According to the Nielsen Norman Group, you have about 10 seconds to make your case on your website before a reader decides to keep reading or click away.
That's 10 seconds for them to absorb your offering, what makes you different, and why they should trust you.
It other words, a lot needs to happen in those 10 seconds.
Writing attention-grabbing copy is more science than art. Today, I'm going to teach you a time-tested method for creating seriously effective copy for your site.
This method is widely used among professional copywriters, but rarely explored by small business owners. Beyond copy, it has the potential to revolutionize your entire business.
What is this method? It comes down to interviewing your customers and capturing their exact responses.
Take the words right out of their mouth
The best copywriters know that copy that really gets in your customers' head... is copy that also comes from it. Interviewing your customers allows you to create web copy that hits the exact pain points and motivations of your future website visitors.
They're all facing similar problems; that's why they come to you. Who better to explain those problems—and your solution—than those who have gone through it before?
Asking for feedback in this way not only provides input for copy decisions, but gives you powerful insights into your customer base. Take it from Alex Turnbull, a founder who decided to call 500 of his customers directly: "The ultimate ‘win’ from customer development is deep insights into how our customers think, feel and use our app. […] It had an immediate impact on how we approach our product roadmap and day-to-day decisions."
How to conduct these customer interviews
Step 1: Who will you interview?
The first step to getting good feedback is to choose your interviewees. And don’t worry, you don’t need 500 participants. Just create a list of recent customers who you believe have had a positive experience with you. They should have completed their purchase in the last 6 months; any earlier than that, and the experience won't be fresh enough in their mind to provide good feedback.
If you have too many potential interviewees, good for you! Narrow it down by looking for those who reached out with pre-purchase questions or called in for support. These guys are more likely to engage with you (and have great insights).
Step 2: Get the calls on the calendar
Aim to interview at least 5 different customers, and no less than 3. Try to make the emails as personable as possible, request a few minutes of their time, and make sure that the person you reach out to is the one who made the actual purchase decision.
You will also want to personalize the email as much as you can. For example, you could open the email with a word of congratulations on a recent success. Or, if they worked with a particular sales rep, have your sales rep send out the email as a familiar face.
Step 3: Prepare to record the call
Recording the call rather than taking notes will allow you to actually listen to what they're saying and keep the interview conversational. Most importantly, it will allow you to capture the exact words they're using.
To run and record the call, it's best to use an online video call service like join.me, which is free for one-on-one calls.
Remember that you must get the interviewee's consent before recording the call. It's the law!
Step 4: Rock that interview
Now that everything is ready to go, it’s time to focus on your questions and the customer’s answers.
The goal of the interview is to have them discuss 1) the struggles they were facing pre-purchase, 2) their decision process, and 3) how your solution helped. With that in mind, here are some questions you could use:
- What was happening in your business or life that caused you to realize you needed something like [product]?
- How did you find out about us, and what stood out / made you interested in signing up?
- Did you consider any alternatives to working with us?
- What concerns or hesitations did you have before you decided to work with us?
- What did you love about working with us?
- Now that you’ve worked with us, what’s the #1 thing you’re able to do that you weren’t before?
Want to make your research even more effective? Use similar questions to create a short survey and send it out to a wider collection of customers.
BONUS TIP 2:
Have a customer who gave a glowing response? Send another email thanking them for their time, and ask if you can feature them as a testimonial on your website!
How to use the customer feedback in your copy
Open a new workbook in Excel or a Google Sheet with 4 columns. Label the columns: "Pain Points," "Purchase Decisions," "Benefits/Results," and "Other."
While reading through the transcriptions, add any struggles the customer faced to the the “Pain Points” column, reasons they chose you to "Purchase Decisions," how you've helped them to "Benefits/Results," and any other interesting language to "Other”.
This process will help you get organized and start noticing patterns. Pay special attention to repeated ideas and phrases. That's when you know you've hit gold.
With your research finally arranged into a usable form, it's time to take a look at your current website and answer these questions:
- How well does your site currently address the pain points that your customers talked about?
- Does it address the concerns that may have come up in the "Purchase Decision" discussions?
- Are you promoting the same benefits on your site as the ones your customers talked about?
Whether you need to make a few tweaks or a website overhaul, don't lose heart. You can start small, making a big impact by just changing two elements: your headlines and your calls-to-action.
How to revise your headlines
Every headline has one job: To get the reader to read what's below it. That's it.
Return to the patterns that you noticed in the interview transcriptions, paying close attention to "Pain Points" and "Results/Benefits". We want to turn these ideas into headlines that catch attention.
For example, let's say you sell a new kind of dish sponge that resists bacteria. Your columns might look something like this:
Using this feedback, you can start testing headlines and subheads like:
"Stop spreading bacteria across your counters — Our sponges resist germs"
"Finally, a sponge you don't need to microwave — Use this sponge for your whole kitchen without worrying about bacteria"
"Our sponges resist bacteria — No more smelly hands!"
Your homepage headline especially doesn't have to be a short tagline. It's way more impactful to spell out your customer's needs from the get-go, along with the value you deliver.
How to revise your CTAs
Your calls-to-action (or CTAs) have a big job. They need to get your reader to click the big button to take the next step with you—whether that's setting up a consultation, adding a product to their cart, or sharing their email.
Just like the headlines, use your customers' language to create messages that hit home. For example, in the same scenario with the sponges, you might create CTAs like:
"Order now and finally have a sponge you can use for your whole kitchen."
"Stop microwaving your sponge forever. Order our 10-pack of sponges today and get free shipping."
Your copy is in your hands
You have the tools to change your website. And this process has the potential to affect your whole business. Taking the time to get real feedback directly from your customers is an investment with a significant payoff. So start contacting your customers today!