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15 Do’s and Don’ts for High-Converting Copy

No matter how much promotion and marketing you do, if your web pages are not convincing you will fail to convert visitors into customers and leads. Part of conversion optimization is great web design, but what does the most to turn your prospects into customers is compelling copy. This includes your page titles, headlines, body copy, buttons, forms, call-outs, and any other text on the page. While there is no one-size-fits-all guide to high-converting copy, the following do’s and don’ts apply no matter your industry, your brand, or your target market.

High-Converting Copywriting Do’s:

  1. DO understand your target audience.

    In order to write compelling copy that captures your user’s attention and convinces them to convert, you have to understand who your user is. Do your research on your target market to find out about their needs and wants, motivations, pain points, style, and interests, and tailor your message accordingly. Speak to your user in their language to engage them and let them know your offer is for them.

  2. DO speak directly to your user.

    Write your copy in the second-person “you” to address your user personally and make your message about them. The third person is distant and unattached, which won’t help to draw your reader in to your message or convince them of your offer, and the first person makes your message about you, not them. “You” makes it personal and puts them at the center of your communication.

  3. DO succinctly state your point.

    You only have a few seconds to capture your user’s interest. If your copy is confusing or you don't get to the point, you will lose them. Open with a headline or subheading that portrays the value of your offer, and then follow it up with other information and details if necessary.

  4. DO convey the value of your offer.

    Your copy should always tell your user what is in it for them. Why should they click this button? Why should they fill out your form? Why should they buy your product? For example, instead of “Sign up for our newsletter,” your form header could read “Sign up to receive our monthly tips, articles, and special promotions.” This way, your user knows what the value is in giving you their information. Let them know what benefit they will gain or what problem they will solve to convince them to take the action you want them to.

  5. DO guide your visitor toward your conversion goal.

    The purpose of your copy is to get your visitor to convert, so make sure your copy pushes them in that direction. Don’t ramble on or go off on tangents. Make sure that every element of your copy, from your headline to your body copy to your submit button all guide your visitor towards the end goal.

  6. DO vary your sentence length and structure.

    If each of your sentences has the same pattern and rhythm, your reader will soon get bored of the monotony, no matter how valuable your statements may be. Change up your sentences to keep your message interesting and keep your visitor engaged. You can read all about sentence structure at the Perdue Online Writing Lab.

  7. DO include a call to action.

    Since the goal of all this copy is to get your visitor to convert, don’t just assume they will figure it out. If you want potential customers to join your mailing list, download a free trial, buy your product, or contact you, you need to let them know. Tell them what you want them to do to maximize the likelihood of them doing it.

  8. DO test your copy to make sure it’s the best it can be.

    The only way to know if your copy is doing its job is to test it against other variations to find out which version works best. Run A/B tests on your headlines, your body copy, your call to action, and your button text to find out what language is most compelling to your audience.

High-Converting Copywriting Don’ts:

  1. DON’T write for search engines.

    Clunky copy written to include as many keywords as possible is a thing of the past. While keywords are still important, Google’s Panda and Penguin updates reward well-written copy that attracts visitors. So write for your audience, not for search bots.

  2. DON’T write for yourself.

    The goal of your copy is to get your user to convert. It isn’t to be funny, artistic, or to tell the story of your company (or your life). Don't let your ego or personal interests get in the way of writing the right copy for your goal. If your target audience likes funny or artistic copy and it suits your product or service, that’s one thing, but don’t sacrifice your visitor’s needs to serve your own.

  3. DON’T use boring clichés and platitudes.

    If your sales copy is unimaginative or meaningless, it’s unlikely that it’s very convincing. Instead of falling back on well-worn phrases or empty wordsmithing, use specific, descriptive language to tell your user what your offer can do for them. You can also try unusual words, slang, and specific terminology if it works for your target market and your brand voice. However,

  4. DON’T write in industry jargon.

    It’s one thing to use terminology that your audience understands that helps them understand your offer. It’s another thing to use insider jargon and acronyms that leave them confused and feeling like your message isn’t for them. Carefully consider any industry terminology you include to be sure that your visitors, not just your coworkers, will know what you’re talking about.

  5. DON’T use the passive voice.

    The passive voice is often awkward, vague, and wordier than the active voice. In order to convince your visitors, you want to be clear, direct, and succinct, so do your best to write in active voice whenever possible. Grammar Girl explains the issue of active versus passive voice in detail.

  6. DON’T oversell.

    If your offer sounds too spectacular to be true, your user won’t trust you and won’t want to buy your product or give you their information. Focus on the specific benefits you can provide to your audience and avoid superlatives, questionable promises, and extraordinary claims.

  7. DON’T let your copy stagnate.

    Revise your copy regularly to make sure it is up-to-date and still resonates with your target audience. This is especially important if you’ve included cultural references, industry standards, technical specifications, or other details that may no longer be relevant or accurate. Refreshing your copy often also improves your rankings with Google and other search engines.

The ideal copy to convert your audience will depend who they are and what they want, but these 15 points will help. Focus your writing on the value your offer provides to your audience, keep it interesting, and make sure they know what you want them to do in order to maximize your conversion rate. And of course, always keep updating and testing to make sure your copy is the best it can be.

Have a question about copywriting or conversion optimization? Contact us or leave it in the comments.