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Mequoda Landing Page Headline Contest Call for Entries

Try your hand at creating a landing page headline that excels at the four Mequoda landing page guidelines for writing brilliant, clear, engaging and truthful headlines that increase landing page conversion rates, sell more stuff and will make you a happier person.

Executive Summary

Your landing page headlines are the most valuable and volatile real estate on your website. They are the messages that will determine whether a visitor stays to read your sales letter (whether it is short or long). If the headline doesn’t hook them, they will click away in three to five seconds.

No pressure; just be brilliant, clear, engaging and truthful in under-five seconds

We’ve seen test after test in which changes to the headline, and only the headline, have increased landing page conversion rates by 20 to 50 percent; and in some extraordinary cases, by as much as 200 to 300 percent. Eye tracking research confirms that the headline is the first, and often the only, portion of a landing page that gets read. When compared to traditional direct mail, the landing page headline combines that power of the outer envelope teaser and the headlines on the sales letter and order form. It is the power spot in online marketing.

After reviewing the test data for hundreds of A/B headline tests, Mequoda Research Team members Bob Bly, John Clausen, Kim Mateus, Peter Schaible and I have agreed on four guidelines for creating headlines that will have the best shot at increasing landing page conversion rates.

Try Your Hand at Writing a Great Landing Page Headline

Normally we’d continue by reviewing some other unsuspecting Internet marketer’s landing page headline using our guidelines. Instead I’d like you to write an alternative headline for the Mequoda Library’s current landing page, using the Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard [1] guidelines for creating landing page headlines that increase conversion rates.

A group of our editors who are all landing page copywriters (Kim Mateus, Peter Schaible, Bob Bly, John Clausen, Peter Fogel and yours truly) will choose their pick for the best headline posted to the Café by December 31, 2005. Kim will send you a $100 Amazon gift card and our humble thanks, if our editors select your headline as the most promising of those posted. Our editors are precluded from participating, so this is your chance to match wits with the other members of the Mequoda Daily [2].

Here are the four guidelines our editors will be using to judge your landing page headlines taken from the Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard they use to write Landing Page Reviews for the Mequoda Library.

1. Engage the Reader with a Compelling User Benefit:
The goal is to cause the user to daydream or imagine how their life will change in some meaningful and positive way, based on the having or using the product. The most powerful headlines paint vivid word pictures that offer what Samuel Johnson called “The Big Promise.” While this may seem challenging, any user-oriented headline will put you well ahead of most landing page headlines that talk only about the product and its features.

2. Call Attention to the Product or Service Brand Name:
The Internet and the general explosion of information sources have made information brands more powerful than ever. If you have one, use it. If you don’t have one yet, use your headline to build it and in the process infer that your brand is important, credible and valuable. Bonus: Non-buyers still become more aware of your brand.

3. Make the Headline Clear and Easy to Read:

With only three to five seconds to hook the reader, your headline must walk a fine line between using language that is both powerful and easy to understand. Tip: Use a search engine suggestion tool to validate the selection of each word. Remember that changing a single word can routinely lift or depress landing page conversions by 15 to 35 percent.

4. Establish the Need to Buy the Product or Service:
Hooking the reader is great, but at the end of the day your headline must position the landing page experience to make the sale. While we’ve seen exceptions, most successful landing pages make it clear on the first screen that there is a product or service for sale that will empower the reader to experience that life changing benefit mentioned in guideline number one.

Here’s the newest landing page for our own Mequoda Library 14-Day Trial Offer that is designed to handle pay-per-click, organic search, affiliate and text advertising referrals.


The Mequoda Library’s sales letter landing page.

Don’t hold back. Feel free to ask questions. And, above all, have some fun!

Suggested Discussion Questions

  1. Add links to some of your favorite landing pages with headlines you feel are effective and share your reasons.
  2. Add links for some landing pages that you think have really poor headlines and let us know how you think they could be better.
  3. Suggest other criteria beyond those suggested by our team and tell us why you think they belong on the list of guidelines for creating great landing page headlines.

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MPP [3]

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Note: The details of the case have been modified to protect the identity of the publisher and program. If you’ve got a case study you’d like to share, send me an email [4]. Your privacy is my top concern.