Premature positioning without translatable proof crashes your credibility.
The job of a value proposition is to gravitate your prospects toward saying yes to you.
Humans are constantly looking to benefit. Use this behavior to your advantage.
Let’s look at the value propositions of various websites and audit the copy for conversions.
Stop defining your company with a weak adjective
The above value prop is – braggy.
Also, I had never heard of Cypher learning until now. Adjectives like best, world-class, and high-quality mean nothing. They’re just filler copy.
“High-quality” just means “high quality”.
There’s no other way to measure it. Because it’s subjective.
Therefore, your value propositions should never depend on adjectives to define them.
Adjectives can never communicate the real value of your business offers. Behead the adjectives out of your value prop and focus on bringing the outcomes to the forefront.
Why your value prop is not your USP
A few days back, Peep Laja, the founder of ConversionXL tweeted about why the concept of USP is obsolete.
And I agree with him.
Because in 2023, it’s impossible to be running an extremely unique business.
Especially, if you’re in the SaaS market – you know how crowded this industry is. So describing your brand as unique is not a good idea at all.
What does the absence of a value proposition do?
My first thought goes – how do you make your results colorful? Colorful pie chart? Colored graphs? Rainbow data?
I feel confused and I start wondering what the product actually is.
Unfortunately, it’s a web development company.
Solution: They could have spoken about the approach they mention in the CTA and position their brand with a clarified message.
Why it’s important to state the biggest benefit – FIRST
Nobody actually needs more data in this data-saturated world. But everyone wants to be able to manage data well.
So saying “Need more data” is not only useless but also intimidating.
And having data is not a benefit. It’s actually a liability to deal with if you don’t know how to tackle the data overflow problem every company faces today.
So if you’re a company offering a solution to analyze, organize, optimize and monetize your data, you should as well state this fact in your value prop and lead with it to bring in conversions.
Otherwise, you confuse your readers. And confused readers get off the wagon ASAP.
Lesson: Lead your value prop with your biggest benefit
Keep your first screen clean
Again, here’s another value prop starting with an adjective. We know what the problem is. So let’s talk about the UX here.
The goal of a business website is to make your reader’s job easy.
You start with clean websites. The screenshot of a login portal to the left is confusing and meaningless. It doesn’t add any value to the message.
The objective of your message is to take your reader from one awareness stage to a deeper, better understanding of your brand.
When you add screenshots like the one shown above, it makes the reader think hard, they panic and quit the page.
Conclusion: The reader cannot grasp what this company is about until they read the tiny text that uses two keywords (AI and data analytics) in an unnatural sentence.
Solution: A hero section with no image is better than having a confusing, deviating image with an unclear value proposition.
Avoid writing unprofitable value propositions
Stating your own name in the value prop has zero benefits.
This isn’t telling me what kind of digital work you do.
The words “more and beyond” denote uncertainty. If the reader senses uncertainty, they’ll have a hard time trusting your brand.
So, use your online real estate wisely. Own your message, connect with your audience and bring them closer to your brand.
3 simple ways to make your brand more approachable
Write a benefit-packed value prop with a meaningful call to action Look at the example below. Appsumo doesn’t waste a second in addressing its readers. They identify the software buyers immediately. They know exactly what the software buyers come to them for. They make them feel exclusive instantly. This is a 10/10.
Connect with a belief your audience stands for Meetup does this really well. Their value prop says – “The real world is calling”, which connects with most of us on so many levels because we’re all fighting digital screen toxicity. We’re all striving to make our lives a little bit more outdoor-ish. The gist is – to find out how you can match your audience’s mindset and convey that.
State your why loud and clear just like 450GSM They’re not afraid to break the rules. The moment you land on their homepage, it’s clear. There are no clever tactics, no desperate messaging to sound badass – only clear messaging that gets the job done.
Action steps to writing a clear value proposition
Avoid adjectives – because adjectives repel clarity and are subjective
Highlight the biggest benefit
Use social proof to write your value proposition if you can
Connect with the values and beliefs of your audience
Connect with your reader’s mindset and intent
Clean UX around your value prop means higher conversions
Stop trying to be unique and focus on being useful to your readers
If it’s a physical product, they want to know exactly what it’s made of.
If it’s a service, they want to know what they get.
If it’s a solution, they want to know how it works.
Once they know the details, they’re ten times more likely to buy from you.
Now, why does this work?
The ever-curious human mind stops releasing the stress hormone, cortisol, the moment it understands that you are in a familiar environment.
By giving out the exact details of working with you, you’re creating a safe, future environment for the reader by telling the reader’s brain that:
You’re in a safe, familiar environment
You’re with someone who knows how you feel and empathizes with you
You can stop being in the fight-or-flight mode
Marketing is about understanding your audience, empathizing with them and inviting them to know more about your offer – nothing more, nothing less.
You’re here to talk about how you can free your audience from that big fat suffering that’s been hindering their growth and transformation.
How to keep your audience thinking about what you said
The reason you remember the story from the movie you watched when you were 10 but not the history lesson is because you mirrored and experienced the emotions played in the movie.
How you can use this technique to win your audience over:
Pinpoint your audience’s exact pain points and address that in your copy
Identify with their fears and anxieties and acknowledge that in your copy
Promise the desired outcome (and deliver it in your product please)
What not to do in your copy
Okay, if you don’t keep the conversation going between you and your reader, the connection dies.
So, make your reader feel heard, understood and important.
This is how you roll:
It is when you DON’T make them feel zoned out – they start relating to you.
It is when you DON’T make them feel like a faceless speck from the masses – they start valuing you.
It is when you make them feel understood – the chemistry of liking strikes.
So it all boils down to understanding your reader. Inside out.
When you synthesize your audience’s thoughts that they find difficult to express, you win their trust.
When your audience feelunderstood, they take the first step toward trusting you and believing in what you have to say. This tells them that you know where they’re coming from – a point of stress and struggle – a point that YOU have surpassed – a point in place they want to be
How to develop a memorable voice and brand personality through copywriting
Now that you know what to say, let’s focus on how you say it.
Your voice is nothing but your thought process – how you identify what to say and when.
Your tone is the language and mood and feelings you use to convey the message.
I’ve always loved Mailchimp copy. And you know what makes readers love Mailchimp? The tone. It’s easy, flowy and minimalistic. Notice the adjectives I used to describe the tone? That’s how you develop a personality around your brand.
Look at this example here.
The above form makes it want to sign up and see how easy it can actually be to get started with a Mailchimp account. You too, right?
That’s the magic of having a distinct voice and tone. People actually listen to you speak.
You too can develop a tone. Let’s run through these examples quickly to find out how.
1. People are addicted to cell phones.
2. Smart screen toxicity is harming youngsters.
What sounds more vivid and powerful to you? 1 or 2?
The first statement is normal that uses everyday words.
But the second one? It’s exactly pointing out who it’s harming the most – the youngsters. What is harming? – Smart Screen Toxicity. It’s done in an unconventional manner – yet without using any jargons that a layman wouldn’t understand. That’s how you develop a voice.
How not to sound in your copy
Let’s get straight to the point.
Don’t sound like you and your competitor are cut from the same cloth
Be different but never be inappropriate
Think aloud, but don’t harm
Don’t force/coax/pressurize/confuse your readers
Don’t limit user personas to a set of demographic data but also care about your audience’s tastes, traits, and behavior in as much.
Don’t talk. Make a statement.
Okay, these are the 6 big tips to follow every time you start with a copywriting project.
To practice, today you go back and pick a page of copy.
Rewrite the page by applying the tips and techniques you read just now and tell me how you feel about it at the end of the exercise 🙂
➜ 223% more user retention compared to paid traffic
➜ 168% better conversions than paid traffic
➜ Consistently rank #1 on Google within days instead of months
➜ Organic traffic showed 517% more engagement
The client is a B2B enterprise SaaS logistics intelligence platform that helps supply chains reduce their shipping costs through increased visibility of operations across verticals.
Amidst a sea of competitors, the customer was looking to position as a competitive logistics intelligence platform, increase their brand awareness by ranking on Google, drive more targeted traffic and bring more MQLs organically.
Goals and KPIs
Drive targeted organic traffic and increase brand awareness ✔
Increase user retention on the website ✔
Improve overall brand engagement ✔
Results With Proof Of Data
261% Growth in organic traffic within 3 quarters
223% more user retention compared to paid ads
517% increase in brand engagement
Organic traffic converted 168% better than paid traffic
234.27% growth in organic traffic in 6 months
Organic traffic in Feb, 2021 was just 2,614.
Organic traffic in October increased to 6,124.
That’s 234.27% increase in organic leads within 6 months.
Organic traffic converted 168% better than paid traffic
Organic traffic = 19,220 The number of pageviews from organic users = 44,002
Average pageviews per organic user = (44,002 / 19,220) = 2.29
Average pageviews per organic user is 2.29
Paid traffic = 81,533
The number of pageviews from paid traffic = 1,11,366
Average pageviews per paid user = (1,11,366 / 81,533) = 1.36
Average page views per paid user is 1.36
Conversion Performance of Organic Traffic Vs. Paid traffic = 1.683
Result: Organic traffic converted 168% better than paid traffic. Implies that organic content is more targeted and speaks to the user, and therefore, they stay 168% more engaged with the content than paid traffic.
Created one of the top-performing landing pages with the longest daily average dwell time
6.32% reduction in bounce rate equating to more user engagement than before
517% more engagement from organic traffic compared to paid traffic
Average session duration of organic traffic = 1:27 minutes
avg session duration of paid traffic = 0:17 minutes
Engagement = (Avg session duration of organic traffic / Avg session duration of paid traffic)
Engagement = 1:27 / 0:17
[1:27 minutes translates to 1.45 minutes, 0:17 minutes translates to 0.28 minutes]
Engagement = 1.45/0.28 = 5.17
Engagement % = 517%
Result: Engagement from organic traffic is 517% more compared to paid traffic
Organic traffic also had 261% more returning visitors than paid traffic
223% more user retention compared to paid traffic
By the time we reached the last quarter, visitor retention through organic traffic was 223% more than retention through paid traffic.
Ranks #1 on Google even after 18 months from the date of publishing beating FedEx on its own keyword
Ranked #1 on Google **consistently** within 5 days of publishing instead of waiting for months
Rank #1 on Google within 5 days for 44 keywords
The 10-Step Repeatable Process to Rank #1 on Google *Consistently* and stay there
How did we achieve that?
80% of the blogs I wrote either ranked #1 on Google or on the first page of Google. This led to 3 things:
Increased brand awareness
We don’t just take the top spots on text SERPs, we also own it on Google Images
Process: Spot on on-page SEO does the trick
So what? Benefits of image SEO
Increase brand awareness + increase engagement If you’re looking to drive targeted traffic, increase MQLs, and increase your user engagement with product messaging and SEO content marketing, head over to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-script: I’m chopping off the lengthy introduction and heading straight to deliver what you’re here for.
Here’s the list of the most important copyediting tips you can use right away. Let’s go.
1. Avoid structural confusion
2. Focus on the main goal
3. Use shorter sentences
4. Skip everything the reader skips
5. Too many commas confuse the heck out of the reader
6. Throw your reader right into the story without wasting time
7. Always question the benefit of your sentence
8. Pick a lane
9. Use these 24 connectors to make a smooth landing
10. Cut complexity – innocent example included
11. Format your writing for UX
12. Back up your claims
13. Don’t copywrite
1. Avoid structural confusion – Stop using passive voice
What’s wrong with passive voice?
Passive voice makes your writing dull and heavy.
It makes it hard to understand by delaying the delivery of the message.
Look at this example:
Passive voice doesn’t convey the message until the very end.
Let’s look at another example.
The above sentence has too many things going on. It sounds complicated.
Converting the sentence into an active voice paints the picture faster because there is less uncertainty in the language.
In addition to that, using words like “some” makes the human brain struggle to choose. Especially if you understand visually.
Well, passive voice has its right time and place.
Passive voice is used to place attention on the object or activity instead of the subject.
Sometimes, you use passive voice in direct communication to eliminate blame, to not offend people at the workplace, or to give feedback.
Simply put, passive voice is used to convey ‘the what’ instead of ‘the who’
Passive voice can be powerful too!
Here’s an opinion example I totally agree with
2. Focus on the topic’s ONE main goal
The content you write should be 3 things:
Look at the below example. This is a content email sent by a calendar app.
This email sounds complicated to an average person and rightly so.
Their target audience is normal people who just want to use a calendar scheduling app to book calls.
And if you send emails like this – with irrelevant, jargon-filled sentences, users give up. They unsubscribe.
Don’t make your messaging shoot up your SaaS users’ tech-anxiety.
Keep it simple. Focus on the one thing you want your users to do.
3. Use shorter sentences
The next time you’re struggling to write something, pause.
Take that one complicated sentence that’s hindering you from moving forward and break it into core ideas. Now rewrite the lengthy sentence into multiple core ideas. This makes yoru writing easy, AND delivers a clear message – faster.
For example, go through the below paragraph.
Take the underlined sentence in the picture above and feed it into the Hemingway app.
The above sentence is obscure and hard to read.
Let’s break it down and rewrite it to make the message clear.
Breaking down a sentence into multiple sentences makes the message:
Easy to understand
Easy to write
Sentences that convey one idea are called kernel sentences.
Kernel sentences also make effective value propositions.
I first learned about using kernel sentences inside CopySchool from Joanna Wiebe – the original conversion copywriter.
“Reduce your sentence to one single thought and break it there.” – Joanna Wiebe
4. Skip everything the reader skips
It’s ok to murder your favorite line for the sake of readability.
Most blog intro copy is overkill. If you noticed, I skipped the introduction and jumped straight into the meat and bones of the subject. Now, I don’t guarantee that it works all the time. But it works if you have juicy content from the start.
The No.1 Mistake Most Writers Make With Introductions
Even if you’re writing the intro section for a traditional blog, at least start by NOT repeating what you just said in the title.
Most writers make the mistake of twisting and rewriting their H2s, just to increase their word count. Mostly because they don’t know how to write engaging introductions.
How to do content research to make your introductions worth reading?
Start your intros like this:
A. Use a hard-hitting stat to let them know what’s happening in the industry
B. Tell a story – it could be a customer story, a situational story or an industry incident/activity/experiment. If you’re explaining a difficult concept, use analogies and tell stories to help the reader learn faster and remember better.
C. Use a quote from an industry authority or an anecdote to get their attention
D. Ask a question they cannot ignore
E. Share a desirable result that’ll keep them hooked
Example of intro copy that’s poetic, but fails to enchant the readers.
On the other hand, here’s an example of an ultra-specific blog introduction:
5. Too many commas confuse the reader
Anything more than 3 (oxford) commas, is gasping for breath and a recipe for disaster.
If you find a sentence with more than 3 commas, it’s an indication that it’s too much information stuffed into one sentence.
Break it down.
Connect back to the kernel sentence approach to write better.
Look at the example below:
“..regular basis, either daily, weekly, or monthly” – This phrase sounds highly uncertain and unsure. The last thing you want you to do is – to confuse the reader.
6. Throw your reader right into the story without wasting time
In Media Res – means to start in the middle.
This is another copywriting principle I learned from Joanna Wiebe.
Start in the middle to hook their mind to your version.
In Media Res is a copywriting/screenwriting principle used in the very first scene of your favorite shows.
If you’ve binge-watched five full seasons of Money Heist like a maniac, blame the first scene.
The first scene got you hooked. It threw you right into the story and you became a Money Heist maze runner forever.
Let’s look at an example:
This is an email from Samar Owais, one of the best email strategist and copywriter I know.
This is a no-BS email.
No greetings, no lovelies – her emails jump straight to the point and get the job done.
This is just half the email to show you how Samar wastes 0 seconds in conveying the message and getting the audience hooked.
7. Appeal to your reader’s first instinct
By asking “so what”. Let’s see how to do that.
You’ve written something, cool. Now, if the reader asks “so what?”, there HAS to be a benefit to back up your claim. If not, your readers drop out.
Look at this value proposition example:
Value Prop: Digital Assurance is the Bedrock of Digital Transformation
My first instinct after reading this is – I don’t understand what you’re saying. My brain goes digital digital and that’s it. I have to read it multiple times to really comprehend what they’re meaning to say.
To top that, there’s no crosshead copy to support the message and help me understand their purpose.
The value prop ends there –
Without talking about the ‘real’ benefit of digital transformation
Without talking about why the reader should reach out to them
Without talking about why the reader should trust them to digitize their business
Without explain the scale of digitization
There’s no social proof to back up anything this value prop says
With no benefits to back up your claims and no reason to reach out to you, you become any other brand who fades away very quickly from the reader’s memory.
8. Pick a lane
You’ve got to take a stand. Your copy should convey ONE big idea to the ONE reader with ONE goal. If you don’t do this, your copy spreads all over the place talking about many random things but actually speaking to no one.
Here you go:
I started this post by saying – 13 Copyediting Tips To Make You A Kickass Copywriter
This one line does 2 things:
Selects the audience – Writers/copywriters/editors have identified themselves with this piece of writing. It’s the first step towards conversion
Gets the reader interested – Because every writer wants to improve their copy chops. That’s their end goal.
Now, why do listicles like this one work? Basic human psychology. It boils down to one basic emotion. You and I (and everyone you know) have lived this emotion. It’s greed. We’re greedy for more. We don’t say no to more. That’s why #buzzfeed listicles go viral in no time.
9. Use connectors to make smooth transitions
Here’s a list of 30 connectors I use to make copywriting transitions look natural and effortless in your copy:
Here’s the thing
Don’t forget to
Before <we do that>/<go ahead>
That’s not it
That’s not all
Let’s look at an example
The thing is
The truth is
But wait, that’s not all
But wait, there’s more
On that note
But, is that even possible?
On the other hand
But how can you achieve it?
But, what’s more important is
While we’re on it
Example: (You see what I did there? I used a connector to make a concept clear by explaining it with an example) The email below sets the mood: Heading to holidays with BFCM
Goal: To get the readers to listen to a podcast episode of Limited Supply
The email copy uses connectors just before he reveals the goal. He does that to reignite the reader’s attention – by connecting two interesting actions. Take a look.
10. Cut complexity
And cut complexity.
The most common mistake 90% of writers make is to paralyze the reader’s already stressed minds with convoluted, complicated sentences.
Unnecessarily lengthy sentences not only make the reader undergo information fatigue, it’s also painful to sit through.It distracts your reader.
Example: How do edit for clarity and brevity?
You see how one single hazy sentence was turned into 3 simple sentences that conveyed one idea – clearly.
11. Format your writing for UX
I cannot stress this enough!
For whatever’s sake! Format your copy for readability, usability and user experience.
Yes user experience is for writers as well. Not just web designers.
You cannot deliver a chunk of sentences and call it a day.
Even if you’ve applied all the copywriting principles and copyediting tips we’ve talked about so far, even if you’re a terrific writer – in the online world – Formatting Matters.
To make lengthy copy legible without overwhelming the reader
To break monotonous patterns
To justify the importance of a point
Just like I did now. I conveyed the above points in a bullet format to help the reader grasp information faster, and remember better.
12. Back up your claims
Before you finalize a sentence, make sure you do enough research to explain what’s going on.
If you’ve made a claim, back it up with ample proof.
Proof could be anything. Stats, facts, survey results, research data, examples, testimonials, excerpts from case studies, screenshots of reviews, proof of concept in the form of infographics, flowcharts, diagrams etc.
HockeyStack does a very good job at highlighting achievements and leveraging social proof.
13. Don’t copywrite – Have a conversation
People want to feel like they matter. Acknowledge it.
Genuinely, address their situation as is.
Without sugarcoating it.
But also without watering it down.
And you’ll have built a following of people who trust you.
Because eventually, it’s the trust that makes someone invest in you.
But how do you do that?
Here are 5 ways to make people feel like they matter:
1. Address “the ONE reader’s” problems in the copy
2. Talk about “the ONE reader’s” primary concerns.
3. Solve “the ONE reader’s” problems in the copy
4. Speak 1:1. Avoid convoluted sentences and go for simple language instead. The point of copywriting is to connect with people and make it easier for them to connect with you. If you make the reader think hard, the reader quits. They don’t owe you one bit, so they quit. That’s why it’s important to write like you’re having a conversation. Even if it’s B2B writing.
5. Don’t “Copywrite”. Have a conversation. Address your reader as “you” in your copy. Give them an experience by making your copy easy to read. Remember, you don’t talk like a bot with your friend. Talk human. Imagine that the person is sitting right in front of you and you’re having a conversation about << the subject>>.
Here’s a sales page I wrote that brought in $61k+ in sales within 3 weeks of launching.
You see the copy flows like you’re having a conversation with someone. This not only makes the reader read until the end and gets hooked to the message, it also converts into a high 5-figure launch.
Today, I spoke to a prospect who told me about the several amazing copywriters she’s hired in the past to write her landing page copy. They all wrote beautiful prose-clad copy, BUT, nobody really bought from the page
Here are the TOP 5 Reasons why sales page copy tanks:
1. Your funnel is distorted – you don’t have a connected conversion strategy
2. You don’t have a consistent voice, and hence, shockingly foreign copy
3. Fluff words that sound cool and sassy – but do NOTHING
4. Prose that sounds fab except, it can’t make sales
5. Your copy is unintentionally threatening!
You can fix the first 4 problems if you have the right systems in place.
But if your copy constantly sounds like you’re scaring and threatening people by using big bad words in unintended places just to grab their attention, the following copy better be worth their adrenaline activation. Or else, their logical brain is going to curse you for leading them to a high that you forgot to satisfy.
So if you’re finding yourself writing threatening copy, you really need to work on your mindset game.
What’s a mindset to do with writing copy?
If your writing voice sounds:
..you’re more likely to write threatening copy that uses trigger words like WARNING, make it unnecessarily “rhymy”, drop in powerless punches AND…
Most likely to cook copy that speaks to NO-ONE!
But, all of these annoying copy problems can be resolved if you have a stronghold on your audience’s pain points – big, small, and unsaid.
Start your copy with THEIR specific pain points and lead them towards a specific outcome THEY desire and keep the tempo on with headlines that are not just H1 text, but are there to keep moving your reader towards mini-conversions throughout the page without deviating from that one pain point they want to get rid of right now.
Which means, you’re not writing for people who don’t want it that bad. May be they have to put other things in place before this problem becomes their big priority. So, write for that prospect who wants to get done with their biggest challenge right NOW, not later.
If you organize their priorities on the page, your copy converts effortlessly.
There! I told you what not to use. But what should you be using instead of these words?
The answer is nothing. You should never think of replacing these words. You should think of replacing the sentences that need these words. These words indicate (read: scream) that your writing is amateurish. That is exactly why you depend so heavily on safe words like the adjectives.
Adjectives are merely fillers. They make your copy shallow.
Ouch! Sorry if I made writing even more difficult for you but..some hard truths are epiphanies on their own.
And here’s one – Copy that can convince is never backed by loose, commoner adjectives.