copywriting taps into psychology and storytelling to get potential buyers to
take an action. In today’s ecommerce environment, much of that copywriting is
done online. Consumers in both B2B and B2C are researching and purchasing
online. So, traditional conversion copywriting strategies used for print must
be reimaged and applied in these environments, too.
copywriting is more than a catchy title or a vivid description, it involves
writing in a way that persuades and captures attention, and ultimately gets
someone to make the decision to take action. For digital engagements, that
might be clicking a button, downloading a piece of content, signing up for an
event, or making an online purchase.
Let’s take a deeper look at conversion copywriting. Specifically, the process, where it fits in the marketing strategy, and some important tactics for putting it into practice.
Conversion Copywriting vs. SEO Copywriting
When we think about
digital marketing and writing for the web, the focus is usually on SEO. Conversion
copywriting and SEO copywriting are related, but their goals are different.
The intention of SEO
copywriting is for relevant web pages to rank on the first page of search
engines. Once buyers land on that page, however, it’s the conversion
copywriting that takes over. Conversion copywriting is meant to keep them on
the page and encourage them to take an action through your authentic and
Where to Incorporate
Conversion copywriting plays better in certain stages of the marketing funnel than others. In the awareness stage at the top of the funnel your potential buyer is just starting to learn, so providing education and insight is the ultimate end goal. Conversion copywriting strategies won’t be as relevant in this stage. Once the lead gets to the Consideration and Conversion stages, though, that conversion copywriting is back in action!
The concept of
conversion copywriting can be broken down into three overarching segments:
Most every expert on
conversion copywriting will argue that extensive user research must happen
prior to writing any copy. This process involves gathering feedback via methods
like interviews and surveys to better understand user behaviors and needs.
The idea is that, by
gathering data and developing workable hypotheses, you can fine tune your
messaging and create more impactful outcomes—makes sense. However, the extent
of necessary research is still up for debate by many.
Some argue that user
research is extremely tedious and can be expensive. It’s also argued that it
does not always help the marketer come up with results that are wholly
accurate. Bias can come into play when users are answering survey questions. If
the customer is unsure how to verbalize their desires, those unarticulated
needs never come to light.
conversion copywriting requires weeks of research. If you have the time,
budget, and will to put in that research, go for it! If, however, you’re in
more of a rush and willing to experiment, alternatives to user research
- A/B testing off your gut instinct and known
- Gathering institutional knowledge on
the product or service from the CEO or founder
- Studying competitor sites and how
they’re marketing similar solutions
- Reading through competitor reviews to
look for common themes in customer complaints
Lots of blogs talk
about the importance of conversion copywriting, but they don’t address how
exactly you’re supposed to do it. There are many aspects of conversion
copywriting to consider, such as writing in active voice. Here are a few of the
most useful strategies to start applying.
Highlight benefits over features.
When you list
features, you tell the buyer what something is but not why they should care. For
example, if your copy states the heat on a hair straightener is adjustable from
290 to 410 degrees, that’s great, but what’s the benefit to the user? What is
it about that temperature range that makes it ideal for straightening and
Sell on emotion and justify with logic.
We all think we’re pretty logical people, and we are to some extent. But underneath, we are all motivated by emotional and psychological factors that we may not even recognize. Conversion copywriting taps into those triggers (in an ethical way) to motivate customers to buy.
Joe Sugarman speaks about psychological triggers in his famous AdWeek Copywriting Handbook. The book is now over a decade old, but the principles still hold true today. There are 24 triggers that Sugarman cites as particularly useful for conversions. For example, adding specificity to a statement makes it more powerful. Instead of saying “doctors everywhere recommend vitamin C for a cold” you strengthen your argument by stating that “96% of doctors in the U.S. recommend vitamin C for a cold.” Once the emotion captures the buyer’s attention, the logic comes as a natural counterpart.
Address objections upfront.
When we redid our
website, I put an FAQ section on each of our services pages. Why? Because part
of effective conversion copywriting is anticipating your prospect’s questions
and answering them upfront to avoid any obstacles to a sale. Why do I need this
service? How much does this cost? How long will it take to complete this
project? Keep some of the most common buyer objections and solutions in your
back pocket as well. For example, if a buyer’s objection is that they don’t
have time, your copy would address that it only takes 5 minutes. If a buyer’s
objection is that it won’t work for them, your copy would address that the
solution has worked for many people just like them and that it comes with a
guarantee. Try to think strategically about all objections your potential
customers might make as you write for conversion copywriting.
Explain every product
feature with as much detail as humanly possible. Even details you may consider
unimportant are important to someone. What color is it? What size is it? What
are the dimensions? What materials is it made from, or ingredients does it
contain? Where was it made? What does it feel like? Smell like? This not only
gives your potential buyer a complete understanding of the product or service,
but it also ties back to point #3 about addressing objections upfront. If
there’s a specific question on the dimensions of the product, the buyer doesn’t
even have to reach out to ask. The information is presented for them upfront
without a hassle so they can complete their buyer’s journey sooner.
Keep it short.
Be as concise as
possible. Keep paragraphs between 3-5 sentences, break apart text with
subheadings, use white space to your advantage, and incorporate bullet points,
lists, and simple sentences wherever possible.
The last phase of
conversion copywriting is experimentation. Once you’ve researched (however in
depth that research may have been) and used strong conversion copywriting
principles to write your content, it’s time to put what you’ve created out into
A/B testing can be
used to assess how changing various elements of your copy will affect its
conversion—a different headline, new CTAs, etc. Once you understand which
variation works best, you can optimize the conversion copy and continue
tweaking to your satisfaction.
Writing for the web
is a skill all marketers must perfect. Conversion copywriting strategies make
that copy more effective by using proven tactics to incline a reader towards an
action. Use the insights from this post to start viewing your writing through
the lens of conversion copywriting and applying the strategies for more
effective marketing and sales.