A blank page. It sits there screaming out for words, massive amounts of words that struggle to find their way.
There it sits. Blank.
If that blank page is destined to be a web page or a landing page, it’s not just a blank page. It’s a business problem.
How do you break through the block?
Some experts will tell you to just sit down and write for ten to thirty minutes. That might help. Others will tell you to “think outside the box,” whatever that means. And some may even tell you to do so much research that it would make a PhD candidate’s head spin.
There’s an easier way.
But before I get to that, let’s take a second to review the purpose of your website and landing pages. For most, the purpose is to generate awareness, leads, and sales. That’s it.
Why do so many marketers and business owners put pressure on themselves to come up with the “perfect” words to sell? It’s a ridiculous proposition on its face. Sure, you may know a ton about your customers, but you are not your customer. And your customer has crucial, firsthand knowledge about how and why they make decisions to buy.
I propose an alternative: just ask your customers to write your copy for you.
No, I don’t mean that you should blast out an email to enlist the services of your customers. What I mean is that there are many ways to get information from your customers directly, and some of those ways may be available to you right now.
Enter customer reviews.
Finding SaaS Messages That Work
Mining for reviews is a little-known technique used by Jay Abraham, a best-selling author and business consultant. The reason it works so well is that your present customers talk like your future customers. That’s important because effective selling happens when you can totally empathize with your prospects.
Someone arrives on your website looking for help. The first thing they want to know is if they’re in the right place. Check. As they scroll through your site and dig into what you have to say, they’re looking to see if you understand them. Because if you fully understand them, then you can help them. And if you talk in the same way as they think about the help they need – we call this joining the conversation in their head – then you obviously understand them. By demonstrating your understanding, you go several steps beyond just saying “I can help you.” That’s how sales are made. That’s why copy is so crucial.
The key is to find out how customers think and talk about the problems they’re trying to solve and the solutions that they need. There are several ways to do this. One of the things we recommend is to interview your customers to get an in-depth understanding of their thought-process and language.
An easier and sometimes more useful source of information is customer reviews. They are often uninhibited, with no one to please, and your customer was motivated to write the review simply because they wanted to share their personal experience. In this way, self-motivated customer reviews may reduce acquiescence bias compared to interviews where the need to please can be very high, especially for interviewees with high agreeableness.
Crowdsourcing Customer Wisdom
Let’s look at the importance of language. Sometimes what you say is just as important as how you say it. Here’s an example.
DonorPerfect is a CRM for nonprofits. One of the biggest complaints that people have about CRMs is that they have tons of features, which makes them notoriously painful to use. So it makes sense to say something like “it’s easy to use.” Check out what Cyndi Feichtel said about DonorPerfect on Capterra:
What she says is that she had no previous experience and still found DonorPerfect easy to use. How she said it is “I had to jump right into working with a program I had no experience with, I was at first troubled about that. As I got my hands dirty and started working around DonorPerfect I found it to be one of the most user friendly softwares that I have ever worked with.” We might take a message like this and say something like:
Useful From Day One, Even If You Have No CRM Experience
Which brings me to the next big point. It’s not just about the language your customers use. They’ll also reveal important concepts and information that will make your communications more effective. We typically break these concepts into a few categories:
- Customer challenges and pains
- Motivational drivers or triggers
- Important features
- Things they hate
- Key objections
- You versus competitors
I’ll come back to these categories soon. Each of these categories provides important information about how to talk about your SaaS product, and therefore how to write your copy.
Where to Find Reviews
Whether you have a B2B or B2C product, you probably have a ton of reviews available to you. Of course, consumer products typically have many more reviews because they have more customers, but it’s often the case that you have plenty of reviews to draw from.
If you collect your own reviews, you have a head start. But there are also publicly-available reviews that you can use, too.
We like to visit five sites for SaaS reviews:
- Software Advice
- Trust Radius
Gathering reviews is easy. We love using a scraping tool like import.io to grab the reviews and transfer them onto a spreadsheet. This process will save you a few hours.
Identifying the Right Words and Messages
It’s one thing to gather up all of your reviews and read over them. It’s another thing entirely to find highly useful information that’ll translate into more conversions. That’s what this is all about, right?
Like all forms of marketing, it’s an art and a science. And there are some strategic decisions you’ll have to make. For instance, do you want to focus on highly differentiated features, or is it better to focus on brand personality? I can’t tell you which strategy to choose in this blog post because each case and decision is individual. What I can tell you, though, is that there are certain categories of information that you can use to guide your decisions. Don’t worry, you don’t have to invent it from scratch. Just grab our free worksheet before you get started.
Download the Worksheet: Categorizing Review Words and Messages for Conversions
The categories I listed above are where you should start. As you go through the reviews, just copy and paste text into the appropriate category. By the time you’re finished, you’ll be armed with the right information, specific words and phrases, and key messages that’ll help you improve conversions.
You should also grab verbatim quotes that are especially interesting or memorable. These can be the stuff of home page and landing page headlines.
There are four things you should look for in your customer reviews. This is our proprietary STOR analysis (get the worksheet here). STOR stands for Sticky Messages, Triggers, Objections, and Repetition.
In Made to Stick, the Heath Brothers give a blow-by-blow rundown of why some messages last and others don’t. They found that sticky messages follow the SUCCESs model, which they define as simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and are stories. Sticky messages are exactly what they sound like: messages that are memorable enough to stick in your head. Find messages that at least roughly follow the SUCCESs model, and they’re a lot more likely to be long-term winners in selling your product and increasing conversions.
What motivates people to buy and use your product? What happened to them right before they started their search? That’s exactly what we mean by triggers. You’ll often see triggers in the form of specific pains or problems that your customer was facing before they bought your product.
There are lots of reasons why people don’t buy from you. These reasons are objections. The most common objections don’t have much to do with you: timing, price, and fit. But you should have a well-thought-out and logical response for every objection. As you go through your customer reviews, look for reasons why your customers thought your product may not be a fit but were ultimately won over. Stack up all of those objections and you’ll have some valuable material for your copy.
The more customer reviews you read, the more you’ll see patterns emerge. Depending on your product, you’ll see tried-and-true, highly important themes like “easy to use,” “best features,” and “great support.” But once you dig a little deeper you may be surprised at what you find. The more often a message is repeated, the more likely it is that you should include it.
Transforming It Into Copy
Now that you’ve grabbed your reviews, filled out your worksheet, and completed your STOR analysis, you have everything you need to begin writing your copy.
Which begs the million dollar question: how do you take all of this information and turn it into the perfect copy?
There are two ways you can go about this: edit your existing copy, or burn it all down and start from scratch. If you’ve done a fair bit of testing on your existing copy and have a general understanding of what works and what doesn’t work, then you should focus on edits and updates. If you haven’t done that or know for sure that your copy isn’t working, then start from scratch.
Whichever path you choose, the biggest favor you can do yourself is to list out the key messages you need to convey, in the specific order you need to convey them. It’s not enough to simply list 50 things that you want to say, because #49 on the list may be the most important message – it should be #1 instead of #49. And on any given page you’re writing, you’ll have room to convey a small fraction of those 50 messages. Priorities matter. So take the time to identify your most important messages and put them in order of importance.
Find a Hook
Once you’ve set your priorities, it’ll be pretty clear how to choose a hook. By “hook” I mean that you should choose something that’s going to be highly memorable while providing obvious differentiation for your product. Look at the Moqups home page: their hook is about how new and “evolved” their tool is compared to the fairly crowded and reputable field of competitors.
Your hook is also a central theme you can use throughout your copy. It should appear in your headline and be reinforced throughout the page and your other content. The theme we used for Forward Networks , a Good Funnel client, is the idea of a software copy that the Forward Networks team was already using. The hook we used is “Go ahead, break it” because this concept of breaking a big enterprise network is jarring. No one in their right mind would do that. With Forward Networks, network administrators can now test and break a software copy of their network without recourse. It’s a huge innovation, but fairly difficult to communicate. Here’s how we did it on the hero section of the home page:
Let Them Slide
One of the most valuable ideas you can learn about copywriting is the slippery slide by Joe Sugarman. The idea is fairly simple: grab attention like a lightning bolt, then naturally transition from concept to concept, slowly unveiling the key information that your prospects need to know. Each “slide” should reveal the answer in the prospects mind. Once you answer that question, they’ll have another, so you’ll slide into answering that question, too. For more on the sequence of questions your prospects have, I recommend you take a listen to our podcast episode with Sean D’Souza.
Transforming Reviews Into More Conversions
The first step you should take is to go look up your reviews and see what gold lies within. But you may be wondering: what kinds of things are reviews helpful in improving? Good question. We’ve used this same process for:
- Website copy, including landing pages
- Email copy
- Blog content
- Content calendars
- Case studies and whitepapers
The bottom line is that listening to your customers, in their own words, is always a valuable experience. You never know exactly what you’ll find out, but each time you’ll find value in it. Now go find some reviews and start improving your conversions.