How to write copy that converts

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 - 9:00 AM PST

Beachway Treatment Centers was losing $20,000 a month for every empty bed in their addiction treatment facility.

So Joanna Wiebe made a few changes to their copy that increased their conversion rate by 26%.

Now every bed is filled, and there’s a waiting list to get in.

Joanna is the founder of Copyhackers.com, which publishes copywriting guides that are designed to boost sales.

In her Mixergy course, she shows you how to write copy that converts visitors into paying customers. Here are three highlights from the course.

1. Get Them Over the Wall


Getting prospects to convert is like getting them over a brick wall, says Joanna.

“And with our copy, we’re trying to knock down a lot of those bricks to make the wall lower and get the person over to the other side, the paying side. Turn them from visitor to customer.”

But lowering the wall isn’t enough.

“Sometimes we have to do little things at the ultimate point of need, which is when you’re at a button and it’s the ultimate time to really pull out all the stops to get people to click that button [and convert],” says Joanna.

So how do you do that?

Pull Them Over the Wall


Offer incentives to convert. Joanna calls these incentives click triggers because they “trigger the click that gets the person over that wall.”

“They’re the bonuses, like 24/7 free support or support by e-mail and chat or support by phone,” she says. Other examples include free shipping or free shipping and returns.

“[Click triggers] are about positioning the right small message to get them to click that button,” says Joanna.

2. Give Them What They Really Want


Let’s say that you need customers to complete a registration form. Your goal is to get them to click on a button that says “Sign Up and Create Your Free Account”.

But visitors aren’t clicking on it. They get to the button and leave your site. So what gives?

The problem is that prospects don’t want to “sign up” or “create an account”, even if it is free. That sounds like too much work, so they lose interest or decide to do it later. But later never comes.

So how do you get them to click?

Empathize with Your Prospects


You have to replace friction words that make the process sound time-consuming or painful with words that describe what your customers really want.

In the “Sign Up and Create a Free Account” example, prospects have to create an account in the next step. But “they don’t want to create a free account,” says Joanna. “They just want to get started.”

3. Broadcast Your Intentions


What happens when your target customer can’t tell whether your product is right for them?

IVPN.net, an Internet privacy service, was created for professionals who need a virtual privacy network, such as a journalist in China who doesn’t want their internet history tracked.

But a journalist couldn’t tell that from the IVPN.net website, says Joanna, so journalists weren’t converting.

To make matters worse, the site was attracting other kinds of visitors, such as gamers, even though IVPN.net wasn’t the best solution for them. Gamers were unlikely to convert and were increasing the bounce rate.

So how do you let the world know who your target customers are?

Court the 20%

Don’t write for 100% of your visitors. Write for the 20% who are most likely to convert.

For example, one change Joanna made on the IVPN.net site was to state, “It is ideally for foreign journalists, researchers, and investigators.”

“If I’m a foreign journalist or a researcher or an investigator,” says Joanna, “I arrive on this site, look at it, and think, ‘Yes, everything looks good, but is it right for me?’ Then right there it says, ‘It’s right for me.’”

Joanna says when you tell people they’ve arrived at the right place, you reduce bounce and increase conversions.

Get the rest of Joanna’s course here.

This article was written by April Dykman.

  • Arie

    Xavier, that was a helpful comment. I sent you a thank you message via email.

  • http://twitter.com/MariaP82 Maria

    I’m currently starting up an ecommerce site and also work as a freelance copywriter. I think the challenge for me is that my instincts are to want to appeal to everyone, which of course appeals to no one. I’d love to hear more about the 20% rule.

  • Arie

    Hey, that was a helpful comment. I sent you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Troy, that was a helpful comment. I sent you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Dean, that was a helpful comment. I sent you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Marek, that was a helpful comment. I sent you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Ricardo, that was a helpful comment. I sent you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Janice, that was a helpful comment. I sent you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Ekanem, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Leslie, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Rosie, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Katie, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Christy, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Kristen, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Gina, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Rory Daley

    I am working on launching two sites in the near future, as SaaS platform and eCommerce store. This course is just what I need to learn how to tailor the copy for each site to its respected target audience. I appreciate to the suggestion to focus on the 20% – this idea goes beyond understanding your potential customers and really drills down into figuring out your niche customers.

  • http://www.inmotionnow.com Shanna Oskin

    The idea of “courting the 20%” definitely rings true – that’s already got me rethinking our website copy. In trying to appeal to everybody, it’s hard to appeal to anybody. I’d love to hear more.

  • Arie

    Janet, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Sherryl, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Richard, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • Arie

    Rob, that was a helpful comment. I’m sending you a thank you message via email.

  • http://twitter.com/p_yokota Paul Yokota

    I’d definitely love to see how this course could help increase conversions at key points, including signup and checkout.

  • dylan

    love this one: “court the 20%” – I can’t please everyone, find out what the 20% want and convert all of them

  • Teresa Nicola

    I’m going to be project managing reorganizing a client’s website. Even though I plan to hire a copywriter to tweak the copy, I still want to learn how to write better copy myself.

  • dylan

    this could help us write better PPC ad copies..

  • http://twitter.com/RaffertyWrites Eilish Rafferty

    I write content for small businesses and I ghost write blogs – I can all these tips to help my clients get better engagement from their online communications. I’d love to know more …

  • Soul2ebl

    I will use these lessons increase conversion of medications from other
    pharmacies to mine. Also, this may increase foot traffic directly from
    the the doctor offices in our building.

  • http://twitter.com/jimspetvideos Jim Gonzales

    We have just started using email in a targeted way with our clients. We have always used email to let them know about upcoming workshops and products, but we’ve never focused heavily on how to write copy that works. This class would be a big help in our new adventure.

  • Michael Witherspoon

    We are revamping our website and need to get more people over the wall to start the conversation. We need particularly to know which bricks are keeping them from responding and take care of those.

  • http://entelleckt.com/exclusive-mp3 Entelleckt | Mike Wyatt

    Thank you for reminding me to “give them what they want” and to “broadcast your intentions.”

    The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), one of the groups I work with, struggles to recruit members, struggles to get its members to participate in beneficial programs en masse.

    I can use the “give them what they want” and “broadcast your intentions” concepts to make NSBE’s copy effective.

    NSBE’s essentially exists to help African-American engineering students graduate, network, and find jobs but that raison d’etre is unclear when you look at the national website:
    http://nsbe.org

    I’d create copy for NSBE’s individual programs and for the membership levels.

  • Craig Calder

    Very helpful. I’m looking to test out your recommendations on my new cardiac center client.

  • Ken

    I have a product idea for salespeople, and want to confirm that it has legs BEFORE I build it.

    I could use this course to focus my landing page copy in converting people from visitor to prospect. (Hopefully the conversion rate will be strong enough to support the advertising costs).

    This information has already been helpful in reminding me that people are after an end result, not a solution (People buying a drill want a hole, not a drill). Making sure my conversion button sounds easy, along with helping my market identify themselves in my copy right at the critical moment has already been helpful. Can’t wait to learn more.

    If the project is wildly successful, I promise to make my case study available to Mixergy… :)

  • http://twitter.com/youridealbrew ideal brew

    Wow! Definitely using this for my business. We haven’t created a great message/story around our brand. I am going to draft of story of how the company came to be… it’s actually a good story that will capture the interests of prospects.

  • randy

    several take-aways for me but one simple change I’ll implement is to never use “register to..” or “sign-up” as part of the call to action; they offer no user value. Instead use click triggers that immediate state the value to the user like “start saving now”, or “enjoy benefits today”.

  • http://www.ginkgotree.com/ Lida

    I looked, but I don’t have an email from you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=538098968 Janet Dillon

    Thank you so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwelke Desiree Welke

    I stand behind “Broadcast Your Intentions” 100%! Clear copy always leads to higher conversion.

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  • Lynie Copywriter

    In all marketing endeavor, as a marketer, it is always important to know exactly what is going on in all parts of your marketing strategy. By tracking all your campaign you will know whether your marketing efforts improve or not. For copywriting purposes you may check http://copywritercollective.com/.

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