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:
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:
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%.