• Conversion copywriting begins with research every time
  • You can’t rely on 1 copywriting research technique. Compelling copy comes from multiple data points
  • The “messy middle” is real. Find a way to organize it

Joanna Wiebe, the original conversion copywriter, says that research is critical to the conversion copywriting process.

“This [research] tends to be the biggest part of the work, and if it’s not the biggest part of the work, 99% of the time, it means you’re doing it wrong.”

Joanna Wiebe, creator of conversion copywriting

Conversion copywriters begin with research

Research is where you find your messaging hierarchy (the order the messages go in).

It’s also where you discover the words to say and how to say them.

Ultimately, research is the data that helps write the right words, the right way, in the right order.

So the target audience says “yes” to the offer.

Do your copywriting research. Gif from Sherlock Holmes

Conversion copywriters rely on a variety of research techniques to gather VOC

Because research is everything, conversion copywriters use various techniques to gather VOC (voice of customer) data.

They listen to their team, prospects, customers, and ex-customers. All to find the data required to write compelling copy. 

Here are seven conversion copywriter favorites.

7 copywriting research techniques conversion copywriters love

Now there are a variety of ways to gather data that helps copywriters know what to write and how to write it.

Certainly more than what I’ve included in the list below.

But these are the research techniques mentioned most often in Copyhackers’ 10x Freelance Copywriter program.

1. Client (and customer) interviews

Interviews are an important research technique.

Copywriters can get a ton of insight (and sticky copy) from live conversations with their clients, their client’s team, customers and ex-customers.

Email copywriter, Kristi Durham, relies heavily on client interviews.

“My favourite Voice of Customer research strategy is conducting client interviews.  In my opinion, It’s the #1 best way to get unfiltered language and those sticky messages every copywriter needs to write high-converting copy. 

Make it a no-stress “come as you are” experience for the interviewee and you’ll be shocked at the quality of raw language you can paste verbatim right into your copy. 

It also allows you the freedom to dig deeper on a response and adjust your questions between interviews if needed.”

Kristi Durham, email copywriter

It’s important to note that conversion copywriters don’t just sit down with any ol’ list of questions for their interviewees.

There’s a science to conducting interviews that get the data necessary to write compelling copy.

To learn more about effective questions (avoid the wrong questions, the importance of open-ended questions, what about follow-up questions), check out this article.

2. Surveys

Creating, conducting and analyzing visitor and customer surveys will also help you find out what to say and how to say it.

Surveys are a great research technique

Surveys are a great way to identify things like: 

  • Scenarios in which customers use your solution
  • Unexpectedly great results
  • Outcomes they get from using your solution
  • Objections
  • Anxieties that nearly kept them from choosing you
  • Who else influenced their decision to choose you
  • How your solution impacted their bank account
  • Impacts on their time to work and their time to enjoy life

And so much more.

3. Review mining

Review mining lets you listen to what your prospects or people similar to your ideal customer are saying about your product (or similar products).

Online reviews for copywriting research

With review mining, you don’t need to worry about interrupting or filtering the person you’re talking to (which can happen with interviews and surveys).

You also don’t have to worry that the person you’re talking to or surveying is trying to impress you or find a just-right answer to your question.

Review mining allows you to listen to people similar to your prospects who are reviewing or talking about products, services, solutions, and ideas similar to what you’re selling or offering.

You can mine the reviews on places like Amazon, Reddit, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other marketplaces.

Digital Engagement Expert, Michelle Chow, relies heavily on review mining.

“I like using reviews of the product or of something similar. So Reddit, Amazon, competitors’ websites, places that sell similar products, etc.

It’s handy to get what customers like and dislike and it usually gives me some good keywords and phrases they use to describe their problems – which is handy for SEO, in knowing what they’re likely to type into Google.”

Michelle Chow, Digital Engagement Expert

4. Heatmaps and Scrollmaps

Tools like Hotjar let you see the on-page action your visitors take.

Heatmaps are a great copywriting research technique. Like this one from Hotjar

A click heatmap shows you which links are getting the most clicks.

The click heatmap can help you figure out why your visitors click certain pages and how you might make changes to get visitors to take the action you want them to take.

For example, a click heatmap might show that many visitors are clicking on the “about us” link over all the other links in your navigation bar.

This may be because your “about us” link is designed to stand out in the navigation bar. Or it might be that your visitors want to know more about your brand. And you may need to consider optimizing your about page.

Scroll heatmaps show you how far visitors scroll down your pages.

Do visitors get to the bottom or just the middle? This information should help you decide where to place important content on the page.

Heatmaps and scrollmaps are visual ways to see behavior.

5. Thank you polls

A prospect has just downloaded your free opt-in. Or a customer just purchased a product for the first time.

This is the ideal moment to say thank you. And make a small request.

A request in the form of a Thank you poll.

Thank you gif with Drew Barrymore

When you’re in the research stage of the copywriting process, you need to find out what is going on in the visitor’s mind when they arrive.

If you know what’s going on in their mind when they hit a page, you know what message is most likely to hook them.

Asking a question that will reveal what was going on in your prospect’s life that brought them to you is critical after they said yes to your offer.

6. Analytics review

The copywriter may not be the person that gathers this data from the platform itself.

But copywriters often work with their clients’ in-house analysts or analytics agencies to get analytics reports and gather the data they need.

Analytics are another great research technique

Analytics reviews should help the copywriter determine:

  • How do people get to the page?
  • Where did they come from?
  • How long did they stay on the page?
  • What’s the conversion rate?
  • Six months ago, what was the conversion rate?
  • What were they hoping the conversion rate would be?
  • What’s the page’s goal versus what people are doing on the page?

It’s not necessarily the copywriter’s job to set up Google Analytics or UTMs. But the copywriter does want to have the data they need to help answer these questions.

7. Competitor audits

It’s not easy distinguishing a brand or product from the sea of other brands and products.

That’s why competitor audits (audits of direct competitors and indirect competitors) are essential.

Dr. Squatch. How many of your competitors are doing that?

Email marketing strategist, Anna Sarayna, values the insights she gets from competitor audits that she doesn’t get from the other research she does.

So she makes sure that competitor audits are part of every project.

“I like competitor research because it provides insight that may not be readily available from client interviews or review mining.

For example, what are the most established/profitable brands in the space doing with their website copy/emails/landing pages etc? How are they addressing customer objections? And what insights can I learn from this (without copying them directly, of course)? How can I position my (my client’s) offer as the antithesis/superior solution to theirs?

This is valuable information. And it’s essential to the copywriting research process.”

Anna Sarayna, Email marketing strategist

How to organize your copywriting research for your conversion copywriting project

There’s a misconception that once the research is done, copywriters glide into writing a bunch of words on the page.

Absolutely not gif

Actually, there’s a stage that comes towards the end of the research phase but before the writing phase.

And there’s really no way to avoid it.

Joanna Wiebe has referred to it as “the messy middle.”

She’s also described it like this,

“that messy 90% of the work that happens between A) the second you start analyzing any data for a task… and Z) the point at which you drop that last bit of VOC into your framework, finishing your outline.” 

Joanna Wiebe

I’ll just call it: The Organizing Your Copywriting Research Method

Yep, just made that up. 😁

If you’ve been lost in the messy middle and thought, “I’m pretty sure the top copywriters in the world have a way better process than I’ve got with this clutter of notes on the backs of envelopes,”

Then you need to watch this Tutorial Tuesday.

And if you’re ready for a clear copywriting path that doesn’t leave you lost, check out Copyhackers’ FREE Conversion Copywriting 101 Course.