Provectus Digital’s Playbook to Creating Sales Copy that Converts
Today features our special Christmas cornerstone post as a holiday gift to all small business owners, digital marketers, and marketing directors at medium-large enterprises around the world.
If you’re at home, heat up a cup of cinnamon-infused cider or egg nog (or your favorite holiday beverage), and get comfortable in your warm couch as your read this…
(But if you’re at the office during Christmas, please bookmark this article and spend time with your family. This article will still be here when you get back.)
Overview of Our Process
Creating effective sales copy is an deeply intensive process involving expertise in the psychology of sales and marketing, strong communication skills, and in-depth research, which are all necessities.
And there are no shortcuts.
A copywriter spends 70% of the time on a project doing research and only spends the remaining 30% on writing the actual sales and marketing copy. However, a B2B technology copywriter with subject matter expertise within your industry may be able to cut down on the research time, giving you more bang for your buck.
At Provectus Digital, we combine our industry knowledge with a five-step Provectus Process that results in copy that can transform your business:
Steps 1-2: Discovery and Kickoff
After you request a free consultation or fill out an intake form, or otherwise engage with us for our services, we gather information about what you want to accomplish. Your answers to our project discovery questionnaire help us craft a proposal custom-tailored specifically to your business.
Step 3. Research
We analyze the psychology of your target audience, the broader market forces surrounding your product or service, and your objectives to guide our unique and custom approach.
Step 4. Delivery
We weave a story that engages your target market and converts potential leads into customers, delivering results in our agreed-upon timeframe.
Step 5. Check-Ins
While you track the results and conversions of your copy and web content, we offer performance-boosting tweaks to the copy in the future if necessary.
That was just an overview.
Now let’s explore in-depth how the 5-step white-glove Provectus Process can take your business to the next level.
Discovery and Kickoff
You have business objectives and goals. Strong points and weak ones. At Provectus, we don’t believe in guesswork. Not only do we conduct our own independent analysis, but we also take the time to talk to you to gain deep insights on the state of your business. We start our discovery process with our questionnaire.
We ask you pertinent questions to jumpstart a productive conversation that could change your business for the better.
Here are some questions we might ask you:
- What does your company want to accomplish in the next 6-12 months?
- What challenges are you facing that prevent you from reaching your goals?
- Are you getting web traffic but not converting it to sales?
- Who is your ideal customer? Are you targeting them with your your sales and marketing material?
- What is the MOST important action you want the reader of your sales copy to take?
- Do you have an existing sales funnel?
- If so, which stage of the buyer’s journey through your funnel urgently needs the most improvement?
We also check your website to consider the following:
- Does your website make it clear what exactly your business is about?
- Does your sales copy speak to the reader, or does it just list all the product’s features?
- How does your website look? Is it too text-heavy or cluttered with too many widgets or calls to action (CTA)?
- Is there an email opt-in to capture potential leads?
- Is there an active email marketing campaign to keep customers engaged and bring them closer to buying your product?
- Does your website have authoritative and credible content such as a FAQ, informative articles, some case studies, and a few white papers?
2. Begin Open Dialogue
As long as you provide enough details to the questionnaire responses, we learn a lot about your business. Although we get a lot of answers, we may also raise a few more new questions. Our next step is to ask clarification questions, probe deeper into your business goals, and offer our early recommendations on direction.
For example, let’s say you have an active email marketing campaign with a lot of subscribers, but your conversions into paying customers are low. In that case, we would take a holistic look at your top-of-the-funnel content, CTA, and ultimately, your email marketing sequence. We would ask for your thoughts and see if it agrees with our independent analysis.
After a dialogue about your questionnaire answers and our strategic diagnosis for your business, it is time for the next step.
3. Create a Statement of Work
The Statement of Work (SOW) describes the scope of the project. It includes:
- Project-specific activities
- Payment terms
We would craft the proposal and send it to you for review. Of course, we would tweak it as necessary before executing the agreement. Once we execute our agreement, we would dive right into our research.
It is important for us to research everything about your product, service, and target market — before writing a single word of sales copy, particularly for technical products and services such as B2B technology, blockchain, fintech, software and SaaS.
A Deep Dive Into Your Business and Industry
Understanding your business and its place within the industry is crucial to writing copy that engages and converts. Here is an overview on how we accomplish this:
- Obtain source material
- List the product’s features within a “fact sheet”
- In the same “fact sheet”, translate features into benefits
- Interview subject matter experts and your customers (with permission)
- Analyze the competition
- Select keywords that generate traffic
Let’s go through each of these steps in a little more detail.
Obtain Source Material
Even though we may know some general information about your industry, we need more in-depth background information about your own company, your clients, the technical information about your product, and how your product intends to help them.
List the Product’s Features
Standard copywriting rules say to sell the benefits, not the features. But with technical copywriting, it is important for us to understand the features inside-and-out to translate them into benefits.
While we will not ask you for proprietary information—and that we are willing to sign NDAs to protect any sensitive company information—we believe it takes a deep technical background to understand what the features are, why they are “features”, and more importantly, how they benefit your customers. We make a list of features and then compare it side-by-side with my list of customer’s needs.
Translate Features Into Benefits
This is the hardest part of the entire project. It may sound simple, but in practice, it’s actually not—especially when dealing with technical products. A copywriter’s technical background and subject matter expertise is the most useful in this step.
Interview Subject Matter Experts
With a B2B technology copywriter being an expert in the industry, this may not be necessary and can often be skipped to save time. However, if we deem it necessary, we will interview at least one or two subject matter experts to glean valuable information. We will use this information to maximize the impact of the finished copy.
Analyze the Competition
We check whether there are other companies selling similar products, how they are selling them, and look for any gaps in the feature-benefit relationships within their sales copy. Inferring what the competitors are not doing is just as important as observing what they are doing.
This is exactly how we come up with ways to emphasize your unique selling points (USP). A great USP showcases a benefit that the competition does not or cannot offer, and is strong enough to persuade people to switch brands.
List Keywords That Generate Traffic
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral part of a copywriter’s job. We use keyword tools to do research and come up with a list of relevant keyword variants around your product.
We look for long-tail keywords that have less competition than head terms. Yet these long-tail keywords contain the most coveted head terms tucked within longer phrases. We make a list of those to use within the sales copy as long as they have enough volume to drive traffic to your site.
Understand Your Prospects
To get to the very core of the value your business offers its prospects, we have to really know your prospects and what makes them tick. We find what makes them feel important and how your business can provide them with that feeling.
We find out what their biggest problems are and find a way to solve them with persuasive copy. Solving real problems is more important than any kind of persuasion gimmick.
Research the Target Audience
To get the best results, we tailor the marketing copy to the right audience through buyer personas (a.k.a customer avatars).
We raise questions like:
- Is your audience highly technical and looking for nitty gritty product details?
- Or are they C-level execs who just want the “bottom line” about business benefits?
- What percentage of your target audience has the funds and decision-making power to buy your product?
- What portion of your target audience has expressed a need for your product?
Although this data-driven demographic research is an essential step to tailor marketing material to your target audience, it is not enough to have a bit of familiarity with your audience. To write great copy, we need to know them on a deeper level, including understanding the type of problems that keep them up at night.
Which brings us to the next point.
Find the Customer’s Pain Points
Knowing the pain points of your ideal customer is vital to writing effective copy. This goes much deeper than just looking at the demographics of your target market.
We imagine that we’re having lunch with your ideal customer. We visualize this person telling us about the problems they are facing, and we dig even deeper. We like to explore different angles by restating each problem multiple times in multiple ways using different words.
However, it is important to differentiate actual pain points from minor inconveniences being blown out of proportion. What may seem like pressing problems may not necessarily be the biggest pain points. We ask whether their problems are really the biggest pain points in their business, or are just minor complaints from a handful of nitpicky customers.
Read What Customers are Talking About Online
We also check online reviews if they are available via Google, Facebook, or social media hashtags. We pay close attention to neutral and mildly negative reviews, and even positive reviews that contain useful and constructive feedback. Relevant hashtags on social media might have common themes about a particular problem, suggestions “for future improvements”, or angry complaints. It is important to note that we usually disregard the extremely positive or extremely negative ones because those are usually driven by turbulent emotions rather than an objective breakdown of their personal experience with the product or service.
Next, we condense these complaints, suggestions, and feedback into one concise sentence about a particular problem—and we now have a pain point. There may be more than one, however.
To keep highly-converting copy honest, your product or service should actually be able to address these pain points. Once we have found a pain point that other companies aren’t explicitly addressing in their copy, we have a way to increase your revenue and positively differentiate your business from the competition.
Speak the Same Language as Your Audience
We consider who we are speaking to when we write copy.
After researching your target market, we have a profile of your ideal customer and list of pain points. We know how they talk, what buzzwords they use, and are familiar with the lingo specific to their business.
Good B2B copywriting that actually sells begins with knowing who the audience is and putting yourself in their shoes.
We essentially listen to clients and prospects, then write copy using their words.
Following the research phase, we have a lot of information on your product and target market. Next, we put it all together by crafting engaging and easy-to-read copy with the desired tone of voice. Your business can have the greatest offer in the world, but if the copy is bland or choppy, your target market will jump ship before they read the whole page.
On a more granular level, we use the AIDCA formula (our modified version of the AIDA formula) to build your target market’s interest in the offer. But unlike most copywriters or digital marketers, we do not write copy in a formulaic way. Instead, we craft a story around your product and service to engage your ideal prospects.
Create an Engaging Story that is Easy to Read
People love stories.
A great story quickly captivates the reader with an attention grabbing headline and hook.
Use Strong and Effective headlines
The most effective headlines do not do all the selling, which is almost impossible and too much to ask for. A headline has one and only one goal: get people to read the first sentence beneath the headline.
A great headline should have copy that taps into strong emotions while promising something of value.
Create a Great Hook
The next sentence underneath the headline should have a great hook. The goal of this hook is—you guessed it—get people to read the next sentence.
In order for a hook to be effective, it needs to have some element of surprise and at the same time, bridge the gap between what you’re selling and who you are selling it to
The recurring theme is that great copy gets people to read the first sentence, then the second sentence, then the next sentence, and so on. We aim to create a “slippery slide” where people start reading our copy and can’t put it down.
Make It Easy to Read
Here are eight tips we like about making copy snappy and easily readable.
The most important selling points belong at the top. If the copy is long-form, there should be several CTAs throughout the text. Effective practices include using line breaks, snappy headings, compelling subheads and concise bulleted lists to break up the copy into easily digestible chunks.
Most people don’t have the attention span to read a wall of text, but they will scan through the copy as long as it has attractive formatting, relevant subheadings, CTAs, and bullet points.
Use a Friendly and Personal Tone
When writing copy, we do not neglect the tone of voice. The very same statement can either fall flat or jump out at the reader. The difference is tone of voice.
To write in a friendly and personal tone, we write as if we’re talking with a friend over an informal lunch about how your product helps people like him.
The desired tone of voice is also asked in our discovery questionnaire, so if you have a specific tone of voice you want us to use, you have an opportunity to make that clear from the outset.
Our Modernized AIDCA Copywriting Formula
To structure their copy, most standard copywriters rely on the AIDA structure: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. However, at Provectus Digital, we feel that this structure is outdated and somewhat limited.
To modernize AIDA, we add an extra step: Conviction. This step gives prospects a sense of certainty when they are on the fence about your offer. More on this below.
- Attention (or Awareness)
- Conviction (our extra element)
Attention (or Awareness):
This is when the reader first becomes aware of your business or offer. At this point, they have no commitment to reading all of your copy. A great copywriter entices them to keep reading with an attention-grabbing hook or a strong CTA leading to a small freebie. The goal here is not to make a sale, but rather to get them to commit to learning more about your offer.
Now that we have the reader’s attention, we must further captivate them. At this point, they have expressed an openness to having a conversation with your business, but haven’t yet committed to becoming your new customer. In this stage, we agitate the pain points they are experiencing, preparing them for the next step.
Here, we’ve already convinced the prospect they have a problem that needs to be solved. We have their interest. Their anticipation has been built up in their minds and they are yearning for a solution that you will soon offer. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to solve their problem.
The focus at this point is on benefits rather than features. We also set your company apart by emphasizing your USP here.
The conviction stage is designed to alleviate the concerns of skeptical customers who may be wondering “is this offer too good to be true?” We provide credible proof to back up your copy and give your solution unassailable legitimacy. Testimonials, case studies, and guarantees are excellent choices. Celebrity and influencer endorsements are also highly effective.
After we’ve convinced prospects that they have a problem for which you have a legitimate solution, it’s time to give them that final push and turn them into paying customers. We provide a clear and obvious CTA. Possibilities include downloading a lead magnet in exchange for an email address, scheduling a strategic call, filling out an intake form, or buying your product. For any action you want your prospects to take after reading your copy, we create a highly compelling reason to take that action.
- Headline tune-ups at 3 months
- Full copy rewrite at 12 months