Very few people run websites for completely altruistic purposes. You might not be trying to profit monetarily from your website, but chances are you want your visitors to take some designated action – whether it's signing up for your email list, contacting you for more information or simply leaving through an advertising block to generate ad revenue.
That's where copywriting – or, the art of writing to persuade – comes into play. If you want people to do something, you can't assume that they'll automatically grasp what you want. Instead, you need to suggest it to them through the language you use on your site.
Tip #1 – Headlines Matter
According to Brian Clark of Copyblogger:
“Landing pages live or die by the quality of the headline. It's your two-second chance to overcome the swift and brutal attention filters we've developed due to information overload and poorly-matched promises.”
Although headline construction is most commonly addressed when building long form sales letters, you can think of the “headline” as simply being the first piece of text a person comes in contact with on your conversion page. So it might be the intriguing sentence at the top of your sales page, but it might also be the first line of your email list opt-in popup or the text in the header image of your landing page.
But no matter where your headline resides on your page, it's got to be good. In today's over-stimulated, under-attentive culture, you've only got a few seconds to get someone's attention – and poorly-written headlines just aren't going to cut it.
To learn to write a good headline, search online for “headline swipe files” in which people have compiled great examples of headline text across different advertising mediums. Study these examples and try to determine what's working in each file. Don't blatantly plagiarize, but attempt to replicate the same emotional triggers that make the pro's headlines so compelling.
Headlines also make great items for your split testing programs. Testing one headline against another is a great way to learn the art of copywriting, while boosting your conversions at the same time.
Tip #2 – Focus on One Specific Action
One of the things that will kill your conversions is trying to get your readers to do too many different things at once. For example, if you build towards asking your readers to purchase a high priced product, but then also ask them to bookmark another page, go back and reference one of your other articles, and think about something entirely unrelated, how focused do you think they're going to be on buying your product when all is said and done?
Heck, to be honest, if you can actually keep them sticking around until the end of that kind of scattered sales copy, I'd say that's pretty much a win!
Whenever you're writing web content for a page on which you hope to convince your visitor to take some designated action, it's important to decide ahead of time exactly what that specific action is so that you can tailor your copy to focus on it exclusively. Once you're done with your first draft, be sure to go back through your copy and identify any places where you've asked a visitor to take contradictory actions so that you can remove it and allow your reader to focus on your target action instead.
Tip #3 – Create a Sense of Urgency
Think about all the infomercials you've seen that say, “Hurry and act now – this promotion is good for a limited time only!” It's not a coincidence that every single one of them contains a version of this sentence – it's there because it's darn effective!
Of course, the worst thing you could do would be to add this sentence to your site, word-for-word, just because some website told you to. Promoting scarcity or a sense of urgency when there isn't really one (for example, when your website says, “this promotion is good for the next 24 hours only” every single day) only damages the trust you've built with your reader.
Instead, consider implementing actual scarcity or urgency into your website's copy. As an example, if you want to run a time-sensitive promotion that gives people a certain number of hours to respond, run it and advertise the heck out of it, but then turn it off once the designated time is complete. Or, if you decide to offer a certain number of copies of your product at a special price, be sure to switch your copy back to the usual price once the set number has sold in order to maintain your credibility and use the idea of scarcity effectively.
Tip #4 – Eliminate Objections in Your Copy
The truth is that getting people to do the exact thing you want them to do online isn't easy. People are skeptical, so getting them to hand over their credit card numbers, their email addresses or their phone numbers is often easier said than done.
However, you can improve your odds of making the sale or getting your visitor to convert to a subscriber by eliminating some of the objections they hear in their minds before you even ask them to take action.
Let's look at an example to really illustrate how effective this technique can be…
Say you're an internet business owner who's considering investing in a high priced coaching session. You know it would be useful, but it's hard to justify spending that much money when you have other bills that need to be paid.
But would you be more likely to purchase the product if the website owner offered a 60-day money back guarantee? Or if the copy contained reassurances that the skills taught through the program would more than double your current earnings? I'm guessing you'd be a lot more likely to invest in the program if you knew you'd be getting more out of it than you had to commit to in the first place.
So before you hit publish on your web copy, take a second to read through it with a fresh set of eyes. If you were reading the content for the first time, what objections would you have? Keep in mind that these don't necessarily have to be related to price alone – readers might also have objections about whether an item is safe or whether it'll work for them. By taking the time to identify these objection points ahead of time, you can take steps to eliminate them and, consequently, boost your expected conversion rates.
Sitting down to invest time in improving your copywriting isn't always fun to do, but it's nearly always worth it in terms of increased sales and conversions. As David Droga, a prominent copywriter writing for the Wall Street Journal says, “Writing bad copy is easy, which is why the majority of advertising feels disposable.”
If you'd rather stick out in your visitors' minds than be tossed aside into their mental piles of disposable web copy, consider applying the four tips in this article to your own content. The results might just surprise you!
Image: the trial