What is conversion copywriting and why should you care?

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Conversion copywriting is, well, an approach to copywriting that focuses on maximizing conversion. It relies on extensive research and time-proven techniques to eliminate most of the guesswork out of writing.

The term was originally coined by Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers.com, an authority figure in the world of copywriting. But what makes conversion copywriting so special? Let’s take a closer look.

Conversion copywriting is data-driven

Who are you writing for?

“For everyone” is not the answer.

Many businesses still make the mistake of creating purely speculative buyer personas. “So let’s say we’re selling to a guy named John who’s 35 years old and works in an office. Maybe he needs a super manly app to track his water intake because, well, we all need to stay hydrated, right?”

Maybe this is a decent guess so the app will get quite a lot of downloads. Maybe not, so the marketing campaign will fail no matter how much the business invents in paid advertising.

I’ve personally seen a company that was trying to target a generic guy who was literally named John. They invested a few hundred bucks in Facebook ads and got maybe three or four leads. Given that their app costs less than $20 per month, leads that cost $100 to acquire don’t really pay off.

So all good marketers rely on actual customer research. Conversion copywriting puts even more emphasis on it. It uses extensive review mining, user testing, interviews and other techniques to know what potential customers ACTUALLY need.

What happens then? The copy addresses customers with their own words. This means that when they start reading, they’re all like “OMG this is totally me!”

And then they read to the end. And then there’s a good chance of them converting because, from the very first paragraphs, they felt understood.

It’s meant to be functional, not beautiful

Some people still believe that copywriting is all about catchy slogans and fancy wordsmithing.

Well, copywriting is all about getting people to act. To subscribe to your newsletter. To attend your webinar. To buy your product or service…

Or whatever your call to action is.

Ideally, every piece of copy focuses on a single action. Click that button. Put this thing into your shopping cart.

Conversion copywriting uses the power of research and proven persuasion strategies to direct the entire page towards a single purpose. It’s like direct response copywriting, but with a specific focus on research and testing.

The literary elegance of your writing style is, well, secondary. No one cares how many metaphors you put on a sales page if that page doesn’t convert. On the other hand, pretty awkward prose can convert like crazy.

Of course, copy should still be written in proper English (or whatever language you’re writing in). Mistakes do turn people off. However, there’s no point in sweating over the alliteration in your subheadings or whatever.

It relies on objective metrics

Conversion copywriting isn’t all about writing. It consists of three key steps:

  • Research & discovery
  • The actual act of writing, followed by wireframing and editing
  • Validation and experiments like A/B testing

Ideally, validation is more than “the marketing manager looked through the copy and liked it”. Yes, many businesses still validate copy this way. Usually, those are the same businesses that try to sell to a generic target audience that never existed.

There’s only one reasonable way to judge whether conversion copy is good.

Find out how well it converts.

If a landing page or a Google ad has a conversion rate of 0%, it isn’t any good. Even if someone in the marketing team liked it.

Conversion doesn’t always mean sales. Depending on the purpose of your page or social media post, conversion can mean:

  • subscribing
  • engaging with your post
  • pretty much any action you want your readers to take.

But, of course, the ultimate goal is to sell products or services. If you don’t, you’ve got a hobby, not a business.

The three-step copywriting process with its extensive research and seemingly endless CRO experiments may appear tedious. Especially if someone told you that you can write great sales copy by just getting inspired and unlocking your creativity. However, it works.

How YOU can benefit from conversion copywriting

If you run a business of any kind, conversion rate optimization is something you should care deeply about. Why maintain a website that doesn’t bring you customers while your competitors’ websites convert like crazy?

If you do digital marketing or write copy for clients, the concept of conversion copywriting can dramatically transform how you work.

Instead of poking around in the dark trying to figure out what the client’s customers really want, you can follow a proven research routine. Instead of spending days looking for words that will resonate with the target audience, you can rely on the customers themselves. They’ll provide you with a constant stream of ideas if you know where to look.

Find clients who know the value of a conversion copywriter and are ready to pay accordingly. And then you can take your revenue to the next level. Just saying.

But what if your job revolves around creating content that isn’t meant to drive immediate sales? Well, content is also an essential part of building relationships with your audience. And it also drives website visitors to become leads.

Yes, this is conversion.

So try to apply conversion copywriting techniques to your calls to action and subscription forms.

Where can you learn conversion copywriting?

I learned it at Joanna Wiebe’s Content School. She also has a LinkedIn course that introduces you to the basics. It’s free if you have a paid LinkedIn account.

You can also check out the Product Messaging course at CXL. You can get a 7-day trial for $1. This won’t break your budget, but you’ll need to study fast.

In addition, I’ve collected some learning resources in a blog post titled “3 Copywriting Mistakes That 90% Of Beginners Are Probably Guilty Of“.

Consider taking other online courses on related topics like voice-of-customer research, SEO, UX design and conversion rate optimization. They’re full of insights that will change the way you work and put you well above your competition.

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