Take your first steps to learn the most critical skill to sell online
Week3 of my training with CXL on Conversion Rate Optimization deals with one of the most critical skills in selling online — Copywriting.
In fact, it is the most critical skill, bar none, to sell anything online. The key thing to understand here is that not copywriting for sales is not the same as just good quality writing. While the latter is meant to inform or entertain the reader, it normally isn’t enough to sell. The text that you have on your site should be able to entice people into taking action and so need to tick a lot more boxes than just good language and grammar.
Though it may seem to be a daunting task, it is quite simple if you follow the right process in creating your sales copy. Here goes the time-tested process of creating a great copy.
Research: Without proper research of the topic that you are writing about, invariably you end up with content that is neither convincing nor credible which defeats the whole purpose. The research needs to be about the product, the competition, and how the product stands out.
The research can be done best by reading extensively as well as interview a handful of your most recent customers.
The questions need to be very specific that gives you insights into what all go into making a buying decision — what are their likes and dislikes, what attracted them, what caused doubts, which factor was decisive, how would they describe the products to others so on.
This will provide a rich collection to create your copy, enabling you to use the words and lingo of your own customers.
Outline: An outline helps you create a structure of the copy which then becomes easier to expand. It also saves a lot of time if you make use of a template that helps you follow the structure. There are proven templates that you can employ so that you need not reinvent the wheel.
Two of the most important pages of your website are the homepage and the product pages.
The homepage needs to attract the attention of the visitor in no time and for that, it needs to cater to the audience’s motivation, clearly defines the value proposition in terms of what is in it for them, and how your offering is better. All these should be presented in the form of headlines, subheadings, and bullet points.
The product page copy should be as informative and detailed as possible to enable the audience to make a buying decision. The copy here should present the specifics of the product, the pain it solves, the possible objections that people can have about the product, assurances like guarantee, trust, and credibility factors like social proof and testimonies, and a really strong call to action after setting the right expectation.
Draft: While drafting the copy, keep some key things in mind such,
- Avoid jargon
- Be specific
- Make it about them and not you or the product
- Make the information complete
- Be as transparent as possible including pricing
The first draft of the copy need not be perfect and can be refined at a later stage.
Conversion Boost: Once you’re done with the copy, you can embellish it with some nifty tricks to give it a conversion boost such as,
Optimize for clarity — what exactly you’re selling, what’s good about it, and for whom it is
Optimize for information — add all the information that is needed for people to buy
Include persuasion — add persuasion elements — urgency, social proof, authority, etc. that fit the context
Revise and Refine: It is best that you review the copy that you’ve drafted with a fresh mind to ensure that it maintains a good flow, is free of errors, and is persuasive enough for conversion.
It is better that you have this reviewed by a couple of people and take feedback from them. Once the review and refinement are completed, it is time to publish it on the site.
Finally, it is good to have a couple of versions of your copy and test which performs better.
Now let’s dig a bit deeper into the core concepts of conversion copywriting.
Your value proposition in essence is what your product or service is offering to your audience to solve their problem or satisfy their need. It should clearly articulate what is in it for the intended audience and not be about the features of the product itself. There could be an overlap between the two and that’s a good place to be in.
The value proposition should be reiterated on all the pages that you intend to convert the user or make them take any action — from downloading a document, through opting in on a form to buying a product.
Without a clearly laid out value proposition, you wouldn’t be able to differentiate from your competition and will end up being a commodity and be compared just on price, which is not ideal if you’re selling something more valuable than a grocery product.
Below are some of the best value proposition examples that I’ve found on the web recently
Uber: Simple but very clear message for the intended audience and very uncluttered
Unbounce: Clear articulation of problem and solution as well as objection handling
SproutSocial: Again very concise but clear explanation of the value offered
Review & Improve the Copy
We touched upon the idea of reviewing and refining the draft copy briefly above. Let’s elaborate a bit more on how to go about it.
In round1, get the copy to be read by people in your target audience and also by your peers. Ask them specifically about how they felt about the copy, did they feel interested and engaged while reading it, was there any point at which they felt bored or disinterested. It is also a good idea to get them to rank the copy on a scale of 5. The amount of feedback that this exercise provides will be invaluable.
In round2, you take the feedback from round1 and do your assessment of the copy yourself. This needs to be meticulous and be done para to para and line to line. Critically review the copy on value, relevance, clarity, and credibility.
If you’re making claims or use superlatives, it needs to be backed with proof or data.
Once you complete this exercise, you will have the final version of the copy that you can publish with confidence since it has gone through the rigor of review across the board, especially your intended audience, and hence stand a better chance of success.
Microcopy is small bits of information that are intended to either instruct users or reduce friction. While these may seem insignificant when compared to the sales copy, every bit of text matters and makes a difference to the performance on your site.
Though the general principles discussed before apply to microcopy as well, a few more things that need your attention are as follows.
- Make it as concise as possible
- Use the user’s language
- Imagine that you're talking to a single person
- Use labels on buttons that say what they actually do
Videos that are rich in content and are of HD quality, certainly give an edge to your message. Like written text, the video needs to be engaging, and when done well, it can attract more viewership due to the format of the content. Videos these days come in all kinds of varieties — talking heads, animated explanations, live demonstrations, etc.
You must be clever with the use of video and do it only when it suits your website’s requirements. An ideal case is where you’re offering a new solution and it is easier to explain it in the form of a video.
Some quick best practices on using video on your site.
- Keep it short; there is enough data to suggest that the longer the video, the lesser the user engagement becomes
- Capture the interest of the viewer at the very beginning and maintain a logical flow that takes the viewer from explaining the problem, the pain it causes (agitation), and the solution for it with a strong call to action
It goes without saying that the performance of the video needs to be monitored and progressively optimized. The useful metrics that you should collect include,
- Visitor/play video ratio
- Duration or length to which the users watch the video
- How does it impact the conversion?
The lessons in conversion copywriting make you realize that it is not just a plain article writing exercise; it is with a specific purpose, which is to convince your readers to buy your product or service. There cannot be a more satisfying feeling as a marketer than when your copy performs its objective of converting visitors to prospects and customers.
Finally, it was nice to have a chance to watch and listen to Peep Laja which was missing in one of the earlier classes. Looking forward to more from him