Copywriting takes many forms, each form is designed to have an effect on the reader, and the principles of copywriting change according to the end goal that the copy needs to achieve.
Copywriting takes the art of writing and turns it into a science. There are formulas that need to be followed if you want your copy to be successful at delivering your goal.
Whether you want to raise awareness, inform your audience on a specialty subject, describe an exciting new product, or encourage your reader to press that ‘buy it now’ button, there are important things you need to consider with your language choices, tone of voice, page layout and paragraph structure.
In this article we will be exploring the science of conversion copywriting, and looking at the best formulas to implement if you want your call to action (CTA) to successfully convert.
What is conversion copywriting?
Conversion copywriting has one sole purpose, to convince your reader to take your desired action. Whether that is downloading an ebook, subscribing to your newsletter, or purchasing a product, you have one clear goal in mind that is the singular focus of your copy.
Through product descriptions, ads, landing pages and other CTAs, your copywriting must utilise words, phrases, and value propositions in order to persuade your reader to take the action you require of them.
Conversion copywriting is the powerhouse of persuasion, where psychological formulas meet creative intricacy, working together to entice the reader towards the end goal.
So in the simplest of terms, conversion copywriting is writing to sell something to the reader.
Why is conversion copywriting crucial if you want to sell?
If you want somebody to do something you have to give them a reason to do it. Why should they buy this product? Why should they sign up to your newsletter? Why should they download your ebook? Conversion copywriting outlines the reason and provides the solution, and makes your offering desirable. They should do it because they want to do it.
Your job is to make them want to.
Clarity, context and reasoning are just one part of conversion copywriting, the rest comes down to how you deliver your message. Structure is just as important when it comes to conversion copywriting as you’re laying the roadmap that finishes with your call to action.
If you try to force your reader into something too quickly you could scare them away, similarly if you wait too long, you risk your message becoming unclear. As we’ve already recognised, conversion copywriting is a science, which means it thrives when the correct formulas are applied.
So let’s explore the 10 most important principles of conversion copywriting…
- Have a clear objective
Conversion copywriting always has a goal in mind. It is important before you begin to know exactly what it is that you are wanting to achieve.
Once you’ve identified the action you want your reader to take, you should then work backwards from it. This eliminates any possible distractions from your goal.
2. Know who you’re talking to
You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t try to.
You should have a clear idea of who your target customer is. What do they care about? What are their pain points? Where do they get their information? It is important to have an overview of these things so that you can tailor your copy accordingly.
You should consider these essential facts about their demographics and backgrounds;
Once you know who you need to direct your copy towards, you can use these facts to make your copy more specific and engaging, to target your ideal customer, and increase your conversion rate.
3. Find your customer’s voice
We are all drawn to people we resonate with. We have an innate desire for worthy interaction, to feel seen and understood.
Conversion copywriting requires you to personalise your approach to suit your target customer, to draw them in and encourage them to take your desired action. Using your customer persona to influence your copy, the language you use and the way you deliver your message is important.
You should be conducting research to find the voice of your customer (VOC), as this will inform your tone of voice. Remember, you want your audience to relate to you on an in-depth level.
So how do you find your customer persona?
One of the best ways to learn about your target customer is through social listening. See what people are saying on social media, public forums and surveys, listen to customer complaints and conversations happening around your brand. Not only are you focusing on what they’re saying, focus on how they’re saying it and where.
The more you learn about your audience, the more specific you can be with your approach.
4. Recognise the stage of awareness
Your ideal customer may already know of your brand, product or service, they may have sought you out as a potential solution, and your job may be to just push them over that line from potential customer to customer.
Perhaps, however, your ideal customer doesn’t know who you are, they may not know you have a solution, they may not have even identified that they have a problem… How do you make them a customer?
These are things that you need to consider when writing for conversion. The way you entice your reader will massively depend on their stage of awareness.
5. Address the pain points
Now that you know your end goal, you understand your target customer, and you’ve recognised their stage of awareness, you need to address your audience’s goals or pain points and outline your value proposition. “This is what I can do for you, this is why it matters.”
Speak to the problem and offer the solution. If your audience doesn’t yet know they have a problem, then you need to resort back to your research to find the perfect value proposition that will begin their journey to the end goal.
Remember that people like to feel understood. Use your research to tailor your response and make your target audience feel heard.
“I understand your problem, this is how I can help you!”
6. Write using we / you
Conversion copywriting needs to evoke trust within the reader. You want them to do something for you, take your call to action, and in return you will provide them with the solution they’ve been looking for.
It is a give and take relationship, so you can’t be selfish.
Using ‘I’ too often takes away from everything we’ve been building up to; making your audience feel understood, making them trust you and want to exchange with you. It stops them from seeing you as somebody that wants to help, and makes you seem more as a self-serving nuisance.
Using ‘we’ and ‘our’ are important for inclusivity, it makes the experience a shared experience which forges an emotional bond. Addressing your audience as ‘you’ signifies empathy, and makes the experience more personalised, which is more likely to engage your reader.
7. Create some urgency
We’ve all experienced FOMO, the dreaded fear of missing out. Sometimes it forces us to make quick decisions, something that can be useful for conversion copywriting, so long as you use it sparingly, and don’t take the mick.
There are two ways to enforce this urgency, and you will have come across them both at some point when watching the television or browsing the internet.
Limited time – this suggests that the offer is only valid for a certain period of time i.e “Hurry! Offer ends this Friday!” or “6 minutes and 32 seconds left!”
Limited availability – this suggests that there are only a select number of the product left i.e “Only 3 left in stock!”
Both are designed to trigger your FOMO and push you to take action.
If you are going to use this tactic then make sure that it is believable, and as genuine as possible. If you overuse this or make it seem too far fetched then it can have the opposite effect on your customers, and jeopardise trust.
8. Exploit ‘why’ and ‘because’
We are inquisitive. What is the first question that we learn to ask as a child?
Why is the sky blue? Why should I go to bed? Why do I have to go to school? Why should I do what you’re telling me to do?
As much as we love to ask the question, we also really want to know the answer, because…
We wait patiently for them to convince us why we should do something, this is conversion copywriting, why should you do it? You should do it because.
If you get it right, your ‘because’ should be enough for the reader to say, “Okay.”
9. Provide the proof
Naturally, when you’re trying to convince someone to do something, you’re going to make your product or service sound like the best thing since sliced bread. It is the most obvious thing we can think of to persuade people, “Look how amazing it is!”
Unfortunately, when every single brand is claiming to be the best it makes it much harder to choose who to believe. This is when we resort back to our instincts, rather than venturing out alone, we follow the herd.
We drive our focus towards the reviews section to seek comfort. Is there somebody like me here who has tried and tested this product and had a positive experience?
Social proof can include product reviews, ratings and positive social media posts from impartial customers. Impartial is important, creating fake reviews, or buying bot reviews can be detrimental as it ruins trust between you and the consumer.
Showcasing positive, raving reviews promotes trust and makes your argument for downloading, purchasing or booking much more effective.
10. Answer common questions
You’ve conducted research into your customers, their pain points, their positive reviews, listened into conversations and considered complaints. There have bound to be some questions that have arisen along the way. Perhaps the same question has been aired repeatedly.
If these questions are already circling then it’s pretty certain that other people have the same questions, concerns and ideas.
The best way to eradicate doubt and to build trust is to offer up the necessary information your customer is looking for. This can be handled through frequently asked questions (FAQs) sections, as well as strategically placed snippets of information such as “No credit card needed” or “Free returns for 30 days.”
Using these tactics instil confidence in the consumer, helps them to feel heard, and builds the all important trust element.
Other things to consider when copywriting for conversion
Write with confidence
You have to have faith in what you’re selling if you want to persuade your consumer to buy it.
Your delivery must be direct and to the point, after all you’re leading up to something happening so you want your CTA to be clear. While you need to describe what makes your product so fantastic, stay away from too much superfluous detail so your message really gets across to the audience.
If you believe in what you’re selling, your audience is more inclined to as well.
Remove unnecessary vocabulary
When it comes to communicating the value of your CTA you don’t want to bury the message too deeply in excess words that aren’t aiding your cause.
“Read these top tips to find out how to enhance your brand” is much less convincing than “Enhance your brand here”.
Strong action verbs are a great way to grab attention.
When you’re a writer it can be really tempting to compose elaborate prose, but when it comes to conversion copywriting you want to make sure the point is clear.
Structure with purpose
The way your content looks on the page is really important. A lot of people will skim read so you want to make it easy to do so.
To make your content digestible consider;
- Punctuation marks ‘!?’
The reader is a person, just like you they’re stressed and busy and trying to get through the day ‘smooth sailing’.
Put yourself in their shoes, if you aren’t gripped and wouldn’t spend time reading it, assume they won’t either.
Share! Share! Share!
Word of mouth is a great way to attract visitors. It comes back to this idea of FOMO, if everybody is talking about it and seeing it then it will peak their curiosity.
You have excellent tools at your fingertips with social media, advertisements (both digital and physical) and if it is really worth doing then people will talk about it.
We talked about wanting your target customer to resonate with you, if you help someone then they are bound to pass on the information to other people in the same boat.
6 useful frameworks for conversion copywriting
We talked about conversion copywriting being a science, and here are some useful formulas to structure your writing more effectively;
Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.
This framework is the most common structure for conversion copywriting.
Attention – Use a dramatic opening statement to hook the reader.
Interest – Provide interesting information to engage them.
Desire – Target their emotions to convince them that they want your offering.
Action – Ask them to take your desired action.
Attention. Interest. Desire. Conviction. Action.
This framework is very similar to AIDA but it incorporates an element of conviction.
Conviction – Use reviews, testimonials, endorsement and promises such as free returns and money-back guarantees to persuade the reader.
Problem. Agitation. Solution.
This framework heavily relies on resonating with your reader.
Problem – Highlight a problem your reader will relate to.
Agitation – Explain how the problem is affecting the reader to resonate on an emotional level.
Solution – Offer a solution to the problem.
Qualify. Understand. Educate. Stimulate. Transition.
This framework helps to raise awareness of a problem to the reader.
Qualify – Explain who this solution could help.
Understand – Relate to the problem.
Educate – Tell them how your solution will benefit them.
Stimulate – Use features, reviews or videos to get them excited.
Transition – Provide an action and make them a customer.
Star. Story. Solution.
This framework uses a character or hero to convince the reader.
Star – Introduce the hero of your story, this should be somebody that embodies your target customer.
Story – Tell your hero’s story, outlining the pain points that resonate with your demographic.
Solution – Present the solution that helped your hero.
Features. Advantages. Benefits.
This framework initially focuses on your product rather than the reader.
Features – Demonstrate what your product can do.
Advantages – Explain how and why your product is useful.
Benefits – Tell your target audience what this means to them.
Examples of conversion copywriting
Let’s look at this example from basecamp.com, a project management software company.
The first thing you see is the headline “Leave the grind behind. Glide through projects instead.” For anyone dealing with project management in their daily life this is an attention grabbing headline that highlights the issue of “the grind”.
The next paragraph goes on to explore issues that come with project management “…a struggle to juggle people, projects, clients, deadlines, and expectations…” they even go on to say “We’re like you. We get it.” This resonates with the reader and makes them feel understood.
They then go on to explain how Basecamp provides a solution “…everything in reach, and every piece of information tracked and organised…” Which appeals to the consumer and justifies the software.
Finally, there is a clear CTA (Call to Action) with a button that says “Try it for free”.
Attention has been grabbed, the interest has peaked, a solution has been given and there is a clear CTA.
In case this is not enough to encourage the reader to take the CTA, this framework is repeated several times as you move down the page, a new title, new information and new benefits provided to keep trying to persuade visitors who may have not been hooked by the initial content.
Here is another example from spotify.com for their premium account offering.
The copy starts with a feature, you can unlock premium for £0. This will hook the reader as they don’t have to pay in order to unlock the feature.
There are clear advantages outlined next, “ad-free music listening, offline playback, and more.”
Next they highlight a benefit, “Cancel anytime.”
Finally there is a clear button with their CTA that says “Get 3 months for £0”.
3. Dogs Trust
Another example of conversion copywriting is seen at dogstrust.org.uk.
The headline distinguishes the problem that shock collars are still legal.
There is clear agitation that the government isn’t rectifying the problem.
Finally, they offer a solution to write to your MP in order to change this law.
This example from Lyft.com features a section of conviction.
The advantages and benefits of becoming a driver for Lyft are clearly featured, but in order to add an extra level of persuasion to the reader they have added some testimonials from existing drivers.
Here are some books that are useful for learning more about copywriting and conversion copywriting…
- Persuasive Copywriting: Cut Through the Noise and Communicate With Impact by Andy Malsen
- Finding The Right Message: How to Turn Voice of Customer Research into Irresistible Website Copy by Jennifer Havice
- Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
Conversion copywriting is the science of writing to sell something to your consumer. It is all about persuading your reader to take your call to action, whatever that may be.
Before you can begin to construct successful content, you need to conduct the necessary research into your target customer. Conversion copywriting requires a personalised touch in order to really resonate with your reader.
Think carefully about the VOC and the language they use so that you are in the best position to relate to them. The best way to persuade someone to do something is to create an emotional connection that makes them feel understood and heard.
Using conversion frameworks to structure your writing provides the perfect foundation for your CTAs as they provide the necessary psychological journey for your consumer.
Our agency has over 20 years of experience in marketing, so we can help you to construct the perfect conversion copywriting to boost your sales. We know that conversion copywriting is a science, one that we’ve had plenty of time to master, so we’re more than happy to help, speak to us today to kickstart your marketing strategy.