Tip: be generous with the website opening line

Andrew Lancaster
Company Director
UniCurve
Blogger
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The customer journey often starts with the opening line on a website landing page. The opening line is your big chance to grab the reader's interest. Ideally, they'll quickly get the idea that they should be reading the rest of the page to see what you have to offer.

A smart strategy is to be generous with your opening line. Think of the customer first – before your start pushing the actual product.

A customer-first approach can establish credibility, and give them encouragement to keep reading. To show you what I mean, we'll see examples from higher education. They show what to do and what not to do at the beginning of a landing page.

Give readers what they want

Great initial content on a landing page gives the reader what they want. This follows the sales principle that the buyer’s need comes first. According to Angie Schottmuller, satisfying user interest is essential if you want to the user to complete an action.

Examples of missing reader intent

A landing page may struggle to generate a lead or sale if it starts with a message that's misaligned with what the reader is hoping to achieve. Here are three examples of what not to do. Each of the opening lines is from the postgraduate courses page of a university.

Curiosity is our compass and ambition our companion, as we push beyond the familiar to achieve the extraordinary.

The University continues to build its global reputation for being one of the world's most prestigious.

Your path to a brighter future should be as distinctive as you are. With our university, you can tailor coursework and research programs to forge a new path.

In all three cases, the reader has landed on a page about postgraduate degrees. They're probably interested in learning about the courses available. But that's missed by talking just about the university itself (first two examples) or the nebulous ‘distinctive path to a brighter future’ (third example).

Readers will turn away

If other readers are like me, they’ll switch off quickly and be inclined to ignore anything on the page that’s not factual. It’s hard to take the rest of the page seriously after lines like that. Each opening is giving the message that we're not genuinely interested in helping you as an intelligent reader.

The opening line should inform

On the other hand, here are a couple of more genuine approaches.

Take your career to the next level—or in a new direction. A postgraduate degree from here can help you achieve your career goals and reach your full potential.

We have a wide selection of postgraduate courses that will help boost your skills, further your qualifications and enhance your career opportunities.

The more genuine opening lines mention the page topic, which gives the reader useful information. Without going over the top, they also mention what the course provider has to offer.

Just help your future customer

You might want to go further though. How about just helping the reader? You could do worse than inform readers with short opening statements like this.

Looking for a fantastic postgraduate course? You’ve come to right place. Here’s a guide to the university’s graduate programs, organised by study area.

You have many options for getting a marketing degree online. But you only want to know about the best courses, right? That’s why we show just the top marketing degrees here.

Remember, people like to read to learn and be informed. They generally don’t want the hard sell. So, don’t start by putting them off. If you help them achieve their browsing goal, you may have a more engaged customer—whose more receptive to buying what you’re selling.

Landing page health check

Have you visited your landing pages lately? Are readers helping by your opening statements? Maybe you should check next time you do a site review.

You can even go as far as doing micro targeting. If you know exactly who your future customers are, you can write for them specifically. After all, they're the people on which your business depends.

About Andrew Lancaster

Dr Andrew Lancaster, Director of UniCurve.com.

ANDREW LANCASTER is the founder and director of UniCurve.com. He believes in intuition backed by science for getting optimal customer reactions. UniCurve publishes popular information sites for university and college students.

Try to understand their experience. And always test to see if your assumptions are working.

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