Landing Page Makeover Clinic #29:

Landing Page Makeover

This is another addition to our ongoing series of tutorials and case studies on landing pages that work.

Baolin Liu wants to help fellow office workers stay strong and fit, both in and out of the office. He’s developed an exercise program designed to assist even the most sedentary office worker … or micropreneur who puts in too much tush-time in her comfy, almost-ergonomic desk lounge.

But I digress …

Baolin is using article marketing to drive prospects to his page. But his bounce rate is nearly 91%. And sales? Well, they’re not happening.

  • The Goal : Reduce bounce rate, increase sales.
  • The Problem: Very high bounce rates; non-existent conversion from the 9% who do stick around a little longer.
  • The Current Landing Page (homepage):
  • Value: $17.00

image of landing pageClick image for larger view

The Maven’s 10-Point Critique

#1 — Be clear about the product you’re selling.

I think I know what you’re selling, but even after reading your long-form sales letter, I’m still not sure on the specifics. That’s why your bounce rate is high. Your visitors aren’t clear about what you’re selling because you’re trying to sell/promote too much, when what you need to do is paint a clearer picture of what you have to offer.

Here’s what I mean: if your URL is “inshapeatheoffice,” it’s reasonable to think you’re offering an inexpensive, easy exercise and nutrition program that office workers can do while they’re at the office. That’s your hook.

But your copy — and my guess is your product — tries to grow the topic “beyond the cubicle.” And when you do, you’re in competition with EVERYONE in the fitness space.

#2 — Be clear about your prospect’s “pain point” in the headline.

Here’s your current headline:

Time for a reality check …

Are your 2010 weight loss goals on track? Can you EVER return to your “fighting” weight doing the things you are doing now … sitting for long hours at a desk? How many of your fitness goals have you actually reached working your desk job?

If any of those questions challenge you, GREAT! You have landed on the right page.

Yikes. Maybe I don’t have any weight loss or fitness goals, or feel driven to return to my fighting weight.

It’s not that I don’t care about these things, because I do. But …

At the other side of that “but” for your prospect is his pain point:

… But with long hours at a desk job it’s hard for me to find the time outside of the office to work out. It’s hard enough to even eat right. I’m too busy!

Once you understand your prospect’s pain point, the rest of your copy begins to flow in the right direction.

#3 — Be clear about your product’s big promise in your headline.

Having identified the pain point: “I care about my health and appearance, but spend too many hours at my desk to eat right and get enough exercise” — now we have to identify and promote the product’s big promise.

Again, your current copy doesn’t address the promise at all. Your prospects don’t care about challenging questions. They want relief from their pain point, and they want it in a big, palpable and dramatic way.

Here’s your big promise:

You CAN get stronger, leaner and healthier right at your desk during regular working hours — in just XX minutes a day — and your boss and co-workers will never know! All they’ll see is how good you look and wonder about your secret.

#4 — Identify your primary target right off the bat.

And that means your salutation.

“Dear Fitness Enthusiast” is all wrong since someone who IS an enthusiast makes time for exercise.

However, “Dear I Wish I Could Be Leaner, but Who Has the Freaking Time to Exercise” hits the mark square.

Feel free to edit. :)

image of landing pageClick image for larger view

#5 – Tell your story in a way that is genuine and builds identification. Consider video to tell a portion of it.

Here’s an excerpt from your story:

After several years of working at the office, I noticed that I began to lack muscle tone. I was steadily gaining weight and I had lost the attractive youthful appearance that I had entered the workforce with.

Does this sound like a real person? “I began to lack muscle tone?”

Compare to:

I was getting soft in the middle … I was beginning to loosen my belt a notch here, another notch there. Pants I had just bought were feeling tight — and not in a good way. Not at all.

Here’s another example: “I had lost the attractive youthful appearance that I had entered the workforce with.”

Compare to:

I wasn’t looking like myself anymore . I would look in the mirror and wonder whose pudgy, bloated face was looking back at me … Someone guessed my age today — and they guessed 10 years older than I am!

Your copy has to sound genuine, like two friends meeting and chatting over coffee — especially if you’re using a personal story to sell your message. Video could be very effective for you as an adjunct to your main letter copy.

#6 — Show your story with before and after pictures.

In the weight loss/fitness space, you’ve GOT to show before/after pictures — and lots of them — because they, even more than the copy, show the results that people are most interested in.

And since you’re selling your plan with your personal story, your before/after shots are the most important, so get them in there and in the first screen.

#7 — Tell enough of your story to inspire your prospects and get them to identify with you … then stop.

Your personal story goes on and on. Baolin, your reader doesn’t care about your story except how it ultimately relates to him or her.

So tell enough of it — and show enough of it with pictures — and then write to the interests/needs/wishes/desires of your reader as they relate to your product.

Write in the ‘you’ and not the ‘I/me.’

#8 – Strengthen your subheads by having them tell their own story and keep the momentum going.

Subheads are mini-headlines that help orient and pull your readers along as they scan through your message.

Ideally, if your reader reads only your headline and your subheads, he/she should be able to get enough of the general story to understand what you’re selling and resonate with the emotions you’re hoping to elicit.

#9 — Punch up and quantify the features of your product.

After wading through your letter, I realized that there’s simply not enough about what your prospect will get, learn, discover, and benefit from.

Go through your e-book and make lists. Count the number of tips per exercise, etc. Organize them and get them into your letter.

If you have charts and illustrations, I’d include them, too. You’re looking to create a tidal wave of emotionally resonant “stuff” that’s so compelling that your prospect won’t be able to resist it.

image of landing pageClick image for larger view

#10 — Bolster your satisfaction guarantee.

You can’t just throw a graphic on your letter and call it done. You’ve gotta say it, too.

Stand behind your product with a strong, explicit guarantee and you’ve just removed a key obstacle to your fence-sitting prospect who’s ready to purchase, but paralyzed by, “What if I don’t like it?”

Make your guarantee as strong as possible. Few will call you on it.

BONUS TIP: Add credibility to your copy.

Personal stories are a great jumping off point, but then you need to take it to the next level and build credibility and authority, as well — for your content as well as for you.

So try to incorporate outside medical/science evidence for your product claims. To bolster your own credibility, share testimonials from not only e-book readers, but fitness trainers, nutritionists, etc.

My thanks to Baolin Liu for his patience and support of Heifer International. Look for my next makeover in about 4 weeks.

About the Author: Roberta Rosenberg is The Copywriting Maven at MGP Direct, Inc. Find her @CopywriterMaven on Twitter. If you’re interested in a private page makeover, site audit, or other services, please email Roberta directly.


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Reader Comments (51)

  1. says

    Hey Roberta,

    I just love The Makeover Clinic series. I learn so much from it. It is almost like purchasing a what not to do course on landing pages. Great job dissecting this page. I know Baolin is going to be excited after this review.

    Have a great weekend…

  2. says

    Headline, headline, and more headline… The current one is about a paragraph long. I would try and get it under 14 words that really hit home and tell people how they can get fit while working, saving time and money from teh gym.

    Second, I would dump the “we’re only selling 25 copies” line. People don’t believe it at all, especially with e-books. What if your had 800 people come to your site? Would you turn them all away until next week? Probably not.

    I would also suggest working on the header graphic a little, making it more professional. There is a TON of competition for the “get fit at work” niche, so you are going to have to be on your game in order to claim some customers.

    Roberta, this is probably my favorite out of all your critiques! Great work. I know that I have picked up a few tips from you for my own products.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

    • says

      Agree that the scarcity element doesn’t work for this one — as you & Shane both pointed out, there’s no reason given for it, and it’s not credible.

      Also, if you’re going to use scarcity (which is important and I do think should be a component of most offers), don’t bury it! The whole point is to light a fire, so don’t have it be an “oh, by the way.”

  3. says

    Hey Roberta… great Makeover!

    I found this post very useful.. The part about identifying your target market right toff the bat I think is very important, since you want them to read the headline and say “hey, this is for me” and continue down the page.

    I’ll be using these tips for my next product release..


  4. says


    I counted 17 proofreading errors on the page. Credibility…GONE!

    Besides that, why does he have a limitation on an electronic product? He doesn’t say why, so it makes no sense.


  5. says

    Thanks everyone, as always, for the kind comments.
    @Shane, proofreading is always a given in my mind. Hence it’s not top of mind when doing a makeover – but it probably should be.

    Artificial limits that are obviously artificial undercut credibility. Don’t do it, kids. Back away. Back far away.

    • says

      @Roberta: I know for certain you value it. I just wanted to tell Baolin this could account for a huge portion of his bounce rate. Every proofing error is like a speedbump knocking the prospect out of his “yes-I’ll-buy” trance.


  6. says

    This is the first I’ve seen of the Makeover Clinics – fantastic idea. Very thorough review and actionable ideas.

    I liked how you drilled right down to the pain point at the very beginning; it’s so critical.

    I’m sold – I’m a recent subscriber, but now I’m a regular reader!


  7. says


    This is very well done and incredibly helpful. If I had the money, I would definitely hire you for a landing page makeover. Thanks for the free versions that we can all learn from.


  8. says

    These are great tips, but there are a few that I’d like to add…

    1) Weak Design – It looks like a $2 template. No credibility here. As the site stands right now – there are words that go outside of the template and into the background. Boo.

    2) Bad Graphics – The only graphic is a goofy before/after where you can’t even tell if the guy has lost weight or not – it just shows him in casual clothes and then in workout clothes. Whoopty doo. (I like the ebook graphic though)

    3) Poor Writing – Forget the poor copywriting, this is just purely poor writing. Even after your suggestions. I mean, if you read this at the top of the page – will you really read on? –> “Dear Wish I could be leaner, more tone, but who in the world…” More tone?

    4) Brutal Urgency – You only have 10 copies available this week? Really? It’s an ebook and this just sounds like a weak and cheesy attempt to create urgency. I will not kick myself later for not being one of the first 10 buyers this week. You know why? Because you’ll sell it to me anyways. Yeah right you’re going to make me wait when you could have a sure sale right now. That’d just be a dumb business decision on your part.

    I don’t mean to be negative to Baolin, but I think it’s important for him to hear what people might think when they land on his page. I’d hate it if I never received honest criticism and thought everything was great – because that ‘politeness’ could be killing my sales. Being brutally honest in this situation is actually the polite thing to do.

    • says

      Those are good points, although I’m not convinced a cheap template actually suppresses results. But you’re right — things have to be executed in a credible way, even if the design is very simple.

      Also agree that the before and after images should be more dramatic. Baolin, I bet there’s a really embarrassing pic of you out there somewhere. :) (Try Facebook, that’s where all the absolute worst pictures of me seem to end up. Ugh.)

  9. says

    Excellent! I love seeing all the nuances of how small changes can have such big effects. I learn best by example and the Makeover Clinics are always such a great way to do that.

    #7 is so important. In trying to drive home a point it’s good to tell your story but like a good director, lots of good stuff has to be left on the cutting floor. It’s is easy to forget that one.

    Thanks for another great Makeover!

  10. says

    @Chad, I think it’s important to balance how copywriting pros will look at a promotion and how the average buyer would look at that very same promotion. I tend to spend a little more time having participants think about their prospective buyers more. My philosophy is that when you hit the sweet spot, the rest will logically follow. I’ve spent way too much time in “Product Ready to Launch – Let’s Find a Market” to think otherwise.

    I also try to limit myself to 10 cogent points. You’ve added a few more, thank you!

    • says

      For sure Roberta. Seriously, every point you mentioned is extremely valuable…and applicable to ANY sales page which is why it’s so great.

      I just can’t imaging “going live” with a design when the words exit the frame and go into the background. Sometimes fixing the little things can have an effect too.

      But you’re right – you gotta fix the big things first, such as learning about your prospect and speaking directly to him/her.

  11. says

    I’m reading the comments right now and it looks like there are still things I have to change. It’s a lot better since Roberta Looked at it. The comments for sure will help me improve me page even further.

    • says

      Yes, since you first contacted me, you’ve made some excellent progress. But as a marketer you can see that there’s always more you can do – and should do – to maximize your efforts.

    • says

      Depends, Tito. If you’re looking to sell a product/service … or build a mailing list … or promote a webinar … or other specific task/activity, you just might. If you’re not and you’re just looking to provide an informational experience for your site visitor’s, then maybe not.

      • says

        Thanks Roberta!
        I think I understand what you mean. Landing pages serves as lead generation tools for specific products/services. Will definitely be needing one in the nearest future and be sure I would check up on then, :)

        Right now, I’m focusing more on creating quality contents that will attract and keep a growing community of entrepreneurs. Thanks once again for your feedback.

  12. Monika says

    I have to agree with Chad on the design here. I’m a writer and words are extremely important to me. But I’m also a person living in 2010. Packaging is very important. First impressions are killer.

    I would take one look at the page and not even bother reading it because it looks “spammy” and “gimmicky”…like every other “get rich quick” or “get thin quick” or “pyramid marketing scheme” website that I’ve seen floating around the internet since 1994.

    It is possible to find more attractive templates and stock photos that don’t scream “scam artist” (not saying that this IS that kind of program, but it looks that way right now with the current design).

    The things that strike me as “spammy” are:
    * bolded text, red text, exclamation points
    * fake quotes — putting words in the readers’ mouths
    * huge, long page with the gimmicky e-book picture
    * unprofessional photos
    * generic stock images
    * infomercial text

    Yes, I realize this describes what every copywriter is probably told they should do. (At least it looks like all the junk mail I get in my mailbox and inbox.) I think customers are a lot more savvy than they’re given credit for.

    Advertising copy needs to be much more subtle and artful, as do the graphics and pictures.

        • Monika says

          I would look into some design blogs for resources. DesignShack comes to mind. Maybe you know some freelance graphic designers? Or check out some other templates. I don’t know what platform you used to make your site, but I can tell you from my experience that I had great success with WordPress and then WooThemes (who make professional templates). You can even get some WooThemes templates for free. (No, I’m not compensated by recommending them.)

          So…look into some professionally designed templates for your site and go from there. (Also, just to let you know, I’m not officially a professional “copywriter.” I just have some opinions about websites. :) )

          • says


            According to what people are saying, I could use a better banner/ecover/ebook cover design since the one I have is “too gimmicky”

            I’ve already deleted the whole “scarcity” thing I was taught to do, since according to the comments, it’s going to hurt my credibility.

            I could find some better before/after shots

            I could also look into some better design templates

            For now, I’m going to start with the banner.

            I’m looking into getting another banner setup for me so it won’t look so “generic” and “scam artist” like.

    • says

      This is actually a complicated topic. Keep in mind what you said — “It looks like everything else I get.” And that’s because a lot of those elements have been tested and tested and they work better, even if they aren’t pretty. (Bold text, red headlines, a very long page.)

      There’s a balance to be struck. Professionalism is good. A clean look that conveys competence is good. But it’s surprising how often very “designed” sites that look fabulous don’t convert well.

      Our Scribe page, as you pointed out, balances both. It’s not created to win design awards. It’s clean, clear, and straightforward — the focus is on the information, not the design. But it is professional looking, it doesn’t look fly-by-night or shoddy.

      (To keep the focus on Baolin, I think that a more professional design would probably help his bounce rate, right now I think people are scooting quickly away because the page design seems like it could be something kind of dodgy. But I would also suggest that he stick with a simple, clean design rather than something that might look amazing but will distract customers from making that purchase.)

  13. says

    My 3 take aways are:
    1. Connect at the pain
    2. Show how their world will be different
    3. Have a simple, sticky story that connects at the values

    Bonus — rapport is when you can complete the conversation in your customer’s head.

  14. says

    I think the first point (about being clear about the product you’re selling) is the most important one.

    Coming to a website that has a clear sales goal is refreshing. If I’m interested in the product, I’ll be interested in the stories. If I’m not I can move on.

    Site owners should like that too. They should seek more to engage the people that are interested in their products, sell to the believers… It’s difficult to sell to people who are not interested…

  15. says

    Even of more value to me beyond the specific suggestions for fixes is the WAY you analyzed the elements. This allows a reader to learn the self-editing POV. ‘Teach a man to fish’… Good work.

    • says

      Testing a shorter vs longer headline would definitely be a recommendation – it’s always surprising to some when the longer outpulls!

      And likewise on the New Year wishes, Jodi – right back at ya.

  16. says

    Thanks Roberta. I am just starting out and I am confident those ten points will serve me well when I launch my first product.

    Kind regards.


  17. says

    Roberta, I really enjoy learning more about copy writing! And this really pulled it off great. I enjoyed learning about how to make over a landing page. You did a beautiful job writing this article and it was a great help!

    Thank you and hope you have a great week :)


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