5 Things Famous Writers Can Teach Us About Landing Page Copy

Classic literature is hardly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about landing pages.  In terms of subject matter, the two couldn’t be farther apart.  That’s not to say, however, that much can’t be learned from these works and their writers.

When it comes down to it, good writing is good writing – and good writing is the basis of an effective landing page.  As it turns out, much of the advice from famous writers is highly applicable to landing page copy.  We’ve gathered five such example below.


1.  “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” – Elmore Leonard

The best, most relatable writing mirrors natural conversation.  It’s an effect that’s deceptively hard to create.  It’s also something that most people are guided away from for much of their careers.

Going through school, we’re taught formal, academic writing – the kind of writing that “sounds like writing.”  Though this style is valuable in an academic setting, it’s not particularly engaging for the reader.  This may not be an issue for scholars, who need such information to further their studies, but it’s certainly a deterrent for consumers with ample alternatives.

Great landing page copy feels natural and reflects the personality of the brand.  Even if your brand prefers a more official, authoritative tone, your readers shouldn’t need to slog through the copy.


2.  “The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.” – Mark Twain

The longer it takes to explain something, the more likely you are to lose the reader along the way.  Long explanations also leave more room for misinterpretation and confusion.  If you can’t articulate the value of your offering quickly and efficiently, then it may be time to rethink what you’re offering.

This is especially true in the case of landing pages.  Landing pages should have a single, clear objective. Typically, they offer a viewer an asset in exchange for their contact information.  If the offer is truly compelling, there’s no reason its basic merits can’t be communicated in the first couple of sentences.


3.  “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Brevity is definitely a virtue among landing pages.  The amount of text on a page is a big part of its first impression – and it can be the difference between a bounce and conversion.  Walls of text are called that for a reason; they’re imposing and they prevent viewers from moving through.

When it comes to landing pages, you should seek to cut anything that can be cut.  Filler words and sentences only serve to dilute your message.  Likewise, eliminate complicated jargon and excessive verbiage wherever possible – both are more likely to alienate than prove your expertise.


4.  “Be obscure clearly.” – E. B. White

Being obscure clearly might seem like a contradiction, but it perfectly describes the paradoxical duties of a landing page. Landing pages have to carefully control how and what information they put forward.  They have to give enough information to entice the reader, but no so much as to give away the “meat” of the associated asset.

Writers address this challenge in a variety of ways.  Some describe the contents of the white paper or lists takeaways.  Others provide samples from the gated asset.

In either case, the landing page still has to let people know what’s to come and do so in an interesting way.  Just as a list of section titles isn’t particularly enticing, neither is a set of ambiguous promises.


5.  “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” – Ernest Hemingway

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Simply put, when it comes to writing, your first stab at something isn’t going to be your best work.   That’s why we edit and revise. Quality comes through refinement.

Landing pages are no exception to this rule.  Just like any other writing, landing page copy and its subcomponents (headlines, sub-headlines, call-to-actions, etc.) should be developed through revision.

For some reason, landing page copy – and to a larger extent headlines and calls to actions – aren’t scrutinized nearly as much as other written content.  Obviously, tight deadlines can make this evaluation harder, but they’re no excuse to forego it altogether.  Fresh eyes, or better yet, an additional pair of eyes, make a huge difference in the quality of landing page copy.  Hemmingway’s words serve as a coarse reminder of this.



Let us know what you think:

  • Do you agree with the five takeaways?
  • Would you add anything to the list?
  • What’s your process for creating landing page copy?



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Comments (3)

This was very well done. I easily and quickly got the point from each of the five offerings. I especially liked the quote ““Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci . I try to subscribe, as much as possible, to the KISS method.

All five points are great, but the big one I’ve had to learn is that just because some copy feels far to cheesy and salesy to me, doesn’t mean it won’t convert. I’m naturally put off by a lot of highly converting sales copy I read, which makes it hard to write it myself.

Thanks for the compilation. All very good points and I will share with our marketing team. Copy and Landing Page writing can always be improved!

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