The Paramount Ingredient of a High Converting Page: Compelling Copy

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The Paramount Ingredient of a High Converting Page: Compelling Copy

It would be a challenge to write this without referencing my beginnings and subsequent history in the lead gen / conversion optimization space; however, in the interest of my readers and in respect to their time, I will direct anyone interested in the cliff’s notes of my career: here. There is also a longer, more personal (Albeit somewhat dated) version of my history as an entrepreneur available on my blog: My Journey as a Young Entrepreneur.

I reference these things because creating successful, high-converting interfaces is complex business, and the lessons I have learned and detailed below have been hard won. Anyone who has read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is familiar with the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to attain world class expertise in any field. Whether I am world-class at what I do is subjective, but I did find success in unarguably the most competitive, hyper-saturated verticals out there (Mortgage, insurance, credit).

That said, allow me to share with you the #1 lesson I’ve learned in 10,000 hours creating and managing landing pages:

COMPELLING Copy is King.

I’ll explain why.

When I began working in the lead space, I had the good fortune of starting at an agency as a copywriter. I say this is good fortune for two reasons: firstly, I had a preexisting background in Journalism and was a strong writer, and, secondly, I found immediate success applying my writing skills in my new field.

What I discovered almost immediately as a copywriter, was that by reworking the copy on a landing page, I could measurably improve the conversion performance of the offering almost instantly.

In fact, when I left the agency to start my own lead generation business, I relied on this same critical skill, which without a doubt was the linchpin of my early success.

Now, my earliest landing pages most certainly were not the most aesthetically polished – and nor did they have a fantastic user-experience – but what they did have was compelling copy, which was effective enough to achieve a double-digit conversion rate on paid search traffic.

And I was able to achieve this because I intuitively understood the idea of empathy, of understanding your users based on their problems and their needs. From this perspective, crafting compelling copy that made clear the benefits (Rather than the features) of the offering was a slam-dunk no-brainier. Of course, few marketers or copywriters manage to do this effectively, but that’s why it’s such a fruitful opportunity to create lift.

You’ll notice that above, I don’t just say that “copy is king”, but, rather that, “COMPELLING Copy is King”.

All copy is most certainly not created equal, and if there were a litmus test or qualifier of whether or not marketing copy is effective (Beyond pure analytics data), it would lie in gauging the effectiveness of said copy. And in my book the effectiveness of your copy lies in how compelling it is.

The neat thing about using compelling as an adjective for marketing copy, is that it denotes “evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.”

And it’s that powerfully irresistible factor we’re shooting for.

The goal is not to create something that users feel they need, but instead something users feel they can’t afford NOT to use. This is the intrinsic property of compelling copy: it makes the alternative a poorer choice than taking action. It makes the benefits clear, for it’s actually the benefits that are compelling – the copy is merely the medium to highlight them.

Put simply: present the benefits of your offering in such a strong light that the user feels they cannot afford not to take action.

To further illustrate that COMPELLING Copy is King, I will use a short example, which reaffirmed to me the absolutely paramount value of compelling copy.

Four years ago, I was managing a high-volume mortgage product, and I decided to invest in what I thought would be the absolute killer app of conversion technology.

Essentially, what we built was an .HTACCESS hack that allowed us to pass a keyword from a click source to the page on the back end via a cookie. This meant flat URLs and 100% dynamic content. So, for example, someone searching for ‘duplex refi’ would arrive at a page with 100% message matching from search to click to conversion.

In theory, I thought this would send my conversion rates skyward; however, in practice, this was not the case at all.

What happened was that the dynamic content matching the keyword / traffic source failed to outperform the winning variation I had been using for all my traffic.

The reason for this, of course, was that while the message matching from search query to ad to page was intuitively logical, it simply failed to match the effectiveness of the winning value proposition I had designed. In other words, relevancy does not equal compelling nor effective. 

Not that the technology I built, which I still own and am sitting on, isn’t better suited for another vertical, but I still know that nothing beats a compelling value proposition. In the end, users want benefits, not features. And selling the benefits is what compelling user experiences do.

Lawrence Black

If you’re responsible for your product’s customer-acquisition performance, I’d love the opportunity to speak with you. You may reach me at 866-977-2677 or