Copywriting

The 3 copywriting principles we followed to 2x SweatBlock.com’s revenue

Start with a messaging hierarchy.

Be specific.

Use calls to value, not just calls to action.

Those are the 3 copywriting practices we put into play to optimize the copy on the home page of SweatBlock, a top-rated clinical-strength antiperspirant.

The result? A 108% lift in revenue.

Yup, our copy more than doubled revenue attributed to the home page.

Now, to be clear, when I see numbers like that, I’m as skeptical as the next person. Even I can’t believe copy is as powerful as it is. “Really? Just use specific phrasing and double my biz? Really??”

Yeah, I hear you. I too shake my head at the results, marvel at the numbers, look for holes in the data if only because I can’t really, truly believe that words can do so much for businesses. Then I get an email like this: 

I passionately believe that content is the most important part of CRO but it’s also the most neglected part of websites.

That’s from a conversion optimization expert at Google.

The smartest people in CRO believe in copy.

Yet, in practice, it seems we’re all decidedly skeptical. To our detriment. After all, the data’s good. And the entire world of marketing is based on effective messaging. And it’s terribly easy to believe when the wrong message tanks conversions in a test – so why do we find it so hard to believe that the right message, put the right way, can and will increase conversion rates?? (For a strong product. <– discussion unto itself)

All that to say: Allow yourself to suspend disbelief as you read through how we used li’l ol’ words, placed in the right order, to optimize the copy for SweatBlock’s home page. See why we did it. See how we did it. So you can do it, too, as part of your next round of experiments.

First, Here Are the 2 Home Page Variations We Tested

The SweatBlock home page is an ecommerce one-pager.

That means it acts as a sales page and website all in one.

Which is why it’s so damn long. And which means it’s gotta do a lot.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s the control and variation B:

A vs B - Sweatblock - 800 wide - COPY HACKERS

With the help of Sam Woods of Response Copy,* we wrote Variation B, starting with a new messaging hierarchy.

We started by eliminating the “muddle” with the help of a simple messaging hierarchy

What goes on the page?

This is the #1 question you need to answer before you start writing a page.

Now try answering it.

What goes on your home page?

Kinduva broad question, right? It’s so broad, it breeds unhelpful answers. Perhaps you’d answer with, “As much as is necessary to convince the prospect.” Nice consulting-y answer, but not that helpful when it comes to brass-tacks kinda work. So perhaps then you might find yourself jumping to answers like “a hero section”, “a headline”, “the calls to action”, “an explainer video” and “images.”

But what goes in and in-between all that stuff?

When we’re trying to figure out what goes on a page, we’re really looking for our messaging hierarchy: the order in which to organize on-page messages to convince the reader. To arrive at the hierarchy, we need to start with the right questions:

  1. What is our visitor thinking when she lands on this page?
  2. What do we want her to do by the time she finishes with the page?
  3. How does her thinking need to change in the space between the start and the “end” of the page? What do we need to show and tell her to move her from where she was pre-page to where we want her to be now?

The answer to Q3 will dictate what goes on the page and how long it needs to be.

Now here’s how I like to think about the general layout of a page and, accordingly, its messaging hierarchy:

The 10/90 Messaging Layout Rule

Messaging hierarchy on the page

Roughly the top 10% of the page is all about matching 1) the visitor’s stage of awareness and 2) the message(s) that led her here.

The rest of the page is all about convincing her. To that end, I’ve found it useful to answer these questions, in this order, when writing a page. (Written from the POV of the prospect. Imagine answering one question for your prospect before she moves onto the next question.)

  1. What do you do?
  2. Okay. Why should I care?
  3. Am I alone in caring – or do others (preferably others like me) care?
  4. You’re starting to win me over. But I’m skeptical. So show me: how do you do what you say you do?
  5. And if I believe you and your process / solution, how will my life improve?
  6. I’d like to believe you, but first tell me: why is it safe for me to believe you?
  7. Okay, let’s say I believe you. Now what?

Those questions are not perfect and they do not work in that order 100% of the time. But they’re a solid starting point. Because they create a very simple conversation.

(How much or how little you write to answer each of those questions will vary. So please don’t try to “science the shit” out of your copywriting – it’s formulaic to a point, and then comes, well, art.)

When we first looked at the Control version of SweatBlock.com’s home page, we couldn’t quite follow its hierarchy. A didn’t lead to B, B didn’t lead to C. It was a bit like trying to read a story when the chapters in the book have all been shuffled around.

  • The answer to “what do you do?” kept reappearing.
  • The answer to “do others care?” popped up at least three separate times, seemingly without rhyme or reason, seemingly just because there was some good social proof handy.
  • Risk-reducers were waiting around every corner, even when there seemed no need to reduce risk at that point.

The Control felt like the old saying: “Every story has a beginning, a muddle and an end.”

It had too much muddle.

So we drafted a hierarchy that would better eliminate the muddle, giving every single message on the page real purpose. We used the 7 questions I just showed you to create the following order of messages, with a little extra built in for the top 10%. Here’s how that went down:

>> Matching (in top 10%)

Sweatblock home page optimization

>> What is SweatBlock… why should I care… and do others like me care?

Sweatblock home page 2

>> How do you do what you say you do?

Sweatblock show and tell copywriting

>> If I believe you, how will my life improve?

How will my life improve with Sweatblock?

>> Why is it safe for me to believe you?

Do others like me care? Copy on SB

>> Let’s say I believe you. Now what?

Now-what copywriting

Our copy intentionally moved along with the prospect, thinking like the prospect and anticipating their curiosities, objections and anxieties. Again, it merely tried to have a reasonable conversation with the prospect using these simple questions in this order:

  1. What do you do?
  2. Why should I care?
  3. Do others care?
  4. So how do you do what you say you do?
  5. And how will my life improve?
  6. Why is it safe for me to believe you?
  7. Let’s say I believe you. Now what?

(I’m repeating those Qs so you can write them down, BTW.)

The Control, on the other hand, jumped around, creating what feels like a pretty mad convo between the visitor and the page. If we map the Control messages against what they’re trying to say, we get this:

  1. What do you do?
  2. Why should I care?
  3. Why is it safe for me to believe you?
  4. And how will my life improve?
  5. Do others care?
  6. Why is it safe for me to believe you?
  7. And how will my life improve?
  8. So how do you do what you say you do?
  9. {Make me find my question in your FAQs}
  10. {How long does it last?}
  11. {Tell me again about the problem and the solution}
  12. Do others care?
  13. Let’s say I believe you. Now what?

Slightly chaotic, right?

A messaging hierarchy helped us minimize the Control’s sense of chaos.

From there, we turned vague copy into specific copy

Most copy online is entirely vague. It’s summarized. It’s abstracted. …Which makes it really hard to visualize or even understand.

This vague approach to copywriting is nobody’s fault. Getting specific can just seem… scary. What if you’re too specific and no one can relate? What if you’re specific the wrong way, leaving your prospects confused?

Those are perfectly valid questions and concerns. You don’t need me to tell you that – you know they are. But here’s the thing: in my experience, being vague just doesn’t work as well as being specific.

With that in mind, we turned SweatBlock’s summarized, vague-ish messages into specific copy. Compare them and check out our explanation below each set of before-and-afters:

fdsafdsafasdfa

To make the message more specifically tied to the visitor, we added “your” to the first line of the headline. Then we replaced the negative outcome statement (“Stop Embarrassment,” which is a summarized pain rather than a tangible one) with a tangible outcome: “wear what you want.” Finally, we added the line “just the dab of a towelette” to the subhead to help visitors visualize using the product.

How to rewrite a crosshead so it's specific

The Control crosshead was a rather typical sort of crosshead, one we refer to as “placeholder text” here at Copy Hackers. We replaced it with the answer to the question the Control was asking. That is, by the way, a really clean way to get specific with your copy: just answer the questions your old crossheads were asking.

fdsfdadafsa

It may seem like leading with an influencer’s name, as in the Control, is a no-brainer crosshead. But we hypothesized that, if prospects weren’t clicking to buy in the hero section – if they kept on reading – it may be that they were in a solution-aware or pain-/problem-aware stage. As such, they wouldn’t yet respond to persuasion techniques (like proof from authorities), which is great for helping to close people but not so great for getting them to care and connect in the first place. So we replaced the Control crosshead with a specific and even colorful statement about using SweatBlock.

fdsafdsafdsa

“Sweat relief” is good… but the SweatBlock prospect, suffering from excessive sweating, doesn’t come to this page looking for “sweat relief,” does she? In a marketer’s head, sure, she wants sweat relief. But not in real life. In real life, she’s feeling tangible pains: sweating through her expensive clothes, filling her closet with boring dark clothes, shying away from high-fives and hugs. So we put those experiences on the page.

If you wanna learn more about how to get specific (and you certainly should), join me at Mozcon this September, where I’ll be presenting on How to Be Specific.

If you’d love me to test specificity on your site and present the findings at Mozcon (and in other places like this very blog), send Lance an email saying why, saying when and mentioning the split-testing tool you use.

And, finally, we optimized the buttons to include “calls to value”

YES!! BUTTONS MATTER!!

I get soooooooooooo tired of people at conversion conferences dissing button copy tests. No, a button may not do the heavy lifting of persuasion. But, yes, it does the heavy lifting of transporting the visitor through the funnel. If you optimized all the copy on your page – or any of the copy on your page – you’d be a fool not to optimize the button, too. And you’re no fool – no siree.

Depending on where your prospect is in the conversion funnel or path, you’re likely to want to choose from one of these two options for your button copy:

  1. Calls to value, where the button copy amplifies the value of moving forward
  2. Calls to action, where the button copy amplifies the action of moving forward

Here’s a call to value on Variation B for the SweatBlock home page:

Call to value button copy

And here’s a call to action on Variation B for the SweatBlock home page:

Call to action button copy

Now, how do you know which one to use when you’re writing copy?

For starters, you can use both on one page. As long as you’re focusing the visitor on a single goal, the button copy you use can range from value-focused to action-focused.

A call to value is best for people before they’ve decided to buy; it reinforces the value of the offering and works toward convincing the prospect.

A call to action is best for people once they’ve decided to buy; they already understand the value, so it’s time to stop selling and just make it as frictionless as possible for them to give you their email addy or credit card deets.

On the SweatBlock home page, we have the call to action “Order Now” in the header. It’s there for those visitors that have already decided to buy and just want to order now. That same CTA is repeated at the bottom of the page – it’s the last chance to buy.

The rest of the page features calls to value, like:

Sweat less. Live more. 

Why suffer? Get SweatBlock now

Control your sweat! Order now

Additionally, you may have noticed that Variation B has more buttons than Variation A / Control. If we were measuring the success of this test on click-throughs rather than paid conversions, then adding all those buttons would likely impact the results such that VB would win simply because there are more opportunities for people to click. (That’s one of the many tricky things about buttons – people love clicking them.) Thankfully, we measured based on paid conversions.

And the result of all that? Copy that brought in 108% more paid conversions than the Control did.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Variation B became the new Control for SweatBlock…

…and we decided to run another test against that winner.

Later this week, I’ll share with you the second test we ran, how we arrived at it, and how it performed. Did it win by a landslide? Did it sink like a brick?

You’ll find out. But here’s my challenge for you: Tell me (in bullets) what you’d do to optimize the winning copy, which I’m including again for you here…

Variation B becomes new Control - 550 wide

Leave your guesses and/or ideas as a comment.

If you nail it by guessing what 1 specific thing we did to optimize the second round of copy – and you just may if you’re familiar with Copy Hackers – we’ll give you, oh, say, a free spot in our upcoming 10x Emails course. Naturally you have to guess right before we publish the follow-up post.

(Valued at $997. Max 2 winners, so we’ll draw names if everyone guesses right. This challenge is not open to members of The Copywriter Mastermind 1 or 2, who’ve heard the skinny on this test.)

~jo 🙂

*Sam Woods was a copywriter for us when we ran SNAP Copy, of which SweatBlock was a client. Learn more about the new SNAP Copy here or about how to hire Sam Woods here.

About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copy Hackers"

  • Charles Internet

    I really love more and more the articles posted here. The style suits my preference.

    I was expecting a lot of meaty details may be missed out.

    I can relate so much with these tweaks. As I’m planning to tweak the sales page/landing pages I’ve created for clients. Amazing.

    This is what I told my client, when they said my service is expensive. It’s about the flow of the business you need to put on a website.

    Not just fancy shiny image, texts randomly put on it like magazine or any form of advertisement.

    Copyhackers slowly becoming my favourite now. Keep up the great work!

  • Jérôme S. Rousseau

    Hi!
    Would you also recommend this structure for a B2B product ?
    Thanks!

  • Hi Joanna

    Brilliant article and help. Thank you so much!

    One quick question…

    If you are literally a start-ups startup…if you get something like that…and do not have a single testimonial yet on your product. What would a good substitute for social proof be?

    Can something like facts about the product/service be a good substitute?

    Thanks again for a wonderful article.
    PW

    • Testimonials from authority figures that a) speak of solutions like yours or b) speak of beliefs, claims that are aligned with your product/service or c) claims with proof from other sources that support the value of your product/service.

  • Great post! So many of these “use cases” are short and gloss over the actual tactics used to get that increase, but this post was SO detailed.

  • Thanks for sharing, this is actually really helpful!

  • tanjapislar

    Basically, what Eugene Schwartz talks about in Breakthrough Advertising is valid today, tomorrow, always 🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Basically. 🙂

  • Philippa Robert

    Hi Jo, my idea for improvement would be to push the sign-up/opt-in form higher up the page, above the middle rather than have it right at the end.

  • Michael Epstein

    Another awesome post – I’m a huge fan of your content and reference you often.

    One question regarding points 4 and 5…what’s the reason you don’t lead with how their life will be better before discussing how you do what you do? Isn’t the product/service just a means to an end?

    I.E. If the reader cares most about the end result, is it better to sell them on that before introducing the tool to achieve it?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Michael! I’ve found that our increasingly skeptical audiences resist promises of a better life until they’ve bought into the possibility that you might know what you’re doing. But that doesn’t mean it always works. You should check out our follow-up post to see how we actually pulled the demo and pushed harder on making life better: https://copyhackers.com/2016/06/great-home-page-copy/

  • Good copy for me is like a peanut butter cookies, except I won’t get fat from it.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Soft or crispy peanut butter cookies?

  • Larry Yap

    Another amazing article thanks! And the comments make this awesomer (if there is such a word)

    I’d probably change the button text to align it with the 2nd line of the headline so it’ll read “Sweat Less. Wear Whatever.”

    By the way I was wondering about showing the face of the model…because of that connection people get when they recognize a human face. But yet I read somewhere (don’t remember where though!) that if the target market is likely to not identify with the model i.e male customers, then it may be worth testing to not show the face at all. Not sure how that figures here though.

  • Rachael

    Oh also, 2 other things…
    – Maybe a shift of the colour scheme, to blues perhaps? With a complimentary orange shade for buttons, to direct attention. I feel like red or orange buttons on a green and white colour scheme would just look too out of place.

    – Pricing options. Instead of just listing the prices, give the prospect 3 different options/ amounts to order. Cheap economy option to test it out, middle ground with free shipping, and bulk option with discount.

  • Rachael

    I’m guessing you’d be changing the photo in the header. While it’s ok (it shows a desirable image of freedom, with the subject looking at the ‘order now’ button), it could definitely be better. The subject could be facing forward, looking at the “Sweat less, live more” button or having her hands subtly directing towards it. Right now the hands are pointing away from all of the copy, not very optimized. Subject could be shown talking to someone (we see a portion of their back only, maybe, perhaps a smexy man). One hand gesturing towards the buttons and headline casually, hand closest to the camera lifted to play with hair or something (showing clean underarms). Or simply, a happy woman on a hot day doing something fun with no sweat stains.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      “Or simply, a happy woman on a hot day doing something fun with no sweat stains.” = yes! The simplicity of it is good. (And I’m currently suffering from an extreme distaste for the point-eyes-or-hands-toward-thing thing.)

  • Andre

    Since Sweatblock isn’t the only product that helps control sweat they could use their value prop in the headline to differentiate from the others like Dove, Zerosweat,or Certain Dri.

    So in bullets I would

    -Test using the value prop as the headline(which I think is that it can last for 7 days)

    -Make sure the button copy reflects the headline since they work together

    -Remove the periods in the headline & button since they can signal a stop signal

    Ex. Headline – Just ONE dab of a towelette can stop your excessive sweating for up to 7 days

    Button – STOP MY EXCESSIVE SWEATING

    • Joanna Wiebe

      …Quit while you’re ahead, Andre. Kidding! Good stuff.

  • Joanna Wiebe

    Wow – heavy focus on color changes. Interesting. …Unless you’re a copywriter. 😉

    • Graham

      This newbie has just checked out what a copywriter does !
      No mention of colours this time.
      What about changing,
      Sweat Less, Live More
      to Sweat Less, Stress Less 🙂

  • sreilley

    You added 4 more checkmark bullets to highlight the ‘made in the USA’ etc points in the section under the doctor’s video?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      ha! Good guess. That’s actually a problem with the screencapture tool I used — the green checks load in an animated fashion, so only the first had loaded when the screencap was taken. In fact, there are 5 checks. 🙂

  • Andrew

    Here are some ” bean bag lob ” guesses/impressions of what’s in the new mystery C test Ad.
    1. Place the Doctor testimonial panel above the ‘5 picture suggested users’ panel.

    2. Embolden the last bottom panel with a pale green background. Insert the small angle ‘sweat block logo’ side right offset from ’email capture window’. Pique the value and embellish the email window. Reward for supplying email by offering tips/awareness info/promos. (my thought here is the bottom panel perceptually bookends the entire ad visually and reaffirms conceptual decision moments.

    3. In the order buttons, alter entreaties to: ” Order yours now “,
    ” get lasting relief” , “it works!” , “no sweat guarantee” .

    • Joanna Wiebe

      1. Why should such a big anxiety-reliever / cred-booster appear earlier on the page, in your opinion, Andrew?

      • Andrew

        Hi! I think I may have gotten a little bit of tunnel vision on this one and just opted for a bit of a flyer 🙂
        Viewing the ad in my email, the text was small and the videos wouldn’t play, so was relying mostly on the images and larger text. Looking at the panels with pictures, I started shuffling them around in my mind and trying to see what story sequence popped up most readily for me. So I thought the Doctor was like a guardian angel watching over the people below who had challenges in life .

        These people are somewhere on the journey of hope in addressing and solving there problems. And the final panel with the muscle man and celebrity on stage affirms the correctness of the middle panel people in trusting in their beliefs
        for better days, experiences, and outcomes.

        I liked especially the image of the weight man. His arms are raised up in a few ways for me, they are raised in victory, and then as Atlas supporting the journey and hopes of the people above, and lastly as a form of humble
        exultation and thanks to the watchful guardian angle .

  • thierry

    Hello Joanna. Awesome work as usual.
    Well for me it’s all about converting etiher people on the fence or making people aware of the problem and the solution a the same time.

    So if this already work well, I would just tune it with the following intention: “It’s time you do this”.
    (Of course I would want ot work with heatmap too)

    In the 10% matching:
    It’s Time
    To Control….

    But then as we keep going below in the convincing I would add this idea that “it’s time” in different places, including the button “It’s time to Control your sweat”

    and introducing your scenarii with the same idea that they have a reached a point and took action, if sweating is getting in the way of life, it’s time….blablabla

    And it can be indirectly even tied to the fact that hot temperatures are coming back and people will naturally make the link without saying it.

    That’s my take.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Very interesting point about the hot temperatures! Surely the team at SweatBlock is working on campaigns for the summer season. Great call!

      • thierry

        thx but the point is “it’s about time”, regardless of the temperature

  • Alfonso Victoria

    Fantastic article, Joanna. Thank you! I suppose the way to answer the “Why should I care” question is by stating the main benefit. Is that right? What would you recommend?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Generally speaking, yeah.

      A time when that might not be true is if you’re writing for Most Aware people, who may care most about getting, say, front-of-the-line access to your launch, getting a discount or ordering a specialty version.

      Consider the “why should I care” for the sales page for iPad when it was brand new. Everyone going there was in Most Aware stage – and the benefits of the iPad were already baked into conversations nerds worldwide were having. 🙂 So the real reason to care was perhaps not the primary benefit of using an iPad; the why-should-I-care was, instead, more about beating your friends to the punch and establishing yourself as THE early adopter of cool tech.

      So I’d recommend focusing the why-should-I-care on the prospect you’re trying to convert. Sometimes it’s a benefit; other times it’s not. 🙂

      • Alfonso Victoria

        Oh wow, that’s a powerful insight. Got it! Thanks so much!

  • This is a great guide, as i was in the process of reworking my homepage for my business and the message hierarchy is a good way to get the message across to potential customers. Thanks again for sharing Joanna

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Awesome, Andrae! Glad to hear it. Thanks for letting me know!

  • Ursula Nieuwoudt

    Hi, never written a sales page, but will give it a try: Most people are time constrained, speed read, and do what their friends do. I would change:
    1. Put: ‘SweatBlock towelette…your little secret’ right at the top, instead of ‘Control your sweat. And wear what you want.’ (because all of us love secrets)
    2. Then put the words ‘Wear what you want, when you want’ onto the green button, instead of ‘Sweat less. Live more.’
    3. Are there any FB comments they can check, and perchance find friends/acquaintances who use it? People love being part of an elite group/privileged/in group? Understand this is a sensitive issue though.
    4. Make the whole thing a much shorter read by putting pictures/graphics on the page, with very short descriptions on each. When hovering over them, they reveal links for more reading pages and more text. This enables those who need more reading, to do so, but those who don’t want to, to reach the buying decision and button quickly and easily.
    5. The video controls would be super, seeing as many parts of the world have very dodgy internet and connectivity, and loading times can be long, or hit and miss. And a link to read the text of the video would also not be amiss for those.
    Thank you.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Nice, Ursula! Interesting all around. To #3, as you guessed, SweatBlock isn’t as discussed amongst friends as other consumer goods due largely to the embarrassing condition it exists to hide. It really is a secret among friends. But on Amazon – wow. So many reviews. So we were able to go through those, yup.

  • Cristian

    1. Change main picture with the person front-facing, preferably with their eyesight towards the UVP

    2. Add “Ass seen on:” before the news logos above the fold

    3. The actual product picture makes it look a lot like condom packaging, consider using another picture with just the towelette

    4. Frame the value of the product with a comparison. Something like “Lose nervousness and stay confident the whole week for the price of a coffee” (needs tweaking but you get it)

    • Joanna Wiebe

      1. Yes!!
      2. Ass?
      3. Oh, what you reveal about yourself… 😉
      4. We don’t discuss price on the page, so this would mean introducing the price. That’s come up quite a bit in the comments. I wonder.

      • Cristian

        2. LOL! so I can cross multitasking off my CV

        I just thought of some more:

        5. seeing that the page is kind of long, maybe some directional queues (hand-drawn-looking arrows) could help focus my eyes as I go along the page. Or at least for the 4 steps in the “how it works” section

        6. “hyperhidrosis” appears 4 times on the page, but it’s never defined, and I bet more than 95% of visitors won’t know what it is. Part of that whole inside jargon I guess

        7. “Watch the video” seems like a weak CTA, “See doctor Peterson describe how Sweatblock keeps you dry safely” (kinda long but it’s in the right direction I think)

        Gotta run, kid’s crying :))

  • Damien

    108%? I was skeptical too; especially since, by definition, you can’t have greater than 100% 😉

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Welcome to the world of things that grow! 🙂

    • OrganicChem

      Sure you can have a 200% increase. Example: a 4% conversion jump to a 12% conversion is a 200% increase!

  • Man J, I legit have the biggest brain crush on you right now.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      hahaha – thanks, M.

  • I’d take a different approach and use Hotjar or Crazyegg to show me a heatmap of all the visitors and what people are scrolling over, then work on those buckets (sections) first or delete the altogether. By the way Joanna, are you still copywriting for clients?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Nice, Steve!

      We do a tiny bit of client work to stay sharp.

  • Holly Mthethwa

    I’m a newbie, but here is one guess: Maybe instead of saying “The Sweatblock Towlette…your little secret,” you rephrased it to say, “The Sweatblock Towlette…IS your little secret.”

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Hmm… A little more of a sentence-y feel to it. Good call, good call.

  • jfaber

    Great post. I think the way I would optimize this further would be to add a story as part of the “Why Should I Care?” section. A typical day in the life of someone who experiences excessive sweating, how it feels, what they’re missing out on as a result, and now how they can finally solve it.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      I like it! Nice idea.

  • Andre

    Thanks Joanna! This was very helpful!!
    I think I remember this since I have been following Copyhackers for a while.

    The #1 thing that could be optimized is how the first question is answered which is “What is our visitor thinking when she lands on this page?” which is the top 10% of the page.

    In the winning copy it leads with the idea that the majority of the visitors coming to this page are aware of a solution but not the product that provides the solution.

    1. You may have ran a test that targets specifically for visitors that are Problem-Aware who sense they have a problem but don’t have any clue that there is any solution for their pain.

    2.Then you would write with the popular formula PAS(Problem-Agitate-Solution) where you
    -lead with the PROBLEM instead of the solution
    -AGITATE the pain so they feel it on an emotional level
    -then you show them a way out by introducing the SOLUTION which is Sweatblock.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Interesting idea, Andre. This would be pretty tough to do on a home page because we’d have to be willing to focus on problem-aware visitors more than any other visitor. Doable – but risky.

  • Noel N

    Removed.

  • What ONE thing would I change for testing?

    Switch the headline back to a negative. But keep the addition of Your. So it would read:

    “Control Your Sweat”
    “Stop Embarrassment”

    Another option:

    “Control Your Embarrassing Sweat”

    I get the tangible thing of “wearing what you want”. But embarrassment is a powerful emotion (one of the leading motives for murder). Plus it presents the consequence right away:

    Learn about (or buy) Sweatblock now…or keep on feeling shitty.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Ah, yes, the classic “keep on feeling shitty” appeal. Dig it. 😉

      • Perhaps a little TMI: I get sweaty. Very sweaty. Especially when teaching a live class or hosting an event of some kind.

        So this is a product I’d consider trying.

        Embarrassment is the top emotion I feel.
        Mostly from people asking: “Are you OK?”

        Translation: “I see your sweat “.

        Another helpful motivator I thought of while reading the copy: discreet ordering.

        Standing in line and purchasing a product that reduces odor, sweat, or hair on your body is terrifying (except for reg deodorant).

        Ok, maybe “terrifying” is a bit much. But it’s definitely not comfortable. I try to hide those things under the toilet paper. 🙂

      • Joanna Wiebe

        hahaha! Thank goodness for giant packages of toilet paper… until the checkout person lifts the toilet paper. Then, voila! All of my personal-ness, there for the world to judge! (Thankfully, nobody actually cares. 🙂 )

        We talked about the discreet delivery approach a bit. Like the old Hair Club for Men trick: “Arrives in a discreet plain package.” We should definitely test that – at minimum on the next page in the flow (i.e., where the purchase decision becomes more set in stone).

  • jradic

    Very helpful article, thank you for sharing this!

    Looking at the page from a very personal point of view (as no other data are available):

    – Amazon Reviews–two things stand out: quoting different numbers of reviews (1800+ at the top and 2300+ at the bottom), and no links to support that statement. (I got that 1800+ is for five star reviews only after starring at the page for 30 min.) It’s always a trade off between keeping visitors focused on the page and providing them with information they want to see. A light box or live feed widget featuring unfiltered reviews on the page should do the trick. (Yes, page load issues should be monitored when implementing this.)

    – Instructions on how to use: I need someone to tell me I can take (in)finite number of showers and it won’t wear off. Or will it? 7 days is a looong time. How many showers can I take? Also, how do I know I’m not using it too frequently/not frequent enough? I just start sweating suddenly? In a meeting? Yikes! Definitely kick out ‘painless’ from the title. Antiperspirants are painless by default, aren’t they? Sounds scary otherwise.

    – ‘100% safe. No side effects.’ This statement needs to be backed up with some kind of proof (A study?)

    – Doctor video. No CTA (CTV) at the end of it? It ends with “… learn more about me at…” That strikes me as it originally wasn’t scripted for this page. Also, there’s no slide on the timeline of the video? That’s a standard (basic) feature of video platforms. Not best UX practice right there, otherwise known as ‘very annoying’.

    – Social media accounts for proof and customer engagement. They are non existent, not even in the footer? At least one channel? Videos are all fine and dandy, but I want to see that this product is used by real people and their unfiltered comments. ( OK, I lied, I didn’t watch those videos, as I’m not a video person at all. I like reading and skimming through text. Give me something to read!)

    – Money back guarantee needs a link or a light-box spelling out all the details.

    Now if I can get feedback on my feedback, so I know that the feedback was actually worth something to you, it would be awesome. Cheers!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Feedback on feedback – I think the world will implode if we add another layer of feedback, but here goes.

      Everything you wrote makes sense. The challenge is in figuring out how much goes on the page. Conversion copywriters follow the Rule of One, where we’re always writing for One Reader… but home pages are tough little beasts because you can’t pin down the One Reader very easily. I bring this up because you said you wonder about how many times you can shower in that 7-day period after application of SweatBlock… but to write effective copy, we can’t just put on the page what we’d want to see on the page. So then we have to ask ourselves, “Does the person we’re trying to convert here wonder about how often they can shower in that 7-day period?” The answer may be yes. The answer may be no. The answer cannot be, “Well I would.”

      Secondly – you asked for this feedback, BTW 🙂 – consider this point you made:

      “Also, there’s no slide on the timeline of the video? That’s a standard (basic) feature of video platforms. Not best UX practice right there, otherwise known as ‘very annoying’.”

      A timeline on the video that allows the viewer to move ahead may be a great UX practice… but it’s impossibly bad for messaging consumption. Letting users do whatever they want to do seems fab in theory. But now try getting those people to convert. If a prospect can look anywhere she wants and move anywhere she wants, trying to persuade them is a lot like that mom on the playground trying to tell her hopped-up-on-sugar kid to calm down and come sit by her. “But all the things! All the things to look at!” The power of our desire to exert independence and our dwindling attention span means that, if you make it easy for people to bounce around, more of them will. Which means your sales job just got a lot harder.

      • jradic

        Thanks for the great response! (that triple feedback axle was definitely not funny, my apologies).

        I did sound obsessed with the shower thing, not sure why it boggles my mind, I totally get that ‘Well I would’ attitude is not acceptable. Perhaps the better angle to explain this would be that if this product is ‘revolutionary’ in the sense that it would change/affect the daily routine of its user, then the main aspects of that change (not just of the products application, but its potential ‘side-effects’ as well) should be addressed. You are actually doing a good job out of it, I guess I focus on too specific details sometimes.

        For the video, yes I can agree not having slider is positive thing for appropriate messaging consumption. Butterfly syndrome et all, BUT 🙂 precisely because users can get distracted easily when watching a video they could use the slider to repeat few seconds they missed out (let’s say somebody/something interrupted them) Not having to repeat the whole thing just to hear one segment helps with avoiding friction. I had to watch it twice to quote her sign off, luckily it wasn’t too long. Could we agree that treating users as kids could backfire if the video is longer than this one?

      • Joanna Wiebe

        All right, fine. We can agree. 😉

  • GREAT write up. Thank you! I will reassess my website with this.

    Here’s my thoughts:

    • Remove, “More than” and leave “1800+ 5-Star Reviews

    • Change the Amazon logo with the 5 stars to a colored logo

    • Change, “It’s safe, easy and painless to use SweatBlock,” to, “Safe & Easy!”

    • Add Price

    • In the DFA approved section, there is only one tick, all the points should have a green tick

    • Change the 30 Day Guaranteed in the green square to a more familiar badge design.

    • Add a money back guarantee logo in the second to last block.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Cool idea, Kimanh! Thanks.

      (BTW, the bullet list with green tick marks actually had all green ticks. But they were animated, which the screen capture tool didn’t capture.)

  • Kate Smith

    This is such a helpful article – conversion is a topic I don’t know a lot about, and I’m doing my best to dig through information and learn as much as I can. Thank you for being so clear!

    I would make the buttons stand out more. Right now, it’s so pretty and coordinated, but the button on the hero graphic blends right in. The other green buttons do a little better standing out, but a tangerine or melon-y color would draw my eye more.

    I would also move some of the FAQ information higher on the page – some of that is important to understand the product itself, before someone thinks about buying.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Interesting! Love the button color idea.

      The FAQs are slightly more problematic to me. I’m not a huge fan of FAQs to begin with because, in my experience, they’re just the lazy dumping ground for stuff you thought about after the fact or just didn’t wanna bother integrating into the messaging. That’s not always true, of course; pricing pages benefit greatly from FAQs about payment, refunds, etc. But I do wonder about leaning heavily on FAQs. Naturally, of course, it could make for an interesting test if we believed that those FAQs are a significant part of converting people but people aren’t seeing them…

  • Hello, Joanna et al.,

    You’ve nailed another bit of brazen greatness, here, and we thank ye!
    And hmmm … how to further optimize a stellar, successful page …

    1. I didn’t hear you mention sticky/customer copy or customer reaction anywhere – was a quick, segmented customer survey in order? Or did you already swipe enough verbiage and insight from ’round the web (is there such a things as enough)?

    2. I also didn’t see any heat-mapping action … I feel like you would be physically yearning for el Map de Heat to figure out which elements bring value, and which bring you down (ha, DOWN. To 108% lift. At this level, testing must be gleeful!)

    3. Tested a mismatched button color – blue, orange?

    4. Added pricing?

    Love to hear what others come up with! It one sense (the losing one :-)), there’s no wrong answer.

    Anything we offer up to test can give someone else just the idea they needed to optimize one of their own pages.

    Huzzah!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Ye are welcome! And so true re: idea generation for all readers.

      1. We pored over the Amazon reviews and watched all their video testimonials to look for sticky language. Great point!

      2. We didn’t do any heat-mapping – and I’d love to!

      3. Oui on button color.

      4. Ooooh, the great pricing question. I’m curious: why do you think the prospect may need to see pricing on this page?

      • Ooooh, thanks for asking! {rubs hands, tee-hee!}

        You’ve already shot the bullseye (no surprise): “…the prospect MAY [emphasis added] need to see pricing on this page…”

        I don’t know that they do, but it’s a nice little plum to consider, no? Leaving it off could be doing a couple wonky things to the prospects’ brains:

        1. “This is too good to be true/must be expensive.” –> leaves.
        2. “Yeah, yeah [scroll, scroll] … hey, I’m not ready to ORDER, yet!” –> saves for a questionable later time, as though clicking the button will auto-charge their card.

        This isn’t a luxury product, price-wise, so you wouldn’t need a gigantor section that rehashes all the reasons they should shell out scads of cash.

        Plus, it’s solving a dern painful problem – these prospects miss their hugs! I could imagine someone reading this, getting into the narrative, and then purchasing within their coffee break.

        I’d hypothesize they’d be ready for pricing, and we could reduce some prospects’ button/price anxiety with something like the classic “s̶t̶r̶i̶k̶e̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶p̶r̶i̶c̶e̶ now just real price!” above the final button, and maybe above the tippity-top button, too.

        We could brainstorm more elegant ways to address the price, but I’ve already taken up a heavy chunk of your time – thank you! I hope you have at least half as much fun with this as I do 🙂

  • Also, just throwing my hat in the ring for what you changed in the next round, here’s my top guess (actually more like 2 changes, a one-two punch):

    1) Move that anxiety-obliterating line about being the #1 antiperspirant on Amazon (and the 1800+ 5 star reviews) up into the hero section. That is insanely strong social proof. I wouldn’t bury that under the fold if I could help it (might as well have 100% of visitors see it rather than only those who scroll).

    2) Eliminate or replace the hero stock image with something that does more heavy lifting, persuasion-wise. Possibly one of the video clips
    OR
    just make the product package the main hero graphic (why have more than one?), put the Amazon social proof content directly under it as a caption (so the eye will be drawn to it), then add an arrow that points from the caption/call out to the CTA.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Interesting, Momoko! It sounds like you’re in favor of crafting a page that is more targeted at Product or Most Aware people – i.e., those people that are far enough along in the process to be tipped by social proof and to need to see the product. Am I reading you wrong?

      • Yep — not so much crafting the whole page to focus on the Most Aware, but just adjusting the hero-section content to help those who are Most Aware/Ready to Buy to be able to instantly verify (without scrolling) that the product is trustworthy / a good choice.

        Basically, you’d be moving some key content around to help make the hero section be more effective as a a “get outta my way” short-copy page *without* compromising the messaging targeted at those who need more info/persuading.

        (The big reason I’d consider this for this home page in particular is because the product ain’t that complex/expensive ($17.99), so my hypothesis is that there might be a fair amount of visitors hitting the page who are in the “get the hell outta my way” mindset and just need verification about product quality. )

  • Just winging it because I don’t have time to go message mining and whatnot right now. I’m completely aware that without the data and time to dig into it, my suggestions may be completely out of touch with reality.

    Anyway, here are some small things popped out at me when I went through the page…

    1) Unless the appropriate goal is to get them to land on this page and click the “Order Now” button in the top nav without scrolling down the page, the hero image is directing attention in the wrong direction. I wonder if you might be directing some traffic away from your super effective home page?

    2) The “DO NOT RUB” bit could introduce some anxiety. I imagine it’s important to include this on/in the package so that they can use the product safely. However, it doesn’t feel important to make them aware of this before they buy. That said, I don’t spend any time in this market, so perhaps this it’s mandatory to include this information?

    3) The section where you talk about real world scenarios (e.g. teen sweating, nervous sweating etc.) could be strengthened with real life case studies. If you want to keep them on page, perhaps they can be expanded for more details. Each click would also act as a vote, revealing which real world scenarios people are most concerned about.

    4) Is there a reason you don’t share the duration of the video with the firefighter and doctor? The fact that I can’t see how long the video is, even after I’ve clicked it, bothers me a bit.

    5) A pull-quote from the doctor video that refers to the safety of blocking underarm sweat could be helpful for anyone that doesn’t watch the whole video. She talks about how we have millions of sweat glands and that the underarms represents a small % of that total. That was my #1 question going into this.

    6) The statement, “Less burning and itching than most clinical antiperspirants” bit made me think that I should consider alternatives that will burn/itch less. This could be put in perspective by pairing it with a phrase that says how much longer it lasts than the alternatives. “Lasts 4x as long as the alternatives despite causing less burning and itching than most.”

    7) Update the copy after you click to checkout to match the new home page.

    8) I’d be curious to know if your visitors have any unresolved questions around the aluminum content. Many consumers believe it increases chances of breast cancer. If a lot of your customers are women — it could be worth facing this head on.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Whew! That’s a lot. Nicely done, Josh. Totally hear you on points 2, 3 and 5. Points 6 and 8 make me wonder if that might not introduce new anxieties. Thoughts?

      • Not sure.

        For point 6, you had already said that it creates less burning/itching than most alternatives. When left alone I read that as, “Some brands cause less itching and burning than this one.” By pairing it with a bit of a qualifier, I read it as, “Sweat Block lasts x times longer than alternative brands even though it causes less itching/burning than most brands.”

        I can see how the above could cause the prospect to raise an eyebrow… like I’m trying to pull a fast one on them. 😛

        For point 8, I mention that only because aluminum content is mentioned on the page more than once. I think the aluminum content is also higher than most antiperspirants? So, if you found out that aluminum content is a popular objection among those that visit but don’t buy… it could be worth dispelling those myths on the page.

  • Awesome, as usual 🙂

    Another great messaging hierarchy “starting point” I use in my own client projects is what I’ve dubbed the “Why – Try – Buy” flow, which enforces the same basic narrative structure.

    I originally got/swiped the idea for the framework while talking with marketing wizard Jim Walker (he does predictive analytics at EverString, soooo eff-ing smart), when he said, totally off-hand:

    “You know, it’s funny, it doesn’t matter how complex or long the sales cycle is —whether it’s an enterprise platform or just a consumer product, every customer will go through the same basic stages before they decide to buy pretty much anything …

    1) WHY should I buy this?
    2) Okay, so lemme TRY it, so I know you’re for real
    3) Cool, I think I’m ready to BUY – how much/is it worth it?

    Aka: WHY -> TRY -> BUY”

    I’ve never forgotten that little gem — so simple! Been going back to it ever since.

    For a private webinar I did for a client recently, I visualized the concept, as shown:

    http://cl.ly/1X1U3L0G3l3v

    (where you add in Social Proof/RTBs wherever they best PROVE specific claims in your copy)

    … and then added some more low-level guidance for each part, like so (incorporating the same principles I originally learned from peeps like yourself):

    http://cl.ly/0d3f3R3k290t

    It’s not bulletproof by any means, but it definitely helps clients understand how sales copy should be structured, planned out & written in a first version, and moves them away from the standard approach of slapping together a disjointed collage of random short-copy snippets with pretty pictures …

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Why –> Try –> Buy!! Love! And huge merci pour the visuals.

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