Words matter: Writing copy that converts

Kay del Rosario

A Conversation with Love Letter Emails’ Kay del Rosario about Experimentation

If you’ve worked in marketing for any meaningful length of time, you know that writing quality copy is often overlooked. When I say writing quality copy, I don’t mean running a spell-check. What I mean is: doing your homework to understand the customer journey, sympathize with their pains, and then balancing the needs of getting customers to do what you want them to do and delighting them. I recently chatted with Kay about how she does all this to write amazing copy that converts.


Rommil: Hi Kay, how are you? I hope you’ve been well.

Kay: Hi Rommil. I’m good, thanks! How’ve you been doing?

So, let’s start with a bit about you. How about you introduce yourself to our audience.

I own and run Love Letter Emails, which is a conversion copywriting service and marketing consultancy. I specialize in writing emails for SaaS and eCommerce businesses that want to connect more personally with their users or customers.

Very cool. I love how you’re focused on conversion. How did you decide to focus on copywriting for conversion as a career?

My own experience as a consumer brought me to a career in conversion-focused copywriting. I shop online a lot and I started to notice that my own shopping habits were being shaped by some emails I got. I knew nothing of online marketing before I started my business, but I was intrigued. I did some digging and found this whole world of copywriting and specifically, conversion-focused copywriting. I did more digging and found out how conversion copywriting fits into conversion optimization, and I was hooked.

How has business been thus far? Has the epidemic helped or hurt?

I’ve been on hiatus since before the lockdown earlier this year. But it goes without saying that the past year has been difficult for a lot of people everywhere, regardless of industry.


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In my humble opinion, many companies ignore the importance of good copy for conversion optimization — why do you think that is?

I can’t speak definitively as to why some companies may not prioritize copy for conversion optimization, but I suspect a possible reason may be low bandwidth. Many companies operate with lean teams and the one person in charge of marketing just may not have good copy as a priority. Whatever the reason may be though, it’s unfortunate if copy isn’t prioritized, because the strength of the copy affects everything that’s customer-facing.

Agreed. It’s so funny how marketing would ever de-prioritize copy considering its an industry centred around influencing people. Words matter.

That said, could you share with us your approach in terms of copywriting for conversion?

All conversion copy begins and ends with the reader: that is your user or customer. If you want your copy to convert, you have to make sure you’re meeting your user or customer at the point they’re at in the buyer’s journey.

If I’m writing a product page for an eCommerce store, for example, I’ll structure the copy to give the reader everything they need to know to make the purchase. This includes providing all the copy necessary to remove any friction from making the purchase. That person may have had several touch points with the brand before they clicked through to the product page, and now they’re showing behaviour that they’re ready to buy. When you’re writing something like a product page, you can assume that a reader who lands on a product page is probably looking to buy something.

As a conversion copywriter who specializes in email campaigns, the focus of my work is customer retention and minimizing churn. A couple of important tools I use to help clients keep customers and users include understanding the customer’s journey and personalization.

Being able to map out the customer’s journey is important because if you want to increase conversions you have to give your customers or users the very best experience possible with your brand at every touch point. It’s unlikely that a business’s subscriber list is made up of customers with homogenous wants and needs. Personalization helps me write copy that’s tailored to an individual’s customer journey. In practice that means I do things like chat to customers and get to know them, and ask for feedback within emails and on landing pages. All of which leads to segmenting a client’s subscriber list to counter email blasting.

Segmenting a subscriber list is one of the most powerful things a marketer can do to optimize for conversions. If you’re just starting to segment a list, the easiest and quickest way to segment a list is to tag based on subscriber behaviour. You can easily tag a person when they do things like make a purchase or abandon a cart. Data like that can tell me a lot about a subscriber, which helps me write copy that’ll convert better.

Very nice. I love how you think about the entire journey. Context is so critical.

“Ideally, you want the content of a piece of copy, such as an individual email, to drill down to the one thing you want the reader to do.”

So, many would say that the core of conversion optimization is around Experimentation — how do you approach coming up with different versions of copy to test?

Ideally, you want the content of a piece of copy, such as an individual email, to drill down to the one thing you want the reader to do — the call to action or the conversion action. The success of that depends on how strong your message is in the copy. If the data shows that there is more than one possible message that could lead to more conversions, I’ll create versions for each message to test. I only use one message per version because I don’t ever want to dilute the message in a piece of copy.

I come up with different versions of copy by looking at the data and keeping an eye out for things like recurring words, phrases, or themes. Sometimes there are phrases or themes that keep popping up across customer or user interviews and other sources of data. I keep track of these bits of data and organize them by, for example, customer segment and order of recurrence. I’ll know it may be worthwhile to create different versions of copy when I see multiple phrases or themes that are different in idea recurring often in the data.

I like your approach. You touch on something that is so overlooked. Using the language of your customer. So many Brand teams get so obsessed about phrasing things in certain ways — but often times those ways don’t resonate with users. Not speaking your customers’ language just produces so much bad copy.

Speaking of bad copy. There is a ton of copy out there — what kinds of things make you cringe?

One thing that makes me cringe is misusing scarcity to create urgency. Scarcity is a very effective tool for increasing conversions, but you can’t abuse it. If you’re going to make an offer that’s time-sensitive, for example, stick to that deadline. People will notice when a “time-limited offer” is suddenly available again.

Another thing that makes me cringe is any copy that talks down to the reader. In my experience, most people have pretty good bullsh*t detectors and most people can think for themselves. Good copywriters keep that in mind. There’s nothing more alienating than being talked down to.

Do you have any advice for those looking to get into copywriting — particularly for conversion optimization?

Be curious and ready for a career of continuous learning. This industry gets more and more sophisticated as technology gets better at gathering data. Our job as conversion copywriters is to be able to interpret that data and use it to create copy that converts. Strive to learn everything you can about the marketing channel and platform you’re writing for. You’ll write copy that converts better if you understand the environment your copy is going to be published in.

Also, get to know other CRO specialists and the work they do, whether they’re copywriters or not. The CRO world is filled with so many smart people who are generous with sharing their knowledge. Keep up with all the advancements and trends in the industry. The more you know about CRO in general, the better you’ll get at writing copy that converts.

It’s time for the Lighting Round!

Oxford comma. For or against?

For! The Oxford comma leaves no room for confusion.

Fact or myth: Shorter copy is better than longer copy?

Myth! Shorter copy is only better when all the reader needs to convert is short copy. Likewise, longer copy is better than shorter copy when what the reader needs to convert is more copy.

Yass! 100%.

Describe Kay in 5 words or less. No pressure.

Curious, autodidact, optimist.

Damn it. I had to Google that.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/autodidact

Thank you for joining the conversation!

You’re welcome, Rommil! It’s been a pleasure. Thank you!



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