Write effective website copy

1. Interview ideal customers to find out what they think about your product, what language they use when talking about it, what attributes are important to them, and what promises would likely convince them to buy it.

Pick the last 10 to 20 customers and ask them, while recording if you have permission: Who are you? What do you do? (customer profile) What does our product help you do? (helps you understand how they use it, tells you words they use to describe your product) Which parameters did you compare on different options? (which features matter) What were the most important ones? (key pains to solve) Which alternatives did you consider? (competitors we have to look at) What made you choose our product? (our key advantage) What were your biggest hesitations and doubts before the purchase? (things we have to address in the copy) Were there questions you needed answers to, but couldn’t find any? (necessary information to provide) What information would have helped you make the decision faster? (same as above) In which words would you recommend it to somebody you know? (words they use to describe our product) Take note of the exact wording they use, because when customers see the product described in words they have in their mind already, then you have their attention. If you talk about scribing devices and they want a pen, there’s a mismatch.

2. Research your direct competition, how they present their product, and what claims they seem to be making.

If you are not selling something unique, you are selling as much for your competition as you are selling for yourself. Being like others or choosing to be one of the leading providers of is a losing strategy.

3. Write an outline for your page that consists of at least three guideposts, or areas that you want to cover.

For a homepage or landing page, look at competitors to see what sort of information they include. You can start with a basic value proposition: Headline: The end-benefit you’re offering, in one short sentence that grabs attention. Can mention the product and/or the customer. Sub-headline or a two-to-three sentence paragraph: A specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom, and why it’s useful. Bullet points: The key benefits or features. For a product page, your copy can be more standard, as there are several basic pieces of information that customers will want to know. Use an outline like: Name of the product. Value proposition: what’s the end benefit of this product and who is it for? Specific and clear overview of what the product does and why is that good (features and benefits). What’s the pain that it solves? Description of the problem. List of everything in the product: curriculum of the course, list of every item in the package. Technical information: parameters, what do you get and how does it work? Objection handling. Make a list of all possible fears, uncertainties, and doubts and address them. Bonuses: what you get on top of the offer. Money-back guarantee and return policy. Price. Call to action. Expectation setting: what happens after you buy?

4. Fill in your outline with customer-oriented copy that is clear, simple, specific and makes use of customer language choices.

Use the quotes you recorded during customer interviews to guide your wording choices. Be specific about what you do and what exactly you offer. We have the best coffee in the world vs Our estate earned the ‘world’s best coffee’ title at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Roasters Guild for the third year in a row. Orient your copy to the customer and the benefit they’ll receive. Instead of saying we specialize in dog training, say train your dog in two weeks. It’s not necessary to provide all possible information on a single page. It’s okay to move supplemental information onto a different page and link to it. For example, Amazon often hides the full technical information of products behind a link, since it’s only interesting to the hardcore tech savvy customers.

5. Make the price easy to find, but for more complex or expensive products, communicate the value before the price.

Let’s say you’re looking at buying a copper vase for $990. It seems expensive, but what if you knew that it was designed by Andy Warhol and previously used by Kurt Cobain? If you know who these people are and respect them, this changes everything, and it might seem like a steal instead. If your price is cheap, you want people to know it. If it’s expensive, the price qualifies the right people who are convinced to buy your copy. Giving price details also convinces your reader of the image and brand value of your product.

6. Use a conversion framework to boost the effectiveness of your copy.

Use a framework like this one from Marketing Experiments: C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a Where: C = Probability of conversion m = Motivation of user (when) v = Clarity of the value proposition (why) i = Incentive to take action f = Friction elements of process a = Anxiety about entering information Summary: The probability of conversion depends on the match between the offer and visitor motivation + the clarity of the value proposition + (incentives to take action now – friction) – anxiety. The numbers next to each character signify their importance. Look particularly at these points: Go through your copy and see if there’s any way to make your statements clearer. Communicate value: don’t just list features, turn them into benefits. Make a list of all possible questions, doubts, and objections that prospects might have in the buying process, then address them. Make the buying or signup process as easy as possible, remove everything that is not absolutely necessary. Add microcopy: explain why you need certain data and what happens after they give it to you. Provide full information: what happens after they buy, what can they expect, when is the product shipped, what’s the delivery time. Add risk reversal: what kind of guarantees are in place? What happens if they don’t like it, or it’s not what they thought, etc?

7. Add persuasion techniques like reciprocity, liking, social proof, authority, consistency, and scarcity to boost your conversion rate.

Reciprocity: people feel obligated to give back to others who have given to them. Teach your prospect something useful in your copy, give away free stuff, and add value to your prospects long before you even start to sell them something. Liking: we prefer to say yes to those we know and like. Talk/write like a human, connect with the reader, share details about yourself. Social proof: people decide what’s appropriate for them to do in a situation by examining and following what others are doing. Show how many others are already using your product. Show off your numbers. Use testimonials. Link to 3rd-party articles. Authority: people rely on those with superior knowledge or perspective for guidance on how to respond AND what decisions to make. Demonstrate your expertise, show off your resume and results, and get celebrity (in your niche) endorsements. Consistency: once we make a choice or take a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressure to behave consistently with that commitment. Sell something small at first (a no-brainer deal), even if you make no money on it, because they now see themselves as your customer, and will most likely return to make a larger purchase. Scarcity: opportunities appear more valuable when they are less available. Use time or quantity limited bonuses, limit access to your product, and promote exclusivity.

8. Use the neuromarketing concept of the 'Old Brain' to improve engagement with your copy.

We’re usually trying to talk to the new brain—the sophisticated one—but it’s the brute old brain that makes all the decisions, so we need to dumb it down.  Selling probability = Pain x Claim x Gain x (Old Brain)3 Start with a grabber—something that evokes emotion. Address the pain from the get-go. Use a big picture next to your value proposition, one that the prospect can identify with. Are your claims different from the competition’s? Add proof to your claims in all possible formats.

9. Take a break from looking at your copy overnight, then come back the next day to add more information, improve the flow of information, and fix typos.

Ask for feedback from ideal customers and peers. Did they have any questions that were left unanswered?  Is there any part that needs to be made clearer?  What could make the offer better and more credible? Once the editing is complete, you can make it live on your website.

10. Conduct copy testing to figure out which areas of your copy need work and A/B testing to try different variations of those areas.