Writing Words That Sell: Conversion Copywriting
A web page’s design needs to ensnare a visitor, however, it’s the copy that gets the conversion over the line. This order makes sense when you consider that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text.
Design charms, but copy seals the deal.
Great copy is achieved by undertaking a reliable, iterative process hinged on the experience of the user. CXL Institute breaks this process broken down into 6 steps:
Obvious? Probably. But it can never be repeated enough: know who your customer is. This will be, by far, the most time-consuming step of producing great copy. What actually matters to your customer? What for, how, and why do people buy this product? What are the
This is really fundamental, dirty marketing work, and any copywriter worth their salt understands the importance of this grind out the gates and is committed to putting themselves into all the shoes of their target buyers.
Want to know a fantastic way of doing this? Talk to ideal customers (existing customers are even better). A dozen or two should be a sufficient sample size to really dig your teeth into. Gain access to them, sit them down for a coffee (with all the 2021-appropriate safety measures in place) or jump on a call, and ask them who they are:
· What do you do?
· What does this product help you do?
· Why did you/would you choose this product?
· What questions are still left unanswered?
Take note of the phrasing and that they use to construct their answers, the weave exactly that into your copy. Voilà, you’ve simulated a bona fide customer profile.
The aim is to maximise the relatability of your brand, speaking directly to the conversation already happening in their mind, and make them feel comfortable in your cosy corner of the internet.
Let’s keep in mind a cornerstone of UX design and conversion optimisation: familiarity. We’re not here to reinvent the wheel, we’re here to make the user’s experience as smooth as possible to facilitate desired action, and that is achieved by implementing design features that meet the visitor’s expectations of a website. On a homepage, these guideposts include a value proposition above the fold, made up of a header, sub-header, and bullet points or a paragraph. These elements can and should be tested for optimisation, but this framework is almost universally standard.
A product page fits into another type of framework, wherein we outline everything the visitor to know to convert:
- Product name
- Value proposition
- Product features and benefits (specific and clear overview of what the product does)
- Problem –> Solution description
- List of everything in the product
- Technical information: what do you get and how does it work?
- Objection handling. Make a list of all possible FUDs (fears, uncertainties, doubts) and address them.
- Bonuses (what you get on top of the offer).
- Money-back guarantee (link to return policy).
- Call to action.
- Expectation setting: what happens after you buy?
Again: all the information necessary for the visitor to convert should exist on one page.
3. Draft copy
If there’s a rule that lays the foundation for all conversion copywriting, it is the following:
Keep. It. Simple. (Go on; throw the mnemonical “Stupid” in there, too).
When getting the first words down onto the page — or at any stage of writing, for that matter — keep this rule handy.
Make it about them, especially by employing the second-person register in your copy.
A painfully common error is the use of superlatives. I get it, they’re just too tempting: “most”, “best”, “biggest”, “wildest”. Even if it were actually true, people won’t believe it — it's too ambiguous. Know how you can combat ambiguity? Specificity. “X award-winning”, “y-certified”. You get it. Show the proof.
4. Conversion Boost
There are certain tweaks that you can make as a conversion optimiser to give a little boost to the percentage of readers that are taking desired action on-page. Try:
· Optimise for clarity — is it obvious what you’re selling?
· Optimise for info – don’t leave any questions left unanswered. In fact, this should literally make your FAQ page redundant; you can leave one off the site map if you can nail your copy.
· Persuasion boost – apply a context-specific technique, like placing the conclusion in the beginning, for example.
5. Revise & Rearrange
By this stage, you will be succumbing to the infamous over-immersion in a creative progress that obscures all perspective and objectivity. It’s time for a rest; shut down the computer, put the pen down, and undertake a leisure activity. Walk the dog, have a drink, do some yoga, go BASE jumping; whatever tickles your fancy and preferably doesn’t involve you writing words. You’ll need those eyeballs to be as fresh as they can get for when you dive back in the next day.
And, hopefully, there will be even fresher sets of eyes to scan over the copy you’ve produced. Try to get two or three more people (preferably ideal customers and/or knowledgeable copywriters) and, by their side, take a look at what you’ve got. Together, check for spelling mistakes, readability, formatting, etc. You want to make sure you’ve got persuasive copy on your hands, and have it pass a VCC Test:
Value: what’s in it for the user?
Clarity: eliminate confusion by using simple and concise language (see that? There it is again, the magic “s” word).
Credibility: is it believable? Nuke any loitering superlatives here.
Having people working over your shoulders will also grant you a whole new perspective you didn’t think you’d find.
And now, it’s ready to go live for the ultimate stage of any good conversion rate optimisation procedure…
In fantastically democratic CRO fashion, we release our work into the void and let the people decide on its value (remember: the best copy is the copy that makes money).
You may be surprised with the results; pleasantly or otherwise. But, this is our purpose after all as conversion optimisers: produce, publish, compile results, take ideas to the drawing board, present hypotheses for these ideas, run tests against them…and rinse and repeat.