How to Turn Your Website Into a High-converting Sales Engine

You did it! As marketing director or VP, you met your goal: refreshing your company’s website in time for that conference or product roll-out, or just “because it was time.” It’s a beauty: nice to look at, easy to navigate, with a look and feel that proudly represents your brand. Plus, it’s mobile-responsive. 

Congratulations! Relaunching a site is a massive endeavor. You’ve gotten the kudos. Now, you can sit back and wait for the conversions. 

Except, no one is biting. What’s worse: your bounce rates are alarmingly high.

The Problem with B2B Websites

We’ll tell it to you straight. This is a result that nearly always tracks back to day 1 of your website project. And it can be a sign of three shortfalls: 1) faulty information architecture, 2) faulty content strategy, and 3) a lack of powerful, ROI-driving website copy. 

We get it. Maybe your team is accustomed to DIY copywriting (pitch decks, sales collateral). Maybe it never occurred to you to outsource the work to a content strategist and/or copywriter—or you had serious doubts whether an outside vendor could “get it.” Perhaps website refresh funding was lopsided—and skewed in favor of design over copy (been there, watched results fall short). Maybe you didn’t see the value in a professional copywriting resource. Or maybe you did hire a copywriter, and it didn’t work (ugh). 

Whatever the reason(s), trust us. Gorgeous gradients, premium fonts, and a brilliant logo are largely for naught if the conversation you’re having on your website (or NOT having) fails to engage, inspire, and incite action. Even content—like blog posts, campaign-specific landing pages, etc.—might not convert, if your website isn’t the sales engine that is its duty and birthright. 

Fortunately, this is a situation that can be righted—and without delay. 

How do words drive ROI?

Thanks to a formal education and the modern marvel of suggestive text, most professionals can articulate thoughts on a webpage—and get the grammar, punctuation, and spelling (mostly) right. So it’s easy to see why you’d want to save a few bucks and tackle the writing yourself. 

But conversion-driven copywriting is in a league all its own. As with a talented sales rep, your website needs to turn a website visitor into a qualified lead, then do its best to make sure that lead moves as far down the sales funnel as possible. And that is not a skill that grows on trees. 

Quality, lead-generating copywriting requires extracting insight from an often-massive information dump, then turning that insight into a crisp user journey that ends consistently in conversion. That journey looks a little something like this:

Step 1: Capture attention.

You’ve read this far—no small feat in an age when we’re all tethered to our devices, distracted from one distraction by (yet) more distractions. That, combined with our lizard brains’ legendary impatience (“What’s in it for me?!”), means the first few words of your website, blog post, ad, or sales collateral need to do some serious heavy lifting. 

One study found that your website copy has precisely 2.6 seconds to capture the interest of your reader or—poof!—they’re gone. How do you make this work? 

The right words do the trick. Instead of wasting attention span with empty genericisms, they go directly to the source, leapfrogging over lizard brain objections to align with instinctive needs and wants.  

For b2b companies specifically, the right words calibrate your message with emotional precision—balancing potential schmaltz with intelligence and incontrovertible logic. 

As Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, put it: “In the factory we make cosmetics—in the store we sell hope.” The conversion process of high-ROI copywriting begins here with a verbal splash of cold water, alerting your reader to radical new reality. To achieve this, your copywriting tools include arresting headlines and lively openers—not skills readily available to your team (and even, for that matter, to every professional copywriter). 

Step 2: Get them to read.

Now you’ve got their attention. But will you keep it? Sparking a visceral response is merely step 1 in the precarious process of building belief. Their interest is piqued. But they’re impatient. And skeptical. They want more details on what’s in it for them—but you can’t just blurt it out in plainspeak. 

Famed copywriter Barbara Nokes said, “Copywriting is persuasion dancing.” That dancing bit is important. Step by step, phrase by phrase, image by image, cadence by cadence conversion copywriting gently pulls your reader into a story where they’re the hero—and your product is the agent of victory. 

How do you achieve this? A few ways: 

  • Relevance: Does every word of the copy speak to the reader’s reality—work, productivity, leisure time, family, values? 
  • Momentum: Does each thought, word, phrase, leap forward, gaining speed, and escalating desire? 
  • Logic: Does the piece follow a crystal clear sequence of rationale, punctuated by compelling subheads and free from needless complexity, unnecessary asides, or over-hyped claims? 

In short, does every word advance a purpose? If it does—and that purpose aligns to the promise of the piece—readers will dive in to read, and continue reading. That’s human nature.

Step 3: Build trust—while creating rapport.

You’ve arrested them in their tracks. You’ve got them reading. But…do they trust you? Do they feel involved? These twin concerns are step 3. 

Barraged by upwards of 5,000 advertising messages a day—in inboxes, on phones, en route to work—the default mindset is to block, insulate, and disbelieve. The most compelling, artfully expressed proposition will not convert if, on a deep level, your prospect doesn’t feel why this matters to them.

To do this, the copy should strive for two things, simultaneously: 1) to create a distinct space of relevance (the reader’s) while 2) driving across your objective. This is in direct opposition to the one-to-many style of communication practiced by so many B2B companies. 

Just as you would never start a sales conversation by talking about yourself, copy (which is at heart a sales opener) must also demonstrate an understanding of your prospect’s resting state. Hope. Vision. Need. Pain. What’s on your audience’s subconscious ever-menu? 

So, reference desire and pain—preferably with discretion and nuance. Anticipate objections. Write liberally about passion and joy: all the vibrant hows that lay bare the humanity of your work. Do all of this in your brand’s singular voice and tone: encapsulating what you stand for, who you are, what you do, and how you do it. 

Like Elvis Presley said, “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do.” The same is true of copy. Only when those values come shining through do you have a chance at building that bridge to affinity, the one that leads to conversion. 

Step 4: Generate urgency.

“When in doubt, do nothing.” How apt this adage about inertia is to the anxiety-ridden process of B2B buying. 

You’re talking to someone whose job may be resting on this decision. Not only that, but their colleagues and company will be profoundly impacted for better or worse by that decision. So it’s only natural that the person you’re talking to would rather put the matter off until tomorrow, next month, next week. And that simply won’t do. Your copy must incite action now. 

Emotion does the job. The copy must build an emotional state by taking the reader through a journey that references feelings, both good (dreams of the future) or not-so-good (pain points). And it must escalate those emotions with verbal acuity—for instance, inserting occasional cues in the form of adverbs (i.e. easily / effortlessly), verbs (love, revel in), adjectives (content, easy), and nouns (relief, delight). Skilled copywriters know how to wield this power, bringing the content to life in a way that gets the reader to recognize that now is the critical moment—and that yes is the obvious answer.

Step 5: Point to a clear, compelling CTA. 

Which brings us to the final step, which—astonishingly—is often left out of many marketing materials. Just as ineffective sales reps never ask for a close, so copy, too, must ask the reader to take action. Wherever it appears, in a button on a website, in a footer on a sales slick, at the base of a print ad, it’s imperative to make clear what the reader has to do next. Not only that, but the CTA must be streamlined and compelling: 1) applicable to all relevant audiences, 2) packs emotional appeal (as brand tone dictates), and 3) is extremely hard to refuse or deny.

If you’ve done everything right up to this point, this is the payoff. You’ve captured attention, gotten them to read, developed rapport, built trust, created urgency, and they are chomping at the bit to move forward—even if it means subscribing to an email newsletter, liking a social media post, or learning more. That’s the crowning achievement of high-ROI copywriting, and, quite frankly, the only metric that matters.

If you need high-converting copywriting, get in touch with MarketSmiths today. Crafting strategic words that embody these immutable laws of persuasion is what we do best.

A champion of high-end content, Jean is a living tribute to copywriting for humans. In 2012, at a TEDx talk, she declared her now widely viewed “War Against Bland.” The visionary founder of MarketSmiths, Jean leads her growing team to captivate, inspire, and motivate readers. She has helped thousands of global clients generate revenue from words (up to 12,000% ROI), and transformed the writing of hundreds of seminar attendees at the SXSW Interactive Festival (2014 and 2015), SXSW V2V (2014), the Small Business Summit (2014, NYC), and other venues.

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