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:

  1. Are skeptical of “too good to be true”
  2. Find expertise sexy
  3. Root for people who beat the odds
  4. Fascinated by surprising details
  5. Are visual animals
  6. Need motivation to break habits
  7. Love personalized experiences
  8. Like knowing they’ve stumbled onto something rare
  9. Must resolve negative thoughts

Conversion Copywriting Examples:

1: 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 🙂

2: Find expertise sexy:

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

Example 1: Casper.com

Casper headline
Headline on Casper.com

3: Root for people who beat the odds:

We’re wired to root for the underdog. We want to see David take down Goliath. Fortunately, that’s why new companies are created.

So play on that. It has an amazing impact on conversions.

Skiplagged.com is a site that helps you find cheap prices. To drive home that point they added “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us… but we won.”:

Skiplagged homepage
“Our flights are so cheap, United sued us… but we won.” message

4: Fascinated by surprising details:

Example:

Fact: it takes the average user 7 years to acknowledge that they need a hearing aid. Most people don’t realize this, 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:

Hear.com default
Hear.com. Notice the “Guess how …” question we added.

Now the user can interact with it. Wrong selection:

When the wrong answer is selected.
Wrong answer. Guess again.

When the correct choice is made:

When the correct answer is selected.
Right answer.

The whole point of our concept was to help majority of visitors discover this surprising detail.

5: Are visual animals:

Why visuals matter: more than 50% of the cortex, the surface of the brain, is devoted to processing visual information.

Use 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?

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 show Space Force).

6: Need motivation to break habits:

We think too much about our direct competitors. Your competition includes:

  • Buyers who use the “pretend this isn’t a problem” strategy.
  • 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.

Workarounds: Imagine you sell an adult hybrid exercise bike–

It’s smart to assume many people looking into buying an adult hybrid bike already use other methods to workout:

— Run on a treadmill          — Run 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 joints.

7: 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.

8: 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.

And finally, 9: 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.

Writing styles

Listed above is our copywriting checklist. Now let’s also talk about copywriting styles. These are:

Implied

The idea here is to leave out the punchline and let the reader fill it in.

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?

Likable

People buy from people the like. You don’t have to make your copy syrupy. Just a hint of personality is enough.

Onefastcat.com is a cat exercise wheel. It’s a really cool product invention:

Cat exercise wheel
Onefastcat.com

To communicate how the wheel builds muscle tone they created this photoshopped image. It’s full of personality:

Clever graphic.
I’m instantly in love

Sometimes adding just one word can add personality to your copy. In this case the writer added “unfortunate”:

Just one word change can influence buyer psychology.
The writer added the word “unfortunate”

Animated object

In this example from Ora Organic the probiotic bottle is talking to the reader. Very unique and bold take. I love it:

In this example the probiotic is talking to the reader. Amazing idea for an ecommerce site.
Ora Organic example

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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