The text on your sales page has a huge impact on what your visitors do, it can either guide them towards your conversion goal, or drive them away very quickly. Fortunately there is a tested formula for writing good copy for the web, even on tight deadlines, which I learned about in a webclinic by marketingexperiments.com recently, and I will share with you here.

The first principle I learned, is that clarity always wins over persuasion in web copy, and to achieve this clarity, you must know in what sequence the reader thinks, and synchronize your copy to that. This requires a story-based framework, since it is natural for humans to think story-wise — it is what we have done trough-out our evolution, and it is how we remember best. (If you are interested in how the brain works and how you best can use yours, I highly recommend David Rock’s excellent book Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long).

Stories usually have distinct phases, which are exposition, rising action, climax and falling action. By aligning the conversion process to this framework, you can achieve a better conversion rate, according to marketingexperiments testing.

A framwork for web copy in a story format

How the story connects to your conversion process

Exposition is defined as the act of expounding, setting forth, or explaining. In the conversion process, this phase usually relates to PPC ads, marketing emails, and web banners, but it can also be a blog post, for example.

The goal in the exposition-phase is to engage the user and start building the conversation.

In the rising action-phase, the heat starts building, and this usually happens on the landing page. It is where you define the problem more in depth, and present the solution.

The climax is usually when the conversion happens, and often that is through the call-to-action on the landing page. This is where the user clicks the “buy”, or “subscribe” button, or whatever your conversion may be.

If these terms are unfamiliar to you, please read my post “Are you losing business because of a poor landing page?” for a better understanding of the different parts of a landing page.

The falling action-phase, is what happens after the conversion decision has been made, and this is where the customer fills in the information necessary for the purchase or subscription.

If you know the phases of this story model, you can write your copy so that it falls in line with the thought process of the user.

How the story model can help you write clear copy

In the webinar, we were given a real-world example of a landing page with mostly copy, which marketingexperiments had tested. The optimized version of the landing page, written in with the story framework in mind, sold more that double the amount of tickets, compared to the original version.

In the first part of the landing page, exposition was created with a good headline that captures the readers’ attention, and a short paragraph that tells the reader what this is all about. Marketingexperiments testing has found two effective strategies for headlines: making a promise, or identifying a problem.  In the first paragraph you must tell the visitor where she is, what she can do here, and why she should do it. “What” always comes before “why”.

The three parts of web copy in a story framework

In the rising action-part, you must intensify the problem and list proof, features, benefits, incentive and urgency. This is the main part of the copy, where the story unfolds and is lifted towards the climax.

The idea behind the exposition and the rising action is to lead the reader towards the climax, i.e. the call to action, the conversion. What happens after that is usually some sort of filling in of information, the falling action of the story model.

What we learned in the webinar was that your call-to-action must:

  • be clearly visible
  • imply value, immediacy, or urgency
  • come in the right time in the story sequence

How you can benefit from this information

What I got out of this webinar, was a good framework and checklist for writing copy for a landing page. Sometimes, when there is not much time, and the blank page is staring at you, a framework like this can save your day.

Check your current landing pages and see if they have the right structure and order, and all the necessary parts. Test the new version against the old one, and see if there are any improvements. It is easy to fall in love with one’s own text, and go on about all the features. I believe this framework can help you there also.

If you are interested in more interesting findings like this, be sure to check out marketingexperiments web page, where you’ll find more webinars and interesting tests. I am not associated with them in any way, but they do have some really valuable content.

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