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Conversion copywriting has just one role: to get prospects from “this is fascinating” to “where do I enter my credit card number?” But how is it done? That’s what we reveal in this post.
How we discovered the conversion copywriting formula that works
We tested everything: from design, to headlines, to layout.
After 11 years of relentless testing, we isolated the 9 fundamental truths about how shoppers think:
- People are skeptical of “too good to be true”
- They find expertise sexy
- They root for people who beat the odds
- They are fascinated by surprising details
- They are visual animals
- They need motivation to break habits
- They love personalized experiences
- They like knowing they’ve stumbled onto something rare
- We must resolve their negative thoughts
Conversion Copywriting Examples:
1: People are skeptical of “too good to be true”:
Marketing works by making claims. Claims like “removes 99% of allergens.” Trouble is your potential customer has been burned before. They aren’t so sure about this claim. Our job as copywriters is to identify any product story claim that may be considered “too good to be true” and write an explanation to diffuse that thought.
Looking to dig deeper into too good to be true strategy?
2: People find expertise sexy:
There is a reason you don’t take medical advice from your florist brother-in-law. We are living in a highly specialized and technical world where shoppers are looking to buy from super-experts. To optimize conversion rates our expertise needs to be apparent.
3: People root for people who beat the odds:
It’s human nature to want to support people who have overcome the odds. We want to see David take down Goliath. What challenges did you overcome? Don’t hide, talk about them.
Skiplagged.com is a site that helps you find cheap flights. To drive home that point they used this copy: “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us… but we won.” Screenshot (click image to see zoomed view):
4: People are fascinated by surprising details:
There are 2 reasons why surprising details optimize conversion rates:
Reason 1: humans are incredibly curious. We are information-seeking machines.
Reason 2: digesting a sales pitch requires mental processing. It is taxing and can get monotonous. Interesting details act mini energy boosts, giving the reader a burst of excitement that propels them to continue exploring our sales pitch.
One way to unearth these interesting details is to do a Google search about your product category. “Room air purifier” and “dog wheelchair” are examples of product categories. Your search will lead to a blog post or newspaper article with an interesting stat or trivia. Work it into your copy.
Conversion copywriting example 1:
Fact: it takes the average user 7 years to acknowledge that they need a hearing aid. Most people don’t realize this and it’s a surprising detail.
Now, let’s think about someone visiting Hear.com (not a client). To drive home this point we added a “guess how long …” question to the top of the page:
Now the user can interact with it. This is what they see when they make a wrong selection:
And when the correct choice is made:
The whole point of our concept is to help the majority of visitors discover this surprising detail.
How long can we expect a new visitor to stay on our site? Globally, the average session duration for e-commerce is a measly 2 minutes 32 seconds.
Looking to dig deeper into People are fascinated by surprising details strategy?
5: People are visual animals:
Human beings are designed to absorb visual input. In fact, more than 50% of the cortex—the surface of the brain—is devoted to processing visual information (source).
Use copywriting to evoke a mental image and drive the sale.
This is what was on a 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?
Another example: $6 billion dollars is an abstract figure. Most humans can’t relate to it. So, I’ll make it visual by saying:
“At $50,000 a year, it would take 120,000 years to pay off $6 billion. That’s the lifetime earnings of 3,000 people. (source: Netflix’s show Space Force).”
Looking to dig deeper into People are visual animals strategy?
6: People need motivation to break habits:
We think too much about our direct competitors (other companies that tell what we sell).
Your bigger competition is the shopper’s mind. Shoppers use creative tricks so they don’t have to buy your breakthrough product. 2 creative tricks:
- ‘Pretend this isn’t a problem’ strategy
- Use workarounds
‘Pretend this isn’t a problem’ strategy:
Imagine you are a company that sells long term food storage (this is freeze-dried food that has a shelf life of 25 years). People buy your product because they are concerned about being in an extended emergency situation where they don’t have access to food.
Here is a line that will give buyers the nudge to move forward:
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.
Imagine you sell an adult hybrid exercise bike like this:
It’s smart to assume many people looking into buying an adult hybrid bike already use other methods to workout, like running on a treadmill or running outside.
So if you want to convince them to buy your adult hybrid bike it’s a good idea to talk about how running places a lot of pressure on the joints.
People need motivation to break habits: My story
7: People love personalized experiences:
Conversion copywriting 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. Oransi case study.
Interested in learning more about Personalized Experiences?
8: People like knowing they’ve stumbled onto something rare:
It is human nature to want to feel special. We like knowing we’ve discovered something other people are yet to discover. As a marketer responsible for conversion copywriting, I want my visitor to feel lucky to have discovered my solution.
“Most people hunting for the perfect emergency medical kit give up in frustration. They never make it to this page.”
“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.”
“Over 63 million households own a dog in the U.S. Only 1% of those households buy raw pet food for their best friend.”
9: We must resolve shoppers’ negative thoughts:
Now, if you’ve done all the steps described above you have created a buyer who is itching to buy.
But, if there are lingering negative thoughts, they will derail the sale.
No matter how convinced the buyer is, if there are any remaining nagging thoughts in their mind it’s going to hold them back. This is just how it is. Therefore, as a marketer, we need to anticipate all negative thoughts so we can tell a story that not only amplifies desire but also resolves them.
Buyers have negative thoughts around 3 dimensions:
— Missing features
— Inferior features
For the marketer, there are 2 strategies for dealing with negative thoughts:
Resolve: here the shopper has the negative thought on their own, the copywriter anticipates and resolves it.
Introduce and resolve: here the marketer injects a negative thought, and then proceeds to resolve it.
Great example of Introduce and resolve:
This is from Rich Page’s LinkedIn profile. The visitor probably wasn’t thinking individual expert versus agency. Rich injected that idea and once injected it’s hard to get rid of it:
Imagine a shopper is on checkout and sees your shipping price. We know from studies that online shoppers hate paying for shipping.
So it’s quite possible our shopper is turned off by the shipping charge. Therefore to address this, right next to the shipping price, add a link that says “shipping price explanation” and on click show this popup message:
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.
Wholesaleaccessorymarket.com is a wholesale site. They sell large orders. I went to their product page, added an item to the cart, and saw this message:
This is a perfectly logical message. It logically explains the reasoning. But shoppers buy for emotional reasons. Some people will read this message and think “I don’t understand why I need to wait 7-10 days”. Here is one way the retailer could address this:
Waiting 7 – 10 business days sucks
We get it. But we had a challenge. We obviously want to offer both lightning-fast shipping and incredible value. But, when only 1 can be picked we choose incredible value. 87% of our customers favor this. If you can wait 7 – 10 business days you’ll see this Down On The Farm Patriotic Unisex Blend Tee is worth it.
A shopper’s negative thoughts will change based on factors unique to your marketing pitch. But one question shoppers will have no matter what you are selling is “am I overpaying?”. This is a universal question. So we might as well nail price justification.
A LITTLE ABOUT US
Thank you for reading this conversion copywriting article. We are Frictionless Commerce and over the last 11 years, we’ve thought about just one thing: how do we get online shoppers to convert?
Our goal is to optimize conversion rates for your site.
If you’re on LinkedIn much you
can should definitely connect with me. On LinkedIn, I post ecommerce conversion ideas every day, multiple times a day.