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How You Can Write High Converting Copy… Without Actually Writing

How You Can Write High Converting Copy… Without Actually Writing
I will not levitate my pen in class.

There’s an episode of the Brady Bunch where Peter gets a job fixing bikes… and swiftly loses it.

His boss, Mr. Martinelli, explains what Peter did wrong. It seems Peter knows what to do to fix the bikes – but, when he’s actually doing the work, his great ideas get lost on the journey from his head to his hands.

Executing well is hard. This is a common problem for people writing their own copy.

You have the right idea. You know your business inside-out. You know your customers like they’re family. But when it comes time to take what you know and put it on the page as actual visitor-facing copy – well, let’s just say Mr. Martinelli might fire you, too.

Writing great copy is hard!

…That’s why I recommend you stop trying to do it.

In fact, I’m going to show you how you can stop writing copy completely – and get a massive conversion lift.

How I DIDN’T Write a Headline That
Increased Conversion by 103%

In my Unbounce unwebinar on copywriting that converts (watch it free here), I revealed the secret of where great messages come from: your visitors, prospects, customers and former customers. The best messages even come from people who haven’t even heard about your solution but have a problem you can solve.

Your high-converting headline doesn’t come from me. And your winning button copy doesn’t come from you. That’s why it feels like it’s so hard write copy! Because we’re taught that writing is something that comes from inside us. And because you’re thrusting your writing skills into a duel with the blank white page, which has spent 100+ years conquering people like you and me. Trust me: you do not want to dream up messages, put them on the page and hope to convert people.

Here’s a much better use of your time… and one of my most consistently profitable tricks:

Don’t write copy.
Swipe copy from your testimonials.

Only weeks ago, I used this trick to increase conversion by 103% for a software-as-a-service (Saas) provider. Our goal was to increase clicks from the landing page to a Plans & Pricing page.

We conducted a simple copy test in which we changed the headline and added a clarifying subhead. This made for an insanely clean test that was fast to run and easy to learn from.

Here are the control and the four new treatments we tested:

Conversion copywriting


VARIATION 1Writing to convert the easy way


Copywriting without work


Copy Hackers copywriting that converts


Copy that converts

Can you tell which one used copy swiped almost word for word from a testimonial?

Can you tell which one was the winner?

Before I reveal the winner, does it help to know that 3 of these 4 treatments lost to the control? Or how ’bout if I told you that 1 of these treatments tanked conversion… to the tune of -100%?

Now can you tell which one was the winner?

It’s Variation 2: “End the headache of constantly emailing files & appointment requests back and forth”.

Can you see why?

…Psych! I was testing you! Variation 2 didn’t win at all. It brought in a pathetic -11.8% lift.

In fact – and I’m not kidding this time – Variation 4 was the winner, more than doubling conversions. Variation 4 is based on the following testimonial, which we stumbled upon when reviewing many testimonials distributed across the client’s site:

Swipe messages from testimonials

It’s important to note that NONE of the other variations were based on a testimonial or voice-of-customer data. All the losing variations, except the control, were written by yours truly. And that is why we a) test and b) always try to swipe from more reliable voices than our own.

Be an Editor, Not a Copywriter

It’s time to rethink what you should do as a marketer or copywriter. There was a time when your job was to use what little you knew about a product and about your customers to dream up copy. And that sorta worked. But, with so much user-generated content online today, you don’t have to dream up your next messages.

You just have to go find them.

Indeed, there’s an art to finding them. You’ll need to think of yourself as an editor… and think of your customers as your copywriters. Your customers are writing your copy all over the place, including:

  • In support emails
  • In raving-fan emails
  • In tweets, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, in YouTube comments
  • In online forums
  • In LiveChat transcripts

Go collect their words. Then, put on your editor’s hat and comb through all that copy, weeding out the ho-hum stuff and keeping the best phrases, analogies and descriptions. Not all of their words will be keepers; it’s the editor’s job to find what’s great and test it.

This is a tried, tested and true way to write high converting copy (without actually writing). I’ve used this strategy to increase conversion – free and paid – by 50%, 60% and over 400%.

Check out more about this headline test and 10 others we ran by getting the latest Copy Hackers ebook. And be sure to watch my unwebinar with Unbounce’s Ryan Engley if you haven’t already…

— Joanna Wiebe

About Joanna Wiebe
Joanna Wiebe is a conversion-focused copywriter and the founder of Copy Hackers, where startups learn to write copy. Sign up for her free weekly newsletter and follow her on Twitter.
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  1. Duran Drake

    HI Joanna,
    I think this article is amazing I often got failed with my writing and articles I think by swapping and getting different group of sentences would be a great idea. I will definitely try these all things in my next articles. Thank you for sharing this amazing articles I hope it helpful for me.

  2. Michael Hart

    Your “how to” headline drew me in. Your advice to “use customer testimonials to write copy” then “be an editor, not a copywriter” … sums up the fastest way to go from zero to hero as a copywriter. Excellent article Joanna!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Michael. “Be an editor, not a copywriter” seems to help my clients understand the process of creating high-converting copy — glad you dig it. :)

  3. Michael Holmes

    Im writing this on my phone so I can’t go into this like I want to. But this was a REALLY great post. Wow!

  4. Jon Pearce

    I have to say this has given me some great copy ideas and I do not know why I haven’t thought of this in the past! We often write what we’d love a customer to say, but over complicate matters more than not!

    Get hunting through those testimonials now!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Yeah, most of the time we’re trying to find “customer-centric language”… when all the while it’s staring us in the face. :)

  5. Peter Gold

    Nice post and great use of customer words. I use LinkedIn PPC ads to test headlines and then use these both on a CTR and conversion ratio for page content, e-mail subject lines etc. It’s easier and quicker to get a volume test on Li than my own website.

  6. ericsestimate

    Sometimes customers just say it best. Maybe it’s because they’re not trying to “craft” the perfect saying… they just get to the point.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Exactomundo! If you want natural language, swipe copy from a testimonial that was given naturally. (Of course, if you swipe from those really formal, overwrought testimonials, you’re screwed. :) )

  7. Peter

    I’ve used this technique before and it made a huge difference on my Adwords CTR and landing page conversion rates.

    I asked the Sales team to send a survey to their customers and asked each customer questions such as:
    -In looking for X service, what are the most important factors you consider?
    -Why did you pick us among others?
    -What did you like most about our services and products?
    -What can we do to improve?

    I paid attention to the exact words they used and used these same words and languages in the ad copies as well as the copy for the landing pages.

    This resulted in a big boost in CTR as well as conversion rate.

  8. Chris

    Great advice. One way I look for topic ideas for content is by looking through Q&A forums. Who better to get topic ideas from than someone already looking for you, your service or product.

  9. Oliver

    Thanks a lot for this educating article. Writing articles and coming-up with new ideas is really hard.

  10. Lovejeet

    Wow , that were some of the best tips i have ever seen . It really has helped me understand a lot . I will try to implement this in my blog . Thank you very much .


  11. used autoparts online

    Thank you very much Michael for your effort and sharing the knowledge. Obviously it would help to create a convincing copy for clients.

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  13. Randall Magwood

    Great post Joanna. I’m also very active with testing and tracking headlines and other copywriting elements on my web pages. I would like to add that having a swipe file can make the newbie copywriter’s life easier.

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  19. Daniel couteau survie

    Thanks for this Joanna. I learned a good bit on copyrighting and conversion. I shall apply your tip!