5 Copy Tweaks That Sent Conversions Soaring

by Angus Lynch on July 30, 2014
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In conversion optimization, small changes can make a huge difference.

With simple tweaks to your design, copy or layout, your website can reach out and turn visitors into customers. Yet far too often, we see site owners throwing out their entire website before looking at the little things.

For this post, we’re going to focus on just 1 factor: copy.

Yes, your copy must convey value, solve the user’s problems, and provide a clear (and benefit-laden) call-to-action.

But there’s a misconceived notion that it takes a Shakespearean display of wordsmithery to convince users to make a purchase. This simply isn’t true.

Writing ‘killer’ copy isn’t always about coming up with something that’s clever, sexy or original. Rather, it’s about walking the line between the creative and the analytical.

Image Source: ContentVerve

In plain English, that means finding that sweet spot between 1) what the data tells you works best, and 2) powerful words that persuade users to buy.

Ultimately, only data from testing determines what works and what doesn’t. With online marketing, the numbers always have it.

So without further ado, here are 5 examples of copywriters “tweaking out” and reaping the rewards.

Tweak #1: Michael Aagaard boosts BettingExpert.com’s conversions 31.54% by adjusting form copy


“Content Evangelist” Michael Aagaard of ContentVerve.com is well-known for his commitment to testing everything he can related to copy. His backlog of case studies is filled with examples of how small content changes can make a big difference.

We find this example particularly impressive. Approached by BettingExpert.com to increase e-mail newsletter signups, Michael hypothesized that the form’s high abandonment rate was a due to the form not conveying enough value.

With this in mind, he conducted a simple A/B test with very simple changes to the form copy.

The Copy Tweak

Following his hypothesis, Michael decided that although the existing copy was passable, it wasn’t working hard enough to convey the true value offered by a subscription to BettingExpert.

So he made two simple tweaks, first changing the headline from “Join Betting Expert to “Get FREE Betting Tips,” and changing the CTA from “Sign Up +” to “Sign Up & Get The Best Daily Tips.”

Here’s a screenshot:


The two changes shared a common element: they both shifted the focus away from the task of signing up for BettingExpert, and on to the value of signing up (especially the headline).

Testing & Results

Michael’s test ran for 9 days, with a sample size of 13,560 visitors. A total of 291 conversions were generated during this period.

The results were convincing: the treatment page increased sign-ups by a solid 31.54%

This is a great example of strategy trumping creativity when it comes to online content, as there is nothing particularly creative about Michael’s changes.

But Michael understood the user’s main motivation for signing up: that they wanted exclusive tips on how to bet smarter. And by addressing this motivation in the copy, he solved the user’s problem, and generated a healthy conversion lift as a result.

Tweak #3: Schuh increases basket adds 17% by dropping “buy” from CTA


A medium-sized company promoting auto repair products online was faced with a low(ish) conversion rate for one of their main products, a liquid for sealing a car’s head gasket.

The online marketers hired to improve conversions came up with a simple hypothesis for this underperforming page: that is wasn’t telling the customer why they needed the product.

And so began the tweaking..

The Copy Tweak

To infuse the why into the headline and positioning copy, the marketers took the copy back a step.

The original headline of “Repairs Blown Head Gaskets in Just One Hour” was changed to “Does your car have a blown head gasket?” New positioning copy was then added below, which lists all the symptoms of a car with a blown head gasket.

So rather than jumping ahead and telling the user how fast the product will work, the new copy allows the user to take a step back, self-diagnose the problem, and confirm that yes, they do in fact need the product.

Screenshot below:


The team then used the same headline from the control was used as a subhead further down the page, so the user does not miss the fact that this product is indeed fast-acting.

Testing & Results

Using a controlled A/B experiment, it was determined that the treatment page increased conversions by 36%.

The new copy was more effective because it related to both people who think they might have a head gasket issue, and those who knew they had the issue. It doesn’t presuppose that everyone has already diagnosed the problem. It lets them choose instead.

By letting the user establish (for themselves) why exactly they need this product, the team was able to generate a significant lift.

Tweak #3: Schuh increases basket adds 17% by dropping “buy” from CTA


CTA tweaks that generate big lifts are not just a myth. Here’s a great example of one that worked from Schuh, one of Europe’s larger online footwear retailers.

Hypothesizing that their “Buy Now” CTA may be hurting conversions, Schuh decided to make a minor adjustment.

The Tweak

Schuh’s deputy head of commerce Stuart Mcmillan believed that the original CTA was “inducing a feeling of loss aversion.”

Acting on this theory, his marketing team changed the CTA to “Add to basket”— a very simple change. Here’s a screenshot:


Testing & Results

The treatment CTA boosted basket adds by a healthy 17%, a significant leap for such a large retailer (and for such a small copy adjustment).

Stuart Mcmillan’s idea to delay introduction of a word (“buy”) that was clearly causing his users anxiety proved to be quite valuable for the company.

Tweak #4: Michael Aagaard simplifies a 3-step form, generates 30% conversion lift


We may as well just pre-order our custom “Aagaard Nation” t-shirts at this point. We’re back to Michael again, this time with another example of how important form copy can be.

As Michael points out, it’s a universal truth that filling out forms sucks, and because of this, longer forms can really hurt conversion rates. As a general rule, the simpler the form, the better.

The company Michael helped out is a Danish shipping service that allows customers to compare offers from different carriers. After filling out the form in question, customers receive shipping offers from carriers.

The Tweak(s)

Without going into too much detail (the copy is in Danish), Michael’s changes boiled down to 4 main themes:

1.    Headline change from “Fill out form – it only takes a moment” to “Get free, no-obligation shipping quotes.” This shifts the focus onto the benefit of filling out the form, rather than the benefit.

2.    Fields were realigned to increase readability and scanning. In some cases, form alignment was shifted so two or more fields could be presented on the same line.

3.    Reduced the number of visible form fields. In step 2, 22 fields were reduced to 6. In step 3, 6 fields were reduced to 4. This required some massaging to make the copy more concise.

4.    Buttons and CTAs were completely changed. With forms 1 and 2, Michael changed the button copy from “Next” to include the title of the next step: “Step 2 – Shipping Information.” Further, CTAs were shifted onto the pay-off of submitting the form: “Get Free Shipping Quotes.”

Here’s a screenshot of the control and treatment forms:


Testing & Results

With these minor changes to the form, Michael generated a 30.3% conversion lift for the shipping company. The control converted 2120 of 4904 visitors to the site, while the treatment converted 2390 of 4293. This represents an increased conversion rate from 43.23% to 56.33%.

Not bad for a few minor field rearrangements and form copy adjustments!

Tweak #5: PriceCharting.com increases clickthroughs 620.9% by increasing CTA relevance


Our current granddaddy of bang-for-your-buck copy changes belongs to PriceCharting.com, both for their incredible conversion lift, and also for how little they changed to achieve it.

PriceCharting.com helps people find current and historic prices on classic video games and consoles. In 2013, they decided to try Visual Website Optimizer to help increase conversions on the product page for their Sega Genesis pricing list.

The Tweak

PriceCharting.com owner JJ Hendricks hypothesized two things: that users could be mistaking the orange “Download” button for a banner ad, and that “Download” wasn’t relevant enough to users who came to the page searching for a pricing guide.

Hendricks made 1 very small tweak to the copy, all in the download button: he simply changed the copy from “Download” to “Price Guide”.

Here’s a screenshot:


Testing & Results

Just one week into the test, the treatment page showed an incredible 620.9% increase in clickthroughs, a simply incredible feat for such a small tweak to the content.

The core takeaway from this test is relevance, relevance, relevance. With the control version, users were obviously confused by the “Download” text, and not entirely sure it was relevant to their query.

But they were clearly ready to buy, and once they saw relevant text, they took action—in droves.


People typically redesign their websites when they become bored with the existing layout, and want something new. This is a waste.

As these examples show, the key to successful design is understanding your users, and making small ongoing changes that address insights you glean from data.

Here is 1 more very important thing to keep in mind: though the changes we’ve profiled in this post were small, they were small in implementation only. The insights that drive small changes are not always easily identifiable.

In other words, hammering a nail is easy, but knowing which nail to hit is sometimes difficult. Here’s a recent post of ours that discusses this issue in more detail.

Till next time!




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