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Overhaul your copywriting for rocketing conversions

You conversion rate measures how successfully you transform website window-shoppers into bona fide customers. This doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. Your conversion goal could simply be to increase newsletter subscriptions or generate free quotes.

A landing page is the first page that web users see after clicking a link to get to your website. It does not have to be your home page. In fact, if you want to encourage visitors to complete a specific action, the one thing it shouldn’t be is your home page.

Your landing page and conversion rate are inextricably bound together, with the quality of one determining the success of the other.

There are a number of elements on your landing page that affect conversions, but perhaps the most important of these is the compelling nature of your copywriting.

Poorly written or badly formatted copy can cripple conversions. The corollary, of course, is that good quality content that meets visitors’ needs can boost or revive flagging conversions. If your conversions are abysmal or have started to taper off, one of the easiest ways to turn your luck around is to re-examine your copy and tweak it where necessary.

Signs of tired, ineffective copy

There was a time, not so long ago, when keyword density (the number of times keywords or phrases appeared in web page copy) was a key factor in SEO strategies. A lot of people took this to mean that the longer the copy on each page the better because more keywords could be crammed in. Experience has shown that overlong copy with too many keywords does not led to greater conversions. Instead, as many of us instinctively know, web users shy away from reams of content, especially when significant portions are redundant and keywords are obviously forced.

These days, the trend is towards copy that it tighter and more focused; more succinct and infinitely easier to read. SEOs have also learnt the value of placing keywords correctly, so instead of peppering copy with phrases writers have learnt to use keywords economically.

Revving it up

Studies have shown that people pay more attention to headlines, subheadings and the first and last paragraphs than any other content on a web page. So these are the areas where you need to concentrate most.

Make your page title snappy and make sure it closely matches the ad or link text that landed visitors. Include your primary keywords in the title. This will not only keep your visitors happy but will attract Google’s (or any search engine’s) attention.

Your first paragraph should sum up the rest of the page and make people want to read more. Because it’s the most important paragraph, writers often feel the need to put as much information in the introduction as they can. This is counter-productive. Your introduction should be no longer than two or three lines. The challenge is to make those lines count.

The following paragraphs can go into more detail but you still need to avoid waffle. Web users like to scan pages to see if they are relevant to their needs, so you need to make the body of the copy easy to read by using numbers, bullet points and subtitles. Readers should be able to get the gist of your message after a quick run through.

Your last paragraph needs to end with a punch in the same way that your first one started with a bang. Here it’s possible to indulge in a modicum of repetition as you reiterate the salient points, namely why people should choose you instead of someone else.

Size matters

The actual length of the page is up to you, but studies have shown that different copy lengths complement different goals. Roberta Rosenberg says that longer copy works best if you’re trying to sell something (you can make your argument more compelling and your logic irrefutable) but if you’re aiming for newsletter subscriptions or a quote shorter is sweeter.

Whether you’re going for distance or speed you need to remember your calls to action. You have to tell visitors what you want them to do; otherwise they won’t know that they have to do it. If you’re keeping it short use at least two calls to action; one near the top of the page where visitors can’t help but see it, and one towards the bottom as a reminder when they finish up. Longer pages will need more calls to action, but don’t annoy your visitors by putting them in every paragraph. Use your discretion and limit yourself to about four or five calls to action throughout the page.

It’s not about you

Web users don’t care about your company. They care about what your company can do for them, so abandon the ego-trip and resist the temptation to talk about yourself. Use you and your words, not we or our. Talk directly to visitors not at them.

Keep visitors engaged with as few words as possible. Don’t venture into the realm of the passive voice, instead keep it active. Using strong verbs will eliminate the need for adverbs while strong nouns will cut down on adjectives, all of which leads to tighter, more effective copy.

Linkable words

You may want your visitors to see other pages on your website, so you point them in the right direction with linked text. Jeff Sexton says that you need to be careful when choosing which words to include in the link or link instruction.

The easiest way to ask people to see more of your site is to ask them to “click for more information” or “read more …”. Don Day calls this being a “more-on” (you shouldn’t have to think too hard about it) and reckons that people find phrasing such as this a boring turnoff. But other experts reckon that there is nothing wrong with an instruction as simple as this.

Sexton walks the middle road and recommends that when it comes to link text you use the formula: imperative verb + implied benefit.

His example, which I have shamelessly copied, changes:

  • Steve found an investment secret that changed his life. Read more…

To

  • Steve found an investment secret that changed his life. See how you may be able to double your income in one year.

Don’t go hog wild

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when tweaking your landing pages to improve conversions is: don’t do too much at once. If you change everything you won’t know which change was the one that worked – and you need to know which one worked so you can use it again if necessary.

Be patient, test everything and success will come.

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