Just about every website has them. No matter how well thought out a website is, there are things get missed. Overlooked. Forgotten.
Especially when it comes to copy, it’s so easy to slap some words on the page and be done. You know what you’re talking about. Seems pretty obvious to you and your team what you want people to do on your site.
Isn’t it painfully obvious to everyone else?
If only your website visitors were mind readers…
The reality is that your website visitors are more than likely:
Distracted by the 5 – 10 other windows open on their browser, the phone ringing, kids crying, boss asking them questions, and so on
Impatient to find exactly the information that they want compounded by all of the above distractions
Ready to move on to greener pastures at a moment’s notice if they don’t get what they need without having to work too hard
That’s why it’s so important to set aside some time to review your own website copy and make sure it’s doing what it needs to do. All you need is a pen and some paper or grab the simple spreadsheet I put together to take notes on what and where copy should be changed.
How to pick low hanging fruit and make no brainer copy changes
You can call it a review, an audit of sorts, or – if you want to be technical – a heuristic analysis, of your site. Basically, you want to look at the copy (and ideally the usability aspects too) of your site in a structured and methodical way in order to establish how easy you’re making it for your visitors to achieve their goals on your site.
Yes, your customers’ goals are what matter here. Because if they can’t get from Point A to Point B or Z with the least amount of trouble, you run the risk of them not buying your product, opting into your email list, or starting that free trial.
Believe it or not, you can make big gains simply by taking into account 4 key pieces of the conversion copy puzzle.
Let’s break it down so you have an idea of what you should be asking yourself when you look at the main pages of your website.
Being clear is important. In fact, it’s really important. Research has shown that when information is presented in ways that are conceptually, visually, and linguistically less complex, people judge it to be more true.
This means telling your visitors what they need to know in a way that is easy to understand not only improves your odds that they will feel confident that they have landed in the right spot but will believe what you’re saying as well.
Get rid of the technical jargon in your copy whenever possible. Cramming the page full of multi-syllabic words that only a handful of people know the meaning of won’t help you get your message across.
[clickandtweet handle=”jenhavice” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Making your copy simpler to understand isn’t about dumbing it down or never being clever.[/clickandtweet] Tweet this!
It’s about getting your point across and helping your visitors make decisions quickly and easily.
Low Hanging Fruit: Do you have a clear headline that expresses your value proposition?
One of the biggest culprits in the lack of clarity department is poorly executed headlines. It’s also one of the easiest things to fix that can make a big impact on conversions or simply getting people to stay on the page.
Anytime your visitors land on a page of your website, they should know where they are and what’s in it for them. Let’s take Unbounce’s home page headline as an example.
When you read their headline and sub-headline, you know immediately where you’ve landed, who the site is for, and what you’re likely to find there.
Take a look at the copy on your site and ask yourself:
Is your value proposition clearly expressed as soon as someone lands on the page?
Is your copy full of industry speak or jargon?
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our websites should be built for our customers – not ourselves. Sure, your website needs to bring in sales and/or leads for you but if it isn’t speaking to what your customers want deep down, that’s not going to happen.
So, your copy must key into what your customers are truly looking for when they pop on your site.
Spoiler alert: If you’re merely writing things like “Saves time” or “Get more cash in your pocket,” you’re not digging deep enough.
Low Hanging Fruit: Do your benefits strike a chord with your customers?
Why are your customers coming to your site and looking to buy your product or solution? Yeah, they probably do want to save time… but so does everyone. The way I figure out how to get to the heart of what customers want is to keep asking why until there’s no more why’s left.
For instance, let’s say you’re selling a weight loss and exercise program designed specifically for young, college aged women. Why would these women be interested in your program?
They want to lose weight.
Why do they want to lose weight? Because they want to get rid of the Freshman 15 they put on.
Why do they want to get rid of those 15 pounds? Because they can’t fit into their skinny jeans anymore.
Why do they want to get back into their skinny jeans? Because they feel more attractive and look healthier when they can wear what they want to wear.
Why do they want to feel more attractive and look healthier? Because they will be more confident.
Ahh… now we’re getting somewhere. The real benefit from your program isn’t weight loss, it’s confidence boosting.
These bullet points immediately tell you as the potential buyer what you’re truly getting from the course. It’s not just about learning how to navigate LinkedIn but how to use it to derive these pretty compelling benefits.
Take a look at your copy and ask yourself:
Am I addressing my customers’ why?
Does the page have bullet points or sections that highlight what my customers want to get out of my product or solution?
#3: Hesitations and Concerns
I’ve talked about friction and ways to reduce it several times on the blog. You can read about it here and here. One of the main ways of reducing friction so that your customers feel more comfortable engaging with your site is by addressing their major concerns.
How do you alleviate someone’s hesitations? One of the best ways is by giving them the right information at the right time during their customer journey process. Think of it this way, it’s tough to make a decision you can feel good about if you don’t have answers to your most important questions.
Low Hanging Fruit: Are you telling people where they’re going when you ask them to take action?
One of the easiest things you can do to improve conversion rates on a page is by simply letting people know what’s going to happen when they click a button.
Here’s a call to action box at the end of Copyblogger’s posts.
It tells you exactly what you will get and where you will be taken when you click on one of the course options.
Take a look at your copy and ask yourself:
Am I giving my customers enough information to make a decision or take action on my site?
Does my copy reduce their anxiety or add to it?
This last item touches upon more than copy. This is where I want you to think about all the things that may be distracting people from understanding what you’re telling them or being able to easily take action.
For instance, highlight the most important messaging and place it in its relative order of importance. Your value proposition generally will be incorporated into your headline and sub-headline. Tucking it into the middle of the page will make it more difficult for your customers to find it.
Low Hanging Fruit: Do you have elements on the page that you can’t give a good reason for them being there?
This is where I’m going to tell you to ditch the rotating sliders, animation, tiny fonts, and huge blocks of dense text. All of these items make it much harder for people visiting your site to focus on why they came in the first place.
[clickandtweet handle=”jenhavice” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Everything on your site should have a purpose. If it doesn’t, it’s just a distraction.[/clickandtweet] Tweet This!
Take a look at your copy and ask yourself:
Are there elements on the page that are distracting my visitors from either understanding my message or taking action?
Does everything on the page serve a purpose?
Am I using a font size that you need a magnifying glass to read?
Go forth and get your analysis on
Do you have some low hanging fruit on your site that you can easily pick off? Use this blog post to get you started and this simple spreadsheet I put together for you.
You can add whatever pages from your site you want to evaluate. Take notes and let us know what you find.
When was the last time you thought about the impact of your words on your online copy?
If you’ve been reading this blog or some of the others focused on conversion, you’re probably already keyed in. Individual words and phrases can make the difference between someone clicking a button or bouncing off a page.
It seems amazing that by simply changing a word or two you can affect such a big change.
But… you can. It has everything to do with persuasion and using a few power words.
So, let’s cut to the chase and go over 3 of the most powerful.
#1: “You” and the case for “What’s in it for me?”
Such a little word that packs an enormous punch, everything in your copy should come back to the word “you.” If you’ve been writing your copy all from your perspective, it’s time to make a shift.
Because your visitors are coming to your site or landing page looking to find answers to their questions… solutions for their needs. The reality is that their main concern is themselves – not you.
Harsh. I know.
As I’ve talked about in this post about getting people to respond to your email surveys, customers are frustrated when they encounter messaging that doesn’t resonate with them. Beyond addressing what’s most important to your prospects, centering your copy on them will go a long way to making them feel that there may just be something in it for them.
Practical tip: Replace “we” and “I” with “you” whenever possible
If you’ve got a headline with the word “I” or “we” either change it around so that “you” can be substituted. Or, simply get rid of the pronoun.
A headline like this…
I Help Small Businesses Build Better Widgets
… would be so much better simply by changing it to this…
Helping Small Businesses Build Better Widgets
Just by taking yourself out of it, you’ve shifted the focus to your customer.
#2: “Because” or giving people a reason to believe
Because is an amazing word. It’s power comes from the fact that it triggers people to expect a reason behind a request or an argument.
Dr. Ellen Langer’s experiment – that has been written about multiple times around the web in this context – shows just how effective using because can be.
In it, she asked study participants to cut to the front of the line where people were waiting to make copies at a Xerox machine. When the participants gave no reason to cut in line, the compliance rate was 60%. When a reason was given (no matter how silly or meaningless such as “I’m in a hurry”), the rate went up to 95%.
It seems that we’ve been programmed to accept a request when it’s part of a larger statement – where the why has been spelled out.
Practical tip: Use because to make an impact with your argument
With all of your sales copy (website copy included), you’re developing an argument as to why someone should hire you, buy from you, opt-in to your newsletter, etc.
You’re setting up a problem your customer is having and then telling them why your solution is the one to solve it.
Go back to the top of this blog post. Notice how I used the word “because” to start a sentence.
See how effective because can be?
I’m asking you to buy into my argument then asking you to believe in it with the one word that triggers acceptance.
Be careful. If your claim is too outrageous or request too large, even the word “because” won’t help you.
Langer’s experiments were primarily about how people will mindlessly react in certain situations. The copy machine example worked so well because the why behind the request was so minimal. As soon as the participants in the study told people they needed to cut in line to make 20 copies, they weren’t nearly so successful.
Tweet This! [clickandtweet handle=”jenhavice” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Use your persuasive language thoughtfully, even if your readers don’t always respond mindfully[/clickandtweet]
#3: “Get” a word that provides value
With all the talk about A/B testing these days, “get” has become the conversion community’s “it girl.”
Between button copy and various call to action tests, the word “get” is the one to beat.
Check out Michael Aagaard’s split test where he changed the button copy from “Order information and prices” to “Get information and prices.”
The word “Order” emphasizes what you have to do – instead of what you’re going to get. Whereas, “Get” conveys value as it emphasizes what you’re going to get – rather than what you have to do to get it. Michael Aagaard
The last thing we want to do is give people the impression that they will have to work for something when interacting with our websites.
Practical tip: Give all your “Submit” buttons the heave ho
No one likes to be told to submit to anything – especially on a website. So unless you’ve got a website for people into bondage, focus your button copy on the value added.
Think opt-in email button copy like this…
Get your regular copy tips now
You may be surprised at how much more effective your calls to action become.
Because, You, Get…
Take a look through your website, landing pages, and even emails to see where you can change up your copy.
Your headlines, sub-headlines, and buttons are ideal places to start. Then, test it out.
Do you think your copy can improve using these words?
If you’ve been reading about online marketing and websites recently, you’ve probably come across the words “conversion” and “optimization” a lot.
Yeah, they’re kind of like the new “it” words… the cool kids on the block. Remember when keyword search and SEO were all the rage?
That’s pretty much what’s happened to these guys.
What does Conversion Rate Optimization mean?
Let’s simply start with conversions as they relate to websites, landing pages or even emails. A conversion happens when someone takes an action on your site that you wanted to happen.
For instance, this can be as simple as signing up for your email list, clicking on an “add to cart” button or filling out a form.
These actions are what we measure and hope to optimize or improve. Therefore, Conversion Rate Optimization – or CRO for short – is the process of analyzing qualitative and quantitative data to understand and improve the performance of your website.
Think of CRO as a systematic way to figure out what’s preventing your visitors from doing the things you want them to do on your site – then, fixing them.
It’s not just about conversions…
There are loads of marketers out there telling you that you’ve got to “convert” more. “Get people to convert,” they say.
Sounds good. Right?
The thing is that just getting more conversions doesn’t necessarily mean increasing revenues and your profits. As Peep Laja from ConversionXL has noted,
…but the goal should never be to boost conversions. Just lower your prices by 99%, and conversions will go instantly up – but you will lose money. So in the end the question we’re asking is ‘how can we increase revenue, and do so at profit?’
You need to be thinking about the goals and objectives for your website and how that fits into the larger picture of your overall business strategy.
A whole lot of moving parts
CRO from soup to nuts can be a very complicated and time consuming process. It involves:
Qualitative research (customer surveys, user testing, interviews, heuristic analysis)
Quantitative research (Google Analytics mining, mouse tracking data, etc.)
Hypotheses, A/B and multivariate testing
Implementation of changes
And, that’s just the extremely abbreviated list. The fact of the matter is that you’ve got to collect good data and understand how to interpret it correctly in order to make meaningful changes.
What this means for your business
Attention spans have shrunk and website visitors have become more savvy.
Basically, more and more people expect faster results online while having less patience completing their goals.
Usability and clarity of messaging is critical. Whether people realize it or not, they are constantly making decisions based on interaction costs with a web page. If there are too many competing images, the fonts are too small, the information is irrelevant or difficult to interpret, you’re placing undo cognitive load on your visitors.
As the web usability expert, Steve Krug, says,
Don’t make me think.
When you design, build and write copy for websites or landing pages that require people to figure out how to get things done, you’re going to lose out in the process.
Start optimizing, even if you’re site is small
Here’s the deal. No matter the amount of traffic you have on your website you can run split tests (running one version of a page against another to see which one is more effective.)
But, with very little traffic the time it takes your test to get to statistical significance could be so long – say 6 months – that it makes no sense to do. You need to get enough good data over a reasonable period of time – otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for making poor decisions.
Low traffic doesn’t mean you can’t still optimize. You’ll have to rely more heavily on qualitative research.
This is where heuristics, heat maps and customer interviews come into play.
Not sure what any of those entail? Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts where I’ll talk about the qualitative research end of things, how you can use it to improve the copy as well as the overall usability on your sites.
In the meantime, check out these resource posts for more information:
If you’re one of the businesses utilizing a pop up on your website, no doubt you’ve seen how well they can increase your conversion rates. Email sign ups, special offers – they work so well because they bring whatever your call to action is front and center.
What if I told you that you can effectively better the results you’re already getting?
Plus, it’s not difficult. It merely requires you to spend a bit of time tweaking your pop up copy and doing a bit of testing.
You might want to take a second look at what you’ve got popping up on your site.
Give your headline the attention it deserves
Whether you’re coming up with a value proposition for your website’s home page, a title for a blog post or the headline in a pop up, your wording needs to be clear but compelling. Give people a distinct reason for taking action.
Reebok A/B tested it’s email opt in pop up to see if a more “benefits oriented” headline would increase sign ups to their newsletter. The only change made to the form was the headline from “Join the Reebok Newsletter” to “Join and Save!”
The new headline increased conversions by 40%. Clearly, the incentive to save money trumped the promise of only getting a free newsletter.
Tell people what they will get by taking action
One of the biggest conversion killers is lack of specificity. When people don’t know why they should click on something or what the benefit will be in doing so, they are more reluctant to press a button.
If the incentive to sign up is a free downloadable guide with information someone coming to your website will find relevant, then go ahead and state that.
Download my free guide – 7 Steps to Making Pies with Flakier Crusts
is better than
Download tips and hints on baking better pies
The first example lets you know exactly what you’re getting and makes it clear it’s free. There’s less friction because there’s no guesswork.
Personalize the button copy
Believe it or not, the copy used on click through buttons can affect conversion rates dramatically. Just by changing the button copy from “Start your 30 day free trial” to “Start my 30 day free trial,” the folks at Unbounce were able to see a 90% increase in click through rates on their landing page.
How can using the word “my” instead of “your” make such a difference in conversions?
Perhaps, it has to do with giving people a sense of ownership in the process. At the point of action, the visitor is referred to in the first person. “I” get to press the button as opposed to someone else.
It pays to test
While these types of changes seem insignificant on paper, the results are staggering when implemented. The best part is all of them can be done in a matter of minutes.
Spend a bit of time looking at your pop up and ask yourself these questions:
Does it have a clear and compelling headline?
Is it easy for people to understand what the benefit is of taking action?
How can I change my button copy to reflect the first person singular?
Then, test out your changes. See how the new version compares with the control. You might be surprised at the results.
I don’t use a pop up any longer on my site. Considering they do help with things like newsletter sign ups, you’re probably wondering why I’ve gotten rid of mine.
I wanted to try something different that was still top of mind but not as “in your face.” So, I now use a bar at the top of the page – Foobar plugin for WP – that follows the visitor as he or she moves down the page.
I like it because it’s far less intrusive but still gets the job done. Is the bar working as well as the pop up?
Honestly, it’s not. But, I decided to forsake a few sign ups so as not to irritate more than a few visitors.
Here is where you need to decide what’s most important in achieving your business goals. For an e-commerce site, having a pop up that kicks in before a customer leaves with an incentive may create far more sales to offset the potential annoyance of a few people. A well timed and worded pop up in that instance makes sense.
In the end, keep an eye on user experience and continually make assessments about what’s working and what isn’t. Just because something is a good idea for one site, doesn’t mean you’ll get the same results.
I’m curious. What’s your feeling on website pop ups?
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“What Jen Havice explains in this short book is nothing less than a degree in message mining—what messages you need to share, what words to use, and how to find them. It’s an easy read that packs a major marketing punch.”
—Rob Marsh, conversion copywriter and strategist, Brandstory