SEO copywriting focuses on creating quality, relevant, extremely helpful and hopefully interesting content that attracts visitors to your blog again and again. You're building rankings, authority and traffic, and encouraging visitors to share your content.
Conversion copywriting focuses on making a sale, or 'converting' your visitors into email subscribers and eventually clients.
In this article I will be discussing the former. A major mistake many business bloggers make is trying to sell before they've delivered on their initial content promise or demonstrated any value. "Hello, here are our products and services... which ones can I show you today?"
Visitors are persuaded to stop by the blog, through social media posts and mentions or Google search results, with enticing promises of valuable, useful information that will improve their lives in some way. It's so disappointing and just plain annoying for visitors when every post is saturated with an extremely shortsighted, "buy this now" message. It's not what they signed on for when they clicked an inviting link to receive "help", and they feel justifiably cheated.
Some thirty years ago, I was a closer and sales trainer for a small TriStar vacuum cleaner sales outlet. The door-to-door vac' business was reputed to be a very sleazy way to make a living, but I learned a lot about sales from my gritty years in the trenches.
Our "booking girls" would offer door opener gifts like free rosewood-handle steak and carving knife sets, or perhaps a hard cover dictionary/thesaurus combo in an attractive case, in order to book appointments. The gifts were useful, desirable items. Our booking strategy was to impress the person on the other end of the line with the high quality of the gift they had "won", then book an appointment for delivery, with a "quick demo" of a new product we wanted their "opinion" on.
Our closers would arrive at the door a day or two later, create rapport, start out with a light and very entertaining pitch, build value, then high-pressure the bejesus out of the gift "winner". We used to teach our recruits, "There are only two ways you're leaving that house; with a signed order, or physically tossed out with the vacuum cleaner hurtling through the air behind you."
If one of the booking girls was sick, I’d take over the phone at times, to make sure the guys had demos to go on. I learned the hard way that selling too early just closed doors. I carelessly let myself enter into a mini presentation on the phone a few times. Big mistake! The only purpose of the phone call was letting the prospect know about the free stuff we were giving them. If we were ravenous direct sales wolves, they were Bambi, and we had to make sure we didn't scare them away before we came anywhere near the jugular.
We were some of the most aggressive, high pressure salespeople on the planet, but we realized there was a time and place for selling. Throw the pitch in with the gift, or begin selling before building rapport and demonstrating value, and we were dead at hello.
Some sales reps would only hand over the gift at the end of the presentation, and only if a sale was made. I made a point of giving the hosts their gift before even entering the door, and I instructed my team to do the same. Once inside, I would spend a half hour getting to know my new friends. Here's the thing... I wasn't looking for "a sale"; I wanted several. These people had friends and family. It was important that they really liked me.
Did I get burned a few times by people that just grabbed the knife set and slammed the door? Absolutely. We paid for these gifts out of our own pocket, so that hurt. I believed that we had offered them a free gift and that my new friends deserved more than just a pitch. I became the sales trainer because of my closing ratio, and keeping the gift separate from the pitch has served me well over the decades that followed.
What is your gift: valuable local information and expertise that improves the lives of your visitors? Your blog should be a welcoming place to share your free gift. There's no way to be subtle about your agenda when you finish a blog post with a pitch, or "Call me today at..." Sprinkling your posts with links to sales pages, or popup messages, can also send your quarry bolting for cover.
If you've enticed visitors to your blog with the promise of valuable information, deliver on that offer; no strings attached.
Does that mean you can't include a call to action? Not at all. Instead of pitching them, it would be appropriate to offer a free white paper that provides information in addition to the post. In other words, offer even more value.
For example, if your post was about buying and selling Vancouver condos as an investment strategy, a free downloadable ebook entitled "8 Things You Must Know When Selling Your Condo for Top Dollar", with a link to a landing page, would offer added value. People love receiving high value free stuff, and this is a great way to transition blog visitors into subscribers you have permission to influence again and again.
Our local TD bank ran a promotion to attract new clients. I noted that they were offering an Apple iPod as a free gift, not a $5.00 toaster that was likely to catch fire the first time it was plugged in. Outsourced-to-the-lowest-bidder, automated or just plain crappy content = worthless gift. It sends a very negative message and is bad for business. Put your all into each post or hire someone committed to creating content excellence. Your content gift needs to be epic; that means better than any of your competitors are publishing.
Keep the "gift" — your informative blog posts, downloadable freemium item or something else of value — completely separate from your sales copy.
Of course you want them to check out your About Us page and what you bring to the marketplace. And once they've decided to look at the services and/or products you offer, it's perfectly okay to "sell" them. I'm assuming here that you have services and products your customers will genuinely benefit from, so do your very best to convert those qualified visitors into customers. On a "marketing page" it may even be a sin not to ask them to fill in an information request form. 🙂
Live up to the value expectations of your audience. Value is about "them." Pitching your product or service is all about "you."
Would you agree with me that keeping the content gift and pitch separate is a sound strategy? Or are you still convinced that "always be closing" is the only way to go? Do you have a sales success or horror story to share? I welcome your questions and comments below.
Could you use some direction in your content and social media strategy? A free 20 minute coaching call could be a game changer.