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conversion optimization

The Idiot’s Guide to Writing Sales Copy That Will Get You Noticed – and Help You Sell, Sell, Sell

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Sales and Marketing | No Comments

If you’re a salesperson with killer instincts, you know that your mantra is “close, close, close.” The trick is knowing how to chart a course from the second you have a prospect in your crosshairs. Here’s a style guide to take you through writing copy that will build trust, quell customer objections, and gather clients around your digital campfire.

Know Your Ideal Client

You may not have the in-house resources to do thorough research into who exactly your clients and ideal prospects are. But never fear—algorithmic data sets are here! Quantcast is a helpful service that offers demographic information about customers when you type in the name of a company, product, or service. Such online tools can help you find out all kinds of data about your customers, which may quickly become the starting point for your marketing efforts.

It’s Not About Me, It’s About You

We all want to be the centre of attention. If you write about the reader, you’ll capture their interest. Phrases like “How often do you find yourself…” can get your audience nodding in agreement, which is a great way to build relationships. Build sympathy by offering praise, such as, “You work hard and play hard, everyday. You are so ready for the next level.” Once you’ve got their attention, train your lens directly on them by showing them you understand where they are coming from as a customer or client. Now you can get on with exalting just how your product is going to meet their needs. It helps to actually picture a person—what they drive, where they live, what keeps them up at night. Picturing your ideal customer will help you write with them in mind.

Start with a list of problems or challenges that your ideal client needs to solve. Then, make a list of your products’ attributes that are going to meet those challenges head-on. Sounds dry, doesn’t it? Let’s think of it in different terms: everyone wants to be understood. You can learn about what bothers customers by searching online discussion forums on topics, companies, and products. For instance, Quora allows you to enter your product or field into a search field, and will return you results that highlight different conversations around issues your customers are concerned about. Knowing the objections of your potential customers, and hitting those nerves directly, helps show that you already know what is bothering them, and are offering a way forward.

A Pyramid of Attention

Think of a piece of sales copy as an hourglass, with the sand perpetually running out. This is the attention of your reader, seeping out letter by precious letter. Your headline is there as bait for them to chomp, but from then on, you need to fight against losing their interest. Search engines operate in a similar way—if you haven’t made your point in the first couple of sentences, you’ve squandered the moment. You want to open with a value proposition that contains your target phrase. Rephrase the questions your readers have come to you with, and then offer assurances that they will find answers with you.

Trust Us: We’re Human, Not Robots

Many readers are jaded from a lifetime of being advertised to. Most people can sense a formula in ad copy the same way they can predict the ending of a lousy TV show. Your customers don’t trust you—at least, leads that have yet to buy from you don’t. Doing something unexpected, witty, or personal can take readers by surprise and move them from their skepticism (oh, yawn, another pitch) to suspended disbelief. That momentary openness and curiosity is golden. It can be achieved by throwing in some quirky details. Use story to make statistics sing. Insert yourself into the copy when it works; if you are an app developer working in partnership with your wife, speak from “I” and “we” to build rapport and trust.

Your style is another hook that can keep readers engaged. Brevity is the soul of wit. Keep your sentences short, sharp, and snappy. Avoid using the passive voice; use “investors have been flocking to the table,” instead of the lukewarm, passive version, “the attention of investors has been attracted.” Don’t hedge—if you have a claim to make, come out trumpeting. Be bold but calm, clever but sincere, confident yet kind read the full info here.

Writing copy that turns heads is a delicate game. Wrapped up in those simple-sounding sentences are complex concepts, carefully researched keywords and phrases optimized for search engines, all executed with a conjuror’s flair. Knowing who your customers are and what they care about is key to letting them know just how right for them your product is. The trick, from then on, is to speak their language and sustain their interest.

At SEO Beaver, we excel at building upon your expertise, using sophisticated tools and analytics to drive your business to the next level. For a free online consultation, contact SEO Beaver today.

Lead Capture Cartoon

Lead Generation 101: How to Properly Use Forms to Get Prospect Data for Follow-Up

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Inbound Marketing, internet marketing, landing page conversion optimization checklist, Landing Pages | No Comments

Too many online marketers assume that their dynamic content will keep users engaged enough that they’ll make the move to contact, comment, or buy. But it’s up to you, dear seller, to initiate contact for lead generation. Using forms with sensitivity to user needs and objections will land you rich prospect data. Here’s how you can properly use forms to get prospect data for follow-up.

Whatever Doesn’t Work: Get It Right Before You Launch

First and foremost, your form has to function on every platform, every time. It also has to be secure, and your customers need to be aware of how secure it is. A security seal from a reputable company like McAfee or Verisign helps build user confidence, as does the application of Captcha codes. You can use Autocomplete to speed user progress, but beware of auto-suggest on mobile devices, as an intelligent device can quickly become quite the opposite when it offers auto-correct on email addresses.

Don’t Make Them Go Hunting

Your lead form has to be prominent. Hiding it in the margins of the page will result in frustration for both users and sellers. Visibly display the form once a user has spent a set amount of time on the site, as a popup, or have forms appear at the end of articles inviting users who “want more content like this” to subscribe. Basing visibility on users’ behavior works: be conspicuous, make it simple yet rich enough in data that you’ll be able to target your response, and always provide an alternative to simply saying “no” with a toll-free number, “like” option on Facebook, or other social media share prompt gabapentin generic. Forms in and of themselves can be foregrounded as a kind of call to action. If your end goal is to funnel leads into your customer relationship management (CRM) system, inviting people to fill out a form in order to receive a discount, get a free quote, or enter a contest becomes the central ask of the page. Bundling forms with enticing offers does two things: it incentivizes the form completion, and, by dint of having engaged users in an offline conversation, boosts conversion rates. You want to be in their inbox, knocking, in an active sales role rather than waiting for them to come to you.

Navigate Objections With Clear Communication

You are walking a tightrope between gathering useful information and seeming too acquisitive. Users are beginning to understand that if they are getting something for nothing (i.e. information or apps), then the data they give is a form of payment. They may be cheap with data until trust has been built, and you have shown your site and services to be indispensible. Grade your forms accordingly—the less information you demand up-front, the more likely people will be willing to offer it. Being perfectly clear about what happens when a user submits a form is also critical. A button that says “Click Here to Contact Us” is more trustworthy than one that says “Submit User Data.” Use friendly language and make your buttons look like buttons, placed where users expect to find them. If you are asking for data that may not seem strictly necessary to users, add a line explaining why you want it. For instance, if you are asking for birthdate, add a line telling users that your company sends out special offers for customers on their birthdays.

Reap What You Sow: Get Ready to Respond

Of course, once you have that precious form data, ensure that you have a solid offline team to respond personally and at lightning speed to the contact request. Your analytic data will tell you about user behavior (how often they have visited your site, duration of stay, etc.). Your responses should be tailored according to the quality of the prospect. Keep to these guidelines to build and make use of online forms that drive your business. Ensure that you have functionality and security, communicate clearly to users how to use forms and why you are gathering information, and make sure that forms are easily accessible, if not outright in-your-face. Finally, make sure that you are ready for the flow of information once you launch your forms, with a team of responders and a system to grade users into categories for customized responses. If you’d like to learn more about lead generation with a free consultation, fill out the form on this page to contact us today.

How to write good viral headlines

Hey You, Pay Attention!: How to Write a Headline That Really Packs a Punch

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Inbound Marketing | No Comments

Ip Man, the legendary martial artist and teacher of Bruce Lee, said “Don’t recite mantra. Hit your target.”

A good web headline hits its target. Whether you call it conversion, click-through or meeting a goal, the target in writing a headline is the same: To appeal to a human being. Readers, being human, all want the same basic things — to avoid boredom, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, and work. The good news for writers is that those things are never going to change. Here’s how you can make your web headlines stand out.

Always Remember: Your Reader is Powerful

Online readers are the most empowered readers around. They won’t tolerate their time being wasted. Since online content is usually free, readers have no reason to stay with content that isn’t giving them what they want, and fast. The moment they start to feel bored, confused, or annoyed, they can click away from you, possibly forever. That’s why it’s critical that you put yourself in the reader’s shoes when you are writing online content. This goes double for a headline, which is the first thing to be judged (and, if judged to be inferior, the only thing that your readers will see).

Know Your Audience and Write Accordingly

While there are some rules of thumb for writing headlines, first you have to know who your target reader is, and write to that person. Is he interested in fashion and celebrity gossip? Then your headlines can be light and slangy (“Brangelina Head Down Under for Epic Australian Circus”). Is she a no-nonsense professional in a serious field? Don’t annoy her by getting cute – stick with straightforward headlines (“Researchers Find Causal Link Between Caffeine Intake and Memory”). In general, it’s a good idea to keep the headlines as interesting as possible without sacrificing clarity and professionalism.

Methods for Crafting a Good Headline

Headline structures can vary greatly, and there is no magic formula for perfection beyond ensuring your spelling and grammar are correct. Here are just a few ideas for writing a headline that will capturing the hearts and minds of your readers, and get them clicking on your post.

1) Just Tell the Whole Story

Example: A Soldier Went Overseas to Fight, Never Dreaming he Would Adopt an Orphaned Girl

This type of headline is very effective. Its strength is in giving away the whole story up front. On a deep level, the reader will appreciate being trusted with it right out of the gate. You are showing confidence that this story is worth going deeper to get the details, and your reader will probably agree with you.

2) Move From General to Specific

Example: California Dreaming: How to Plan Your Perfect Napa Valley Vineyard Tour

This is a tried-and-tested classic headline structure.  Its beauty is that the first half can be pretty impressionistic, because the second half will drive the subject home. In this example, “California Dreaming” taps into the power of a highly recognizable phrase and song title. You draw the reader in and give them a hint – this will be something about California, and it will be something pleasant. The second half confirms this hint, giving the reader both a feeling of satisfaction and more specific information.

3) Paint with Words

Example: A Polar Bear in the Cathedral

This method is pretty tricky, so don’t try it at home unless you know that you can pull it off. It will only work if your reader is creative and not easily frightened. Also, you need strong words to work with. In this example, the writer was talking about a piece of music based on the composer’s visit to the Arctic, which premiered in a massive cathedral. Rather than write a headline about a “new choral work premiering this November” (boring), she grabbed her readers with the most powerful words at her disposal: polar bear and cathedral.

4) Lead with Love

Example:  Stylish Vancouver Oyster Bars you will Love

This is pretty straightforward. People are interested in the idea there is something out there that they might love. The industries of food, art and film criticism are  built on this fact. Love feels good, no matter what form it takes, and we all want a piece of it. Boldly make a claim that the readers will “love” something, and chances are they will investigate to find out if you’re right.

5) Cash in on Shock Value

Example: Small-Town Mayor Caught in Bizarre Love Triangle

Humans love to be shocked. If you have an article about anything shocking, make sure your headline conveys this up front.  Don’t bury shocking content deep in the piece – put in the front window. There’s a reason it’s called shock value – it’s valuable.

6) Make Time for a Rhyme

 Example: Flirty Shirtsleeves: A Gentleman’s Guide to Spring Fashion

Rhyming is powerful – witness centuries of poetry and decades of pop music, ad jingles and Dr. Seuss. Why? Because rhyme is extremely memorable, and it asserts a subconscious claim that whatever rhymes must be true. Tap into this power by including rhyme in the headline.

7) The Almighty List Post

Example: Nine Early Signs Your Date is a Dud

The strength of the list post – and the headline that announces it – is that nice, concrete number. The reader knows exactly how many fragments there will be to read, giving them a handle on how much attention will be expected of them. The very fact that they know the article’s length going in will often spur them to read – whether the list has four items or 78.

The ability to write a good headline for the web is critical. Unlike with print media, where the eye of the reader might scan down into the article and keep them reading, online headlines often appear all on their own. The reader must often decide purely from the headline alone whether to click through to the article. After you’ve nailed down your technique with a few of these structural ideas, put away the mantras and just hit your target. After all, they’re only human.

How I create laser targeted online ads

By | conversion optimization, internet marketing | No Comments

By now, we have all heard that print is a dying format.  While that may or may not be true – and we will probably know how accurate this sentiment is soon enough – it is pretty much a given that if you want to have an effective marketing campaign, you better have a stellar online ad campaign lined up and ready to go.  If you don’t, you stand to hide yourself from scores of potential young or tech savvy eyeballs whose concept of reading something that isn’t pulled up on a computer, tablet, or mobile device is a distant memory.

The only problem with this is, since online advertising is still somewhat in its infancy, a lot of us haven’t quite figured out how to maximize the medium’s potential.  We may know how to put ads online, but we may not know how to get those ads in front of the people we want.  In order to solve this critical piece of the puzzle, you need to understand the mindset and the personality of the potential customers you desire most.  Fortunately, this task isn’t as daunting as you might think.

Quality over Quantity

 In order to build a successful ultra targeted ad campaign online, you need to realize that getting your ad in front of people just for the sake of generating attractive CTR numbers is an empty pursuit.  It’s far more important that your online ad campaign attracts people that would want to buy your product as opposed to a bunch of people that click your ad out of curiosity.  This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try and get your CTR as high as possible; it just means that you need to make sure the lion’s share of those clicks have actual purpose behind them.

Why are they on the Web?

 Since your quest to create ultra targeted ads online should focus on reeling in potential customers that will buy your product, you should first realize why they may be looking your way in the first place.  Essentially, your potential customer is going to be in one of three mindsets:

  • Surfing Mode – This person is going to be looking for information regarding your product in generalized terms.  In this stage, the person who ends up buying an eight-cup food processor with an extra large feed tube and a stainless steel slicing disc will merely do a search for “Food Processor” to start figuring out what they want.
  • Comparison/Review Mode – This person has a general idea of what they want, and is now in the process of performing due diligence.  This would include things like checking out product reviews, customer opinions, and taking a closer look at a product’s whistles and bells.
  • Buying Mode – This person knows what they’re going to purchase, and is looking for the best deal possible.  Because an online component is involved, this not only includes the price tag, but other benefits than can be offered, like shipping.

 You can figure out what kind of mode your target audience is in by tracking the kind of words that brings them to your site in the first place.  If people come your way via basic terms, they’re just window shopping.   If they drop in through hyper-focused searches, they are ready to reach for their credit card.

 A Matter of Personality

The rules of ultra targeted online ads don’t stop at where a person is at in the buying process.  Their personality plays a big factor into their buying habits, which is something that any online ad campaign worth its salt should be mindful of.

There are four types of buyer personalities that you have to deal with.  The first personality is the methodical buyer, and they are marked by a lack of speed.  They will dig through all of a product’s specs and get familiar with every last detail before they actually pull the trigger on a deal.  On the other end of the spectrum is the spontaneous buyer.  This buyer is driven by immediacy in more ways than one.  Things that drive expediency like free overnight shipping or discounts will lure this type of shopper in, but so will visuals that will suggest a positive experience with the product, such as a large number of on-site reviews.   In between these two personalities lay the humanistic and the competitive shopper; the former tends to carry a slower pace based on researching other customer experiences, while the latter appreciates reviewing product data, just as long as they don’t have to dig too deeply for the info.

Putting it All Together

Of course, it is entirely up to you in order to figure out what type of mindset and personality will be most attracted to your ad – and subsequently, your product.  Some of this detective work can be pretty obvious, solely based on the demographic that your product is typically associated with.  If you are in the business of selling home security systems, you won’t exactly make a mint by targeting your ad toward the spontaneous crowd.  Apart from that, the best course of action is to test the waters.  You can accomplish this by creating four different ad campaigns designed to target the four different personalities, with each campaign containing unique ads that hone in on a person’s various mindsets.  Once they’re created, let them run, collect the resultant data, and make a final determination as to what works best.

It may seem a bit labor intensive, but it’s worth it for two reasons.  First off, it will help you figure out exactly what your target audience should be.  Secondly, it will allow that target audience that you desire to instantly see what you want them to see in a way that they want it to be packaged.  And ultimately, that’s the whole point of putting together an ad campaign.  It was true when the alleged dinosaur that is print media ruled the scene, and it is arguably even truer in this day of online marketing.

Landing Page Conversion Optimization Checklist: Getting Started

By | conversion optimization, landing page conversion optimization checklist, Landing Pages, Resources | No Comments

This checklist was originally created for a popular Internet Marketing forum in early 2012 and has since received 4000+ views and 150+ positive reviews. Many of the people that have stumbled upon it have let me know that they don’t think it gets the attention it deserves, and I agree.

Over the next couple months I’ll be rereleasing a section of the checklist each week with updated tips and more in-depth explanations of why each item on the checklist will help you increase conversions.

Get notified of new posts by using the form in the sidebar, or subscribe directly using your favorite RSS reader. At the end of the series you’ll be able to download them all together in a printer-friendly pdf.

If you have any questions or would like to debate the validity of a particular point, I encourage you to leave a comment here or in the comments sections of the corresponding post.

Part 1: Getting Started
Part 2: Headlines
Part 3: Call-to-Action
Part 4: Social Proof
Part 5: The Guarantee
Part 6: Lead Generation
Part 7: The Copy
Part 8: Landing Page Design
Part 9: Prelaunch

Getting Started: Background and Research

Before you jump into creating your landing page, you need to do your homework. In fact, these points are something that should have been taken into consideration long before this point. If you have yet to find answers to these questions, don’t neglect to answer them now, or your business will almost certainly fail.

Write down answers to these questions now and as you piece your landing page together. Check back frequently to make sure your actions are in tune with your objectives, your offer and, most importantly, your audience.

 

_____ Define your audience.

Who are the people that will be receiving your message, what are they like, and what problems do they face? You can shine some light on this question by either analyzing your own traffic, or using a service like Quantcast to see the demographics of authority sites in your niche.

 

_____ Create Personas.

This helps to visualize your customers and get in their heads a little bit more.  Create your personas before you start writing or designing your landing page, so you’re able to better imagine how your various personas will react to your page. I’ve included an example persona for a skin care product below. It seems like a silly exercise, but it works wonders.

“Kelly”
-21 year old
-College student
-Has had bad skin for a long time now, and was teased about it in high school.
-She has desperate for a solution to her skin care problems, but due to tuition costs, can’t afford to pay for expensive skin care systems. Her mother, on the other hand, has money to spend.

 

_____ Define your offer and benefits. 

What exactly will you be offering to visitors of this page? In what specific ways will readers benefit from your offer?

 

_____ Define Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Without going into too much detail, your USP is a brief description of what you have to offer, and why it is better than all your competitor’s. This is probably the most important step, and will be one of the main focuses of your landing page. If you are unable to define your USP, it’s probably a good idea to go back to the product development stage and figure out a way to give your customers something they won’t be able to find anywhere else.

 

_____ Define the goals of your landing page.

At this point you should a deep understanding of what you’d like to accomplish with your landing page. It’s still a good idea to write it down now, so you don’t lose focus once you dive in. Go for the direct sale, offer them something in exchange for their contact info, get them to download your software, or something totally out of the box. Whatever it is, don’t attempt to accomplish it all with a single landing page. With goals in mind, you can define a metric to rate your success by (conversions).

 

_____ Define Your Traffic Sources

If you’ve been able to successfully define all of the above, you’re now in a good position to figure out the best way to drive traffic to your page. The more you can figure out about how you’re going to generate traffic at this early stage in the landing page creation process, the better you’ll be able to cater the copy to your visitors. For example, if you’re able to come up with your Google Adwords ad copy and keywords before you start writing your landing page, you’re able to define expectations and get a better idea of what part of the buying process they’re in.

The post Landing Page Conversion Optimization Checklist: Getting Started appeared first on Landing Page Copywriter.