Joanna Wiebe – How to Be Specific: From-The-Trenches Lessons in High-Converting Copy – MicroConf 2017

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    • Joanna Wiebe
    • SPECIFICITY: From-the-trenches lessons in the most uncomfortable of all the conversion plays: long[er] copy
    • Putting more words on the page than you’re comfortable with
    • Saying more, writing more, makes people feel uncomfortable
    • “But Joanna! “The average visitor spends 15 seconds on your web site!””
      • So?
      • Since when did we try to convert the AVERAGE visitor?
      • If you’re trying to convert the average visitor, that’s a problem
      • Your product is not average
      • We keep hearing these sound bites
        • “Keep it short”
        • “People don’t spend time on your site”
      • You wouldn’t tell your salesperson to “hurry up. Say a few words then get out”
        • Copy is your online salesperson. It sells. Or it doesn’t.
      • People rush to this idea. “Say everything in 10 seconds. Then get out”
      • So, you try this “10 second copy”. How’s that rushed copy working out for you? Those 6 word headlines?
        • 2% conversion rate is the norm
    • Today: you’re allowed to use MORE words. You NEED to use more words.
    • I’m NOT saying you should do stereotypical high-pressure long-form sales pages. Equally…
      • Don’t do high-image, no-copy, sales pages
      • Don’t do unreadable lumps of crammed copy into a paragraph
      • Don’t summarize everything in as few words as possible
    • There’s this push to be average. You’re not average. You’re just trying so hard to be.
      • Everyone is trying to stay in the same safe space. “Best practices”.
      • Saying / doing things “like the competition does”?
        • We’re worried that people will choose our competitors instead of us
        • Do what they’re do: then we’re safe
        • But the real problem for most of us is not our competition.
          • Our real problem is that people are deciding not to decide at all
          • They’re not saying “I choose a competitor”. They’re saying “I don’t choose anyone”
          • 60% of sales are lost to “no decision”
        • “I’ll just keep doin’ what I’m doin’. KTHXBAI.” — your visitor
          • That’s what we’re up against
    • What if we forget about “best practices”, and 10 second copy,
        • 1 real person
      • “Roses are red,
        Violets are blue –
        Donate to a teacher
        With the same name as you.”
        A poem from — encouraging their email list to donate to someone with the same name

        • People were 3x more likely to give
        • Gave 3x as much
        • Reactivated lapsed donors
        • Why?
          • It made people think “That’s me!”
          • This doesn’t mean that using someone’s name is a silver bullet.
          • It just means that we’re overwhelmed with messages we have to make sense of. AKA noise.
      • 1986: a person would see 2,000 ad messages a day
        • 2016: 5,000 ad messages a day
        • We recognize 50. We remember 4.
          • Scary
          • Or an opportunity: there are 5k ad messages a day, but we only have to compete with 4.
        • 10 second copy: you’re gonna be one of the 4,996.
      • “Save time and money” message used everywhere
        • E.g. “Buy Candy in Bulk. Save Time & Money”
        • It’s a safe message. But it’s not effective
        • How can we do it better? Zoom in from the boring ignorable stuff, and into the details
          • “Get the lowest candy prices and low flat-rate shipping”
          • It’s not about how many words you use. Long vs short. It’s about zooming in, instead of zooming out.
      • Sweat prevention product. We tested 2 home pages
        • Both were a similar length
        • A: “Control Sweat. Stop Embarrassment.” Pretty specific. How can we go more specific?
        • B: “Control your sweat. And wear what you want.”
        • A: “Up to 7-days of sweat relief!”
        • B: “Get up to 7 days of dry high-fives, hugs and hoorays”
          • People know what that looks like. It’s a REAL thing
        • Obvious changes
          • You’re probably thinking of these things as you’re writing
          • But back of your mind, you’re falling back to the generic
        • B beat A by double (108% paid lift)
        • Ran a second, new test against B
          • C was the same as A, but added a new section at the top
          • C: What if we zoom in on the PAIN we’re trying to kill with this product?
          • Pain-filled
          • “It doesn’t even have to be hot out. My armpits are ALWAYS wet.”
            • Removed any mention of the product above the fold
            • This (delaying the product reveal) is uncomfortable for every business on the planet
            • Problem → Agitation → Solution
            • Lets you get specific. Zoom into the details.
            • How the problem ACTUALLY presents itself in real life
          • How to find pain points right now: look at reviews for your product; other products like yours
            • Get the pain-focused copy from what (potential) customers are already saying
            • Copywriting doesn’t have to be hard. Just listen, and pull stuff in.
          • C beat B by another 49%
      • Wistia
        • Funnel, from trial to paid
        • 8-email series
        • Tested new copy
        • 3.5x the paid conversions by changing copy
          • All new copy was longer
          • More pain focused
        • Control / Variation A
          • “18% is a lot. That’s the improvement in play rate that Wistia customers see by customizing the color of their video…… Get more plays on your videos by customizing your player colors.”
          • People are skilled at blocking messages. Ignoring messages
          • Does this copy make me do anything? Or do I ignore it and move on?
        • What if we zoom in on things like that 18% improvement. Zoom in on the video player. Zoom in on MY LIFE.
        • Variation B:
          • “The Wistia video player defaults to grey. Which is nice. But grey.
            So why stick with grey when you could…
            Videos that used to get 100 views a day now get 118 views a day. In a month, that’s an extra 500+ views. And it only takes something like 11 seconds to make this very simple but very powerful change…”
          • Because, 18% doesn’t mean anything, until you bring it to life. What does it MEAN in real life?
        • Ran more variations on more emails
          • In almost every case, the longer copy performed 2-3x better than the shorter
      • [Exercise: close your eyes. Just listen. What does this copy make you think?]


  • [Scribing is really hard with your eyes closed]


      • Our readers are literate. Without a picture, what would your brain SEE?
      • Words are supposed to create pictures.
      • Words are supposed to engage our imagination.
      • I’m not saying stop using images. I’m saying stop RELYING on images.
    • “If you can get into their imagination, your ad can run all day.”
    • “I’m not afraid to read. Just make me WANT to.” — Your prospect. (But not your average visitor)
    • 10-second copy was made by “UX pros”. Not conversion pros.
    • Use more words. They are free, in unlimited quantities.
  • Thanks!
  • Airstory templates (
  • Q&A
    • “Simply tactical question. When do you use images in email?”
      • When we need to. I’d never start by saying this email needs an image. What do we want to say? What do want to make them think? Then if an image would directly help, I’d use an image.
    • “Do these same rules apply in social media, when that spot is so much smaller?
      • Facebook is…not a copywriter’s friend. In FB, the image is much more prevalent. So you can test variations there instead. Be specific, still, in the language you do use. But at this point in the history of FB ads, the image is a big deal.
        But if someone is going to read your copy after they’ve seen/clicked the image, are you saying something that matters to them
    • “Have you ever had longer copy perform worse than shorter?”
      • Depends what we mean by longer. If your message is already converting well, and you do THIS kind of longer copy (zooming in, being more specific, bringing in the real life aspect), I’ve never seen that convert worse.
    • “Kind of off topic, but how are things going with Airstory?”
      • “He’s a plant 😉”
        What is Airstory: “Make it easy to write copy. Getting started writing a piece of copy is hard. Finishing it is hard. The part in the middle is hard. Airstory is designed to make it easier.”
        It’s been a few months, but it’s going well!
    • “People say show don’t tell. What do you think of that?”

I believe do both. People need details. Show AND tell.
Show is nice. Sandwich it between two tells.

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