Episodes

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe

For nearly a decade, Joanna has helped small businesses and ginormous companies write higher-converting web copy. She increases sign-ups / opt-ins. And she increases paid conversions & upgrades.

TOPIC JOANNA COVERS

  • Find out what Copy Hackers do
  • How startups generally understand the impact of copywriting on their growth
  • How did she increase paid conversions & upgrades
  • What a good copywriter would do
  • Her work experience with Top over at App Design Vault
  • How she helped small businesses and ginormous companies write higher converting web copy
  • Her work experience with startup startups
  • Her thoughts on Hacker News
  • Her work experience with Inspire Pay
  • How it can impact a small business or a startup
  • And a whole lot more

LINKS & RESOURCES

WATCH THE INTERVIEW

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READ THE TRANSCRIPTION

Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Joanna Wiebe with us. Joanna, thanks for coming on the program.

Joanna: Hey, Bronson. Thanks for having me.

Bronson: Absolutely. So, Joanna, you’re the founder of Copy Hackers. It’s a great name. So tell us what it is. What is copy hackers?

Joanna: Copy hackers is well, it’s where start ups learn to write. Copy. That’s the idea behind it. So it’s a big information hub for people who are looking to write their own copy for their own websites, usually for inside their apps or for their app store description, things like that. People who don’t want to be copywriters but want to learn how to write copy for themselves.

Bronson: Perfect. So do you do, like consulting to train them? Do you sell products? How do you actually help startups write? Copy?

Joanna: Yeah, well, we have an e-book series which is pretty popular. I’m sure a lot of people have seen it out there. There’s 30,000 copies roaming the world, so that’s kind of cool. So that’s that’s the most popular offering that we have. And of course, we’ve got a bunch of free stuff on the site, like free worksheets and cheat sheets and the blog and things like that. But yeah, we do a little consulting. We don’t take on clients any more because it’s just like Madhouse. So instead we do like what we call productized services, where you can buy an hour of our time for a consult or you can buy a website review, that kind of stuff. So we’re trying to pinpoint the things that we get asked for the most from start ups. You know, like, can you just take a look at my site? So we’ve turned that into a product that you can just pick up if you want.

Bronson: I kind of like that prioritize consulting because usually they don’t go together at all, so it’s kind of fun together like that. Let me ask you, how did you get started in copywriting when you were a little girl? You say, you know, when I grow up, I wanna write copy. How do you how do you back into this?

Joanna: Yeah, well, it’s true. I mean, I didn’t know when I when I was little, I actually, you know, remember on Who is the Boss? Do you remember who’s the boss? Yeah, like Angela, the girl on there was like this advertising lady, and I was like, that was cool right then, Mom. Yeah.

Bronson: She was like, yeah, blond hair. I remember.

Joanna: Yeah. And she was in advertising. I saw her, like, pitching this, like, commercial or something in one episode. And that was like, that would be so cool. But, you know, you put that aside a million years later, right? And it just kind of fell into it. I dropped out of law school. Best decision ever. And then one of my friends was working at the marketing agency, and they were looking for a copywriter. I had an English degree. I thought, maybe we’ll give this a shot. And that was the beginning of it. That was about ten years ago.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. So you bounced the ten years. I mean, do you have a lot to share? A lot of tell.

Joanna: Us a lot. I mean, there aren’t a lot of copywriters, really, who stay in it unless you’re super committed to it and just love it. Most people like branch out and go into like, you know, they’re a marketing manager or something. But no, I’m dead. I’m dead dedicated to.

Bronson: That’s great. We need people like you that really hone in and do one thing. Awesome. Now, on your website, I was reading it, you say, quote, copy is you know, is is italicized. Copy is well, it turns browsers into buyers. So why do you say that? Why do you say that? That’s what copy does. And what makes you so confident that that’s a thing that really does take a browser into a buyer?

Joanna: Well, it is. I mean, I know it’s biased for copywriter to say this because it sounds like it is right. But it is what I’ve seen work time and again in split tests in particular write copywriting test, whether for your headline or button copy or body copy, whatever it might be. I mean, copy is your sales person on your website. There’s really no one else that you can depend on or nothing else that you can depend on on your site to get people to click, to learn more, click to convert, like to actually buy or to sign up, whatever it might be. You have to have the right message to get them to want to do that. And so I’ve seen it. That’s why I said copy browsers into buyers, because it happened. That’s how it works.

Bronson: Yeah. If you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, you work with a lot of startups, you know, that’s kind of your tagline. You’re helping storage, write, copy, you know, your book, you said 30,000 copies of it are floating around there. So I’m sure you’ve had a lot of feedback from the startup community. Do you think startups generally understand the impact of copywriting on their own growth, or are they kind of clueless about it? How do you see it when you when you look at the landscape?

Joanna: Gosh, it’s such a such a good point. Right. There’s a reason that I work with startups, and that is I’ve come from that big, I’ve come from the agency land. I did an in-house for a software company ever into it. So I’ve spent time with the big companies and the agencies, but it’s when I’ve been working with startup startups are the ones who reach out to copywriters for help. I’ve never had you know, you don’t see people in big marketing departments necessarily reach out to copywriters or agencies. If you’re a copywriter in an agency, you’re like the lowest of the low, right? Like nobody wants to talk to you. The designers don’t think you’re cool. Nobody thinks you’re very cool. So but but when we’re when we’re talking about startups, this does happen to be the one group that I know of and have experienced by connecting with them that really gets that they’ve got they’ve got this product they’re excited about usually, right? They know they’ve seen a few dollars come in or they’ve seen their friends have some dollars come in, and they know that it’s about the copy on their site or on their, you know, app store description or whatever it is. That’s the stuff that gets people to get interested enough to at least consider becoming a customer. So it is the startups that I’ve seen that are most excited about copywriting. And so yeah, and I think that given that they’re so excited and they’re looking for this help, it only makes sense to, you know, create this copy hackers to help them get there, right? Yeah.

Bronson: No, that’s surprising. I didn’t know that startups would actually be the ones that actually did it, so that’s a good answer. I’m surprised by it.

Joanna: Yet it goes back to like when I first started out, it was I mean, when I started out with Copy Hackers, it was all inspired by the startup world, right? I was on Hacker News. I don’t know if you know the story. Some people on the copy hackers list are like, Oh, Joanna, you always tell the story, but they tell.

Bronson: It’s. Go ahead.

Joanna: I don’t know. It’s just it all started out with a really cool guy who was a startup founder, Shareef Bouchet. And he he was looking for help on Hacker News with some copy. And I just wrote and gave him some quick help. And long story short, it ballooned into a bunch of other people tacking on and saying, OMG, help me to help me to write. And they were all startups where it came from.

Bronson: That’s great. That’s a great had a news story.

Joanna: Yeah.

Bronson: If there’s people watching this that are still doubting let’s see them people watching and they’re still not like it’s just words like it’s not programing, it’s not design, it’s not leadership, it’s just words. What are some of the biggest success stories that you’ve kind of seen firsthand? You can say, look, here’s what I’ve seen, like wake up.

Joanna: Yeah, absolutely. And I would I would agree that they should be asking that. Right. Like, that’s what a good copywriter would do, too. When you’re writing copy, you should be answering like, so what? And prove it, right? So we’re all going prove it. Yeah. And I get it. And I think that there’s loads of examples. It’s just like, okay, where do we start? Yeah. So I worked with a company Inspire pay, inspire commerce there a way to accept payments online. And I helped them redo their site. Took it from really like kind of. Overly designed, I’ll say. And that’s a copywriter saying that don’t get mad, designers. They don’t mean anything bad by it, but it was really like focused on just being kind of flashy. And we just stripped down, focused on the message, worked on their value proposition as the headline. Like, what’s the one thing about Inspire Pay that’s unique and really highly desirable? Put that in a headline, redid the page, and it went from something like a 2% conversion rate to an 8.6% conversion rate, and that’s holding fast. That was last year. And it’s still it hasn’t dropped below 8% as a conversion rate for them. Yes, it’s a free tool, so it’s kind of easier to get people to convert there. So that’s one example of where it helped with free. But I recently worked with Top over at App Design Vault, which some a lot of people in the startup world are also familiar with. Generally, if you’re into apps at least and we did a full overhaul of his website and we, you know, everything that I would normally recommend doing, you know, looking for the messages, you know, with in surveys and things like that. We can obviously talk more about where messages come from later. But we took we redid his homepage and his catalog page and we split test them and catalog page. Got a paid conversion lift paid conversion list. They paid still 1%, right? So that’s 61% for that. It so paid the rate like I want to leave that home because.

Bronson: That’s where I got the stat, right.

Joanna: Yeah, right. And then on his home page, we got a 51% paid lift, right? So some pretty cool things. And those are I mean, there were design changes that happened in both those cases, but it was really about redesigning the pages around the copy rather than like putting Lorem ipsum into spots on a page and saying like, well, someone should shove some copy in there, which is not a good approach. So those are two examples of seeing copy at work and how it can really impact a small business or a startup.

Bronson: That’s awesome. So now that everybody knows that copy does change things, now we’re going to dig in. Really find out what you know about copy. Now, obviously, if they want to do everything they need to buy the books and they can buy those at copy hackers dot com.

Joanna: Yes.

Bronson: Okay so you know to get the full everything that Joanna knows go by the books and we’re going to dig into some of it right now. So one of the most popular books is called Where Stellar Messages Come From. Of course, you know, you have a great title if you’re a copywriter. So tell us, what are some of the primary takeaways from that book? Where do stellar messages really come from?

Joanna: Yeah, that’s another really good question. I mean, it’s it’s the basis it’s the most important question to ask when you’re writing copy. Right. We tend to skip along to, oh, what should I say in my headline? But that’s like, okay, hold on, hold on. Just like, let’s back up.

Bronson: So you don’t start there.

Joanna: We don’t start there. You don’t start by learning about bullet points on a page, right? Start right back where the messages actually come from. And most often we think it’s about copywriters, you know, like a copywriter, an agency is probably just sitting there in a room like thinking and brainstorming messages with someone else. Right. But that doesn’t ever come from your head. It doesn’t come from your head. Doesn’t come from my head. It should always come from research. And I know that’s like, oh, everybody’s saying you should go research everybody, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it sounds like so much work, but there’s like really good, simple ways to do that kind of research to get to the point where you’re finding out what people care about on the other end your messages because they don’t come from you. That means that they should never then like be Joanna Focused Right. This is be obviously visitor focused. But when we go out and look for messages rather than looking in our heads, when we go out and look for them in customer surveys, visitor surveys, you know, little crawler or pop up whatever, or just by going through and reading support emails or a blog post comments. Right? A lot of times not even on your own site that can be on like the site of the competitor that you want to be most like. Right. See what people are saying there? Or this is a big one that I recommend constantly and it’s sometimes hard, I’ve heard for people to do initially, but going out and doing Amazon review mining, which is an interesting approach, right? So you look for a book on a topic close to what you’re trying to sell. So if you’re selling project management software, you’d go look up books about maybe project management or, you know, management in general in business. And you don’t care about the book, you care what people are saying in the reviews. So you go through and look for crisp language or interesting language or analogies and things that really speak to their what they’re thinking. And that’s something that you all like in a lot of cases. You can’t get that from a survey. You can’t get down to what people are thinking or their natural language because they know they know that you’re trying to get that out of them. And so they’re tending to edit themselves. But when they’re just leaving a review for a book on Amazon or a post comment, they’re their most natural selves, I think, for their written selves. And so those are the kinds of places where we want to go looking for messages rather than from inside our own.

Bronson: That’s yeah, that makes a great point. So it’s really about getting inside the customer’s head. And if they’re the ones are selling too, then they need to be they need to be the ones really providing the copy in some sense. And you’re just editing their own language and giving it back to them, which is what they want to buy.

Joanna: I couldn’t say it better. Absolutely. That’s exactly right. Yeah. About 80% of what I write is just white from other people. And then I use my 20% to, like, figure out how to really put it together on the page.

Bronson: And it seems like such a good idea because you’re going to use their vocabulary, you’re going to use their structure, you’re going to use their, you know, kind of mannerisms the way they want to think about it. And you can never come up with those, even if you know the problem perfectly, you won’t use the right now to describe it or the right verb or whatever.

Joanna: Exactly. That’s exactly right. And it’s especially good. It’s good for conversions. It’s good for getting people to stay on your page and reduce bounce and all that kind of good stuff. But it’s also good for SEO when you’re using natural language, right? That’s what a lot of people are going to be searching good for long tail keyword phrases, things like that.

Bronson: So, yeah, absolutely. Now, another one of your really popular books is called Headlines, Subheads and Value Propositions. I want you to talk to us about each one of those, those three, because I really want to know what you think about them. So you said it doesn’t start with the headline. Obviously, it starts with, you know, stellar messages come from the consumers themselves. And you showed us where to go and really, you know, kind of derive those messages. But then eventually we do get to the headline. So what do we need to know about headlines, Jonah?

Joanna: Yeah, so the headline Subheads and Value Props. I mean, when I’m working with startups, I’m generally recommending that they work first on their value proposition. And if you can get that right or to a testable space where you can like or testable point where you could maybe test two options against each other. Right? That should usually work for startups as your headline. So once you’ve got your value prop defined or identified at least and written, then you can turn that into your headline. There’s not a single client that I’ve worked with that I can think of. There might be an example out there in the startup world where I didn’t first start by recommending that they get down to the value prop, like let’s spend as much time as necessary on that value proposition. Turn that into a headline sometimes. So, you know, there’s different ways have to go about it, where the headline people want to keep things nice and short. So it has to kind of go into your subhead too. But when people are coming to the site of a startup that they only know a little bit about, right? We don’t know where they’re coming from. And like, I don’t know right now, hopefully, you know, with your own site where people are coming from. But generally speaking, unless you’re like Apple or, you know, Dropbox or something like really huge, you have to tell people what’s unique about you, that they really, really, really want to know and you have to do that or that they really, really, really want, right? So it’s unique plus highly desirable are like the key components of a value proposition when you’re messaging it on your home page or landing page, and then it’s just about making it specific, succinct and memorable. So that’s how a value prop plays in with your headline or how it ties in with it. Like why I talk about the two side by side, but when we’re talking about headlines and subheads, I mean, these are the most critical parts of your page. There’s no denying it. There’s no, oh, I thought that changed. No, that’s still the case. Like I was right when you said it way back when. It’s still the case. Right? Headlines are huge. Buttons are really, really big, too. That’s a separate topic, of course, in itself. But you have to spend the time on getting your headline to a point where it draws people in quickly and holds them. And there’s so much work that’s your headline or your each one has to do on your home page, right? When we’re talking about reducing bounce, at minimum, keeping people on the page, getting them there in the first place with, you know, the right keyword phrases in there, making it sound attractive without making it sound spammy or scammy or something. Right? So there’s a lot you have to do. So the topic of headlines is a really big topic, but that’s really it in a nutshell.

Bronson: It’s great. And you just tying the connection between value proposition to headline, it’s almost a 1 to 1 ratio. They’re just so deeply connected. Let me ask you, as a startup, a lot of times has mini value props, right? They have the list of ten. Some of the value props are unique to them. Some value props, everyone else does. But it really is what the consumer is looking for, you know, how do you choose one? The one value prop is because you can’t put into you can’t put in three. The headline probably has to be a singular shot. Right. So how do you pick.

Joanna: Yeah, if you can’t test it? Right. And the reality is that a lot of startups are in a position where they don’t have the traffic to do a proper test for that. So so we’ll just test it. Well, that’s not actually something that a lot of startups can do. So you’re right. What do you do? But if you go with what other people are saying, then you have to you have to differentiate differentiate yourself some way, right? Saying what the next guy is saying or and that’s assuming, of course, people are shopping around, but a lot of cases they’re not just going to go to you and say, okay, voila, unless your copy. He is, like, frickin stellar. And hopefully they will. But but if they are cross-shopping anywhere, if they’re comparison shopping at all and they can’t tell the difference between your product and the other product, but you think they’re going to look at most often and that’s usually price. So you could lose out unless you’re willing to compete on price alone. And that’s going to say we’re the cheap guys, but then you might as well just say that in your value prop anyway. Right? Like where are the expensive ones come to us. At least that’s a differentiation point where people don’t have to think about it. Yeah, but I would never recommend that you that you go about it, that you use a value prop that you think your competitor could use because that’s not really a value prop. Right. That’s there’s nothing unique about it then. There’s so many ways to differentiate yourself as simple as saying, you know, even for a start up set where there’s one or two founders saying that you’re the small guys who really care. Right? That could be a way to differentiate yourself from a bigger guy that’s more well known or harms is a really good example for shoes, right? Toms came into the shoe world that differentiated themselves based on their social perspective, right? On what they think about how we should treat people in the world and how to help others. And obviously, they’ve done an amazing job, and that’s one way to differentiate yourself. So I would encourage people to look further at a bunch of different ways that they might want to differentiate themselves and then to message what their difference is. Just put it on the page. Just say it. Don’t try to be fancy about it. Say it right. Like if Toms says on their homepage for every pair of shoes you buy, we send one to a child in Africa like that. You don’t have to be clever about it. Just say it right now.

Bronson: That’s great. It makes me think about that popular marketing book positioning, you know? You know, we have to position our product in the minds of the consumers in a place in their mind that’s not already occupied by competitors. So it has to be the unique selling proposition, not just, you know, any proposition. Now, you also mentioned after headlines is subheads. So what’s the difference in a headline in the subhead, what work does a subhead really have to do?

Joanna: So a subhead in the short copy world, a subhead usually does the job of explaining what your headline should have said. It sounds really silly, but I mean, I could try as much as I want to to try to get people to write a long headline and kind of scrap the need for a subhead. But no matter what I do, people want to do the short six word headline. So, okay, let’s work on getting those six words to a really good point and then your subhead, at least this is true in short copy land. You know, there’s long form copy and that’s a different topic entirely.

Bronson: Yeah, I might ask you about that later because I’m interested in what do you think about it? Go ahead.

Joanna: Okay, cool. But subheads tend to be the part that explains what the headline should have tried to explain. Or if you say something like save 6 hours a week with X product, then your subhead should say how you’re going to save that 6 hours. So subhead may answer those two questions I mentioned earlier, which are so what? And prove it like so what is what? What can I do with that 6 hours? Why does that matter to me and prove it is the part where it’s like, well, so show me the data. Like you can say, I can save 6 hours, but now, now explain to me like for real, like tell me because I don’t really necessarily trust you. Right? There’s an old saying that and I’m not going to get it right now because I’m on spot and of course, the way it works. But it’s like I consumers believe that your job with your website is to part fools from their money. Right. So a lot of consumers go around believing that. And if if you put that out of your head, then you probably won’t convert as well as if you think people aren’t going to believe this, let’s push it and make sure that we’re proving everything that we’re saying.

Bronson: Yeah. And that comes back to why copy is so important as opposed to visuals. Because visuals, you know, don’t really help the cause. Like it’s the copywriting that can ideas. Copy is where ideas are formed and ideas are given to others and ideas that allow them to give up their money. It’s hard to convey concrete ideas and imagery. It’s easy to convey vague ideas and imagery and emotion, but no concrete propositions.

Joanna: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. And I mean, I think that’s probably why we’re seeing fewer stock images on high converting sites and more like especially for software as a service or things like that or screenshot. So if you’re going to make a claim in your message, try to use the image that’s associated with it to help prove what you’re saying there or to, you know, give an example of what you’re saying. If you’re saying, you know, we have the easiest or the best looking design project management software that there is, right? Like nothing looks better than this. Of course, you’d want to support that with an image that’s so. Is that right? Seems obvious. But I think when we’re putting our own stuff together and we’re so focused on our own stuff. Right. And what we’re trying to do, we lose sight of that. Right. So just helps be reminded to do that.

Bronson: Now, let me ask you about the long coffee versus the short coffee. It seems like the long coffee is the old school direct marketing. You know, it’s almost like every paragraph has its own headline, you know, all the way down the page ad nauseum. And then the new, you know, style is more shorter, concise. Is there a place for the old style of what your thoughts are? And you just hate it? Do you like it? What do you think?

Joanna: I like it. I mean, I like what it does for conversion. I like the money side of business. I like seeing with I mean, copywriting is awesome. I love the words, but it’s really exciting to see people actually make more money. It just. I just dig it. That’s just awesome. So long. Copy tends to get you there. Long copy tends to get you more sales. It just does. Like you’re overcoming every objection in most cases that people have and you’re telling them everything that they could possibly need to know to convert today, not to get on a list and convert down the road right by a drip, campaigns and all that kind of stuff, which is good. But isn’t it better to get the money today? Like what? Don’t you rather make the sale right now and long copy can do that. That doesn’t mean that it’s right for everything, though, right? A lot of people who have like a $19 product will try to use long copy. And you don’t need to because you don’t have that many objections to overcome because the price is so low that you don’t really need to worry about it. Right. And if I’m reading a long copy thing for $19, you might be inserting more objections in my mind than I already had it. Yeah. So better maybe not to go there, but yeah. When you’re selling something that feels a little too good to be true or that is expensive, then it can be really good. Not. Not Mercedes expensive. Not like, you know, that belongs with, like, a single short tagline, right? That’s all you really do. You’ve got to short again.

Bronson: It goes from short to long to short on the exact.

Joanna: Curve of.

Bronson: Prices.

Joanna: Yeah. I think that’s a really good way to look at it actually. That’s a good insight. Yeah. And so, but there’s that area where the middle area, you’re right where, where it makes sense to do long copy. And when you do it right. Right you can kill it. Kill it with insofar as conversions are concerned.

Bronson: No. Absolutely. Yeah. You know, I subscribe to a lot of copywriting newsletters, if for no other reason, just to read them to see how they’re doing it. And they’re usually selling something for about 500 or a thousand bucks and the copy is usually very long and it’s hard to stop reading it. Even though I have no intention on buying, I only read their emails just because the psychology is too good.

Joanna: I know I’ve been sold countless times before. I even was doing long copy writing, like when I was first doing work at the agency that I first started, that I was a quote unquote creative writer. I wasn’t looked at as a copywriter. And I, you know, I thought, oh, you know, those long form pages are so ugly, so. GROSS. Why would we want to do a direct mailer that’s like 20 pages long? It sounds terrible, but but then I was sold by a long copy letter once and I was like, okay, this stuff actually works, right? And suddenly you can see the value in it.

Bronson: You know, what happens to me around the house is because, like, my filter for this stuff is really strong. Like, I know when I’m being sold, you know, I’m able to have that filter online. I come home and my wife is always reading long copy or or she’s always watching a video that’s just a voiceover, a long copy. And I’m always walking. I’m like, What are you doing? You’re getting sold. Stop. Turn off the computer.

Joanna: I know and I know it’s true. And I mean, and I’ve recently even I mean, I write these things, I know what the person’s doing on the other end, but you’re just like you do, right? Just like anybody who’s interested in marketing or is aware of this stuff knows it’s happening. But still, still I get sold on it because it doesn’t matter, because it’s really I mean, my logical mind isn’t the one that’s going to make the decision in the long run, right? It’s going to be the emotional side and everything that they’re doing to try to convince me, just like and I think that’s a good thing to call out, is that we tend to look at and we say, Oh, I don’t like long copy or I don’t think long copy works on me. So we don’t want to give it a shot for our own product. And we may end up missing a big conversion opportunity just by saying, I hate long copy, there’s no way it’s going to work for my business when at least it’s it might be worth trying. As a testily, do you.

Bronson: Find yourself with start ups wanting to do longer copy than they’re comfortable with? A lot of times.

Joanna: Yeah.

Bronson: Yeah. How much is the right match? Copy like. Okay, let’s say it’s a you know, here’s some of my products. I do software as a service products. They’re usually ranging from, you know, ten bucks to 50 bucks a month, somewhere in that range. You know, should I have kind of the Apple style copy down the page or is that too long for that price point? I mean, what’s your feeling on a like a nominally priced product? How much copy should they be trying to fit on the home page, let’s say?

Joanna: I mean, it depends on your audience, too, right? Like, I know I worked with someone, Daniel Yu, who, who has this, um, this app for Christian people, it’s like, I don’t know how to say. Kristin. Oh, no, I just don’t remember what exactly we narrowed it down to when we were identifying, like, the target. But it is, it’s they deliver our daily inspirations, I think it’s called daily inspirations. And we could have it was only a dollar 99 app. It’s on an expensive app. But I still thought, you know, we’re talking to a group of people who are used to maybe getting this stuff for free. There’s a lot of other free apps out there. We have to convince people that they should pay a dollar 99. It doesn’t feel like it’s much to part with. But given the audience right, which may be used to getting things for free, and given that there are more people who are who are competing against them, there are so many free apps out there, you do have to take more time on your page to really talk through why they should hand their money over to you today. So it’s considering who you’re up against and who you’re selling to. And then it’s also just about like the more again, what if you go back to where you’re getting your messages from in the first place? And if you’re doing the right research early on, which is again about survey and things like that, if you’re doing that kind of work quite a bit will usually come to the surface, right? If you’re just sitting there thinking on your own, then you don’t know how long to go. But if you’re going back and you’re getting messages in from other people and organizing those messages, say if you heard 15 times or 20% of people said this one thing. So, you know, that’s got to be a big important message at the top of the page. But 5% all said all these other things. So that’s where you can start to say, okay, well, I need to put those messages on the page, too. They may be really long tail. They may be like down at the bottom and we might have calls to action before you get to those points. But if you’re going back to the beginning and getting those messages from the right people, that should tell you how long your page has to go. You know.

Bronson: That’s a great answer. It’s almost like you you make it long enough to answer objections and give them value props, but not so long that you’ve overstayed your welcome and gave them more objections like you stated earlier. So the right length is the right length and there are too many variables to know what it is until you get into it.

Joanna: Right. And that’s so unfortunate. There are no easy answers for that. And everybody who wants one, and that’s.

Bronson: What I was asking for, is just tell me the answer so I can just do it from now on.

Joanna: Sorry. I wish I had one. I’m not that person who has.

Bronson: But you do give me a framework and that’s good enough so I can use that framework and you apply it. Now, you also wrote a book called Buttons and Click Worthy Calls to Action. Now, I’m actually glad we save this, you know, as the last of the books we’re going to talk about, because this is the one this is the thing in the startup world that everybody talks about, oh, just make the button orange and it’s going to solve all your problems, you know? And so I do think headlines are super important. Subheads, the value prop. I think that’s the heart of it. But once you’ve kind of got their attention and they’re ready to click somewhere, you need buttons and click worthy calls to action. So tell us what we should know about those things. Okay.

Joanna: Well, I think what we should I mean, one of the problems with writing buttons is people think, oh, it’s only three words. This is easy, right? Like it’s just three words. The other stuff was hard, but it’s like, this is the conversion moment, right? This is even if it’s a micro conversion to the next page, this is where like there’s no salesperson who would back off at this point. If you’re in a car dealership, they’re not going to go wandering now or to say, okay, go sign the form. Right? They’re going to this is the point where you got to bring it. And we tend to not do that again because we think it’s just a little button. Right. It’s so it’s so small. How much harm could it do? But it’s it’s it’s so powerful. Some of the things to keep in mind are one of the biggest things that I think could help most people move to make their buttons more click worthy is stripping out the words that imply work. And there are a lot of people who are talking about this. I’ve been reading more about this lately, so I think it’s coming through for a lot of people. But if it suggests work or if it’s kind of navigational, every button is still marketing, it’s still copy, it’s still something. You have to then make people want to click right. They don’t just get to click it because they’re ready to. They have to want to click it just like they have to want everything else on your page, right? That’s your job. So if we can strip out words that imply work like sign up, sign up now isn’t good. I have to work at that. It’s more like get access now or something like that. Sure. Next step, they’re going to be filling out a form, but you don’t have to say fill out form now, right? You would never say it had.

Bronson: Click here.

Joanna: Yeah. Lots of work to come click here. Right. Nobody wants to click that button. But so you have to think about, well, what do they want? If you can think about the end point, where what are they filling up that form for? Is it to get access and say get access now? Right. And, you know, or get get access, whatever, right. Whatever that language is, it’s about working beyond just saying sign up or buy now or add to cart, which are things that you want them to do and things that technically they will be doing, but. We’re not technical writers here, right? So try to get to the point of explaining what they want and how they’re going to get that with this button. So one strip out those friction words and then to surround your button with the things that are more most likely to get the clothes right, to get them to actually be excited to go through with this. Right. To get over that hurdle of of knowing that they’re about to part with something they know they have to part with their email address, with their credit card information, with just more information about themselves, whatever it might be. They know there’s going to be a certain amount of work in here, even if your button doesn’t suggest anything about that. So do other things. Like we see this a lot, but it’s just a matter of reminding people put a really strong testimonial directly below your button, right? Tell them exactly what’s going to happen next, like next or what’s not going to happen. Like no salesperson will call you. Simple things like that. Right? When I sign up for some, you know, PDF online or for lead gen, you’re trying to get me as a lead and you’re not going to follow up as a calling salesperson. Tell me that. Sure, you’re going to follow up by an email, but I just want to know that you’re not going to follow up like on the phone, just those little things that you can do that you should just put them right there on the page. Just don’t imply it. Don’t leave it unsaid if it’s going to help them. Want to click, put it by the button.

Bronson: Yeah. I’ve never thought about proximity mattering at all. Like as soon as you say it, I was just like lightbulbs. Okay. Proximity, like. Yeah, testimonial next to the button that’s going to make them give up something. So that’s great insight. And then your first thing was about really just getting inside of the consumer’s head again. You know, it’s kind of the same thing you said earlier. It almost seems like great copywriting comes from empathetic people. Right?

Joanna: That’s a nice title alone. You got to write something about that. I know, right? You write people who don’t put yourself in the picture. You’re not in this. You don’t matter to this person at all. The only person that matters to them is really them in that moment. And of course, everything that comes with being them, right? Caring about impressing their boss, caring about making their father in law appreciate them or whatever. Right? All that crap that comes with people or them, then you’re more likely to get them to convert. More likely to it doesn’t mean it’s the silver bullet. There’s no silver bullet, but at least you’re that much closer. And if you were to test it versus a button that didn’t take that approach, then I would hypothesize that you would have a winner on your hands.

Bronson: Yeah. Now, let’s talk about the data side of things. You’ve mentioned a few times about how you test copy. Have you mentioned some startups don’t have enough traffic yet to do it? So let’s talk about that. So obviously you AB test your copy. I’m assuming that based on things you’ve said, how do you do that? Is it just, you know, rudimentary? You’re doing two different landing pages and looking at the heads. Is there any more nuanced tools you use to do it? What does AB testing look like for you?

Joanna: Yeah, well, I mean, there’s multiple ways that I go about it. I use unbalance or I use on bounce for landing pages, of course. And copy hackers itself is separate site, but unbalance makes it like ridiculously easy to split test your two landing pages. So that is one way I go about it. And then alternatively it’s it’s using, using tools like visual website optimizer or optimized slate. I tend to use visual website optimizer with clients for some reason and it’s not my site. I don’t know why I’ve made that distinction or whatever, but that’s just what I do. I’ll have to think about that more later, I guess. But but those are like two good flow testing tools that can help you. And because I’m often just doing copy tests or like one page against another page rather than like I’m not in the world doing like button color tests or anything like that. So, but even then, if you’re to do that, like these tools make it so crazy, easy to test and actually get data and not have to worry about like doing some just trying to figure out what’s working just by guessing or by going out and asking people to tell you what they think about it. So I just use the same things that I think most people do use to do. The actual split test is unbalance and then other tools that that lets you test on your existing site.

Bronson: Yeah. And with unbalanced are you testing are there tools within unbalance where you can say here’s copy, here’s copy B and they actually give you the data right there?

Joanna: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You set it up, you create your first landing page and once you’ve set that up, it prompts you to set up your next one. And then so it’s like.

Bronson: Yeah, yeah. There you go. Now, here’s another question I have for you with AB testing. I’m assuming you’ve seen more AB test than most people in terms of copy mean. You’ve seen a lot more than I have. And so there’s probably a lot of things that you recognize or understand just because you’ve been doing it so long. What are some like maybe tidbits of information like when you’re doing a B test, keep this in mind or this kind of percentage is a good increase for A over B because, you know, I’m looking at I’m like, am I looking for a 20% in. 2%. It’s like there’s so many unknowns that come with experience. What are the things you can tell us?

Joanna: That’s a good question. I mean, it’s it’s so hard to say. The biggest things the things that I see with startups are around, again, not having enough traffic to do a test. You can you can run a test, but you end up not being able to reach a level of confidence that you actually feel confident in. And that’s kind of I think that’s a startup opportunity for people who are like, we should do a testing tool. If you’re going to make one great big steps away where you like, get rid of the problem of a lot of these tools, tell you that you’ve got 99% confidence, but you’ve really only had like 50 conversions come through and you know, you know in your gut that the.

Bronson: Source could be the cause of that difference.

Joanna: Yeah.

Bronson: The source of the cause is the right copy for that blog that I wrote about you. When really, overall, it’s the wrong copy for everybody else.

Joanna: I know. And it could be. And people say, well, testing tools are trying to eliminate those variables, but when you have really low traffic, they don’t write. They can’t because you get a burst of traffic or because you’re traffic is so low that it acts like you get different weekend traffic than you do weekday traffic. And so if you’re making decisions on the weekend based on what’s going on, then even though during the week things are very different for your traffic, then those can be a big challenge as right, you end up making the wrong call and maybe, maybe it is ultimately the right call. But you don’t actually know. Yeah, you might. Yeah. I’m sorry.

Bronson: What kind of numbers are you thinking is a good threshold? Then do we need 5000 visitors in a week to really be sure of what they’re clicking on? Do we need, you know, 100,000? I mean, what makes you sleep well at night?

Joanna: Yeah, well, it’s a good question. And Lance, my partner at Copy Hackers, does this a lot more than I do, but I’ve learned a lot from him about the technical side of it and what we should be looking for there. So I’ll repeat what he would likely say that is. So when you’re trying to close off a test, right, you don’t want to let it run necessarily for like a month. Anything that’s necessarily like too long, right? If you traffic’s really low, but you have to wait a month for six weeks to get to a point where you feel confident. It’s probably kind of sketchy anyway. Right. So he would say try to have at least 500 visitors to your site a day in order to run a test that you can feel good about, have at least before you close it off at least 100 conversions per recipe before you pull that off.

Bronson: That’s exactly what I was looking for. Just actionable insight about some real numbers. That’s perfect. Thank you for that. Now let’s talk about the kind of growth of copy hackers itself, because you help all these startups grow through copy, but you yourself are a startup in a sense that has to grow itself, right? Yeah. And you guys have had quite a bit of success. What is the number of yen of ebooks? 30,000.

Joanna: 30,000?

Bronson: Yeah. So you push them product, you know how to get people to your site. You know how to sell them once are there. What have been your primary channels for customer acquisition? How do people find out about you? How do they come to your site?

Joanna: Yeah, I mean, while it did start, we were lucky to launch really well when hackers first did launch. Right. We had some interest built up already in the Hacker News community. And we were we were working with that and we launched with a post that made it to the first page of Hacker News and stayed there for quite a few hours and just drove sick traffic to our site. Now, as for the the launch of the eBooks and I was having like this major sale where you get all four eBooks for 1399. So it was like they just like flew off the shelves. I was like, what is happening here? Like, this is really going to work. What? What’s real? So that was cool and it just kind of kept going from there. I mean, the startup community is like the best community to be in. I just like they’re so good about talking to each other and and when they find you and they like you, they’ll, like, tell you. So you feel good about yourself, right? And you feel like you keep going because they’re nurturing startups, too, right? It’s a really it’s just a solid community. So I think that that helped with getting copy hackers off the ground. And then it’s been a matter of, well, relying on other things to help expand. The number of people who are learning about the product really are learning about copy hackers. And we’ve used, I mean, tools like app sumo write app sumo has been sick for copy hackers growth. It’s been incredible. I’ve used other deal sites too and they’ve been good, like mighty deals and it’s really quite easy to do that kind of thing when you’re when your product is an e-book or something that’s digitally delivered, right? There’s so much margin, so much right. There’s everything that you sell is good. All you’re really trying to do is get your name out there and get more people to come in and learn about your your company and get on your list and follow you on Twitter and do those kinds of things. And so, yeah, we’ve depended. Early on at least, we relied on things like apps and more to help spread the word about us. And then it’s just a matter of once people have learned about us, then they’ve gone around and talked about us and interviewed us like you’re doing now, right? Or later, you know. A webinar with Unbalance recently and that was really cool too. And you get a lot of people who the more they hear about you, the more they want to tell people about you. And it’s been just really organic that way. We don’t do any PPC advertising that hasn’t worked for us because a lot of people are looking for free copywriting stuff. So if you’re a copywriter out there, I don’t know what you are, but it’s not working for me. It’s the at least at this point. Yeah. So that’s kind of where we’ve come from and then we’ve done, you know, courses and things along the way and, and that’s helped out a lot, but it’s been very organic and just based largely on word of mouth. And then these bursts from from big affiliates, I guess you’d call them.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. Are there any kind of growth strategies on the horizon that you want to try? Even thinking about trying, you know, and you just don’t have the time, the resources, whatever right now?

Joanna: Yeah, well, we are working on I mean, before copy hackers. We, I mean the reason we were on Hacker News at all before that is because we’ve always been interested in the startup world. So we had, you know, a realtor rating site way back when and we have this page 99 test dot com, which is like this, you know, book thing. It’s just kind of a hobby site or whatever, right? But it’s still like it’s been our little, you know, endeavors in the startup world outside of information products, which is, of course, what we what we have now. Cool ones, not boring information products. Mm hmm. But, yeah, going forward we’re working on because we when we talk about where messages come from, that’s like the biggest part of copy hackers. I think you can learn a lot about headlines from other people and they’ve got good information on it, but there’s not necessarily a lot of people talking about really, really, truly where do those messages come from? So we’re working now on a saw on a survey tool that hopefully we’ll have an Alpha for in about a month. I don’t know, but that’s where we’re going, right? We want to as much as we love, you know, doing the copy hackers information, I don’t I’ll obviously keep doing that. People need help finding out where those messages come from. So that’s what this little tool we’re working on is help them do that.

Bronson: Sounds exciting. So it’s kind of that early advice you gave us about where stellar messages come from. You talked about the message board, the blog, comments to Amazon reviews. So you’re building a tool that can gather that data and kind of make it inbound instead of having to go out and scavenger for it.

Joanna: Exactly. Right. Which people already do have, you know, survey tools. Obviously, they exist right now, but completion rates are super low, which is really hard for startups in particular. Right. If your traffic is really low, again trying to get you can put a call arou up there and caller is fantastic but you can put it up there and maybe not get that many responses right or get people you get a select number of people who are actually trying to use it for support or something. Right where they’re they need help. So. Right. So anyway, our goal with this is to help increase those completion rates for surveys so that startups can more rapidly get the information that they need to optimize their copy on their sites.

Bronson: Yeah, if you’re doing a survey that’s just about copy, then it’s going to ask different questions. It’s going to have different nuances to it that, you know, a survey monkey or a caller ID wouldn’t have. I mean, it’s just going to be different. So I think for this niche, there’s totally an opportunity there. So best of luck with that.

Joanna: Yeah, yeah. We’re really excited about we’ve been talking a lot to a lot of startups that we know, particularly in the Victoria B.C., which is where we’re from in that community. There’s a big with hackers move men and a lot of cool startups so we’ve been yeah knocking ideas around and we feel pretty good about where we’ve landed with this we’ll see what what happens with the alpha course.

Bronson: Exactly. Well, let me ask you one last question here. You know, our audience is filled with entrepreneurs and startups. What’s the best advice that you have for anyone that’s trying to understand copy for the sake of their startup?

Joanna: Oh, crap.

Bronson: Yeah, no, no pressure. Just make it the best advice ever. Yeah.

Joanna: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, one that you care about. Copy is already like that puts you leaps and bounds ahead of where most of your biggest competition probably is. Like the big you know, I’m not going to name any names for big companies that because maybe they do care about copy. It’s just not coming through. But good for you. For one, caring about it too. I think it’s a matter of not to rush through it. I hear a lot from people like, how do I do this faster? Like Don’t do it faster to spend time on it, especially early on when you’re like you’re willing to put that time into a product, into building it, put the time into marketing it, right? Like just this will sell it. This this is one thing that I know that I have seen will actually help you sell more of your stuff so you can keep your business going. And you can maybe quit your day job to stick with it and make it grow by optimizing your copy. So I would say spend time on it, learn about it. Obviously, go to copy cars.com to get some of those learning resources. But lots of people are talking about it. We do webinars and all sorts of things, right in a lot different spaces. So soak it up, take it in and then test whatever you can write with what traffic you have run really smart tests that you can learn from so you don’t waste your traffic on a test that you can’t really learn from. And you know what I mean? So that’s it. Soak it up. Take it in. Test it.

Bronson: Yeah. Such great advice to close on. Joanna, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Joanna: Thanks for having me. It’s been really fun.

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