How to write copy that has personality and converts

How important are the words on your website?

Does anyone even read the copy on your website or is it more important to have pretty images? If copy does matter, how do you know what you’ve written is “good enough”? Especially if you’ve never been much of a writer?
So many questions – lucky for you, we’ve got just as many answers.

If you’ve heard of Nami from The Prom Queen, you know that this powerhouse packs a punch and seriously knows her stuff when it comes to writing witty copy with a ton of personality (that also happens to bring in the $$$). 
We managed to get all her secrets and packaged them into actionable advice for you in this very blog post. You’re welcome.

In your experience, what is the biggest reason why websites don’t convert?

I think there are two main reasons that explain why websites don’t convert. Offering a product to customers is very, very different to making customers fall in love with that product.

1. We talk about ourselves more than we talk about the customer

A lot of websites don’t convert because the owner will spend time writing copy focusing on what they sell, rather than the problem that the product or service solves. We tend to talk about ourselves more than we talk about the customer on our copy.

A simple tip is to look for where you use the word ‘I’ or ‘we’ in your copy as you refer to yourself as the business, flip that around to talk about ‘you’ as the customer. Little changes like that can make a big difference.

2. Too much hard-selling, rather than the heartfelt helping

Another reason why websites don’t convert is that we focus on the product rather than the client, doing the hard-sell, rather than the heartfelt helping.

I always try to come from an angle of serving my clients, (or the customers that my clients who I write for are serving), and not to sell to the clients. Instead of focusing on the features, I focus on the customer benefits. Instead of focusing on the cost, I talk about things like the cost of an action, for example, what if a client doesn’t buy what we sell, and how this could make the problem worse. 

How can I stand out in the noisy online world through copy?

Use humour and be vulnerable

Something that I love doing in my copy is to just be human! I think when used in the right way, in the right place, at the right time, humour can actually make you look quite intelligent – maybe that’s why I fool so many people!

Being human also means being vulnerable. When we open up and we’re vulnerable, we foster empathy. Empathy is how we connect with other people, and that’s what can help people like you and trust you, and want to buy from you.

The trick here is to use things like humour and vulnerability wisely. Make sure it’s relevant to your brand and doesn’t distract from your message or brand values. Don’t talk about the diabolical falling out you might’ve had with your family members, if that’s not going to help you sell your carpet cleaning services!

Ditch the formal writing hat and write with emotions instead

When we’re writing, I think we tend to put a really formal writing hat on. Very factual and a little bit robotic. 

Use emotion. We’re humans! We’re chock full of emotions. And we can get our heads around emotion far better and more quickly than things, you know… tangible stuff. Details, and sensory details can add an amazing amount of depth to our writing. 

For example, instead of talking about price or processes, talk about the frustrations your customers might feel, how they feel using your products, and the results afterwards.

Be specific in your messaging

A lot of websites use words like ‘solution and ‘innovation’ in their website copy that could be applied to any other website in any other industry. Skip out on the vague copy and get specific. Don’t be nervous about cutting people out of the conversation!

And then you’ll really connect with the right target market. It’s important to name the customers you are perfect to work with, and make it clear to others that you’re not quite the right fit. 

Aiming wide is the best way to either attract nightmare clients, or not enough clients at all, because the right people aren’t convinced that you’re speaking specifically to them. If you try to have a message that appears to everyone, it means nothing to anyone at all. 

Name the problem. Name the solution.

How important is it to have a clear and consistent message?

Super important! When your message is vague, you’re mis-hitting that target market. And when you’re inconsistent with your message, it doesn’t help foster the trust you’re trying to build with your customer. Consistency and clarity are key. If there’s any vagueness at all, it will stop people from hitting that ‘buy now’ button. You need to remove all obstacles around the value of what you’re selling.

How can I add personality into my copy?

Adding your own personality and adding the right kind of personality for your customers is a delicate balance. Your brand’s personality could be very different to your personal personality. It comes back to knowing who your clients are and making sure that your brand personality is going to connect well with your customers. That’s more important than injecting your own personality into your brand. 

Understand your customers

In any social situation, we’re naturally drawn to people who are like us, so if your customers feel like they’re similar or same as your brand, they’ll gravitate towards it. So first and foremost, getting to know your customers is key. 

Get a sense of what their vibe is like. Find out what their personal taste or dislikes are, who they follow on social media, how your customers speak. Interview them, spend time with them, hang out in cafes, start conversations and do a bit of people watching.

Add those elements you discovered into your copy

Is your customer edgy or sophisticated? Adventurous? Calm and relaxed? 

Inject your brand personality into your copy in little ways. Rather than have the stock standard ‘book’, ‘buy’, or ‘enquire’ call-to-action buttons, you could use fun and playful ones like ‘hell yeah’. You don’t have to saturate your copy with personality either. Sometimes less is more. Hold your reader’s attention while giving them a clear impression of what you’re all about.

Do you have any tips on how to get past writer’s block? That overwhelm is real!

If it’s any consolation, I get writer’s block too! And there are days where I do look at the blank page and go, where do I start?! There are a few helpful notes that help me.

Research your customers

First of all, researching and understanding my customers’ pain-points are important. Once I know what those things are, I’ll know how I can help them. I talk about pain-points and goals more than I talk about services, or the product itself. In fact, on my homepage, I think copywriting is only mentioned once or twice. I talk about the frustrations that my customers are having, first and foremost. Start there – understand your client and what their pain-points are. 

Look at other websites for inspiration

One thing that can be really helpful is to look for copy you find inspiring that reflects your brand personality, outside of your industry. I highly recommend that you don’t look at any websites inside of your industry. You won’t stand out if you’re mirroring what’s already out there, and you can’t assume that everyone else in your industry is getting it right either.

PS. And I use the word inspiration with a little asterisk! It is never okay to lift someone else’s words from their website or other marketing material.

Just start writing

Just get it all down! Get all of the stuff out of your head. Even if your sentences aren’t complete, even if there’s waffle, even if there’s little notes to yourself to remind you to come back and add things later. 

Copywriting takes some time, and it requires more than just sitting at a keyboard – it requires thinking time. You need time to mull over your copy and come back to refine it. With each draft, you’ll start to inject a little more personality. And then cut down to as few words as possible to deliver the strongest message. 

It still comes back to just throwing it out on the page, and refine, and refine, and refine.

That is often how I write. I get a really bad first draft down. It becomes a not-so-bad second draft, and then a third, and so on.

How can I improve my writing if I’m not a natural writer?

I’m going to throw him under the bus here, but my husband’s not a natural writer. When he writes, he sounds like he’s living in 1857, wearing a really nice suit. And I think it comes back to that he writes like a writer. He doesn’t write like how he would speak to any of his clients face-to-face. His copy misses out on his awesome personality. 

Try to write as if you were chatting with customers face-to-face or over the phone. Record yourself on your voice recording app on your phone and get that copy transcribed. That can be a good way to start. 

Even if it helps to write down a list of questions that customers have asked you in the past, so things like: Why should they buy from you? Am I the right customer for you? What problems can you help me with? And so on. 

Another way to improve your writing is to get a friend to ring you up and pretend to be a potential customer that you have to win over. And yes, you’ll feel awkward, but at the end of the day, you’re running a business! Give it a good crack! I think it’s worth that couple of minutes of feeling awkward for an amazing business in the long term.

Write how you speak, not how you write.

How important is it to create trust and loyalty through copy?

Oh, enormously! Huge! When your website is your number one salesperson, creating trust and loyalty through that is absolutely paramount. Some ways you can do that is to be consistent with your message, be human, and show your flaws. Talk about your mistakes. You don’t have to be super polished and uber-professional all the time. Stop selling to people and just keep showing up in ways that you can help them instead. 

Over-deliver to your customers

This could mean things like free opt-ins, resources, helpful blog posts or sending emails to share tips and advice. Ask your would-be customers questions about what they’re struggling with and offer to tackle those problems through a blog or on social media.

Create trust through social proof

Bring your customers into the messaging! People believe complete strangers and what they think about your products more than what you have to say about them. 

Share the results that your product has had for other people through reviews, testimonials, case studies, or even interview a really happy customer. It could be a blog article about a day in the life of someone who’s using your product or swears by it.

Here are Nami’s 5 tips to writing website copy that has personality and converts:

Serving not selling

Solve your customer’s problems instead of selling your product. Focus on the benefits of the product features before you talk about the features themselves. Understand your customers’ frustrations and problems, and look for ways your product can help.

Cost of an action

Instead of focusing on the cost of your service and what you think someone will pay for it, consider the cost of an action. What if a client doesn’t buy what you sell? How could that make their problem worse? From discerning the cost of an action you can determine the true worth of your product.

Provide social proof

Build trust and loyalty with your customers through testimonials, reviews, interviews, etc. Social proof is an amazing way to add credibility to your products and bring users of your product into your messaging to back up your claims.

Amazing headline

Come in swinging with an amazing headline. One way to approach that would be to finish this sentence, which is: I should buy from your business because you’ll help me to [            ].

Ask for the sale

The last thing to help you write website copy that converts is to simply ask for the sale. Plain and simple as that. Make sure you add a call-to-action at the end or the partway sections of each piece of copy that prompt people to take the next step, to either buy, enquire or book.

Nami Clarke, aka The Prom Queen, helps women in small business shake online imposter syndrome and go from beige to badass with a magic toolkit of creative copywriting and content strategy skills. Nami’s natural state is writing Home, Sales and About pages, singing Cold Chisel songs and eating hot chips. Simultaneously.

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