3 Ways to Convert Your Visitors with Targeted Copy


[This is a guest article by Jen Havice]

targeted copy for better conversion
How do you write more targeted messages that will persuade your prospects to buy into what you’re selling?

As a conversion copywriter, I get asked this question in one form or another all the time. Making more sales or getting more leads on their websites has everything to do with copy that not only connects with visitors, but connects immediately.

Why? Because you’ve only got seconds to grab your visitors’ attention before the dreaded bounce. In fact, the first 10 seconds are critical for your visitors’ decision to stay or leave. Which means, your words need to be doing some pretty heavy lifting.

Crafting key messages targeted and highly relevant to those people most likely to become your customers will improve your odds of not only keeping visitors on your site longer but improving conversions.

Let’s take a look at three ways to help you do just that.

Narrow the focus

As savvy business people, you’ve probably heard the old adage, “If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one,” about a thousand times. No doubt you’re tired of hearing it but it’s worth repeating. Too often website copy leaves it up to the visitor’s imagination as to who the product or solution is best suited.

Based on research done by Microsoft to determine website users’ page leaving behaviors, the folks at the Nielsen Norman Group came to the conclusion that a clear value proposition must be communicated within the first 10 seconds in order to keep them on the page.

Unfortunately, one of the most important ingredients in a value proposition that tends to get forgotten by many businesses is that bit of information letting their prospects know they’ve landed in the right place.

When Copyhackers was tasked with optimizing the home page for the heat mapping software company, Crazy Egg, they looked at customer research to see not only what motivations, needs, and wants visitors had but also who those people were.


Winning variation of Crazy Egg home page shown above the fold

In the above screenshot you can see how the headline and sub-headline tell visitors what they’ll find and what to expect from the solution. Just below the video, they learn some of the benefits and who the ideal person to use this solution is.

While including this to the page was only one of many changes made, it helped increase conversions by 13% with an even more highly targeted message.

Takeaway: Consider using bullet points in your home page’s hero section or integrating into your headline and sub-headline who will benefit the most from your product or service. This will make for a more targeted and effective value proposition.

Tap into the power of identity referencing

Multiple studies over the years have shown how consumers respond favorably to brands with messaging that fits how they see themselves. We buy things, in part, to express our identity and reinforce it (Escalas and Bettman, 2005.)

With this in mind, a recent study from April of this year published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that the most effective messages tying a brand with consumer identity were ones referencing that identity without defining it.

For example, the researchers compare two marketing messages for DirectTV. The first is a statement that merely links sports fans to the service.


DirecTV. All the sports you love, all in one place.


The second message makes the consumer’s identity conditional on the product’s purchase – thereby, defining it.


If you call yourself a sports fan, you gotta have DirecTV!


In the studies where the participants were asked to first think about the relevant identity, the messaging that followed the second example not only performed worse but backfired. Participants were more likely to avoid the brand altogether even though it was a good fit.

Why? When people feel certain about their identity, they don’t want to be told that in order to maintain it they must take a specified action. This goes to free will and the very human desire to maintain it.

Takeaway: Develop copy that helps consumers align their identities with your brand. The key is to take a nuanced approach. Being too explicit by pigeonholing your customers – i.e. telling them how they choose to see themselves depends on their buying behavior – will likely send them looking for the next best alternative.

Speak to expectations and motivations

The third way to think about writing more targeted copy is to appeal directly to what your prospects want from your solution and what’s motivating them to seek it out in that moment. Here’s where your customer research and knowledge of consumer psychology really come in handy.

Researchers have found that people value products or solutions more highly when they help them achieve a particular goal (Markman and Brendl, 2000.) This may seem obvious but too often our messages miss the mark because they don’t stress what’s most important to helping our customers move from Point A to Point B.

For example, Markman and Brendl conducted a study in which they asked college students how much they would pay for a raffle ticket while standing in line at the bursar’s office. Half the students were presented with question 1 while the other half were asked question 2.

  • Question 1: How much will you pay to enter a raffle for $1,000 cash?
  • Question 2: How much will you pay to enter a raffle for $1,000 off your university bill?

Those students asked the first question were willing to pay 93 cents/ticket. The students asked the second question offered $1.52/ticket.

Because the second raffle was more relevant to the goal the students were trying to achieve, they valued it more. (For more from Markman, check out Smart Thinking, Smart Change with Art Markman.)

Takeaway: Take the time to learn what your customers truly want to achieve when they land on your site. You may think it’s all about dropping pounds if you’re selling a weight loss solution but the real goal for your customers may be more about fitting into that pair of skinny jeans.

Start with the customer and end with the customer…

Writing targeted messages starts with knowing who you’re writing copy for but doesn’t end there. Digging deeper into how your customers and prospects identify themselves and what motivates them will give you the best insights into developing copy that persuades.

And, you’ll be less likely to leave them wondering if your business is right for them… or worse, turn them off before they can decide.


  1. Liam says

    Hi Jen,

    Thanks for the fantastic blog post. It’s interesting to think about identity referencing in relation to the customer avatar. Thanks, Liam

    1. Jen says

      Hey Liam –

      So glad you found the post helpful. I too thought the study on identity referencing versus defining was fascinating.

  2. Mainan edukatif anak says

    Hi Jen, i agree with the concept “10 seconds are critical for your visitors’ decision to stay or leave”, I think this is a very exceptional sentence and is not considered by many people who have an online business.

    Thanks for your information, i think it will be useful for everybody. Start with the costumers and end with the costumer…

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