I Analyzed the Copy on 87 SaaS Startup Landing Pages — Here’s What I Found – Process Street

I Analyzed the Copy on 87 SaaS Startup Landing Pages — Here’s What I Found

Startup Landing Pages Copy

The copy on your SaaS startup’s landing page is one of the major factors that determines whether your product lives, or dies a horrible death.

Unbounce cites headlines as the single most important element of a landing page, and that’s for good reason.

Several decades back, advertising legend David Ogilvy said:

“When you have written your headline, you have already spent 80 cents of your dollar”

That means that for every 1,000 people who land on your page, 800 leave after reading only the headline. But that’s just an average. It’s possible to boost those numbers with great copy, and a small tweak at the top of the funnel, as we know, can really move the needle at the bottom of the funnel.

For this article, I analyzed 87 SaaS startup landing pages. This was taken from the top 100 in AngelList’s Trending section at the time, disregarding companies that had shut down.

I found hidden trends and best practices in two supposedly simple elements of the pages: the headline and the subheadline.

Before we get into the key findings, I want to offer you a free SaaS landing page headline generator. All you do is put in your software’s purpose, audience, and customer goal, and you get a list of 30 titles. These titles follow the formulas every SaaS headline I analyzed use. When you get the sheet, click ‘File’ and then ‘Make a copy’ to start editing in your own data.

Click here to get the title generator spreadsheet

And now, onto the key findings of the study.

The Key Findings

I know how little people actually read on the internet, so here’s quick summary first of all:

  • 14% of SaaS landing pages have no subheadline.
  • The average word count of a headline is 6.
  • The average word count of a subheadline is 12.
  • The average CoSchedule headline analyzer score of the sample set was 59
  • 39% of headlines sell a benefit of the software
  • 20% of headlines use social proof
  • Around 50% of headlines and subheadlines had a positive sentiment
  • Around 13% of headlines and subheadlines had a negative sentiment
  • You and Your are 10 times more likely to appear than We and Our
  • 42% of headlines contain jargon terms
  • Speed, simplicity, humanity, growth, money and improvement are the 6 main themes expressed in landing page copy
  • Every single headline can be boiled down to 9 formulas

Keep reading to learn why these techniques were used, whether they’re considered best practice and to for never-seen-before insight into how you can use this data to improve your own SaaS startup’s landing page.

14% of SaaS landing pages have no subheadline

No subheadline? These companies must be super confident in their headline’s ability to convince the 80% of readers who bounce instantly.

According to Wordstream:

“Most effective landing pages confirm the offer with the headline and use the sub-heading for further explanation of the offer or to share the value proposition.”

Here’s my favorite example of a subheadline working together with a headline to convey crystal clear value.

ExpenseBot

ExpenseBot SaaS Landing Page

Expense reporting app ExpenseBot addresses the pain and purpose in its headline then quickly gets into the exact features in its subheading. No word trickery, ‘cleverness’ or messing about — just exactly what the reader needs to know.

TapInfluence, on the other hand, could benefit from a subheading that clarifies the value of what their platform actually does. Like every other reader that will land there, I’m lazy and hell and can’t be bothered to take the time to find out for myself.

TapInfluence

Tapinfluence SaaS Landing Page

The average word count for a landing page headline is 6

We’re often told that 6-7 words is the sweet spot for any kind of headline, but Copyhackers’ Joanne Wiebe set out to prove us wrong with an insightful split test back in 2014.

Headline Length Test

What I extract from this is that a 6-word headline sometimes doesn’t have enough room to quickly convey value to the visitor. Take, for example, this short headline from Simply Measured.

Simply Measured

SimplyMeasured

Considering that these are, hands down, the 4 most read words on SimplyMeasured’s entire site, they don’t communicate much. This is the sort of site that could benefit from what Oli Gardner calls the Headline Flip Phenomenon — a technique where you test your subheading as the headline and vice versa.

Here’s an example of a longer headline from Unbounce that conveys the exact right amount of value without getting long-winded.

Unbounce

Unbounce SaaS landing page

And, as the current control on their page, it’s safe to say Unbounce has tested the shit into it.

61% of headlines don’t sell the software’s benefits

This is one that really surprised me. We all know the ancient axiom:

“Sell with benefits, support with features” — Every copywriter ever

After a bit of thought, it all comes down to intent:

If a visitor knows your product, and they’re searching directly for it, they are wanting confirmation they’re in the right place and more information on the features. They will already know the problem they’re trying to solve.

If a visitor doesn’t know your product or why they should choose it over your competitor, it’s likely they’re going to need telling which tangible problem you’re going to solve for them, e.g sell the benefits.

A way many SaaS companies separate these two groups is by creating landing pages optimized for features as well as their main page. For example, look at Salesforce’s sub-landing page for its support features.

Anyway, here’s my favorite landing page headline that smacks you in the face with the benefits.

Close.io

Close io Startup Landing Page

And here’s one that doesn’t. Sorry, SensorTower. I might have to give you a ‘so what?’ here.

SensorTower

SensorTower SaaS landing page
I know what their features are (a bit) and that it’s simple and popular, but not why I’d need it in the first place. They have 3 chances to convey a benefit — the headline, subheadline and the text inside the box, but never do.

This is a landing page that could, excuse me, benefit, from some upgraded copy.

20% of headlines and subheadlines use social proof

Social proof — a copywriting device that basically shows off how many cool people use your product — is commonly deployed with customer testimonials and brand logos, but also seems to crop up a fair bit in headlines.

Here’s an example of social proof in the prominent copy of Producteev‘s landing page.

Producteev

Producteev SaaS landing page

(Social proof awkwardly underlined)

And, aside from the whole host of things up with their landing page, FastCall also uses its claim to fame in the headline.

FastCall

FastCall SaaS landing page

The average CoSchedule headline analyzer score of the sample set was 59

I love the CoSchedule headline analyzer. I think it’s the best tool of its kind. If you’re not familiar with it, go try it out now with the headline of your latest blog post, and see what score you get.

The headline analyzer takes a few key elements under consideration:

  • Length: people’s brains get sick of reading words after mere seconds
  • Word balance: headlines should have a good mix of common, uncommon, emotional and power words
  • Headline type: this is mostly for blog posts. ‘How to’, list posts and questions get better scores.
  • Sentiment: are you being a Negative Nelson, like… putting people down all the time, man?

Let’s take a look at some high-scoring headlines.

Headline Score

Incidentally, the high scoring headlines came from some of the best all round landing pages I reviewed.

AppZen, for example, which even though it has a split purpose has extremely strong copy.

AppZen

AppZen Startup Landing Page

Of course, for a great headline to be great, there needs to be something to compare it to. Let’s take a look at a few which scored poorly.

Low Scoring Headlines

The problem with looking at headlines in a vacuum is that you ignore the subheaders. For all of these cases where the headline scored low, the subheader did the heavy lifting for it.

The sentiment of the headlines and subheadings is overall positive

Sentiment analysis is an interesting one. It looks at the negative or positive connotations of the words used, and extrapolates a score based on the ratio of positive:neutral:negative words. Why should you care about that?

According to CoSchedule:

“Headlines that convey strong positive or negative emotions tend to perform better.”

That’s a good enough reason to me. Let’s look at the stats:

  • 44% of headlines have a positive sentiment
  • 37% of headlines have a neutral sentiment
  • 13% of headlines have a negative sentiment
  • 59% of subheadings have a positive sentiment
  • 22% of subheadings have a neutral sentiment
  • 13% of subheadings have a negative sentiment

I analyzed all headings and subheadings with Aylien, an awesome text analysis API. Here are some positive headlines for reference:

Positive Sentiment

And negative:

Negative Sentiment Headlines

As far as I can see, words like ‘delightful’, ‘great’ and ‘superior’ convey good feelings while ‘tackle’, ‘cold’ and ‘work’ convey bad feelings.

Headlines & subheadings: popular words & phrases

We know about the importance of using emotional words and power words in our copy. There are a few words and phrases proven to convert better — it’s as simple as that.

Here are some interesting data points:

Your/you is 10x more common than we/our

BugSnag SaaS Landing Pages

The product is all about the customer, not all about you. You sell what a product can do for someone, not what you’re doing, so speak directly to the customer.

Here’s the exact data:

  • your/you: 65
  • we/our: 6

The top 10 phrases

Kinvey Startup Landing Page

As we’ll see later, headlines often emphasize simplicity, speed and superiority. Here’s the data to back that up.

  • better way to
  • turn your
  • easy to use
  • faster with
  • by google
  • by thousands of
  • without writing code
  • the world’s best
  • trusted by thousands

In this day of SaaS being an easy alternative to getting your IT team tangled up installing a hefty on-premises solution, no one wants to write code to get their SaaS up and running. It’s easy to see why this and the others are the most popular phrases.

42% of headlines contain jargon

The OED defines jargon as:

“Special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.”

Although jargon in copywriting is usually forbidden, Belinda Weaver argues there are situations where it’s ok. The most relevant part of her article on the topic says it’s okay to use jargon when you’re talking about a technical topic. Since SaaS is software by definition, that’s gonna be the case!

“The more specialised the topic, the more specialised the language. If your copywriting is selling a technical product to a technical audience, you must speak the same language.

This is when jargon gets some credibility and becomes terminology. Terminology helps you describe something precisely and, more often than not, simpler substitutes just don’t exist.”

While jargon isn’t always bad, for SaaS that isn’t aimed at developers, it isn’t necessary and often weakens the copy. Here’s an example of jargon used well.

Neptune.io

Neptune Landing Page Copy

This works because the target audience is certain to know what it means. If they don’t know what it means, it’s not for them.

Datadog

Datadog

Here we have Datadog. A fantastic product, for sure, but the prominent copy here is pure jargon. Not in the same way as Neptune, though, because Neptune also conveys tangible benefits.

Here’s another comparison:

A) Get stuff done with Nitro. vs. B) Project tracking for distributed companies.

Both headlines imply the same benefit, but A explicitly says it before talking about features (similar to the features laid out in B later on in the page).

The most common themes in these headlines were…

Speed, simplicity, intelligence, superiority, humanity, money, growth and improvement. These are all things customers desire from a product. Some smart headlines even fit into more than one category. Here’s the full list:

Speed

  • Bar Inventory in 15 min.
  • AUTOMATE INSIDE SALES
  • The Fastest Way to Tackle Twitter as a Team
  • Quickly Turn Your Leads Into Revenue
  • Super Fast Regression Testing
  • Sell more and faster with ProsperWorks
  • Stop wasting time & money on expense reports

Simplicity

  • The simplest way to communicate with customers and employees
  • The lightest possible way to do spend controls
  • Create a database, as easily as a spreadsheet
  • App Marketing Intelligence made simple
  • Finally, Back Office Simplified
  • Fundraising made simple.
  • Welcome to the easiest way to create and collaborate in the world
  • CREATE AND PUBLISH POWERFUL MOBILE APPS NO CODING REQUIRED
  • Easy, Powerful Web Security.
  • The Bitium Difference: Security. Flexibility. Ease of Use.

 

Intelligence

  • Work smarter.
  • Smart shipping with built-in inventory management.

Superiority

  • The Best Way to Keep Up with Medical Research
  • The Most Efficient Way To Target And Connect With Your Ideal Customers
  • #1 rated Salesforce-native dialer in the AppExchange
  • The #1 Recruiting Software for Growing Companies
  • The #1 online and mobile fundraising platform.
  • Advanced inventory software for superior business growth.
  • SOFTWARE FOR LEADERS

Humanity

  • Become the company your customers love to order from
  • The simplest way to communicate with customers and employees
  • Expense Reporting Optimized for Real People
  • Content. Created by Consumers for Consumers.
  • Payroll and benefits that put people first.
  • Make your front desk delightful.

Money

  • PLAN YOUR PATH TO GROWTH OR EXIT
  • Turn your cold leads into sales opportunities
  • Quickly Turn Your Leads Into Revenue
  • Stop wasting time & money on expense reports
  • Close More Deals. Make More Sales.
  • Fundraising made simple.
  • Sell more and faster with ProsperWorks

Growth

  • PLAN YOUR PATH TO GROWTH OR EXIT
  • BUILD SCALABLE NEWSFEEDS & ACTIVITY STREAMS IN A FEW HOURS INSTEAD OF WEEKS
  • Grow Your Local Business
  • Sales CRM for small teams with big ambitions
  • Grow your business
  • Grow and keep your users
  • The #1 Recruiting Software for Growing Companies
  • Advanced inventory software for superior business growth.

Improvement

  • Better Messages for Web and Mobile Apps
  • Turn your errors into action
  • Better Social Starts HereBetter user onboarding
  • Reliable Data Capture for Better Business
  • Turn the people you know into the business results you need.
  • Improve User Onboarding
  • INNOVATION DEMANDS SECURITY

It’s possible to categorize every headline in 1 of 9 formulas

Headline formulas have been used by copywriters ever since they were popularized by John Caples in 1932. When it comes to SaaS landing pages, the techniques are no different. Every headline falls into 1 of 9 categories.

If you’re writing your own headline for a landing page, check out these formulas and examples for inspiration.

Alternatively, use our SaaS landing page headline generator. All you do is put in your software’s purpose, audience, and customer goal, and you get a list of 30 titles. These titles follow the formulas every SaaS headline I analyzed use. When you get the sheet, click ‘File’ and then ‘Make a copy’ to start editing in your own data.

Click here to get the title generator spreadsheet

[software] for [target]

  • Task Management Software for Teams
  • Transaction Management for the modern real estate professional.
  • Expense Reporting Optimized for Real People
  • Sales CRM for small teams with big ambitions
  • Reliable Data Capture for Better Business
  • Content. Created by Consumers for Consumers.
  • Incident Response Automation for DevOps
  • AD SERVING INFRASTRUCTURE FOR AWESOME COMPANIES
  • The #1 Recruiting Software for Growing Companies
  • Project tracking for distributed companies.
  • Chat & inbox for teams. One place to talk and stay up-to-date.
  • Advanced inventory software for superior business growth.
  • SOFTWARE FOR LEADERS

The [superlative] way to [goal]

  • The lightest possible way to do spend controls
  • The simplest way to communicate with customers and employees
  • The Fastest Way to Tackle Twitter as a Team
  • Welcome to the easiest way to create and collaborate in the world
  • The Best Way to Keep Up with Medical Research

[imperative][benefit]

  • Turn your cold leads into sales opportunities
  • Work smarter.
  • Build your digital business faster with mobile Backend as a Service.
  • Turn your errors into action
  • Quickly Turn Your Leads Into Revenue
  • Focus on the Moments that Matter
  • Grow Your Local Business
  • Create a database, as easily as a spreadsheet
  • Create expert budgets, forecasts, projections, & sales plans without the spreadsheets
  • Grow your business
  • MAKE REMOTE DESIGN WORK
  • Turn the people you know into the business results you need.
  • Put Your Drone To Work
  • Send Email That Converts
  • Grow and keep your users
  • Improve User Onboarding
  • Close More Deals. Make More Sales.
  • Run productive meetings.
  • Get More Leads. Drive Better Engagement.
  • Build, Publish & A/B Test Landing Pages Without I.T.
  • CREATE AND PUBLISH POWERFUL MOBILE APPS NO CODING REQUIRED
  • Get stuff done with Nitro.
  • Make your front desk delightful.
  • Know what your whole team is doing
  • Never create a part again.
  • Sell more and faster with ProsperWorks

Better [purpose]

  • Better user onboarding
  • Better Messages for Web and Mobile Apps

[software] that [benefit]

  • Payroll and benefits that put people first.
  • Send Email That Converts

[benefit]. [benefit]

  • Get More Leads. Drive Better Engagement.
  • Close more deals. Make more sales.
  • Great meetings. Great results.

[benefit] without [drawback]

  • CREATE AND PUBLISH POWERFUL MOBILE APPS NO CODING REQUIRED
  • Create expert budgets, forecasts, projections, & sales plans without the spreadsheets
  • BUILD SCALABLE NEWSFEEDS & ACTIVITY STREAMS IN A FEW HOURS INSTEAD OF WEEKS
  • Expense reports done for you, not by you.
  • Build, Publish & A/B Test Landing Pages Without I.T.

[question]

  • Do you need more customers?
  • Have an app idea? Make this real, with POP.

[purpose]

  • ECOMMERCE MARKETING PLATFORM
  • Bar Inventory in 15 min.

My final words on SaaS landing page headlines

At Process Street, we’re currently drafting new copy for our landing page, so I wrote this study because the research would have to be done anyway!

Here’s what it looks like right now:

Process Street SaaS Startup Landing Page

If you’re currently rewriting or testing copy on your landing page and have some split test results to share, let me know in the comments and I might feature the testing in my next piece on landing page copy.

Phew, this was a long’n. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

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Benjamin Brandall

Benjamin Brandall is a content marketer at Process Street, and runs Secret Cave on the side. Find him on Twitter here.


12 Comments

Good stuff. Deep and interesting. I find it odd that you’ve chosen to call all these pages, which are home pages, landing pages. It’s confusing. I think the way the term (which was never a good term to begin with) gets tossed around makes it such that it now means nothing. I’d be interested to hear your definition of landing page.

Hey Barry! Since a lot of marketing pushes users to the homepage, I feel like it’s both a homepage and a landing page. Although you do make a good point as to where the line is drawn.

Thanks so much for commenting!

Benjamin: That’s a lot of analysis – good work. I spend a lot of time creating copy for startups so it’s interesting to get a collective view about how it’s done. One of the challenges is avoiding the catch-phrases used by most startups, while still delivering clear and concise messaging. I’m going to keep this post top of mind when tackling new landing page projects.

Hey Mark,

That’s awesome that it helped you out even though you’re very experienced. Can I get some samples of copy you’ve worked on for future reference? 🙂 I like the idea of what you’re talking about.

Benjamin


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