Do you want to move more books, increase your website traffic, gain more email subscribers, generate more leads, or sell more gadgets and widgets to your niche audience?
If you want to increase your conversions from your websites, emails, social networks and landing pages, there’s one highly successful formula you should master: It’s the science of conversion rate copywriting.
Years ago, after I received a certification in online testing and experimentation from Marketing Experiments, my boss asked me to put together a one-page checklist of what I’d learned—a guide of sorts that other marketers on our team could use to increase the conversion rates of their campaigns.
At the time, the business was rocking, and I was one of its top copywriters, along with a senior-level writer with whom I worked closely. We were essentially a two-man writing team, and we were responsible for the company’s most lucrative marketing campaigns.
Thrilled my boss sought my input, I quickly jotted down a list of do’s and don’ts and ran it by him for approval. He was overjoyed, and he asked me to put it into a simple Word doc so he could share it with the team. So I gladly typed up the the checklist as he requested and emailed it over.
I felt validated even more when I heard he had printed out several copies of the checklist, handed them out to his marketing managers and challenged them to duplicate the results the company was seeing through my and my writing partner’s work—as if my checklist was some kind of magic formula to Internet sales nirvana. I had doubts about marketing managers following a checklist created for writers, but flattered by my boss’ confidence in it, I said nothing.
One by one, the marketing managers ran campaigns aided by my checklist and reported back to him. And one by one, they reported lackluster results. Not one marketing manager was able to generate even close to the 25%-plus conversion rates my writing partner and I had achieved. Still confident in the one-page document, my boss asked me to revisit the checklist to see if I’d forgotten anything. So I dutifully made a few tweaks and sent it back to him, still saying nothing of my concerns.
He passed it on to his marketing managers again. They failed again.
So he asked me to revisit it once more. And I did. Once again, the marketing managers failed to generate the same kind of results other writers and I were generating with the checklist.
That’s when he gave up. Soon after, I noticed my checklist was no longer on the wall near his desk. A few weeks later, I noticed it had disappeared from the desks of those he had given it to, too.
In his eyes, my checklist was a failure. And I began to agree.
Even though my writing partner and I continued to have success with the checklist and the formula behind it, a year passed before I shared it with anyone else.
A new writer had joined the team. She was a talented and eager wordsmith, but she had little experience in direct-response copywriting. The company desperately needed more solid copywriters, however, so our boss gave her a big campaign as an experiment. She excitedly came to my writing partner and me to share the news, then came back a couple of days later nervously asking for advice and edits. That’s when I decided to run an experiment of my own.
Instead of editing her text, I handed her my checklist and asked her to edit it herself, following the list as closely as possible. If her first test to a small email segment failed, I would take full responsibility, tell our boss what I had done and help her rewrite it. If it succeeded, the win would be all hers.
She came back the next day with an entirely different text. This time she was excited and confident. She asked us to look it over. We made a few minor suggestions then sent her on her way.
Two weeks later, we found out her test email had absolutely killed it with the small segment and was being sent to the company’s entire list of more than 250,000 subscribers. It turned out to be one of the company’s hottest and most talked about campaigns of the year. It even generated coverage from a few major media outlets.
In other words, if you have no desire to be a writer in the first place, you will never be able to apply the science of conversion rate copywriting. You can still be an excellent marketer, entrepreneur and business professional to be sure—but not a writer.
After this experience, I realized I had failed in another way. I had failed to follow what I was taught in my Marketing Experiments’ certification course. I had failed to heed something anyone versed in statistics already knows, which is: Identifying and isolating the variable is priority number one when figuring out why an experiment goes wrong or right. So when my boss and I began to think of the checklist as a failure, we in fact were failing it. That is, we had failed to isolate the variable, which was: The marketing managers were not writers.
Though they were quite capable marketers—able to calculate and track conversion rates and identify audiences primed for upsell offers—when it came to putting their own promotions into words then parlaying those words into high-converting marketing campaigns, they always failed.
To understand the nuances of conversion rate copywriting; to know the rules that can and cannot be broken; to truly benefit from a checklist that aims to help writers get more from their marketing communications, you must first meet one vital prerequisite: You must be, or aspire to be, a writer.
To this day, my checklist sits on my desk at all times. But I never share it with non-writers.
So if you qualify and you want to increase your online conversions, I invite you to download the checklist that has served me and other conversion copywriters well for many years.
I have just dusted off my old Word document and converted it into a slick new PDF for you to download. But first, if I may impart one last piece of advice: Please keep this little tool between you and your writer pals. As I learned the hard way, its apparent simplicity is deceiving—so much so that it can fool people into believing that anyone can use it as a shortcut to Internet sales nirvana.
Don’t get me wrong; this is an incredibly powerful tool. But it’s just for us writers. OK? Great!