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.
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.
Use Statistics to Boost Credibility
Fluff doesn’t sell. Writing effective sales copy means cutting out the fluff.
Nobody is impressed with your flashy or sexy buzzwords if you don’t back them up with some hard facts and numbers. Use numbers and statistics to build credibility, establish authority and ultimately to persuade.
Superlative Buzzwords Are Useless On Their Own
Marketing text typically does not contain numbers or precision. Copywriters tend to overuse adjectives or superlative buzzwords like “the best”, “biggest”, “fastest”, “most efficient”, “cost effective”, or “lightweight”. But these superlatives, by themselves, don’t mean anything. The problem with using superlatives is that they are just buzzwords. In 2019, people are used to hearing buzzwords all the time.
In an industry where 50 businesses are selling the same product, any of them can say their products are the “best”, “fastest” and most “lightweight” without backing it up with numbers. And customers like us are sharp enough to see right through it.
The Synergy Between Superlatives and Statistics
In technical writing, such as specification documents, the wording must be precise, exact, and use numbers. Vague adjectives don’t exist in technical text. For example:
Instead of saying “this solar panel is energy efficient“, we say:
“This solar panel is 64% more efficient, cutting your power bill by at least half.”
By combining superlatives with statistics and proof, you establish three crucial elements of your sales copy:
More Specificity, More Sales
We prove adjectives with specific numbers. If we can prove your product beats most of the market, use this proof in your copy and pair with an appropriate superlative. When people see or hear a superlative, they want to see specific proof. Give it to them.
Numbers Establish Credibility
By using numbers to back up your claims, you establish credibility. People are more likely to buy from credible and reputable businesses. One of the most important B2B copywriting tips you’ll hear is that statistics and numbers within your copy make you more believable. This is especially true when creating B2B resource content. A statement filled with superlatives and buzzwords with nothing to back it up hurts your credibility. For all they know, you could be exaggerating or lying.
With statistics, you will be seen as honest and credible. Writing case studies and white papers is an excellent way to accomplish this, and you can add them to your Resources page where your visitors will easily find the information they need. Even in a sales letter, using statistics will boost your credibility.
When you give proof, you are not only being credible, but you also establish yourself as an expert or someone who has done the research. Citing statistics in your copy gives it an air of authority.
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.
59% of all links shared on social networks are not clicked before being shared.
This means most content shared across social platforms are only based on headlines and the brands. Unfortunately, building a great brand is a long process with no guarantees.
We incorporate three concepts below to create headlines that bring you large increases in traffic.
1. One-Stop Solution
Blog titles indicating a one-stop solution are often successful. Titles that begin with “The Only Guide You Need” or “Everything You Need to Know About” indicate that readers will get all the data they need from your content.
2. Emotional Value and Psychological Triggers
People are often led by their emotions – especially when making quick decisions (such as whether to click on a blog post). So it should come as no surprise that headlines with a higher emotional value get more shares. Certain words elicit more emotional responses than others. Mark Twain said, “the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
Attention spans are lower than ever, giving rise to the popularity of “listicles” – content in list formats. Clear and numbered subheadings make for less intimidating content and easier reading. Scanning through each number on the list gives the reader the feeling of progressing through the article.
Effective headline examples
Here are a few headline examples:
“25 Ways to Empower Your Employees” is a listicle headline that includes “empower” (an emotional trigger).
“The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Cure Your Migraines” – if you were in agony from constant migraines, wouldn’t you click this article? You know you will get all the information you need to end the misery induced by your headaches. Powerful stuff.
“Con Man Fleeces Investors – How to Avoid Unscrupulous Financial Advisors” – This would be an excellent headline following the detection of a large Ponzi scheme. You’re playing on people’s fear of being ripped-off, telling them how to avoid that fate, and sprinkling in a few emotionally charged words.
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.
Create Compelling Calls to Action
Your landing page is nothing without a strong call to action to motivate your audience to buy from you. The goal is to inspire people to buy from you today, or to do so in the future. After you have informed your prospects about what you have to offer, the next step is to tell them how to get it.
Every strong call to action consists of three distinct elements.
1. Use an Action Verb
Start with a verb in its “imperative” form. Be as clear as possible about what you would like your readers to do. After all, it’s called a “call to action” for a reason.
People who are ready to buy (or download) know exactly where to click.
People who are on the fence might be convinced by your strong tone of voice.
People who don’t want your product won’t bother you with a lot of questions because you’ve already made it clear what the preferred action is.
On the other hand, people who DO want your product are already prime leads – they just need a nudge. Power verbs in calls to action are especially important in eCommerce.
2. Your Unique Selling Point
I use this expression to highlight that you want to make an offer that excites your prospects. Does it have to be unique compared to the competition? Not per se, but it has to be concise. Your prospect has to know immediately what you are offering.
- Get my daily tips on how to make your funnel profitable!
- Like my page and win my latest book!
- Get a free 15-minute consultation!
- Buy your copy of ____ here and get a BONUS package ($500 value) for FREE!
It is not about being original. It’s about being crystal clear what you are offering. This is the time to polarize: either a prospect wants your offer, or he does not.
3. Address Their Main Concern and Make a Promise
For most people, it’s easier to come up with reasons not to do something than to take a risk on a new offer. If you adequately address the most often heard objection, you drastically increase your chance of getting a lot of clicks.
- Subscribe to my daily tips on how to make your funnel profitable (only two hours of implementation needed)!
- Like my page and get a free 15-minute consultation! (We do not share your information with anyone)
- Buy your copy of here! (100% money back guarantee, no questions asked)
In some cases, you might go for FOMO (fear of missing out) by claiming your offer is scarce. Or you might make your offer risk-free (if you do not like it, you get your money back – no questions asked).
SEE THE MOST POWERFUL CALL TO ACTION EXAMPLES:
See our Apple Copywriting Tips article for the most effective calls to action that consistently raked in billions of dollars.
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.
Here, we introduce the fifth step of our 5-step Provectus Process:
We follow up periodically and check to make sure the copy we wrote is performing well and that you are getting the results you hoped for.
That doesn’t mean we pester you constantly with upsells.
On the contrary, if you needed some tweaks to boost the performance of your copy, we offer the following at no extra charge:
- Headline tune-ups at 3 months
- Full copy rewrite at 12 months
If your engagement and conversions are not as high as you’d like them to be, we will come in and make it right. We will also recommend some alternative headlines, taglines, and body copy for you to A/B test to help you find the “winner” in terms of conversions and revenue performance.
The bottom line is that our focus is to create copy that boosts your sales revenue, aligns with your broader business goals, and helps your company gain brand equity.