As marketers and entrepreneurs, we need to write a lot.
Our writing often involves persuading people to talk to us, buy from us, work with us or collaborate with us.
I am talking about:
- landing page copy
- outreach emails
- sales presentations
- social media posts
- ad copy
But how can we increase the chances that our message hits the right tone and feels relevant to the receiver?
A process to uncover motivations
This is where your current prospects and customers come into play.
When you understand the motivations that drive your prospects and customers, you can reflect their feelings back to them—in their words. That way, you’re way more likely to convince them that buying from you is the right call.
When we work with clients, we always use the same process to uncover the motivations of a particular group of people. And it is deceptively simple:
- Gather Insights
- Organize and cluster the answers
- Simplify and improve your copy.
But just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's a quick fix.
This is hard work, but it will pay dividends for years to come.
Step 1: Gather Insights
What kind of questions you ask depends a lot on what your end goal is. What pages, content pieces or ad copy are you trying to optimize? What do you need to know in order to do that effectively?
Depending on your project, here are four questions that can help you get started. Adapt the questions depending on the copy you want to improve (e.g. zooming in on a specific product feature page)
4 great questions to help you write voice-of-customer
- When did you realize you needed a product/service like ours? This question helps you find out which trigger events in a person’s life motivate them to seek out your solution.
- What problem does our product/service lessen/fix for you? Find out what your customers consider to be the problem. You may find that you solve problems you didn’t know about.
- Did you consider any alternatives to buying/working with us? It’s always a good idea to know who your customers see as your competition. This will help you build a case as to why they should buy from you.
- What concerns or hesitations did you have before you decided to buy/work with us? Addressing sources of friction in your copy is incredibly important. You can reflect your customers’ concerns back to them, showing how you’ll alleviate them.
I would recommend to always start with what you already have. You can always go out and collect more insights.
And there are tons of different sources to extract valuable insights from:
- On-Page surveys (through Hotjar)
- Online surveys (through Google Forms)
- Welcome sequence emails (e.g. What is your biggest frustration?)
- Customer testimonials, customer reviews (both your own and your competitors)
- Sales and customer success team insights from their conversations in the field
- Customer interview transcripts
- Website copy of a prospect or customer (if B2B)
Step 2: Organize and cluster answers
Now that you’ve asked your questions and gotten your answers, it’s time to pull out phrases and sentences written by respondents that will give you the best insights for your copy.
Go through all your gathered sources above one by one.
You’re looking for the following:
- Phrases that tap into the respondent’s needs/wants;
- Phrases that reference the respondent’s biggest pain points;
- Phrases that key into their hesitations or concerns about purchasing.
The answers are then saved and clustered in one big Google sheet. You will quickly see patterns that will help shape the outline of your copy.
Step 3: Simplify and improve your copy
So now that you gathered and organized all these insights you can do a side-by-side comparison. Pull up the page(s) you are optimizing and start analyzing the gaps of what you wrote on the page, versus the words and themes that your customers or prospects used.
Jennifer Havice from MakeMention makes a good point about this:
If most prospects or customers tell you that they can’t live without your app because of its great interface and easy integration—but all you talk about is price—you have a communication gap.
And gaps lead to big holes in conversion.
And here is a real life example of how the Design Academy has improved their landing page copy after going through this process (hat tip to Harry):
See the difference? The second one is clearly speaking to a specific subset of clients and uses their own words to convince them to take a closer look.
Copywriting doesn't require the perfect line or a flash of inspiration. Just ask your customers questions and let them do the work for you.
It works like a charm.