10 tips for writing that sells
Ian Lurie Mar 30 2011
No matter why you have it, your web site needs to sell. You need to get visitors to do something, whether that something is ‘sign up’, ‘buy now’ or just ‘keep reading’.
Here are 10 quick tips for copy persuades, sells and converts:
- Start by telling people why they should read. Marketing copywriting 101: You have to get folks to read before you can persuade them. Write a headline that gets them reading. Something like, I dunno, ‘Writing that converts’.
- Put on the brakes. Online readers start by scanning the page. Use subheadings, images and other rhythm-changers to provide a fast preview of the page. That tells them why they should read, per #1.
- Invite agreement. I love Robert Cialdini’s brilliant book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. One of the first lessons in the book is ‘invite agreement’. Say something your ideal customer can agree with. Don’t worry whether everyone will agree. You aren’t speaking to everyone. Focus on your customer. Pssst: Read the first line of this post again to see an example.
- Make a concession. Again, from Cialdini: Give your readers something. They’re more likely to stick around. I always try to give folks information they don’t already have. It provides strong incentive for them to keep reading, subscribe and maybe even retweet. It makes them deeper participants.
- Provide social proof. This term’s been beaten into a raw, stinky pulp, but it still applies. Demonstrate that others agree with you, or that 100000 people already love your product, you may get higher conversion rates. Note – this only applies if you want folks who desire social proof. If you’re looking for first adopters, this may not matter as much. Pssst: Look at #2 in this list. That’s social proof. It says “A guy 100x smarter than me agrees with me.”
- Know the no’s. AKA, the buts. Anticipate readers’ concerns, then allay them. Easy for me to write, hard for you to do, but there you have it.
- Don’t fear the long page. Write lots. Long landing pages kick ass. Don’t believe me? Read what Conversion Rate Experts did for SEOMOZ. Design your long lander in ‘chunks’. Put the first chunk and call to action above the fold. Continue the page, building in increasing detail and repeat calls to action. Watch it work.
- Put no more than 4-5 lines in a paragraph. A single, massive paragraph tells the reader “big, forbidding blob of information here”. Shorter paragraphs tell her “lots of little, digestible bits of information here.” Which is more inviting?
- Repeat yourself. First, make your point: You need copywriting that converts. Then, give an example, social proof or something similar. Then, wrap it all up by working your main point into your call to action.
- Call to action. If I look at 20 random web sites, at least 10 of them will be utterly devoid of any call to action. If your visitor has read an entire page, they like you. They want to do something. Help them out!
That’s it. There’s a reason you’re doing all this work. Make sure your writing seals the deal and turns visitors into readers into customers.
Oh, and a call to action: Buy my e-book, The Unscary, Real World Guide to SEO Copywriting. $7, and chock full o’ writing advice.
Also, follow me on Quora. I’m addicted, apparently.
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Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More