Conversion Copywriting: What Is It (+ the Assembly Line Technique)?

Is nobody buying what you're selling? Let's fix that with conversion copywriting. Keep reading to turn more readers into customers.

Sean Brison by Sean Brison | Last Updated: September 3, 2021

Do your readers nod their heads in agreement, say, “hell yeah!” and take action when they read your copy, blog posts, or emails? If not, conversion copywriting may be the answer. But what is it, and how does it even work? Luckily, that’s what this post will show you.

What Is Conversion Copywriting?

Conversion copywriting is copy written to get you to take a specific action. It’s a data-driven, three-part process involving research, writing, and testing.

The single goal is to optimize your online conversions (aka conversion rate optimization CRO) using many disciplines, including user experience (UX) design, data analytics, and direct response.

Copyhackers founder, Joanna Wiebe, coined the term and defined it as “moving the reader to ‘yes’ using voice-of-customer data, frameworks, and proven persuasion techniques.”

Conversions come in all shapes and sizes — from the opt-in on your homepage to your email’s subject line to your call-to-action. One’s job may require attracting clicks while the other’s to get opened.

Everything’s dependent on its role in getting your reader to ‘yes.’

One way to tell whether your copy converts is to use the Assembly Line technique (more on that below).

A foundational principle of conversion copywriting is knowing how all of the small events lead to a sale. Nobody lands on your website and immediately buys from you without knowing who you are. A relationship must develop first.

These small actions leading to your audience reaching for their wallets are known as micro conversions.

When you take your readers on this journey, they’re not the same person they were from when they opted-in to your newsletter to signing up for a trial to paying customers.

They’ve changed. A conversion copywriter’s job is to sell them on that change and how your product or service is the answer they’ve been searching for.

Expert conversion copywriter Ry Schwartz phrased it best:

We hard sell the TRANSFORMATION so we can soft sell the thing that provides it. Your customer’s response will only be as strong as the questions that elicit it.

Every piece of content sells some form of knowledge or expertise to your reader while positioning you as the solution.

Further Reading:

What Does A Copywriter Do?

Copywriters help improve your online marketing with their writing. Their job is to make your content shareable, memorable, and desirable — with the ultimate goal of increased sales or conversions.

Whether it’s a social media post, a sales page, or a video script, great copywriting will boost your business’s bottom line.

They also spend a significant amount of time researching your customer. Knowing their pain points, desires, and dreams helps copywriters craft compelling copy that moves your reader to “yes.”

Use Their Own Language to Boost Engagement

Using your readers’ language is a powerful tool when it comes to writing text that sells. Unless you can tell them why they need you, you’re out of business.

You can find your audience’s language in several places, including:

Advanced Tip: Use this specific review mining search operator to find your reader’s pain points when using Amazon: site:amazon.com inurl:product-reviews “tired of” [keyword]

For example, here’s one using the keyword “headaches.”

using search operators to conduct review mining

Click on any one of those search results to discover how your audience talks about a product (or symptom).

If you’ve ever read a product review or a Reddit thread, you know people aren’t shy about sharing their feelings.

Recognizing what stage your audience is at along the journey will help when creating content. Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz talks about knowing their “stages of awareness.”

Here’s a breakdown of what that looks like:

Once you know where they’re at, you can speak to their problems by translating features into benefits. Show your audience how they can achieve their desired outcome using your product or service.

Today, there’s more to a copywriter’s job than writing ad copy, as you saw in the T.V. show, Mad Men.

Conversion Copywriting vs. Sales Copywriting vs. SEO Content Writing

While sales copy focuses on the end-result of making a purchase or “sale,” conversion copy focuses on a single action. And an SEO content writer’s job is to drive traffic.

Typically, the person visiting your blog versus the person reading your sales page is in two different stages of awareness.

The blog post reader is likely there for information while the sales page reader is close to buying.

SEO content marketing uses keyword research, internal links, title tag optimization, and other tactics to make your site visible to search engines.

User Tip: For details about measuring content marketing, read this Tweet thread from Tim Soulo.

So, if your singular focus is writing content that persuades people to buy (e.g., your online course page), sales copy is the way to go.

Conversion copywriting’s goal is moving that qualified traffic along the buyer’s journey.

Consider the source: you could create a social media post to drive traffic to a landing page and download an ebook or email opt-in. Each one of those actions is a single goal in your funnel.

Perhaps your welcome email introduces the reader to your service’s value proposition, tailored to a specific way you can help. If your messaging is correct, they sign up.

How Do You Write Copy That Converts? (5 Tips)

There are several ways you can increase the chances of your copy converting. Let’s take a look at five ways. 

1. Try Value-Based Messaging

Instead of pointing out your product’s features, call out the ways it’ll improve your customer’s life.

For example, people don’t want to hear about your car’s Collision Mitigation Braking System; they want to know their family’s safe behind the wheel.

Translate every feature into a benefit that serves your customer.

Tip: Start by asking this question with every product feature: What’s the desired outcome (or, why should they care?)

2. Use “Call-to-Value” Buttons

Piggy-backing off of value-based messaging is your CTA buttons. Harry Dry at Marketing Examples says to think “call-to-value,” not “call-to-action.” Instead of making them generic, highlight the benefit your users get for taking action.

For example, instead of saying “Get Started” on your call-to-action:

poor example of cta button

Say “Build My Site”:

revised headline with better cta value-based cta button for conversion copywriting

Tell them what they’re signing up for, buying, or subscribing to — get them excited. Your CTA should make a more substantial impact when it answers the question “WIIFM?.”

3. Write Like Your Customers Talk

Write using voice-of-customer (VOC). We mentioned this earlier when talking about review mining. When you’re speaking their language, they’re more likely to listen.

Places like Amazon, Reddit, and Quora are excellent starting points. Find wherever your audience hangs out and go there. Asking your customers for feedback is another.

It works well because:

Here’s an example of a case study questionnaire we sent to existing Lasso users:

lasso case study example of customer survey

We get:

Or this:

lasso case study question example

This person was:

Or this response:

lasso case study example

“Sometimes an Amazon display box, but I never felt they looked very modern.”

If I were creating a blog post for affiliate marketers who are Amazon Associates, I could use terms like these for my intro:

Trying to make long blog posts more interesting without filling them with stock images? Even worse, you’d like to add a product box, but Amazon’s don’t look very modern…

Getting this feedback from our customers is a goldmine of information when creating blog posts and webpage copy.

When you’re searching for your customer’s pain points, look for terms like:

Tip: Try using “command + F” (on a Mac) and enter one of the above terms next time you’re on a review site. Or, use the “site:” search operator and enter your term as a keyword. For example, site:randomdomain.com “struggle with” [keyword]

One of my side projects is a website dedicated to helping home bartenders make better cocktails. I’d like to eventually create an online course for it.

To help me know my audience, I read the user reviews of best-selling cocktail books – (both good and bad) to get an idea of what people are talking about.

Here’s one example:

amazon review example for copy ideas

“Yuppie booze porn for the coffee table” is memorable.

And this one talking about a specific pain point:

amazon customer review example of review mining to get conversion copywriting ideas

 

If I were writing copy for my sales page or drafting a blog post, I’d take note that people don’t want recipes with long lists of specialty ingredients. It seems this crowd is more interested in a “practical user’s manual.”

Research your customers. Ask your readers and then listen to their answers.

4. Get Specific with Your Target Audience

If you want to grab their attention, use specific numbers or timeframes.

For example, which headline is more catchy?:

example of headline before using specific numbers for conversion copywriting

Or this:

revised headline example using specific numbers and timeframe

 

The second headline is super-specific and speaks to a particular audience with the qualifier “simple”: Beginners looking for productivity hacks.

You can use these formulas on things besides headlines:

Don’t say your product’s for everyone – it’s not, which is why specificity matters. Address their needs and answer your reader’s question: “What’s in it for me (WIIFM?)”

Further Reading:

5. Leverage Social Proof

As humans, we need to belong — it’s a survival instinct. We feel more comfortable doing things others are doing. We also look to our peers for approval.

How many times have you looked to your peers before buying something? What about making a decision based on what others were doing?

Social proof plays a role in getting people to “yes.”

Here’s an example from Ramit Sethi’s homepage using social proof with his email opt-in:

conversion copywriting example of social proof on an email opt-in

 

Citing the number of subscribers, customers, or sales are all fantastic ways to leverage social proof in your content.

Apple used social proof as part of its “Shot on iPhone” campaign. They used photos shot by iPhone users and placed them on billboards across the globe:

billboard display featuring apples shot on iphone campaign

What Are the Different Types of Copywriting?

There are many kinds of copywriters nowadays thanks to digital marketing. And each one has a unique job. Let’s talk about a few common types. It’s not always direct response ad copy.

I’ll briefly mention a few below, but here’s a list of more types of specialty copywriting:

Email Marketing

An email copywriter is selling you something; their brand, expertise, or a legit sales email. It may not come in the form of an advertisement, but there’s always an opportunity to position yourself as the “solution.”

What’s great about email is it’s informal. You’re allowed into their inbox, so they already trust you, which means they’re more likely to buy.

Email is an excellent channel for keeping your readers up-to-date about your business. You can:

Social Media

If your audience hangs out on a specific social media platform, use it to connect with them. Does your online business cater to working professionals? Try Linkedin. Do they belong to a popular Facebook group? Head there.

Conversion copywriters make a good living crafting Facebook and Instagram ads. You can also use platforms like Buffer or Hootsuite to manage your posting frequency.

For example, you can find groups on Facebook using the search bar and filtering by “Groups.” Here’s what I get when I search using “copywriter.”

using facebook groups to find conversion copywriting jobs

 

Just enter the keyword or industry of your customers.

SEO Copywriting

SEO copywriting involves crafting copy for both people and search engines. It plays a heavy role with content marketers.

Many businesses use blogs to attract customers. It lets them connect informational and sales material with their target audience.

The focus of SEO is to get traffic, so your articles should be structured to make them more accessible for search engines to find.

Further Reading: Check out our post about SEO copywriting for a deeper understanding.

How Can I Improve My Copywriting Skills?

Trying to answer the question, “How can I improve my copywriting skills?” deserves its own article.

However, there are a few adjustments you can make right now to give your copy a leg up.

Edit Ruthlessly

I forget where I heard it, but it’s brilliant:

“I’ll pay you $100 for every word you delete on your sales page.”

The idea is to trim the fat (i.e., edit ruthlessly). Once you complete your 1st draft, see if you can remove 20% of your words.

Only keep the ones that matter; the rest is distracting fluff 😉

Use Tested Formulas (“because Only Rookies Write from Scratch”)

There’s an insanely detailed post covering every copywriting formula on the planet that should help you write your next piece of copy.

Instead of trying to create something new, use tested frameworks—for example, the PAS formula for your intro or the AIDA model for a product description.

Formulas are excellent because they’ve been used before, and we know they work.

Just assemble the pieces the correct way, and your writing should improve. Formulas make crafting your message easier and lay down a roadmap for you to follow.

Keep It Conversational with Contractions

Which do you think you’re more likely to use in conversation?:

It is 8 o’clock.

Or,

It’s 8 pm.

One technique is to shorten your words with contractions:

OkBest
It isIt's
Do notDon't
Will notWon't
I haveI've
Are notAren't

It’s less formal and feels more natural to your readers.

Amplify Your Word’s Power (Omit “Very”)

We use the word “very” to amplify the word following it (I do it constantly).

The fact is most times; there’s a stronger choice.

For example:

OkBest
Very largeColossal, Gigantic
Very tiredExhausted, Fatigued
Very hungryFamished, Starving

Kill Your Adverbs

Another way to use sharper words is by removing adverbs. It’s also a way to say less with more.

Here’s how:

OkBest
Looked closelyExamined
Held tightlyGripped
Spoke softlyWhispered

Condense Your Phrases

Instead of saying it in three words, say it in one:

Try these suggestions:

OkBest
In order toTo
Again and againRepeatedly
The majority ofMost
Can get a better idea ofKnow

I’ve found the writing tool, Grammarly, to be a massive asset for finding my text’s weaknesses. Read our review of them here.

How Can You Tell If Your Copy Is Converting?

Tracking conversions gets tricky when you’re looking at your entire sales funnel as a single conversion (i.e., did they buy or not?).

Here’s the thing…

Gauging your success based on that metric alone isn’t enough. Rewriting your entire campaign *because nobody’s buying* is the wrong move.

Use the Assembly Line Technique

Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz said:

“You do not write copy; you assemble it.”

If you think of your text as parts on an assembly line, you’ll have a better chance of tracking your copy’s converting power.

Copy Chief Joanna Wiebe suggests making every element you write responsible for one job — like parts on an assembly line (hence her term “Assembly Line Technique”).

For example, your email subject line’s only job is to get opened. Your product display’s only job is to attract clicks. At the same time, the body of your sales copy is to hold their attention.

Advanced Tip: When using our tool, Lasso, you can measure your display box’s converting power by connecting it to Google Analytics (read how here).

If you want to optimize your copy, you should test what’s working.

For example, if nobody’s opening your emails, perhaps the subject line needs adjusting (and not your landing page). That’s an easy fix — without scrapping the entire campaign and starting from scratch.

Alternatively, if people click through to your landing page and then bounce, perhaps your headline’s messaging is off. Again, quick to fix. 

After testing the individual pieces, you can see where things aren’t working, and refine as you go.

This infographic sums it up perfectly.

Last Words

Conversion copywriting moves your reader through a series of steps before getting to the ultimate “yes” – a purchase, sign-up, trial, or another relevant business goal. Every piece of text is heavily researched using case studies, customer testimonials, and reviews — before writing a single word.

Once everything is assembled, you test it to tell whether it’s working. Continuously measuring your copy is the only way to boost conversions and gauge your campaign’s success.

Want to learn more? Read this post about micro-conversions.

Sean Brison
Sean Brison is a dad, writer, business owner, and Chief Growth nerd at Lasso. He's spent the past several years in cahoots with Lasso's founder, Andrew, creating awesome things for people. He's also addicted to perfectly-balanced cocktails, the outdoors, and John Mulaney's stand-up comedy.

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