Updated: Jan 16
What does it take to write persuasive website copy in technical industries like B2B SaaS, cybersecurity, or Web3?
First, it's helpful to forget most of the writing "rules" you learned writing college papers. Copywriting and essay writing are two entirely different crafts.
In fact, copywriting might have more in common with sales than the experience of writing a blog or college paper.
In this article, I'll cover the methods and structures I use to optimize SaaS website copy for conversions.
By the end, you'll see copywriting has more to do with research, structure, and psychology than simply throwing pretty words on a blank page.
Let's get typin’.
#1. Let customers write and structure your copy
The foundation of conversion-optimized SaaS copy is research.
And the primary focus of your research should be customers.
When a company writes about themselves without customer research, they tend to use internal business jargon that only makes sense to their team. To outsiders (like your customers), this internal language is unclear at best, and downright confusing at its worst.
The point of customer research is to uncover what customers care about and how they talk about your products, services, and brand. It’s to not only figure out what language they use, but to understand their underlying feelings, behaviors, and pain points.
Structure your website through customer research
What do your customers complain about? What do they love? Which features do they pay attention to? Which ones do they ignore?
Answering these questions through customer research gives you an idea of how to structure the features on your website.
For example, if all your customers get excited about the same two or three features, you should make sure those features are prioritized early on your website. It may seem obvious, but make sure you give them prime real estate on your home page, features page, or product-specific landing page.
Customer research helps you identify the elements of your product that matter most to your best customers. With that information, you can double down to improve and market those features.
Use real customer language across your website
As you interview customers, read online reviews about your products, and conduct UX research to see how customers navigate your product and website, you’ll begin to uncover new ways to talk about your product.
Customers want to see themselves on your page. The more your copy aligns with how your customers actually talk, the more they will feel like you understand their pain points, challenges, and desired outcome.
You find that language alignment by literally using customer language across your website.
How do you capture the voice of your ideal customer?
Start with online reviews.
You can find SaaS customer reviews on sites like G2, Product Hunt, Capterra, TrustRadius, Trustpilot, and other technology review sites. Joana Wiebe, famous conversion copywriter and founder of Copyhackers, calls this “review mining.”
But the very best way to perform customer research is to speak directly with your customers. There are two primary methods to do this: Run surveys or reach out to schedule interviews with your customers.
Both sound scary, but keep in mind: Many of your users might actually love the opportunity to speak with you about their experience with your product—and the chance to influence where your product goes next.
Preferably, you start with surveys and then move on to have real conversations with your customers. The more, the merrier.
SaaS copywriting example: Customer language in copywriting
We recently worked with Kofi Group on the relaunch of their website. Before writing a single line of copy, we read reviews, talked with the Kofi Group team, and pored over case studies.
One line from a case study grabbed my attention.
This pain point jumped off the page. We decided to use that language in the above the fold on the new website.
A few tweaks later, we drummed up this line: "Stop missing out on top candidates."
Source: Kofi Group
This headline is meant to grab visitor’s attention by hitting on their biggest pain point as startups seeking talent: Top candidates often go to the Big Five (Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.) instead of choosing the volatility of working in the startup world.
This specialized recruitment service helps align candidates with startups so everyone’s on the same page—a huge benefit for startups needing to scale fast.
#2. Use customer-first language
The Kofi Group headline showcases another SaaS copywriting best practice: make your customer the focus of your copy.
Many companies talk about their offerings using “we-language.”
We-language looks a lot like: “We’re the best team to do X.”
This type of copy is everywhere.
The big problem is, customers don't care about your company. At least, they don't care about your company until you show that you care about them first.
The difference between customer-centric language and we-language can be very subtle. Often, it’s as simple as using verb-first sentences to make sure the reader is the center of the action.
Gill Andrews, a conversion copywriter and web consultant, recently posted a great example of customer-centric copy on LinkedIn:
“In case you ever doubted the power of the customer-focused copy:
“I A/B tested the subject of my last email newsletter. I knew you care less about me than about yourself. But that it's SO MUCH less? 😄.”
Source: Gill Andrews
Simple tweak. Big results.
But if you just have to name your business in your copy, there are ways to still be customer-centric. Consider the new copy Ahrefs added above the fold:
They don't use the verb-first approach, but Ahrefs still puts the customer at the center of the action and names a core customer pain point: getting a higher rank and more traffic.
The best business websites, in my opinion, exist to serve the site visitor. Not the other way around. Make it clear to customers that you serve them by putting them at the center of your messaging.
Quick aside: If you want to learn more about Ahrefs’ new homepage, they published a great video about why they spent $30,000+ on copywriting for their homepage. If you geek out about SaaS copywriting like me, it might be a fun video for you.
#3. Make your copy memorable by avoiding jargon
How do you make something stick in the mind of your reader? You use words that connect: tell stories, use analogies, paint a picture, and replace jargon with simple language.
The big problem with business jargon is that you can read an entire paragraph and not learn anything new about the company. It’s vague. It’s complex. It doesn't teach the reader anything new.
Consider how ClickUp uses a blend of simplicity and imagery to make a memorable statement as soon as you arrive on their website.
“One app to replace them all.”
Why is this so catchy? Because most of us have heard this line before in another context: “One ring to rule them all.”
For anyone who grew up reading or watching Lord of the Rings, this copy subtly recalls that famous line.
Okay, okay, but how do you write clever lines like that one?
Start complex, then simplify
A lot of SaaS copywriting is pretty technical. It's hard not to use jargon when discussing technical tools. But there are tricks to simplify your writing.
Here's one I use:
When facing the challenge of writing about a technical product, I usually start by just writing whatever I can about the product, no matter how sloppy or complex it comes across.
Once I have something on the page, I say out loud, “What I’m trying to say is….” and often the line that follows is much simpler than what I just wrote.
Getting to simplicity is an iterative process. I have to start complex before I can say something simply.
Be memorable and clear
You have to earn a reader's attention.
That happens through clarity, emotion, and painting a vivid picture that sticks with the customer after they leave your website. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by leaving a positive image in the customer’s mind.
Teachers call this “positive framing.” Try to stay away from using words in your headlines that you actually want to help your users avoid. For example, "Get non-spammy emails," probably won't work as well for you as conveying what type of emails you do send.
Choose to frame in a positive light, not in negative terms.
You should also try to write simply.
The characteristics of simple writing include: short words and sentences, stories, analogies, and ample white space to make sure you don't overwhelm the reader.
Nothing is worse for readers on a website than staring down a massive wall of text that they think they have to read to understand what you offer.
Spoiler alert: No one reads those large walls of text. Ever.
#4. What will the reader miss out on if they don't choose you?
Readers need to know the risk of not choosing you as their software of choice.
What do you offer that no one else does? Don't assume the reader will know what they'