bar and line graphs showing increases
Copywriting, How to Increase Conversions on Your Website and Marketing Campaigns, Website Optimization

How to Increase Conversions on Your Website and Marketing Campaigns

Zig Ziglar’s Five Pillars of Sales in the Age of eCommerce

Usually, when I mention Zig Ziglar, I’m referencing the heavy priority he placed on trust as a key factor in sales, but there is a total of five obstacles on which he based the bulk of his philosophy. If you’re not familiar with Zig Ziglar, he was one of the most successful and celebrated salesmen of his time. His theory was that if a salesperson could overcome these five obstacles, the deal was done, and that theory is still just as successful in today’s internet era. As you work to increase conversions across your website and marketing campaigns, check that you’re addressing each of these issues that could be preventing your success.

Start with a Design That Works

This isn’t one of Ziglar’s famous sales obstacles, but it would have been if he’d lived in this digital age. How you present your content is just as important as the content itself. You need to make sure your web design is ready to convert your audience. It needs to be pleasing to their eyes and easy to read. Generally speaking, you’ll want to keep it simple. Direct your visitors to the desired action by limiting distractions and providing clear CTAs. If you have a page, email, or ad with a high bounce rate, start here.

I don’t need it.

When a potential customer thinks “I don’t need this,” it’s either because you haven’t adequately explained the utility and benefits of the product or this person is not in your target audience. Identifying, locating, and reaching your target audience is an ongoing and vital process in achieving success as an eCommerce business.

Who buys your product? Who is it made for? Imagine the ideal specimen for your business and figure out where he or she spends time, gets his or her news and information, and what influences his or her decisions. Then direct your marketing accordingly.

How to Show Your Audience They Need Your Product.

Your content needs to address a pain point. Remind the reader of the problem he or she has that will be solved by your product or service. And remember that there are a million other people out there doing what you’re doing (usually). Don’t just answer the question “Why do I need this?” Answer the question “Why is this the best solution to my problem?”

I don’t want it.

If the language and visuals you’re using to promote your product don’t make your target audience want it, they’re not going to buy it. Pretty simple concept. People don’t buy what they don’t want. The standard approach to this problem is to use descriptive language to tell the reader how his or her life would be improved by your product. Help people visualize themselves being happier, healthier, wealthier, more attractive, more successful, etc.

How to Make People Want Your Product

Imagine your ideal customer again. Now imagine your ideal customer has purchased your product or service. He or she couldn’t be happier. It’s so perfect, it creates a ripple effect that influences other parts of your customer’s life. He’s got more money, more confidence, more comfort. She’s happier, healthier, and enjoying more free time. Benefits, boss. Don’t tell me what your product can do. Tell me why I want it to do that for me.

I’ll just get it later.

This one is tough. What’s stopping all of your visitors from putting off that purchase until tomorrow, next week, or never? A sense of urgency is often necessary to pull a conversion because once they decide to wait a week, you no longer have any influence on their decision. They’ve closed the page, walked away, went to bed, and now they’ve decided they don’t really need it or want it and there’s nothing you can do about it.

How to Create a Sense of Urgency

The easiest way to do this is to offer a limited-time discount or promotion. Order now and get free shipping! Offer good till midnight! If you don’t buy it right now, you’ll end up paying more for the same thing! Don’t pass up this amazing opportunity! Act now before it’s too late! Deals like this don’t come around every day! Sound familiar? I’m channeling every car dealership commercial I’ve ever heard.

Other ways to create a sense of urgency involve a bit more effort. If your product or service will save people money, the sooner they buy it, the more money they save. If your product or service will make people happier, they shouldn’t wait another day being miserable. Think about the benefits of your product and then explain why the benefits are even better if they hurry.

It’s too expensive.

Money. The biggest hurdle there is. This one can’t always be won with words because your reader might really just not have enough to spend on things like your product. That’s why it’s important to maintain fair pricing from the start. Three customers paying ten dollars are not better than ten customers paying five. Set a decent price and then explain to your readers why your product is worth that.

How to Convey Value to Your Readers

Value is the ultimate key to conversion. Does your product or service have value? Can you convey its value to your readers? Start by describing what makes your product better than the cheaper guys. Why should someone spend more money just to buy from you? If you are the cheaper guy, what product details might convince someone your product has value? Being too cheap can be just as detrimental as being too expensive. Are you using quality materials and reliable craftsmanship? Are you properly trained to provide your service? Are you experienced? Tell me why I should buy from you.

I don’t know about this seller.

The reason I talk about this one all the time is that the ability to evoke trust is the difference between crappy copywriting and effective copywriting. It’s my job to address each of these obstacles in a way that makes the reader feel comfortable and confident in the purchase because it just doesn’t work otherwise.

How to Get People to Trust Your Brand

When a visitor comes to your site, they’re generally looking for more information. Even if they know what they want already, they need to know if it fits, if it works, how long it will last, what color it is. They want to know about your company and whether there’s any evidence that you know what you’re doing. Should they choose you or the other guy? Why? The information they’re looking for has to be presented effectively and accurately. If it’s not there at all, you lose the sale and if it’s there with bad delivery, (drumroll) you’re going to lose the sale.

Check out some best practices for writing the pages on your website or your marketing campaigns. Make sure you have all the pages or sections you need to satisfy your readers. If you want to make it really simple, buy a template for the content you need. If you suck at writing, hire a copywriter to boost your conversion rates with content that’s backed by consumer psychology.

How to Fit All of This on the Page

There’s some debate about whether it’s better to have a high word count for the SEO machines or keep things short and sweet so your audience doesn’t get bored and wander off. My humble opinion is that it’s much more important to have original, quality content than to have any specific word count on web pages. Google is getting better every day at figuring out who is plugging keywords and who is delivering valuable information. They decide who is an authority in each domain based on how the content is received, not how many words it has. Minimize the fluff and use quality copy.

On sales letters, marketing emails, and ads, you really want to hit the selling points and back off. I still don’t set word limits, but you want to be concise. Draw them into the next level of the marketing campaign by getting straight to the point. When you proofread (please proofread), remove unnecessary words. Use Grammarly (it’s free) to check spelling, grammar, and concision. Make the material skimmable with bullet points and headings. Hit these five points with concise, well-written copy and you’ll see a measurable increase in your conversion rate.

Copywriting, Current Events, How to Protect Yourself from Covid-19, Website Optimization

How to Protect Yourself from Covid-19

A Survival Guide for eCommerce Businesses in 2020

It’s pretty clear at this point that a recession is on its way. Businesses are being forced to close and a lot of them won’t survive the downtime. Layoffs are well underway. There’s not a single market in the United States or around the world that isn’t being affected by this heinous new strand of the coronavirus. If you haven’t prepared your business for this type of emergency, now is the time. Fortunately for eCommerce businesses, we’re uniquely positioned to not only avoid a lot of the devastation but possibly even thrive throughout this ordeal.

What is Covid-19?

This might seem like a silly question, but if we consider that the general public response has been to stockpile toilet paper, I think you can humor me while I address some of the idiocy we’ve been witnessing.

Covid-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus. It is not the common cold. I know some genius found out the common cold is also a type of coronavirus and decided to tell everyone the government is trying to steal your chickens or whatever… but this is not the same thing. Covid-19 is more infectious than the flu, is a novel virus with no vaccine, has a long incubation period, and causes severe respiratory symptoms that can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

The symptoms of Covid-19 are cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Not everyone who has it is going to show symptoms and not everyone showing symptoms will show these symptoms. Many confirmed cases don’t involve fever at all. Some have been experiencing chills, fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms. For everyone under 40, it’s a lot like a cold or flu and has a comparable fatality rate.

For those over 40, the death rate starts to climb from around .2% to more than 20%. The elderly are at high risk, which is why countries around the world are closing businesses, banning events and gatherings, and enforcing quarantines. These precautions, though necessary, are going to have a huge impact on the economy and we should all be getting ready yesterday.

Panic at the Costco

As recently as November 2019, USA Today was predicting a non-stop stock market climb up to election day, but on March 9th, 12th, and 16th, we experienced the three worst point drops in US history. The imminent recession, the looming plague, and the oil war that’s driving crude prices down to their lowest point since the early 2000s are triggering everyone’s flight response.

In preparation for martial law, quarantine, and job loss, many families are “panic-shopping” (hence the toilet paper shortage). The CDC recommends maintaining a one-month supply of food and essentials, but it seems to be human nature to lose your ever-loving mind and sell off all your stocks to buy enough hand sanitizer to last several years because we’re all still touching our faces.

The CDC has also recommended that we avoid crowds of more than 50 persons, which is getting mixed responses. While we shut down events, worship, and even school, we’re still flocking to the grocery store in droves. The psychological element of Covid-19 is so unpredictable and severe at this point, I’m hesitant to dismiss any fearful predictions about the coming months, no matter how unlikely.

Covid-19’s Effect on Your Business

Due to the international nature of eCommerce and the large reliance on China, we were one of the first industries to take a hit from Covid-19. The impact so far has been a bit scary, if I’m honest. At least once a day I think, “Will I still have a job in this recession?” But it looks like eCommerce might come out ahead in the end just by being the incredible network of convenience it always has been.

The most obvious issue for online retailers right now is restocking inventory. A lot of us have been cut off from our suppliers completely. Manufacturing plants have been sitting idle due to worker illness or quarantine in major epicenters of trade. Now that China is coming back online and Europe has become the focal point of the corona outbreak, the issue in reestablishing supplies is in transportation from factories to Chinese ports, which is expected to continue being an issue for the next several months.

But don’t fret, eCommerce entrepreneur. While your inventory may be shriveled, your audience is certainly growing. Quarantine, martial law, fear, and the shutting down of local businesses means people are staying home. Even 27% of the panic shoppers reported they would be avoiding shopping centers, and that figure climbs to more than 70% when the outbreak hits the respondents’ areas. That means you’re going to have an entire planet of consumers sitting at home glued to their electronic devices.

How to Take Advantage of Other People’s Misfortune

This year is going to be one for the record books, but you can keep yourself and your family afloat if you have -or can make- a decent online storefront.

1.    Diversify Your Suppliers

Step one is your inventory. There’s never been a better time to diversify your manufacturers and distributors. Have a backup, even if you don’t need it right now. If your products or materials don’t allow for such diversification, stockpile enough to get you through if something happens to your facilities or supply lines.

2.    Diversify Your Top Sellers

Make sure your revenue isn’t dependent on too few products. Take a look at your top three sellers. If those products were suddenly unavailable for several months, would your business survive? If not, you need to introduce new products or promote some existing products that are acquired through different suppliers, preferably in a different country if you purchase internationally. Not only will this protect you in case of an emergency, but it can significantly improve your bottom line in the meantime.

3.    Optimize Your Storefront

The competition is about to get pretty tough. Existing online retailers are going to buckle down and get serious for this recession and a lot of brick-and-mortar retailers are going to be forced to open up shop in your domain. Get your storefront looking good and converting well. Usability, clarity, and good copy are going to be your best friends here.

4.    Maintain Fair Pricing

For the love of dog, do not price-gouge. It might make you a quick buck during the panic phase, but it makes you look like a total POS and any customer you gain will not stick with you because you suck. Maintain fair pricing for what you’re selling. If you catch a break on shipping prices because of oil being so low, pass the savings on to your customer base. It’s a recession. You’re not the only one hurting. Be a decent person and your business will be rewarded. (Shoutout to HEB for donating $3 million to community support during this crisis.)

5.    Record Your Processes

If you’re the only one who can do your job, what happens if you can no longer do it? Anything you do repeatedly needs to be written down in the event you fall ill. Write it as if you’re writing instructions for a stranger to stand in for you. Write down each process separately and make the instructions as easy to follow as possible.

6.    Keep Your Employees

As much as is possible, avoid losing employees to layoffs and illness. Modify your policies to allow valued employees to stay home when they’re ill without being punished. Discuss pay cuts, scheduling, and other alternatives to corporate downsizing. This will allow you to bounce back faster and will save your employees from being jobless in the coming economy.

Live Happily Ever After

Okay, let’s be real. This year is going to be hard for everyone. If the effects are still lingering when the holiday season comes around, we’re in for a rough 2021, too. You can help your business survive by getting online or by optimizing your existing online presence. Take a break from social media and check the CDC’s recommendations for staying healthy, while you’re at it. And for f*ck’s sake, stop buying toilet paper. Good luck, everyone.  

Copywriting, One Easy Way to Boost Online Sales, Product Description, Website Optimization

One Easy Way to Boost Online Sales

Let’s say you manage an online storefront and you want to make more sales. You have decent traffic or you’re increasing your traffic with marketing campaigns, but you want your conversion rate to be higher on your product pages.

It’s long been established that trust is one of the biggest factors in sales. If potential customers have questions about your product or service that they can’t find answers to, they’re going to become skeptical of your business and look for a website that offers more information.

When a visitor is eyeballing your product page, you want them to feel like they have everything they need to make a confident and comfortable purchase.

You do this with product description.

A proper product description is going to do two things:

  • Inform
  • Entice

Your reader needs to know if the product is what he or she needs, so it’s crucial to provide enough information that he or she can say, “Yes, this is the one I want.”

Simultaneously, you want to paint a picture that allows the potential customers to envision themselves with the product, imagining how much better life will be once they have it.

They’ll look and feel amazing in those clothes. They’ll be safer and more fearless with this gear. Traveling will be more convenient with this bag. This lawn care service will make them the envy of the neighborhood. You get the idea.

Let’s say you’re selling a lady’s handcrafted ring. The customer needs to know the size, the color, the material, the weight, and any physical features, whether apparent in images and video or not (not all of your visitors can see your images and videos, but they can probably hear a screen reader).

Now your customer knows the ring won’t turn her finger green. It’s the right size, not too heavy and the filigree sounds charming. Your conversion rate is okay, but we want better than “okay,” don’t we?

So, you deliver those simple details in a skimmable blurb -written at an 8th-grade reading level- that leaves Ms. Buyer dreaming of the dinner party she will soon be attending, at which this stunning accessory will accentuate the blue of her eyes and sparkle softly in the intimate lighting.

Your reader is now picturing herself wearing the ring and instead of talking her into the purchase, it’s a matter of whether or not she will talk herself out of it. If the price is right, your chances are looking good.

Now you’ve made the sale, you’ve got a boost in SEO from your new original content, and your conversion rate is looking pretty damn good, which means your sales, revenue, and profits are up and Christmas is a little merrier this year.

With a little practice and study of consumer psychology, you can save yourself some pocket change and write your own product descriptions. But if you’re not a writer or you’re busy managing your business, a copywriter like me is always happy to oblige.

There are so many of us nowadays, rates are more affordable than ever, and you can generally be confident in the quality you’ll receive just by looking around the copywriter’s website and reading a bit of their writing, publications, and reviews.

Copywriting, Website Optimization, Writing for Yourself

Writing for Yourself

I get a lot of clients who are writers, bloggers or other professionals with decent writing skills. They’re often embarrassed about coming to me for web content or other work, because they feel like they should be able to handle the job themselves.

Some of them simply don’t have the time. Creating a website and running a business is a consuming venture. Even when you dedicate your every waking moment to it, it’s still easy to fall behind. Getting the content writing or marketing copy out of the way can free you up to focus on the areas where you excel.

For others, however, the problem is just that they can’t seem to write for themselves. They can write all day long for their work or their clients or for fun, churning out creative, engaging material, but when it’s time to sit down and write their own About page, it all comes out wrong.

Let me reassure you, your skills are not the problem. For one reason or another, writing for your own business can be much more difficult than writing what you’re used to.

Writing for my own sites is one of the most drawn-out processes I go through as a professional. I have to refer to notes on things that I do every day, things that I have no trouble remembering when writing for clients. I find myself making common mistakes and forgetting to stick to the CTA of each page, so I have to revise again and again and I’m still not happy at the end.

Sales copy is easier for me personally to write for myself, maybe because it’s more personal, but I know there are many who have a hard time with both web content and sales copy.

The good news is that freelance copywriters like me can take over this part of the project, leaving you with more time and less stress. While I share your struggle in writing for myself, I thoroughly enjoy filling my days with writing for others and I have the skills to make your copy and content effective.

If you’re having trouble getting your words in order, contact me to find out how I can help. 

Reading Material
Commas, Copywriting

Commas

Some of you might have noticed that I am pretty stingy with my commas, to the point of omitting them when the rules of English says they should not be omitted.

I can hear some of you gasping already. “A professional writer deliberately omitting necessary punctuation??” Yes. Yes, that is what is happening. Breathe into a paper bag and allow me to explain.

It’s actually incredibly simple. Research has shown that readers are put off by too much punctuation, and sometimes the English language calls for too many commas. That’s it. Thanks for reading.

Cluttered text is as off-putting to a site user as a busy page layout. It’s crowded and ugly. It makes skimming more difficult. Cleaning it up and keeping punctuation down to two, maybe three max in one sentence opens up the page and makes it more visually appealing.

Now, you can’t just forget about them completely. Commas should not be skipped if skipping them changes the meaning of the sentence or if there would be a noticeable pause when speaking the text.

And before someone bites my head off, I know there are always exceptions. A professional website written in a formal tone should definitely not publish selective punctuation or sketchy grammar. Your audience will be more forgiving of the ugly commas, because they expect sharp precision.

As a writer who appreciates proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, I understand that this concept can be difficult to swallow. However, my job is to get conversions and the research does not lie. You lose this round, Punctuation Police.