Landing pages are remarkably powerful conversion and SEO tools that turn traffic into money.
They force readers to focus on one thing — and one thing only.
To boost your email newsletter or blog subscribers … sell more of your digital or physical product … or dominate a keyword in search rankings … you need to use landing pages.
And lots of them.
See, you need to know what stage of sophistication (a Eugene Schwartz concept) your market is in before choosing the correct landing page template. Templates help us generate ideas. The stages of sophistication help us choose the right ideas.
Let me show you how this works.
First, there are a two concepts you need to understand.
Building landing pages 101
In the past, building landing pages meant you had to hire a designer and coder. Not anymore.
Tools like Premise make it so a writer like me can write and publish effective, professional landing pages.
Now, to help us sort through these stages of sophistication specifically, we’ll be talking about the headline and subheadline. This is how they look inside your WP admin if you are using Premise:
And when published your headline and subheadline renders like this:
Those are the two terms that are most important to us.
1. Make the promise
When your ideal customer is not aware of your product or the benefit it offers, then the first stage of sophistication demands you simply make a promise in the headline:
- Build Muscle Anywhere
- Defeat Credit Card Debt
- Read More Books
And in the subheadline you would describe the mechanism:
- This 15-Minute Routine Focuses on Every Muscle in Your Body
- With Only a Calendar and Spreadsheet
- The World’s First Speed Reading App
I purposely chose three markets that have gone through all five stages to help you see how markets progress.
2. Take your promise to the next level
As the market begins to be educated about your product, and competitors enter that market … the power of your original promise will begin to fade. Customers will seek a distinction.
At this stage you need to state your promise even more clearly …
- Build Muscle on Almost Every Inch of Your Body
- How to Eliminate $3,000 in Debt in Only 30 Days
- Read 24 Books in 24 Hours
Beef up the subheadline (mechanism), too. As you can imagine, you will be pushing the limits of credibility. But let me be very clear …
Though you’re pushing limits here, you must never lie, never misrepresent your product, and avoid hyperbole at all costs.
If you can’t back up your promise or claim with fact, don’t state it.
3. Lead with mechanism, promise second
In the third stage of sophistication, we find the consumer weary of your product and others.
They’ve been exposed to extreme promises and have learned to tune out these claims. You need a technique to reset their expectations.
At this stage the mechanism comes first, and the claim second. The mechanism becomes the point of difference.
- This 15-Minute Chair Routine Builds Muscle on Almost Every Inch of Your Body
- Hands-Down: Simplest Method to Defeating Debt
- Introducing a New App to Solve the Slow Reader’s Dilemma
And the promise is then elaborated on in the subheadline.
4. Take the mechanism to another level
When stage three copy has been replicated in the market and reached saturation, the power of this headline fades. It’s time to elaborate and enlarge on the mechanism.
Make it easier, quicker, and better. Solve more of the problem and overcome old limitations.
- Now … Build Muscle Tone in Less Than 7 Minutes a Day
- Wall Street Journal Accountants Swear This Is The Fastest and Easiest Way to Defeat Debt
- Read War and Peace This Afternoon with Our Addicting “Angry Reader” App Game
This is a stage of embellishment not unlike stage two. Eventually you will reach a point that pushes the embellishment out of the realm of believability, and you must discover a new meaningful and believable mechanism.
5. Identify with the consumer
At this stage the market is glutted.
The field is exhausted, and it is the most difficult stage to profit in. This is where you revive a dead product by shooting directly at the consumer.
- Why Some Men Are So Skinny
- Why Some People Will Never Get Out of Debt
- Are You Embarrassed to Tell People You’ve Never Read the Classics?
And the mechanism is explained in the subheadline.
Think about this
Here’s the deal. This is the same life cycle for every market. It begins in stage one and closes in stage five. As you can see this presents some challenges for business owners, namely, they must adapt or perish.
You may enter a new market and clean house, only to fall behind when competitors enter and steal market share. The business of successful selling is about constant improvement. Constant change.
This is not to say you can’t land on a control (your best-performing headline and sales copy — for example, this is our current reigning control for StudioPress) that works for twenty-five years.
That, however, is the exception rather than the rule.
More likely a strong control will have two or three years of life before you have to move onto the next stage of sophistication.
Here’s why this is important …
Over in our Authority forum we see a lot of members sharing their landing pages for feedback … and one of the most obvious problems I see is a lack of understanding when it comes to market sophistication: almost everyone starts in stage one when the markets they are competing in are in the advanced stages … if not in the final.
That will not get the job done.
So, here’s your homework: take one of your products or services and work it through these five stages. Write headlines and subheadlines for each stage. This is not easy, but the more you practice the better you will get.
And of course, if you need an easy way to construct these landing pages, you can’t do much better than Premise.