• people running in a race

    Don’t compete on features – do this instead

    SaaS companies – don’t use copy that only focuses on your product features. You need to go a different route. Away from the well-trodden “what we do” path. Towards the greener “why we do it.”

    “B-b-but what about our features?”

    Of course, you still need to say what you do. However, focusing on features won’t win you customers in the long-term. Probably not in the short-term either. Here’s why.

    Your best features can and will be copied

    You spend your resources developing, testing and launching your idea. Sure, that gives you a headstart over the competition. Until they reverse-engineer what you did and release something similar. Tripping you up just as you were hitting top speed:

    google home page from 1999 looking old and blocky

    Here’s a company that wasn’t the first but hoovered up their competitors’ customers

    There’s no best feature

    Compete on features and you have to show why your version of a feature is better than a competitor’s. The thing is, everyone has different definitions of what’s best for them. Does best mean Gartner Magic Quadrant-rated? Award-winning? Support available on the phone?

    Feature fatigue

    Listing your features alongside a competitor can work well. As long as you have a superior feature set, of course. However, they’re no good when you’re talking to people who are still deciding if they actually need what you offer.

    “New features” don’t scale

    New can attract early adopters when you’re launching. However, this stops working when you grow and start targeting audiences who already have a solution. To those audiences, “new” means, “You’ll have to stop using the product you’ve already invested in.”

    Feature pressure

    You don’t really want to make your team come up with new features every few months. Expecting them to keep inventing the next iPod, iPad, or iPhone. Just to keep you ahead of the competition.

    “No one ever got fired for choosing IBM”

    The market leaders don’t always have the best features. They’re just the safest bet. Whether that’s because they’ve been around the longest, or gobbled up all the innovative companies. Your features aren’t going to dislodge them any time soon.

    “Ok, so tell me more about this narrative”

    This isn’t about your mission, values or brand. The narrative includes four main areas:

    • What’s changing in the world
    • Why it’s relevant to your target audience
    • What this means for your target audience if they don’t adapt
    • Introduce the solution

    Yours has to be positioned as the definitive narrative. Note “the”, not “a” narrative. Check out how these companies do it:

    What’s changing in the world

    World is moving beyond fossil fuels

    People want to shop online

    More and more people are spending money digitally

    Why it’s relevant to your target audience

    Businesses need new sources of energy

    Setting up an ecommerce store means competing with Amazon

    People are seeing savings wiped out by inflation and banks printing money

    What this means for your target audience if they don’t adapt

    Higher taxes on gas and oil, people seeing you as a polluter

    It’s not enough to launch a standard website and hope people will buy from you

    The government and banks will continue to control your money

    Introduce the solution

    BP is investing in low-carbon technology, giving you cleaner energy for your business

    Shopify gives you everything you need to sell, make money and provide great customer experience (like Amazon does)

    Digital currencies give you back control of your money

    Why narrative works

    Emotion over logic

    You’re not doing the hard-sell. Naturally, that makes people more defensive. You’re appealing to emotions. And we know that’s what motivates people to choose you over features.

    Otherwise all those perfume/after shave ads would talk about all the chemicals that makes them smell nice. Rather than use ads that say “wear our fragrance and attract people who look like this”.

    two young good looking people

    Build brand identity

    This helps you rise above the biggest problem facing you as you grow. Sameness. You can’t afford to play it safe. Wind in those loud colours. Tone down the copy. File down those sharp edge logos.

    Matches today’s consumers

    Everyone has their own Netflix series they prefer to watch. Their personalised Amazon home page. Their favourite TikTok or YouTube channels. Nobody’s sitting down together to watch one thing at one time on one screen anymore. It’s all about seeking out a niche that appeals to some people.
    Better for your SaaS to be someone’s shot of whisky than trying to be everyone’s cup of tea

    It’s not just about cost

    Take away the story and you’re competing on cold, hard logic. That usually ends up on price. Build your narrative and you avoid getting caught up in that race to the bottom.

    “So… how do we write about our features?”

    Sure, you still make a big thing about them. However, the features need to be positioned with your narrative in mind. Showing how your features help you adapt to the changing world. Not just how your features are better. Even if they are.

    Using this approach means your target audience buys into your vision. And that’s more powerful – and sustainable – than getting buy-in that’s based on features alone. Particularly when it comes to talking subscription renewal or upgrades.

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  • Ebook: Free 49-page guide to conversion copywriting & website optimisation

    Conversion copywriting & and website optimisation for the “start-up to scale-up” journey

    This ebook is for founders, CEOs, business leaders, marketers, content managers, website editors, and anyone else who works on websites, landing pages or digital campaigns

    Particularly those at the scale-up stage of growth, seeking investment, or targeting new markets. Because words that work as a start-up can seem out of-date when you’re scaling. Services may have expanded and aren’t reflected on your website pages. Maybe you’ve got funding and want to optimise your campaigns and ROI.

    This guide will help you solve all that. It’s based on 10+ years of frontline experience in growing websites and campaigns. Grab it free today for:

    Part 1: Words that get conversions (page 4)

    • how to get people to actually read your words, so you connect and convert them (page 5)
    • how to use the 7 sins in your copy to convert your audience (page 7)
    • 15 ways to get people to open and act on your emails (page 10)

    Part 2: Optimising for conversions (page 13)

    • how to make your first impression the right impression (page 15)
    • the 3 questions you must answer if you want conversions (page 15–16)
    • tips for optimising forms for sales, sign-ups & enquiries (page 17)

    Part 3: Landing page optimisation (page 21)

    • anatomy of a landing page that converts (page 23)
    • how to A/B test the right way – and the best alternatives (page 25)
    • template questions to save you time & convert faster (page 27, 28)

    Part 4: Getting strategic (page 29)

    • how to audit your website so you keep what works (page 30)
    • how to decide if/when you need new sections (page 32)
    • how to track & measure goals (for free) so you know how you’re performing (page 33)

    Part 5: SEO dos & don’ts (page 37)

    • a non-technical way to make your pages load faster so people don’t exit (page 39)
    • how to get your emails into inboxes not spam folders (page 41)

    Bonus: How to never have to do any of this stuff (page 45)

    • find out the shortcut used by many highly clued-up people such as yourself
    Read More
  • Video: How to use the 7 sins to banish the blank page

    Get yourself a coffee, sit back, and discover a technique that’ll help you on your way to getting better conversions.

    You’ll see how to use the 7 sins to connect with your audience.

    This also helps kick things off when you’re facing a blank page or a stuttering campaign.

    7 sins in copywriting: Transcript

    Hi everyone. This is a video where we’re going to go through a technique you can use when you have to write some copy to an audience where your goal is to persuade them or convert them in some way.

    And often you might be facing what I call blankpage-itis. Where you’ve got a blank page and you’re not sure where to start. You can also use this technique if you’ve already got a page up and running and it’s not really getting results that you want.

    It’s a technique that taps into the human emotions – which you need to do if you do want to convert. If you don’t tap into someone’s emotions you’re not going to connect with them. If you’re not going to connect with them you’re not going to convert them. So your copy must allow some sort of emotions in your audience.

    Given us humans are pretty complicated, you might be wondering where to start, what emotions should I go with. That’s when you can use this technique which borrows from the famous 7 sins.

    You’ll find that a lot of the ads – successful ones anyway – that have been running do use at least one or more of the 7 sins. So as you start noticing these sins in ads, you’ll see how often they’re used, and the fact that they’re often used means that they do work.

    So again this is just something that you can use when you’re maybe struggling for ideas or when you’re facing that dreaded blank page.

    I’m just going to go through some examples of ads that I’ve either seen and adapted or ads that have already actually been used and we’ll then through how they do tap into the 7 sins.

    If we go to the first one, you’ll see there this is the kind of ad that you often see for educational institutions. Maybe universities, that type of thing.

    There’s someone there who looks like they graduated or qualified, so if you imagine you’re the audience you’ll look at that and think, “Yes she looks pretty pretty proud and I’d like to to feel pride in something that i’ve achieved.”

    So the sin is in this case pride. It’s not a real university by the way, not yet, it’s something I mocked up. Here’s another ad that is based on one that is running – or was running – from a digital bank.

    If you’ve ever had to go through the hassle of applying for a mortgage or dealing with bank managers, giving statements explaining how much money you spend at the pub every month, that kind of thing, then an ad like this promising that you can get a mortgage in your pants is going to appeal to one of the sins here. Sloth. Pretty lazy. Look at these two. They’re in bed, they’re getting their mortgage without having to do any of the usual leg work.

    Here’s another one, you might have seen this. For anyone who isn’t aware, this relates to the 2016 Brexit campaign and it was pretty successful in that the Leave campaign won. This bus was cited quite often as one of the reasons, because it taps into one of the 7 sins.

    If you look at that – “We send the EU 350 million a week.” If that’s something that you don’t agree with, that’s likely to make you quite angry. So the sin there that this is tapping into is wrath. Let’s move swiftly on from that one.

    Here’s another example that you see a lot for perfume or deodorant or aftershave.

    It’s usually where you’ve got a glamorous couple and the emotion or sin that they’re tapping into is based around the fact that, “If you wear our aroma then you too can attract one of these delightful people here.”

    So that’s tapping into the sin – whether you call it sin or not – lust.

    The next one here, you see these ads a lot on dodgy websites – not that i visit dodgy websites – or in the back of the newspapers, that kind of thing. Where there’s an appeal to earn a huge amount of money with pretty minimum effort really. Part-time and from home. The sin they’re tapping into there is the fact that they’ve got that amount.

    It’s actually from a real ad – that’s why I’ve chosen greed for this one. There’s an argument that you could say sloth, laziness, but like i say it’s the sheer amount that would attract people for this particular ad.

    Another one based on the kind of ads that you often see often on tube trains. So imagine if your target audience is someone who’s been travelling on tube trains for maybe years. They’re in rush hour, they’ve got an armpit stuck to their face, and they’re pretty tired. And then they see this ad of someone who looks relatively young and it looks like they’ve chosen a particular investment fund and they put their money into it and the result is that they’ve ended up being able to retire.

    So the emotion there you the person or that poor commuter will be looking at them and feeling pretty envious really.

    Here’s another one. It pretty much says what it does. All you can eat buffet, just five pounds all day and night. There’s a picture there of relatively healthy, pretty glamorous people there. But the fact you can eat all of that for five pounds taps into the sin of gluttony. So I don’t want this to just be all about how you just tap into sins and that’s how you convert, because I think humans are better than that. So there is another – not a sin – but another emotion that I recommend that you think about using as well.

    You see a lot of that in ads for safeguarding the future, or things like that. So the emotion that these type of ads would tap into is just about peace of mind.

    You’ve got the 7 sins and this extra bonus emotion that you could try tapping into: peace of mind.

    That’s just a quick round-up of a technique that I really recommend using. Like I said, if you’re facing the dreaded blank page, the blankpage-itis, or you’ve got a campaign that isn’t working very well, think about the emotions that your ad is trying to tap into, and whether it’s the right one. And then see how you get on. Thanks for watching – all the best with your conversions.

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  • Video: 3 easy & quick ways to start optimising

    Got a website or landing page? Discover how and where to start when it comes to improving your conversions. Watch this simple tutorial and:

    • Find out where your conversions are coming from – and whether your regional campaigns are working
    • Uncover any bugs preventing conversions – mobile v desktop v Android v iPhone –
    • Understand how many times people visit before they convert – so you can develop strategies to get them coming back again and again

    Where to start optimising: Transcript

    This is for you if you have a website or landing page that’s been up and running a while, and is set up to get conversions.

    And maybe you’re at the stage now, thinking, “OK, we’ve got an idea of how many conversions we’re getting. Now we want to look at how we can optimise it. Where do we look to make improvements first,” things like that.

    So what I’m using here is, as you can see, Google Analytics. Hopefully you’ve got that set up – and it’s a test view that comes from Google. It’s got enough data for us, and I can show you how you can jump in and find areas where you can start your optimisation attempts.

    What I’m going to do first – we want to get an understanding of the different customers that you’ve got, so for this particular test view it’s an international e-commerce website.

    One of the first things to look at, if that was the case, is to see where people are coming from, in terms of different regions. If we can see any clues or trends or anything like that about conversion rates in particular countries. You go to Acquisition > All Traffic and then Source/Medium and then that will give us a list of all the different ways people are arriving on the page or website.

    There’s a lot of data here, this is based on three months’ worth of data. If you ever want to change that (I’ll just move my head out of the way) and there’s the option there to change the dates.

    (I’ll just move myself back up there) Now, let’s for this particular video, let’s imagine that you’ve been running the SEO campaign. You want to see what the impact is on your conversion rates for people that arrive via Google and organically; they’ve typed something into Google.

    If we click on Google/organic – the key always with optimisation of conversions is to drill down. The best way to do that in Google Analytics is – get to know this handy function here: Secondary Dimension. That’s how you’re going to drill down, because at the moment we’ve got for this particular website people that arrive via Google and organic, is almost 72 000 users.

    The conversion rate is 0.22% which on its own doesn’t really tell us much. What we’re going to look for here is secondary dimension, and we’re going to look for how the conversion rates depend or vary country by country. If we open this up now we can see here the United States is by far the biggest market, just over 23,000 users in the last three months, conversion rate is 0.62%.

    And then we look at the second biggest country which is India – almost 8,000 users and a conversion rate of a big fat 0.

    Let’s have a look at the next biggest audience; it’s from the United Kingdom – almost 5,000, and how many conversions – again 0.

    As we can see one more, we’ll have a look at Canada. Just under 3,000 users and yeah conversion rate there 0.25%. 10 transactions 10 conversions. What we can see here is that this website seems to be geared up for North America at the moment, so if you’re targeting people in India. United Kingdom or elsewhere, you can see at the moment your strategy isn’t working.

    At this stage it would be a case of looking at your page or your website and seeing why is it that people from North America, US, Canada, are converting whereas people in other countries aren’t. Is the tone of voice very US English? Is the style and images aimed at purely people from the United States and Canada?

    If you’re looking to target people in the UK you might want to look at maybe making things more relevant. Whether you put up in big letters “we ship to the UK”. it might be as blatant as that. That can work – so you’re looking at clues really. That’s just one element I’d look to start from if it was an international campaign.

    Let’s go on to another area. If we go back again, secondary dimension, another area I want to look at is how conversion rates differ depending on what browser people use. Mainly to find out if there are any bugs because sometimes conversion rates can be affected by something as simple as a simple browser being updated to Chrome version 2 million and 1, or something like that.

    There might be a bit of code in your website that doesn’t respond well to that, so what we’re going to have a look for here is browser. On the right here you can see if you hover over question marks it’s got a little definition of what they all are. So if we click on browser – again we’re just looking for clues at this stage –  so if we have a look here, people on Chrome is by far the biggest audience – 53,408. Of those people, 36 transactions, which means a conversion rate of 0.05% conversion rate.

    If you have a look at the next one down which is Safari, which is far fewer – just under 15,000 – but of those 15,000 the conversion rate is a lot higher than on Chrome – at 0.95%. Straightaway that’s a clue that we need to look at why the conversion rates on Chrome are so much lower than they are on Safari.

    It will be a case of getting developers to run some debugging, some testing, just to see if there are any issues with how the website or page works on Chrome, and then the next area I’ll probably look would be to start getting understanding of the actual audience when it comes to e-commerce. So what I’d be looking at here is how many times they need to visit before they convert on average. A way to do that would be if you search again in secondary dimension – that’s where all the action is. Go there and look for a count of sessions, and then that’s going to tell us how many times people are visiting before they convert. So what I want to group this into is – if we click here (ecommerce conversion rate) then that’s going to sort out the order in terms of conversion rate.

    So highest at the top, so the highest rate is 0.47% and that’s from people who have had a session 4 times. 4 times they’ve had a session. The thing about sessions versus page views, or unique page views, hits is for another video. But for now sessions is the metric that you need to be concerned with for conversions.

    Let’s have a look then at the next most popular which is 0.36% and that’s 6 sessions were needed and then in third place is 8. So what we can get from this is that people need to visit a few times before they convert. Which is quite common with e-commerce sites anyway – they might be comparing you against other sites.

    Something that you should look at is “What are we doing to get people to come back. Do we have a newsletter? Are we running social campaigns? Are we gathering people’s email addresses when they land on our website at first?” All those sorts of things, if you can get those in place then as we can see here from the data, your conversions will go up

    So that’s 3 areas that will help you with converting and improving and optimising. As I say you’re looking at where people are coming from, where there are any patterns, you’re looking at any trends or anything any possible concerns with the device or browser they’re using. If conversion rates are higher on a particular browser – we chose browser here but you can look at particular networks, devices, iPhone versus Android, anything like that you can drill down. It’s all under the secondary dimension.

    And then the third element would be about the type of customer – their behaviour. So as you can see here, the more times you can get someone to visit this website, the more conversions you’re going to get. That’s 3 areas where I recommend starting with optimising your conversions, which you can do, or you can get in touch with me and I can help you do it as well.

    You can do that by visiting conversiontown.com and then telling me what you need. I hope that video has been useful, thanks for watching – all the best of your conversions.

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  • medics examining report

    Conversion rate optimisation: What it covers

    This is a hefty post, so it’s split into these sections:


    “What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?”
    “How does it work?”
    “How long does it take?”
    “How do you decide what to test?”
    “How much traffic do I need for A/B testing?”
    “What if I don’t have much/any data?”
    “What are your rates?”
    “Which industries do you work in?”
    “What tools do you use and how much will they cost me?”

    “What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?”

    Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is about growing your business.

    Maybe that’s more revenue, more users, more signups. A scientific approach, with analysis, testing and measuring at the heart. Because I use data to find out where your website is leaking visitors (and money). And then work out how to fix the holes. With a healthy flow of the right words in the right place. Alongside generous portions of website usability.

    So your website or landing page is optimised based on evidence, rather than relying on “try this and hope”. This is why conversion copywriting works. What’s more, it’s the easiest way to generate ROI. Here’s why.

    Imagine your website or landing page gets 1,000 website visitors a week. From those 1,000, you get 10 sales. Giving you a 1% conversion rate.

    Let’s say you want to double your sales.You can do this in 2 ways:

    1. Double the number of visitors, so you get 2,000 visits and 20 conversions
      An extra 1,000 people. I don’t know about you, by my knees, back and brain are already aching at the thought of all that effort. You have to go out and find these people that are ready to buy, and get them to visit you. Not easy – it’s usually 4–6 times more expensive to acquire a customer than it is to retain them. You’re looking at a lot of investment (in SEO), time (unless you go viral in some way), and hard labour (blogs, social media, video production, and who knows what else).
    2. Double your conversions, so you get 20 conversions per 1,000
      An extra 10 people. Is that all? Yes. You work with what you’ve got. And optimise it. And once those extra 10 people have converted, they’re more likely to return and recommend you to others. That way your business grows naturally, with no artificial stimulants from temporary, expensive and unreliable SEO tactics.

    “How does it work?”

    1. Objectives
      First, we establish your goals. Obviously you want to grow your business, so it’s a case of seeing what needs doing so that you can reach these goals.
    2. Data health check
      It’s scary how many people are making massive strategic decisions based on data that’s wrong. From including bot traffic and not filtering out internal staff, to having the code in the wrong place, or 2 versions of the code on the same page. I get the shivers thinking about it. So I don a white coat and stethoscope, and start inspecting your data. After all, to diagnose a patient, the doctor has to carry out some tests.
    medics examining report


    3. Heuristic analysis
    Your website visitors have 3 questions when they land on your website. To convert them, you need to come up with the answers – within milliseconds:– ‘what is this website’
    – ‘what can I do here’
    – ‘why should I do it’Your copy and images need to answer these questions in a way that gets your visitors to take the next step towards your goal.I assess based on the following:– Is it clear?
    – Is everything on the page doing a job?
    – Is there anything preventing or distracting them from taking the next step?
    – Is there anything giving them reason to doubt or trust you?

    Hypothesis time

    By now there’ll be some data to dig into. So it’s a case of combining the heuristic analysis with the data. And working out:
    – What to test
    – The expected result
    – What this will mean for your business

    Technical implementation

    I map out what’s needed. That may be building a new page, adding code, or generating a series of analytics reports. If one of the recommendations involves creating or designing a new page or section, you’ll need a developer or a designer to do that.

    1. Run the tests
      These run until they reach “statistical significance”. This is when you can be sure the results are because of what’s been changed, rather than because of chance.
    2. Gather results
      You get these in a spreadsheet (Excel/Google Sheets/bit of paper – whatever works for you). These are split into columns. Depending on the project, these show the test, hypothesis, recommendation, urgency of implementation.

    You can also get a live version of the report, with me doing an online Q&A with you and your team

    “How long does it take?”

    Ideally, a minimum of 28 days. This gives 4 full weeks to see how people behave (think how office workers behave differently on a Monday morning compared to a Friday night). Naturally, it depends on your business and your schedule, so this is adapted to whatever works best.

    “How do you decide what to test?”

    I use a simple PIE formula:

    • Potential (how much of an improvement can be made)
    • Importance (how important is the traffic to the specific pages? Are they ready to buy?)
    • Ease (how easy will it be to carry out the test or complete the optimisation)

    This varies from project to project, so to weigh each factor correctly it’s a case of assessing your market, competition, and factor in any internal pressures you’re under (such as needing to show positive results to your boss quickly).

    “How much traffic do I need for A/B testing”?

    As a rough guide:

    • Minimum 1,000 unique visitors to start the test (if you only get 500 per month that’s no problem, we can just run it over 2 months)
    • Minimum 250 conversions per variation before considering declaring a result
    • Needs to run over a full business cycle

    What if I don’t have much/any data?”

    I can set up your Google Analytics and start getting you data. While I’m doing that, I can get on with stage 3. If you’re just starting, the initial CRO review is based on conversion best practice and what I know works. Any tests can come later, once you’ve built up your customer base and have enough traffic to work with.

    “What are your rates?”

    As for pricing, each CRO project depends on:

    • The nature of your business
      – What type of website (obviously, the more complex the site, the more time it will need).
      – What type of CRO can be done (if you’re running SEO, PPC or digital marketing campaigns this can affect the results, and how the tests are run).
      – How much growth can be achieved through CRO (making sure the potential boost in performance is worth your investment)
    • Your website/landing page performance
      – How much traffic (the more traffic there is, the more time it takes to analyse, assess and measure)
      – How much work it needs, whether it needs a designer or coder to implement changes
    • How much uplift I expect to deliver
      I only take on projects where there’s real potential for growth. After all, CRO is all about results. So if I think you’re better off investing in another part of your business, I’ll say so.

    “Which industries do you work in?”

    Because the principles of CRO work across industries, I work on most types of businesses.

    Previous clients include private jet hire, e-commerce, technology, FMCG – so I’m open to most types of business. Although if you sell arms (as in the things that kill people, not the limbs), then I’m not interested.

    What tools do you use and how much will they cost me?”

    I only tools which:

    • Have minimal impact on your site performance
      (after all, slow speed is a conversion killer)
    • Are free or ridiculously good value
      To make sure you get the most ROI out of working with me
    • Are low maintenance
      No headaches, no problem. Once the tracking code is installed, they run happily in the background

    So that means:


    This little gem gives you so much insight for so little investment. You get videos showing your users interacting with your site. You can run survey and popups to get instant feedback. You can see heatmaps showing how far people scroll, and where they click. You can create enquiry forms and see how far people get, and where they give up.

    Google Analytics/Tag Manager/Optimize

    Great for A/B testing. And for tracking clicks on any part of your website. Buttons, videos, menus… you name it, Google can track it.

    Human beings

    Testers can give you real insight into the functions on your site. Although they’re doing this for spare cash, a fresh pair of eyes will always give you real insight. Around 10 testers is usually enough to identify anything we need to fix or test.

    And finally…

    If you made it this far, then firstly – thank you. I realise that’s a lot of words, for what is a complex service. And secondly, I’ve got one question for you… how can I help grow your business with CRO?

    Read More
  • Read your copy and ask yourself this 2-word question after every sentence

    When it comes to writing copy that grab people by the lapels and compels them to act, there are only three things you need to remember.

    1. You can’t bore someone into buying what you offer
    2. People don’t buy what they don’t understand
    3. People buy from people they trust (see point #2)

    The thing is… writing boring or confusing copy is easy to do.

    The curse of knowledge

    You might know your product so well, you forget how to explain it to someone who knows nothing about your product.

    So you skip explaining the basic stuff, or use abbreviations and jargon.

    The result: a confused and/or bored audience.

    Here’s how to avoid this ever happening to you and your copy.

    Introducing the ‘So What?’ test

    The ‘So What?’ test is what you do after every one of your sentences.

    Let’s look at an example: Crazy Egg. This useful piece of software helps you understand how your website visitors behave when they’re browsing your pages. The idea is you can see what’s working, what needs changing and what needs moving.

    'Understand the customer journey with snapshots, heatmaps and recordings'

    This pic comes with the promise you’ll ‘Understand the customer journey with snapshots, heatmaps and recordings’. Words like ‘heatmap’ and ‘customer journey’ means they’re targeting marketers rather than general business owners

    Here’s another of the ‘Egg value propositions:

    “Crazy Egg is software that enables you track your online visitors’ behaviour. It shows you where they click. Where they scroll.”

    This might sound interesting, but how do you persuade a website owner they need it? How do you get them from a “oh, that’s nice”, to “I NEED this software!”

    Apply the “So What?” test

    Crazy Egg tracks where people click and scroll. So what?

    Well that means…

    …you can see if people are clicking on the wrong thing – and do something about it. You can see which pages people are interested enough to scroll down.

    You can see how the copy is highlighting the benefits of the software. There’s no droning desert-dry talk about code you need to add to your website.

    Instead it’s all totally geared towards you, the prospect, and how it makes your life better.

    Here’s another example.

    ‘We’re a friendly and reliable company.’

    So what? As opposed to ‘unfriendly and unreliable’? Instead, inject some branding into it.

    ‘We’re friendly and reliable. Even Jim in the workshop. He rarely smiles, but that’s only because he’s a Spurs supporter.’

    Of course, this totally depends on your audience. You might prefer to make Jim a serious type because he’s a perfectionist in his work. As long as you do something that makes you stand out.

    bored man

    Your brand is the easiest way to compete in a crowded market, so make sure your copy gets people sitting up and taking notice

    How it works in practice

    Go through every sentence you have. Read it. And ask yourself ‘So what?’ after each one.

    So what if my product never fails?

    So what if I offer free trials?

    So what if customers can ring me 24/7 and get through to a real live human?

    Always ask yourself: What does all this mean for the reader?

    So what if my product never stops working? You never have to worry about it failing, so you can focus on other stuff.

    So what if I offer free trials? That way there’s zero risk.

    So what if you can ring me 24/7? You’re never alone with your problem.

    Hang on… there’s more

    There’s something else that makes the ‘So What’ test so powerful.

    Let’s say you’ve run through each sentence in your sales email. You’ve got answers for every one of your sentences. Now go and compare your answers against your main competitors.

    Your answers have got to match what your competition offers. At the bare minimum.

    Ideally, your answers need to show a benefit that sets you above.

    Take the previous example above:

    So what if I offer free trials? That way there’s zero risk.

    Sure, a reassuring reminder always helps. But when your competitors also offer free trials, you need something else.

    Let’s say your software generates some sort of report. Often with freemium models, you can generate reports but can’t see all the data or download.

    get free trial to see more results

    This example is from Semrush but no doubt you’ve seen plenty of others

    So take that pain away. Offer some sort of, ‘Hey, no hard feelings if you say no, just let it be see you later rather than good-bye’. Add an extra layer to the promise above:

    So what if I offer free trials? That way there’s zero risk. What’s more, unlike most of our competitors, the reports you generate during your trial stay in our system – even when your trial ends. That way, you can pick up where you left off any time in the future.

    Even better, offer a guarantee. You’ve got the standard ‘if you’re not satisfied, we’ll refund you 100%’ guarantees. They’re fine to reassure people, but they’re also a very negative way of framing a mighty good benefit.

    Instead spin it so something like: ‘We guarantee you’ll be 100% satisfied, or your money back.’  See how it makes you sound so much more confident.

    2 simple steps to ‘So What’ supremacy

    Step 1: Go through every sentence, ask ‘So What?’ after each one, and make sure your answers highlight a benefit.

    Step 2: Compare your list of benefits to your competitors – make sure yours are better.

    Or… get in touch and I’ll do it for you.

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  • Microcopy: When the smallest thing has the biggest impact

    When it comes to writing copy, headlines may, er, grab the headlines.

    Subheadings and paragraphs demand attention.

    Captions under pictures always capture your readers’ eyeballs.

    As for microcopy – it may appear micro, but its impact is always macro.

    In fact, for writing copy to get people to take action, it’s your trusted partner.

    What is microcopy anyway?

    Those little words under the main call to action. explains what's meant by billing address

    Put microcopy in the right place, and it works on two levels.

    First, as part of your website design, acting as a signpost to your users.

    Second, as reassurance. When you ask a user to commit to something, microcopy provides the reason why they should do it.

    says 'get cool swag' under main field

    “A well-known principle of human behaviour says that when we ask someone to do us a favour we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

    This quote is from Influence, a book by Robert Cialdini which explores the patterns, actions and downright irrational parts of human behaviour.

    One test stands out in partticular. The Copy Machine Study involved a researcher going up to various queues of people waiting to use a photocopier. Each time the researcher would ask a question designed to help them jump the queue:

    1. Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine? (60% of people let the researcher jump the queue)
    2. Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush? (94% of people let the researcher jump the queue)
    3. Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies? (93% of people let the researcher jump the queue)

    Reason #3 makes no sense. Why else would you be in the queue? However, the results showed that giving a reason, even if that reason made no sense, was enough.

    Microcopy: a trusty assistant to your visitors

    Of course, when trying to help your website visitors you can give them genuine reasons for doing what you want them to do. Here’s how Zendesk justifies asking for your phone number:we need your number to send an SMS

    That sounds fair enough. Zendesk knows most people don’t want to give out their phone number to random people, so some microcopy helps to explain why it’s needed.

    Facebook do a mighty fine job as well. See how you can click and find out why they want to know your birthday:

    birthday requested for legal reasons

    Airbnb makes sure people don’t get confused over its forms if they make a mistake, by adding microcopy like this:

    highlights incorrect field

    300 million reasons for microcopy

    Of course, the value of microcopy isn’t just about how it helps your users. It’s also about making a difference to your revenue. And when I use the word ‘difference’, I mean life-changing. In fact, several lifetimes at once.

    That’s what happened in one famous case, where adding microcopy led to an e-commerce store’s revenue jump by $300 million dollars.

    Three hundred million dollars. Here’s how.

    After a user had browsed the website, added what they wanted to the cart, and reached the checkout, something happened. They were asked to click on a login or register button. The problem was, this was before they’d completed the purchase. It turned out, many people didn’t want to go through the hassle of registering. They just wanted to get their stuff, and go on their way. They didn’t want to start a relationship with the website. So they walked away.

    Even existing customers ran into problems. Many couldn’t remember their login details when asked at the checkout. So they were faced with a choice.

    Option one: going through the faff of requesting a new password, checking their email (assuming they knew which email address they’d signed up with), resetting their password, and then logging in.

    Option two: choosing to get on with their life and abandoning their cart.

    Naturally, option two was the most popular.

    This problem only came to light after an agency (User Interface Engineering) carried out some testing and gathered customer feedback. They then changed the ‘register’ button to ‘continue’, and added this microcopy:

    You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.

    In the 12 months after this change, the website took an extra $300 million dollars. Not bad for changing a word.

    Look, I can’t guarantee you $300 million

    But I can guarantee you microcopy that works for your visitors.

    I’ve worked on plenty of online platforms and other projects which have involved me adding microcopy.

    Plus a whole load of other services relating to copy, conversion optimisation, and usability (UX).

    Feel free to view the portfolio to get an idea of what can be achieved, or get in touch and let me know what you’re looking for.

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  • What Lord Sugar, Rocky Balboa and Sherlock Holmes can do for your business

    Have you seen the film Rocky? In one fight, Rocky is hit so hard, he ends up seeing his opponent in triple vision. “I see three of him!” slurs the punch-drunk Italian Stallion.

    His trainer’s advice? “Hit the one in the middle”.

    That’s what you should do when displaying the price of your products or services.

    Go for the middle, with back-up options on either side.

    Here’s why.

    Centre stage

    Have you noticed at the end of any race, the winner stands on the middle podium?

    Or how in the Apprentice, Lord Sugar takes his place in the middle seat?

    And when a band performs live, the singer usually stands in the middle?

    Now, imagine you’re pitching to a panel of 3. The one in the middle will automatically seem to be the most senior in rank, at least initially.

    In visual situations, we’re conditioned to think the middle is the most important, or the most “authoritative”.

    Good things come in 3

    Let’s say you’re selling web hosting.

    To make a profit on a customer, you need them to sign up to a service that costs £50 a month. You offer all the extras like setup, support and configuration, but £50 is the magic number.

    Giving one option only is a high-risk game. You’re saying: “Take it or leave it.”

    The problem is, some people will always leave it.

    lots of signs pointing different waysGive lots of options, and it becomes hard to choose. You risk what’s called analysis paralysis. People freeze and walk away rather than take action.

    Offering 3 options is a sign of compromise. It shows you’re open to negotiation. Your target market feel more in control because you’re offering a menu, rather than an all-or-nothing deal.

    And you’re also, in a subtle way, advertising that you cater for different types of customer.

    So you’ve got 3 to display, and you’ve placed the £50 option is in the middle…

    …what about the other 2?

    Drop the anchor

    You use them as anchors.

    People need an anchor to help them judge what’s good or bad. They can then compare and decide what’s good value.

    Because “we don’t have an internal value meter that tells us how much things are worth”, we “focus on the relative advantage of one thing over the other, and estimate value accordingly”, explains Dan Ariely in his brilliant book, Predictably Irrational.

    If you don’t know this book, It’s full of case studies showing how we make decisions based on what we think and feel, rather than solid logic…

    …including how we anchor things, especially prices.

    Think different

    He gives the example of the Economist magazine, which offered three subscription types:

    1. Web-only subscription: $59
    2. Web and print subscription: $125
    3. Print-only subscription: $125

    How could 2 and 3 be the same price?

    “I am pretty certain they wanted me to skip the web-only option…. and jump to the more expensive option of web and print”.

    How could Dan know this?

    The Economist’s marketers, he reasoned, knew about anchoring.

    Option 2 offers free access to the web version when compared to option 3. Free access? That must be a bargain, right? Who doesn’t want a freebie!

    So on one side of your £50 option, put your anchor.

    People will use that to compare the other options.

    OK, expensive anchor on one side… what next?

    On the other, show a deal that is obviously not good value compared to your middle option.

    Consider making it only slightly cheaper, and with far fewer extras.

    This is your “decoy”.

    Another nudge

    How do you make it even more obvious?

    Add clues to your copy.

    Below, 123-reg have labelled the middle option “Most popular”

    middle option labelled most popular

    Let’s say you’re targeting startups.

    Label the £50 option “Popular with startups”, or something similar.

    They’ll think “Perfect for startups? We’re a startup! Let’s go for that.”

    The other two options can be labelled something that wouldn’t appeal to startups.

    Something like “for beginners” and “de luxe”.

    Solving the mystery for your audience

    At this stage you might be thinking: “Decoys? Clues? Anchors? This all sounds a bit Sherlock Holmes to me…”

    You need to do this for your audience…

    …because you’re helping them make the right choice.

    Have a look at some websites offering subscription models. You’ll find many use anchoring.

    See how the Daily Telegraph does it:

    offers details of subscriptions

    The Daily Telegraph run a paywall, so most readers will need one of these

    The Daily Telegraph’s average readership age is on the mature side. Around 61 years old, according to this report. That’s probably about right – the ads section is full of offers for stairlifts, walk-in showers and arthritis cures.

    So a large chunk of the readers will want the print edition. They can pay £11… or for just £1 more, get the digital version as well. At 61, plenty of people are online, so they’re likely to think “Well, it’s just an extra £1, might as well for for that.” That makes the £11 option the anchor.


    With “free 30-day trial” offers, and a line pointing out which is for teams v individuals, guess which options Hootsuite want you to try:

    4 price options

    One more thing…

    I’m not saying 3 is always the model to choose.

    You always need to test things like this… but 3 is the best place to start.

    You can then start experimenting with different calls to actions, different features, in different orders.

    1. Contact ConversionTownn for a free consultation on boosting your website conversions
    2. Premium option: Contact ConversionTown for a free consultation on how to improve your messaging to get more sales, signups and enquiries
    3. Starter option: Contact ConversionTown and say hello

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  • This isn't me either

    Website strategies: How usable is your website, really?

    A picture can paint a thousand words…

    Words are free; it’s how you use them that can cost you.

    Timeless phrases, all true, but…

    …when it comes to your website, pictures and words are nothing without usability (UX).

    A great website is the digital equivalent of walking into a boutique shop, having an attentive assistant carry your bags, bring you a glass of champagne, and ensuring you leave with exactly what you need. Plus maybe some things s you didn’t know you needed.

    You might have Pulitzer prize-winning copy. A photo worthy of National Geographic’s photo of the year award. But if your website isn’t easy to use, you’re always going to finish runner-up.

    Usability is the glue that holds your website together, converting customers, and attracting eyeballs.

    And with so many connected devices, with so many different-sized screens, UX is only getting more important.

    How to recognise a website that works

    You need a different approach to measuring visuals or text.

    Let me explain.

    The brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. That’s a pretty quick first impression…

    When it comes to visuals, you might not be a designer but you know the style you want.

    You might not be a copywriter, but you can recognise powerful words when you read them.

    But knowing a website’s usability? That’s a 64-million-dollar question.

    After all, the only people who really know… are your users. And they probably have other things they’d rather do than give you feedback. And in any case, how would you know if they’re saying what they think, or what you want to hear?

    Unless you’ve got a two-way mirror and plan to monitor how users interact, you need to think of alternatives.

    A plan for launch

    Gather five people you can trust to give you an honest opinion.

    Get them to view your website for five seconds and ask their opinion. Did they understand what it offered? What do they remember about it? What emotions did they feel? Reassured? Roused? Revolted?

    friends on beach

    5 people will find 80%+ of most problems on a website

    Get them to complete a transaction. For example, make a purchase, find your services and then contact you, or search for some information.  Watch how they interact with your website. Look for any signs they’re struggling or unsure of what to do or where to click.

    You need to know how to get your users from where they start, to where they want to finish.

    Otherwise your users end up making a wrong turn, or getting lost. Your website has to be the guide.

    Talking of guides…

    These are road signs. Do you know what they mean?

    If you’re a driver, then hopefully you do.

    But if not, then you probably don’t.

    How about these?

    You don’t need to be a driver to know, or at least make a good guess.

    Because alongside symbols, you have clues.

    It’s the same with online.

    Here’s a popular icon.

    hamburger icon

    This is called a hamburger, and signifies a menu. People who regularly use mobile devices will recognise it.

    But what if your target audience aren’t regular mobile device users? You may need to test. For example by adding ‘menu’ underneath.

    hamburger icon with menu underneath

    Measuring success

    Of course, after launch, you need to know if these changes are making a positive impact.

    Have you ever seen Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

    Four possible answers per question. Starts off really easy, and then builds up the tension as you approach the one million prize.

    You know the “phone a friend” lifeline? When it comes to usability (UX), Google Analytics is your phone a friend.

    Here are some of the metrics you’ll rely on for the right answers:

    Bounce rate

    If you have a high percentage of visitors arriving and then leaving without going anywhere (your bounce rate), this tells Google: “This website is not working well – don’t rank it highly.”

    What causes a high bounce rate?

    Maybe it’s not what your visitor expected to see.

    They took a wrong turn and ended up on your website.

    But if they arrived on your website after clicking on one of your ads, then review your messaging. Is it consistent? Is it clear? Even better, test out your funnel on a few people and get their feedback.


    Check to see if the bounce rate varies between browsers. If you notice a particular high bounce rate on a certain browser, it may be that your website has a bug, preventing visitors from converting. Here’s how to check. Open up Google Analytics, click Audience > Technology > Browser. Look under the bounce rate column, and compare the percentages against each other, and against your site average. Notice anything unusual?


    Your website visitors are impatient. If your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, expect a large proportion to give up and go elsewhere. Use this free speed testing tool rate your website against the competition.

    cars racing

    Without fast page speed, forget about ranking high in Google

    When is a high bounce rate good?

    Maybe you’re giving visitors exactly what they want. For example, if a visitor wants to contact you, they might Google “company name phone number” and go straight to your contact us page. If that has a phone number, then your visitor has succeeded with what they want to do.

    Exit rate

    Are there particular pages where your visitors are dropping off? If the page is a thank you page, perhaps after completing a transaction, that’s no problem.

    But if it’s high on a pre-conversion page, for example your “view checkout” page or a “contact us” page, it’s time to investigate.

    User flow

    Where do people land on your website, and which pages do they go to? Are they going to the pages you want? If not, it’s time to look at your funnels.

    Prioritise your pages

    That means deciding what are the main sections. And then analysing their visibility. Can you get there within one click from your homepage? Or is it buried under a pile of other pages? Ideally you should be able to get anywhere on your website within three clicks.


    Make it easy to get around your website. That means hyperlinking to different pages within your text. Adding calls to action that show the user where to go, making use of sidebars to show off other parts of your website. This is also important for SEO, because it guides Google bots to all your pages, for better indexing and ranking.

    To scroll or not to scroll

    There’s an internet’s worth of discussion about whether users scroll or not. You might get told to keep content above the fold, give them the important information straightaway, clearly mark menus. All good solid advice, but what if you’ve got a one page design? Or what if you’re displaying a large portfolio, or collating content?

    The Guardian website is a great example of how to do it. Some stories are aligned in a row, but look at the two bottom-left columns. These run at different heights, signalling that there’s more information underneath:

    Colour me bad

    What does the colour red mean to you? Stop? Danger? Love? You can find hundreds of colour theory studies that come to all sorts of conclusions.

    But you know the problem with colour theory? It’s… well… theory.

    And here’s the thing: your website is unique. And so are your visitors. So you need to forget theories, and run your own tests. Find out what your audience thinks of your colours. And then decide whether you need a rethink. Here’s a brilliant guide (from Forty Nine Stories to help start you off:

    colour theory chart

    You can use colours to signify sections. For example if you’re running a property website, a for sale section is one colour, and the for rent is another. Subtle, but because you’re likely to receive lots of repeat visitors (at least, if you’re offering properties in an insane market like London), it helps guide your visitors.

    Visual impairments

    Around 8% of males are colourblind (one in 200 women). Most people have some form of astigmatism. If your website gets 1,000 visitors a month, that’s potentially 80 male customers you’re turning away.

    So make sure your colour schemes are accessible. White text on black background may look cool to some, but to others it’s impossible to read. Sounds simple, but if your brand relies on an unconventional colour scheme, here’s where you may need to make a judgement call.

    For example, look at Nespresso’s website.

    Branding is key to their success.White text (milk?) on rich dark colours (coffee). Not so good for accessibility, but essential for branding, particularly at the luxury end.


    Try using a screen reader to get an idea of what the internet is like for a blind person. This reads what’s on the page, left to right (or right to left, depending on your language).

    If you’re using tables for your products, avoid using <table> in your code, because a screen reader won’t make sense of it. Use div tags instead.

    And if you’re using images, make sure you use alt tags. These describe the image, so if a user can’t see the images, or if their browser blocks them, they still understand what’s on your page

    It’s a challenge to get this right, and with many websites it’s just not possible to recreate the same experience with and without a screenreader. But even the little things will make a difference. And it means that you open up your part of the web to more people. And that’s got to be a good thing, right?

    SEO image tip

    When uploading your images, save them with descriptive names. This makes them more likely to show up in images searches, and can bring you extra visitors.

    And always compress images, ideally to below 100kb. This makes sure your website loads fast. If you don’t have Photoshop (go to File > Save for web) then use a free online tool, such as Image Optimizer.

    And breathe…

    The above is a lot to take in. And if you’ve got a business to run then you’ve got a million other things to deal with. But if you can get your head around the basics, and make use of some of the free tools included above, you are on the right track.

    You definitely can’t afford to ignore UX. After all, your website designer may come up with a design that takes your breath away. But if it only works properly on 24” Apple screens, it’s also going to take your profits away.

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  • When words are only part of the puzzle

    For copywriting to really earn its money on your pages, you need more than just words.

    After all, most people can come up with some words. The hard part is knowing if they’re any good. And then putting them in the right order.

    That might sound like a bad joke – so let me explain.

    Imagine you’re in a restaurant, for a meal with your partner. It’s your one-year anniversary, and you’ve booked somewhere classy in the centre of town.

    There’s soft lighting, gleaming thin-rimmed wine glasses on your table, faint traces of classical music in the background.

    people in restaurant

    This and most of the ConversionTown pics are from the peerless perfection that is www.pexels.com

    You both sit down, take a minute to get comfy, soak up the surroundings. There aren’t many people in, so you’re expecting a good service. Then, out of the corner of your eye you see the waiter walking over. You take a breath, preparing to ask for a couple of aperitifs.

    And then you stop. Because hang on, what’s this?

    The waiter is carrying two plates of food.

    One has chicken on it; the other fish.

    You look around the restaurant, thinking he’s destined for another table. But no, everyone else is eating.

    The waiter’s heading straight at you.

    Without even looking you in the eye, he puts the chicken in front of you, and the fish in front of your partner. And then he goes off into the kitchen.

    Within seconds the same waiter reappears with a tray of drinks.

    Again, without any acknowledgement, he pours you a glass of white wine. Your partner gets a bottle of fizzy water.

    The waiter races off, like you don’t exist.

    You and your partner look at each other, both wearing “WTF” faces.

    Your customer experience is that the waiter didn’t take the time to find out what you wanted.

    He made a judgment based on preconceived ideas – “Oh they look like they like chicken and fish. That one’s obviously a white wine drinker, and the other looks like they’re staying off the booze.” How likely are you going to return?

    It’s the same with copywriting. So if you want the right words in the right order, you need a writer who gets inside the head of your target audience. No assumptions. Someone who works out what problem, pain or desire they’re experiencing.

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs gets you started:

    These are the 5 levels of human need, with the bottom being most important

    This is about working out where your business belongs in the hierarchy. Then deciding what your audience needs. Finally, supplying words in a way that positions your business as the obvious answer.

    That’s what makes copy jump off the screen.

    Describing your business in a way that a blind person can visualise it. Guiding your reader along the path, from casual browser, to motivated shopper, to loyal customer.

    Features tell, benefits sell

    People make buying decisions based on emotion, which they justify using logic. Which means writing about your product in a way that explains the benefits first, features second.

    For example, someone buying a luxury car makes their decision based on emotion, which could include:

    • wanting to project an image of success
    • joining an exclusive group
    • attracting a partner

    These are benefits of owning a luxury car.

    Then they justify their decision based on logic:

    • power steering
    • heated seats
    • fuel efficiency

    These are features of the luxury car.

    This isn’t me by the way

    You get the idea. Emotion, then logic. Benefits, then features.

    Covering the angles

    When it comes to writing for the web, a copywriter needs to see the big picture. Headlines, sub-headings, call to action buttons, form fields – it all has to come together.

    Because everyone who lands on a website or webpage has the same 3 questions:

    ‘Where am I?’

    ‘What can I do?’

    ‘Why should I do it here?’

    This isn’t me either

    After all, people rarely read websites; they scan them. If they don’t find what they want, they leave. Quickly.

    What’s more, we only have a few seconds – 40% will leave your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

    That means telling your audience what you’re offering, why it’s great, and what’s in it for them. In short sentences, like this.

    We also need to add some oil in the form of formatting, to keep everything running smoothly:

    • bullet points
    • headings

    • bold text
    • hyperlinks
      Taking your audience on a journey to other sections of your website, but not in a way that distracts them or makes them want to leave.

    So there you have it. Alongside words, you need to know what’s going on inside your audience’s head. And you need to know about laying out a web page.

    Can we help you with any of that?


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