In digital marketing, we tend to think of things in terms of flowcharts. Higher conversion rates just mean trying to increase the flow. After all, it's a funnel, isn't it?
But in truth, the flowchart machine is just the middleman between two parties. Copywriting is all about bridging that gap: tricking the machine so it spits out what your audience wants (e.g. bananas).
Decent copywriting will do this, but great copywriting will do this and make it seem completely natural.
Conversion happens when you're able to successfully communicate the value of your product or service to your future clients. And the key to that success is in creating that human connection.
Copy acts as the matchmaker between you and your potential clients, and your website's homepage functions as the speed dating venue. A great copywriter puts these two in front of each other. They nurture the magic and chemistry without making things seem manufactured.
Tips about SEO or PAS will get your homepage in front of eyeballs, but it won't elevate your copy to greatness. These top 6 copywriting tips for high-converting homepages are about the subtleties and nuances of human connection. We're diving into how to build them so that you can write high-converting homepages.
A visitor to your website is someone who has already arrived. In other words, they are not a cold audience. But they're also not really a warm audience either. This is a deceptively deep concept and understanding this is the first step toward elevating your copy. Sometimes, it may even seem a bit backwards to what you know about marketing and copywriting.
The PAS formula is Copywriting 101. Present a Problem, Agitate it, then offer a Solution. But with a homepage, time and space are both limited. You don't have time to repeat yourself.
So flip the script. Instead of PAS, give your audience the SPA treatment.
Your Solution acts as the hook for your homepage. Your visitors presumably already have the problem enough to visit your site in the first place. Leading with your solution lets your visitor know precisely what they can expect from your website. It does no good to anyone to have a visitor looking for bananagrams waste time on your site when what you sell is banana hammocks. And if you don't lead with your solution, you risk losing out on potential clients that actually were looking for your product or service.
Presenting the Problem on your homepage becomes about creating an in-group for your visitor to belong to. The internet is a very large and anonymous place. Your presentation of a problem immediately creates a sense of belonging (other people have this problem too).
Your target audience should be laser-focused in order to cast the most effective net. If you include too much of a variety of problems when presenting your Problem, you risk weakening that sense of belonging in your visitor. Check out my guide on audience research to fine-tune your audience targeting techniques.
Agitation also works a bit differently here. Because you've led with your Solution and have made your audience feel comfortable with the Problem, there's no need to rub salt in the wound.
Instead of agitating your Problem, you're agitating your Solution: you can think of this step instead as Alleviate. If your visitor has made it this far down the page, they're really looking to be convinced that your Solution is right for them. This is the ideal time to reiterate your Solution, share testimonials and data, and really drive home the effectiveness of your product or service.
Remember: your visitor is a lukewarm audience. They took the time to stop by, so treat them like an old acquaintance you haven't seen in a long time.
A banquet consists of a dizzying array and quantity of courses that would make anyone's head spin without a menu to keep track of everything.
Your homepage is no different.
Like a menu, the primary copy of your homepage prepares your visitor for the multiple courses to come. It whets their appetite and leaves them hungry to learn more.
While I'm advising you to start with dessert first using the SPA Treatment, don't neglect to include other offer aspects at the top of the homepage. Great copy is never all-or-nothing. It creates a balancing act between various strategies, focusing on subtle emphasis and weight.
At a glance, a visitor should feel comfortable with the way your homepage is laid out. The copy should be organic and easy on the eyes, and there should never be any confusion over what you're trying to sell.
Go beyond walking a mile in your audience's shoes: have a beer with them! High converting copy is writing that connects—human to human—so write like you're talking to an actual person.
A face-to-face mindset when writing will help establish this kind of camaraderie. Focusing your target audience, presenting a problem, and injecting humor into copy all serve to break down that barrier between company and consumer. The style in which you write your copy will also have a profound effect on this.
It's not always as simple as writing in a conversational, colloquial tone: event stern professionals share a drink from time to time. The key to creating a human connection is to meet your target audience on their terms. The SPA Treatment is the framework to establish trust, and within that, your copy's tone and style should always give your audience the benefit of the doubt.
Instead of writing to minimize loss, your copy should seek to maximize gain. High-converting copy is all about respecting your audience and trusting that they know what's best for themselves.
Another key technique for this mindset is to talk benefits, not features. Your product or service has many great things about it, but a visitor is looking for a solution. How can you help them? Your focus should be on providing solutions and letting your audience connect those solutions to the features, rather than the other way around.
Your visitors are here and they like what they see, but every line of copy represents an opportunity for them to close their browser window or go back to their Google search.
Don't let them.
Removing reasons to leave is less about minimizing losses and more about amping up the professionalism of your site. Instead of removing negative factors, you're amplifying positive ones. This boost mentality has the potential to elevate your copy to greatness.
Different visitors will have different interests and needs. Some prefer to start with testimonials and reviews while others may prefer stats and specs. Great copy accommodates for these different needs, and a surefire way to do that is by giving visitors the option to jump to different sections of the copy.
This can be as simple as hyperlinking to sections of copy or providing small infographics throughout the text. The important thing is to connect your reader with the information they want ASAP.
Great copy is highly specialized, and in order for it to function at its best, your audience must be in the right mindset. By giving your visitors better freedom of movement to read the copy they want to read, you improve retention. Your visitors skip the content they don't want to read of their own volition.
With proper inter-copy navigation, every visitor is able to get the experience they want out of your homepage.
Despite what various copywriting guides will tell you, sometimes you just need a long sentence or two. Variation is the spice of copywriting. When all your sentences look the same, they start to feel the same as well.
Great copywriting should seek to be dynamic.
Varying your sentence lengths and structures is just the tip of the iceberg, but it will go a long way to promoting trust in your copy. Nothing's worse than clicking into a site and being greeted with a wall of text of same-y sentences: it feels repetitive, it's boring, and nobody's going to read it.
Delayed pop-ups and chat support widgets have their place on every site, but keep in mind that they do break the flow of your copy. Does the pop-up or widget align with the goal of your copy?
This is not to discourage you from using pop-ups and widgets: I use a manual pop-up on my own homepage. They're an invaluable tool to connect visitors with your value-added content (in my case, The Definitive Banana Copywriting Bible).
The main idea here is to acknowledge the elements of a website that may be intrusive to your copy. Are they enhancing or hindering your connection to your audience?
Good copy can be concise, consequential, or concrete, but great copy is all three at once. With limited time and space, every word matters, so your words should be pulling double and triple duty.
In a nutshell, your words should be direct, impactful, and actionable. This is another copywriting balancing act, since you need to give yourself some wiggle room in order to practice the other copywriting techniques.
Get right to the point. If time is money, your audience is already paying you when they visit your website: make sure they're getting their money's worth.
Being concise can be difficult. We've all had to add fluff to school essays in order to meet word requirements. Plus, when you want to emphasize something, you naturally give it more space on the page.
Since great copywriting is a balancing act, the trick to writing concise copy is to set a concise baseline. If your baseline copy is short and sweet, your emphasized copy will need to stay relatively short in order to prevent an imbalance.
Consequential means being meaningful. The last thing you want your audience to do is to think, "So what?" This is why I provide a steady dose of bananas throughout my copy: nobody expects the banana.
But the bananas aren't just throwaway tokens. They're my own personal brand of marketing motifs that have come to have a lot of meaning. By inserting bananas into my copy, I create something more meaningful and memorable for my audience.
Likewise, you want your copy to be, in a word, profound. Every word has a definition, but not every word has meaning. Not until you create it within your copy, anyway.
Concrete copy focuses on the actionable and actual. This is the logos portion of your copy where you speak in logical, statistical, realistic terms. Talk is cheap, so wherever possible, prove that your copy is the real deal.
Putting the 3 Cs together can be tricky. For example, hyperboles and superlatives are concise, but they're not consequential. Everyone says they have the best product or service, but simply saying it lacks teeth. The phrase loses impact due to how overused it is.
Hyperboles and superlatives are also not concrete.
If you're the best, put up or shut up. Show your awards and testimonials. If you're fast, give a concrete timeline for your product or service and back that with a guarantee. Great copy has no room for empty promises and fillers, and your visitors don't have the time.
On top of this, you're also balancing the 3 Cs with your other techniques. Striking that balance between being concise but also conversational is difficult, but if you're able to pull it off, you'll have some truly fantastic copy on your hands.
Some copy provides enjoyment by being the perfect solution to an audience's problems. Some copy cracks jokes or plays around. When you know your audience, you have a better idea of what they find enjoyable.
Great copy is a pleasure to read no matter what its goals.
Actively seek to make your copy enjoyable to read, and one of the best ways to do this is to figure out ways to enjoy writing it. We don't have complete mastery over our own subconsciouses, but when you enjoy writing your copy, that enjoyment can transfer through your copy to your audience.
To help facilitate your enjoyment, it's crucial to have a workspace that makes you feel comfortable. For some, it's a busy coffee shop. For others, it's a quiet study with classical music playing in the background. Identify the key elements that create your ideal workspace and find a way to recreate them wherever you are.
You're allowed to crack jokes, but you're not a standup comedian. Enjoyable copy is fun but not necessarily funny. Humor and levity are important aspects of great copy, but you should never let a joke get between you and your conversion goals.
Copywriting humor works best when it's in line with what your goals are for that copy. And often, when it comes to jokes, less is more.
You know your target audience best (or, at least, you should!), which means you know the kind of jargon and language they use. While professionalism is important, your copy should sound like it's coming from someone in the industry.
Sticking to the language of the industry and incorporating some jargon can be a double-edged sword. Don't just shoehorn in the jargon because you can: part of the enjoyment of reading copy is when everything feels natural.
Many banks will have free coffee available to visitors. Your homepage is no different. Free value-added content, whether it's a PDF, eBook, or newsletter, is invaluable. It can promote trust, a sense of professionalism, and can improve conversion rates.
Don't let your visitor walk out the figurative door without taking something to remember you by.
People pay big money for professional solutions to complex problems. Conversely, they pay less for solutions to simple problems. Your value-added content represents an opportunity to solve a simple problem for your audience and build trust and loyalty.
By giving away valuable free content, you enhance the professionalism of your copy. This free solution acts as its own testimonial for the effectiveness of your business, placing real-life value behind the words of your copy.
At no point should your audience feel goaded into an action. The goal of your copy should be to provide opportunities. While it's a nice metric to see an increase in newsletter signups, that statistic can potentially be misleading. You want your audience to be excited about your copy, and that extends beyond the copy on your homepage.
By cultivating that opportunity mindset, you maintain an atmosphere of camaraderie and professionalism. While you are hustling to get increased conversion rates, your marketing brand should be working to reduce any pressure you're putting on your target audience: you want your audience to make their own decisions.
You may have a one-size-fits-all document, but smaller niche documents can have a greater impact on your reader. Often, visitors will have specific problems, so by providing specific documents, you save them the hassle of having to sift through the information.
Remember: value is reduced for every second the reader isn't getting what they want. Tailored content based on the sections of your homepage can provide exactly what they're looking for.
That's skimmers, not scammers.
While both exist on the internet, you should expect your visitors to have a short attention span. It's the internet, so your visitors are going to skim and scroll no matter how concise you make your copy.
Bolding and highlighting will draw attention to keywords you want your visitors to connect with. These formatting changes will naturally draw a visitor's eye to them since they stand out.
Save your bolding and highlighting for the most impactful copy on your homepage. A good exercise is to mimic what a skimmer would see when scrolling through your site. Copy all your bolded and highlighted text into a single document and read it. Does it represent your copy accurately? Does it feel impactful?
Paragraph breaks will draw the eye to the first word or two of the new paragraph: use this to your advantage. Along with bolded words, eyes will naturally jump to the beginning of things.
This is why single lines work well in digital text.
Along with breaking up your paragraphs to prevent that wall-of-text feel (a surefire trigger to cause skimming), you also want to lead your sentences with the important bits. If our eyes jump to the beginning of things, you want to ensure that within your copy, audience eyes are jumping to important parts of your copy.
This doesn't necessarily have to be important information: it can also be important in terms of tone and style and act as a hook to pull the visitor out of skimming mode.
The difference between bad copy and decent copy is knowing how to spell. The difference between decent copy and great copy is all the little things we take for granted. They're the things that tend to register on the subconscious level for the average reader.
A copywriter doesn't have that luxury.
Copywriting no doubt is a highly technical skill, but there's also an important artistic element to it. How you choose to balance your available techniques will determine the kind of copywriter you are and how effective your copy is.
Master these tips and your copy will approach greatness. And your homepage conversions won't be half bad either.
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High-converting direct-response copy for growing B2B companies and disruptive digital brands.