Optimise Your Website Copy With Message Mining

The importance of putting oneself in the shoes of the customer — as a marketing or sales professional — to understand the trials and tribulations that drive their purchasing decisions is perfectly-well understood. Yet, it’s fascinating how many assumptions are made when it comes to the assembly of copy for value propositions, product pages, landing pages, and anywhere persuasive language is being implemented.

“I’m a word-weaving wizard; let me take a look at what you got and then I’ll work my magic and show you how it should be.”

Sure, there are best practices you can adhere to that will get you partway there. But no matter how almighty you consider yourself as a copywriter, you are almost guaranteed to fall short without consumer insights.

Brands are doing too little to either speak to their target customers or at least find out what they are saying elsewhere online.

Both of these things are very attainable. In 2021, there is an abundance of networks, communities, and websites where consumers leave feedback and reviews on products and services. If your own product is too niche or too young to have garnered chatter online, then there are almost certainly alternatives in the same product category that already have. For those that do have a customer base, invaluable insights await you if you follow some thoughtful and tactful prompting of participation.

This is where we take up the pickaxe and get stuck into message mining.

CXL Institute provides an immensely-thorough breakdown of what great message mining is about, and how to effectively and analytically produce copy that resonates with your ideal customer base. delivered by the zealous conversion expert Momoko Price. This information is inspired by her teachings.

Digging for nuggets of information, near and far from home

Now, it’d be fantastic if we could convince every person on earth that our product is the best thing since sliced bread and that they should pay for it. But this isn’t any sort of reality we live in. There are very specific kinds of people that need and would pay for our products (and you will know exactly who those people are if you’ve done you’ve correctly defined your buyer personas), and we’re going to use a few tricks to track down and ‘mine’ the hints they are giving that will help us build out clear, compelling copy.

You’ll know the nuggets when you see them: they’ll stick out in the dirt. You know what we do with them?

We swipe them.

Literally, we steal them. They are the ore that we will refine into powerful copy destined to be:

  • relevant headlines;
  • authentic lead paragraphs and hooks;
  • market-specific terminology & slang;
  • emotionally-engaging purchase prompts; and
  • laser-accurate objections.

There are two places we’ll look for them: close to home (direct sources like existing customers and website visitors) and far from home (elsewhere out on the world wide web).

Far from home: message mining from indirect sources

Now, we scour. There’s a lot of “dirt” that will have to be sifted through. But if we look in the right places, we’re going to strike gold sooner rather than later.

Our first port of call is the rest of the internet that isn’t our website. We want to go to the most obvious places where someone would leave their opinion about our product or services. Don’t have an established product? No worries, lean on the feedback given about competitor brands.

The following steps will help us effectively track down our audience:

1. Make a list of keywords

Your own brand/product name, competitor brand names, product category/type name

2. Google “[keyword] reviews/comments/forum/questions/complaints”

This is where the valuable opinions will really be weeded out across different miscellaneous places online.

3. Check popular review sites

Depending on the industry or product category, our motherlode will appear in different places. These are great places to start:

4. Collect into spreadsheets

Now, one-by-one we pick out those nuggets and put them into a spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be too organised just yet; we only want to sort it by a few properties at first:

  • What exactly did the customer/prospect say?
  • What is the main topic of this message?
  • What aspect of the conversion formula is being addressed in this comment?
  • What kind of message is this? (establish categories)
  • Where can this feedback be found?

5. Categorise & rank

Determine, based on prevalence, repetition, and severity, the importance of each message that you’ve mined.

Close to home: message mining from direct sources

If you already have customers converting through your website, you probably have a sufficient sample size to work with to start asking for customer feedback. This will include not just those that have converted to paying customers; you also have a chance to try to grab those that are just popping in for a visit before they head out the door (ie. site visitors).

This is message mining in our backyard and is without a doubt the preferred way to source reliable customer messaging. After all, these guys have first-hand experience with your product and/or your digital shopfront.

Keep in mind that site visitors and existing customers will both:

  • Have something different to say about their experience
  • Should be exposed to different messaging in your copy

This is because the two sources have very different levels of product awareness.

As such, we produce two different surveys to try and mine from them the type of messaging that will be most relevant to them when it comes to crafting our copy later on.

Survey Site Visitors

These guys haven’t converted on your site. Why not?

The site visitor survey should be devised to establish:

  • Pain points
  • Purchase prompts
  • Anxieties

Survey existing customers

Your existing customers have high-level awareness of the product. They have already made the decision to exchange their money for it. From these guys, we want to mine:

  • Unique value & benefits
  • Their “Aha” moment
  • Desirable outcomes

Designing the surveys — the invitation copy

We are asking these people for a massive favour by requesting their feedback, whether that feedback is on their website experience or product user experience. As such, we should be understanding and persuasive in our prompts to provide it.

When inviting them to participate — whether by email (for existing customers) or pop-up (website visitors) do not use the words like “survey” and “feedback”. Instead, take a slightly softer approach, and opt for words like “input” and “thoughts”. Sign off with real personal details, not generic.

Be tactful with your timing of offering the invitation (eg. don’t throw it in their face as soon as they land on the page). Be sure to explain why it is that you’re conducting the survey, and always be respectful of the user’s time.

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