Once you’ve dialed in your SEO, perfected your pay-per-click ads, and ensured your website has a user-interface that your customers will love, how do you get those shiny, new visitors to take the next step to become customers or clients?
Solid, catchy, compelling content.
Copywriting is one of the keys to your website’s success. You want content that persuades and convinces easily, not that is stilted and hard to read. You want your content strategy to be supported by quality content.
The tips here will help you create content for your website, marketing materials, emails, and more that converts people to customers and customers to raving fans.
Writing is something you either love or hate. If you're in the latter category, these steps and tips will help you make the most compelling content you can in the least amount of time. (If you really hate it, check out our new copywriting services and let us take care of it.) If you're in the former category, you will definitely find some tips in here that will help you take your writing from 10 to 11.
The first thing you need to master is the art of the headline. You need to be able to grab people’s attention with a headline that speaks to the problem you are trying to solve. However, even for professional writers, headline writing can be a tricky art.
You want a headline that is short and sweet but also packed with words that are powerful and stir emotions. You want a good mix of words people are used to seeing and unique words that will catch their attention and hold their interest. And you need it to speak to the actual content you are creating.
Sound tricky? It is. Luckily, there are some great, free headline analyzers out there that will give you an overall score for your headline and give you tips to improve it. I like the one from coschedule. It’s definitely worth the email sign up.
(In case you were wondering, this headline got a score of 68. Not the best, but definitely not the worst.)
Do you know what doesn’t motivate your readers? Reason. Reason can convince them that it’s a good idea to do something but it doesn’t actually get them to click the “buy” button. It probably won’t even get them to click the “schedule a consult” button.
To get your potential customers to take action, you need to get them to feel something about you and your product. You need to get them excited about the possibilities or worried about missing out or scared that their competitors will get an advantage.
All of these emotions will help convert intention to action. Of course, you need to lay out the best case for using your product or service. You shouldn’t ignore reason all together when writing. But you also shouldn’t shy away from using emotion to get your customers to take action.
Do you know why Black Friday became a huge sales driver for stores? Do you know why Amazon has made Prime Day it’s own sort of holiday? Do you know why you check the “Clearance” rack whenever you visit your favorite store?
Because all of these deals are short-lived. Black Friday deals only last a little while. Prime Day deals have an actual countdown clock on the product page so you know exactly how much time you have left to snag that item. Items on the clearance rack are gone, never to return, once they’re sold.
Retailers get you to buy more than you intended to by convincing you that there won’t be a better deal later and that you need to buy NOW in order to save big. But, really, that TV will probably go on sale again. That Prime Day deal may not be the best one available, even though it has a countdown clock. (True story, I snagged a Prime Day item cheaper on the non-Prime Day item listing the first year Prime Day was introduced.)
If your content can instill a sense of urgency in your readers, they are more likely to take the action you want them to take.
Featured Reading: Top 10 Things Every Website Needs.
Ok, this step is tricky. For SEO purposes, having a good amount of long-form content on your site, specifically your blog, is a best practice. However, what you want to avoid is having long blocks of content that are hard for readers to, well, read.
Unless it’s a subject they are truly interested in, most people will scan content for the information they need. It’s even better if they can scan headings that direct them to the information that will be most valuable to them.
As you can see, I practice what I preach. I keep all paragraphs to no more than three sentences. (Four is ok if they are short.)
I break up my content with clear, descriptive headings that you can quickly grasp and either move on or read more if you want more information. That way, I can produce long-form content that brings in readers while making that content easy to digest and more likely to be actually read.
This same content strategy can be used throughout your business website. Break up product descriptions with headings. Use headings when you are describing your company on the “About Us” page or your process.
You won’t go wrong when you make your content easier for your audience to scan.
One mistake that many websites make is assuming the audience knows what to do once they’ve finished reading their content.
Spoiler alert, they probably don’t.
Most visitors to your website are looking for directions. They want to be told HOW to solve the problem they are facing. They need you, through your content, to tell them WHAT to do next in order to solve it.
That’s where your call to action comes in. Your content needs a call to action that’s clear and unmistakable. It needs to be prominent and hard to miss. The content's call to action should also be simple to accomplish.
A great call to action is short, sweet, to the point: Buy today for clearer skin tomorrow!
A poor call to action buries the actual action: When you invest in this skincare line, you are investing in better skin for life.
See the difference? Both talk about buying a skincare product but one gives a sense of urgency and is explicit in what you need to do to solve your skincare problem. The other one talks around the act of purchasing and doesn’t actually tell the reader what to do, just what will happen if they take the action.
This is where your content strategy comes into play. Your content strategy should be based on thorough research and supported by data about your audience.
You are looking to solve a problem for your audience through your product or service, right? The best way to get the people who need help with that specific problem to view you as a trustworthy purveyor of the solution is to give them content that helps them solve the problem your business solves.
Here’s an example. Right now, there are two blog posts on my site that are bringing in loads of traffic and are scoring great on search engines. But it’s doing me no good.
Why? Because the two blog posts are about free UX design courses and the best fonts to use for online readability.
I do not offer UX design courses and I’m not looking for customers who are interested in the readability scores of fonts because I worry about that for my clients. So as popular as these blogs are, I’m not super thrilled because the traffic they’re bringing in aren’t my people.
My people are people who know their site can do better and be better and need someone to help them along the way. My people are worried about things like how to convert readers into customers, not how to become a better UX designer.
To create content that truly converts, you need to eliminate distractions that are unrelated to the goal you are trying to achieve.
That lead generation download prompt on your sidebar? Try and ensure they are to lead gen content that’s related to the on-page content.
In-text links to other material? Make sure that the link is to content that is on-topic or expands on the topic at hand.
Everything on the page should support the search query that brought your reader to the page. Copy that converts will only be as good as the supporting material. Make sure it's all going to the same goal.
For this step, I’m not talking about 90% of a single piece of content. I’m talking about 90% of ALL your content. You want your audience to come to you for expertise and information. That way, when it comes to time to sell them something, they trust that you know what you’re talking about.
People don’t want to rely on a sales site for information. Audiences don’t actually like to be sold to constantly. If they are receiving a pitch every time they land on your site, they are going to stop coming altogether.
On the flip side of that, if they come to your site and mostly get information, tips, and tricks that are helpful to them, they will be more likely to buy when you do pitch products and services.
This also applies to your social media pages. People love social media because it allows them to get informed, be inspired, and ignore their to-do list for a little while. If your social media pages are constantly selling something, people are not going to follow you.
Since social media is a great place to find new customers, you want to make sure that your pages are set up to attract and keep visitors through informative, interesting, and only sometimes sales-y content.
Again, your audience doesn’t want to spend more time than necessary reading and trying to understand your content. They have other things they want to do. When you make sure that your writing is clear and makes good use of headings, it’s easier for your audience to read and digest the parts that are most valuable to them.
When you make life easier for your audience, they are more likely to remember you and your website as a useful source of information and become regular readers and visitors. When they become regular readers and visitors, they are more likely to become paying customers.
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How mad would you have been if you clicked on this link and landed on a page of 1700 words with little to no useful takeaways on how to convert visitors into customers?
Mad is probably the wrong word. (See? Clarity is important!) But you definitely would be annoyed. Content needs to do what it promises to do. If you promise your visitors tips on how to paint a room with no mess and then spend the whole time selling them on your painting service, they will click out and probably won't come back.
Your visitors’ time is valuable. Don’t waste it.
A large number of clickthroughs don’t mean much if your bounce rate skyrockets because their expectations were not met.
Your business writing is one of the key ways to convert a website visitor into a regular customer. Whether it's in your marketing materials, your email outreach, your blog, or throughout your website, great copywriting is what is going to separate you from your competition. It's what's going to convert your visitors into customers. It's what's going to make you the go-to place for people looking for help with the problem you solve.
But copywriting isn't the end-all, be-all of conversion tactics. In fact, it's just one of the nine steps to dominating online that I've identified in my Blueprint for Online Excellence. Once you've mastered each of the nine steps, there will be no stopping your business growth.