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6 Steps to Writing Copy That Actually Converts

Most of the time, the art of exceptional copywriting boils down to understanding how to trigger action and emotion in your readers.
6 Steps to Writing Copy That Actually Converts
Image credit: Shutterstock

You could be the most incredible writer in the world, but that enviable talent won't do much for you as a businessperson if you're not turning your site traffic into conversions.

Related: 5 Copywriting Hacks Designed to Give Your Business a Boost

Conversions, of course, require knowing exactly how to transform a lead into a sale. And, regardless of what it is you're selling -- be it software, or downloads or online courses -- the value of your copy will depend completely on the success of your content marketing strategy.

Simply improving that copy and using correct testing and targeting methods can be enough to boost your conversion rate by up to 300 percent, according to a white paper from Steelhouse.

No wonder, then, that businesses are developing and creating content at an alarming rate. Web users share 27 million pieces of content each day, and marketers invest more than a quarter of their budgets into their content-marketing campaigns. When you consider statistics like these, it's easy to see why good, persuasive copy is so crucial.

"Okay, I'm convinced. But how do I write great copy?" you may be saying. Good question. Most of the time, the art of exceptional copywriting boils down to understanding how to trigger action and emotion in your readers. Once you elicit an emotional response, you'll be ready to convince your audience that buying from you is a good decision.

Here are some ways to boost your copywriting skills, to increase conversions.

1. Write a clear and engaging headline.

Most people will read a headline for a blog, article, or paper, but few are likely to read further, and fewer will bother to consider your copy if your headline isn't engaging enough to capture their interest. A headline is the key element of your copy when it comes to driving action. It should persuade your readers that the rest of your article is worth reading.

Related: The 5 Rules of Killer Copywriting That Will Hook Prospects at 'Hello'

Today, thanks to WordPress and other content-management platforms, it's simpler than ever for anyone to start a blog and start posting information all day long. Unfortunately, the problem with that easy access is that users become overwhelmed by constant information.

Go online and you'll find literally thousands of pages of content for any given topic. In addition, consider that the average attention span is around eight seconds, meaning that you've got only a brief opportunity to convince someone that your page is better than those of your competitors.

Simply put, if you want your target audience to bypass information overload and click on your page, your have to start with a clear and engaging headline.

2. Ditch schoolboy errors with research.

Content without accuracy won’t get you anywhere on the web today.

Your readers expect you to have already researched the information you're giving them, so they can be confident they're getting authentic, valuable content. Good copy is reliable, honest and filled with facts backed up by trustworthy sources -- not Wikipedia.

In the world of copywriting, and in marketing too, the more you know about your given subject, the greater chance you'll have of achieving great results. Speak to professional copywriters and bloggers; they'll tell you they spend half their day looking up data online before they even start writing a couple of words.

Why? Because accuracy counts and it shows your audience that you're authentic, intelligent and trustworthy. Don't take the value of editing for granted.

3. Map your audience persona(s).

According to the Content Marketing Institute, the best way to maintain long-term success is to find ways to constantly engage people. However, before you can do that effectively, you need to get to know the customers you're writing for.

Creating audience or customer personas will help you find the right words and phrases to bridge the gap between you and your ideal audience member.

When you're designing this persona, include information on whether the customer you're profiling accurately represents your secondary or primary audience, as well as what his or her goals might be. The more information you have, the more you will be able to reach, and persuade, your audience to take action.

Getting data for your audience personas is as simple as sending out a questionnaire or survey, or directly asking for input via an autoresponder in your email. Also, ask your customer service and sales reps for a list of the most common questions your customers ask.

Using this feedback from your target audience, you'll be able to analyze it in line with the persona you've established, then incorporate the finished result into your marketing strategy to develop more valuable leads.

4. Be authentic.

When you yourself are a customer thinking about giving your money to a new business or startup, what's the number one thing that stops you?

Most people feel uncomfortable handing their cash over to new businesses simply because they're not familiar with them. They haven't built up any trust yet; so customers can't be sure whether these companies are going to offer them a great experience or deliver something depressingly sub-standard.

Knowing and trusting people are two scenarios that usually go hand in hand; so as a business, you need to create content that does more than just persuade your customers that you're worth their cash -- it can actually make people feel that they know you.

Most brands have an idea of the kind of voice they want to portray to their audience. For some companies, particularly those in the business-to-business area of marketing, that voice needs to be sophisticated, formal and chockful of information.

If you're not sure how to speak to your customers, play around with your voice a little. Check out different formats and see what has the best impact.

5. Use hacks for persuasion.

Do you know how to convince your audience to say yes to something? Persuasion is always a challenge for marketers, but it's also a crucial part of converting a lead into a sale. In most cases, online persuasion is all about understanding exactly what your target audience is looking for.

If you know the pain points of your preferred customer, and you can represent ways in which your product or service will benefit your reader in some way, you should be able to persuade them to take the action you want more easily.

When your aim is to influence people, remember that logical and emotional factors are crucial. Evoke emotion to help your customers make decisions based on how they feel, and link to logical concepts such as reciprocity so that your customers feel as though they're making an accurate and informed choice.

6. Try some individuality.

Your one-size-fits-all approach to content not working? Try shaking things up a bit.

This is not to say that you should start insulting your audience and infusing your blog posts with profanity. But a little bit of controversy and individuality can go a long way toward helping you make an impact in today's big, bad world of business.

Most products aren't really sexy enough to sell themselves. You don't get together with your friends on a Friday night to talk about that new salad spinner you saw the other day, or the software your business is considering installing.

However, you do talk to others about something that's made you take a second look. Controversy can be a dangerous thing to play with in the business world, but it can also be something that shakes your prospects out of their boring lives and forces them to take notice.

Be careful: But think about how you can show your company to be a bit controversial from time to time.

Don’t simply agree with the common issues in your industry. Look at them from a closer perspective or a different angle. Even if you do agree with something, try to show your audience why that belief is correct instead of just nodding along like the rest of the sheep in your industry herd.

At the same time, remember that no matter how professional your brand image is -- or how complicated your industry -- you need to be at least a little conversational. Write how you talk! Use metaphors, incomplete sentences and other unique embellishments that make you more . . . you.

Related: 4 Tips to Find the Best Copywriter for Your Business

Conclusion

Crafting the ideal copy is no easy feat. That's why there are professional copywriters scattered across the internet who make a living designing and implementing strategies for all kinds of businesses. However, if you adopt the steps outlined here, and make sure to test your results and adapt over time, you should be well on your way to more effective copy -- and conversions.