Updated: Jan 16
In 2020, Unbounce (a popular landing page building platform) spent months designing a proprietary machine-learning model to analyze sales data across 16 different industries, from 186 million website visits and 19 million conversions. What was their mission? Unbounce wanted to know what actually makes people convert online.
Unbounce published its findings in the Conversion Benchmark Report 2020.
This report sets benchmarks to distinguish industry leaders from average performers, with a focus on sentiment analysis to show how different emotions in copy correlate with conversion rates by field.
So what is a good conversion rate?
The reality is that digital conversion rates vary significantly across industries. Agencies hold the floor at 1.7% median conversion rate while “Catering and Restaurants” come out strongest at 6.1% median conversion rate.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE REPORT:
For technical purchases (like software), shorter landing pages performed best, with the top performing pages containing fewer than 400 words. In addition, sentiment analysis showed that “anticipation” language performed better than emotion-driven copy.
Top performing ecommerce, home renovation, entertainment, and restaurant landing pages use “joy” language in their copy.
In addition, “Almost every industry we studied benefits from short, straightforward language.” The notable exceptions are business, legal, and medical services, which often performed better with sophisticated copy.
Education landing pages tend to use sophisticated language, but the top performers are still written at a high school sophomore reading level.
Sports- and travel-related landing pages benefit from using language that conveys surprise—“like gratify, marvel, or winner” for sports—in their copy.
Finance and insurance landing pages convert 30.3% higher when using contact or information forms.
Health and wellness companies should use brevity to stand out from industry-standard longer landing pages. Similarly, top medical landing pages contain fewer than 250 words.
Real estate practitioners should take a show-don’t-tell approach to building trust on a landing page. Use testimonials—instead of copy—to convey reliability.
Thinking about the larger picture, one of my biggest takeaways from Unbounce’s study is the power of strategic copywriting. Your ability to communicate real value on a landing page matters more than any other conversion factor, including design, format, and social proof.
Here are a three unique ways to increase sales by writing powerful, conversion-optimized copy.
1. Write like your customers speak
Unbounce advises to “Keep your copy simple, even when your product isn’t.” But simple is a relative metric. How do you know when something you’ve written is simple versus complex for your audience?
The answer lies in customer reviews.
Instead of leaning on your internal team to write marketing copy, find out how customers talk about your products and competitor products by reading online reviews across sites like Google My Business, G2, TripAdvisor, and Amazon. Then, use the customer language as the foundation for writing your landing page copy.
In copywriting, we call this review mining: The process of extracting exact customer language from reviews and customer interviews to rework the copy across all your marketing collateral to reflect how your customers actually communicate.
In short, if you’re listening, your best customers will write your copy for you.
Business owners and their customers often talk about the same product in completely different terms, especially in B2B markets where technical parlance can go over the head of your ideal buyer. When a customer comes to your website, they’re looking for language that mirrors their understanding of both their problem and your solution. If the words on your site are unfamiliar, the customer may get intimidated or nonplussed—and click away.
On the other hand, if your copy reflects the language your customers already use, your marketing is more likely to connect because it directly reflects the customer’s vocabulary (and hopefully pain points, aspirations, and desired outcomes as well).
2. Name your company's value proposition
Knowing what distinguishes your offerings from everyone else is Business Marketing 101. Yet many companies struggle to name theirunique value proposition. If you haven’t yet fully captured what makes your business unique, then—as with review mining—turn to your customers.
You can do this through review mining, running surveys, or by striking up real conversations. Just ask your best customers: Why did you choose to shop at my store instead of another?
You’ll probably get many answers—convenience, price, simplicity, return policies, word-of-mouth, or general trust in your brand. And each of those points are clues to help you uncover those unique business advantages, the why that drives customers to your products.
3. Determine your why
As Nancy Duarte explains, “Answering why is an act of empathy and adds a layer of persuasion to your communications. When people know why they’re being asked to do something, they’re much more likely to do it.”
Put your customer responses into greater context by looking at your competitors. What are your competitors’ dissatisfied customers saying about their products?
Go read their 1- to 3-star reviews online. Where do you see overlap between your competitors’ dissatisfied customers and your happiest customers? If there’s a clear throughline, that’s your value proposition. You can use this unique value proposition as a foundation for the copy across your website.
As you look for new ways to improve online conversions, your ideal customer should be at the center of your messaging. As Donald Miller has said, “Make your customer the hero in your marketing material.” Keep your customer—and the language they use—as your north star, and you will see the effects across your entire funnel.