Andrea Johnson

Copywriting: 5 proven discoveries that strengthen copy

November 19th, 2015

Great copy isn’t about writing beautiful prose; it’s about knowing what to say to your prospects, when to say it and how to say it so they immediately become engaged, stay engaged and ultimately buy whatever it is you’re selling. Pretty words and design don’t matter as much as understanding what your prospects are thinking, what they expect during each stage of the buying process and then giving that to them.

That’s why MarketingExperiments has dozens of clinics focused on helping you write subject lines, headlines, body copy and more to help you achieve that. We call it “aligning copy with customer thought sequences.”

Get a condensed version of this information in the latest MarketingExperiments Web clinic. In about 20 minutes it distills more than 15 years of testing and research into five discoveries that can immediately help you write copy that sells. Watch it here.


Discovery #1: You have only seven seconds to arrest the attention of your prospect

That’s being generous. It’s critical to lead any copy with what the customer will value most about your product and nothing else. Show customers what’s in it for them immediately.

Version A leads with value: “Australia’s Most Trusted & Accredited Business Hosting Company.”


Version B doesn’t — it provides an explanation, but no value: “Business Dedicated Servers Australia.”


The Result: Version A achieved 188% more conversions.


Discovery #2: Never present the solution before building the problem

Never assume prospects know that they need what you’re selling; if they don’t know they have a reason to buy, they’re not going to.

Consider a company that sells a do-it-yourself solution. Unless you’re are a hardcore hobbyist, chances are you’re not going to know whether you need it. However, the Control in this test assumed you already know precisely what was wrong, and would be delighted that this product can rapidly and easily repair the problem. In contrast, the Treatment began with helping you diagnose whether you have the issue that the product resolves.

The Result: The Treatment achieved 36% more sales.


Discovery #3: Clarity trumps persuasion

Clearly communicate what’s valuable about your product upfront. If your prospect values it too, that will be more than enough to engage them. Only allow creativity to add to that value, and never allow it to detract. You may not win writing awards, but you’ll get far more sales being boring and clear than creative and confusing.

Consider this travel insurance provider. It started out with this vague, but clever, headline:

It switched to a headline that outlines value to the customer — peace of mind and the credibility of being in business for 35 years.

The Result: The Treatment achieved a 330% increase in conversions. Though other elements of the page were also changed in the Treatment, the clearer headline drove prospects further down the page and contributed to the lift in conversion.


Discover #4: Be ruthlessly unsentimental with your copy

To paraphrase Einstein: “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know it well enough.” Be sparse with words and, if you can’t, maybe you don’t know your product’s value well enough.

Generally, long copy creates friction, keeping people from moving forward in the sales cycle. However, in some cases where a product requires high commitment at a high cost, more copy has produced better results.

You just need enough copy to communicate the value of the product. Delete the rest. 


Discovery #5: Asks must align with expectations

If someone asked you to go on a first date and marry them in the same breath, you might think they were a little presumptuous at best. Yet, too many marketers do something similar in their campaigns. When they should be asking someone to “click here to find out more” they’re asking them to “buy now.” Or some iteration of that.

Consider this email that asks recipients to “Get Started Now.” That’s a pretty big commitment for someone to make based on an email.


This call-to-action was changed to “Estimate My Monthly Payment” which requires far less of commitment from the recipient.


The Result: Seven percent more people clicked through to get that estimate and 125% more people bought the product.


Use this information to immediately start increasing clickthrough and conversion by putting your copy to the test. Ask yourself:

  • Does my copy immediately arrest the attention of the prospect?
  • Am I sufficiently building the problem before presenting the solution?
  • Does my copy clearly express the value of my offer?
  • Am I using the proper amount of copy relative to the magnitude of my ask?
  • Does my call-to-action align with the expectations of my prospect?


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