Conversion through persuasive copywriting — Review
Persuasive copy plays a big part in convincing people to believe in something
In today’s landscape, it becomes increasingly harder to stand out among the crowd with only a great product. Being able to leverage the story behind the product and consequently communicate its value through persuasive copywriting is equally, if not more important, when converting visitors into paying customers.
In this article, I will be taking you through the process of finding your key messages according to conversion copywriter Momoko Price of Kantan Designs. If you want to learn more, check out her Product Messaging course on CXL Institute.
Step 1: Conduct a Copy “Teardown”
Before first editing your copy, you’ll first need to audit or in this case, “teardown” your current copy. Typically, one would either seek feedback from close family, friends, colleagues or otherwise, or review one’s own copy. The danger with either of the above is that it doesn’t give you an objective insight. When conducting teardowns, one needs to:
- Base teardowns on proven persuasion principles — This provides an objective and calculated method and outcome.
- Use it as a gap analysis tool, not a re-writing guide — It’s about identifying the holes in your messaging, and filling up those holes.
- Remember that it can’t tell you what will work, only what likely isn’t working — The last thing you want to have is copy that doesn’t serve your best interests.
There are three basis that you can conduct your teardown upon:
1. MEClab’s Conversion Sequence Heuristic
This tests CRO principles using the following formula:
C = 4M + 3V + 2 (I-F) — 2A
M — Motivation (need, pain point, desired outcome)
V — Value proposition (clarity, relevance)
F — Friction (fluff, ambiguity, effort, confusion)
A — Anxiety
I — Incentive
2. Cialdini’s Seven Principles of Influence
This tests psychological principles as follows:
b) Social proof
c) Scarcity / urgency
f) Commitment / consistency
g) Unity i.e. us vs them
3. Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising
One of the great advertising pioneers, his principle tests copywriting in which he has outlined four rules:
- Be specific — Making a specific claim requires specificity, which is harder for marketers to lie through their teeth.
- Offer service — Instead of hard selling your offering, position it as how you’re making your users lives incrementally better.
- Tell the full story — The more complete the story, the more convincing it becomes.
- Be a sales man and woman — Will the copy you craft be able to help your sales team sell the goods?
Based on the elements mentioned above, your teardown becomes a much more structured exercise that provides real and actionable insights. Momoko has an expanded teardown framework that addresses the full marketing funnel coverage from attention-capturing copy, persuasive copy, transactional copy and confirmation copy. By identifying and prioritising, you can make a more informed decision on what you need to change in order to improve your copy.
Step 2: Message Mining
What is message mining?
It’s the process of scouring the world wide web or other available sources for instances of your target customer voicing what they care most about when it comes to your product / solution. In other words, a handy way to listen to target customers when you don’t actually have customers yet. According to the original conversion copywriter Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers, this is a way for you to steal your messaging directly from your prospects themselves.
Why does it work?
In most cases, customers are way more articulate at explaining the world of good your product or service has changed their lives since they’re the ones who actually use and pay for it. Their comments are unfiltered and encapsulates specific motivation and value that your product or service offers.
So what’s it good for?
Two things: identifying key messages and “swiping” memorable copy.
(1) Identifying Key Messages
Remember C = 4M + 3V + 2 (I-F) — 2A? Let’s break down Motivation, Value and Anxiety.
- Motivation — By understanding customers desired outcomes, pain points / problems and purchase prompts, you can first-hand insights into what motivates your customers.
- Value — When customers share a glowing testimonial, some may go as far as describing unique benefits and advantages that your product or service offers, stand-out product features and even dealbreaker needs / requirements.
- Anxiety — The more you understand your customers uncertainties, objections and perceived risks, the better you can address these “anxiety-inducing” issues through your copy.
(2) “Swiping” Memorable Copy
So what do you look for when “swiping” copy?
- Exactly how “real people” describe your product
- The multiple benefits and points-of-value they talk about
- Anything they absolutely rave about
- Specific things they don’t like about products similar to yours
- Suspicions they have
- The exact real-life problems our product helps them minimise or solve
- Interesting analogies and similes they use
What can you use these “swipes” for?
Anything that requires copywriting, which is everything really. This can range from:
- Relevant and value-focused headlines
- Authentic lead paragraphs and hooks
- Market-specific terminology and slang
- Emotionally-engaging purchase prompts
- Laser-accurate objections
So how can I message mine?
Momoko has drawn out a simple five-step process as follows:
- Make a list of keywords — this should include your brand (if well known), your product type, competitor brands, etc.
- Google keyword reviews — this can also include complaints, forums, questions, discussions and comments
- Check popular review sites — Amazon, Yelp, ConsumerReports, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor, Facebook Pages and even your own site reviews!
- Collect into spreadsheet — since spreadsheets are life, do one up that is specifically organised for message-mining
- Categorise and rank messages — this is according to various factors including motivators / pain points, purchase prompts, objections and swipe-worthy copy
This way, you won’t actually have to write your own copy since you’ll end up with copy that’s already written for you. You just need to tweak it a little.
Step 3: Mine Messages from your Customers
Once you’ve gotten the hang of mining messages, it’s time to mine them from your own customers. This is an exercise of extracting the foundation of your sales narrative and page copy through various voice-of-customer research methods such as surveys, interviews and user tests.
The most important consideration is the level of awareness of your customer. Depending on their awareness, this warrants creating separate surveys for each specific audience, being visitors and customers.
Visitor Surveys — These are great at revealing pain points, purchase prompts and anxieties
Customer Surveys — These are great at revealing unique value and benefits, ‘aha’ moments and desirable outcomes
How to design messaging surveys
There are three key components:
- Questions — The goal is to extract key messages i.e. motivation, value, anxiety
- Invitation — The goal is to get recipients to pay attention, open up and engage
- Targeting — The goal is to engage specific audience, without ticking them off (really key!)
Here are some dos and don’ts to bear in mind:
For site visitors
- Use poll format (or softly appearing) modal boxes
- Avoid mobile device-based audience
- Avoid triggering survey immediately upon site entrance
- Target PAYING customers (by email)
- Experiment with vague subject lines
- Avoid promotional email design — keep it simple with plain text and links
- Make it a 1:1 dialogue, not a generic email from a company or team — keep it personal
Interviews and User Tests
Phone interviews — Great for revealing product story / narrative, vivid turns of phrase, rich testimonials, emotional hooks
Remote user tests — Great for revealing product story, clarity issues, friction points
Some common mistakes to avoid with interviews and user tests:
- Not allocating enough time
- Asking rote questions
- Refusing to go “off-book” and explore
- Not letting silence hang
The ultimate goal here is to get the full, emotionally charged story to help fill in the blanks of your survey data.
Step 4: Crafting Effective Unique Value Propositions (UVP)
The building blocks of a great UVP is an intersection between what your customers want, what your product does and what’s unique about your product. Let’s talk about the two most common scenarios when figuring out this little intersection.
Scenario 1: Niche / new products
Key characteristics: Few / no customers, low / no traffic, unproven business model
Challenges: Low customer awareness, lack customers to get messaging guidance from, product-market fit
UVP Strategy: Brainstorm internally at first, then remember to validate! In order to brainstorm the most promising UVP:
- List your product’s key features
- Pinpoint those that are unique
- List customer pain points for each feature
- Define desirable outcomes for each pain
- Score pains / outcomes by severity and frequency
- Edit top-scored pain / outcomes into UVPs
- Score the UVPs — and go with the best one
Scenario 2: Broad / established products
Key characteristics: Active customers, medium / high traffic / proven business model
UVP Strategy: Generate through VOC research
Effective and persuasive copywriting is a key component in conversion optimisation. Marketers need to take this into consideration in order to maximise its benefits. For a wealth of resources, check out Copy Hackers website.