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I'm Erika Fitzgerald, a website copywriter and educator with a big heart for small businesses. Here on the blog, you'll find copywriting education, online business tips, client case studies, and snippets from my life as an entrepreneur.
What if I told you writing is only a piece of the conversion copywriting process? It’s true – the best copywriters spend much time not writing. That doesn’t mean staring at the ceiling, waiting for inspiration to strike. Instead, copywriters invest their time in research, discovery, and strategy.
Conversion copywriting is the art and science of persuasion. It uses principles of human decision-making, voice-of-customer data, frameworks, and formulas to move readers to say “yes” to your offer.
Conversion copywriting isn’t a creative endeavor. It’s a calculated practice based on proven processes that persuade people to take a particular action.
That might sound boring – but it’s much less boring than staring at a blank page for hours. Embrace the process, and you’ll whiz through your next copy project.
So, if you’ve ever sat down to write only to sink into the “I don’t know what to say” trap – this post is for you. Following a data-driven process will help you approach any conversion copy from a place of confidence.
Stop guessing what to write. Throwing word spaghetti at a blank page and hoping it sticks won’t get you six-figure results.
Your message lives in the research and discovery phase. Always start here to find the right message.
This crucial step takes the guesswork out of conversion copywriting. Instead of sitting at your desk waiting for inspiration to strike, go out and find it. So where do you look? Here’s a list to get you started:
Analyze your own data
Check your website analytics for traffic sources, bounce rates, user activity, click-through rates, etc. Look at your email open rates, unsubscribes, and clicks. This will help you identify where your message is working – and where you can improve.
Look at clicks and heatmaps
Click tracking and heatmapping show how people interact with your website, product pages, and sales pages. Use this info to place make-or-break messages where your audience is looking.
Audit your competitors
Don’t copy – but do note what your competitors are doing to get results. Run their website through ubersuggest.com to uncover opportunities to complete on SEO keywords, backlinks, etc.
Read reviews and case studies
Reviews and case studies are a goldmine of voice-of-customer data. Read what people are saying about any products and services in your niche. I like to pull sticky quotes into a spreadsheet for easy reference later.
Conduct surveys and interviews
Survey your customers, clients, and subscribers to learn what objections or hesitations they had before – and what persuaded them to buy from you anyway. I like to create surveys using Typeform, but SurveyMonkey works well too.
Review sales calls and chat logs
If you have a chatbot on your website, this is a great place to find common questions, support requests, and issues. Sales calls and consults also hold valuable insight into common questions and objections. Record them when you can.
As you go through these exercises, organize your research in a way that’s useful to you. Keep track of recurring themes and save sticky customer quotes.
This step uncovers how your prospects communicate and what they need to hear from you. Armed with this info, you write copy that speaks to your dream clients and customers.
Imagine you’re an architect building your client’s dream home. You heard what they wanted during research and discovery.
Hardwood floors? A chef’s kitchen?
And you found out why they wanted those things. Don’t forget the why!
A dog lover dreaming of hardwood floors for easy cleanup? A social butterfly yearning for a chef’s kitchen to host gatherings?
Now, it’s time to take what you heard and start building it. You’ll need to:
Create a messaging hierarchy
This acts as the scaffolding for your copy and forms the structure of your message. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it starts with broader aspects of your message and narrows to the peak – in this case, the point of conversion.
Identify goals and calls to action
Based on your messaging hierarchy, pinpoint the goal and call to action for each piece of the structure. For example, if you’re writing a website, you’ll want to identify the goal and corresponding call to action for each website page.
Develop a compelling hook
Your hook snags the reader’s attention. It teases your solution to their problem. For example, “Get rid of sore feet once and for all,” “Are you tired of overripe bananas?” and “Build a business you’re proud of – the easy way” are all hooks that make you think, “Yes, tell me more!”
Pick a copywriting framework
PAS (problem – agitation – solution) is my go-to framework for almost any copy. Other fan favorites include AIDA (attention – interest – desire – action), BAB (before state – after state – bridge), and PPPP (picture – promise – prove – push).
Organize your message in the framework
Picked a framework? Great – now it’s time to pop in notes from your research. For example, if you chose the PAS framework, look for the voice-of-customer data that speaks to the problem. Then, agitate that problem and swoop in with your solution. This is your outline.
Write your copy
Bet you didn’t guess writing was just one bullet point in the conversion copywriting process, did ya? Well, here it is – the one where you write. Using your outline, write your scroll-stopping headlines, clear body copy, and click-worthy calls to action. Focus on the problem you’re solving for your ideal customer. Don’t worry about creativity or proofreading yet.
Edit and proofread your copy
Now, look for opportunities to sprinkle in some wit and creativity. But never at the expense of clarity. So, make sure you have a clear takeaway. Remove jargon and unnecessary words, such as “and,” “but,” “that,” “or,” “the,” “so,” and extra adjectives. Check your spelling and grammar.
Create a visual wireframe
You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint. Likewise, you shouldn’t write a website, landing page, or email without a wireframe. It’s a simplified, skeletal layout of your copy and design. Use tools like Photoshop, Figma, Canva, or Google Sites to create your wireframe.
Consider image pairings
Does your copy need a specific image to complete the story? Do you need icons to demonstrate a point? How about a product shot to hit home? Make a note in your copy doc.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the writing and wireframing phase, but it’s a great starting point if you’re DIYing. Follow these steps, and you’ll be bounds ahead of competitors “just writing copy.”
If you do your research in step one, you can develop a sound hypothesis for what will convert. But experiments never cease to prove hypotheses wrong (*not a scientifically proven fact).
The final step is to test your hypothesis. This is the only way to know 110% if your copy will convert IRL. There are countless ways to test and validate, including:
Diagnose weak points in your message with user testing. Services like usertesting.com put your copy in front of real humans to test for usability, objections, and likelihood of conversion.
Run a five-second test to gain insight into your first impressions. It gives you answers to questions like, “What product or service do you think this business offers,” “Does the brand sound trustworthy,” and “What do you remember most?” If the answers don’t match your intention, edit your copy.
An A/B test pits two versions of copy against each other. The winner is whichever performs better. A successful A/B test compares only one variable. So, if you’re testing a headline, exclude other variables, such as body copy and design.
Ask your prospects
If you don’t have the budget for paid testing, run your own test. Put your copy in front of unbiased prospects via email surveys, social media polls, or interviews. Your test group won’t be as neutral, but you’ll still gain valuable insights.
TL;DR the data.
Too often, copy and design are subjective. Creative deliverables are subject to the opinions and preferences of executives, clients, and creators themselves.
Anyone can hypothesize ’til they turn blue in the face. Only data can confirm if the copy works as intended.
And that, folks, is why conversion copywriting is the most profitable skill you can acquire.
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