Before exploring the topic, we’d like to debunk two myths about sales content. Let’s try.
Myth №1. A text may have “its own” conversion rate
Visiting the websites of hardened copywriters, very often you can see something like “My personal conversion rate record is 15%”, “Once I wrote an article that converted every fifth reader into a customer”, “20% conversion rate is a not a limit!”. You should understand that all of these lines are not very fair. The final conversion rate is built, not only by text, but also by pricing, terms and conditions of work and delivery, the number of reviews and a lot of other things, including the design of the landing page. Not mentioning the traffic’s quality (what channels visitors came from, SEO traffic from transactional queries is one thing, another thing is “dirty” traffic from banner networks). Texts don’t have their own independent conversion rates, but this doesn’t mean that copy doesn't influence sales. One text may generate many more sales leads than another under the same conditions (traffic’s quality, web design, terms and conditions). This is the objective reality.
Myth #2. There is a recipe for sales copy
They say you can read a lot of books and articles, and it will help you write sales copy. In real life, it’s much more complicated. I assure you that even the most experienced and expensive copywriter will have failures during their professional career. Unfortunately, there is no recipe for writing sales copy. Human behaviour is abnormal in its nature, which means that behavioural norms are so wide, you can’t predict human reactions beforehand. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read clever books and articles. The only difference between a good copywriter and a bad one (from the point of view of writing sales copy) is that the first is curious and sensitive to other’s experiences – sensitive in a clever way, i.e. is able to rethink and filter a negative experience and avoid mistakes made in almost the same conditions. However, under new conditions he will be the same as a newbie. Here’s a clean sheet, do what you want, but create valuable content that makes people believe you. Making a clean sheet, losing its virginity is difficult for everyone, including the most famous and hardened ones.
Keep these two myths in mind when you are reading our recommendations below. This is our experience, which we gained from solving specific tasks. We urge you not to take our tips as the gospel truth, but think on them as sober and clean examples. Let’s finish with myths and get back to real life.
Why does the role of copy become more important, and why are so called “sales copy” a “hot” topic for all blogs, platforms and forums? It’s simple. There is no more “easy” life in online marketing, and it will never be again. The fight goes on, on all fronts. “Clean” traffic that converts at least a bit was once enough. It’s much easier to get new traffic and not to think about CRO. Not today – the magic gates have closed. The internet has a huge potential for commerce, and it’s not fully disclosed yet. There is no more “easy life” in getting traffic, one can’t solve this problem by rushing. You have to give something more than just cunningness, agility and the ability to find new black hat techniques to get an audience. You must “beef up” your website up with informational content. This is a serious and painstaking job. In such conditions the major role goes to CRO. Really, if it is so hard to get more and more traffic, then you should probably concentrate on working with your current audience? – such business logic is completely suitable in real-life conditions. This is where copy matters first.
But! In fact, the famous thesis “content is king” is absolutely meaningless without putting it in context. In real life, content values nothing, but it becomes king when we talk about CRO and attracting a new audience. This is that content – originally viral and high quality – that we are going to examine. To be more precise – about how to make originally viral and high quality content which is a more “salesy” one.
1. Identify a problem
Sales copy, just like any other, works on two levels – logical and emotional. Let’s talk about the logical one. A person is ready (still psychologically, it’s too early to speak about any real actions) to become a customer, if he identifies a problem and accepts conditions for solving it. How to identify a problem properly? For example: you have to sell a batch of alarm clocks. You can illustrate a problem by showing all the problems which may occur if you’re constantly late to work and business meetings, instead of just saying that an alarm clock solves the problem of oversleeping.
2. Offer a benefit
A benefit is not just a lower price (however, if you are able to make prices lower than the market average then it will work for you). Let’s stay sober – very often, lowering your prices is just impossible, but it doesn’t mean that you should avoid offering additional benefits. Consider benefits broadly – as a psychological category and not just as financial profit. In most cases people make decisions, not according to prices, but according to a complete evaluation of a product or service. This evaluation includes a products’ cost, terms of delivery or job, the offer’s exclusivity and many other factors. A lot of research demonstrates that people are wary of prices below the market average, because they wait for some trick – poor installation, lack of guarantees, terms of return, delivery and so on to appear. I’ll give you the example of what happened to a worker from our agency. Three months ago he bought a laptop in a famous Russian digital discount store. The price was below the market level. Of course, it turned out that the product was not available. It was necessary for him to write a request to get his money back. Well, the businesses strategy is not bad, right? First you must do this, then you must do that – store owners get a free loan for a month. An interest-free loan.
3. Be laconic
It’s strange, but it’s a fact. In documenting examined and confirmed (by us) cases where texts significantly influenced the conversion rate, such texts were extremely laconic. No, not short, but laconic. An article could be pretty long. Laconic means having inverse proportionality between the text’s length and the amount of useful information. It means that, ideally, the length must tend towards zero, while the amount of useful information must tend towards infinity. What is “useful information”? It’s the information which it is impossible to delete from the text without losing meaning. Here’s the recipe: don’t make any repetitions. The more you talk about the same thing in different words, the less people eventually trust you. Every new sentence should give additional value, additional unique meaning. There’s a nuance. It all concerns the main body of the text. Repetition of meanings may take place in textual elements separated from the main body – headlines, calls to action, captions for photos and so on. Wherein, it’s better not to just repeat phrases, but to develop an additional meaning.
4. Calls to actions matter
Sales content is stimulating content. It doesn’t simply identify a problem, it proposes a solution – here and now. In order to solve a problem, a user must take some action – fill in a form, request a call back, add a product to a cart, confirm an order, make a transaction and so on. I have listed some of the most popular actions to make on a page. Pay attention to the fact that these actions can be different, and a call should be one – not just to an action, but to a concrete action. Relatively speaking, you mustn’t and you can’t call someone to become your customer. You should call them to concrete actions, which are required on this page. If you are making a long transactional chain for many pages, then calls to action must be different for each page in the chain. And, of course, special attention should be paid to calls to action from the point of view of web design. They must differ from the main text body with font, size, colour and placement. However, placement is a topic for further discussion. Usually it’s the top part of a page (in this case a call to action is also the title of the copy), or a sidebar, or set below the text. Or it could be placed anywhere, but it should be meaningfully connected with buttons “Order”, “Subscribe”, “Learn more” (depending upon the desired action). Where exactly do you place a call to action? There should be no dogmas: A/B test every option and leave the one with the best conversion rate. Believe us, small details, such as this, can significantly influence the final conversion rate.
5. Concrete facts in numbers
If you can put some facts in concrete numbers, then do it. If a product is priced lower than on the market, then point out the cost. If the terms of purchase last for some specific period, then point it out and place a countdown timer in the page script. If you offer some unique delivery conditions, then point them out as well. Wherein, the more concrete data is, the better. I’ll give you an example from our practice. We were creating a landing page for a website for a PVC windows installation service. We had had a conversion rare increase of 0,5% after adding only one phrase – “measurement within 6 hours after your request”. Before it was “measurement in a day of request”. The most important thing here is not to lie, don't increase the original prices to offer higher discounts and so on. I don’t know what kind of chemistry works here, but the audience is very sensitive to lies. They don’t forgive it.
In our opinion, apart from including copy on a landing page, there are three more things that are not directly related to content, but they strongly influence conversion rates.
6. Pop-up windows
Any pop-up window really increases conversion rates. However, in each individual case it’s necessary to decide whether to use them (and how) or not. An audience can be loyal to such irritating tool in just one case – if they are really interested in a product or service. The same audience will tear you into pieces in a case when all possible pop-ups are just any eyesore and call to something a user is not ready yet for. If you decide to use this tool, then we recommend the following to you: a pop-up window shouldn’t be very obtrusive. Don’t make it in bright colours, with flashing content or attracting attention in some other way. People will notice it without any of these methods. Of course, users must be able to close it – it’s the axiom. It’s even better if a window pop-ups not straight after opening a conversional page, but after a little time. This time period must be precisely calculated. On one hand, it must pop-up before a user leaves the page, on the other hand, you must give them time to study the pages content. As a recommendation we can give you an example, when the pop-up window appears in the bottom part of page (without covering content up), only in cases where a user has studied the first screen and has started scrolling down.
7. Additional elements on landing pages
This question is still being discussed. Must landing pages contain something, which is not directly related to an expected targeted action? We recommend including such elements. What exactly do you include? There exists, key and additional testimonies. Our landing page copy, our calls are key testimonies proving that an action must be made. Additional testimonies, for example, can be represented by: testimonials of real customers, SlideShare presentations, certificates, awards and prizes, links to research where you are an expert, rank indications in some ratings, recognised by a market and expert community (for example, it’s very effective for web agencies).
8. Social media buttons
We live in a strange time. The internet turns from the place of absolute anonymity to the place of absolute transparency. We recommend you not fighting against this trend, but use it for your profit. All the additional elements we have spoken about in the previous point should be collected and included into on landing pages (not as main content, but as additional one, of course) not just as factors that prove your expertise, but also as factors for social evidence, confirming that you are not just an online page – you are socialised and open for connections. There is one more tool that works as social evidence even better – social media buttons. A landing page should contain links or widgets to your public pages on social networks. People give more trust to companies they can get in touch with personally, not just existing in a “provider – customer” paradigm. Social publicity is about entering a market with an opened visor. Failures won’t be easy for you – a couple of negative reviews on your Facebook page may ruin a business (especially if you don’t work on such comments but just delete them). On the other hand, it’s a very strong factor of social evidence, and it extremely positively influences conversion rates.
Well, that’s all we wanted to share with you on this topic. Don’t get blinded by myths and make your texts “sales”.