Conversion-based copywriting, or conversion copywriting; whatever you want to call it, recent years have seen this term come up with increasing frequency, and it’s worth discussing if you’re interested in the online writing and editing sphere. Is it the same as normal copywriting, or is it a different beast entirely? Should conversion copywriting be something for you to focus on, or is it a useless buzzword? Let’s dive in.
What is conversion copywriting?
Conversion copywriting is text written for the purpose of eliciting a specific action from the user or reader (i.e. “converting” their visit into the next desired step). This action can be many different things – maybe you want your user to click a button, share your post, buy a product, sign up for your mailing list, or join your loyalty program. Either way, the content is written and edited for the specific purpose of converting the user into performing this action.
Getting people to take that next step can be done in many different ways: adding elements of trust, a sense of authority, persuasion, active language, and a clear call to action. We’ll get into all of those later.
Is conversion copywriting different from normal copywriting?
This depends on who you ask. If you ask me? No. If you ask the guy selling an online conversion copywriting course for a small one-time fee of only $69.95? Definitely!
Conversion copywriting isn’t a mystical skill unlocked through rigorous meetings and secret demonic pacts. It’s really simple: find a skilled copywriter, and get them to help you write conversion-based copy based on a clear vision of what you want your content to achieve.
Words don’t write themselves (yet – stay tuned for deepfaked news articles), and the main point of distinction here lies in the fact that the conversion copywriter is actively crafting their work to lead to a specific action, and not simply producing great content for the sake of it. Many good copywriters are actually conversion copywriters already; they just don’t know it.
How to write conversion-based copy
As with most things, you need to get the fundamentals right first – by defining the specific action you want your users to take. Do you want them to buy a product? Go to the next page on your website? Subscribe to your amazing newsletter? Everything you write will be geared towards this ultimate goal.
After you know what you want your audience to do, it’s time to give them some inspiration and steer them in the right direction. Here’s how.
1) Focus on the needs of your users and understand their motivations
Like most content creation, conversion copywriting benefits greatly from knowing who your audience is and what they want. Your message might work really well for some demographics, and fall completely flat for others. If someone is taking time out of their day to read your content, what is it that they’re looking for?
One easy way to get a good idea of your audience is by doing some detective work. Put on your least offensive fedora and scour reviews, opinions, and articles about your business or product. If you’re writing for a small company without much of an online presence, check out what people say about similar organisations or slightly bigger competitors.
Use real-life positive feedback (“It really saved me a lot of stress!”, “The ingredients were super fresh”, or “This is definitely more convenient than other methods”) to understand what a successful outcome looks like in the mind of your users. These are crucial bits of information that give you a glimpse into what your audience is looking for.
Similarly, find negative reviews that people left about your competitors or similar companies to check out what possible concerns they might have, and adjust your language to ease these concerns. If people are complaining about long waiting times, now’s the time to talk about how quick your service is. If they didn’t appreciate the lack of detail and quality control, add a line about how you pride yourself on providing a detailed, high-quality service.
Make sure this is based in fact though – it’s much, much easier (both practically and morally) to write about something that’s firmly based in reality. Good copywriting won’t save you from a bad review if your actual product isn’t up to scratch.
2) Be persuasive and authoritative
It’s important to deliver your message in a strong way. Being persuasive and authoritative makes it easier for your readers to trust you. You’re an expert on your product or service (who else knows it better than you do?), and this has to be reflected in your writing. Setting the right tone can be done in a few different ways.
First of all, be confident in what you’re saying. Avoid weasel words like might, may, or could. Use is, will, and does instead. Even this small change can make a big difference in how people interpret your overall tone of voice.
As a counterbalance, remember not to oversell. Being persuasive doesn’t mean being hyperbolic. You might be good – in fact, you might be great – but even the least skeptical reader might bat an eyelid if you call yourself a world-leading expert in astrophysics. (Neil deGrasse Tyson, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry, and you definitely are.)
Ideally, you’re presenting the reader with an attractive and persuasive offer – and giving them the opportunity to make the decision for themselves – without making them feel like someone’s actively trying to sell them something. You might be the authority on the service or product you’re providing, but they’re the authority on whether or not they really want to do something – it’s best to stay on their good side.
3) Use active, evocative language
Making a purchase is exciting. Going on a trip can change your life. Even subscribing to a newsletter means you get to enjoy some funny jokes and read some great content once a week. Effective conversion copywriting is a great way to make sure people feel positive about the action they’re about to take!
Using positive verbs like enjoy, experience, admire, save, receive gets people excited about the benefits of taking the action your copy is aiming to achieve. Have some fun with your words and convey that sense of happiness and achievement to your readers. As an editor, I can generally spot when a copywriter wasn’t pleased or confident about what they were writing – these texts are generally written in a more passive way and fail to effectively evoke an emotional response, or explain why people should book/subscribe/buy.
4) Find your unique selling point (USP)
Rest assured that this will be the only buzzwordy acronym used in this post. A unique selling point (or unique selling proposition), is your key advantage over competitors. People might already be subscribed to five different newsletters, so what makes yours stand out? Travelers are likely to have ten tabs open comparing the price of their holiday package; why should they choose yours?
Your offer could save users money by being cheaper than the competition, or maybe you provide a higher level of quality and additional services. Perhaps your alpaca farm has the cutest and most affectionate creatures in the land. Whatever your USP is, make sure it’s accurately stated and reflected in your conversion-based copy.
5) Give users a clear call to action
When writing copy aimed at conversion, make sure you actually give your readers the opportunity to convert! It shouldn’t be hard to figure out what your call to action should be – ideally, it’s the specific action that you want your users to achieve. If the goal is to get a bigger following for your newsletter, your call to action will likely be something like “Subscribe to our newsletter”.
One easy way to include this call to action is by using buttons. If someone’s read all the way to the bottom of your article about the best budget smartphones in 2020, there’s a good chance they might click on a button that says “Check out these deals!” or “Get a 10% discount on the Nokia 7 Plus”. Readers who have just finished reading a comprehensive guide to the Louvre might well be planning for their trip to Paris, and a button that says “Buy Louvre tickets online” might be just the nudge they need.
Don’t be scared to add links throughout your text to relevant checkout or landing pages – it’s great for SEO, and gives people another opportunity to perform your desired action. Add a button halfway through, and a final one at the end, to make sure there are two separate points at which the reader can make the decision you’d like them to. There’s always a fine balance between persuasion and pushiness, but if you want your users to convert, you have to provide them with a clear and direct opportunity to do so.
Ultimately, conversion copywriting isn’t all that different from regular copywriting. Good customer-facing writers will generally use many of the tips and tricks mentioned above out of habit and experience – but by setting a clear framework for conversion, they can shape their copy to elicit specific actions and outcomes. Through focusing on the needs of the reader, being persuasive and authoritative, using active language, highlighting USPs, and providing users with a clear call to action, writers can create effective conversion copy in a targeted and effective way.
There’s a lot more to the topic of conversion copywriting than one person can cover in a single blog post. I hope that this article served as a good introduction, or potentially gave you one or two new ideas to incorporate into your regular copywriting process. If you’re interested in finding out more about conversion-based writing and how to implement it as part of your content strategy, feel free to get in touch with me.