Why Your Copy Isn’t Converting

image of woman with empty pockets

You can go a long way with relationships and great content, but if you’re trying to build a business, at some point you need to actually ask your audience to buy something.

Some people believe there’s such a thing as a “natural salesperson.” They think that selling is in the genes. Many people who think this also believe that they don’t have that innate ability.

But selling is just education and communication. Like most things in life, wherever you are on the selling spectrum, you can learn to get much better at it than you are today.

So today we’re going to talk about that fascinating, tricky moment: conversion. That’s the point when your reader either buys or doesn’t buy, based on your communication to that point.

Let’s talk about the five most common reasons that your readers aren’t turning into buyers. There are any number of places this can go off the rails, but these are by far the most common.

1. They don’t want what you’ve got

This is the painful one. But if this is what’s wrong with your marketing, there’s no ninja copywriting technique in the world that will help you out.

Sometimes we just get really passionate about an idea that our customers aren’t nearly as passionate about.

Inventors are particularly plagued by this. You’ve spent so much time with your unique and fascinating widget that you’re essentially married to it, but no one else thinks it’s all that interesting.

“Unique,” in fact, is often a red flag. If no one else is offering what you’ve got, it might very well be that no one wants what you’ve got. Competition is a wonderful thing, because it’s a sign that you’re in a market of buyers.

You might have something you’re convinced your
customers need, but it’s not something they want.

(I often call this the “broccoli ice cream” problem.)

When in doubt, know that “want” beats out “need” every time.

If this is your problem, you have essentially two choices. One, you can offer something that more people want.

Or two (also known as the hard way), you can think about how you can build a bridge between something they want and something you offer. There’s often a way to translate your market’s desires into the benefits that your product provides.

2. They’re confused

If you’re sure your market actually wants what you offer (because you have successful competitors), but those darned prospects still aren’t biting, the odds are very good that they’re too confused to complete the purchase.

The confused mind does not buy.

Actually, the confused mind doesn’t do much of anything. When we’re faced with too many choices, too many decisions, too much extraneous information, or even a visual design with too much clutter, we freeze.

(If you want to know what this feels like, think about selecting a 401K plan or new health insurance. Not very appealing, is it?)

You may have too many different options for them to choose from. If they have to make a choice that’s more complex than “Silver, Gold, Platinum,” you run the very real risk of losing them.

3. They can’t see the pretty picture

Another thing that kills conversion is that the prospect just doesn’t imagine herself as a customer.

She might not be able to visualize what your product’s going to do for her. (So paint a picture in her mind of what that will look like — and use lots of concrete sensory detail like color, touch, smell, and sound so she can make it real in her mind’s eye.)

She also might not get how your product makes her life better. (So spell out the product’s benefits in clear, simple language.)

Remember what we said at the beginning of this lesson — selling is communication and education. Be sure you’re getting your message across clearly.

You need to be absolutely certain your sales copy contains at least these three things (and these might be enough to make the sale for you):

  • This is what I’ve got.
  • This is what it will do for you.
  • This is what you should do next.

4. You didn’t ask

This one is my favorite, because it’s the easiest to fix.

I realize it seems bizarre, but if you explicitly ask your reader to click the link, dial the number, or whatever other means you use to get that sale, she’s much more likely to do it.

So links that say “click here” actually get clicked more often. Weird, but true.

It’s called the call to action, and every persuasive bit of copy needs a very explicit one. If you’re not familiar with the call to action, or you think yours might need some sprucing up, here’s an article I wrote on it:

How to Be a Copywriting Genius: The Brilliantly Sneaky Trick You Must Learn

5. They don’t believe you

After #1, this is the most important one.

They might want what you’ve got. They might have a great mental picture of it. They might know just what to do next.

But they hesitate.

Why? Here’s a hint: The #1 Conversion Killer in Your Copy — And How to Beat It

Because they’re second-guessing their own decision, and they’re scared of feeling like an idiot.

Don’t take it personally — we’re living in an age of betrayal. Enron was lying, Madoff was lying. Even Jesse James was lying.

So how are they going to find any trust in you?

You know the answer to this one by now — you can build up that trust by creating great business relationships with killer content.

It turns out that if your relationships are solid enough, you can be a pretty lame salesperson and still do very well.

And if you get a little bit better than lame, by getting these few essential copywriting techniques under your belt, you’ll do even better. :)

Sonia Simone


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