Cut out the B.S. to Increase Conversions
Our company routinely runs large scale landing page optimization tests to improve conversion rates. One of the most common components that we test is the sales copy on the page. We have found that changing your approach to writing can often lead to a double-digit increase in conversion rates.
But this is not a post about “persuasive” copywriting, or powerful magic words to use in your headline. Most of the problem with writing for the web lies at a much more fundamental level. There is a giant disconnect between how much we care about our sales copy, and how much our Internet visitors do.
Most of the adaptations that you need to make to your writing have a single purpose: to reduce the visitor’s cognitive load. Instead of being forced to pay attention to how the information is presented, they can devote more focus to getting their intended task accomplished. By getting out of their way, you empower them to be faster, more efficient, and effective. This will lead to higher conversion rates for you, and higher satisfaction for them.
The reality for most Internet surfers is that they are constantly subjected to a barrage of promotional messages and advertising. As a basic defense mechanism, they have learned to tune out most hype. Perhaps you do have to be somewhat crass to get them to your landing page. For whatever reason, they have ended up there. You are no longer (for the moment) competing for their attention with other websites. So you need to change the focus to the task that they are trying to accomplish.
Your visitors detest marketese. Unfortunately, your landing page was probably written in this kind of over-the-top promotional style. It usually involves a lot of boasting and unsubstantiated claims. If your company is the “world’s leading provider” of something, you are in good company. A recent search on Google turned up 8.58 million matching results for this phrase. Your claims are probably not true anyway, but even if they are you can use different language to make your point.
Marketese may be (barely) acceptable in your press releases when you are trying to puff up your company and accomplishments. But on your landing page it spells disaster. Marketese requires work on the part of your visitor. It saps their energy and attention, and forces them to spend time separating the content from the fluff. It also results in much longer word counts. You are missing an enormous opportunity by not creating a hype-free zone on your landing page.
How to Avoid Writing in “Marketese”
- Do not use any adjectives.
- Provide only objective information.
- Focus on the needs of your audience.
Save your visitors the aggravation and only tell them what they want to hear. Your editorial tone should have the following attributes:
Factual – Writing factually will take a little work. It is difficult to stop making subjective statements. You may catch yourself lapsing into marketese at unexpected moments. But stick with it. You will be amazed at how much more effective your writing will be. Remember, your visitor is not looking to be entertained, and certainly not to be marketed to. They are there to deal with a specific need or problem that they have. The best kind of information you can give them is objective in nature.
Task-oriented – Task-oriented writing is focused on the roles, tasks, and AIDA (sales funnel) steps that are required to move your visitors through the conversion action. You should organize your text in the order that the visitor is likely to need it. For example, a big-ticket consumer product site might lay out the following high-level steps for the buying process: research, compare, customize, purchase. Once you have explicitly built the conversion path for your landing page, it should be clear where the gaps are.
Precise – It is critical to be clear in Web writing. The audience can be very diverse and can bring a variety of cultural backgrounds to their interpretation of your language. Be careful about your exact choice of words. Never try to be funny or clever. Do not use puns, metaphors, or colloquial expressions.
So leave out the B.S. to make your cash register ring more often.