Copywriting matters to SEO — you know it, I know it, the entire SEO world knows it.
But when it comes to conversions, copywriting is equal parts art and science. There’s no foolproof way to write to encourage conversions, because a lot of methods are specific to certain industries, or even certain companies. So how do you pin down what will work for you?
You already know the essentials of writing well — these five copywriting strategies will supplement what you know so you can encourage site visitors to convert.
Write strong headlines
Fact: Headlines get clicks. When you promote your content through channels like social media, your headline is what gets someone’s attention. That means it’s up to your headline to decide whether people read what you have to say or skip it completely.
That brief, fleeting moment has to convince someone to take time out of their day and read what you have to say. On the Internet, where new content is produced at break-neck speeds, just standing out against the background noise is hard enough, much less drawing a click.
To maximize clicks, you can write headlines according to the Four U’s:
Still, that’s hard. And some ideas can be really good, but only hit two or three of those tenants. In fact, you probably won’t hit all four qualities in the same headline — sometimes, you might only get two or three. But you can still have a really good idea.
Take this example from Cracked:
This headline is unique (never seen it before), ultra-specific (eight actors), and urgent (the movies are coming out soon). However, the usefulness of the headline is debatable. If you’re a cinemaphile, this headline might be the most useful thing you read all day, and you might even make time for it. Outside of that niche, it’s probably just an interesting read that you’ll click if it catches your eye.
However, if we just take that effort one step further to hit all four U’s, headlines become incredibly effective.
The above headline works because it’s unique (who’s seen that before?), ultra-specific (six big-name companies), urgent (they’re dying — not yet dead), and useful (you might be a customer!).
If you need proof of its effectiveness, it has the view count right above the headline. Cracked published that article on June 17, and we took the screenshot on June 23. 1.8 million readers in less than a week? Pretty impressive.
And admit it — as a savvy consumer, you want to know if your favorite company is on that list, right?
Pass the “So What?” test and start with the answer
The “So What?” test is one of the easiest copywriting techniques for writers in any industry. Whenever you write something, ask “so what?” at some point in its production. Question your work’s validity and why it matters. If you can answer the question clearly in one sentence, you’re good to go — plus, you can keep readers engaged throughout your text so they don’t click, start reading, and leave.
If your answer falls short of your standards, then it’s back to the drawing board.
This test is important because you need to clearly see the value of your work if you want your readers to do the same. Clearly stating your point and following it up with supporting evidence makes it easy for your readers to keep reading and follow your train of thought.
For example, the point of this blog post is to show readers — that’s you — copywriting techniques that can help increase conversions. When you finished the third paragraph, you probably had a good idea about what the rest of the article would say.
After you’ve determined the value of what you’re saying, you can move on to the meat and potatoes of conversion.
Incorporate persuasion psychology
As you’re writing, you naturally want to keep your readers on the page — but you also want to convince them to convert. Doing both at the same time can be tricky without the right know-how.
Persuasion psychology is a field of study completely dedicated to how you can talk people into doing things. There are six forms of persuasion, and they can work independently or together to help you drive conversions. They are:
- Reciprocity – If someone feels like they owe you, they’ll pay you back.
- Scarcity – If your product is rare or unique, customers will want it.
- Authority – If you’re experienced, customers will trust you.
- Consistency – If you start someone off small and work them up to the main product, they’ll buy the main product.
- Consensus – If people think others are behaving a certain way, they’re more likely to behave the same.
- Liking – If people like you, they’ll buy from you.
A lot of businesses incorporate these ideas into their websites, but they don’t point them out in their copywriting. Offering a free gift (reciprocity), proving you’re unique (scarcity), stating your experience (authority), offering a trial download (consistency), showing the number of converted customers (consensus), and connecting with readers (liking) can all boost your conversion rates.
Basically, you have to pull out all the stops when you’re talking to potential customers. If you want, you can use all six of these qualities together, plus a call to action to wrap everything up. Let’s say we’re writing a landing page for software that handles American taxes.
- Taxes are needlessly complicated, aren’t they? (Liking)
- After 25 years of working with people’s taxes, I made my own solution. (Authority)
- My easy-to-use software will take your information, crunch the numbers, and even file online with one click. (Scarcity)
- Not convinced? Try my one-month trial and see what you think. (Consistency)
- And if you sign up for my newsletter, you can extend the trial to three months for absolutely no cost. (Reciprocity)
- 14,000 honest taxpayers can’t be wrong. (Consensus)
- Try it out today! (Call to action)
That handful of sentences may not be world-class copywriting, but it can still attract site visitors and persuade them to convert — especially if you add another idea into the mix.
Transparency may sound like it’s more of a business decision than a copywriting style, but the decision itself is reflected in what and how you write. There are some huge advantages to transparency, the biggest of which is the trust you establish with your readers. After all, what’s the harm in a little disclosure?
Your level of transparency is ultimately up to you. However, one company — Buffer — credits transparency with their sharp and intense rise in profitability. The company has only been around for four years, yet it has 2,000,000 registered users for its software. Buffer’s unusual openness extends to everything about their business, including how they operate, how much each employee makes, and even how often they sleep.
Sure, lots of other factors play into Buffer’s success as well. But the fact that they’re so open about their company establishes trust and a certain level of value within the community around them. If they’re publically sharing their employees’ salaries (and talking about it), what could they possibly have to hide?
Transparency works so well in part because it makes customers feel like you’re leveling with them. No smoke, no mirrors, no tricks — just your down-to-earth business. When they know that you’ve told them everything about your business’s operations, you effectively remove any reservations they could have about converting. And when you take away the reasons someone might not convert, you make it way easier for them to follow through.
The effects of positivity on branding are well-documented, and maintaining a positive attitude online can help you reach and interact with more people. In fact, an overall positive sentiment on Twitter can help you get more followers, while the opposite — broadcasting negative sentiments too often — can actually make people unfollow you.
The same idea carries over into copywriting. Words have power, particularly power over moods, and positive wording can foster a better brand association for your business.
Positive language tends to be more personal, direct, solutions-oriented, happy, and easy to read than negative speech. In fact, positivity is so effective that it actually impacts consumer loyalty more than trust, and that’s purely based on how you make a customer feel.
The feelings of your customers matter, and by appealing to their optimism, you can encourage them to convert from a place of trust, or at least preference. Engaging customers optimistically comes with the added bonus of appealing to them emotionally, which, again, urges them to convert based on how they feel.
By utilizing these five copywriting strategies, you can help boost your conversions to meet long-term company goals. Sticking to these five ideas can give your blogs, landing pages, articles, newsletters, and more the extra push they need to help your bottom line while connecting with your customers.
Have you tried any copywriting techniques to boost your conversions? Let me know in the comments!
And you get bonus points if you can single out where I used each of these techniques in the post.