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7 Actionable Copywriting Tips for Busy Austin Startups


Startups miss out on sales opportunities every day because of the copy on their website or in their marketing material. Even if you hire the very best developers to create a highly responsive website, lacking strategic copy will cost you in sales.


Photo by Tomek Baginski

The truth is, while products vary a lot from company to company, the elements of persuasive copywriting remain pretty consistent. The same strategies used to sell a couch or pair of shoes can also sell high-end software.

If all goes according to plan, this article will give you easy, actionable tips to help your startup close its sales gaps, promote trust in your brand, and make your Austin startup more lucrative:

1. Write copy for the repeat customer

Your most expensive customer is a first-time buyer. In many cases, it's more cost effective to sell to the same person twice than two different people.

The end goal of marketing should be continuous sales.

Find ways to turn first-time buyers into recurring customers. This means maintaining a conversation with customers long after their initial purchase.

There are many ways to foster a long-term customer conversation, but the most effective way — in our experienced opinion — is through email.

Stay on a customer’s radar by staying in their inbox. When a customer buys your product, start by expressing your gratitude. After all, they're probably paying your bills! Send them a quick thanks.

Then, send them an offer, “Use this code next time you buy to get 20% off your next order!” You don’t have to be salesy. Use friendly language.

Send an email two weeks following their purchase to ask what they think about the product. "How’s the new system working for you?”

That’ll start the momentum. Don’t go crazy, but a regular offer, update email, or even blog post can keep your business on the customer’s mind, even if they don’t open most of the emails you send.

The point is: next time that customer needs another product, they're more likely to think of you instead your competitors.

2. Don’t try to “convince” your readers with your web copy

This is a big one. A surprising number of businesses have web copy that inadvertently conveys a lack of confidence to the customer.

You don’t want to be the seemingly desperate business that is clamoring to show the reader that you’re worth their time. If someone is on your website, it’s safe to assume that they are already interested in what you have to offer.

Avoid this trap. Show some confidence in your own product. If a customer is already on your website, assume you have a captive audience.

Or as my football coach used to say, “When you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”

To use our own website as an example, we don’t explain to businesses why professional copywriting is what they need. We expect that they understood the value of copywriting long before they found our website.

The role of our copy (and web design) is to present our unique value proposition to the customer: Why we are the copywriters for them.

Write copy as if everyone who sees it is already convinced they need what you’re selling. Sell to those who already care.

3. Give your company’s features and benefits the VIP treatment

Austin is a competitive tech scene. In an attempt to have the competitive advantage, many startups overlook obvious marketing tactics because they’re looking for something flashy and exciting.

At the end of the day, getting noticed means covering your bases. Pay careful attention to the details that seem most obvious. I’m talking features and benefits.

There are differences between features and benefits. You should try to state both.

In a world that tries to be overly disruptive and avant garde, be the company that tells their customers plainly, “Here’s our product and why you should be interested.”

Features are the characteristics of your product, i.e. the specs. Features describe the way your product is superior to your competitors. Benefits are how those features translate into actual usage in the life of your customer. Benefits are all about how your product make the user feel or perform.

Example:

Feature: This is a safe, fully-optimized self-driving car.

Benefit: Grab your favorite book, bring a glass of wine, and let the car do the work.

4. Make promotions safe, generous, and deadline-specific

The key to a successful promotion is in the copy. Obviously, to make a promotion a promotion, you must offer a free trial, freebie, or discount. Don't be afraid to be excessive and generous. If a customer feels spoiled by your offer, that’s a good thing.

People are bombarded with ads every day. Give them an excuse to respond to yours immediately.

Your promotion will be emphasized by scarcity. State the offer deadline. Tell the customer there’s a limited quantity available for the promotion.

Scarcity drives action and alleviates procrastination by instilling a sense of urgency.

But impulse buys can cause a fear of buyer’s remorse. Take away that fear for the customer by making the purchase safe:

A 30-day money-back guarantee or free trial takes away the risk, allowing customers to try your SaaS product without fear of buyer’s remorse.

5. Tell it to me straight

When it comes to marketing copy, it is better to be clear than to be poetic — or even funny. Show that your product doesn't need fluff. It has the chops to stand on its own.

As a rule of thumb, write to an 8th grade reading level.

This includes talking about the features and benefits I mentioned two points ago. It also means proofreading for clarity, not just typos.

Have a stranger (or a professional copywriter) read through your website copy or your latest promotion. Then ask them to relay back to you what that promotion or website is asking them to do. If they struggle to define the intended action, you need to simplify your content.

Customers should immediately be able to understand your mission and product.

6. “3 Headline Rules for Austin SaaS Startups”

We all want our articles to be opened and read. It turns out, the magic is in the headline.

Consider using headlines that are inclusive, numerical, and informative. Here's what those words mean:

Inclusive: Qualify your customers. In the title of this blog, for example, the use of "Austin Startups" immediately helped my blog target people who work at startups in the Austin area.

I could have written the same article to help "cat enthusiasts" and I would have secured a different audience. Consider who the most likely demographic is to read your blog post or email, and tell them in the title or subject line that this information is for them.

Numerical: Use numbers, bullet points, or other title forms to make your blogs and newsletters easy to skim. Not everyone cares to read your content, but many more people will care about simple tips that can make their life easier or happier.

And if you want to get even more meticulous, odd numbers tend to perform better than even numbered posts. According to Brandon Gaille, odd numbered headlines from the Content Marketing Institute “were clicked on 20% more than the even numbered headlines.”

Informative: Share information that is actually pertinent to your specific audience. Be generous with what you know. Information given away for free is a trust builder. Make your readers say, "If she's providing me with this kind of quality information for free, I wonder what her paid products are like!"

This also helps customers know exactly what they are getting when they pay for your product. When they see how your information works, they will want to hire you to help integrate those skills, products, or solutions more effectively into their own lives.

7. Direct website visitors to a clear action

Decide what step you want visitors to make once they’re on your website.

Then organize your copy to direct people toward that action. This can be as simple as having a plain, “Book a free consultation” button or as meticulous as a persuasive landing page that drives readers to buy your product.

The point is to take the guesswork out of making a purchase. Include clear instructions or buttons on your homepage and product pages. Don’t try to be overly creative about this directional language. Don’t say “Let us help you.” Say “Hire us.” It’s direct and simple and unmistakable.

UX Tip: If there is more than one possible direction you’d like a customer to take, guide them into a simple selection process.

For this, a chatbox can be very effective. Your team may speak directly with customers in real time to usher them toward the product or information they’re looking for, serving both your business and the customer better!

Keep the conversation simple. “Can we help you find anything?” is a helpful line to get you started.

Need help putting these techniques into practice across your business platform? We built Lewis Commercial Writing to help businesses increase sales through leaner, more direct copy. We’d love to help your Austin startup.

It makes us ☹️ when you lose sales over bad copy.

Shoot me an email at alexander.lcwriting@gmail.com if you need help with your web or marketing copy.


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