The words you use to convince people that you have what they need is what copywriting is all about.
Our guest for this episode is Joanna Wiebe, the founder of Copyhackers. Jo discusses her background working for Intuit and starting her own business. We also talk about the role of artificial intelligence in copywriting (her answer may surprise you).
Plus, we dive deep into what you should include on your home pages and landing pages to convert more of those clicks into clients.
- Look for the signs that it’s time to shift gears. If you’re contemplating leaving your job to start a business, the clues are likely obvious.
- AI tools like ChatGPT are like hiring a junior copywriter. They can take care of the tedium of research and brainstorming, but your skills are required to evaluate the great vs. mediocre output.
- Industry shifts and disruptions are natural. Savvy entrepreneurs take advantage of changes, even if they can be initially challenging to adapt.
- Personas go beyond demographics. Write towards the “jobs to be done” by your ideal clients instead of their age, income, family status, etc.
- Follow the Rule of One. Whether for an email, landing page, or ad, you’re writing to one reader about one big idea, regarding one promise, proposing one offer.
- Landing pages are more important than home pages. With the ease of creating dozens of landing pages, you’re able to craft a message for unique segments of your personas.
- Aim your offer towards people’s desired transformation. How does your offer (free or paid) make their lives easier, provide a shortcut, or enrich their experience?
- Make your FAQ section stand out. Replace the “FAQ” subhead with the answer to the most important question, followed by the remaining questions people are thinking about.
- Reduce the friction your prospects experience. Everything about your landing page should be designed to make it easy for them to come to a decision while avoiding confusion.
- Joanna Wiebe on LinkedIn
- Copy School on YouTube
- Katelyn Bourgoin’s Why We Buy newsletter
- Scientific Advertising (Claude Hopkins)
- Influence: Psychology of Persuasion (Robert Cialdini)
Who is Joanna Wiebe:
Bob Sparkins: Jo, thank you so much for joining me for this episode of The Lead Generation. It's so great to have you back on the Leadpages podcast.
Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, I'm stoked to be here. Thanks for having me.
Bob: We're going to get into some really juicy stuff around the idea of marketing and becoming the most profitable person in the room as a copywriter. Before I do that, though, I'd love to know, how do you transform the lives of the people that you work with over Copyhackers?
Jo: Well, the way that we do it is either by working directly with them to help their businesses succeed—that's a big word that covers a lot of things that you do—or teaching them how. So we typically do a lot of work helping teams at, like, AWS and then smaller teams as well in marketing, get more leads, get more qualified leads, and then actually convert those leads into (ideally) paying customers or demos, depending on what the business does.
Bob: That's awesome. And you've been doing that for well over a decade now. We just hit the 10 year mark here at Leadpages. Happy anniversary to both of us for being OGs in this space. Yes.
I want to go back a little further, actually, to your days at Intuit just for a moment, and obviously Intuit was a big training ground for you, and you got to write about QuickBooks and all this kind of stuff. Do you take a lesson from your days there that continues to be important for you in your role now?
Jo: Oh, gosh, I learned so much. At Intuit, there's so much to be said for working in house at a big tech company or I guess maybe I haven't done other big companies, like maybe consultancies are the same or something.
But for me, it's hard to narrow down what I've taken from there outside of meeting really great people that I've worked with since. But this might not be that, it's not Copywriting related even, but focusing, being really clear, especially in your communication. You learn quickly in a large organization like Intuit that your message is going to be spread around internally and people will easily people are distracted, they're busy doing every other thing. They think copywriting is the least important thing. So when they read your copy, they just rush through it.
Thus if you are unclear with it, you will annoy them. And if you annoy them, you don't get a good bonus. So I learned to be a really clear communicator. That really does come down to things like, I don't know, people who've worked in large organizations or anybody who's worked at Intuit, if you're like listening to this and you're like, I remember the slides that went, what's important, how are we doing, priorities to improve? And I still use that today. It's the easiest way to understand, get everybody aligned on what you're working on, what the objective is for a meeting, et cetera.
So this is like, I know that's like admin kind of stuff, but it's really helped me, I think, move forward in my own small business without kind of fumbling through and having to Google what's the framework for presenting in a meeting and ending up with like 15 different things that I have to then sort through. Like, I know, just present this one slide and then move on. So that's one of the bigger takeaways for me. Which isn't exciting if you didn't work at Intuit. Sorry.
Bob: No, I find it exciting because A, I am part of a team now, but I know a lot of people listening, maybe they have a virtual assistant or they're bringing on their first-time employee and they don't know how to run meetings that are productive and efficient. Nor do they know how to do a retro on a campaign. And I think those three questions can be asked by anybody, even if it's just in the mirror to know what to move forward with. So I think those are very valuable things to add in.
Jo: Cool. Love it. Yay. Then I feel good.
The Accidental Death of Joanna Wiebe’s Career
Bob: Awesome. I'm also curious as you moved into the world of entrepreneurship, number one, I know you've told this story many times, but there's some people listening to this that may not know your story quite yet. What did have you jump ship from into it and put on the Copyhackers shingle out into the world so that we could do this kind of interview 11, 12 years later?
Jo: Yeah, so I'd been at Intuit for five years when I finally did leave, and I loved it in so many ways.
My job had changed enough that we were using this custom CMS and I was basically just going in and building every page and writing every page and getting the job done in typically like a 20 hours job turned into a three-hour job. So I would be done my work really early and so I would do other things on the side. Sorry, too, and I hope this isn't, I think the time has passed that they're not going to come after me for it.
But I was moonlighting for a bit because I was bored at home. I was working remotely. So this is company Conversion Rate Experts. I went and did some consulting for them for about a year while I was still out into it again, I was getting all of my work done. It was just like, you just get fast at it. I'm like, okay, yeah. And so I did that and then with that I got really not because of conversion rate experts, but because I was mostly just like online a lot, I stumbled across Hacker News. I started inadvertently doing sort of consulting for some people running cool startups there. So I've been at Intuit, doing this conversion rate expert stuff on the side, really into Hacker News.
I started writing an ebook and that turned into a really big ebook. This sounds like it's a story that's going nowhere, but trust me, it is. And then I got a performance review, that was from my new manager with whom I did not get along and I went from Outstanding. So Intuit has scales and things for everything that you can do as a big company. They've got that templated and so Outstanding is the highest possible score you can get as an employee. And I had that four years in a row, both mid-year and end of year. And of course it affects your bonus too, like, don't mess with my bonus.
And with this new manager, I got dropped down to the bottom to needs immediate improvement because he did not like my attitude, which I'm like, I've had the same attitude. He just kind of put up with like others just put up with it, like, just deal with me, I get the job done, it performs well, just like, come on. But he didn't like my attitude and it was like time to kind of break this bad-behaving horse. So I was annoyed and I started writing my I quit email. So just like to get it out of my system, right? Just like just had a meeting with my manager and I'm going to write the I quit email. But I had all these stocks and things, like all of this stock that I did not want to walk away from and so I kept doing my work. I was doing a good job again, this was like measurable stuff.
Another great thing about Intuit is there is measurement for all marketing, like, you know, what's working. So that was like a game changer for me too, to be able to see how this stuff really works, what works, what doesn't. So I know what I'm doing is working.
Anyway, that was my mid-year. I got needs made improvement. I was put on a performance improvement plan, which is fine, cool, okay. And then when it was time for the end-of-year review, I got needs immediate improvement again. And I was like, F this guy, forget it.
That's not even like allowed by HR. They should be firing me. Then if I'm still not improved, you can't keep me around. So I was all like, mad, off goes another I quit email.
It's a Friday and I had a glass of wine and I had other emails that I'd written.
And in Outlook, you open those emails in windows and I would have these like, windows all over my desktop. And my partner at the time was having a glass of wine on the other side of the kitchen. My desk was over here on this side of the kitchen. And I was like, oh, I have to send that email to so and so. And I hit send.
And then like 3 hours later I was like, oh shoot. Except I didn't say shoot. I realized I had sent the I quit email at last. But the only good thing was that I had perfected this email.
This email was a not burning bridges, but still a pretty clear FU kind of email. And I had quit. I tried to recall it, it was already opened by HR, so I accidentally quit my job, at Intuit, but I quit it right after bonus time too, right? Like I had had the performance review, like bonuses were released the same day, all that kind of stuff. So it was really good timing to mess up. But it did force me then to do something else.
I was living in Victoria (Canada) and so I had this ebook I'd been working on, like, maybe I'll just go out on my own. And then I did. So that's how it got started.
Bob: That's amazing. And how beautiful of a story to accidentally stumble into what has now impacted tens of thousands of people around the world. So even though it was accidental, I think it's still paid off quite nicely for you.
Jo: I do often think like I think, poor God, whoever, if you're listening. But for me, God has to hold me by the shoulders and shake me. Pay attention. Why aren't you quitting? They've given you needs immediate improvement. You're working on this other thing on the side, just go.
It had to be like, nope, this accidental moment, that is not accidental in the scheme of things. So I'm slowly learning to not have to be forced out of my groove into the next thing that's waiting for you. But it took a while. Took a while.
Bob: Right on.
Starting up a SAAS of Her Own
Bob: So we're going to talk about some nitty gritty cool copy stuff in a few minutes. But later in your journey, you also started up Airstory. So I want to know what was kind of an impetus from going as an educator and a speaker on stages to being a SaaS owner.
Jo: Yeah. So again, back to hacker news days. I was hanging out on Hacker News because I liked what people were building. I'd been following, when you work at a big company like Intuit with the market leader QuickBooks, as like, the product you're selling, or Turbotax even, right? I worked on both of them. When you do, you're intrigued by the scrappy little ones, right? Like, the little guys out there who are doing cool things. And so Mint had been around for a little while and I was like, oh. And we weren't like at the time, QuickBooks was still installed software. Like it wasn't QuickBooks online. I worked in the global business division, and QBO didn't exist yet for Canada, the UK, India.
So I was fascinated by Mint. You get to manage your finances online, and Freshbooks was like, What I can invoice online? And it was like, these cool companies, right? You get excited about other, “what's next?” And then Hacker News is where the people building what's next would talk and share what they were working on and just like, go to the community. And I loved and still love that startup community. I just love it.
It's just like all of these people who played with Lego growing up. And I was a Lego player too. You build things and you tear it down and you build it again. You tear it down and build something new with the exact same pieces. That's very exciting because I didn't have the fancy sets, so I know that there is, like, fancy sets where you can't do that, but I had, like, the generic box of bricks and you just build it into different things every time.
I wanted to build things. When we were at Intuit, we built a solution called What Customers Say, and that was a Realtor® rating site, which, if we'd stuck with it, but we had a cease and desist from the Realtor Board of Canada or something that scared off one of the founders. We're like, all right, shut it down. But we built that. We got some traction with it. It was really cool and just building other fun things along the way.
I had this method of writing. You go listen to prospects, you take what they say, and then you organize it in a framework on the page. So I was like, let's just build a tool that helps that happen. Because right now I'm copying and pasting from different places. I can't tag any of my research, I can't organize anything.
We built that and it was cool. And I use it to this day. I can't say I love it. We use it in Copy School. It's very niche, and that's totally okay. It doesn't have to be the next Leadpages or anything very cool like that. But yeah, it's a fun thing to build. I mean, I would be wiser to save my money because it's also a money suck building software. But when it's something you love doing, it's just a fun thing to kind of keep you energized with different stuff you can do.
Bob: And I think those astute listeners know that you're a true Leadpages nerd because you didn't add an S when you spoke about Lego in the plural. So I think that's pretty funny.
Jo: That's a good point. That's how you tell.
Is Artificial Intelligence Coming After All the Copywriting Jobs
Bob: All right, so the topic on a lot of people's minds as we get into the copy part of our discussion is artificial intelligence and ChatGPT and whatever else is going to come out there. And obviously here at Leadpages, we have an AI engine that's helping people with their copy, with their headlines and so forth, and more to come through the year. But I would love to hear your take on the role of AI as a copywriter, as someone who's been doing this for a while and loves using your own brain. But I have a feeling you probably have a perspective on what people should be thinking about when it comes to the use of AI as they write their marketing messages.
Jo: Yeah, use it. So I play with it constantly, like a couple of hours a day, I guess maybe 2 hours a day. It's not like it's 15 hours a day or something. I've got all these thoughts about it.
So my response is going to be like there, but use it.
I think of it as my research assistant and my junior copywriter.
Instead of me going and oftentimes when you're starting a copywriting project, and this is true for any service business as well, so you don't have to be a copywriter to write copy. You probably write copy for your own business. If you haven't hired someone to do it for you, cool. So you're a copywriter, like it or not. Part of what you do and you should like it because it's awesome.
Part of what you do when you're starting out, if you are a copywriter, if you're newer to your market, you have to understand the lay of the land, who's out there, what products are there.
So, for example, if I were to build a project management solution today, I would probably want to know what other features exist for other top solutions. Right? So, really simple research.
It used to be, of course, that I would have to then go Google project management solutions. The ones who were paying the most money to Google would rise to the top and I would have to assume they're good and used by a lot of people. Okay, fine. I have to sort through them. I have to right-click to open a new tab so that I can then go over. And if I want to see what features they have, what differentiates them from each other, what features people react to and love versus what do they not love, I'd have to go through and manually look at everyone and go look at review sites and all of that.
And now with GPT-4 at least, just like ask it what are the most popular? And I'm not saying it's perfect, don't get me wrong, but what I was doing before wasn't perfect either. So I can say, hey, what are the five most popular project management solutions. Cool.
Now make a table of the top ten features for project management solutions and put them in there for each of these five and tell me what has what. And it'll put together a table that says Basecamp has these seven of ten, and Asana has all ten of these. And then I can say, okay, now tell me what Asana has that nobody else has, and it can tell me that.
I end up with a pretty good view of what's out there and how I might. This is for product, too, like how you can differentiate yourself, but what you can say in your marketing, like what people are reading, what they're going to determine, what they're going to discover. And you can start to understand where you fit there.
That used to take 6 hours. Now it takes 60 seconds. And it might sound like nothing but my word. The stuff you can get done now, that's all just done. I have pages and pages and pages of research that has been completed not by me, but that I can go work. This is tedious stuff. This was never anything that was using your brain. This is the kind of stuff that you wanted to outsource to an intern, but you didn't want to teach them how to do it. So you were just like, do it yourself and now it can do it for you.
Then I've been playing with the writing side is a different story, I think, but I've been playing with the playground area. Have you played with that?
Bob: I have not.
Jo: Oh, the playground area is cool. Aside from chat. You go to platform openai.com, and that's where you can better train it.
Now, anybody who's listening, I mean, the problem with talking about this is like, in two weeks it's going to sound dated. That's not how you do it. Trust me. I'll be playing along with you in two weeks too. So it might be a little dated right now, but what I'm excited about is what it could be and what it's already doing.
So I can do like I'll just open up, I've got it open in a tab because I've been in it. I can say write three headlines for a product that blank, whatever, so teaches you to play the piano.
Then I can tell it. I can give it like a setup, like product headline, product headline, product headline, and teach it things. So you'd have to go in and look at this. I'm explaining it. If you don't know anything about it, you'll be like, what are you talking about? Just go look up playground for Chat GPT or OpenAI or whatever.
I can give it a sense of what I'm looking for. So not just like teaching it a persona or things that you might be doing in Chat GPT, which is awesome, but over in the playground area, I can say like, okay, I want you to do this product and I can give it examples of other headlines that have been written for products so that it can say, got it. This is the kind of product you're talking about. These are the various types of headlines you like and you want to see. I'm going to write a headline, or in this case, three headlines that take what you're trying to tell me and turn it into a new headline.
I didn't have to give it a formula. I didn't have to say anything specific. I just like, give it other headline examples for other products and set it up to have this, like, the model to just complete things in ways that feel, like, even better than traditional prompts that are happening over in ChatGPT. So it's writing headlines for me. Whereas when I go over to ChatGPT and say, hey, write a headline for a product that teaches you to play the piano, it'll be like, learn to play the piano the easy way.
And you're like, that's a garbage headline. Like, okay, thanks, but can you do better? And playground is where you can do better. So that's, like, the most exciting thing to me, because it can churn out great headline ideas. My job then becomes knowing what I know about my market, about how things should sound, what good copy looks like, I can go in, and I'm not the junior copywriter now. I'm the copy chief who looks over this list of 100 headlines you came up with and goes, okay, those two.
That's it. That's the whole thing. And now I have potentially great headlines to test or to throw over on Facebook to do whatever I want to do with, but I didn't have to do it.
I do have to, of course, have the awareness of what a good headline probably looks like and what is likely to be a good experiment. But that's what we were already trying to do anyway the whole time without the tedium, the mind-numbing, minutiae part of the job where you would just write these things out and then look up headline formulas and go to some generator and like, no, the headline formula, like the headline generators, we're not doing the trick.
This is going to generate a whole bunch for you. So I get very excited about what it can do. If it replaces me, I have to live with that. That's just the reality. I'm not scared of the change, though. I think if you keep pace with it, something good will come of it anyway. So currently I'm just excited to have a free, well, $20 a month, I think, junior copywriter who does a really good job. It's great.
The Future Impact of AI in Marketing
Bob: That's pretty awesome. I was going to ask you, is there anything that does make you nervous or scare you about where AI seems to be heading? Because it does seem like the speed at which things are moving is so rapid that a year from now, we're recording this at the end of March 2023 for those of you trying to keep track with Jo's prescience. But anything that scares you about what 2024 or 2025 might look like.
Jo: I think that realistically, it would be smart to be a little scared, but I lean toward those people who were talking about why you shouldn't be scared. I find myself in full agreement. There's always been new technologies replacing industries. Okay, that's fine. I can't get mad about that because I like Uber more than I liked taxis. So I have to get on board with it. I think I can keep pace with what's going on, and if I can't, maybe I have a luxury that others don't have. Sure. But I feel like if it replaces me, I deserved to be replaced. That's going to ruffle some feathers. I don't mean I deserve it. I mean, okay, well, then something else then. Okay, something else now. And maybe it's not entirely different. I don't know what it is, but we never know that until the thing happens. And the pace of change for this industry, I mean, this is a non-changing industry. Since the beginning of marketing, there's been nothing. We haven't even had good templates. At least designers have had, like, they can go and build something in WebFlow or whatever.
We've never had anything. We've had a dictionary, a thesaurus, and like, the Flesch-Kincaid score, and that's about it. We finally have something that's going to make our jobs better so we don't have to fiddle around with the crap. If it does away with my industry tomorrow, I think right now I'm just going to sit here and enjoy it because it's the first time I've ever had a tool that makes my job legit better. It makes me feel slightly more seen because it's clearly a real need, and it's easy as a copywriter to get kind of jaded because everybody thinks they can do your job. And I just like that this is a tool that shows it's a hard job to do. It's cool when it does it right. I don't know. I'm sure I'll look back and say, gosh, you were naive, but whatever.
Bob: Yeah, we'll see how time tells. But I think that's fascinating to be part of it, to be in the middle of it, and to be able to also steer it right. Because you obviously have a platform at Copyhackers where you can help people understand their perspective, understand what is to be excited and celebrating and what is to be a guide for how it can be good. Right? I mean, right now the discussion I'm hearing is around how do we continue to train it to be a positive source of continued improvement and accuracy. And like any technology, it can be used nefariously. If you're on that side of things, things can go downhill quite a bit. So I think it's a fun time to be part of it, for sure.
Jo: Yeah, I fully agree. I haven't seen it do any, I haven't participated in any ChatGPT experiences that have felt problematic yet, but that doesn't mean I know that it's been true for others. I've had people send me stuff and go, like, just ranting on what they've like the screenshot they have from it. But I haven't been through it, so I'm still I mean, I gave it I asked it when it first came out, I said, Write me the opening line for a novel about two boys who wake up on a deserted island just to see what it would do.
And it wrote it took like 12 seconds of thinking and it wrote this cool line and I was like, I would read that novel. And so I kind of quickly got on board with it, like being your friend, right? It could be a fun writer to work with. This could be fun. So, yeah, I know it could be bad, but it could be fun too.
How to Write for Your Audience’s Personas
Bob: I think part of the advantage that I want to get into next, that you have and other people can take on is knowing what are the good ways to use AI, but also, in general, copywriting, right? So forget about the tool for a second and let's get into something that I know is very important, that a lot of people don't spend too much time on, if they're novices in copy, but they're trying to sell more stuff of their own, right? And that is the idea of personas.
So for the rest of our conversation, I'm going to hold the persona for this audience who's listening to be a coach, service professional, a knowledge broker, right? Somebody who is using their experience and their wisdom and knowledge to do their business, that's what they're selling is some form of version of their expertise or time or talent.
So for those types of people, how would you approach this idea of knowing what personas are so that they can do a better job of crafting the better home page, the better landing page, the better email copy that they would write?
Jo: Yeah, I think the idea of a persona, when I think about the people I know who are small business owners, service providers, knowledge workers, like you say, they're not necessarily intimidated by the idea of a persona. But I think it sounds like jargon. And that can make a person who's not part of that world feel dumb, feel like this is over my head. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I get really quickly afraid that, oh, I don't know how to do that.
Like, if I was reading on mortgages the other day, I've had mortgages for the last 25 years, I shouldn't be intimidated by mortgages. But it was like, now is the time to keep your variable mortgage right now. I very quickly got overwhelmed by it. And I think that it's easy for anybody who's not a marketer.
So if you're like a coach, you're a yogi. Let's say you had a studio. Maybe you still have a studio, but you teach people. You collect leads with your ebook or with your video series on, like, downward facing dog or something. I don't know. You're not a marketer. Even hearing marketer. I remember when I first learned the word marketing from my friend who had just graduated with a marketing degree. And I was like, but what is it? What do you mean, what is a market?
I was frustrated because it was this term that's up in the air.
So persona, as part of what marketers think about, could be intimidating. So I think that's part of getting into the conversation is when I think about it, for a copywriter, we have this rule called the rule of one, and it goes, one reader, one big idea, one promise, one offer. If you only think about that when you're writing copy, you'll be okay. But it all starts with that one reader.
There's also another part of copywriting that goes list, offer, copy, where list is, again, your reader. So when we're talking about personas, when we're talking about readers, when we're talking about lists, all we're talking about is, who is that person on the other side of the screen that should be saying yes to your offer but hasn't yet?
That's all we're really talking about, right? So when it comes down to it, that's where I recommend you start. It's just like this empathy for that person who wants your solution, but now just needs you to help them connect the dots between their want and what you've got. And that's really it. If you can listen to that person, then you can take the words that they say exactly as they say them and just say them back. Just put it in your copy, and that's how you can get them to go. Like, it's like you're living inside my head. And it's like, yeah, because I totally stole my message from you because I just listened to what you said and then I wrote it for you, just took it and put it on the page. That was it.
So that's when you're thinking, for me. If I was coaching whoever is listening right now on how to write for persona, I would start less with don't worry about things like their demographic, how much money they make, demographic stuff, how much money they make a year with their household income, how many kids they have, all of that.
I don't know if people are familiar with Jobs to be Done, but I love Jobs to be Done as, like, another way into the Persona conversation. And the Rewired group, Chris from the Rewired Group has this which does Jobs to be Done. They're great. Anyway, he has this line that nobody buys the Wall Street Journal because they're 36 years old and they've got a dog and a cat or something at home, right? It's got nothing to do with that.
So don't overthink about those details of your persona. Don't worry about how much money they make outside of if they can't afford it, they're not your prospect. Like, they're actually not. So don't worry about them. You don't have to think about it.
You're writing for that one person on the other side of the screen who should be buying from you but hasn't yet. And that means thinking of the happiest person there, this person who's like, I so hope it's true that this solution is going to work for me. Like, they're excited about it, right?
We often in our heads, we hear the bad stuff more than the good. So we think about that one person who complained about your product that one time, and you're like, Everyone thinks that way. Everyone thinks my product sucks. Everyone thinks my service is garbage. I wish I was a better lawyer. I wish I was a better whatever that thing is. Don't write for that person. Shut that person up. They are not going to help you convert. They're not even your customer, so why do they get in? No, no bueno. Get out.
And all you want to focus on is, like, that happy prospect who should be buying from you. Now, I don't know if that's helpful, but that's the best place to start when you're writing copy, to get leads, turn those leads into paying clients or customers of some kind and then to keep them with you.
Bob: That's awesome. And a few episodes back, we actually had an interview with Gia Laudi who talked about “jobs to be done.” So for those of you listening, go back, check out that episode, and get a little bit more into that whole customer research zone of things, because it was a really fun episode.
Why You Should Focus on Your Landing Pages Instead of a Homepage
Bob: So let's take that idea a little bit further, and let's go into the concept of conversion copywriting. This is one of the things that puts you on the map, obviously, because conversion copywriting wasn't really a thing online. There was direct response from back in the day with mailers and all that kind of fun stuff. But when we think about copywriting, it obviously has a few different camps. You're specializing in conversion copywriting, as do we at Leadpages. We want the traffic to actually turn into a lead and a customer. Right. So there are home pages and landing pages. Talk to us a little bit about, if anything, how do you differentiate what you're trying to say on a business's website versus a landing page? And we'll dive a little deeper as you unfold and pack what you say.
Jo: Yeah, well, this is right, a really nice tie into personas, because you obviously I think the hardest thing is writing a home page because it's for everybody. Like, it's the airport that people come to, and then you have to push them off to where they're actually supposed to go. I hate writing home pages. I think businesses spend way too long on their home page, and God bless them when they send traffic, paid traffic to it.
Let's all just pause for a moment of silence for all that wasted money. Yeah, it's hard. It's hard to watch. So writing for a home page is writing for every possible audience out there, everybody. And you still would be like, okay, well, who are the happiest of this generic group of people who should in the world like our stuff?
But, like, how do you write the headline for everybody? I don't know. ChatGPT doesn't know either. Nobody knows how to write one headline that will work for everybody. That's why when you go to a home page, you typically get a little frustrated and start scrolling and clicking on other things and looking all over the place because it's trying to speak to everybody, and that just doesn't work. That's why we love landing pages. That's why I've been a fan of Leadpages since day one. I loved it from the get go. And that's the thing about writing a home page, being like, this massive pain in the butt because you don't know who you're talking to versus the landing page.
And you can make so many landing pages, and this is not an advertisement for Leadpages, but it will feel like one because of the easiness of just, like, duplicating.
So when we're thinking about writing copy, okay, I'm writing a landing page. I have to think about the audience that's coming here. And you should be making so many landing pages again, because you can just hit copy or duplicate whatever called in there, I forget.
You can write your core page and then largely just change the hero, and the hero being everything, like, above the fold, basically. And then your offer might have to be modified as well.
Okay, but lots of a page can stay the same across multiple places. It's just when you're driving traffic, you paid for traffic on Facebook, you paid for traffic on Google, wherever you were doing it, or you have some special maybe you're sending your list to a landing page or a variety of landing pages.
You need to make sure that you're matching their expectations when they land there. Right. That's message matching. What did they read on the ad or the email or whatever that they clicked that they need to see when they land, and they need to see that above the fold. So you got to put that up there. You got to make sure that they feel they're in the right place. If it's for a certain segment, then you probably want an image that reflects that segment. You'd want a headline that's speaking to that segment, et cetera. But you're going to be able to just write that you know who you're talking to and if you're like, oh, but I don't really then go more narrow. Go so narrow with your pages. Just like, get down to know exactly who is coming to the page.
I would err on the side of being too specific rather than not specific enough, because you can always kind of like zoom out when it comes down to it. Make a lot of landing pages, make the hero section match your prospect's expectations and who they are. And then you don't. It depends, right? Like, there's so much to say about what follows that.
Make sure the offer is right for the prospect. And that's really the core stuff that I teach people to keep in mind when they're writing a landing page.
When you're writing a home page, I have literally like a 40 hours course on writing home pages because it's a disaster. Because you don't want to you don't want to do it too often, but you want to do it all the time with landing pages. I don't know if that's helpful, but that's how I think about it.
Bob: Yeah, I think so. And one of the next questions in the home page camp is, do you stick a flag in the sand and say, I know this is going to go to a wider audience, but can I be narrower and treat my home page a little bit like a landing page and just pick my playground of who I want to see show up? And it's okay if I exclude some people and push some people away in the process?
Jo: Sure. Right? I mean, I say sure. But I'm like, well, why don't you just make a landing page, though? People are like, I don't want to. I know that's why you use your home page, because you don't want to make a landing page. Because you can. But you don't. Yes. You sure? I've worked with many clients who, God bless them, I wish that they would follow my recommendations, but they still end up, someone with the ad money just keeps throwing people at a home page, especially in ecommerce, that happens all the time. It doesn't mean it doesn't happen in service and coaching businesses, but it happens all the time in ecommerce. So if it doesn't happen for you feel very good. Yeah.
I don't know why you would send there's no good reason, in my opinion, for any business to send hard-won traffic. You think about how much goes into getting a lead.
If you have somebody on your list, the things that had to happen to get them there, and you're going to drop them on your home page. Or you paid in Google ads. You paid Google all sorts of money. You got 24-year-olds in Palo Alto getting free lunch because you keep giving Google all sorts of money for those ads. And good for them, they need their lunch, et cetera, et cetera.
Meanwhile, you're just throwing money at Google. Why are you doing this if you're not going to just land them on a page that could actually help you grow your business? So, yes, keep throwing money at Google, but then take some for yourself, too, by landing them on a page. I'm just going to keep beating this, just going on it. I can't even stop. But I will stop because I think people get the point. You can easily make a landing page, just make one.
Bob: I think so. And I really love this concept of make multiple, in part because obviously we have unlimited landing pages at Leadpages, but also because you don't know which one is going to work the best.
Also, you might have this idea that your product can serve five different types of people, five different types of personas, and you put out a few different pages, split test them or send traffic to them and see which one actually works. And what I also love as a former coach and current coach, but not privately, is that you also can track who shows up that you enjoyed working with that got results and keep doing more of that and less of attracting the people that aren't doing so well as a customer of yours.
Jo: Right? Yeah, I love it. Totally agree. The tracking is a completely different story. There's just layers and layers of why, if you've got a skinny marketing team, in particular, if you're doing a lot of the marketing, that's where tools come in handy. Right. It will do the job of a marketing person. It'll tell you how it's performing. It'll prioritize the better-performing pages over the poorer-performing pages. Yeah, nothing but reasons to just hit duplicate and make a new one and then test it if you can, why not?
Avoid This Critical Mistake with Your Landing Page
Bob: Very cool. What kind of mistakes do you see people still making these days on their landing pages? And obviously we can talk about the hero, which is super important. There's also the length of the page, and there's the About Me sections, and there's the features and all that kind of stuff. But when you think about the top two or three things that you wish you could wave a magic wand and get people to stop doing on their landing pages, what would it be?
Jo: Offer. Nobody knows what the hell offer means. I say optimize your offer and it's like crickets. What do you mean?
It's the offer again and again. Part of the problem is, I think people think it's too salesy when they work on their offer. And someone at some point said selling is evil. I don't know who said it, but I need to talk to them because it's all that, how are you going to grow? You need to make money. You need sales. You need money coming in. You need an offer.
Now, even if your offer is I often hear this, as soon as I say to make sales, they go, oh, but it's for a demo. Okay? Offers can be all sorts of different things. They don't have to be paid things. They are the thing that's going to get you money at some point. It might be on the page, it might be two steps down, it might be three months out after you've done the finessing that gets the client to convert. Okay, fine, whatever. Point is, you have a thing that they had to sign up for there on the page. That's your offer.
It starts, look at your button. What's your button? That's probably close to your offer. If your button says Buy now or sign up now, you're going to want to work on that button. You can do better. But then look just outside of the button. What's around the button? If it's like, oh, that's my ebook. Okay, your offer is your ebook. Great. Okay, you've got that offer. Now let's make it sound good. Now let's make sure it sounds good to your one reader.
And I said one reader, one big idea, one offer, one promise, right? So it's actually one offer and then one big idea, one promise. But the point is, how do you make that offer sound super desirable to that prospect? So if your prospect is some VP of marketing at a growing organization, they need you to come in and coach them on growth or habits. Habits, they need better habits.
Okay, so you're going to what does that VP of marketing I think that's what I said. They land on this landing page. The offer is an ebook on habit building. Now we have to make that sound so good for that VP of Marketing so that they not just say yes, but fill in the six different fields that you've got on there because you want a qualified lead and you're like, I'm not eliminating all my form’s fields. I need them. And maybe you don't, but whatever. A lot of people do actually want to know certain things. That's why the form exists. Okay, fine.
In order for me to be motivated enough to fill that form in, I need to believe so strongly that this is the right offer for me. You have to make that sound good. If you're not making that sound good for your one reader, that's the number one thing to fix, without question. And again and again, that is what I see time after time. It might just be three little bullets and a new headline. So you've got your form. When you think about how a landing page often looks in the hero section, there's often that form above the fold, or maybe it drops a little bit below the fold so you can see it's not a false bottom.
You've got your headline for the page, you've got the body copy. That's supposed to be like making things sound good, making them like, matching where they are, et cetera. Then you've got the form off to the side to turn them into a lead. Typically there's other ways to do it, of course, but let's go with the most common one.
All you really need to do to make this offer in particular sound really good for that audience, that market, that one reader is just modify the copy above the form so that it speaks exactly to them and that can say, the perfect book for VP of Marketing. Done. That's a really quick shortcut in just say it. And then put some quick bullets under there on what will make their lives better. What will make their lives easier and make them look better is like the general way to think about it.
So will this make my life easier? How does it make it easier? Is there an audiobook version available too that I can listen to immediately, or is it supported by a podcast? If not, how long does it take for you to whip one up? Just go make one. Just go do it. It'll be fine. It'll make their lives easier.
How does it make them look better? Okay, how do I make it look like this is going to make you a pro VP of Marketing? Do I have a testimonial from any VPs of Marketing so that they don't feel that they're taking on a risk? I don't. Okay. Do I have any brands that might look good here? So, again, they don't feel that they're going to read this ebook, go into their organization, start quoting you, only to find out you're like, out to lunch, right? So you have to make them feel good about that. But it doesn't take much here to say, VP of marketing. This is why this ebook will make your life easier and make you look better. It's $0, regularly $19, whatever. It's $1 regularly, $19. Hopefully it actually is regularly that price. If it's not, start selling it. Now it is.
And then you put the form fields in there and then a CTA that reflects what they want. So, again, if that headline or just get the ebook for VPs of marketing. It's not a good CTA, but you get the point. We're just trying to take everything in the space where they're thinking, okay, what do I get? What am I getting from you and making it sound like I'm getting awesomeness from you instead of “free ebook.” It's not enough. There are a lot of free ebooks out there. It's not enough. Yeah. Do more with your offer. I know you said two or three, but I think that's such a big one.
Bob: Yeah, I think that really is a key one, because if you don't have that, then all the mechanics of headlines and colors and designs and layouts and images and stuff like it all will fall flat if you don't actually have something people want.
Enhancing Your Landing Page to Increase Conversions
Bob: Not the correlator. But to add to that a little bit, I'd love to know your take on the inclusion of two things on a landing page for a free offer. One is, I sometimes see people use the phrase, this is for you if… and this is not for you if…. So that's one. And the second is FAQs a section on a landing page for FAQs any words of wisdom around those two types of things to add to a landing page and why you would or would not add those in.
Jo: Totally. So perfect for you if is a nice way to phrase it. I've seen at least perfect for you if or not right for you if, where I would say there's some nuance to the phrasing for those things is also any bullets you have underneath. Just make sure you're really thinking of your business goals here, too, right? Like, you might be like, well, I need to start excluding people because I'm getting bad leads. Okay, fine, then you need that not perfect for you if.
Then there's the perfect for you if. You're supposed to make it sound like I'm nodding along. Right. So it might not have to be that specific. It might be like you're trying to grow your business and it's failing. That's true for everyone. So it's perfect for you. Or you need better habits, right? You could probably push that further. But the purpose of the perfect for you if is not necessarily to really qualify them in a way that is like resume style. It's just to make them feel good about moving forward with this decision. Like, yeah, this is for me. This is right. And so I would say be just strategic with how you word those. And if you're trying to eliminate people, okay, fine. Then be really specific in there. And if you're just trying to make them feel like they're nodding along with you, cool. Then you don't have to get to don't say anything that's going to introduce friction for people who don't need that friction. It's also helpful, I find.
We do this often in email, not as much on landing pages because it takes a little more copy. But you can say you should get this if four of these five things are true for you, and then you make four of the five things true for your audience, and you go back to that persona, that one reader. What are those four things that are true for them? And then a fifth one's a bit of a flyer, right? Like, if it's not if it's not true for them, okay, fine. Not the end of the world. But if they're like, four of those five things were true for me, it's one more small thing. It's not going to change the lives and the conversion rate. It's not going to go from a 2% conversion rate to 100 with that. But you might go to a 2.1, right? Like, we're looking for incremental growth here. That could help a little bit. If you're going to put it on there, put it on there in such a way that they're likely to actually move, be motivated to move based on what you've said. So that's the qualifiers.
And then there's the FAQs. And I think FAQs are phenomenal. Don't title it FAQs. That's not your crosshead. So often they'll be that FAQs on top. And then there's like an accordion or something where I have to click to expand FAQs. No, no, click to expand. I recommend against it. If you're trying to hide something, that's a great place to hide something because no one's going to click it. So if you got a dead body, throw it in an accordion, no one's going there. But otherwise your FAQs should be, I would say, detailed because you're probably talking to somebody at this point who is high product aware. We didn't get into stages of awareness, but it's a pretty easy thing to look into if you want to. People convert at the far end of the awareness spectrum and just know that at the far end of the awareness spectrum is something called High Product Aware. And most aware. When they're in those stages, that's where they typically very often typically need more of like that, give me some facts right now. Like, I need facts about payment methods. I need to know if it's for a coaching session, right? Can I invite somebody else from my team to be there? Will I get a replay? Those sorts of things, and then just say it honestly. And if you can give detailed information like, yes, you'll get the replay. It's a 60 minutes recording on Zoom. It takes about 20 minutes to process. Afterward, my VA, Jessica will send it to you and we can include your other team members on that email as well.
Okay. I got lots of good information there. I got my question answered. I don't then have another question following up and I feel like you're being open with me. Thank you. So, yeah, don't hide things. Be specific. Make sure your crosshead is I like to say if you don't know what to put in for your FAQs, like, instead of saying FAQs as your crosshead headline that's in the middle of the page, the crosshead basically, then take the most common FAQ and just answer it in the headline. Like, yes, payment plans are available and then have a subhead below that. That's like and here are some other questions that you might need answered or whatever. I find FAQs is a bit of no one's going to read it. People aren't reading your copy. It's valuable. It's a crosshead. It's like a little headline. And headlines are important, so work on it. You could very quickly answer someone's question so they can then fly off and hit yes on your offer.
Bob: I like that a lot. And like, for both of your answers here, as someone who and the people listening are, again, knowledge brokers, knowledge workers, or however you want to call it, their authority is at stake here, right. Their authority is in question. And when you are able to be specific, I think it gives people this sense of, like, you're not trying to hide anything and you are a guide in this process. You're not just somebody who's trying to scheme them out of hours of email reading that they have in the future, right. Or trying to vacuum out some dollars from their wallet. So I think those are really key.
Jo: We've even seen that with guarantee language where you might have, like, seven-day money back guarantee or something. And if you can spend time talking about how to get your money back, like, you'll send an email to refund@, then Jessica from my team will process your refund. You should expect to see it on your credit card in three to five business days. That's not because we're holding it. That's how long credit card companies take. Just tell them and then they're like, oh, you're not going to be weird about this. Okay, good. And that's again, a little bit more that can get them to say yes to your offer.
Lightning Round with Joanna Wiebe
Bob: That's awesome. We could go for a long time chatting about all things copy. I do want to get us to the final stage of our conversation, which is a lightning round of just a couple of quick, rapid-fire questions that I'd love for. Love to know your immediate response, and then I'd love to send people on their way to learn more from you at copyhackers. But Jo, are you ready for the lightning round?
Jo: No, I'm not ready. I could never be ready for this. But I'll give it a shot.
Bob: And just to be clear, you haven't seen or heard any of these questions yet, and they're not anything kind of sketchy or scary, so you don't have to worry about that.
My first question is a podcast or book that you have enjoyed in the last month or two that more people should know about.
Jo: See? Not quick on my feet that more people should know about.
Bob: It doesn't even have to be a marketing book if you're nervous about that. Just something you've enjoyed that people should know about.
Jo: Okay. It's a newsletter, though, and I hope you're okay with that.
Bob: That's fine.
Jo: Okay. It's called Why We Buy. The writer is Katelyn (Bourgoin). I cannot pronounce her last name. It's French, I think. And it's fantastic. She writes two a week, which is insane to me, and it's always eye-opening. So “Why We Buy.”
Bob: Excellent. Second question. A legendary marketing book that new folks on the scene should pick up.
Jo: It's so hard. There's the really classic stuff. Scientific Advertising is a really common old one to reference, so I kind of hesitate because not because it's not phenomenal. It is. It's a good read, but if people talk about it in every copywriting interview ever, but they'll talk about this one. But this is the one that first changed things for me, which is Cialdini’s Influence. It made me see that the words you use and when you use them can make crazy differences in everything to do with business and marketing. Do you have it?
Bob: I do. You can't see it because we're off-camera.
Jo: Is it tucked away back there?
Bob: No, it's just off to the side. But there we go.
Jo: There you go.
Bob: Old school copy cover, too. Very good.
Jo: Yeah, totally. I've got the old-school one. Love it. Nice.
Bob: Number three. Your least favorite trend online or pet peeve of what's going on in the online space.
Jo: I have so many pet peeves, I'm the orneriest person you'll meet. Sadly, I don't know when that happened, COVID that's when it happened. It was tiring. Biggest pet peeve. I mean, I want to say, like, the TikTok copywriters, but I also got to give them credit for the hustle, right? Like, whatever, man, make it work. I think one of my least favorite trends, and it might not be as trendy now, but it was for a bit. I think it still is, is the fake RE: in email marketing when the subject line has RE: and then a subject line, we don't need to do that. We can be better than that. You don't have to fake your way into a conversation with people, like that's crap.
Bob: Love it. Favorite format of an offer for a lead magnet for a landing page.
Jo: What do you mean by format?
Bob: Like ebook, checklist, cheat sheet, white paper, video, webinar, challenge, anything of that nature.
Jo: For us right now, video.
Bob: Short form, long form.
Jo: Oh yeah, short. Nobody watches. I mean, with any analytics, nobody gets by like 20 seconds. So like front load that thing, put a turnstile in it. That's another way to collect that lead, right? They can sign up on your form on your page, but also right there in the video. So yeah, video short.
Bob: Excellent. Favorite phrase on a CTA button.
Jo: Oh, anything that completes the phrase, “I want to.” The more specific and first person the better. Such as Crazy Egg had. I don't think they do anymore, but for the longest time they had show me my heat map. It was great.
Bob: Love it. Upcoming event that you're most looking forward to speaking at.
Jo: Turing Fest in Edinburgh. It's my favorite city in the world. I can't wait. It's this June.
Bob: Excellent. And this is a softball for you, but the best first step for people wanting to become the most profitable person in the room.
Jo: I have to say, I wish I could say it was us (Copyhackers). We've got ebooks that will do the trick. But when I think about how I got here, I got here the best first step. The quickest path is just to go buy Cialdini’s Influence. Start there, it'll get you hooked on this stuff and then you can come get all the Copyhackers stuff. But that's a really good way into this world.
Bob: That's awesome.
Well, Jo, thank you so much for joining me for this episode. I cannot wait to see all the cool things that come out from you and your Copyhackers community in the next year. Thanks for being here.
Jo: Thanks for having me. This was super fun.