How to Write Headlines for Sales Landing Pages

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February 2015
by Casey Demchak

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When I was a kid there were word games that involved reading a simple letter and then circling every fifth word to get a “secret message.” It was neat. So neat that I developed a similar strategy for website landing pages that are designed to sell books.

The strategy is built around the fact that before anyone reads your website sales page, they almost always skim its headlines and subheads, and if that’s all visitors do, then those elements need to combine to provide a concise selling message and a confident call to action.

This sort of secret message will often entice visitors to go back and read all the copy between your headlines to learn more about your book.

HeadlinesFor an example of how this headline sequence technique can look on a web sales page promoting a business book, look to your right.

Without even seeing the body copy between these headlines, you gain a strong sense of what this book is about and what some of its key emotional takeaways are. Plus, you receive a very attractive special offer message.

Based on this sequence of benefit-driven headlines alone, someone interested in this topic will be tempted to go back and read the body copy to learn more details.

This is exactly what you want your headlines to do.

So the next time you set up a web page for your book, review your sequence of headlines and subheads and make sure they deliver a strong and inviting sales message.

Snafus to Sidestep

When I review website landing pages intended to sell books, I find similar copywriting mistakes on many of them. Here are three big ones that I strongly urge you to avoid.

Mistake #1: Sales landing pages that are too brief
Wait a minute. “Aren’t today’s website pages supposed to be short and sweet?” you may be asking.

In many cases the answer is “yes.” However, when you create a landing page to persuade people to buy your book, making it longer gives you definite advantages.

The primary advantage is that you can convey all the information a visitor needs to make a buying decision. Here is one simple tip:

  • Place three Add to Cart buttons on your sales landing page: one at the very beginning, one in the middle, and one at the very end.

This simple technique turns your “long” landing page into three short pages that are interconnected.

By placing an Add to Cart button at the top of your page, you’ll capture visitors who are ready to buy your book right now.

However, some readers need a little more convincing. This is why you place a second Add to Cart button halfway down your sales page, after you’ve communicated some additional benefits your book offers.

Additional benefit-driven headlines and body copy for those who still need convincing then lead into your third Add to Cart button.

As you can see, for people who need minimal convincing and who are ready to order right away, your web page will not be perceived as too long because they can hit the Add to Cart button at the top.

Those who need more details about your book before they can be convinced to reach for their credit cards will find them on the longer page, and these folks will not perceive your page as too long; they’ll perceive it as thorough and complete.

Mistake #2: Using big blocks of dark chunky text
Website pages should not look like the inside of a book. Large chunks of lengthy text followed by more dark chunky paragraphs look boring and as if they’d take too darn long to read.

To make your copy more at-a-glance friendly:

  • Make liberal use of headlines and subheads.
  • Use paragraphs no longer than two or three lines each.
  • Provide sharp, concise, benefit-driven bullet points.

Copy with a more open, airy look and a lot of white space around it is much more appealing to the eye because it looks as if it will be fast and easy to read.

Mistake #3: Lack of confident special offer lines
The offer is the heart and soul of any sales page. Make sure you always include call-to-action lines that ask people to buy your book and that use confident language. Whenever possible, build your call-to-action lines around a limited-time special offer—and then throw in some free stuff that has a value applied to it. This does two things for you. It motivates people to buy your book sooner rather than later (or than not at all). And it demonstrates that buyers are receiving over-the-top value for their money.

Here is an example of a limited-time special offer with some value-added free stuff thrown in.

Order How to Double Your Sales Leads in 4 Short Weeks by November 30, 2014, and receive a 10% discount off the standard cover price.

P.S. When you order TODAY you’ll also receive instant access to our 15-page FREE BONUS e-book, 7 Things You Must Know to Convert Prospects into Clients (a $24 value!)

Notice that this example avoids terms such as, “If you’re interested …” or “If you order …” Avoid passive language in your special-offer and call-to-action lines, and avoid even suggesting that someone might not order. Instead, be confident and direct; provide great value; and sell more books.


Casey DemchekCasey Demchak is an award-winning copywriter and consultant who writes sales copy for coaches, authors, and corporate clients. Also an author and a speaker, he offers free weekly sales writing updates at CaseyDemchak.com.

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