All of the fantastic copy in the world, no matter how delightful to read, means nothing if it doesn’t convert. If people read your copy and then leave thinking “that was great” but don’t actually do anything, you’ve wasted your time.
Your website copy must be written with the goal of converting web visitors. How do you write website copy that converts?
Here are 12 best practices you can follow to beef up the copy on your website in an effort to boost conversions:
1. Think Of Your Copy As Being About Decisions
Copy that converts is really about decisions, and those decisions can be broken into two possible outcomes: yes or no.
This means a couple of things for your copy. First, are you writing copy that ultimately presents your reader with the opportunity to make a decision of some sort? If you aren’t, conversion is impossible. There is no offer on the table.
If you are writing copy with an eye on prompting a decision, you must make sure that the copy actually does a good job at stating the decision and convincing the reader towards the decision.
When writing your copy, be very conscious of writing with the aim of presenting a decision. Be clear about what you are asking the reader to do.
2. Prod Your Reader With Exclusivity And Scarcity
We like knowing that not everyone gets in as long as we are able to get in. We are driven to make decisions in a rush when told that we don’t have much time to decide. We want to get our hands on a scarce product.
Your website copy can tap into exclusivity through careful use of language, depending on the offer you present your readers.
Trying to increase membership or email sign-ups? Consider using phrases like:
- Members only
- Class now full. Get notified for the next class.
- Membership now closed. Get notified when membership opens up again.
- Request an invitation.
- Be one of the few!
Or, perhaps you are trying to increase sales of a particular product or service. Try phrases like:
- Limited offer
- Get it while it lasts
- Supplies are running out
- This week only
- Only 4 left
- Available only through this offer
- Get ____ free if you sign up, today only!
Language that promotes scarcity and exclusivity gets people to push past nagging doubts that keep them from converting, tapping into the fear they might miss out.
3. Reassure Your Reader
Your reader wants to know they won’t get screwed if they take a chance on what you offer. You can reassure them in a few ways.
- Show you are an expert.
- Tell them it worked for you, and show proof.
- Share examples/testimonials of others who have had success doing the same.
- Assure them of money back guarantee.
Wariness over getting scammed is a big motivator for not converting, particularly if money is involved. For every big decision you put to your reader, you must reassure them it is safe.
4. Answer The Question “What’s In It For Me?”
When you write copy, are you thinking about what you need and want? If you are, your copy will never reflect the most important question your reader wants answered: what’s in it for me?
Be sure your copy focuses solely on what is in it for the reader.
“You get this.”
“You win this.”
“You’ll see this change within two weeks.”
Sure, there’s something in it for you. Email addresses. Sales. Traffic. But that’s not your selling point. Copy that converts tells readers what they get if they make the decision you want them to.
5. Take Away Reader Questions
There are few things worse than watching a news report and being left with more questions than answers. When writing copy that converts, be sure to leave your reader feeling they have the answers. That gives them the confidence to make a decision.
Answer who, what, when, where, why.
Who is this for. What will it do. When should it be used. Where does it work. Why should they do it.
Have someone with fresh eyes read your copy and write down any question that’s nagging at them. Your copy must answer all of these questions. When all the W questions are answered, your reader feels they’ve done their due diligence and can decide with confidence.
6. Use Action-Based And Powerful Language.
A subtle way to get your reader to take action is to use action words in your copy. Words like “get”, for example. Be sure to avoid passive voice in your copy if you want your reader to do something. Why?
Active voice prods action. Passive voice is easily ignored, far too gentle and weak to be found in copy that needs to convert. Passive voice doesn’t involve people; it generally involves inanimate objects doing things by no one in particular.
Good: “You can win this free gift!”
Passive voice: “This free gift can be won!”
Clearly, the first example is much better. And using this example even further…look at the first word in the good example: you.
Use the word “you.”
Write directly to the reader. Other words, such as “free” and “now”, are words that promise a solution that will provide serious results quickly.
Use words that are active-sounding and written in a grammatically active way, and aim them directly at the reader.
7. This Is Not About Creative Writing
The writer in you may want to write the next great novel every time you create a blog post. Skip that nonsense and save the creativity for your other projects.
It’s not that creative writing is bad, but when your goal is to write copy that persuades and convinces your reader to take action, cleverness and creative references get in the way of clarity.
And that’s the most important thing: clarity.
Your writing may not sing like Shakespeare, but it doesn’t matter if it reads plainly. Your copy absolutely must make your persuasive argument clear. Anything that gets into the way of that must be cut.
8. Use Examples That Matter
One of the best ways to convince and reassure your readers is to use real-life examples. Be sure, though, that you use examples that matter. Be precise, direct, and clearly explain why the example is pertinent. It’s important to avoid wasting your reader’s time.
Use examples that prove to the reader that your method worked for someone. Have numbers to back it up. Link to studies and sum up those studies clearly, all with the message that by making the decision you want them to, readers will get a taste of the same success as shown in your example.
9. Nip Protests In The Bud
As your reader works her way through your persuasive copy, she’ll develop questions. After writing your copy, go back and read it as if you were that reader. What protests and questions develop in your own mind?
Answer these. Answer the questions your reader has right there in your copy.
Think of your reactions to other site’s CTA. What protests did you have? Answer them in your copy.
10. Headlines And Introductions Are Important Weapons
In a world flooded with copy where a large amount of traffic is driven by social shares, you don’t have much time (or many characters) to get people’s attention.
Your headline pulls a tremendous load. Great curiosity-inspiring headlines, headlines that promise to solve a problem your reader happens to have — these get shared and clicked on. Once readers click through and arrive at your copy, those first few sentences have to keep them reading.
Get your headlines and introductions right. The best body copy and the most amazing CTA in the world won’t do you any good if the headline and introduction don’t get your reader read them.
11. Edit Your Copy Brutally, Be Brief
While long-form writing is getting a lot of attention, many readers don’t have the time for the long-sell. This is part of clarity. Though longer landing pages demonstrate success in specific scenarios (e.g. when you have information intensive decisions to present), these same pages are broken up into sections (more on that next). They are, essentially, groupings of short-form copy.
Some readers are quickly convinced. Some take a bit more work. For longer copy, the first chunk of copy is for the quickly convinced. The next section addresses the initial protests a reader might have. This continues, building all the way down as you chip away at the stubborn reader who is at last convinced by the end.
In other words, you aren’t repeating the same things in every section. Your copy packages it in a different way.
When it comes to the editing process, cut your copy down the the barest words necessary to get the job done. If you can’t do that to your own writing (it can be tough!), find someone else who isn’t interested in protecting “precious” copy to do the final edit.
12. Have One CTA, But Everywhere
Your copy is about presenting your reader with a decision, but make sure it’s only one decision. To confuse them with too many options. Instead of adding free downloads in copy where you are trying to sell your program, forgo the freebie and focus on the sale. Why?
Because when people read your post, they’ll feel the pressure to do something. If they can satisfy that need with a free download, why bother with the sale?
Just because you have one main decision for your reader to make doesn’t mean you should only have one CTA in your post. Here’s why:
- You don’t know where the reader might leave your post. Place that CTA button or link towards the beginning, in the middle, at the end — catch your reader where they are. If they don’t read to the end, it won’t matter. They’ve seen it multiple times.
- You acclimate the reader to your CTA. The more your reader sees your CTA and the more ways you present the decision as a viable option, the less surprising it seems.
Think of infomercials, those crazy commercials that both annoy viewers and also get people to buy. They present a problem, the demonstrate how to solve it, and then they wrap it up with exclusive language and a clear action: call now, buy now.
Infomercials work. They convince. They convert.
Your website copy should do the same.