The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Landing Page Copy that Sticks

image of fishing lures and hooks

Have you ever wondered if your landing page is … missing something?

You look at the conversion stats on your latest landing page and sigh in disgust.

Yeah, some people are subscribing or buying, but you know you should be seeing better results.

Say you’ve thoughtfully used one of the classic “How to” or “List” headline templates because you know that they work.

Everyone you speak to about it absolutely loves your offer.

And yet, the performance of your landing page can be described as mediocre at best. What do you do?

Here’s the good news. Your suspicions are correct. You are missing something.

What the great copywriters stole from fishermen

In order to catch a fish, a fisherman will tie bait on the end of a line, cast the line into the water and wait for a fish to take the bait.

When a fish “takes the bait” a hook catches its mouth so that the fisherman can reel it in. Without the hook, the fish would just eat the bait and swim away.

This is a lesson that can’t be ignored when it comes to copywriting.

What’s a hook?

A hook is a tool copywriters use to capture the attention of an ideal prospect, to interest them in reading every word on the page, ultimately leading them to take the desired action you’ve chosen.

A great hook captures our imagination. It allows us to believe that our lives can be better. And they are almost impossible to ignore.

The hardest part of creating a hook is knowing how to find it.

It can be quite elusive. For the remainder of this article, I need you to unlock the inner Sherlock Holmes within your role as a content marketer.

Finding a great hook requires intuition, persistence, and knowing where to look.

Below is a cheat sheet that will reveal four ways you can find a hook that works for the readers of your landing pages.

1. Get “in bed” with your prospects

Imagine for a minute that you are lying in bed next to one of your prospects (take it easy, there’s a good point here).

Let’s say he’s a 45-year-old small business owner tossing and turning because he can’t get to sleep.

He’s full of guilt because he hasn’t seen a single one of his son’s baseball games all year. He’s running through the upcoming work day, trying to find corners to cut. There are customers to serve, employees to manage, and meetings to attend.

The realization has set in that he’s not going to make it to the game tomorrow.

This business owner isn’t thinking about buying software, or hiring a consultant. He’s looking for a hero who can help him manage his business and make it to his son’s game on time. Be the hero, and you’ve got a customer for life.

I just want to give you a word of caution. Be very careful how you use this tactic. There’s a fine line between being a hero and fear mongering.

Real world example: Yours Free: A Cheat Sheet for Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral

Every blogger dreams of writing a post that goes viral. We lay up at night writing and rewriting, searching for the perfect headline, we research trending topics, and we create a plan that will get the post read by thousands of people.

2. What’s the story behind your product?

Steve Jobs began his Mac World 2007 keynote speech with a story. He said he’d tried every “smart phone on the market, and none of them are really all that smart.”

He went on to list all of the problems the phones had, problems solved with the invention of the iPhone.

Whether or not this story is true is debatable, but you can’t help but stay engaged.

Why did you create your product or service? Were you unhappy with the other solutions on the market? Did you personally have a problem that no one else seemed to solve?

There are dozens of reasons why products are created.

When you’re creating your landing page, document the story and take prospective customers on a journey to show them how their life will improve by using your product.

Real world example: Amazing Secret Discovered By One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards To Your Drives, Eliminates Hooks and Slices… And Can Slash Up To 10 Strokes From Your Game Almost Overnight!

This headline from John Carlton is one of the legends of direct response copywriting. The product, a golf instruction video, was created when Dr. Michael O’Leary witnessed a one-legged man out-golf his competitors.

Without the compelling story, this would be just another “improve your golf swing” product.

3. Be extremely specific with details

Which would you rather read: “How to grow your blog” or “How I Got 1,223 subscribers in 90 days”?

The “grow your blog” story is predictable. Chances are you already know what the author is going to say. You are already sharing your posts on various social media sites. You’ve commented on 10 blog posts per day. And you have the URL to your blog in your email signature.

This is all the generic information that people have been teaching for the past five years.

You might give a landing page with this headline a cursory glance, but more than likely, you will pass right over it. You know it won’t work.

However, the specific headline leaves you guessing. In order to get 1,223 subscribers in 90 days, the blogger traveled a different path … a specific path. And you want to know which path he followed.

This is a powerful hook because the headline opens a knowledge gap that the reader is almost forced to have closed.

Real world example: How to Get Your First 927 Customers

This interview on could have very easily been called “How to get your first customers”. That headline would have done OK (maybe), but it’s nothing special. But by inserting the specific number 927, this headline becomes irresistible to a startup CEO.

And of course, make sure the specific details you use are always accurate and truthful.

4. Leverage a story archetype

A story archetype is a universal plot line that has been told throughout history. For instance, one of the most common story archetypes is the ancient battle of good vs. evil.

If your product or service is doing its job, then chances are it’s improving the quality of life for your customers.

Your job as a copywriter is to find your client’s stories and tie them into familiar archetypes.

I’ve identified three archetypes that are a favorite among copywriters.

  1. David vs. Goliath: Is your product or service helping small business compete with the big guys?
  2. Rags to Riches: Is your product or service helping people make more money so they can buy their dream house?
  3. Overcoming Obstacles: Is your product or service helping baby boomers navigate the recession and keep their retirement plan on track?

These are the types of stories that grab attention. If you can tie your customer’s stories into one of these archetypes, chances are you’ll hook your prospect.

Real world example: How The Bootstrapped Clicky Cranks Out Profits While Competing With Google

This is a classic David vs. Goliath story … the bootstrapped company succeeds while competing against the industry giant.

You’ve got to do the time …

Unfortunately, you can’t read an article or two and expect to master the craft of creating a great hook.

It takes copywriters years of practice. But there is good news …

Even if you create an average hook, your landing page will likely see dramatically better results.

So, why not get started now?

  1. Pick one of the tactics above for finding a great hook.
  2. Create a headline and a hook for your product or service.
  3. Post them in the comments section below.

By posting your hooks below, you’re guaranteed to get honest feedback from me or the multitude of great copywriters who read Copyblogger.

Sound good? Then let’s get started …

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Reader Comments (46)

  1. says

    Awesome tips Greg!

    Every single online marketer needs to understand the importance of “hooks”. After all, if you can’t hook em’ – what’s the use of fishing?

    Ultimately it all boils down to a simple emotion called trust. If your prospects can trust your landing page, they’ll find it easy to trust the face behind it. By using the right hooks, you make your landing page more trustworthy. More inviting. More charming. More real. It’s just how it works.

    So if you really want “reel” in prospects and take a big catch home, it’s about time you focused on creating hooks that do their job.

  2. says

    Getting into bed with your prospects can help you figure out what they really want versus what they say they need. Let’s say your company sells shovels. Why would someone need a shovel? To dig a hole. But why do they need that hole? To plant a garden! They want a beautiful garden and your shovel is the tool to help them get that.

  3. says

    Great article, thanks. You’ve got me wanting to fish now, damnit! Hooked and loving it :) Can’t wait to try these strategies out…don’t want no crickets chirping at my website!

  4. says

    2 and 4 are KEY.

    Storytelling is the way that we remember everything the best. You can give people facts, figures, features, and benefits until the cows come home, but you only have to tell a person a relevant story once, for it to stick.

    It’s the way the world worked before the printed word, and it’s the way we think and relate to each other.

    So, if you can take a story (2) and mix it with something that the customer can use as a reference (4) like ‘the Romeo and Juliet of 2012,’ or the ‘Tom Sawyer technique for getting clients’, then your customer has an instant picture in her head that you can use as leverage to help your story along.

    Great article. Thanks for the reminder that I need to be doing this more often.

    -Joshua Black

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Joshua,

      People remember stories… or story concepts. they probably won’t remember all of the names and places (like you said), but they will always remember a good plot!

    • says

      Hey Cheri,

      You can use the same hook on all of your landing pages.

      For instance, if your general hook is “Get 1,000 Email Subscribers”, then you can have landing pages like “How to get 1,000 email subscribers via your blog”, and also “How to get 1,000 email subscribers through Facebook”, etc…

      Hope this helps.

  5. says

    On a slight tangent. “Engage, Hook, Connect” is actually the name of a technique created by dating guru, Stephen Nash. He also stresses the importance of storytelling. It seems that seduction and persuasion are two sides of the same coin.

    It didn’t click to me until your getting into bed analogy.

    Thanks for such an informative post.

  6. says

    Greg, no.4 has blown me away to think that this is the key enabler, swap my breath that people always love to come to the place where they have the same interest, problems and source of solution for those, and agree to what you say, we can make the story full of description with a good basis to help prospects visualize their dream and make it true through the story. I myself still figure to do this key somehow. Your three types archetype give me inspiration. Thanks. Regards

  7. says

    Good call on using specific details for hooks and titles, Greg. That always gets me to click! Much more enticing than a bland headline. I’d advise people not to overuse that strategy, though, because sometimes it can sound spammy if too many stats are thrown at readers. I suppose it all depends on what’s being sold or advertised. :)

    • says

      Hey Jill,

      Thanks for the comment. I think you are right. if you use the same hook repeatedly on the same offer, then it will get very stale, very fast.

      Thank you again,

  8. says

    Love the information if you are selling a service. I sell clothing. Historically inspired clothing. How can I make that a service. What can I offer in my blogs that people will want to subscribe to? Anyone willing to give me feedback?

  9. says

    Great Points Greg. What I really like about your post is that your every advice is substantiate by a real world example. It means we can check immediately the real life implementation of the tips you are giving which is a great value to your reader. Now thinking to imbibe your writing style in my blogs :)

    • says

      Thanks Prabir!

      Personally, I learn a lot faster by seeing the theory in action… I’m so glad that you found that valuable.

      Thank you!

  10. says

    I’m no copywriter, but I do like to poke around valuable information just in case I end up being one. Not only is this well-written, there are examples that give bite to the bark. This is a good read. Thanks!

  11. says

    Hi Greg!

    Great post and these are awesome tips for the beginners and certainly building relationship is really crucial with the customers. Thanks for sharing worthy information :-)

  12. says

    Thanks Greg for this very informative article. The information you’ve shared here can boost the responsiveness of one’s list. It goes without saying that more conversions and sales can be realised by following the nuggets above. Kudos!

  13. says

    Some very good hook examples to activate creativity in thinking what will capture your viewers imagination. It pays to test different landing page ideas and build on those that convert the best.

  14. says

    I hadn’t been on CopyBlogger in awhile, and now I realize it really should be an everyday ritual. This was a great article – while I do put a lot of focus into the landing page copy I turn out, I’ve never really looked at the concept from these angles before. I don’t think I’ve been “storytelling” nearly enough.

    I’m hesitant to, much of the time, because I feel like it will come off as disingenuous pomp. I think storytelling is an art in and of itself, in addition to copywriting, and not every writer’s cut out for it. Guess it’s time to start practicing!

  15. says

    This was so awesome. Here I was thinking my website is great, looks professional, and then you hit me with the golf stroke example. Yep, I’m just another website offering to improve your golf stroke, or rather, give you copywriting services. I am SO changing this RIGHT NOW! Thank you!

  16. says

    Loved this post so much I had to share the before and after that this post inspired just hours later.
    Superb copywriting at an affordable price. We work with small businesses, nonprofits, and anyone with a good story to tell. Great copy is the foundation of all successful marketing, etc. etc. etc. (blaaaaaaaaah)

    ​Land MORE customers and compete with the BIG WIGS.
    When you sound like an all-star, people treat you like an all-star. They shell out their bucks to buy your products, beg you for more work and then give you referrals. Think ebooks that sell. Websites that convert. etc. etc.
    ​Dozens of small businesses and nonprofits have seen their businesses explode with writing that POPs etc. etc.

    Still have work to do but this totally reframed my thinking. Thank you!!!



  17. says

    Nice post Greg.

    I agree with you in the part when you said that in order to convert new readers into subscribers or buyers of your products or affiliate links, you not only need to have the ability to just write article, but also to make your article speak to people in more appealing manner, as though your new readers are like new customers, while you are the salesman of products.

    We have to make those new readers become interested to read every word of our article until the end of the post. I think that is something that i’m still struggling to learn until now.

  18. says

    Thanks for this – lots of good ideas. Do you have any advice for landing pages viewed on mobile devices? I think that with smaller screens it actually makes it easier (as well as more important) to have one key message.

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