Conversion Copywriting: The Formula That Unlocked Conversions

Rishi Rawat Blog Posts 13 Comments

If you’re looking to boost conversions you need to be thinking about writing copy that converts. The latest survey and studies in 2020 show that the average conversion rate of e-commerce websites is 2.86%. The industry average is kinda pathetic.

Old is gold

The most valuable thing I own is this 1897 Sears catalog:

This search catalog from 1897 has thought me more about conversion copywriting than any book could ever.
1897 Sears Catalog. If you think you’re a good copywriter you need to read this.

Writing copy that converts

When it comes to conversion copywriting there are so many schools of thought: some think it’s an art-form, others are convinced it’s scientific.

Also, there are a dozen different copywriting styles.

Copywriters get into copywriting because they have a passion for writing. Over time, they start picking up on subtle aspects of buyer psychology. They use these lessons to write even better copy.

We started from the other end of the spectrum. With A/B testing.

The goal wasn’t to write better copy, the goal was to convert more new buyers.

Long, hard journey

First we tested design concepts.

After that, layout concepts.

And many other things.

Over time it became clear that copy tweaks were driving the best results.

Why? Because design changes require a lot more approvals as we’re touching the brand. Plus, A/B testing a design change requires a lot of technical details with setting up an A/B test.

But copy is easy to change. And as a result copy tests have generated the best results for us in the last 10 years.

Breakthrough

Being effort maximizers (or lazy slobs), now we only focus on copy.

When we think about copywriting we’re only thinking about it from the perspective of buyer psychology.

This means we don’t:

  • Focus on our own style preferences.
  • Worry about getting recognition from other creative copywriters.
  • Think about getting “oohs” and “aahs” from clients.

Also, the copywriting universe is huge. And we’re 2 people.

So, for us, the key is being super niche. So within buyer psychology, we only think about techniques to convert first-time buyers (people who have never bought from you before).

If that isn’t your focus the list below might not help. However, if you are looking for a list (based on buyer psychology) that reveals the secret to converting new buyers this is the only list you should use.

Finally, the list

What we’ve learned about human psychology and how we use that to write product page copy that boosts sales 10%. Our conversion copywriting checklist:

  • Are skeptical of “too good to be true”.
  • Find expertise sexy.
  • Influenced by “implied” messages.
  • Root for people who beat the odds.
  • Fascinated by surprising details.
  • Are visual animals.
  • Need motivation to break habits.
  • Love personalized experiences.
  • Like knowing they’ve stumbled onto something rare.
  • Must resolve negative thoughts.
  • Buy from people they like.

Conversion Copywriting Examples:

Are skeptical of “too good to be true”:

Buyers like good news. But when the news is too good they start getting suspicious. A 74% discount seems too good to be true. Now the buyer’s thinking:

— Is this item about to be phased out?
— Defect I’m not aware of?
— Company about to shut down? Inventory liquidation? If so, will I be able to make a return?

Example 1:

If you actually want to give a 74% discount do it like this: add a link right next to the discounted price (location is key) that says something to the effect, “why this crazy discount?”

On click show a popup with this message:

Running retail stores is expensive. There are staff costs. Rent. Inventory costs. With multiple locations, those costs add up.

We decided to eliminate all of those costs and pass most of those savings to you.

But here’s the thing, only 7% of people in the US know about us. Most still prefer to go to retail stores and end up overpaying. We get it, changing habits is hard.

Instead of spending big money advertising, we’ve decided to offer incredible discounts (on our already low prices) in the hope that when you receive your order you will be so happy you’ll tell 5 of your closest friends about us. Think of this as a bribe 🙂

Find expertise sexy:

There is a reason you don’t take medical advice from your florist brother-in-law.

Example 1:

Centrifugal motors pulverize. That makes sense for many things, just not juicing. Pulverization destroys the cellular structure of fruit. What one needs is hand kneading like action. So we invented one. Took 38 tries, but we did it.

Influenced by “implied” messages:

If you can get the reader to fill in the blank, you’ll win.

Example 1: 

Implied: There are over 122 energy drinks on the market. We’ve tried them all.

Stated: There are over 122 energy drinks on the market. Ours is the best.

Which do you think is more effective?

Root for people who beat the odds:

This an underutilized aspect of conversion copywriting. We have 2 examples to share.

Example 1:

They said it couldn’t be done. After 3 years, we were beginning to think they were right. But then, with prototype #43, it happened.

Example 2:

National beer brands have giant advertising budgets on their side. They know how to craft slick messages. They have factories where they produce beer in olympic swimming pool quantities. It was always going to be a longshot, but someone had to try.

Fascinated by surprising details:

Example 1: 

Did you know that the average American drinks 167 bottles of water per year? With [product], you could remove up to 167 plastic bottles from landfills and waterways each year.

Are visual animals:

Visuals are 10x more impactful than words. You can use this aspect of conversion copywriting to evoke a mental image.

Card found in a hotel bathroom:

MGM Resorts has saved 794 million gallons of water in the past 5 years, which is the equivalent of 1,200 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Did the swimming pool flash in your mind?

Need motivation to break habits:

Example:

It’s tempting to hope one never has to be in an emergency situation. And 9 times out of 10 that’s the case for most of us.

Love personalized experiences:

Humans are social animals. We’ve been socially interacting for hundreds of thousands of years. Which is why the last 20 years of the Internet can’t change that. And you can use this to write copy that converts.

Example: If you have a technical product your product page is likely long. Some visitors are looking for just the facts, others are interested in the complicated details. Give them both a voice. At the top of the description add a menu like this:

How much time do you have to learn about [product] today?

[I have time] [I have 2 minutes]

For shoppers who select [I have time], show the full pitch. For those who select [I have 2 minutes], show the condensed version.

PS: We have a case study about this. Visit https://www.frictionless-commerce.com/case-studies and click Oransi logo.

Like knowing they’ve stumbled onto something rare:

Example 1:

Most people hunting for the perfect emergency medical kit give up in frustration. They never make it to this page.

Example 2:

In the past week, only 77% of our visitors discovered this page. That’s a shame because we believe this is one of our top products.

Example 3:

Over 63 million households own a dog in the U.S. Only 1% of those households buy raw pet food for their best friend.

Must resolve negative thoughts:

If there are lingering concerns or irritants, even if little ones, the sale will not happen. But with clever copy you can overcome this.

Example:

No one likes paying for shipping. We get it. These days most retailers give free shipping. But how do they do it? Have carriers stopped charging for shipping? Of course not. The only way to give free shipping is to either increase the price of the item or underinvest in post-sale customer service. One way or another you will pay for it. We just prefer to be transparent about it.

Buy from people they like:

Given a chance, show your personality.

This our final conversion copywriting example:

This order confirmation email makes the personality of NATIV crystal clear (a fun bunch of people).
Email from NATIV

It’s a long journey

This checklist will help you but remember we all have a long way to go.

If you ever feel you’ve mastered conversion copywriting it’ll help to think about this Tweet by Jason Fried:

Related Copywriting Articles

Words Kick Video’s Ass

Implied Marketing vs. Stated Marketing

How to Write Product Description that Sells (with Example)

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      Hi, Ron.

      1: The idea behind the possessive strategy was this: we love buying but hate it when it feels like our options are being limited. We ultimately dropped this from our list.
      2: I’ll email you examples for the remaining strategies on May 4th.

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