The pandemic brought many brick-and-mortar businesses online for the first time. It also inspired the launch of thousands of new e-commerce stores as online shopping rose to new all-time highs. As a result, the fight for customer attention has become more competitive than ever, forcing small businesses to think critically about their digital marketing strategy.
To achieve the highest return on investment (ROI), every landing page, Facebook ad, and email headline must be carefully optimized for conversions. That’s why, in this article, I’ll break down three actionable copywriting techniques I use every week to improve conversions for my clients.
1. Name the Pain
If you can name the precise pain point a customer is experiencing, you’ve written some of the most persuasive copy anyone could hope to achieve. Describing the benefits of your services almost isn’t even necessary at that point. Once you’ve clearly called out the problem a person has arrived on your website to solve, the fact that you have a solution to that problem almost goes without saying. You’ve shown the customer that you understand what they’re going through.
Humans trust empathy. It’s one of the fastest ways to establish trust with a stranger on your website — which is why naming the customer pain point is one of the fundamental elements of good copywriting.
A few months ago, I deleted a block of text from my copywriting website. For a site as small as mine, I didn’t think this individual section would make an impact on conversions. As it turned out, my traffic remained the same but my organic leads dried up overnight. At first, I didn’t blame the missing copy. Freelancing has its ebbs and flows, so I considered the situation a coincidence. But after a few months of minimal leads, I decided to return the old block of text, just in case. Sure enough, leads started converting at the rate they had before I deleted the copy.
What did the copy say? It was a section on my homepage that listed several common pain points that most of my customers experience — and that I specialize in solving. Of course, my website traffic as a small service provider is too low to carry statistical significance. But even anecdotal evidence can drive home a point, and the experience certainly reminded me of the power of accurately naming someone’s pain.
The key is to be specific. You want to name a pain point that’s truly top of mind for the customer while avoiding generalities like “save time and money,” which are such common business phrases that they seldom stick in the reader’s head.
The best way to achieve specificity is simply by talking directly with customers. Let them write your copy for you by listening to them.
2. Shorten the Distance
Your call to action should shorten the distance between where a potential customer is when they arrive on your website and the action they want to take. The call to action, especially when it appears on a button, should promise (and then fulfill) exactly what the prospect is looking for.
Consider the common call to action “learn more” as an example of what most businesses should not use. This phrase suggests to potential customers that there’s at least one additional step between where they are now and the solution they’re trying to gain. Instead, your call to action should move prospects closer to their desired action. “Book a demo,” “schedule a consultation,” and “buy now” work much better.
Thumbtack, a website for connecting with local service providers, does this exceptionally well. Their primary call to action says, “Find local professionals for pretty much anything.” And just below the call to action, they have a search bar with text that says, “What’s on your to-do list?” Thumbtack knows you don’t care to learn more. They cut straight to the point, giving site visitors the solution they want as soon as they arrive on the website.
I try to achieve something similar on my own website. Since most people who hire copywriters want to meet them on the phone first, my co-founder (my wife) and I use a simple call to action: “Book a call.” The button leads customers directly to our shared calendar where they can one-click schedule a time that’s convenient for them. With this method, we’ve shortened the distance to speak with us by providing a clear call to action, followed by a user experience that immediately fulfills what was promised.
The process is so seamless, we’ve had multiple prospects and customers tell us they’ve copied the user experience on their own website.
3. Let Customers Build Your Features Hierarchy
How do you know which features and benefits to talk about first on your website? Not every detail of your product or service can fit above the fold, which means the first benefit you name must be important enough to the customer that they continue scrolling.
In other words, you should list benefits based on the priorities of your ideal customers: Which features matter most to them? Which ones can they not live without?
All of these answers come, as we discussed in point one, by getting on the phone with customers. Pay careful attention. As customers begin naming their favorite and least favorite features, they’re teaching you how to structure content on your website.
And while you have customers on the phone, you can also get clear about your unique value proposition by asking customers why they chose you over a competitor.
Another tactic is to mine online reviews. Visit sites containing reviews of both you and your competitors. Pay close attention to common themes among your competitor’s three (and below) star ratings. Then go look at your four- and five-star ratings. Where do themes overlap? Often, the intersection of your highest reviews and your competitor’s lowest reviews is your unique value proposition, which you can use across all your marketing to showcase where you truly shine.
In summary, don’t try to build a feature hierarchy in a silo. Customers will tell you about their favorite features. All you have to do is listen — and take good notes.