“Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.” – Shirley Polykoff
Let’s think about that quote for a second. Too often, when we write copy for our products or services, we write to sell.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t sell. The point is we write our copy from the point of view of the business, rather than the customer. When choosing between which word to use, we pick the one we think will sell more, rather than the one that sounds more natural to the customer.
Your copy is really just a conversation with the customer. It understands what the customer wants, it presents them with solutions, it answers their objections, and then, only then, does it make the sale and converts them.
In this post we go back to the fundamentals and talk about 5 tips to help you improve your web copy and convert more readers into customers.
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Understand Your Customer
“A copywriter should have an understanding of people, an insight into them, a sympathy toward them.” – George Gribbin
Regardless of what you sell, the first and most important thing you need to do is understand your customer. What are they looking for? What are their pains and needs?
Once you understand them, you can write for them. When they read through your copy and see that you’ve got the solutions to their problems, they are more likely to convert.
Create a persona
A customer persona will give you a good idea of what to write in your copy. Talk to existing customers and find out what they like about your product and how it has helped them. If you don’t have many existing customers, use a feedback tool like Qualaroo on your site to find out what information they need.
With a solid persona, you’ll have an understanding of your customers’ challenges and problems. Use that information to write copy that specifically addresses those problems and convinces customers that you have the solution.
Now, just because you have the solution doesn’t mean your visitors will flip out their wallets and throw money at you. We have a natural aversion to loss, so there will always be last-minute objections to purchasing something. Your copy needs to pre-empt these objections.
Take a look at the Crazy Egg homepage. Heat tracking and scroll mapping sounds like complicated technology, so naturally potential customers will wonder if it’s going to be expensive or tough to set up. Crazy Egg addresses these two objections right up front.
Speak their language
Formal or casual? Funny or serious? There’s no right or wrong tone to use when writing copy. Simply put, you want to use language that your customers use.
Dollar Shave Club is famous for using language with lots of humor and some profanity. They use words like “sexy” and “awesome.” It works for them because that’s the type of customer they are going for.
Harry’s, on the other hand, sounds more sober and gentlemanly. They use words like “ergonomic” and “comfortable.” They’re obviously going for a different type of customer.
Whatever happens, don’t ever use the word “bae.” Just don’t.
Focus on Benefits, not features
“Consumers do not buy products. They buy product benefits.” – David Ogilvy
That’s not to say features don’t matter. Of course, customers want to know what your product can do, but they care more about what it can do for them.
Let’s go back to understanding customers. They’re on your site because they have a problem. They want to know how your product can solve that problem. The features don’t tell them that but the benefits do.
Unbounce is a great example of this. In days past, when marketers wanted to build landing pages, they had to rely on developers to help them. The big problem here is that it was time consuming and a drain on resources.
That’s why, on Unbounce’s homepage, you see headlines like “Build landing pages in hours, not weeks.” Yes, they’ve got a ton of features, like drag and drop interfaces, form builders, and conversion reports, but none of that matters if it’s still complicated for marketers to use. After Unbounce grabs your attention with benefits that solve your problems, they explain how with features.
Lead with benefits, and use features as your supporting cast.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
There’s no point writing copy if no one’s going to read it. We don’t have large attention spans as it is, and the distractions of the Internet don’t make things any better. You want to try to get your point across as fast as possible.
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By breaking up your copy with headers and sub-headers, you make it easier for readers to quickly scan through. Make the headers self-explanatory, and use them to highlight your most powerful benefits, like in the Unbounce example. For those who want to read more, add supporting copy below each header.
Use short words and sentences
With copy, you really just want to keep it simple. You’re not trying to win literary awards here. There’s no need to use complicated words and long, winding paragraphs to explain complex concepts. That’s more likely to drive visitors away than minor grammatical errors.
Use bullet points
When people see a wall of text online, their eyes glaze over it. Not only does it look longer to read, it also hurts the eyes to read large blocks of text on a computer screen.
Instead, if you’ve got a large number of points to make, break them out into bullet points. As with headers, this makes your copy more readable and less daunting to read. Crazy Egg has a section on their homepage where they run through the salient points with bullets.
Don’t ignore design
“I don’t have a quote for this section.” – Sid 😉
Presentation matters as much as the copy itself, and good design aids the reader in finding, and consuming, and understanding, the important parts.
Fonts go a long way in making your copy readable. Small type that looks squished together turns readers away as much as a wall of text, even if you’re using bullet points. Use larger type, readable colors, bolding and italics for important words, and enough line space to give your copy a clean look.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s true. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Of course, there are some concepts that are easier to explain via text than with visuals, which is why you need to use them together.
Your visuals should augment what you’re saying in your copy. Use product images or graphics to support the benefits, features and functionality you’re highlighting. See how Kissmetrics does it on their features page.
Get visitors to take action
“Believe me; nothing works as well on the web as deadlines.” – Clayton Makepeace
You’ve got your readers hooked with excellent copy. What’s next? This is the right time to get them to take action and convert. Without a CTA, there’s no point to this whole exercise.
Go back to the Kissmetrics example in the previous section. At the end of every section, there’s a CTA prompting readers to start a free trial. Notice, however, that the copy on the CTA doesn’t say “Start a free trial.” Instead, it merely prompts the reader to keep going, and take them to the next step in the funnel.
In many cases, adding a deadline or a sense of urgency in your CTAs can make a big difference. If your copy has done its job, why not go for the close? Don’t just ask visitors to take action, ask them to take it now, lest they lose the opportunity to experience your product!
Redo your copy
Quickly read through your current copy as a customer would. Better yet, get a customer to do it in front of you. Does it sound like a conversation?
If not, it might be time to give your copy a makeover. Go back to the fundamentals, start by truly understanding your customers, and follow the rest of the tips in this post to write more effective copy.
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sid.