Conversion problems? It might be your copy.
As any veteran salesperson will tell you there are a number of factors that go into closing a deal. It’s about legwork, the right sales funnel environment, and of course, the four P’s – product, place, promotion, and price.
And when it comes to online conversions, there’s the same wide range of factors. Is your product or service right for the audience? Is your price right? Has the prospect been sufficiently guided through your funnel so when you ask, you get the yes?
All of these things are important, but in this article we’re focusing on a core underlying factor – your copy.
We’ll look at seven ways you can tweak your copy to improve your site's performance.
1. Properly explain your product or service
If you're not converting as high as you should be, it might be because your visitors are confused. And confused people don’t do anything.
Basically, the cognitive effort to make any decision becomes too high for the benefit we might get and we end up doing nothing. That’s why we generally put off things like buying insurance or moving to a new bank.
Complexity leads to indecision.
This is doubly problematic because as soon as we know something, we tend to assume that everyone else knows that something as well. And the closer you are to a product, the easier this is to do.
For example, if you’re a startup and you live and breathe what you do, then it might be hard to explain it in really simple terms to someone who isn’t as involved.
Technical products often suffer as well, because the explainers use jargon without even realizing it.
Fortunately, your copywriting is a good opportunity for you to clear this up. You need to focus on two things:
- The core thing that your product is
- The core benefit that your customers get
For example, imagine you were writing something for QuickBooks.
What’s their core thing that they do? They’re accounting software. That is what they do. They do other stuff as well, but that’s the broad category they fall into. Help your customers categorize your product accurately in their brains (even if your product is absolutely out-of-this-world revolutionary).
Second, what’s the core benefit? QuickBooks makes accounting easy for non-accountants.
Of course there are more nuanced answers, features, and specifics. But those two things form the core of QuickBooks.
If you’re not converting, re-evaluate your copywriting. Send someone to your landing page and see if they can answer those two questions. If not, you might have some editing ahead of you.
2. Highlight the real benefits of your product or service
This relates a little to the first one, but is worth refocusing on. The problem is that false benefits muddy the waters. This leads to either customers who are disinterested, or customers who don’t understand. First, we’ll distinguish between real and false benefits, then explain what to do about them.
False benefits are really features of your product that are masquerading as benefits to your customers, but are really not anything anyone would want. Here’s an example.
Let’s say you’re hawking a new mug that doesn’t burn your hand but keeps your coffee warm.
Here’s a false benefit: Reinforced magical ceramic never gets too hot!
That’s not a benefit. The actual benefit is: Never burn your hand again and still get a steaming cup of joe!
The thing is, as producers we tend to focus on the features of a product because we intuitively know the benefits. But like keeping things simple, we need to slow it down and explain to customers precisely why our product helps them.
So to get to the root of the benefit that’s going to drive conversions, here’s what you do:
- List all your features. In our case, it’s the magical ceramic the mug is made out of.
- Write down why you have that feature. So for us, it’s to stop people burning their hands but still keep whatever’s inside the mug hot.
- Connect the feature and the reason you included it with what the customer wants. In this case, burnt hands suck, but hot coffee is nice.
- Connect the desire and your product to the core emotional driver. Pain is terrible, and mornings are hard. Here’s a way to make them easier.
All this process does is force you to really think about what’s in it for your customer.
Because that’s what the customer is going to care about. Not how hard it is to make the magical ceramic material, or even that it’s made out of a magic ceramic material. But rather that it’s going to make their morning just a little easier.
If you can explain to customers quickly with your copywriting how they’re going to benefit from your product, they’re a lot more likely to convert.
3. Tell your customer what to do
If you rely on them to guess, then you’re building confusion, which we’ve covered is bad. You need to finish with a clear directive. ‘Click here’, ‘Buy now’, ‘Add to cart’ – there are lots of options out there. But you need to ensure that your customers know what they’re supposed to be doing.
So you need a clear CTA or equivalent whenever you write something. And you want your CTAs to follow a couple easy principles.
First, your reader needs to know what’s going to happen when they do whatever it is that you’re asking. If you have a CTA that says ‘add to cart’ then you need to make it clear that the item is going to be added to their cart. If you have a CTA that says ‘start free trial’ then they need to know what that actually means.
Second, a CTA doesn’t stand alone. It’s the result of someone reading all the way through and feeling that they’ve reached the point where they’re ready to do what you want. All of your copy should be gently nudging them to conversion with little mini-CTAs along the way.
Third, CTAs are a request. You’re asking your customer to do something. So they need to understand what they’re getting out of it. For example, if they’re downloading a free ebook, then you should have articulated exactly why they’re going to love that free ebook.
4. Test All Your Copy
It's easy for copy to be pigeonholed as either:
- Too artistic to be tested and analysed or
- Not important enough to be tested and analysed.
Both of these perspectives are wrong. When you read something that really resonates with you, it probably wasn’t an accident – it resonates because that company worked hard to end up with that copy.
A great place to start with testing is email marketing.
Send a headline to half your audience, and send another headline to the other half. Many email marketing programs have functionality to enable this and then track the results. If one has a higher open rate, take that into account and use it next time.
This is called A/B Testing. Apply the same logic to your website for copy that converts better than your copy now.
5. Spend Time On Headlines
Everyone knows Buzzfeed, lifehacker, and other viral headline sites. How do they write headline that give you an animalistic craving to click? HOW?
Well, they actually write about 10 and pick the best one. Often, different people will write them.
You can take this strategy to start writing your own great headlines for your whitepapers, blog, or other content you’re churning out. And it might seem time consuming, but a headline should take roughly half the time of writing the article to craft. Use that time to do research on good headlines, browse for headlines that you really like and the write 10 or so headlines for your article.
If you’re balking at spending 10 minutes per word, consider that if you don’t write an engaging headline, no one will read your content anyways.
6. Make It Snappy
Say what you need to say, right away, and nothing more. Be concise – because why write copy on one's going to read?
7. Have it Proofread
Proofreading is one of the most overlooked elements of producing great content.
There are few things that will hurt your professional credibility more than a glaring typo on your corporate website. Have a professional proofreader go through your site or piece of content before publishing it, and save yourself any embarrassment (or lost revenue) that could result from a simple mistake.
- Make your writing simple. It’s not that your readers are stupid – it’s that they’re not going to dedicate time to figuring out what you’re talking about. Say what you do, say how it helps them, and leave it. Confused readers are not converters.
- Link your products' true benefits to the desire or problem that your customer has. Your reader doesn’t care how amazing your product is. They care how it’s going to help them.
- Tell your customer to do what you want in a clear, simple, and strong CTA.
- Test your copy and spend time on headlines, writing so that every word counts
- Have your content proofread to ensure your copy is easy to consume, easy to read, functional, and useful – all the things users want from an experience.
This is all a lot of work, but the result is copy and content that compels users to engage with your brand, and will in turn drive up your sales and help you.
You do those things in your copywriting, and you’re going to start converting like a champion.