Updated: Jul 1, 2020
In 2016 I quit my 9-5 job with nothing else lined up.
I just needed a fresh start.
In the following weeks I applied to jobs across Austin and secured a handful of interviews. But nothing stuck.
After a few unsuccessful weeks, I contacted a local entrepreneur friend for advice about where he thought my skills might be a good fit.
His advice changed my life: "Alex, you're a writer living in a tech city. Most developers don't know how to write about what they've created. Why don't you just do it for them?"
My freelance career started the next day. And it turned out, my friend was only half right. Writing code and copy are obviously two completely different skills. But writing marketing copy isn't like writing college essays.
In fact, writing conversion-optimized website copy is more science than art. You just have to know the right formulas.
Tips from an Austin copywriter
SaaS companies 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.
In this article, I'll provide 7 points to help you level up your website copy, improve online sales, and make more customers fall in love with your messaging.
Here we go!
1. Talk like the customer
As marketing consultant Mark Ritson says, "the first rule of marketing is you are not the customer."
It doesn't matter how you talk about your offerings. It matters how customers talk about them.
One of the keys to effective marketing copy: make sure there's a match between how you and your customers discuss your offerings.
In other words: Use customer language all over your website and marketing materials. There are several ways to get this language. The best way is to speak to them directly. Interview your best customers to hear how they discuss your company, products, and marketing.
You can also apply a conversion copywriting tactic called "review mining." It's the process of combing through customer reviews on places like G2 and Amazon to read how customers talk about your product.
2. Use visual, emotional language
One of the problems with business jargon is that it doesn't put a lasting image in the mind of your customer. People don't connect with lines like, "We are committed to providing you the best value." Lines like that are boring and forgettable because they're unrelatable.
Not to mention, it feels like an empty promise because it's not backed up with language that shows the business understands who I am and what I care about.
Instead of boring business jargon, use language that puts an image in the customer's mind or plays on their emotions. When you go to our home page, the first copy you read says, "When you need your messaging to work as well as your product, we're your best-kept secret."
Because it paints an image in your mind and blends our services with the sense of pride you have when thinking about your company and product.
It's more memorable and powerful than if we just said, "We write copy that connects with customers and makes you proud."
3. Give your company’s features and benefits the VIP treatment
Now let's get specific. Writing copy about technical products isn't easy. Most of our clients are in the B2B SaaS space. How do you talk about the amazing functionality you've packed into your software?
One place to start is understanding the differences between features and benefits, and then using both writing methods across your website.
Features are the characteristics of your product, i.e. the specs that convey what your product does, even the technical bits.
Benefits are how those features translate into the customer experience. You can write an entire website using only benefits language and do just fine. But if you try to write a website only using features, it'll come across too technical and probably boring.
If you want to use both, here's a good rule of thumb: Use benefits in your headlines. Use features in the body / description copy.
4. Give your copy intentional structure
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of copywriting formulas and frameworks online. Maybe you've heard of PAS, AIDA, The Heroes Journey, or the Connection-Conversion Framework. These are all examples of ways you can structure the messaging on a website.
Think of this as an outline for writing your website copy. The goal is to guide your readers down a clear path: starting from the moment they enter your site, and concluding with a specific action (which we'll get to in point #7).
Many of the frameworks mentioned above have been tested thousands of times. They have a long track record of successfully nudging readers toward a sale.
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 a 5th grade reading level.
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.
If you're using customer language like we discussed in point 1, you don't have to worry about this as much. Customers will give you the best language as you talk to them.
6. Focus on the customer, not your business
Just because it's your website doesn't mean the content should be about you. The highest-performing websites are customer centric.
The easiest way to shift away from talking about yourself is to use the verb-first model. Everytime you want to say, "We offer X," flip the sentence to be an action for the reader. Here's an example:
Brand-centric copy: Lewis Commercial Writing helps you improve conversion through clearer, better copy.
Customer-centric copy: Improve conversions with clearer, better copy.
The first example makes the company the hero. The second example gives the customer exactly what they want without getting in the way.
Your whole website should be written using this principle. Yes, even your About page.
7. Use a clear call to 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 goes back to what we discussed in point 4 about structuring your copy.
Having a benefit-driven, clear call to action on your website is conversion copy 101. It can be as simple as saying, “Get two weeks free."
It can also have a little more personality: "Sure, I'll try it free for a few weeks."
The point is to take the guesswork out of making a purchase. Include clear instructions or buttons on your home and landing pages.
The worst thing you can do is use vague language. Don’t say “Let us help you." Say “Hire a local plumber.”
Keep the message direct, simple, and unmistakable.