Copywriting for startups. A world where those who dream and design… are often the ones crafting the copy about their creations.

It's true. The Office tv show

And while intimately knowing your brainchild is the first step, translating its value into effective copywriting that captivates and converts? That’s where the real challenge lies.

At the heart of every startup’s online success lies the ability to persuade and convert its target audience. (It’s that whole digital marketing game.) While design, UX and functionality are pivotal, it’s the compelling copy that often forms the first – and sometimes lasting – impression.

Good copy captures attention. Great copy nudges readers closer to action. And mediocre copywriting… doesn’t deliver much of anything.

woman shrugging

So, whether it’s signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase or simply clicking through to another page, the words you choose have a direct impact on your conversion metrics.

That’s why it’s critical to know the invaluable copywriting lessons that’ll help you elevate your copy, ensuring it not only resonates but also compels action, maximizing those crucial conversions. So, ultimately, you can meet your business goals.

Lesson 1: Craft a Clear Value Proposition

A value proposition promises something. It’s a statement that tells your audience what they can expect from your offerings and why they should choose you over the competition.

Your value proposition is your North Star, attracting and anchoring potential customers.

But how do you craft one that stands out?

  • Simplicity is Key: Your audience shouldn’t need a decoder ring to understand your offering. Use clear, concise language that gets straight to the point.
  • Highlight the Unique: Dive deep into what sets your startup apart. Is it the technology? Customer service? Pricing? Spotlight that difference.
  • Focus on Benefits, Not Just Features: It’s not enough to just list what your product does. Explain why that matters. How does it improve the user’s life or solve a pain point?
  • Test and Iterate: A value proposition isn’t set in stone. As your startup evolves and as you gain more insights about your audience, refine your statement to keep it aligned and compelling.

Remember, your value proposition is your handshake, your introduction. Make it firm, confident and memorable. For more examples of value propositions, check out this post.

Or check out Joanna Wiebe’s book, Headlines, Subheads & Value Propositions, and test your value propositions with Joanna’s simple formula.

Lesson 2: Implement Persuasive Call-to-Actions (CTAs)

Call-to-Actions, commonly known as CTAs, are the triggers that push a visitor to take a desired action. Think of them as the guideposts on a user’s journey, steering them towards a goal, whether that’s a purchase, a sign-up or any other conversion metric.

Every interaction counts, and CTAs can make or break your conversion strategy. To ensure your CTAs pack a punch:

  • Be Clear and Direct: Phrases like “Try It Free Now,” “Start My Free Trial,” or “Buy Now” set clear expectations about what happens next.
  • Use Actionable Language: Your CTA should inspire movement. Words like “Discover,” “Grab,” or “Snag” can make your audience feel like they’re embarking on an adventure.
  • Convey a Benefit: What’s in it for them? “Get My Free eBook” or “Save 50% Today” gives the user a direct incentive to act.
  • Consider a Call-to-Value: CTVs remind the visitor of the value on the other side of the click. CTVs like “Grow My Audience,” “End My Accounting Hassles,” or “Show Me My Quiz Results” amplify the value of the click to your ideal customer.
  • Prioritize Visibility: Place CTAs in strategic locations on your site. Above the fold, at the end of content, or even as a floating button can capture attention. (This is a great opportunity to test.)
  • Test Colors and Designs: Sometimes, a simple color change can boost click-through rates. Experiment and analyze.

By mastering the art of the CTA, startups can transform passive browsers into active participants, dramatically increasing their chance of conversion.

And to get your calls to action clicked, snag Buttons & Click-Boosting Calls to Action by Joanna Wiebe.

Lesson 3: Leverage Social Proof and Testimonials

In a world saturated with claims of “the best” and “the ultimate,” what speaks louder than words? Actions. And, more precisely, the endorsements of those who have experienced your offering firsthand. This is the essence of social proof.

Real customer feedback, whether it’s a positive review, a five-star rating or a glowing testimonial, instills trust. People relate to others’ experiences, often seeing themselves in those stories.

But why are testimonials so potent?

  • Authenticity: Genuine testimonials aren’t polished sales pitches. They’re candid, resonating with potential customers in ways scripted content can’t.
  • Relatability: Stories of actual users overcoming challenges with your product/service make the benefits tangible for prospective clients.
  • Trust Building: Credibility is gold. And testimonials serve as endorsements, vouching for your claims.

By showcasing real stories, feedback, and the genuine response from customers, startups can bridge the trust gap, nudging visitors one step closer to conversion.

Remember, your current customers are your brand’s most authentic advocates.

And if you need the exact steps on how to get quality testimonials, check out this Tutorial Tuesday with Maggie Patterson.

Lesson 4: Optimize Landing Pages for Clarity

Your landing page is like a storefront. A cluttered, disorganized shop might deter potential customers – so will a chaotic landing page.

When visitors arrive, they should be met with a clear, concise message that immediately resonates with their needs. Why is clarity so critical on a landing page?

  • Reduced Bounce Rate: A straightforward and visually appealing landing page keeps visitors engaged, reducing the chance they’ll click away in seconds.
  • Clear User Journey: A clutter-free page with a well-defined path ensures users understand the next steps, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up, or learning more.
  • Highlight the Essentials: Instead of overwhelming visitors with information, focus on the critical elements. What’s your core offer? Why should they care? Answer these concisely.
  • Whitespace is Your Friend: Not every inch of your landing page needs content. Whitespace can guide the eye and reduce cognitive load, making the user experience more pleasant.
  • Test and Refine: A/B testing different landing page designs and copy can yield insights into what resonates most with your audience.

First impressions count for so much. And a clear and purposeful landing page can be the difference between a passerby and a loyal customer.

Lesson 5: Use Scarcity and Urgency Wisely

The fear of missing out, or ‘FOMO,’ is a powerful motivator. Scarcity (“Only 5 items left!”) and urgency (“Sale ends in 3 hours!”) tap into this innate human reaction, urging action to avoid loss or regret.

But why do these tactics work?

  • Psychological Push: Scarcity and urgency create a perceived value increase. If something is limited, it must be valuable, right?
  • Prompt Decision-Making: The ticking clock minimizes procrastination, compelling users to act before it’s too late.

However, it’s crucial to tread carefully:

Woman I'm not kidding everybody loves raymond
  • Authenticity Matters: Avoid using these tactics as gimmicks. If you’re running a sale, offer genuine discounts. If there’s limited stock, make sure it’s truthful.
  • Avoid Overuse: Constantly bombarding visitors with “last chance” messages can desensitize them, reducing the impact over time.

By harnessing the power of scarcity and urgency judiciously, startups can prompt action while maintaining trust and credibility.

Lesson 6: Be Proactive in Addressing Objections

Every prospective customer arrives with a set of concerns or doubts, especially for startups, where trust is yet to be fully established.

By addressing these objections head-on in your copy, you’re not only displaying transparency but also clearing the path for conversions.

Here’s why proactive objection handling is so essential:

  • Builds Credibility: Acknowledging concerns shows you understand your audience and are not shying away from potential shortcomings or questions.
  • Smooths the User Journey: By answering queries upfront, you reduce friction, making the decision-making process simpler for the visitor.

And here’s how to do it right:

  • Gather Feedback: Regularly collect feedback to understand common concerns. Use surveys, interview current customers and directly interact with users and your customer base.
  • Empathetic Language: Position your responses in a way that shows empathy and understanding. Phrases like “We understand your concern…” can be effective.
  • Position Rebuttals Strategically: Whether it’s near pricing sections, signup forms or product features, place your objection-addressing copy where it’ll be most relevant. (Check out the example below.)
"No credit card needed" below the Sign up button for An example of objection-addressing.

By being a step ahead and tackling concerns before they arise, startups can craft copy that’s reassuring and compelling.

Lesson 7: A/B Test Copy Variations

Professional copywriters don’t rely on intuition. Conversion copywriters, who are data-driven and begin every copy project with research and discovery, don’t stop there.

Enter A/B testing, a straightforward yet powerful method to scientifically determine what copy resonates best with your audience.

But what exactly is A/B testing?

Simply put, it’s presenting two versions (A and B) of your copy to different segments of your audience and seeing which performs better in terms of desired outcomes, like conversions.

Here’s why you should make A/B testing a regular part of your process:

  • Data-Driven Decisions: Instead of guessing, let user behavior guide your copy choices.
  • Optimize Every Element: From headlines to CTAs, every word can be fine-tuned for maximum impact.
  • Reveal Surprises: Often, what we assume will resonate might not be the audience’s pick. A/B testing brings these insights to light.

By routinely testing and refining, startups can continuously improve their messaging, ensuring their copy remains sharp, relevant and conversion-focused.

Copy as a conversion catalyst (the means to increasing your conversion rates)

Compelling copy isn’t just a tool for startup businesses – it’s a catalyst that drives conversions. Every headline crafted, every bullet list and every CTA deployed holds the power to engage, persuade and transform a curious visitor into a loyal customer.

But the journey doesn’t end with the first draft.

The magic lies in constant refinement. By actively seeking feedback, analyzing performance metrics and embracing the iterative process, startups can ensure their copy remains a vibrant, resonant force that continually propels their growth. Your copy has power. Wield it wisely.

Feeling the weight of the blank page? Don’t let it intimidate you

The magic wand for startups looking to master copywriting is right at your fingertips. Written by the original conversion copywriter Joanna Wiebe, the Copyhackers ebooks are meticulously crafted to transform you from struggling with messaging to confidently making your words resonate.

Copyhackers Classics (3 books) by Joanna Wiebe

You’ll get precisely what you need with Joanna’s micro ebook approach, ensuring you only focus on the areas where you need help. Dive deep with bite-sized guides, real startup examples and actionable “next steps” at the end of chapters.

(Here’s what startup founders and marketers have said about the books.)

Why settle for fluffy advice when the real deal awaits? Grab your books here.