If no one understands what you do, what you’re offering, or the point of your landing page, you’ve got a serious problem.
We all work really hard, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in how awesome or obvious our offerings are.
The problem is pretty much anyone new to your landing page won’t have the same depth of knowledge or passion that you have.
On top of that, we’re all insanely busy and distracted by a million things.
If you can’t state very quickly and clearly what you have to offer users, they’re going to leave your landing page.
How to fix it:
Step 1: State your general idea or offer as a brief summary
State your general idea very briefly, either as a single sentence, or within the length of a tweet (140 characters or less).
The key is stating the general idea, not the entirety of what you’re working on. If you had to summarize every single thing within one sentence or a tweet, I would say that’s almost impossible.
The core idea can be summarized quickly. The goal of that summary isn’t to tell your whole story, but to give users a strong sense of what you do, so they will be enticed to learn more.
Step 2: State the problem you’re trying to solve
This is a slightly different version of the previous approach, but I’ve seen it work well. It is especially useful when building a narrative around what you’re hoping to achieve with your landing page.
The best part of this approach is that you’ll prove how knowledgeable you are about the problem they face, which can be a massive boost in credibility.
I would still use the same constraints as above. State the general problem, either as a question or statement within a sentence or tweet, then expound below in the landing page.
Step 3: Focus on how you can benefit a user, not your “features”
When you’re building something, it’s so easy to think in terms of the features you have to offer.
But you’re not selling features. You’re selling how you can help someone solve a pain point. Get out of your head and into the head of the people you’re trying to help.
It might be a small change in wording, but focus on the benefits someone gets from signing up with you over features.
Step 4: Try to avoid using “simple” or “easy”
It’s understandable to think using the words “easy” and “simple” in your general idea statement will be compelling.
Even if what you offer is both easy and simple, stating that won’t be convincing.
It’s such an overused claim that people disbelieve it once it’s been stated.
There are other ways to convey simple and easy. Reframe in terms of savings, such as time or money saved by using your offer, the speed at which you can do something (such as “with only 2 lines of code” or “in 30 seconds”), and the specific hassles they won’t have to deal with (such as “setup x without needing the IT department”)
By being more specific about how your offer is actually simple or easy, you’ll be more convincing.
Step 5: Try to avoid the “X for Y” comparison
Although this might seem like a great way to explain what you’re offering, there are some serious downsides to the approach.
What if a user isn’t familiar with your example? If you say “it’s like GitHub for architects”, what if the user doesn’t know what GitHub is? You’re asking them to open a new window, search for GitHub, read about it, understand it, then return to your page and try to remember the new information. At best, this will slow down the user, and at worst, it will stop them cold.
This could also give your brand and message unintended consequences. If you’re working on “Uber for laundry services,” and someone reads a negative article about Uber, that negative connotation might be projected onto your brand.
Third, you might have a quick “X for Y” statement, but it could raise more confusion. If you pitch your idea as “It’s like Airbnb for Pinterest,” what does that really tell someone?
That being said, I was talking to a friend who is working on a data platform for teachers and schools, and after hearing his 15 minute “summary”, I asked him “is it like Moneyball for K-12?” He said, “Yes.” After that he used that opener instead of his 15 minute pitch, so there are exceptions :)
Step 6: Place that summary at the top of your landing page
The best way to use this type of summary is to use it early in any process, like at the top of your landing page.
Because it’s a summary of the general idea, and not the entire idea, this can be a perfect way to start a narrative - to tell a story. That quick summary will help people become interested in the whole idea.
Getting that initial, “Huh, interesting. Tell me more” reaction early helps make everything that follows much more compelling. This will help convert more visitors, and build more trust in you. You will also achieve whatever you want with your landing pages.
Step 7: Practice makes perfect
The faster you figure this out, the better. But don’t feel you have to have it figured out right away.
Taking an iterative approach is ideal, even if you initially have a perfect summary, as your product or offering will likely change over time. You will probably have to change your summary as a result.
Also, as you learn more about what else is working or not working with your product, offer or copy, you can make improvements in your quick summary on an ongoing basis.
Always try to improve it. Here’s the quick summary of UsersThink: “Get more conversions out of your landing pages with user feedback on demand.” To be honest, it could be better :)
Step 8: Learn from examples
A few examples might help give you a sense of how to do this for yourself:
Google - Search the world’s information, including webpages, images, videos and more.
Stripe - Web and mobile payments, built for developers.
Slack - Real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.
Twilio - APIs for text messaging, phone calls and VoIP.
Uber - Get a taxi, private car or rideshare from your mobile phone.
These are all either directly from company websites, or paraphrases of their own text.
No matter how technical or abstract your offer is, there’s a way to summarize the general idea.
Bonus: Don’t just take my word for it
I think the importance of this can be best summed up in one quote:
“If you can’t communicate what the product is or what the service is or what the business does, in such a way that the person you’re telling it to can then go on and communicate it to someone else, it’s very unlikely to be successful.”
Stewart Butterfield, CEO/Founder of Slack (source)
Your quick summary isn’t just important for conversions, but it’s a fundamental component of growth.