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How to use copywriting as your top online salesperson

Copywriting can be your strongest -- or weakest -- salesperson. Learn how to uplift your copywriting and drive more sales with written-word expert Joanna Wiebe.

You’re sitting at your desk, checking out your latest sales stats, and realize your numbers are less than ideal.

How discouraging.

What are you doing wrong?

More importantly, can you pull in more revenue without hiring salespeople?

The short answer: Yes. Give your copy a refresh.

The longer answer: Follow in the footsteps of  Joanna Wiebe , word wizard and  Copyhackers  founder.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Joanna to discuss her top tricks and techniques for creating powerful copy for a special webinar, which you can  catch a replay of over here , but advice that good is worth sharing twice over.

So, whether you prefer to read, want to refresh, or are just curious about how a world-class conversion copywriter tackles sales writing, read on to learn more about the power of copywriting and how you can leverage it to sell digital products.

The power of effective copywriting

Sure, there are a million things you could be spending your growth efforts on, like building partnerships, guest blogging, and social media.

So, why should busy entrepreneurs spend time on copywriting instead? Joanna elaborates:

“Copy is your online salesperson, and the best part is that it scales.”

Let’s unpack her deceptively simple line, starting with copy taking on the sales role.

“For 2019, just try looking at your copy like it is an online salesperson,” she challenges. “If it doesn't work, then go back to writing short copy.”

Her challenge comes with a guarantee. “If you apply [certain] techniques . . . that's where you can see that copy actually does sell. That's what it does,” she confidently explains.  

“In some cases, we call it ‘coaching the conversion’, but in other cases, it's just like people are ready to buy. People need to hear X, Y, and Z, you need to tell them X, Y, and Z in their own language, and tada.”

And don’t be fooled into thinking good products simply sell themselves. Take Apple, for example.

Think the MacBook sells itself? Think again.

Joanna urges you to look up the  MacBook’s sales page , where you’ll find anything but short copy.

She divulges, “It goes on and on and on because, even if a product is really good, people need information. And not just information. They need persuasively connected information in order to say a confident ‘yes’ to you.”

Once you have the persuasive connection to your audience, your copy sells for you around the clock, which brings us to Joanna’s next point of scalability.

“It means you don't have to do one-to-one every time,” she explains. “Instead of having a person standing there at the end trying to sell to 15 different people, you can have one page that just sells and sells and sells.”

There’s a sequence of touchpoints that has your copy working 24/7, too.

“You can write that long-form sales page, write the emails that drive to the long-form sales page, and just keep pushing traffic into that funnel.”

Putting it all together, Joanna shares three main ingredients that need to work in conjunction with one another, which is when the magic of copy really shines.

“You've got the list, the offer, and the copy. Those are the three levers that you've really got to work with. Your list is a huge deal. Your offer is a huge deal. And once those things are in place, then copy can do its job.”

That’s when your copy can really sell for you while scaling your business. Once you have your funnel properly set up, your copy works for you nonstop.

Interested in how Joanna uses copy to its full potential? Read on.

How to write for sales like Joanna

#1. Start at the bottom of the sales funnel

If you're wondering where to start giving your copy a makeover, begin at the bottom of the marketing funnel where transactions take place and work your way up.

In other words, update your copy at the “sales” stage of  your marketing funnel .

“Focus on mastering the places where cash changes hands,” Joanna advises. “That's how we talk about it at Copyhackers. So, start closest to the point of conversion wherever possible, which is the quickest way to get more [customers] in.”

Basically, if you’re not sure what to prioritize first in writing, focus on refining the copy that’s at the bottom of your funnel, where visitors convert into customers, to see the most sales impact.

#2. Use email segmentation and speak to specific audiences

Another one of Joanna’s copywriting secret weapons is using segmentation (i.e., grouping contacts into smaller groups based on traits, actions, or behaviors) and personalizing messages to her segmented audiences.

And it’s no wonder because it works.

Evidence points to segmentation performing better across all email campaigns with a  14.31% higher open rate  and a 100.95% higher click rate than non-segmented campaigns.

For best results, Joanna recommends:

“Start segmenting early. Segmentation is the best possible thing you can do. If you have people signing up to your list, try to segment them in some way.”

For those of you with several audiences, you have two options for conquering your segmentation.

First, you can segment your audience and get them into the right funnel with a sales page at the end for each audience.

“Then once you get those places right, it's just a matter of going up further up in the funnel and pushing more people through. And that's how you effectively widen the funnel,” Joanna coaches.

Your second option is to find the common denominator using a Venn diagram. To do this, Joanna suggests drawing “three circles with what they're looking for. Where it overlaps can be your value proposition.”

Regardless of your segmentation process, once you’ve grouped your like-audiences together, use language that speaks to your particular audience’s emotions. Joanna has two powerful frameworks for this, which you can read about in more detail in  her exclusive ebook .

  • Moment of highest tension (MOHT) - This is when you illustrate -- using copy, of course -- a detailed image of your audience’s worst moment related to the problem you’re trying to solve for them. You want to be vivid for these.

As an example, rather than writing that someone is struggling to set up their website, you could write something like this:

“You’ve been at it for hours (that you don’t have) sitting at your desk wrestling with WordPress to properly set up your site's product pages. After numerous trial-and-error attempts, you hit ‘submit’ and the infamous plugin error pops up yet again. Ugh, you have no idea who to call for help.”

Can you feel the overwhelm in the pit of your stomach as you sit there staring at your screen?


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Focusing on the emotional aspect is also integral to Joanna’s second framework.

  • Moment of highest pleasure (MOHP) - On the contrary, this is when you intimately describe your audience’s moment of satisfaction. Write about how your audience feels once you solve their burning problem, like in this MOHP case.

To close the loop on the MOHT example, the MOHP is not having to worry about your website or setting it up. Sure, it’s an ideal outcome, and the benefits of it are clear when it’s said plainly, but when you add an emotional component to the writing, it really takes off.

Check it out:

“You’re on a camping road trip with your family, and you receive a mobile notification that you just made an additional $1,500 in online course sales. Your stomach flutters with excitement as you and your kids get ready to go fly fishing.”

Earning money while vacationing? Running your online business doesn’t get more relieving than that.

If you’re looking for more relief, you can easily set up your online course using our  14-day risk-free trial . There’s no obligation, which means you have only a seamless online course dashboard and full support to gain.

The gist of it is this:

Segment your audience so you can personalize your messages and touch on their specific emotions. This will resonate with your audience faster than generic copy, and if you play your cards right, it’ll maximize the benefit from Joanna’s next tip, too.

#3. Tailor copy to the five stages of awareness

When Joanna writes copy, she tailors her words to the five stages of awareness, which are:

  1. Really unaware

  2. Problem-aware

  3. Solution-aware

  4. Product-aware

  5. Most aware

She first understands where the segmented audience is within the awareness range.

How does she do this?

By listening. Joanna reveals:

“You want to listen to exactly what they're going through and target their moments of highest tension and moments of highest pleasure.”

Now that you know her MOHT and MOHP strategies from our last tip, listening for your audience’s pain points shouldn’t be a problem.

Joanna then uses copy to “move people from a low stage of awareness about like their pains all the way up to how your product is the best thing to solve it.”

Pretty straightforward, right?

The same can be said for Joanna’s next copywriting tactic -- being authentic.

#4. Stay authentic (and never shady)

Joanna is simply herself when she writes copy. “I want to just actually be myself. That's going to go so much further for you, especially if it feels wrong to do it the other way.”

If writing copy feels inauthentic to you and like you’re scheming up a cheesy sales tactic, “just don't do it,” she warns.

If you stick to your guns and write authentically, you’ll be ahead of the curve. Unfortunately,  57% of consumers  think less than half of brands create authentic content.

Seems a bit alarming.  

Joanna’s advice for writing authentically is to “just try a little.”

“If it sounds like copy, it's trying too hard, and it needs to try a little. So, that means listen to customers. Still, have your little bit of artfulness in there -- usually for headlines and crossheads,” she says.

“But for the rest of the copy that people are supposed to read, you want to listen to exactly what they're going through… and then put that into copywriting frameworks and formulas.”

Joanna’s advice doesn’t stop there.

Another tip she divulges is to pull yourself out of the copy. “Even if people are loving your copy, that means they’re recognizing that you’re still in the equation. Instead, focus on their transformation and listen to exactly what they’re going through.”

In sum:

Be your authentic self, and don’t try too hard when copywriting. Instead, make it all about your audience’s perspective.

Now, we have one last copywriting tip from Joanna today, and it’s one the Podia team recommends and lives wholeheartedly -- to make the most of your copy, start with a solid outline.

#5. Spend most of your time outlining and planning

Joanna spends the most time on outlining her copy. The reason?

She explains, “I spend the most time on (outlining) because I'll take a copywriting framework, I'll take the customer data, and I'll start just moving stuff into that framework.”

In other words, she copies “exactly what customers say about their objections, their pains, examples that they use, things they're looking for -- all of that kind of stuff,” and then pastes it into her outline.

“I like to call myself a pretty lazy copywriter because I don't really get involved until the last 10% of the work,” Joanna reveals.

Lazy or not, her results speak for themselves, and after you start outlining, yours will, too.

Key takeaway:

Copy and paste voice of customer data into an outline framework and then review, edit, and clean it up to produce copy that sells. Easy as that.

Joanna’s advice for online course creators

Let’s take Joanna’s plethora of knowledge and apply it to one of your  digital products  -- online courses.

Being no stranger to selling successful online courses, Joanna leaves us with some words of wisdom for online course creators.

#1. If you have a new online course, beta launch it

For those of you launching your first  online course , Joanna recommends using a beta launch.

“Beta launch it. Accept five or 10 [clients] into it and really listen to them as you go,” she advises.

When you beta launch your course, you can test the nuts and bolts of your course among a small live audience. If something needs to be tweaked, you can iterate before selling to the masses.

The important thing to remember is to get feedback from your beta clients and update your course, so they’re getting the best results.

Then, once you have students who have achieved their desired results, it’s time to ask for testimonials.

#2. Ask for testimonials

Joanna also advises asking your clients and beta clients for testimonials.

Why? Testimonials and reviews help to sell your online courses.

In fact, customer testimonials have an  89% effectiveness rating , ranking it the highest for content marketing.

If you add a review to your landing page, you can boost your  conversions by 270% .

And if you’re worried about quantity, Joanna has some reassurances to offer, saying that three good testimonials are more than ample to make your case.

As for where to put those testimonials on your website and landing page, Joanna has a helpful rule for online course creators to follow.

#3. Structure your landing page using the Rule of One

To boost your conversions, Joanna recommends structuring your course landing page using the Rule of One, which includes:

  • One reader

  • One big idea

  • One promise

  • One offer

Each of these elements belongs, naturally, on one landing page.

If you want to take it even further than that, follow another one of Joanna’s rules. The top 10% of your landing page should match two things:

  1. Match your message - Whatever steps your audience took before arriving at your landing page (e.g.., a Facebook ad they clicked), be sure to match that copy offer they last saw to the top 10% of your page.

  2. Match your audience’s stage of awareness - The copy at the top 10% of your landing page should also match one of the five stages of awareness that your audience is in.

All in all, Joanna summarizes the purpose of an ideal landing page funnel for us nicely:

“So we're really looking at moving [your audience] from where they are, the message that you're trying to match, and the thing that they're thinking up at the top of the page through to being ready to accept that one offer.”

OK, Joanna’s final tip for course creators is an oldie but goodie, and nothing reduces friction in your landing page funnel quite like it.

#4. Offer a guarantee about your products

Joanna’s final tip to online course creators is to offer a guarantee to reassure your prospective clients they have a minimal risk by purchasing for your offer.

For instance, Copyhackers offers a  60-day money-back guarantee  on all online courses.

Joanna provides this offer because people care about a guarantee. A lot.

“Without fail, we see people asking us, ‘OK, do I really have 60 days, and what do I have to do?’ So, people care about a guarantee . . .  I say give it to them. Why not?”

A guarantee doesn't necessarily have to be money back, by the way.

Joanna suggests, “It could be that you'll hop on a call and walk them through (your process) or, in our case, review (their) copy.”

The moral is:

Offering a guarantee reduces your audience’s risk and reassures them the quality of your course is worthwhile, and hence, increases your conversions and sales.

Upgrade your copy to a high-performing sales role around the clock

Whether you’re a veteran online course creator, first-timer starting your  business from home , or someone who’s looking to flesh out a  side hustle , prioritizing your copy is a must.

Especially if you want to scale your business.

After all, there’s no better way to leverage your time while growing your business than to have your copy do all the selling for you, at all hours of the day.

Thanks to Joanna’s expertise and generous tutelage, you now have proven tips, tactics, and frameworks at your fingertips to set up your copy and funnels the right way.

While it may not be easy, it’s straightforward, and it’s definitely worthwhile.

Here’s to unlocking the magic of copywriting to scale your business.

About the author

Cyn Meyer was a content writer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and communities scale with their creators. Cyn also enjoys playing music, helping retirees live active, healthy, engaged lifestyles, and hopping into the ocean.