There’s a massive difference between a copywriter and a conversion copywriter. You’ve likely hired the former, meaning you’ve worked with a blogger, or ebook writer, or newsletter writer. They’ve come in, knocked out a few projects, and maybe stayed on as an ongoing freelancer to meet all of your content needs.
If they’re especially good, then you’re likely barely writing any of your own content, if at all. If they’re good, they’re handling everything from your blog to your lead magnets, and everything in between. They’ll research topics, identify gaps in your content, edit pieces prior to publication, work in tandem with designers on your branding (unless they do that themselves), shape language, etc.
You get the idea…
...but a conversion copywriter works with one goal in mind: to get you conversions. They increase click through rates, analyze data, perform A/B tests, link build, and effectively translate your ideas to your target audience using the aid of language specialists. It’s all performance-based.
This means one thing: if you’re looking to build up your B2B or B2C content and branding, your Google Ads, or your SEO, you should be hiring a copywriter. But if you want to increase your sales, or other conversions, you should work with a conversion copywriter. Ideally, in the best case scenario, you’d want to work with both, so the conversion copywriter can lead the charge and inform your copywriting team what’s needed, why, and how to go about it.
But first thing’s first, before you go contacting a conversion copywriter on a whim, let’s dive deep into this role, and see why it’s so important to business success. Here’s everything you need to know.
The Mark of A Conversion Writer
Suffice it to say that all professional writers, in every niche, are exceptional at what they do. They have to be, or else they don’t really get anywhere. That means authors, bloggers, copywriters, content strategists, journalists, etc. are all hard at work at honing their skills, because if they don’t, they’re not going to amount to much.
Of course, there are many variables there. For instance, you could have an exceptional copywriter who simply doesn’t handle the business side of things well, and therefore, lacks quality, ongoing work. All because they don’t market themselves well, and they dislike the idea of pitching themselves to brands.
So, again: don’t discard regular copywriters based on newfound information from this post. Everyone serves a purpose.
But then, what’s the real purpose of hiring a conversion copywriter?
For one thing, they’re a mesh of many hats. On one hand, they’re skilled writers with experience in crafting client copy. On the other hand, they’re all about the numbers. They’ll monitor web traffic and conversion rates, and they’ll create and oversee content reports on either a weekly or monthly basis.
Your press releases will be more focused, as a result, and things like your landing pages, and lead generation, and influencer marketing will make more sense within the scope of what you’re trying to accomplish. Your SEO will make more sense, your community will be redefined, if need be, and your press coverage will paint you in the light that your brand reflects. Things like networking and personal brands, or even CTAs and funnels will make more sense. Things will be relevant, rather than confusing.
Hiring them on leads to a direct change in your sales, sign-ups and lead quality, maybe even a streamlined branding approach. They’ll work with other copywriters to edit and fact-check work, and ensure everyone is delivering top-notch content that meets audience needs. They’ll even work on visual aids to pair along with copy, usually with the aid of designers.
But the most important aspect of their role is that conversion copywriters know how to work with language specialists to determine the right tone and style for your audience. It essentially takes the spotlight off you, and your branding wants and needs, and asks “What about them?”
By meeting audience needs, and using tactics that are metric-proven to work, they guarantee that you’ll see a boost in numbers, or they’re out of a job.
Which brings us to the last point: cost.
To put it simply, you get what you pay for. You get quoted based on who they are and what they’re known for (established vs starting out), how experienced they are, the project scope, and of course, how much they want to work with you.
If you’re an established brand, they might see it beneficial to forgo a couple hundred dollars in exchange for your name on their portfolio. If you’re not, then they might charge their usual going rate, which means if you try to haggle the fees down, they’ll likely say no.
And trust me, they will say no if they’re good, because they have several prospects in the pipeline. They can afford to pass on you, because they know someone out there is willing to pay them their value’s worth.
What Conversion Copywriters Do
Now, we have a very broad view of what it is conversion copywriters do. So, it’s time to dig even deeper and run down the stages of their work.
You can expect these three stages to be how they operate. If you hire them, they’ll likely inform you of this, but it’s always better to be prepared in advance, so you know what you’re getting into. You might find that you dislike their process, or that their process is just very different than what you’re used to.
Stage 1: Analysis & Planning
After all, you can’t sell an item you know nothing about. And you certainly can’t sell to an audience you don’t understand.
They’ll look over your video sales letters, landing pages, sales, growth hacking techniques, marketing campaigns, emails, everything. It’s a bit invasive if you’re not prepared for a full 360 view. But the whole idea is to make sure you are being as strategic as you can in all your business endeavors. Do you actually convert your leads, or are you simply writing for the sake of writing? Are you paying attention to your other hired help, like the digital marketing consultant, or are you pretty much paying people to give you advice you don’t use?
This is a tough pill to swallow for many entrepreneurs with no prior experience working with a conversion copywriter because they’re used to telling copywriters what it is they need. They’re used to doing the research themselves―the buyer personas, the demographic research―so they think they know what’s needed, and they pass that along to the copywriters…
...but that only works if you, the entrepreneur, has what it takes to truly know what’s needed.
If you have an idea, or a gut feeling, or you misinterpret data, and then ask for content you don’t even need, you’ve lost valuable resources.
That’s a waste of money, since you need to pay your writers for something you requested. It’s a waste of time they could have spent writing something you genuinely would benefit from.
This means you might as well not pull up your buyer personas. Don’t showcase any notes about your audience, unless they specifically ask for them. Don’t even assume the brief will be enough information to go on.
Instead, approach the process with an open mind. This copywriter is coming in to analyze your numbers, not your notes. They’re there to look through your products and your audience for themselves, unbiasedly. The more you try to influence their deductions, the less value for your money you’re eventually going to get.
Here are some of the things the copywriter will be reviewing in this stage:
Customer surveys and interviews
Testimonials and reviews
Metrics of all kinds
CRO and split-testing data
Internal interviews with the team
And then, they will provide you with:
Lengthy reports of findings
Raw data from surveys
A guide for exactly what content needs to be written, how to write it, and why
Notice the last one there: a content guide detailing what needs to be written, how, and why. This is a major bonus for a company, because it provides the key that unlocks all doors. If they decide to part ways with the conversion copywriter then and there, at least they got their money’s worth in this single stage―Well, more or less.
From there on out, they can use that guide to lead their copywriting team, and know they’re outputting something their audience is sure to like more than what’s been published up until that point.
But, as with most things, don’t make the mistake of assuming this is the best course of action. Although it’s suitable for those with smaller budgets, it’s also not the full scope of the situation, so if anything it’s a puzzle piece.
And no one is saying that puzzle piece even belongs to the puzzle you think it does.
In other words, a guide is just one elaborate educated guess. It has a high chance of making a difference, but it may still not be the best course of action for your business, especially when compared to the other possible guesses out there.
The only way to truly know is to continue on with the conversion copywriter and get through stages 2 and 3.
Keeping the conversion copywriter on at this point is recommended anyway, since the team will benefit from further assistance from the person who wrote the guide. They can answer questions, pinpoint weak spots, and essentially help train the team.
Stage 2: Writing
At this point, things start to get a little more interesting. During stage 2, the conversion copywriter drafts several variations of the guide from stage 1.
Consider it a strategy and hypothesis for your marketing that will work better for your business than whatever it is you’ve developed. If that sounds like it’s undermining your work, it’s not, but there is a difference between an entrepreneur who strives to do everything, including the things he/she may have no prior experience in, versus someone who went through grueling specialized training for this exact thing.
Now, why is there a need for several variations?
Because one guide is just one guess. More versions mean more guesses, with one of them being the copywriter’s best possible guess, or control point.
Assuming you keep the copywriter on through stage 3, the final guide selected will tell you exactly what you need out of your copy, how to write it, and why. But that’s just the basis of information that goes into it. It’s only surface level.
The guide is actually going to include a wireframe, assuming they’re good.
Here’s what you can expect in a wireframe:
It tells you how the page is going to flow, and whether it was made in HTML, Webflow, Adobe, or something else.
It compliments the UX designer’s work.
It focuses on what the copy will entail, and highlights important aspects of its presentation on a visual level.
This touches on a few things.
For starters, it tells you how to approach flow in the present and future. But more importantly, it touches on the overall look and feel of the copy, and the visual elements its being paired with. In essence, it’s designing your message loud and clear, from the ground up, with the aid of your UX designer.
Together, they basically take your brand and elevate it to shine through each and every message you publish online.
And this is super important.
It lays the groundwork so that even after the conversion copywriter is gone, your team can carry on producing high-quality, targeted content. It will read well, convert, meet your goals, and look good while doing it. Instead of feeding a lazy, or misused brand presence, it streamlines it and presents it in a way that’s celebratory.
And nothing says “Industry leader deserving of recognition” like a well-designed, well-spoken brand image.
By the end of this stage, the designer and the conversion copywriter will have worked back and forth, creating a look for your content that meets your brand requirements, and your audience needs.
And your team will be happier for it.
Stage 3: Testing, Testing, Testing
Up until this point, we’ve been discussing the several variations of the guide that will surely change your marketing campaigns for the better.
To recap, the conversion copywriter will formulate a control point, best guess guide in stage 1, then draft several versions in stage 2.
Well, stage 2 is all about testing those variations in an attempt at finding the perfect fit for your business. Each variant will be tested and measured by performance (metrics), and then tweaked until the right combination of elements makes a substantial impact on your conversion rates.
Of course, the scope of this largely depends on the client. If the client is established and has a sizeable budget, the testing can be done in a large scale, assuming the traffic is there to support it.
It often looks like periodic re-engagements and follow-ups.
But let’s face it, most clients aren’t going to have the traffic, nor the budget, for something that elaborate, so many times the testing isn’t even done.
That means it would be up to you to select the best variant that you want to go with, knowing full-well that you also get to file the rest of the variants for future reference. If at any point you want to test another approach, you can pull up a variant, study up on the notes, and inform your team.
But, of course, you miss out on a lot of insight. And that’s only assuming you have the budget to support the writing of those other variations to begin with.
You won’t have a specialist pouring over data with you if you opt for this approach. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t, because no testing has been done.
And sure, not everyone can afford that level of intense research and testing. Rates for conversion copywriters range based on project scope and involvement, so the less they do, the easier it is on your wallet.
That being said, it’s worth the investment if you have the funding, as it can shed light on many variables in marketing that you didn’t even consider from the start.
That’s why it’s highly recommended that you account for at least a small testing scope. Some testing is better than none. Even if the copywriter only makes it through 1-2 variants, it’s still going to provide more insight than you would have had otherwise.
Once In A Lifetime…
Consider this a special note about conversion copywriters, and the guide they provide. As previously mentioned, entrepreneurs looking for a relatively cheap solution can end the process in stage 1. The copywriter can provide a guide, and then pack up and leave.
And the company will have a valuable key that helps in all marketing endeavors, especially in terms of content.
However, it is absolutely dangerous to assume that this is a once-in-a-lifetime endeavor.
Many entrepreneurs hire conversion copywriters for a guide, and maybe some variants, and then part ways, assuming that they’re “set for life,” but that’s just not the case.
Sure, the guide helps you out in the short-term, and yes, it can effectively set you up for success well into the future, but…
It doesn’t cover any testing, so there’s still an element of guesswork involved.
It doesn’t account for any changes within your buyer personas, as a result of societal changes (economy, age changes, the effects of new tech, etc.) For instance, what if something comes along and dethrones Facebook Ads?
And, perhaps the most important point of all, the guide will just be a possible skeleton key.
Here’s what that means:
If the guide is a key that opens many marketing doors, what happens when the key isn’t the right fit? Unless you have other variants, unless you did some level of testing, you’re not going to have any other alternatives.
So, you wind up back where you started...
You’d still be wondering what went wrong. You’d still be second-guessing your marketing steps. You’d have to take the guide and create variants of it yourself, in order to conduct your own testing, all of which, is much too time-consuming and labor intensive for the average entrepreneur.
Not to mention, you’re likely not specialized in many areas required to write such a guide, so when you sit down with your UX designer, it will be less of a collaboration, and more of a request for help outside of their field of knowledge.
Approaching this from another angle, suppose the guide is the perfect solution. Despite limiting the scope and working with a limited budget, hiring a conversion copywriter ends up being the best marketing investment you ever made.
Congratulations, you avoided any mishaps, and you’re in the clear, right?
Whatever strategy you implement won’t work forever.
Think of it like social media. When you first encounter a platform that works, you make use of it. You schedule posts, and your team creates stellar content. Everything goes well for a while, and your traffic and engagement skyrocket.
But then as time goes on, more people join the platform, and competition gets a little tougher. Suddenly, you need to change hashtags, or elevate content quality, just to keep up with your competitors.
Fast-forward a few years, and you might find that the platform is beyond saturated. Instead, another platform has risen above the fold, and is now vastly surpassing any level of success you’ve ever had.
These are the things that a guide simply can’t prepare you for.
The guide cannot be evergreen, giving you an approach that never ages. It is not the marketing equivalent of the elusive fountain of youth. It will not keep you relevant forever and ever.
At some point, new platforms will emerge. At some point your outlets will become oversaturated and you’ll be forced out, along with many others. Soon enough, your product lines will grow far beyond what you thought was imaginable, requiring a completely new approach.
So, if there’s one lesson to take away here, it’s that hiring a conversion copywriter is something you can do for relatively cheap, or not. They can provide you a “best guess,” or several guesses.
But at the end of the day, whatever the success of the outcome may be, you’ll have to revisit this conversion copywriter when your strategy stops working, because it will crumble.
It’s only a matter of time.
Some Hacks They’re Known For
Mapping Audience Personas
Of course, although the guide is predominantly what conversion copywriters are known for, that’s not all they do. During stage 1, the research entails extensive review of all facets of your business. That includes mapping out your audience personas.
And this is done through an extensive look at your data. It’s much more in-depth than most people go with this step. Consider it to be a hyper detailed, truly fleshed-out examination of who exactly is buying from you.
Because you already know what buyer personas are, and what they entail, we’re not going into extravagant detail here. Just suffice it to say that it is heavily based on numbers, surveys, polls, interviews, and fact-checking.
Leveraging Persuasive Hacks
Once conversion copywriters know your audience inside and out, they focus on the best persuasive hacks for that type of audience.
Unlike growth hacking, which is when you take advantage of the proven marketing strategies to grow your business, online persuasion is more about who the audience is.
And this is when things get a little psychological.
There are seven factors that influence people:
Liking - If you find the person offering you a product or service pleasant, you’ll likely pay attention.
Authority - The Halo effect, better known as “you are the company you keep,” states that the more your brand is associated with positive leaders or influencers, or even memories, the more established you seem.
Scarcity - People don’t like missing out, and the more your product is advertised as limited edition, or small batch, the higher the urgency is to buy it before it’s gone.
Unity - Think of this as a cut above target audiences, where you not only appeal to people who share your interests, you also serve as a beacon that stands for something they hold dear. For instance, if you create looter shooter video games, you’re appealing toward players who love the genre. But if you stand for female equality, and design games with that mentality, you’re also going to be attracting people who stand for the same thing. And you can use that to market yourself, say on YouTube. Create content that gets shared under that umbrella.
Commitment & Consistency - Once a consumer converts in one way, say by signing up to a newsletter, they’re much more likely to purchase from you.
Reciprocity - Whenever someone gives us something, we feel compelled to give something in return.
Social Proof - As unique as we’d like to think we are, we tend to be bias towards things people already like. This, of course, varies from person to person, but is true even on some small level.
Crafting Instant-Clarity Headlines
No, this isn’t just the act of writing a pretty direct headline and calling it a day. This isn’t the catchy headline you write in 30 seconds, with the right keywords, and immediately forget all about.
Conversion copywriters are trained to be clear. They strive for clarity within the headline so that people know exactly what it’s about. That means being very careful with their word selection, and ensuring the first and last three words are easy to understand. Everything between those words tends to be glossed over.
The AIDA model is an essential marketing staple that stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.
It’s best illustrated by your average consumer:
They become aware of a product, say through an ad, and they become interested in its benefits, technicalities and quality. What are people saying about this product? How has it helped others?
Then that consumer begins to desire that product, because they find that the reviews are stellar, and they can imagine themselves with that product. They feel that one or more of their immediate issues will be resolved through this purchase.
So they take action and buy it.
Of course, this only works if you attract attention, trigger interest, create a strong desire, and formulate a call to action.
Unless you lay the groundwork for the buyer’s journey flow, it won’t work. That’s where conversion copywriters come in. They worry about every last shred of detail, making sure their copy meets the criteria and gets the job done.
Clearly, if you’re reading this, then you’ve already been thinking about hiring a conversion copywriter, whether it be for the short-term, or the full process.
But before you take the leap, it may be beneficial to ask yourself why.
Better understanding what it is they do, what they specialize in, and how they can help your business is certainly crucial…
...but it ultimately doesn’t matter unless you have a clear cut and dry answer as to why you want to hire them in the first place.
For many entrepreneurs, it’s a matter of frustration. They’ve been working on their marketing strategy for a long time, and they’ve gotten some level of traction and sales, but they’re nowhere near the profit margins they were hoping for.
For others, it’s a matter of efficiency. They’ve always had a team for their marketing, they’ve grown and met many substantial goals, and now they’re ready for an in-depth look at what they have and what they could be doing to better market the business.
In both scenarios, the company’s been established for a respectable amount of time, enough to fund the costly endeavor in the first place.
Which brings us to the point: although you eventually want to work with both regular copywriters and a conversion copywriter, it’s smart not to rush the process.
Not only is it expensive to hire a conversion copywriter, you also get so much more value out of going through all three stages with them, as supposed to just the first.
And since you’ll likely be repeating this process every several years, you want to be in a secure financial standing before diving into it.
Although cutting corners may provide some level of insight and aid, it’s certainly nothing to get excited about. At best, you’re left with one, albeit solid, educated guess for what will work with your marketing strategy.
And that’s just not enough to make much of a difference unless you’re the rare exception to the rule. If you want what’s best for your business, you’ll wait until the time is right, the funding is available, and you’re in a stable place to make the move.
Only then will it truly be worth your while.
Until then, consider working with a marketing consultant. Not only can they help set your business planning up to standard, they can help you get to a stable place where hiring a conversion copywriter is finally possible.
So, what aspect of a conversion copywriter’s job took you by surprise, and why?
Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing from you all!