The Real Reason Your Landing Page Copy Is Failing (and 5 Things You Can Do to Change That)


Okay, so you’ve got your product or service all ready to go. You think it’s the best thing since sliced bread and it’s going to revolutionize the world, make everyone’s lives better and make you a billionaire.

You’ve built your landing page, where you’ve highlighted the features of your product or service, told everyone how fabulous it is and explained why they should buy it. You’ve probably made videos showing how your product works and created infographics to demonstrate how it’s better than the leading competitor’s products.

You’ve created a social media presence on several different platforms to make sure people know about your fabulous product or service. You’ve made sure that your landing page has a good linking strategy. You’ve set up a PPC campaign to drive traffic to your page. You’ve bought Facebook ads, created a press release, all of the things you know you’re supposed to do when you launch a venture.

“Ahhhh,” you say to yourself. “Everything is finally in place. I can sit back and start watching the money roll in.”

And you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And nobody clicks on the buy button.

You check your page statistics. Yes, your landing page is showing up in the SERP and people are coming to your landing page. So why is no one buying?

You decide to buy some more PPC ads, maybe you send out a bunch of social media messages via Hootsuite. You do everything you possibly can to make people see your landing page. 

Still, nothing works. Nobody wants your product.

You try rewriting your landing page copy and title tags to optimize for different keywords. You put more money into online advertising. You even consider paying one of those scary companies that promises you Facebook likes or links (which you know are all black hat schemes, but at this point you don’t care.)

Your whole life is wrapped up in this product, this website. You were expecting this to be the answer to your prayers, the thing that let you retire at 40 so you could move to the Bahamas and live out the rest of your life on a 70-foot luxury yacht, sailing from island to island. 

“Why? Why is this happening to me?!” You scream to the beige walls of your home office (which is really a bedroom you’ve converted into a workspace.) “Why don’t these people see the brilliance of what I’m offering them?!” 

Why indeed?

Have you thought about those people? Truly thought about what you are offering them and how it will affect them? Have you answered the question every single one of them is asking when they come to your website – “What’s in it for me?”

You see, when people visit any site on the Internet, they really don’t care how fabulous your product or service is. They don’t want to know about the amazing features, the multiple ways this thing can be used, or whatever else you’re trying to tell them. They really want to know how your product will make their lives better. 

They know they have a problem and they’re looking for a way to solve it. So they go to the Internet to find a solution. If your website looks like it might provide them with that solution, they’ll click on your link.

But if you don’t grab them right away… If you don’t show them how your product is the solution they’re looking for… If you don’t answer that question of “What’s in it for me?” They’ll just click back to their SERP page and go on to the next thing that looks like it might solve their problem.

This is commonly referred to as “engaging your customer.” It’s the fine art of showing any website visitor exactly how your product or service will make his or her life better.

Here are five things you can do to not only engage your customer, but also improve your landing page copy and conversion rates.

Note: For easy reference of the strategies in this post, don’t forget to download our Landing Page Copy Checklist at the end of the post. 

1. Talk to your customer.

Please note; I used the word “customer” here, not “customers.” Why? Because the most important thing most companies fail to understand about the Internet is that it creates relationships.

What you’re really trying to do here is create a relationship with your potential customer. After all, people buy from people or companies they like and trust. You have to earn that trust before you can get that potential customer to fork over his hard earned cash.

You have to remember that the Internet is not like broadcast advertising. Instead of being a one-way medium, much like mail, radio or television, it’s a two-way medium. People can respond to what’s on your landing page with likes and by sharing your content. They can also complain about you, your company or your product or service on other websites. 

So instead of writing to a broad audience (which is different than appealing to a broad audience), you need to write as if you are having a conversation with one person. After all, your landing page is rarely viewed by a large group of people. It’s usually seen by one person, sitting alone in his house, perhaps in his pajamas, looking for a solution to his problem.

And you have to convince him that your product or service really is the solution he’s looking for. This means your messaging has to be focused on him. Tell him why your product is the answer to his dreams. Why it will solve his problem. Why this is the right thing for him. 

You have to start building that relationship with your customer. It may take time, it may take a lot of hard work, but if you do it right, if you make it worth this person’s while to listen to what you have to say and convince him that your product is the right one for him, he will buy again and again. He’ll spread the word about how fabulous your product is, how it changed his life and how it can do the same for all of his friends, and why.

And that is the kind of advertising you just can’t buy. More importantly, it’s the kind of advertising that really will get you that luxury yacht in the Bahamas.

So how do you talk to your customer?

2. Use benefits-driven language instead of features-driven language.

What is “benefits driven language?” Actually I just modeled it in the last section. You know, that section where I was talking about the benefits of forming a lasting relationship with your customer? It was everything from the bit about your customer buying again and again, through to the bit about you really getting that luxury yacht in the Bahamas. (You were really focused on that bit, weren’t you?)

Instead of talking about the features of your product, it’s dimensions, it’s technical specs, it’s abilities, etc. Talk about the benefits it will provide to your potential customer.

For example: Instead of saying, “Product X has an innovative, sleek design.” Say something like “Product X’s ergonomic design allows you to use it easily for everyday tasks without dropping it, or having to hold on tightly, causing stress and muscle tension in your hands.”

See what I did there? I showed the benefits of Product X’s design. I told the potential customer why this design would be better for him. In fact, I went a little further and showed a “deeper benefit.” That would be the part about the design making the product easier to hold on to so it doesn’t cause stress and muscle tension in your potential customer’s hands.

Here’s another example:

Look at the picture of the Apple Watch ad below.

Features and Benefits of the Apple Watch

The headline indicates that this product will help you manage your time. The beginning of the body copy tells you what the Apple Watch will do by listing the features. It then goes on to list the benefits:

  • It helps you be more productive and efficient
  • You get more out of every moment

It even gives a deeper benefit:

  • Apple Watch actually understands what time means to you

This shows that Apple is thinking about you and how you value your time. The company recognizes how precious your time is and wants to help you use it better.

So how do you find the benefits of your product? You need to ask a very important question:

“So What?”

“Well that’s not a very important question,” I hear you say. Actually it is. Because it’s the question your potential customer is going to ask every time she sees a feature listed on your website. Remember, she want’s to know what’s in it for her. So when she asks, “So what?” She really wants to know.

Here’s how you answer that question for her.

First, you make a list of all of the features of your product. Then you go through each one of them and ask that question: So what? Answer the question as though you were talking to your potential customer. Pretend that she has just asked the question in response to you telling her about this particular feature. Tell her exactly what this feature will do for her and why this benefit is a good thing. 

Let’s try this with something everyone is familiar with – duct tape. 

Lay it out like this:

Feature: Duct tape’s flexible fabric weave allows you to wrap it around anything, regardless of shape or surface.

  • So what?
    • You can make duct tape do what you want it to in any given situation, like if you need to repair a hose in your car.
      • So what?
        • That flexibility can save a lot of time and effort, especially when you’re late getting somewhere and you don’t have time or money to take your car into the shop. You can get where you need to go with a very cheap repair that will last until you can get it fixed professionally.

And so on, and so on. 

For another good example, let’s use apple sauce cups: 

Feature: Apple sauce cups are a convenient snack to pack in your child’s lunch box.

  • So what?
    • Its single serving portion package is easy for your child to open and eat whenever she’s hungry
      • So what?
        • Because apple sauce is sweet and appealing to your child, she is more likely to eat it than trade it away for junk food. So you feel like a better parent, knowing she’s getting a healthy treat and she knows you love her because you’ve packed something she really enjoys eating.

You see the basic pattern here:

  • State the feature.
  • Ask the question, “So what?”
  • Answer the question with an immediate benefit, something your customer will experience as soon as she uses your product.
  • Ask the question again, “So what?”
  • Answer the question with a deeper benefit, something that appeals to the emotions of your potential customer. A benefit that makes her feel better about herself for purchasing your product.

The whole point of the exercise is to give you a chance to convince your potential customer that your product is the right one for her, before she comes up with reasons that it’s not.

Why? Because you’ve answered the two most important questions on her mind, “What’s in it for me,” and “So what?”

Answering these two questions about every feature your product has to offer is a great way to engage your customers and convince them to buy. It can knock down potential barriers that your potential customer might put up. You know, those nagging little reasons that lurk at the back of everyone’s mind, like:

  • What if this doesn’t work the way I want it to?
  • What if owning this thing doesn’t give me the satisfaction I want?
  • What will my neighbors/boss/significant other think if I buy this thing?

Which leads me to the next thing you can do to engage and convert your customers…

3. Appeal to their emotions.

C’mon, everyone’s doing it, first time’s free, won’t tell your mom…

No, seriously, do it. Really. Everyone is doing it. Why? Because appealing to your customer’s emotions works. People don’t make logical purchasing decisions. They make emotional decisions and then find ways to rationalize the purchase to themselves so they feel better about making it.

This has been proven time and time again, and marketers use this very human trait every single day.

Think about the last car commercial you saw.

The announcer may be talking about the engine and its horsepower, or droning on about the aerodynamic design, but you’re seeing the smooth acceleration and the way it dances gracefully over the road. The camera is gliding over the sleek leather interior. You see the Bose speakers hooked up to the state of the art entertainment system, which is being watched by two kids sitting safely, happily and quietly in the back seat. Meanwhile, Dad is expertly handling the rugged mountain roads and the hairpin curves on the switchback road.

The goal here is to get you to want to be Dad, enjoying all of these benefits, which are:

  • Status
  • Happy kids
  • A safe ride for the family

But the whole emotional appeal is to a man’s sense of self worth. “If I had this car, I could be like that guy.” The appeal is to the emotions. The benefits are used to rationalize the purchase.

Here’s another great example:

AirBnb appeals to your emotions.
AirBnb’s home page lets you know it’s not just a way to find affordable places to stay when you’re traveling. It’s a way to get the experience of being a local while you’re on vacation — just like the woman sitting in the sun, reading her paper in the shadow of the Eiffel tower.

Appealing to your potential customer’s emotions is a huge part of engaging and converting that person. Why? Because we’re all emotional creatures at heart. 

Who doesn’t melt at all of those adorable videos of kittens and puppies or baby otters and hedgehogs on Facebook?

Who doesn’t tear up at the touching stories on the evening news about the little boy who has cancer and the community that came together to help him raise the money to get the surgery that his family’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for?

Everybody loves a happy ending and everyone wants to feel better about themselves.

That’s why emotion is such an amazing tool in marketing. Everyone, whether they like to admit it or not, has some insecurity somewhere. We all want to belong, we all want to be loved, and we all want to be part of something. Appealing to those emotions, those desires can push your potential customer over that scary hump of, “So What” and on to “Yes, I’ll Take It.”

If you noticed in my earlier section on finding the benefits of asking “so what,” I used emotion in both of the deeper benefits examples:

  • “That flexibility can save a lot of time and effort, especially when you’re late getting somewhere and you don’t have time or money to take your car into the shop. You can get where you need to go with a very cheap repair that will last until you can get it professionally fixed.”

Here I used the emotions of fear and frustration. I used the fear of not having enough money to pay for a repair, and frustration at being late and not having enough time.

I made it pretty blatant in the second example:

  • “Because apple sauce is sweet and appealing to your child, she is more likely to eat it than trade it away for junk food. So you feel like a better parent, knowing she’s getting a healthy treat and she knows you love her because you’ve packed something she really enjoys eating.

I used the emotion of love twice here, feeling like a better parent and your child knowing you love her. I also used the emotions pride and confidence, again, talking about feeling like a better parent.

You can use emotion everywhere on your website. Some great ideas are:

  • Appealing to your potential customer’s sense of security – “You’ll be safe using product X in any number of emergency situations.”
  • Making him or her angry at his or her situation – “The government doesn’t want you to know these secret ways to save thousands of dollars on your taxes!”
  • In pictures and images scattered on the page – A picture of a mother holding a child evokes a different emotion than a picture of a frustrated man kicking his car.

Emotion is a great way to connect with your potential customers, because we are all emotional creatures at heart. Everyone can relate to a particular situation, especially when it affects him or her directly. Anyone who comes to your website has a problem that your product or service can solve. Use emotion to persuade them that yours is the right one for them.

4. Be conversational.

“Whaddya mean? Be conversational?” 

I mean write as though you’re having a conversation with your potential customer. I’ve actually demonstrated this method throughout this blog post.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that every once in a while, I refer to myself (like I did just now). That makes it feel more like you and I are talking to each other, instead of me talking at you.

I’ve also made liberal use of the word “you” because I’m talking directly to you. (That would be that whole, “talk to one person” thing.) Again, this makes the blog post feel more like a conversation. The things I’m saying here relate directly to you, personally.

Humor is a great way to be conversational because it is natural to insert humor into most conversations, if nothing else to break the ice or diffuse tension. I’ve done that a few times in this post.

And I’ve used storytelling several times during this post:

  • The whole scenario at the beginning, where no one visits your website.
  • The description of the car commercial and how it’s meant to make you want to be the guy driving the car in the commercial.
  • The times I actually give your response to something I say as an introduction to explaining what I’m talking about. (Like at the top of this section.)
  • When I was describing how once your potential customer is engaged and buys from you, how he’ll spread the word far and wide and you’ll finally get your yacht in the Bahamas.

All of this has been in an effort to make this blog post engaging and easy to read. I want you to read to the end, so you get the benefit of what I’m trying to tell you. That way you can use this information to fix your website and start converting potential customers into buyers.

Being conversational in your writing style actually makes the words easier to read and digest.

Think about the last time you read something that you thought was really stuffy and dull. It probably took you forever to wade through and by the time you were done, you couldn’t remember why you started reading it in the first place.

Now think about the last time you read something you really enjoyed. (I’d be flattered if you thought about this article, by the way.) You probably flew through it and wanted more at the end. You should have remembered the key points easily and wanted to share what you read with friends.

Frequently, the difference between boring writing and engaging writing is that one is written in a conversational style.

So what are some technical and grammatical things you can do to write conversationally?

  • Use contractions – I know; your 4th grade English teacher would be mortified. But we use contractions when we speak, so use them when you write. If you go back through this article, you’ll see I use contractions all the time. (I just used one in the last sentence.) You’re, it’s, don’t, I’ve, I’ll, these are all good words when it comes to conversational writing.
  • Focus on your potential customer – This comes back to that whole “you” thing. Because I’m talking directly to you, it feels more like a conversation. And it makes your potential customer feel important. You’re talking directly to him. (Of course, we all know it’s just words on a screen and that you’re talking to anyone who reads them, but it’s a psychological trigger that always works.)
  • Use the active voice instead of the passive voice – This can really change the tone of your writing and engage your potential customer. “So what does that really mean?” you may ask. Well, according to, it’s: “When the verb of a sentence is in the active voice, the subject is doing the acting, as in the sentence ‘Kevin hit the ball.’ Kevin (the subject of the sentence) acts in relation to the ball.” So make sure you are acting in relation to your potential customers.
  • Write so your potential audience can read it – Seriously here. If your potential audience is a bunch of high school dropouts and your website sounds like it was written by a college professor, no one in your target audience will read it, much less get what you’re saying. You have to write in a way that your audience will understand. That doesn’t necessarily mean using colloquialisms or using slang and jargon (though it can if you honestly think that will help). It does mean writing simply, clearly and to the point so your potential audience understands you.

Word has a great tool that allows you to see your readability statistics after you’ve run a spell check. This includes how much of your writing is in the passive voice (which is bad) and your Flesch Kincaid score, or approximate grade level of your writing. Here’s how you find this tool:

Go to “Preferences” and click on “Spelling and Grammar.”

Once that screen comes up, look for “show readability statistics” under the “Grammar” heading. Click the box and hit “OK.”

The next time you run a spell check in Word, you’ll see a box like this when you finish:

Readability statistics

iWork Pages does not support readability statistics. However, there are some websites you can use to check your FK score, including: 

Open Office has an extension you can add that will allow you to check the readability statistics. It can be found here. 

You’ll notice that for the article I ran this particular Readability Statistic box on, only eight percent of my sentences were passive (which isn’t too bad, my goal is always 0 but sometimes I don’t make it) and my FK (Flesch-Kincaid) score is 7.9.

This means someone with an 8th grade reading level could read that article. Most marketing copy aims between 6th and 8th grade. Not because people are stupid, but because it means everyone can understand it, regardless of how far they continued their education. (FYI, this article has an FK score of 7.0)

So, I owe you one last idea on how to engage and convert your customers.

5. Be convincing.

“Well, yeah,” I hear you mutter. “Of course. I mean; that’s obvious, right?”

Sure it is. You’re convinced that your product is the next big thing. It’s going to take over the world and start a revolution. Well that’s great. I hope it works.

But it won’t work unless you can convince your customers of this fact. (Oh right, those guys.) Some of this goes back to all of the stuff we’ve already been talking about in this article:

  • Talk to your customer
  • Use benefits driven language instead of features driven language
  • Appeal to your customers’ emotions

But it can really come down to one very simple question: Are you convinced that your product really is the very best option to solve your customers’ problem? Because if you’re not convinced yourself, you’ll never convince them or get them to buy.

So how can you be convincing?

Use customer testimonials – It’s all well and good for you to say how great your product is, but when someone else verifies that, your potential customers are more likely to listen. Look at the picture below. The testimonial shows how much Danielle has benefitted from using Build to Rock.

Landing page testimonial
The marketers at Build to Rock used the testimonial section built into Pat’s FoodTruckr Sales Page template to insert this excellent customer testimonial.

“But I don’t have any customers yet!” I hear you cry. Well, it’s time to get some valid opinions.

You can:

  • Give samples of your product away to friends, family or even complete strangers in return for a testimonial after they’ve used your product.
  • Get some authority in your field to review your product.
  • Get a celebrity to use and recommend your product.

Yes, all of this can take time, but it goes a long way to convincing other people that your product is the thing for them.

You can also…

Offer a money back guarantee – It always surprises me how many companies fail to do this. But by offering a guarantee, you’re taking the risk off of your customer and putting it on yourself. You’re saying, “I am so convinced that you’ll love this product and it will solve your problem perfectly, that I’m willing to let you try it for free. If you aren’t satisfied, I’ll give you your money back.”

That kind of conviction can be just the push your potential customers need to get them to click on that buy button that has been sitting there, so expectantly, on your page. Once you free them from the fear of owning something that doesn’t work or that they can’t use, the decision to buy can be a lot easier to make.

We offer a 30-day money back guarantee here at LeadPages™ because we really want you to be happy with our product.

LeadPages Money Back Guarantee
The money-back guarantee we offer all new LeadPages™ users.

Will you get some people who take advantage of that guarantee? Yes, you probably will. But the number of people who decide to buy, who wouldn’t have been convinced otherwise, can easily outweigh that. It’s a win-win situation all around. 

So there you are…

Now you know why your website isn’t engaging your customers and you have 5 tools to fix it. Go forth, change the world and enjoy your boat in the Bahamas.

If you want a way to easily refer back to the strategies mentioned in this post next time you’re coming up with copy for your landing pages, click below to download our Landing Page Copy Checklist.

But before you take off into the sunset, please leave a comment below, especially if anything here helped you. (Look at that, I’m creating a relationship with my customers.)

  • Kat Von Rohr

    Awesome post! You basically summed up years of hard-earned copywriting skills into a single post. Nicely done!

    • Thanks Kat, It was a lot of fun to write. 🙂

  • Tanya! This is a really great post. Shared. 🙂

    • Thanks Kevin, for the compliment and for sharing.

  • Dale G Thomson

    Great info thanks for sharing

    • Glad you enjoyed it Dale, I hope it comes in handy.

      • Dale G Thomson

        Sure will Tanya have bookmarked it so I can review again! Thanks so much again..Cheers!

  • Jeff Wenberg

    Tanya! Holy cow, great work here!

  • Brilliant Tim!
    Bookmarking these Readability Tools now…

    Enjoy the Journey!

    • Thanks Mary Kathryn, I hope they help with your writing.

  • Absolutely wonderful blog post that really hits home and tells it like it is. So many times the copy is written, rewritten and twisted and molded, but not put into the format you have presented. It all makes so much sense and is so obvious after reading this. Thank you so very much for taking your time out to write this all up and share it with us.

    • You’re very welcome. I’m glad it laid it all out clearly for you. I hope you can put this into action.

  • @tanyabrody:disqus Phenomenal job with this post. Loved it!

  • Great read, well written and well explained.

  • MoM

    Very impressive, great readability, succinct, humorous, and hits the nail on the head. WoW Tanya, I am once again proud and amazed that you are my (wonderful) daughter!

  • Akasha Lonsdale

    It spoke to me ….loved it, and very helpful too!

    • So glad it resonated with you Akasha, and that it helped.

  • Brilliant post, fun to read too!!

  • Dale Sleppy

    Though this article is written primarily focused on B2C businesses, the concept of talking about benefits rather than features is a very big problem with many B2B marketers.

    • Hi Dale,

      I agree. I’ve written both B2C and B2B and it seems like the B2B world tends much more toward just talking about the features of a product and never showing the benefits to the company, to the individuals involved or even to the industry as a whole. I think it’s something B2B writers should really take to heart, as I’ve seen improved results when I focus more on benefits, even in B2B copy.
      Hope you enjoyed the post.

  • Yulia

    Really enjoyed reading this article, thank you! I have noticed too how companies are trying to make it personal. Starbucks, McDonalds.. They all are doing it!

    • Hi Yulia,

      Yes, it is a very standard marketing technique that everyone uses, because it’s effective. Glad you enjoyed and I hope it helps.

  • Excellent advice and a great example of compelling content!

    • Glad you enjoyed. I hope it helps in your projects.

  • GREAT article Tanya! It has everything and is the key that so many of us are missing. I love how you put everything in a nutshell and demonstrated your points along the way. PERFECT example! Thank you. You ROCK! 🙂

  • Tryn Rose

    Very nice post! It confirms the things I’ve done, and encourages me to do more of it. Thank you!

    • Glad to hear it Tryn, keep doing what you’re doing and always strive to make it better. 🙂

  • Alan

    Good stuff Tanya. Nice note from Mom too!

    • Thanks Alan, and yes, my mom likes my blog posts. 🙂

  • Forsyth Alexander

    This information was great because it validates everything our content marketing team is trying to tell product marketing about how to get more people to try and buy our product. I loved how fun and interesting it was to read. Many years ago, I read that another way to engage with readers was to include an error that they could identify easily, which would make them feel smart. So, I was wondering if that was what you were doing when you used “it’s” as the possessive form of “it” instead of “its.” 🙂

    • Hi Forsyth,
      Glad you liked the post, and that you’re trying to get your product marketing team on board. And thank you for pointing out that error, I will get it fixed ASAP.

      • Forsyth Alexander

        You’re welcome. I just thought you’d like to know that I’m apply the lessons I’ve learned from you in a post I’m writing for one of my company’s blogs. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • An excellent post… you managed to capture all the key elements in one interesting & entertaining post! You reminded me of some of the basics I *know* but often forget when faced with the bright blinding lights of new wizz bang technology 🙂

    • Thanks Glen, yes, it’s always hard to remember the basics, which is why I remind myself of them constantly. Best of luck to you in your writing.

  • Tanya this was a great article. One of the best I’ve read in recent memory, and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your wisdom with us. I will no doubt be using this in my day to day life and will try to let you know how well it works for me if your interested. Look forward to reading future articles from you and I’ll definitely be sharing with my peers.

    Thank you

    • Thanks Sam, for the compliment and for sharing. I’m glad you’ll be using this regularly.

  • Nesting Instincts

    I liked this and enjoyed reading it.
    I will attempt to use these tools, talk to my potential customer, explain the benefits of their new product, why they need it and how it will make things better for them. I am confident in my product and I will show this in my active voice. Ultimately I will not fail on my landing page, I’ll explain who I am and how my products can help fulfill your dreams.

    • Glad you liked it. I hope it helps with your landing page.

  • Tyler

    Good article, just dislike the fragmented sentence: “So you get more out of every moment” in the Apple graphic.

  • Great article, perfectly addressed my concerns as I struggle to build my business. I’m reworking my webpage this weekend!

  • Great article on writing, and not just for landing pages! I’m printing this and stapling it my wrist.