Here is the one and only way to measure your copy’s converting power (infographic)

At CTA Conf in 2014, I presented on 3 things I know to be true after a decade spent writing copy.

One of those things was (and is) this: If you want to stop struggling with how to write and measure the success of your copy, make every element you write responsible for one job only.

Here’s the idea.

Everyone wants to write better-performing copy. Agreed?

And by “better performing”, we generally mean “copy that sells better.” Yes?

But when it comes time to a) write or b) assess what’s going on with your copy that’s preventing conversions, the whole page becomes one big mess of Copy. A blur. You see the forest; you don’t see the trees. So you decide to burn down the whole forest and start from scratch rather than find the offending tree, chop it down and plant a more suitable one in its place.

That’s because it seems like there’s no way to find said Offending Tree.

But there is.

If you know what the problem is, you can find the culprit in your copy. Importantly, the problem is not “We’re not converting.” If you want to optimize your site, you need to go deeper than that. Problems you identify may be:

  • We’re not getting any leads from this landing page
  • The leads we’re getting aren’t qualified
  • Our lead-gen page has crazy bounce rates
  • Our emails keep going to spam
  • No one’s opening our emails
  • They open our emails but they don’t click the links
  • Our engagement sucks on this page – exit rates are higher than usual
  • No one’s even making it to our cart
  • The time on page in our checkout is super high, but paid conversions are low

All of the above can be solved. With copy, design and UX. But starting with copy.

You just have to find the culprit… the Offending Tree…. the element preventing conversions, business growth and piles of money you can swim in.

And to do that, you have to start thinking like this: Every single line of copy and element on the page is responsible for its own job. Like on an assembly line, every element on your page and in your funnel has 1 job to do to keep a conversion moving forward. Failure to do one job stops the line. You, the factory manager, then go to that problem point on the line and fix it.

Check out what I mean in this shareable graphic for CRO stars everywhere:

Copyhackers - Every element on a landing page has one job.

But I want to point something important out.

Each element is acting independently and is responsible for its own job.

But the elements must all work together toward a common goal: producing a conversion at the end of the line.

I say this because you might look at the above and go, “Wait, Joanna, if an email CTA is only responsible for getting a click, then there’s all sorts of trickery that it could be doing to get that click. When the prospect lands on the subsequent landing page, conversion rates could totally plummet because the email CTA was all wrong. Or because the email body promised something that the landing page couldn’t deliver. Or–!!”

To which I’d say you’re right.

But you’re jumping ahead.

If the email body engages by promising terrific results, which leads to a juicy CTA the prospect rushes to click, and if the prospect then lands on a landing page but bounces quickly – as would happen if the email CTA was tricky – then we can identify that the landing page headline is not doing its job: to keep prospects. That’s good. That’s great, actually. By identifying the landing page headline as the problem, we are not saying the headline is wrong; we’re just saying the assembly line falls apart at the point of the landing page headline. We can then say, “The problem is that the landing page headline is not keeping prospects.”

And we can then say, “Well, what might it be doing wrong?”

Like any good factory manager, we’d look at both the headline and the step (or two) that came before. There, we could identify a disconnect between the email CTA and the landing page headline. And we could develop at least 2 testing options:

  1. Test a different CTA in the email
  2. Test a different headline on the landing page

Quite painlessly, you can put an end to tricky CTAs and actually improve your overall conversion rate.

You’ve tried writing everything so it’s all responsible for either an opt-in or a paid conversion.

That hasn’t made your life easier.

So test the Assembly Line technique for writing and optimizing copy throughout your funnel.

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copyhackers"

  • Ishan Mathur

    We want a new blog post. It’s been days 🙂

  • Hey Joanna,

    I love this post and am thinking about expanding on it. I’d want to use each of the 15 parts of the conversion assembly line you have here as headings and then include some higher level information about what’s involved to make each piece work.

    Also, and you can totally say “no” to this and I’d completely understand, I’d love to include your infographic with text attributing it to Copy Hackers + the infographic would link back to this blog post. However, I know a lot of work goes into digital assets like these, so a kind “no” is all good… I’ll work around it.

    Regardless, my goal will be to make it very clear that the content is inspired by this awesome post, and I’ll provide links back to it.

    Let me know. Thanks 🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Sure, Josh – I’ve got code above to let you paste it into your own post / site for the very purpose you mention. (See “Embed this image on your site”, directly above.) Let me know when it’s up – looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

    • You’re a class act, Josh Garofalo…a class act. Respect!

  • dileepa

    Absolutely fantastic!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks! 😀

  • So glad I found this today of all days. This past month I’ve been focusing specifically on subject lines, and now that I feel comfortable with them, need to quickly move to the body of the email because otherwise, great open rates with bland email copy turn into the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Indeed! It’s all good for a subject line to prompt high opens, but if your email’s body copy drops the ball, it all falls apart.

  • Very interesting, and I agree that breaking things down makes it easier to find out the weakest link in the chain.

    I think we also need to take into account the medium in which the leads are coming from. Some places are naturally going to have a higher conversion rate than others. For example, a lot of people find that Facebook has a higher conversion than Twitter. Maybe because Facebook is more “personal” than Twitter?

    So then comparing the two would be like apples and oranges. The best way to compare the headline conversion rate would be on similar platforms. On Twitter, for example, you could send out a tweet on different days with different headlines to see which performs better. Not a perfect experiment of course, but it could be used as a somewhat accurate test of headline effectiveness.

    Nice infographic and explained very well!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Absolutely! This infographic isn’t about optimizing for source – but that’s a great point. In a perfect world, you’d have a different landing page for your Twitter traffic than you do for your Facebook traffic (and multiple LPs within each of those categories). You’d also have thoughtfully customized funnels or “customer assembly lines” based on each traffic source and, critically, what those traffic sources “say” about the prospect. Then you’d write and measure accordingly.

  • Ryan Charles

    I’d fill out your form to get an editable version of the icons in your infographic so I can fill this out for my own project. I’m sure others would too. 😉

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Like to get the PSD?

  • Yuvrajsinh Vaghela

    Hey Joanna,

    I’ve observed the same issue while our team members were working independently without, focusing on the ultimate goal of conversion.

    I’m totally agree with your point,

    “But the elements must all work together toward a common goal: producing a conversion at the end of the line.”

    Keep giving !

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Great point – just as every element in your funnel has to work toward the goal of conversion, so too does every member of your team have to think of him/herself as a key part of a larger growth team.

  • Omg I was SO happy you talked about this at CTA Conf 2014, as your presentation finally gave me the authoritative ammo I needed to get a client to re-assess their expectations for how specific elements of copy should realistically impact their overall conversion rates.

    Case in point:

    I was working with a large company that had an online service that involved an INSANELY long funnel to a final paid conversion (aka land on home/LP ->signup for free account -> choose service -> send quote request -> send required documents -> get estimate -> approve estimate -> review final deliverable -> approve final deliverable -> pay!) … which could take up to several weeks to complete.

    Then one of my contacts at the company says a new higher-up in marketing didn’t want to “bother” with optimizing headlines because his analysis showed that it only had a 1% impact on PAID conversions. I was like … uh, are you kidding me? You’re doing analyses to see if 10 words on one page that the visitor reads once … has an impact on whether the user pays their invoice 3-4 weeks later?

    That’s when I went back in the data and showed the original test results that showed the headline tests that resulted in a 60-85% increase in account signups, and even higher for click-through rates to the signup page. (And that ain’t nothing to sneeze that when the lifetime value they got from each new customer ranged between hundreds to several thousands of dollars.)

    The job of your headline is to get prospects to *not* bounce, and, at best, move deeper into the sales funnel, nothing else!

    Keep up the awesome insights, woman!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      And that, dear Momoko, is a post onto itself.

      I love it!

      I especially love wondering who the large company is. 🙂

      I’m always torn because I don’t love that, when we report on headline and button tests, we’re so often reporting on whether our words in the H1 or the CTA moved people to a relatively minor action that doesn’t directly impact paid conversions. (Except in the case of checkout tests.) We are widening the funnel, and that’s valuable. But it can be frustrating for businesses — especially SaaS — that have this huge gap between the moment of trial sign-up and the verrrrry distant moment, thirty days later, of a user entering their credit card details. You can get more people into the funnel, but sometimes you get more of the wrong people in, and you don’t find that out until 30 days later, and you weren’t measuring whether the Pricing Page headline impacted paid conversions or not because there’s no way you can hold a headline responsible for something like that, as you’d mentioned. But all the same, you want SOMETHING to be responsible for that. And if you’re not doing the right kind of marketing to turn trial users into paid users – or if your product’s not up to snuff – it’s frustrating.

      I’d soooo love for our on-site tests to do more to boost those paid conversions way down the path… and, surely, they *can*… but they shouldn’t be expected to.

      Of course, in the meantime, you’ve got a lot of frustrated startup founders that have this huge 30-day period in which there’s so much fog. Anyway, that’s the subject of another post. But I’m picking up what you’re putting down. Which nobody says anymore.

      • Word. (No one says that anymore either …)

        Yeah, personally I’m all for setting up funnels first, finding which pages are having the biggest dropoffs, and then targeting the copy on those and moving “upstream”, so to speak. That’s an ideal scenario, though —half the time people ask me to optimize copy without actually having any funnel metrics set up to begin with … 😐

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