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.
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 Mixergy.com 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.
- David vs. Goliath: Is your product or service helping small business compete with the big guys?
- Rags to Riches: Is your product or service helping people make more money so they can buy their dream house?
- 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?
- Pick one of the tactics above for finding a great hook.
- Create a headline and a hook for your product or service.
- 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 …