In the digital world, top-notch copywriting is an essential part of building your brand and helping to turn potential customers into current customers. This is something every learning business professional needs to consider when looking at ways to improve their marketing efforts and gain the attention of prospective learners.
Layla Masri, co-founder of Bean Creative, has two decades’ experience as a marketing and Web copywriter. She’s an expert in concepting site interactivity, advising on best practices for usability, and developing digital promotion plans – she also happens to be leading the session, Digital Copy That Converts: The Art and Science of Turning Prospective Learners into Paying Customers at our upcoming virtual conference, Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD).
In this episode of the Leading Learning podcast, Celisa talks with Layla about the relationship between copywriting and conversion, common mistakes organizations make with copywriting, and tips for anyone looking to improve their copywriting game and increase conversion rates.
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[00:20] – Thank you to YourMembership, sponsor of the Leading Learning podcast for the first quarter of 2017. YourMembership’s learning management system (LMS) is specifically designed for professional education with a highly flexible and intuitive system that customizes the learning experience. YourMembership’s LMS seamlessly integrates with key systems to manage all of your educational content formats in one central location while providing powerful tools to create and deliver assessments, evaluations and learning communities.
[1:20] – If you are listening to this episode on the day it was published then it’s not to late to join us for Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD), our upcoming virtual conference created specifically for professionals in the business of continuing education and professional development. The event kicks off tomorrow, March 1.
[01:45] – Highlighted Resource of the Week – The 5 Second Test – a free tool for quickly testing out different types of visual designs. You can upload a design, share it with people from your target audience, ask them questions about what they recall, and get a report to see how they responded.
[02:58] – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Celisa interviews Layla Masri, co-founder of Bean Creative. It is also noted that Layla will be a speaker-facilitator at our upcoming virtual conference, Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD) where she will lead the session, Digital Copy That Converts: The Art and Science of Turning Prospective Learners into Paying Customers.
[04:35] – Introduction to Layla and some background information about herself and Bean Creative.
[06:33] – What is copywriting and what makes it different from other types of writing? Layla defines copywriting (in the advertising and marketing world) as the art and science of creating text that gets people to take some form of action. She describes it as persuasive writing and says it’s the real meat and potatoes in the digital market place. She adds that the copywriting field is exploding because brands are realizing they need crisp, targeted copy in order to have a really compelling online presence.
[09:01] – You got your start in copywriting in the print world – what made you decide to focus on digital? Layla shares that it was more out of necessity because she started her career just before the commercial rise of the Internet. She wanted to convince others to add this into their marketing mix and there weren’t a lot of people doing web development then which was the impetus to starting her company. She then pivoted her copywriting skills to the digital world, something she admits was a challenge. Layla explains how important digital content and copywriting are and talks about how this impacts search engine optimization and acts as a form of inbound marketing.
[11:42] – Can you talk about the relationship between copywriting and conversion? Layla explains that it is the copy that truly converts and she shares two key reasons why strong writing is important: 1) search engine optimization and 2) the rise of content marketing – really good copywriting isn’t selling, it’s informing.
[15:46] – Layla shares some of the most common, or biggest mistakes, she sees organizations making with copywriting that aims to convert (related to digital):
- People wanting to “set it and forget it”. However, there’s a need to refine, edit, measure, and test. Layla is a big advocate of A-B testing (i.e. testing one method vs. another, one headline vs. another) and says it can have the added benefit of helping to hone your writing skills. She recommends setting a reminder on your calendar to go back and check to see how things are going.
- Thinking that the home page of your website is the start. Most people are now arriving at a page through search engines, which means your deeper, interior pages still need to convey a lot of meaning and you can’t assume they know anything else about you. You can’t allow your homepage to be the be-all, end-all of everything and repetition on pages is key.
- Not breaking content into manageable chunks (although that’s not to say that long scroll pages don’t convert). Your content has to be skim-able with callout headers and callout boxes. The idea is to keep people’s eyes moving so they have the ability to read and digest things as they like.
- Using passive language – it’s really important to use action verbs (i.e. discover, maximize, engage, etc.) to get the reader to do something. She recommends getting rid of words such as, “was”, “where”, “can” and “-ing” words, especially in your headlines. For example, “We Specialize In Certification Training” should be something like, “Earn Your Certification In Two Weeks” – this moves the focus away from you to the benefit the recipient will get.
[21:08] –Layla shares tips for people who want to up their copywriting game and get better at conversion:
- Utilize storytelling – we all like to hear stories and they are the best way to hook people. Layla talks about why infomercials are a good example of this and why this is so effective.
- Write for a 6th-8th reading level, tops – even if you have the most educated readers, when you are marketing content it needs to be really uncomplicated and easy to understand.
- Make sure you are offering complete information – people can always skip the parts they know and just buy but make sure you have given people the entirety.
- Write out all the possible questions, doubts, and objections that your readers might have in the buying process – if you don’t address those in your content then you aren’t going to be able to convert them.
- Show how other people are using your product and/or benefiting from your training/certification/event – help people visualize the end result/impact because you can’t be what you can’t see.
- Make your writing conversational – your tone should be informative as opposed to trying to sell.
[28:09] – In the time you’ve been working in copywriting, what changes have you noted? What’s really working with Web marketing these days that’s different than the past? Layla reiterates that people no longer start at your home page so you need to learn to be very repetitive with your key messaging. You need to spend time focusing on creating bite-sized pieces since people are doing more skimming and a lot less deep dive reading. She adds that copywriting doesn’t exist in a vacuum and that it has to have a good visual component so working with a good designer and user interface is going to be essential. Layla also notes that email marketing has grown substantially (even though it got pushed to the side for a while) and she talks about how it’s become an effective tool for brands.
[31:23] – What’s on the horizon for copywriting? What new developments do you think we’ll see in digital copywriting and online conversion in the coming years? Layla says that, related to copywriting, social selling is growing tremendously – it’s not just what you’re saying about your products but how you compel other people to take your message out. It’s also important to make sure they understand your brand and they they’re helping to sell in a way that’s beneficial to you and she talks about how social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Snap Chat) is playing a role in all of this.
[33:55] – What’s your approach to your own lifelong learning and development? Layla shares that she spends a decent part of her week finding and listening to Webinars, podcasts, etc. She admits that she likes to read business books (paper) and that she’s also a part of a lot of different groups representing different aspects of what she does. Layla also gets inspiration from people such as Jill Konrath (selling expert) and the HubSpot sales blog.
[36:33] – How to connect with Layla:
Facebook: Bean Creative
LinkedIn: Layla Masri
[37:23] – Wrap Up
Thanks again to YourMembership for being the sponsor for this quarter of the Leading Learning podcast.
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[39:17] – Sign off