Boost your conversion rates with this one simple technique

Ready to write your Web copy (Sure!).

Want to boost your conversion rates (heck yeah!).

This proven technique doesn’t cost any money, require you to download an app, or even require that you hire a consultant. It just requires two skills that can completely transform your writing.

The secret?

  • Ask smart questions
  • Shut up and listen to the answers.

Simple, yes. Sometimes, really hard to do. But when you ask good questions – and shut up and listen to the answers – amazing things happen.

You’ll start to “see” your target customer much more clearly. And that clarity will help you write some kick-ass copy.

Good online copywriting – the kind of writing that gets people to pull out their wallets – means telling a story. It means conversing with your target customer like they were your best friend. It means knowing as much as you can know about your audience so everything you write meshes with what they need to read.

That means creating a very targeted tone and feel, highly-specific benefit-oriented messaging and a writing layout that helps your reader take action.

The thing is, you can’t dial-in kick-ass, top-converting copy and expect it to perform. You have to ask a lot of questions and weave those answers into your writing.  In fact, I would run screaming from any writer who said, “Yeah, I can write that,” and proceeded to do so without a client interview. That kind of copy (and you see it everywhere) is flat, lifeless and dull.

Who wants that? Not you – not your client – and not your company.

If you’re working fast and furious, the client interview seems like an easy step to skip – especially if you work in-house (after all, you work for the company – why should you ask questions about the market?). The answers you receive, however, will help your writing sing. You’ll be able to position your client better in the marketplace, focus on the benefits that are really important and overcome objections more easily.

In short, asking questions will make your job easier. Plus, your new and improved copy will see a new and improved conversion rate bump. It’s an easy win/win that you shouldn’t ignore.

Here are some questions to ask:

What to ask your client:

  1. Who is your main online competition. Please provide their URLs. (It’s always smart to check out the competition.)
  2. What (services/products) do you offer that your competition doesn’t?
  3. What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?
  4. Why do your customers say that they buy from you? (Ask for testimonials.)
  5. What are common questions that your customer service department receives?
  6. Who is your target audience?
  7. Do you have multiple target audiences?
  8. What are specific characteristics of your target audience(s). For instance, are they male or female? How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do for a living?
  9. (For technically-based clients.) Do you have visitors coming to your site tasked to gather information who aren’t the main decision makers – but are crucial to the conversion process? For instance, an assistant may look for vendors for his boss to vet.
  10. What online and offline marketing initiatives have worked in the past? What has not worked?

(Note: As I mentioned, these questions still apply for in-house folks. Even if you think you “know” the answers, it’s worth having a meeting with all involved team members and discuss the responses. It’s very possible that some team members view the answers very differently. If people aren’t on the same marketing page, settle the issues before you start writing.)

If you’re planning your editorial calendar, why not do something totally radical and ask your customers what they’d like to read about. For instance:

  1. What topics are interesting to you?
  2. Do you prefer reading articles? Blog posts? White papers?  All of the above?
  3. What was your favorite (article/blog post) that you read this month? This year? Why did you love it?
  4. What’s one thing about the content that you absolutely love?
  5. What’s one content-related task that we could improve upon?
  6. Is there anything new that you’d like to see in the future?

The more questions you ask – the better your writing. Better writing = higher conversion rates. It doesn’t get easier than that.

What questions would you add to the list?

8 replies
  1. Jacqueline
    Jacqueline says:

    I sometimes ask clients what magazines their customers buy. I then go and buy those magazines to try and get a better feel for the language and imagery used.

    I do despair sometimes though, on more than one occasion I have asked clients the most basic of questions – “who are your target market” and “Umm, I don’t know” comes back the reply and I find that quite difficult to deal with.

    • Heather
      Heather says:

      @Jacqueline, I know what you mean. I’ve had that “Ummm” moment with clients a number of times! :) The good news is that you can sometimes turn it around and use it as an educational/upsell opportunity. Creating a customer persona and messaging document can be a great way for a client to get back on track and refocus their efforts. :)

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. J.R.
    J.R. says:

    Be prepared. There may be times when you have to walk your clients through the answers. I can’t count the number of times a client really couldn’t tell me their USP. :)

    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Hehe, very true. That’s why it’s sometimes easier to chat with them on the phone. It gives you the opportunity to ask a lot of questions and see if you can help tease out their USP…(or offer to consult with them on it!) :)

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Melanie Rembrandt
    Melanie Rembrandt says:

    Great reminder list of interview questions Heather! Thanks!

    For top-notch copy that sells, it is so important to get as much information as possible, and do the appropriate research, before clicking those keys or putting pen to paper!


  4. Rob Bunting
    Rob Bunting says:

    Great article Heather and good lists of questions. I like to ask my clients: “What is your average lifetime value of a customer?” And “What is one conversion worth?” If I have those amounts it is a lot easier to work with my client to set quantifiable goals for the SEO or advertising campaigns and then manage the effort to those goals.


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