple isn’t trying to get you to buy a new phone.

They’re not trying to get Android users to switch.

They’re not taking pre-orders.

It’s pure equity. All iOS releases are free.

After all, details of upcoming releases are like candy to Apple’s faithful. And if they happen to win over some new customers, they’ll take it, but that’s not the goal.

As much as we here at LeadPages love generating new leads, we also recognize the importance of delighting your existing leads while asking for nothing in return.

That’s why, in addition to adding new features for Pro and Enterprise LeadPages customers, we also constantly release new templates and expansive features like LeadBoxes to all existing customers free of charge.

The Elephant in the Room… What’s with That Headline??

It stuck out like a sore thumb at first.

“Huge for developers. Massive for everyone else.”

Why lead with a line about developers… a group of people that can’t make up more than a small fraction of the traffic this landing page will receive?

Two reasons:

1. The Simple Reason: Apple really wants developers to know about the opportunities iOS 8 offers.

As the Wall Street Journal said, “The moves reflect Apple’s effort to boost its appeal to thousands of developers who create apps, in the face of intensifying competition from Google Inc.”

The same article went on to quote Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research, who said, “If the third-party developers aren’t doing jaw-dropping apps, the whole thing breaks down for Apple.”

Further evidence of Apple’s desire to send a strong message to developers: their creation of the new programming language Swift, which Apple says will make writing apps easier and faster.

When you consider these factors, it’s not so surprising after all that Apple would kick off their headline with a message just for developers…

…or is it just for developers?

2. The audience for this landing page is probably more tech-minded than the average person.

The people who are really going to pay attention to the iOS 8 release are those who are already fairly tech-minded. In all likelihood, most will be familiar with the popular viewpoint that Android phones are much more customizable than iPhones.

I mean, honestly — are your parents, who only use their iPhones for Facebook and FaceTime, really that hyped about a new operating system release? Would they even know what “iOS” means?

This strong message for developers comes through loud and clear for Apple’s tech-minded audience — more third-party innovations are coming.

How to Write Copy Like Apple

Apple has spent decades carefully constructing a brand that has helped make them one of the most recognizable, loved, and valuable companies in the world.

It would be foolish for me to pretend their copy is the sole reason for their success, and that you can experience the same success if you employ these copywriting techniques.

What you can do, however, is use the same fundamental copywriting techniques that are present in Apple’s iOS 8 landing page to write copy that…

  • puts your landing page in the perfect context of your visitors’ experience with your brand.
  • enables your customers to see how the experience of using your product or service will enhance their lives.
  • is easy and fun to read.

To accomplish those three results, simply follow these three steps:

  • Know who your landing page is for. Understand who will visit your landing page, how they will find your landing page, and what you want them to do after they get there.
  • Place your product or service in your customers’ lives. Focus on the benefits, not the features. Specifically, think about how your product or lead magnet will change your customers’ lives and reveal that in your copy.
  • Write clear, concise, witty copy. Easier said than done, I know. If wit isn’t coming easily, strive for clarity. Explain exactly what your customers will get by clicking on your call to action button. Remember to revise, test, and then revise again until you find the message that works for your audience.

Remember, don’t try to be Apple. Instead, take the techniques Apple uses, apply them to your brand, and make them your own.

Notice anything else going on in Apple’s iOS 8 landing page? Planning on implementing any of Apple’s strategies in your own landing pages? Let me know in the comments!

  • J Brett Abbey

    Nice article, even if you did use the word “that” when you say, “It’s Apple’s way of saying, “We’re always here for you…even though we know sometimes that’s a pain in your butt. ;-)”

    • Thanks, Brett! Sometimes it’s a necessary evil. 😉

  • DavidBlaise

    While I think this copy is not Apple’s best (if targeted to a wide audience,) you did a GREAT job of calling attention to the things they did well, justifying (or at least providing justifiable reasons for) the things they did poorly and ultimately providing some excellent takeaways for your reader. You added a lot of value here. Thank you.

    • Agreed, David. If I were to point to one piece of copy that encapsulates Apple, this probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but I thought it was a very interesting example of how to write when the primary objective isn’t to get immediate sales. Thanks!

  • Jeremy Hall

    Stellar article Will! I really appreciate the level of detail that went into explaining the essential principles of effective landing page copy. This article gave a lot of food for thought. Cheers!

    • Thanks, Jeremy. Would love to hear if you apply any of these techniques in your own copy.

      • Jeremy Hall

        Hi Will. Clarity and brevity definitely. Wit is nice but tertiary to clarity and brevity. And I don’t use superlatives either and I advise my clients not to either unless they have something unique (that no one else has) and it’s validated by results and social proof. Even reading this post gave me ideas how I can improve my own blogging. Cheers mate!

  • Will, you just caused me to scrap the copy for a landing page for a new book we are about to release. Another great job with major ripples!!!

    • That’s awesome, Robert! Please send that landing page my way when it goes live. Would love to see it.

  • DaveKeys

    A client who is seeking to define their market value proposition sent me this post and I thought, “Oh well, you can’t market an individual or small biz the say way a big brand does. You have to create measurable direct marketing with a very specific value to an accurately targeted market.” This wasn’t another suggestion to simply create brand like the big players. It has some very good points about market identification, empathy (getting the benefit into the experience of the reader) and being witty/interesting and compelling in your copy. Great read!

    • Dave, I completely understand your initial expectation…I’ve read waaaaayyy too many articles like that. Glad to hear this one stood out!

  • CoachKaterina

    Excellent article. Of course, being a die hard Apple fan doesn’t taint my opinion at all:) I am one of those people that looks at Apple releases as more than the best candy.

  • George

    Maybe it’s just me, but the words “huge”, “massive” and “awesome” immediately make me associate on Hollywood hokum. “My movie will be huge, the script is awesome, we’ll have a massive success, my check is in the mail, yadda yadda” 🙂 Then again, it’s true I’m not much of an iOS junkie, probably still running 5.0

    • That’s why it’s definitely important to a) use terms like those sparingly, and b) actually be able to back them up with a truly outstanding product. I think those are the two details your average Hollywood wanna-be usually overlooks.

  • Graeme Taylor-Warne

    Great article!! Loved it – will be reviewing my copy now!

    BTW: I receive your blog updates in Gmail on a Mac using Chrome, but your links NEVER work. They always time out leaving this error “This webpage is not available”. I try all the links in the email each time, without luck. Here’s one of the links copied from my browser: https://avenue81.infusionsoft.com/app/linkClick/15638/85c733e4970d1943/20666908/d3a9457b0ac49139

    Am I alone?

    • Hey Graeme, thanks for the kind words! That’s actually the exact same way I usually receive our blog updates. All is working fine for me currently, and I haven’t heard about this issue from others.

  • Mike Lamothe

    This could be the best post I have ever read!!!!

    • That’s quite a compliment! Thanks, Mike. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed.

  • Will AWESOME article. I just got around to reading it, and it was fantastic.
    Thanks!
    kr

  • Karen Cioffi

    Wow, a great analysis of Apple’s copy. I love how simplistic they are.Letting your client be able to see herself with the product is something I don’t do as often as I should. Will work on that! Thanks for sharing.

    • Always a good thing to remind ourselves. Thanks, Karen!

  • Excellent breakdown Will ;0)

  • Amazing article… One of the clearest examples of feature vs. benefits while bringing up some cool points!

  • gregpipkin

    This is just top notch stuff! Thanks for the amazing article, Will.

  • Bree Brouwer

    Ever since reading your post about how you got started with LeadPages, Will, I can tell which blog posts are yours before I even look. Love your stuff — practical and honest!

    I remember the first time I encountered the “that” omission concept. In school, of course, you’re supposed to include it on essays for “better clarity,” but as soon as I started freelancing and gained a blogging role with a high-level copywriter, he saw my constant use of the word “that” and told me to cut it out; he said I was obviously a beginner. That stung, but since then I’ve been careful how I use it (or not)!

    • Bree, I like to reread The Elements of Style once a year (which is where I originally learned the “that” omission). I always end up walking away with something new. And thanks! Awesome to hear that. 🙂

  • Came in expecting a shallow article but no. Thanks for taking time out to write this.

  • arpit

    Brilliant read. Cheers.