What is Conversion Copywriting?
Updated: Nov 3
And how exactly does it get people to say an enthusiastic yes to your offer?
No magic here. Just hard work.
If you’ve ever wondered how conversion copy differs from run-off-the-mill content writing or blogging, this brief guide is for you.
In the next five minutes, you’ll learn:
Copywriting refers to writing marketing and promotional materials for a product, service, business, person, opinion, or idea.
Not every material of this type requires an immediate response from the reader, though.
Some copy is written with the sole purpose of brand awareness, such as a giant billboard with a certain airline’s good-looking cabin crew serving fine Champagne 35,000-feet up in the sky.
“Flying you to 90 destinations” is also copy
The purpose of a billboard like this is to keep your brand on top of people’s minds so when they make a flight booking in the near future, they’ll likely remember the ad (and hopefully, at least check your prices and availability—not that most people would get to sit in a pod like that).
The effectiveness of this type of advertising is hard to measure because you’ll never really know if your prospect booked that flight because, in fact, they remembered that giant billboard as they drove down the highway at 80-miles-an-hour half-asleep (unlikely), or because this was the cheapest option their search engine threw out and they’ve never even heard of your airline before… (quite possibly.)
Conversion copywriting is also writing marketing and promotional materials, but with a single focus on getting your reader to say yes, and act on something there and then.
For an airline, instead of using a giant billboard, they’d use a Facebook ad directed at users who’ve recently visited pages or clicked on links for a certain magical and exotic destination, such as Denver.
The airline would take a conversion-focused approach and use an ad that’s persuading the reader to click on a link to see their offer—and take immediate action.
So when you need your prospect to click a button, book a demo, fill out a form, or subscribe to your newsletter—you need conversion-focused copy.
The name of which, by the way, comes from the one and only queen of copy, Joanna Wiebbe of CopyHackers, who started using the term back in 2013 to differentiate this type of copy from everything else.
The offer is clear here. Get it now or never.
The purpose of this ad is not to remember the airline later—it’s clicking on a link there and then and grabbing the $69 offer.
But don’t you need both types of ads?
One to raise awareness and another to get people to click through to an offer?
Probably, yes. And both ads would need a different approach and depend on the sophistication of your audience and your brand identity.
What about content? Isn’t that copy, too?
Top of the funnel (TOFU) marketing efforts provide education and information. It's copy, yes, because it’s text… but that’s where the similarity ends—this type of text does not need an immediate response from the reader.
What’s the conversion copywriting process?
Research & Discovery
Research and discovery aren’t just a few hours of caffeine-fueled Google searching late at night and then jumping on the writing the next day.
It’s probably the longest phase of the project.
Part of it is cleaning up what you’ve found and, based on your findings, you develop hypotheses, messaging recommendations and hooks.
Writing, Editing Wireframing
After writing and editing, it’s best to make sure your message hierarchy is clear, and to do that, you’ll want to wireframe your copy.
Validation and Experimentation
There are lots of different ways to validate.
For example, use Usability Hub for testing or validating for clarity.
If you’re redoing something without AB testing it, you want to do a preference test.
Experimentation is, of course, split testing when you direct half the traffic to version A of your site and the other half to version B for at least four weeks and announce a winner when you’ve reached the required number of page visits you set out at the beginning of the test.
Conversion copy isn’t just the process
It’s everything else that goes into it, such as:
Voice of Customer Research
Value Proposition Development
Persuasion & Human Decision Making
UX, Interaction Design & Human Factors
Direct Response Framework
Tested Copy Formula
That’s a helluva list and it’s not even complete!
A competent conversion copywriter has received training and studied all these elements and put them into practice when writing your copy.
What are The Outputs of Conversion Copywriting?
What is your research question?
You should craft a hypothesis when you develop copy so with clarity and focus in mind.
You should never be guessing.
What is your reason for thinking your copy is going to convert better?
You absolutely need a hypothesis and to know how to craft a research question.
Personalization & Segmentation
When you know other conversion copywriting elements, you’ll be better positioned to make recommendations for personalization and segmentation, which you can’t otherwise do based on just customer research or voice of customer—your own bias may get in the way.
Validation, Iteration and Direction
Creative direction is making sure your copy is implemented appropriately and not just stepping down and sending it to the designer and hoping that something smoking hot will come of that.
Designers are not copywriters, and they appreciate direction on how to implement the work.
Experimentation & Measuring Results
If you’ve started with a scientific way of researching, and developed a hypothesis, you can make sure your copy is as good as it can get—for the right audience and the right offer—with testing, experimenting and measuring results.
All this for copy?
It feels overwhelming just for the sake of a few words on your home page.
So it should.
It should feel like a big undertaking and a challenge.
Do you want to do this... or don’t you?