In my last post, Best Practices for Great Landing Page Design, I discussed the major elements that go into crafting the perfect page from copy to color to typography.

In this post, I’m going to dig deeper into one very important over-arching landing page element: your unique selling proposition (USP). I'll talk about what it is, why you need it and how to craft it. 

What is a USP and why you need one 

First off, your USP is how you stand out from your competitors by answering why your audience should sign up/enroll/buy from you and not someone else. It conveys your competitive advantage.

The USP is not found on one single spot on your page, but is composed of your copy elements, think headline, subhead, benefits and reinforcing and closing statements, plus support with social proof. Check out some Teachable school examples.

To craft your USP, there are a few things you need to do first: 

  • Step 1: Know your audience
  • Step 2: Research your competition & differentiate yourself from them

I’m going forward with one assumption: you’ve done the research and you know who your audience is, where they hang out, what their goals/hopes/desires are and most importantly, what their problems are. AKA you have the answers to Step 1.

If you don't, check out Conrad Wadowski's post on how to find your audience's pain points

On to Step 2: Research your competition & differentiate yourself

What's your competition's USP on their landing page? In their offer, what are they doing well? Just ok? Poorly? Take that information into consideration and tailor your messaging to show how you are different from your competition. 

Be different

Cal Newport does a great job of explaining why it's better to position yourself as different and not the best on Tim Ferriss' blog.

He starts by explaining that the competition to be the best is very high. The differences between the one dubbed the best versus the next best are marginally small, but in the end, the best/most well known will usually be chosen above the rest. This is known as the Superstar Effect. 

For example, imagine two students with 700s on their SATs and almost identical GPAs. One is ranked first in the class, the other fifth. Using statistics from Dartmouth College, it "showed that the valedictorian has a 75% of acceptance at this Ivy League institution while the near identical fifth-ranked student has only a 25% chance."

The difference between the two students is small, but when it comes to choosing one, the best (or the superstar) wins, by a long shot in this case. 

HOWEVER, Cal points out that there is "a crucial addendum that makes the power of the Superstar Effect available to most people. I call this addendum The Superstar Corollary."

As an example of The Superstar Corollary, Cal describes Michael Silverman, an average high-school senior who was accepted into Stanford in a year where only 7.2% of applicants got in. Why did Michael stand out? Well, instead of focusing all of his time on being number 1 in a wide genre, Michael earned press coverage, grants and recognition for his work in environmental sustainability. Michael differentiated himself into a small niche where he could easily become the top of his small field. 

"...Nothing about Michael's rise to stardom required a rare natural talent or overwhelming workload. His projects required, on average, less daily time investment than participating in a varsity sport. Yet, he was the best at what he did among all applicants to Stanford, and the resulting Superstar Effect earned him a disproportionate reward."
-Cal Newport

To avoid getting overlooked in a sea of "the bests," be different by finding a niche in your specific market and excel there. 

Think about it. Every major city has a huge network of cabs. To stand out from all the yellow, one company decided to build a smartphone app to book a car on demand...And now tell me, who hasn't heard of Uber? 

Find your market niche to show your audience how you are different from your competitors and why they should use you instead.

How to Craft Your USP

credible landing page

I discussed the importance of compelling copy in my last post, but as a quick reminder, make sure to write your copy in the voice of your audience. Your messaging should add to the conversation your audience is already having about your product and how it solves their problems. Look at social media, discussion boards or emails to find the language your audience is using and replicate it. 

Your copy needs to state the value your audience is getting clearly and quickly. Avoid over-hyped words (think of all those weight-loss supplement commercials), superlatives (world-class) and business terms. 

Your USP is expressed through the headline, subhead, benefits, reinforcing and closing statement on your landing page. Social proof is used to support your USP.

You don't have to use all of the above components. Use depends on the length and purpose of your page.

Headline

Your headline is the first stop for your audience to see what your product is and the problem you're solving. It needs to be short, clear and easily understood.

"Your headline has one job and one job only. To get your visitors to continue engaging with your message, increase their desire for what you're offering, and motivate a Call-To-Action click. That's why when it comes to crafting effective landing page headlines, choose clarity over clever. Clever calls attention to itself at the expense of the message. Clarity smooths the way to conversion."
-Roberta Rosenberg, Copywriter

Roberta offers great advice. Your landing page headline isn't like a blog post headline. You aren't trying to write the wittiest title to make your audience laugh. You are trying to get your audience to stay on your page, realize you are better than the competition, and ultimately sign up for your offer. (#conversion)

To see if your headline is clear, follow Peep Laja's advice: Imagine your landing page is just your headline and call-to-action. Will your headline get your audience to click on your CTA? If you are chatting with a friend, would you use the exact headline to explain your offer? If you answer yes, you're on the right track.

There are tons of different formulas to use to help write a headline. Test these formulas below with your offer and see how your audience responds.

Copywriter Joanna Wiebe created a list of five headline formulas and examples to try (even huge companies use them) which I've copied below for your convenience:

  1. "Get the [Rarely Seen Adjective] Power of [What Your Product Does] Without [Pain] unbounce headline
  2. [Adjective] & [Adjective] [What You Are / SEO Keyword Phrase] That Will [Highly Desirable Promise of Results] 
    kickoff-labs-border.png
  3. We Promise You This: [Highly Desirable Promise of Results] Laura Roeder
  4. [Known Competitor] [Does This Undesirable or Unimpressive Thing], and [Your Brand Name] [Does This Highly Desirable or Impressive Thing] 
    Kissmetrics
  5. The Only [SEO Keyword Phrase] Made Exclusively to [Highly Desirable Outcome or Benefit]" 

Peep suggests using these three self-created headline formulas: 1) "Say what it is" 2) "Say what you get" and 3) "Say what you're able to do (with it)".

Images: 1) SumoMe, 2) Codementor, 3) Leadpages.

These formulas are guidelines for construction, the success of them depends on you and your product.

Joanna also created this awesome headline style list to get increased conversions:

  • "Center your headlines
  • Make them big and dark, dark grey (or, when on a dark background, white)
  • Use “Title Case”, aka Capitalize Each Word
  • Don’t use a period at the end as such visual cues present mental stopping points for your visitors
  • Break up lengthy headlines with “eye rest” punctuation marks, such as ellipses and em-dashes
  • Consider putting quotation marks around the headline as this can draw the eye
  • Support each headline with a meaningful subhead written in sentence case, aka capitalize the first word only"

If you look at any landing page, you will see these tips in play, so it's great to see them compiled into one list.  

That last one also leads nicely into my next topic...

Subhead

Use your subhead to further explain the solution stated in your headline. 

There are two ways to think about your subhead: 1) as a continuation of the headline (like finishing a sentence) or 2) a secondary place to add persuasive messaging that supports your headline. 

squarespace

When writing your subhead, follow Neil Patel's tips: clearly state the benefit and tie it into the headline while keeping it to one sentence.

Since our attention spans are shrinking, keep your subheads short and to the point because it's easy for your audience to scan, but also sells them to keep reading

Benefits 

By this point, you've hooked your audience. Now it's time to answer their questions on how you will solve their problems.  

The best way to outline these answers is with a list. It's an easy way for your audience to get the information quickly and clearly. 

To start, try answering the question "What do my potential customers need?" with a one sentence answer.

On your page, include 3-5 points on the biggest problems you are solving for your audience. Rewrite this section as many times as needed to keep your language succinct. 

Yoogaia

In this section, make sure to focus on the benefits of your offer (how you are solving a problem) and not the features (describing what the product/offer does).

For example: 

  • Feature: Data Ownership
  • Benefit: You own all content and student data from your courses

Including an explanation of the features is a fine line. It helps those in your audience who need more information to make a decision, but it can also make someone's easy decision more complicated because of an information overload. Since you know your audience best, it's up to you to find that happy medium.      

Reinforcing Statement

Trip Tribe landing page

The reinforcing statement is a second headline found midway down a landing page. The goal of it is to continue your USP found in the main headline. This is a great way to showcase a high-value benefit of your product/offer. 

Use the same design (size, width, color, etc.) as your main headline. 

When creating your headlines, Oli Gardner says to think about it as a story written in 3 pieces (1) Headline, 2) reinforcing statement and 3) closing statement): 

  1. "Statement of uniqueness
    Backed up with a supporting statement to establish credibility
  2. Expand on the experience
    And explain how you solve a pain point
  3. Close with urgency to encourage a call-to-action click"

Your main headline explains your product/offer and captures your audience's attention. The reinforcing statement targets a benefit of your product/offer. While the closing statement is there to get your audience to convert. (I explain the closing statement more below).

Closing Statement

This is your last chance to reinforce your USP. It's usually found at the end of a longer landing page and reflects a similar message to your headline.

Once again, this should look like the other headlines on your page. Couple this statement with another CTA button to increase conversion opportunities. 

If your landing page has all of the information above the fold, this statement isn't needed because your headline is still visible. 

Social Proof

Technically, this isn't an element of the USP, but it's a huge supporting factor. Social proof plays to the emotional data of your audience to support their logical decision to act on the offer.

According to Wishpond, "63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews."

When you think about it, that's a pretty significant percentage of your audience looking for social verification about your product. 

There are four easy ways to add social proof to your landing page through: 1) testimonials/reviews, 2) data, 3) press coverage/awards and 4) trust seals. 

Since a landing page is designed with a single objective for a specific audience, find social examples that will directly relate to the audience you're targeting while being authentic and not spammy. 

1. Testimonials/ Reviews

Customer testimonials or reviews are a great way to share those  quotes from your audience saying how and why your product/service/offer is awesome/the best. Include their name, website, company, job title and a picture to bolster credibility. As I mentioned in my last post, humans love seeing other humans, so including a photo with your testimonial makes it that much more powerful. 

If you have an influencer who has proclaimed your product, use it that as a testimonial. Because of the Superstar Effect I mentioned earlier, your audience will be more likely to use your product/sign up for your offer if someone with high influence (a superstar) has too.

Place these under the benefits statement and near your CTA. 

outbrain testimonial

2. Data

Use numbers to impress your audience and show how popular you are. Show off sign-ups per week, number app downloads, total subscribers to your newsletter or blog, number of students enrolled in your online school, etc. Data can be used in your headline, near your CTAs or in your reinforcing or closing statements. 

Art finder social proof

3. Press Coverage/ Awards

Show off the publications or websites you've been featured in by displaying their logos on your landing page. Including highly reputable organizations on your landing page boosts your credibility (just like including a testimonial from celebrity influencers). If large, trusted publications recommend you, then it convinces the masses to trust you too. 

Put these logos just above the fold or above the footer at the bottom of the page. 

Art finder press coverage

4. Trust seals

Trust seals are great to include if you collect and store your audience's personal data. These types of symbols reassure your audiences that their information is safe and secure.

intuit quickbase

Trust seals are not always necessary. Consider the type of landing page you're creating and the data you are asking for.

Are you creating a landing page to get your audience to enter their email to download a presentation template? You probably don't need a trust symbol. If you have a large e-commerce site and are collecting credit card information, then maybe a seal might be helpful for your audience. When in doubt, A/B test it! 

Place these logos in the footer or near where your audience is checking out/adding their sensitive information.

With these six elements, you are now ready to start building your unique value proposition for your landing page or website. 

For more information on landing page design, download my SlideShare deck that features 46 tips to build your landing page. 

GET THE DECK

Read part three in the landing page design series: How to Write & Design Your Landing Page Call-To-Action where we'll dive deeper into crafting a call-to-action that increases conversion rates. Let's get some discussion started. What is your landing page value proposition? Share it in the comments below!

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Allison Haag

Written by Allison Haag

Allison Haag is a Content Marketer & Designer at Teachable (Create & Sell Online Courses) who pulls design inspiration from her worldwide adventures.