Have you wondered how CRO copywriting differs from other types of writing? Let’s get some definitions from some experienced copywriters:
“Effective copywriting is not an art. It’s a science, first and foremost.”
– Joanna Wiebe, Copyhackers, @copyhackers
“When you’re writing landing page copy, the first rule is there are no rules.”
– Ian Lurie, Portent, @portentint
As you can see, people have varying opinions on what copywriting is and how to go about it with conversion rate optimization in mind.
That being said, the common consensus is that CRO copywriting is focused on the goal of persuading your user to perform a desired action such as a conversion or purchase (e.g. request a demo, download a free trial, read an eBook, or purchase your services).
The Importance of Copywriting
So, why is copywriting for conversion rate optimization so important?
- It’s a major driver in convincing visitors of the worth or value your product or service provides.
- It helps you get visitors to take the next step, so you can continue to secure necessary information that allows you to better target and engage your audience.
- Ultimately, it helps provide the assurance and materials your leads require to make that macro-conversion (e.g. final sale or conversion).
Overall, your goal is to persuade the user that what they’re getting (e.g. eBook, free trial) is worth an exchange for what they’re giving you (e.g. lead information, money, etc.) So, without further ado, let’s get writing.
What to Consider Before Writing
Before you start writing, it’s important to master this formula we’ve developed for effective CRO copywriting. You’ll want to engage in heavy audience research and segmentation to understand what kind of questions your audience will ask about your company, brand, product, or service.
What Type of Traffic is Coming In?
The type of traffic you’re getting will play a big part on how you’re going to write your copy such as how familiar your visitors are with your brand, is it search or display traffic, and how much content is enough to engage or persuade that particular audience?
For example, top-of-the-funnel users may not have heard of your product before and they’re on your page to learn more. They’ll need more detailed information to familiarize themselves with your brand and product. They may be skeptical and less likely to just hand you their information, so you’ll want to focus on building trust.
This detailed page will probably require more copy resulting in a longer landing page. Using social proof and testimonials will establish more trust with new visitors. You’ll also want to list out all the benefits, so the user can see what your product has to offer.
As we got toward the bottom of the conversion funnel, however, users are already familiar with your unique value proposition, so they’ll require less information. They might not need a lengthy page, so don’t risk distracting them with information they already know and use a shorter page focused on a clean conversion process.
You have to cater information to your viewers, whether it’s top-of-the-funnel newbies, seasoned BOFU’s, or anything in between. Really analyzing what kind of traffic is going to your landing page will dictate your length and information of your page. Not all audiences should be seeing the same amount of copy, so make sure to match it to their intent levels.
What is Your Unique Value Proposition?
Your unique value proposition (also known as your unique selling proposition) is what your copy is going to revolve around. Think about what makes you stand out from your competition, how it’s going to fulfill the needs of your visitors, and what the benefit of using your product is. After you’ve gathered that information, put it all into one concise statement and you’ve got your UVP to reflect back on when you work with your copy.
Once you have your various personas and UVP defined, you can consider these 6 key elements:
- Call to Action
- Form Header
- Benefits and UVP
Let’s cover each one in detail…
This is one of the first things users see when they land on your page; let’s not make it the last thing they see as well…
This is your chance to grab your users attention with a eye-catching opening. Your Unique Value Proposition will help you immensely in writing your perfect headline. Right off the bat, tell them what makes you better/different than your competitors. Grab their attention and keep them on the page with a relevant headline focused on your offer and benefits.
Also, you don’t want to make it too overwhelming for the reader with a lengthy phrase. Remember to boil it down, keeping only the necessary information for a concise and kickass headline.
Check out this example:
With that first example, you can’t decipher what the UVP is. You don’t know what the product can even do for you. The second more concise example that’s written based off the UVP overperformed it’s predecessor by a shocking 867%. Yes, you read that right.
You can also test different tones with your headline and subhead depending on where your users are in the funnel. For users at the top-of-the-funnel, you’d want to try using something concise and straightforward, so that they know what your product does.
For bottom-of-the-funnel users, however, try using your headline to address pain points that might be preventing your users from taking the leap. You can also try headlines geared towards emotions to tug at their heartstrings a bit and nudge them towards a conversion:
“Save your failing business with this easy-to-use accounting software.”
“Are you working from home, but feeling unproductive?”
“Security cameras programmed watch over and protect your family.”
The name “subhead” literally means a headline under your main headline. It usually is in a smaller font size, so users know the read the headline first. Your subhead should support and reinforce your headline with action words (in this case, “simplify” and “get”).
Your subhead is segway between your headline and the rest of your copy. Use it to support and reinforce your headline as well as at the same time, spark more interest in your reader and have them continue reading throughout your page.
Give users a clear outline with sub-head that is action-based and keep arousing curiosity, so visitors are compelled to read on and learn more.
Call to Action
CTA buttons should tell the user what they’re getting when clicking. The language you use in this is short, but significant as this button is critical for moving your user to try the demo, download the guide, get a free trial, etc. Your CTA has to tell users what they’ll get when they click that button.
Here’s an example. Take a look at this test that I did for one of our landing pages.
The more specific CTA on the right got a 50% bump in conversions. With a CTA like “Continue,” users don’t know where they’re “continuing” onto. Instead of vague CTA’s like “Learn More”, “Read More”, “Submit”, “Continue”, “Start Now”, etc., tell users what they’re going to get by getting more detailed.
Your CTA will vary greatly depending on where your users are in the funnel and what you’re offering to them. If your content is geared more top-of-the-funnel users, the CTA may sound something like “Download Your FREE eBook” or “Join the Newsletter”.
For users who are on the edge of purchasing your product, offering a discount, or a free trial/demo can help them make that decision to convert. They already know about your product, but they need that nudge in order to convert. Use these offers to write your CTAs: “Get My Free Demo” or “View My 15% Off Coupon”.
Also, be careful with what verbs you use for your CTA. Another rule you’ll want to follow is to use low-threatening CTA’s. Start them off with words like “receive”, “get”, “view”, “enjoy”, “discover”, “see”, “claim”. CTA’s like that tell the user that they don’t have to do much in order to get their reward.
On the other hand, CTA’s like “Fill Out Form”, “Schedule Your Meeting”, “Find Out How” and “Register to Learn More” imply that there’s going to be some more work involved before getting where they want to be — and no one wants that.
Use your form header to remind people what the offer they’re getting is when they fill it out your form. The headline of the form should give the benefit as to why the visitor should give their contact info.: “Fill out the form to get the highest price for your used car” or “Get a free consultation and learn about your financial options today”. What’s in it for them?
You can mention the features of your product, but if your users don’t understand what those features can do for them, they’re gonna bounce. Don’t just tell readers what the product does. Also, tell them what it can do for them and why they need it. Additionally, using the word “you” when talking about your benefits is a great way to engage your reader and personalize that statement, making them think, “Are they talking to MEEEEEE?!”
Here’s an example:
The copy on the left is more focused on telling the user about this specific feature. I added some words around and rewrote parts the copy to emphasize why the users might want to use this product. Both paragraphs use very similar wording, but have different goals. “Client-centric” doesn’t really tell me much about what’s in it for me, but “Keep More Clients” does exactly that. I used that idea and rewrote that section, which ultimately boosted the conversions by 17%.
Ultimately, the reader can probably figure out the how the features will benefit them, but don’t assume that. You’ve got to impress them on the spot, so just spell it out for them.
Have you ever bought something, because someone you knew recommended it?
Let your previous customers’ words do the advertising for you. Testimonials play a serious role in your CRO copywriting. Let’s look at what makes a great one.
You want to use real names of real people (last names help a lot), as opposed to something like “Director of Solar Company,” which is pretty vague. This can be followed by their position in the company, what company they work for, geographic location, etc. Adding more information to the sources makes the testimonials look more legitimate and more credible to your visitors. Would you rather trust a testimonial from Jane, or Jane Park CEO/Founder of Julep? Also, who’s opinion would your visitors value more? An industry professional? Celebrities? Their peers?
We usually don’t write the testimonials, but don’t settle for a testimonial that doesn’t provide the user any insightful information. If the testimonial sucks, ask your clients more specific questions–so that they can write a better testimonial. You want your visitors to be able to relate to the quoted content and see how it would benefit them if they were to invest in your product.
Compare these two testimonials:
The first testimonial doesn’t really tell you anything about the product or how it solved any problems. I was drawn to this testimonial since I had heard of the company “Casper” and admired the brand. Unfortunately, the testimonial doesn’t really tell you any benefits of the product and how it helped the user overcome any particular problems they were facing. The praise is too general.
In her short testimonial, the COO of Reboot tells you what’s great about Justworks and how she benefited from using it. It’s a much more effective testimonial and I’m willing to bet if we pitted these two testimonials against each other in an AB test, this testimonial it would win.
Users higher up in the funnel will take more convincing. For them, feature more reviews from multiple sources, so they can see proof and experiences from multiple sources.
Bottom-of-the-funnel users, however, already have established a sense of trust. For those users, maybe try something like an in-depth case study where they can see a much more detailed example that they can picture themselves in. Or, maybe they already trust you so much, you don’t need to include testimonials at all. Something to test.
What to Test and 19 Optimization Tips
Keep in mind that you’ll constantly be learning about your audience and new audience segments may come to light over time. You’ll want to continually a/b test and optimize the aforementioned six elements.
But what exactly does one change?
We’ve got 19 tips of what you can A/B test across these key elements to increase your conversions:
1) Keep copy clear and concise.
This is, what I believe, to be the most important general rule in CRO copywriting. You’ve heard it a million times, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate. You don’t want to add extra unnecessary words to your copy. Get to the point quickly, because adding “bloat” won’t help your case. In fact, it may actually have a negative effect.
Example for headline:
Bad: “You’ll save time and effort when you use our hiring software to find potential candidates.”
Good: “Improve the candidate experience by hiring smarter.”
We shortened the copy, so there’s less to read–but it’s still to the point. The best of both worlds.
Instead of writing “Each and every customer will be happy,” write “Every customer will be happy.” Being redundant won’t add anything to your copy.
Don’t use too many adverbs: quickly, effectively, easily, effortlessly…
You can get your point across without having to add these extra words. Spending your time on a condensed awesome headline will make a bigger impact than one that’s obviously trying way too hard with exaggerated descriptions. Your readers will eventually notice this pattern throughout your page and start to really question if you’re just trying to compensate for an inferior product.
2) Switch the subhead with the headline.
Sometimes, you accidentally write a subhead that’s better suited as a headline. Since your subhead is just reinforcing your headline, they both have similar goals. Check out these two examples and see if you can guess which one performed better:
Headline: Work Less and Teach More with Our Martial Arts Software.
Subhead: Rainmaker is management and marketing software built to market your school, manage your classes, and bill your students.
Headline: Market Your School, Manage Your Classes, and Bill Your Students All in One Place.
Subhead: Work less and teach more with our management and marketing software.
Did you guess correctly? The latter option shot up conversions by a whopping 115%. The subhead I had written turned out to be a better headline and ended up bumping up conversions by a large margin.
But don’t think you can just go about switchin’ up all your headlines and subheads. Go into this with a strategy and really analyze if this switcheroo strategy can work in your favor.
3) Remove your subhead.
Daaaang, look at you, writing amazing headlines.
Reread your subhead and ask yourself if it’s doing anything to support the headline. Maybe it’s just adding unnecessary verbiage. If so, try removing your subhead and see if your headline alone can stand up to readers.
4) Provide more detailed CTAs.
CTA change can make all the difference. Remember how I talked about how more detailed CTAs are better? Try getting as detailed as possible and seeing how that goes.
Good: Get A FREE Trial
Try: Get A 14-Day FREE Trial
The more the visitor knows what clicking the CTA will do, the more decisive they’ll be about whether or not they want to submit their information. See what amount of detail in your CTA will work for your page.
Good: Get a Consultation
Try: Get a 15-minute Phone Consultation
Bad: Learn More
Good: Get My FREE Demo
Try: Get My 20-minute FREE Demo
You’ve got the idea.
5) Speak from a first-person point-of-view for CTA’s.
Using a first-person perspective will appeal to users as if it were them talking.
Instead of: Get a Free Demo or Get Your Free Demo
Try: Get My Free Demo
Instead of: Claim Your Free Trial
Try: Claim My Free Trial
Instead of: See Rates
Try: See My Rates
I know it sounds kinda weird, but this helps the user envision that the button’s narrative is coming from them, not from your business.
6) Use disclaimers to quell fears.
Add copy like “no credit card needed,” “unsubscribe at any time,” or “it only takes 5 minutes!” for those visitors that are still weary of giving you their information. We like to keep this information around the form. Try putting it in smaller text under the CTA button.
7) Don’t group giant blocks of text together.
You might think that the more information, the better–but giant blocks of text will deter the visitors from reading. One quick glance and they might just skip over it. Be sure to break up heavy copy with some icons, infographics, or images. We know you’ve got a lot to offer–but remember, you’re writing copy for a landing page that will hopefully convert, not a novel.
8) Try breaking up some text into lists.
A great way to have users focus on key points of your big paragraph is to break it up into a list. This makes it seem less intimidating by breaking down the copy into small sections that are easier to read and follow.
9) If you’re using multi-step forms, don’t keep same copy on other pages.
For users to realize they’ve moved onto a different page, you’ve got to switch up your headline, form copy, and even your CTA on the next step. We want to make it as easy as possible for them to flow through the pages, so use your copy to do so.
Check out these two steps:
These MortgagePal pages look similar at a glance–but if you look closer, you’ll see there are changes being made to the headline, subheadline, form header, and CTA. These copy adjustments help users figure out they’re onto the next step.
10) Switch up adding pricing vs. removing pricing.
Prices can play a big factor on whether your users convert or not. Ask yourself if the type of visitor that is landing on your page is interested in pricing. Sometimes, adding the pricing on your page may deter too many users from taking that next step. In other cases, users are on your page looking for pricing. Reevaluate your visitors’ goals or use CRO research tools like Hotjar to find out what people are really looking for.
The page at the time had a low conversion rate. We thought the pricing chart may be giving users doubts about moving onto the next step. When we removed it, conversion rates when up by 28%.
11) Wait, don’t get overly emotional.
You might want to try a page that’s purely based on emotion, but there’s evidence that suggests otherwise.
There are lots of articles out there that insist that your CRO copywriting should be based around your users feelings, but you still need to have some logical reason to have your users go through with that conversion. A mixture emotion and logic in copywriting will be your key to success.
12) Remember to answer any questions you think page visitors might have.
What are the top 3 questions asked by potential customers and what are your answers? That’s one thing we like to ask clients at KlientBoost before starting on their project.
You can use this information as ammo to write copy and stay one step ahead. When the user visits your page, think of why they’re here and what they’re looking to find out. Put yourself in their shoes; what kind of questions would you be asking? Eliminate that doubt before they leave, because they couldn’t find what they were looking for on your page.
13) People love FREE stuff.
So, when you do have stuff to give out that doesn’t require payment, feel FREE to emphasize it. Hahahaha, see what I did there.
But in all seriousness, people are just emotionally triggered to the word–so don’t feel like you have to hold back. It makes users to believe that there’s no risk involved. If your product sucks, hey, at least they give you their money for it. Therefore, they’re more willing to try it out, since there’s a lot they can possibly gain with nothing to lose.
14) Try message matching copy.
Your headline should relate closely to your PPC ad copy, with some exceptions. Your visitors clicked on your ad, because those words intrigued them. Once they land on your page, have the same message in your headline on your page to let them know they’ve arrived at the right place.
I did a quick search for some teeth whitening as an example:
Imagine searching for teeth whitening, and landing on this page. The only mention of whitening on this page is on the little green square to the lower left of the page. Where do you go to find out more information? Why would I choose them for teeth whitening as opposed to someone else? You have to actively search for your own answers on this page and most people won’t bother.
Right when you land on the page, you see the deal that was promised in the ad copy: “New Patients Receive Teeth Whitening for Just $99”. What a deal.
You also see the person that is mentioned in the ad: “Dr. Randa Nasr”.
These two points are super clear indicators that you’re where you intended to go.
15) Use dynamic keywords.
Dynamic keywords allow you switch out keywords to match what your users are searching. By doing this, you can run many different ads that all point to the same landing page. This is a way to help you better message match your ad copy to your headline and stay relevant to what your users searched without building many different pages.
For example, when users click search for something like “insurance coverage california,” we can show them this page:
But if the users search something for insurance coverage in Texas, they’ll see something like this:
The locations will switch according to what state users are wanting to find insurance coverage in. When we enabled Dynamic Keyword Insertion on this page, there was a 41% increase in conversions.
16) Change up your testimonial source information.
We’ve established that it looks more credible when you put a first and last name to your testimonial source. Try changing up the copy that goes after that.
Job Title: Tiffany Tran, Professional Stunt Double
Where They Work: Tiffany Tran, KlientBoost
Location: Tiffany Tran, Long Beach, CA
Where the Review Came From: Tiffany Tran, Yelp
Combination of Them: Tiffany Tran, Professional Stunt Double at KlientBoost
17) Add numbers and statistics.
Adding numbers provides credibility and will help support your claims.
Here are some examples:
Statistics like this show your users that you’ve got a lot of experience under your belt or that your product is doing an awesome job. Use these number to help convince your visitors into converting.
Also, you can try testing a specific number vs an estimated number. For example “over 100,000 users” vs. “101,395 users”, “over 80% of users” vs “88% of users”. According to Copybloggers, precise statistic details can help add credibility. Since they’re so specific, it conveys that you’re telling the truth to the users, as opposed to a vague, rounded number that just looks like a rough estimate.
18) Create a sense of urgency.
If users are having a hard time deciding if they want to convert or not, creating a sense of urgency may push them to just hurry up and do it before time runs out. You can mention something like “Limited Time Only” or “Only available for the next 24 hours!” to make them think that your offer is temporary. If they don’t get it now, they may never see it again.
19) And of course, never stop testing.
But you knew that already, right?
All Things Must Come To An End: CRO Copywriting Wrap-Up
Remember those quotes from the beginning of this post? There’s going to be a lot of different opinions on what works and what doesn’t, but don’t let it overwhelm you.
As demonstrated, even the slightest of changes can have a huge effect on conversions when it comes to CRO copywriting. Now that you’ve got some of the best practices along with some testing ideas, nothing’s stopping you from making some kick-ass copy. This may be a lot to take in, but keep practicing and testing with the right knowledge and you’ll just keep improving your pages.
What do you think: did I miss any CRO copywriting hacks? I would love to read your comments below.