Want to sell with content?
That’s a great idea. Once you publish content, it can drive conversion up to 46% of readers.
Creating such awesome content takes some effort, though. But no worries: you don’t have to be a content writing veteran to create something that converts well. If you know how to cover all bases, your content will rank high and attract lots of traffic.
In this article, we’re gonna walk you through 10 essential steps to optimize written content for conversions:
- Do empathy research
- Research keywords
- Create a keyword-informed outline
- Write how people speak
- Use words your audience understands
- Add original visuals
- Put Calls to Action (CTAs) in the right places
- Back up your claims with research
- Edit until perfect
- Monitor content performance
Let’s get started.
Step 1. Do Empathy Research
Empathy research is a term some writers use to describe the process of researching the reader’s needs, problems, and goals. Doing empathy research helps the writer understand what the reader might want to see in their copy, so it’s a good idea for marketing texts.
Let’s suppose you need to write an article about lead generation. This article will be published on a blog to attract organic leads from Google and convince them to try a lead generation product.
You can take these steps to conduct empathy research:
- Read about the experiences of others. Online forums like Quora and Reddit have numerous threads where business owners discuss their experiences with lead generation (see the image below). Reading about these experiences will help you understand the situation of the target reader and make you more confident about your ability to help.
- Study customer research. If you’re a part of a company, consider using customer research. Surveys, interviews, questionnaires, and so on—find relevant documents and learn about customer experiences.
- Learn studies by others. There is a treasure trove of case studies, reports, and research on lead generation online. Visit your competitors’ sites or reputable marketing research organizations and find customer research they share on their websites.
Empathy research sounds like a time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be. If the copy you’re writing is a blog article, then consider investing no more than a couple of hours. But if you’re writing a copy for an email marketing campaign to increase sales, then this time might be a bit longer.
Once you’re done with empathy research, you’ll be much more knowledgeable about your target reader’s goal. So you’ll be able to write faster and provide relevant advice.
But there’s one more step before we actually can start writing the copy.
Step 2. Research Keywords
SEO keyword research is a process of finding and choosing keywords to drive organic traffic from search engines. It’s the essential technique for selling online because it ensures that a website will be discoverable by potential customers.
You can do keyword research in a few ways.
The best way is to use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush. They can provide you with a list of relevant keywords to use in your copy to attract more potential customers. Learning how to use keyword research tools takes little time, but it’s worth it.
The process is pretty straightforward.
- Choose the main keyword
- Extract all the secondary keywords
- Put all of them in one doc
Those selected keywords will be helpful during writing. Here are the keywords Ahrefs recommended for the “lead generation” keyword phrase.
Another way to research keywords is using Google Search. Google Search is free and an excellent alternative to paid keyword research tools.
You can use Google Search in several ways.
The first and the most straightforward one is to type a keyword in Google’s search bar. It will give you keyword suggestions.
Another way includes using Google Search Console.
“Your website ranks for a certain number of keywords, so you can find them in the Console,” says Megan Amendola, an expert copywriter. “A great thing about this tool is that it gives many keywords with search volumes, which is extremely useful.”
In any way, collect all the keywords you find in one doc. Categorize them into groups according to their search volume and intent.
Step 3. Create a Keyword-Informed Outline
The keywords you collected will help you to create an outline. It’s a structure of the future article used to provide a logical flow and organization. This technique is used by copywriting services, marketing agencies, and bloggers to rank high on Google—so we’re doing it, too.
Let’s suppose your keyword file contains these items:
- Lead generation
- LinkedIn lead generation
- What is lead generation
- Lead generation software
- Facebook lead generation
- Online lead generation
- Lead generation strategies
You can use these keywords as headings and structure the article. Here are the types of headings you should know about—H1, H2, H3, H4, and H5—with H1 being the article’s title and H5 being the title of the smallest section.
Here’s how that structure might look like:
H1 (Title): Lead Generation Guide
H2. What is online lead generation?
H2. 10 Lead Generation Strategies
H3. LinkedIn lead generation
H3. Facebook lead generation
H2. Lead Generation Software
You can mix and change the structure in any way you like. The only important thing is to keep it focused on single search intent: “Learn about lead generation.”
Use this outlining technique to keep your writing organized and help readers navigate your content easier. You can apply it to many content types: articles, reports, landing pages—basically any long-form content for conversions.
Step 4. Write How People Speak
Use natural, conversational language in your content. It’s an excellent way to make content easy to read and understand, which is essential for conversions.
To simplify writing:
- Write in a conversational language—the way you’d speak to a friend
- Refer to the reader with “you” and “yours”
- Divide long sentences into two or even more
- Keep the verb close to the subject
- Mention only one idea per sentence
To check your text for simplicity, read it out loud to someone. If the person you’re reading to stops you and asks questions, consider simplifying your text in those parts.
Step 5. Use Words Your Audience Understands
This tip is about avoiding or minimizing professional vocabulary and jargon that many people might not understand. Unless you’re writing for an audience that understands precise professional words, consider replacing them with more straightforward alternatives.
Here are some marketing jargon words:
- Backlink: a link to your website that’s on an external site (i.e., that external website links back to your website)
- Customer journey: a process a customer goes from finding a product to buying it
- CRM: CRM stands for customer relationship management. Businesses use CRM systems to store and organize customer data for marketing and sales purposes.
- Lead nurturing: a process of providing leads with useful information that highlights the brand’s expertise and educates them about a topic they find interesting
Should you use some complex or profession-specific words, explain their meaning right away. It’s a good technique, in case there’s no way to avoid their use, but make sure to research your target reader’s knowledge before writing the copy.
Step 6. Add Visuals
A picture is worth a thousand words — that is so true in writing for marketing. Visuals can support writing in many ways and help readers understand complex ideas. Here’s why: 65% of humans are visual learners.
That’s why using visuals in marketing copy is a must. Treat them as a productivity tool that you can use to speed up your writing by avoiding making unnecessary complex descriptions.
But you can take visuals in your writing one step further: you can create them yourself. It’s a technique that professional writers use to beat the competition and deliver something more unique and helpful.
No worries about your skills as a graphic designer. Visuals can be pretty straightforward to make thanks to modern tools like Canva. These tools provide images, icons, and other elements needed to create visuals just by dragging and dropping them on a background.
Another way to create unique visuals is by taking screenshots. The article you’re reading right has used several of them already, and they were great to illustrate points made in the text.
Step 7. Put Calls to Actions (CTAs) in the Right Places
CTAs can be buttons or text that encourages readers to convert. Using these well-placed buttons or text is how you can sell with content. For example, Mailchimp uses what’s called smart bar CTAs on all of its campaign landing pages.
CTA placement is the most important thing. If a CTA feels out of place, the reader might perceive content as pushy and salesy, kinda like an annoying salesperson.
Example: Here’s a CTA that you’ll see at the end of Popup Maker’s features page. The page lists all the features first, and when the visitors finish reading them, the following CTA greets them.
Another important consideration is CTA’s text.
As mentioned, CTAs can be buttons or textual. Make sure that yours aren’t pushy and resemble a reader’s intent.
Example: This article about techniques to get Shopify sales has a CTA added to a section about email marketing. That’s why the text mentions emails and Shopify sales. The text “Try for free” reassures the reader that there’s no charge associated with trying out Shopify’s sales recovery emails.
Your texts can have multiple CTAs to give more opportunities to convert readers.
The number of CTAs and their placement really depends on the type of text. For example, a blog article might have one or two CTAs, while a landing page can have more than two.
Step 8. Back Up Your Claims with Research
Cite the sources of your claims, statistics, suggestions, and tips. For example, if you’d like to say that businesses have been successful with lead generation through popups, find a statistic that supports this claim. For example, this article about email marketing strategies cites a study to support the tip about sending fewer emails. There’s a study and even a visual to prove the point, which is very professional and makes the tip trustworthy.
Stats and tips make content more trustworthy and helpful, so back them up with real sources of information. References will increase the credibility of your content and its ability to convert customers.
Step 9. Edit Until Perfect
At this point, your first draft is pretty much done. Nice job! There’s only one last step to take—and it’s a really important one: editing.
You have two options: submit the copy to an editor or make edits yourself.
If you have an opportunity to work with an editor, send them your copy and ask to provide feedback. An editor will take care of the readability, tone, flow of text, and other crucial aspects. Having another person read and improve text is a huge advantage, so definitely use it.
Have no editor to provide feedback? No problem.
You still can improve your own text. Once you’re done writing and proofreading, close up your laptop and do something else. Go to a park, meet with friends, play with a dog, do anything to ensure there’s some distance between you and the draft.
After you cleared your head, get back to the draft and start editing. The time you two spent apart was needed to help you rest, so you can make improvements. Read the copy once again and see what can be trimmed or expanded.
Many writers are excellent editors of their own work, and they use this self-editing technique. But regardless of the way you choose for editing, be sure to lay your eyes on it one more time before approving the copy.
Step 10. Monitor Content Performance
Once the piece has been published, you can start tracking views and conversions.
If the copy you wrote was for a landing page, use a keyword research tool to find which keywords it ranks for. Also, monitor conversions (e.g., email sign-ups, purchases, and popup clicks) based on tracking and reporting features.
If you wrote a marketing article, use a keyword research tool to see which keywords it gets from Google. If you have no access to a tool, no problem. Make use of Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track traffic and conversions.
Here’s the view of the Google Search Console dashboard. It shows the total number of clicks, impressions, and the average click-through rate of a site.
If your marketing copy is not performing well, consider making revisions.
Changing meta titles and descriptions to add more relevant keywords is the easiest revision idea for marketing blog articles. In this case, you might have to improve keyword research or get some ideas for similar well-performing content pieces.
Writing Marketing Copy for Conversions: Summary
A lot of work goes into the creation of content for conversions. The best content is simple, easy to understand, provides proof, has CTAs, and considers the target reader’s needs. The strategy we covered will give you the best chance to generate conversions in any industry.
The featured photo is from Luca Onniboni on Unsplash.