Writing Copy That Converts – The Secret is Out

By Jon MacDonald
9 minute read | Last Updated: June 30, 2016

To get more sales and write copy that converts, follow these five landing page fundamentals. Make sure every word on the page helps your visitors get closer to a solution.

Do you want to know the secret to writing landing page copy that converts visitors into buyers?

Would you like to uncover the one word that can turn your business around and widen the gap between barely making it and living the dream?

Our agency focuses on conversion growth. We’ve helped companies like Nike, Xerox and MasterCraft discover their Stuck Score™ and free up revenue streams.

You may not be the CEO or CMO of a major brand, though. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur, working on a start-up. Maybe you’re a local business hoping to get more customers through the door.

No matter which end of the spectrum fits your situation, the fundamentals are the same.

Whether you work for a multinational corporation or a mom and pop appliance store, this article is for you.

Are you ready to learn that secret word?

Let’s begin with a story.

How tough can it be to find what you want?

Your feet are killing you.

It’s time for a less fashionable (perhaps) and more comfortable (definitely) pair of shoes.

There’s a new department store nearby. You’ve seen their ads, you’re heard others rave about the giant selection there, and you’re armed with a 25% off coupon.

You’re a shoe-seller’s dream.

Stepping inside, though, you get your first hint that this could take a little more effort than you’d imagined.

It’s like a circus in there.

A young woman with a clipboard pops up from the crowd. She wants you to get on the store’s mailing list for “special offers.” Her bait is the coupon you already have.

You explain that you came for shoes… and you’re in a bit of a hurry.

She’s relentless, though. Your email address is all she has in mind.

You decide to take your chances and wing it.

There are signs hanging everywhere. They say things like “Same-Day Delivery,” “Best Prices in Town,” and “Join Our Club Today!”

None of the signs say “Shoes,” though.

You see a man wearing the store colors and a name tag. He has a clipboard too.

“Pardon me,” you yell through the crowd, “where are your shoes?”

Big smile. Perfect teeth. He beckons you to come closer.

“Did you get signed up for our newsletter yet?”

“Shoes,” you’re now about to scream, “Shoes. Where are the shoes?”

“Oh yes, we have shoes. Just fill out this form first, so we can get to know you better.”

That’s the final straw.  You turn around and leave the store.

Who could blame you?

Fortunately, there’s another store nearby

Back to the car, down the road, you’re determined to find what you need.

Entering the second store, you can feel the difference immediately.

No noise. No signage overkill. No need to track down an employee.

You’re greeted by the store manager who personally walks you to the shoe department.

The clerk ascertains your needs and preferences, then shows you several options that could remedy the problem you came to solve.

The price is a little more than you wanted to pay, and you don’t have a coupon for this store, but you’re so overjoyed with the kind and helpful service you’ve been given that none of that matters.

It’s a done deal.

That’s exactly how it is on your landing pages

We’ve found time and again, that our clients’ landing pages, product detail pages, and FAQ pages (just to name a few) all have way too much text and not enough clarity.

Too much copy breeds confusion, and confusion doesn’t convert. Your website visitors don’t have time to “figure out where the shoes are.”

Too much copy breeds confusion, and confusion doesn't convert. Click To Tweet

You need to take them by the hand and take them there.

When you’re on a mission to buy something and you enter an unfamiliar store, what actions do you take immediately?

Your website visitors all do the same things:

  • They scan for keywords that resonate with their reason for being there
  • They ignore 90% of everything else
  • They focus on their “job to be done”

Depending on the depth of the motivation and the time pressure, you may invest the time to roam around a brick and mortar store, hoping to find the right section. You may even seek out an employee for assistance.

But you’ll seldom do that online.

You click on a link, go to the page, quickly judge whether or not what you’re looking for is available there, then either follow the plain trail set out before you, or you back out and leave.

And that’s true whether the page you entered on is a blog article, product page, or the home page.

Landing page fundamentals (and the magic word you’ve been looking for)

We’ve set the scene and described the problem. It’s time to cut to the chase.

At The Good, we believe in keeping it simple.

We figure the right amount of copy on a page is the exact amount it takes to get the job done. Nothing more and nothing less.

The right amount of copy on a page is the exact amount it takes to get the job done. Nothing more. Click To Tweet

Of course, that means the first step is always to define the job the page is there to accomplish.

Let’s look at a few landing page fundamentals:

  1. Every page is potentially a landing page
  2. Every page has one primary assignment
  3. Every word on the page should support that assignment
  4. The language used must be familiar to the visitor
  5. The next action to take must be apparent to the visitor

Here’s the magic words: “the visitor.”

Don’t talk about yourself, don’t please yourself, and don’t pat yourself on the back ad nauseam.

People come to you with a problem. Your job is to sort out the ones who have a problem you can solve, then present them with the solution.

Moreover, you have to describe the problem and the solution with words and illustrations the potential client or customer will understand.

Here’s an example of copy that converts.

This Snow Peak test is boosting click-throughs by 63%

Snow Peak Nav

“Stockists” is a common term for retailers in some countries, but it’s not well-known inside the USA.

In line with the fourth fundamental, “The language used must be familiar to the visitor,” we wanted to know what would happen if “Stockists” was changed to “Store Locator.”

Snow Peak Nav 2

Current results are showing a 63% increase in conversions for U.S. customers.

How can one word make such a difference? You know the answer: it’s all about “them.”

Beware the mindset that wants you to speak your own language. Your success is very much dependent on your ability to speak “their” language.

Here’s another example, this time a violation of fundamental number five.

Prepare a clear path for your visitors

Run enough tests and you’ll discover an interesting phenomenon. Results aren’t always obtained by changing the words on the page; there are times when you need to get rid of the words entirely.

For instance, Xerox asked us to help increase the conversion rate for this toner add-on page. It’s a simple layout. It’s focused on one thing, and it uses language familiar to the visitor.

This page was losing sales, though, by introducing confusion. Those two blue lines under the top “Add to cart” button invite the buyer to go elsewhere.

Xerox Add to Cart

That’s like standing at the cash register with your wallet out – then the clerk asks whether you’ve tried the store next door where you might get a better price.

Yes, manufacturers need to be aware of creating discord with retailers by selling direct (we talk about that in our book, “Stop Marketing, Start Selling”) but checkout isn’t the time to consider that topic.

By removing the extra text links around the Add to Cart buttons, Xerox saw a 20% improvement in engagement, 5% boost in products added to cart, and a 33% improvement in customers continuing through purchase.

That’s not by adding anything, remember, but by removing a distraction. Here’s the golden rule for landing page copy: If it doesn’t need to be there, get rid of it.

Here’s the golden rule for landing page copy: If it doesn’t need to be there, get rid of it. Click To Tweet

One more quick example, this one from the page of an entrepreneur.

A place for everything and everything in the right place

Alex Genadinik is a serial entrepreneur.

His business app pops up in the #1 spot in a search for “business” in the Google Play store. Search for Alex on Amazon, and you’ll get over 20 results.

In the past, Alex has relied on a constant flow of new products to keep bumping up revenue, but this year he says he’s going to put some thought into conversion rates.

You be the consultant, then.

How could Alex improve this one little section of his Udemy discounts page?

Udemy discounts page

Got it?

I’m going to bet you have some copy suggestions for Alex. He could definitely say as much or more with fewer words.

What else, though?

Would he be better off to move the social share icons to the bottom of the page? Probably.

How about the date? Does it lend itself to confusion? Do you wonder whether or not the discounts are still available? Is the date even necessary?

How much of that portion of the page is essential to the viewer?

Writing Copy That Converts – The Secret is Out

Alex needs to do exactly what you and I need to do: focus on the visitor.

Pushing a “share this” or “subscribe now” message is fine… in the right place. But those things should never get in the way of the page’s primary purpose.

For a funny, brief look at how that can look to your visitors, watch this clip: Email Pop-up.

It’s tough to look through someone else’s eyes.

Don’t rely on your own perspective. Show your page to others and ask them for feedback. Ask what they think the page is designed to do. Ask how the page can accomplish that job better.

You’ll get the answers you need, if you ask.

To get more sales, to write copy that converts, follow the five landing page fundamentals and make sure every word on the page is there to help your visitors get closer to a solution.

Don’t throw up roadblocks.

Lay out stepping stones.