7 actionable ways to write copy that converts

Posted by Sam Holzman on 21 Jan, 2019
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Writing web copy that converts prospects into paying customers takes particular skill. Read on for our top tips to crafting copy that will boost your conversion rates.

Copy that converts.

All marketers must possess some degree of writing proficiency, whether they’re writing blog posts, interacting with social media users, or simply drafting emails. But, writing web copy that converts prospects into paying customers is an entirely different task.

Imagine a prospect researching two similar products. The two competing offers are all but identical. Both products fit the person’s needs and each landing page provides the same offer- a one-month free trial. So, which page will convince the visitor to fill out a form? Almost always, the answer is the page with the more compelling copy.

Your copy serves as the bridge between the prospect and your business. Great copy entices readers to take the next step, while bad copy runs the risk of losing the person’s business entirely.

If you want to fine-tune your marketing copy and boost conversion rates, keep reading. We’ve put together our top tips to write engaging copy that is sure to motivate your readers to take the next step towards working with your business.  

1.   Speak the customer’s language

The most polished, strongly-written copy means nothing if you don’t speak the same language as your target customers. If your tone, word choice, and emphasis confuse or alienate the customer, you’ll lose them right away.

A strong understanding of how your customers talk—and how they want marketers to talk to them—is a prerequisite to write effective copy. For this reason, buyer personas are an essential tool for copywriters. Buyer personas are detailed profiles of your target customers built using a combination of data, anecdotal observation and market research.

Buyer personas offer a wealth of insights for copywriters. They tell you what information your buyers care most about, how they want marketers to engage with them, and more granular details about their preferred tone and word choices when referring to certain products. Eliminate the corporate jargon and marketing buzzwords, and write the way your customers want to be spoken to.

2. Craft an engaging headline

Some copywriters claim to write 25 to 30 potential headlines before deciding which one to use. But, why does headline creation require such an effort? The answer is simple— your headline may be the only thing a potential customer reads. In fact, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

Your headline may make up a small part of a web page— but you must ensure each and every word serves a purpose and engages the reader. Here are a few tips to writing headlines that capture attention and inspire action:

  • Promise to offer value: The most common two-word phrase that starts B2B headlines is “How to”. Why? Because this phrase tells the reader that they’ll learn actionable information by viewing your page. The words that follow “How to…” should speak to your customers’ most pressing need. For example, “How to Find the Perfect Candidates—Before Your Competitors Do.”
  • Incite curiosity: Your headline should be specific but leave enough mystery that the reader feels compelled to continue. For this reason, headlines formatted as questions perform particularly well.  For example: “Do you want to generate more web traffic?”
  • Be specific: Avoid gimmicky, clickbait headlines, no matter how enticing they may seem. Headlines like, “The Marketing Software You Need to Get Rich Fast!” are vague, untrustworthy, and tell the reader nothing specific about your offer. Your headline should be clear enough that the reader knows what they’re about to see. For example:  “Increase Your Email Marketing ROI by 30%, Guaranteed.”

There are hundreds of formulas marketing professionals use to write strong headlines, each boasting their own set of copywriters who swear by them. This makes it difficult to know which tactics will and won’t resonate with your prospects. We recommend you test multiple versions of your headlines as even the most minor change can impact conversions.

3. Make it scannable

Here’s the cold, hard truth about writing web copy. No matter how great it is, much of it will go unread. Studies show that on average, viewers will only read 20% of the content on a web page. Now, this doesn’t mean you should give up on making every sentence perfect. Rather, you should take measures to ensure your most important points don’t get skimmed over. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Use subheadings: Break up your text with several subheadings and pull-quotes, so those who skim the page can still take in the most valuable information. Draw attention to your most important or hard-hitting points, such as a powerful benefit of your product, an impressive statistic, or a captivating quote from a customer testimonial.
  • Include bulleted lists: Readers often skim past large blocks of text, so consider breaking up paragraphs into more digestible bulleted lists. Bullet points are useful when you want to convey a number of key points quickly— such as the top five benefits of using your product.
  • Vary paragraph length: We recommend you keep paragraphs short and sweet, no longer than 3-4 sentences. But, if you do use a longer paragraph, follow it with a short, impactful one-sentence paragraph. This variance in structure will catch the reader’s attention and re-establish any focus they may have lost.

Remember, optimizing website copy isn’t just about the words you use. It’s also about how visually appealing the reader finds your text. Aside from basic design elements and images, formatting your copy correctly can go a long way toward improving page conversions.

4. Discuss benefits, not features

Your customers don’t care about what your products can do. If that sounds harsh, hear us out— people don’t want to hear about a product’s features and capabilities. They want to hear what the product can do for them. In other words, what are its benefits?

For example— a video editing software’s cloud storage and mobile sharing capabilities are features. The customer’s ability to capture footage on the go and instantly access it on other devices is a benefit.   

Benefits are more impactful than features because they elicit an emotional response from the reader. The reader will visualize the tangible impact the product will have on their lives, and thus they’ll feel more connected to the value it provides. We aren’t saying you should leave out all talk of product features, but limit yourself to the essentials. Save the smaller details for later— you want to inspire customers to take action, not educate them on the many intricacies of your product.

5. Provide evidence

Marketers are trained to write to elicit emotional responses, and while this is undoubtedly important, be sure to back up your claims with evidence. Use statistics, testimonials, or case studies to add credibility to your offer. Customer testimonials are particularly effective, as readers trust the word of their peers more than they trust the word of a marketer who wants to sell them something.

6. Include a compelling call-to-action

You may think your call-to-action copy won’t make a big difference— after all, the customer has likely made up their mind before they reach the CTA. But, studies have shown otherwise. For example, one company simply changed their CTA from “Order Information and Prices” to “Get information and prices” and boosted conversions by almost 15%.

There are so many variables to consider when it comes to your CTA, from its placement on the page to its design and color scheme. But, in terms of CTA copy, follow these tips to increase conversion rates:

  • Use action verbs: Avoid the over-used, bland words like “order,” “submit,” and “enter”. Instead, use more striking verbs like “get,” “download,” and “try”. These words are more aligned with how your customers actually speak, which makes them more effective at triggering a response.
  • Create urgency: You want the reader to convert now— not bookmark your page, browse other sites and eventually forget about your offer. Include words like “now,” “today,” “exclusive,” and “for a limited time,”  to instill a sense of urgency in the reader.
  • Minimize risk: Customers often hesitate just before the point of conversion— because they feel they’re taking a risk that can result in lost time and money if it goes wrong. Use your CTA to dispel these lingering reservations. For example: “Get your free trial today! No credit card required.” 

Much like your headlines, a minor change to your CTA can have a big impact. So, test different versions of your CTA frequently and compare conversion rates to identify what tactics work best.

7. A/B test your copy

We’ve already told you to test different headlines and CTAs. But, don’t stop there— you should also test many different variables in your body or page copy to understand what tactics promote higher conversions.

For example, what happens when you change the order of the benefits you list? Or use a customer testimonial instead of a statistic? Or use three subsections instead of two? There’s no shortage of tests you can run to improve your copy. Just be sure to test only one variable at a time. That way, you know exactly which elements are affecting conversions.

Final thoughts

An awesome product or compelling offer isn’t enough to  drive conversions alone. Your success also depends on the words you use to inform, engage, and inspire readers to take action. But, don’t be intimidated or question your ability to write great copy. Follow the tips we discussed today, and you can instantly improve your copy and boost conversions. Remember, no writer’s copy is perfect— there's always room for improvement when even the smallest change can make a big difference.

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