How To Write in Your Customers Voice

The Growth Report #59

Happy Friday my friend,

Today we cover three of my favorite topics:
Copywriting, Customer Research and Reading Books.

In the middle of my writing today, I succumbed to the fact that this week’s edition is probably going to be a longer-than-usual newsletter.

And here we are 😇

So let’s dive right into it, shall we….

...Today's topics

📈 Persuasive Copywriting:
Three-Step Process: How To Write in Your Customers Voice

🧰 Tools of the Trade:
Articles, Tools and Inspiration for Marketers

⛑️ Reflections from the Trenches:
Four Principles to Get the Most Out Of Your Reading

📈 Persuasive Copywriting

Three-Step Process: How To Write in Your Customers Voice

As marketers and entrepreneurs, we need to write a lot.

Our writing often involves persuading people to talk to us, buy from us, work with us or collaborate with us.

I am talking about:

  • landing page copy

  • outreach emails

  • sales presentations

  • social media posts

  • ad copy

  • etc.

But how can we increase the chances that our message hits the right tone and feels relevant to the receiver?

A process to uncover motivations

This is where your current prospects and customers come into play.

When you understand the motivations that drive your prospects and customers, you can reflect their feelings back to them—in their words. That way, you’re way more likely to convince them that buying from you is the right call.

When we work with clients, we always use the same process to uncover the motivations of a particular group of people. And it is deceptively simple:

  1. Gather Insights

  2. Organize and cluster the answers

  3. Simplify and improve your copy.

But just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's a quick fix.

This is hard work, but it will pay dividends for years to come.

Step 1: Gather Insights

What kind of questions you ask depends a lot on what your end goal is. What pages, content pieces or ad copy are you trying to optimize? What do you need to know in order to do that effectively?

Depending on your project, here are four questions that can help you get started. Adapt the questions depending on the copy you want to improve (e.g. zooming in on a specific product feature page)

4 great questions to help you write voice-of-customer

  • When did you realize you needed a product/service like ours? This question helps you find out which trigger events in a person’s life motivate them to seek out your solution.

  • What problem does our product/service lessen/fix for you? Find out what your customers consider to be the problem. You may find that you solve problems you didn’t know about.

  • Did you consider any alternatives to buying/working with us? It’s always a good idea to know who your customers see as your competition. This will help you build a case as to why they should buy from you.

  • What concerns or hesitations did you have before you decided to buy/work with us? Addressing sources of friction in your copy is incredibly important. You can reflect your customers’ concerns back to them, showing how you’ll alleviate them.

I would recommend to always start with what you already have. You can always go out and collect more insights.

And there are tons of different sources to extract valuable insights from:

  • On-Page surveys (through Hotjar)

  • Online surveys (through Google Forms)

  • Welcome sequence emails (e.g. What is your biggest frustration?)

  • Customer testimonials, customer reviews (both your own and your competitors)

  • Sales and customer success team insights from their conversations in the field

  • Customer interview transcripts

  • Website copy of a prospect or customer (if B2B)

Step 2: Organize and cluster answers

Now that you’ve asked your questions and gotten your answers, it’s time to pull out phrases and sentences written by respondents that will give you the best insights for your copy.

Go through all your gathered sources above one by one.

You’re looking for the following:

  • Phrases that tap into the respondent’s needs/wants;

  • Phrases that reference the respondent’s biggest pain points;

  • Phrases that key into their hesitations or concerns about purchasing.

The answers are then saved and clustered in one big Google sheet. You will quickly see patterns that will help shape the outline of your copy.

Step 3: Simplify and improve your copy

So now that you gathered and organized all these insights you can do a side-by-side comparison. Pull up the page(s) you are optimizing and start analyzing the gaps of what you wrote on the page, versus the words and themes that your customers or prospects used.

Jennifer Havice from MakeMention makes a good point about this:

If most prospects or customers tell you that they can’t live without your app because of its great interface and easy integration—but all you talk about is price—you have a communication gap.

And gaps lead to big holes in conversion.

And here is a real life example of how the Design Academy has improved their landing page copy after going through this process (hat tip to Harry):

See the difference? The second one is clearly speaking to a specific subset of clients and uses their own words to convince them to take a closer look.

In Summary

Copywriting doesn't require the perfect line or a flash of inspiration. Just ask your customers questions and let them do the work for you.

It works like a charm.

🧰 Tools of the Trade:

Articles, Tools and Inspiration for Marketers

💬 Design Your Environment.

"The more disciplined your environment is, the less disciplined you need to be. Don't swim upstream." - James Clear

👨‍🎓 Marketing & Leadership Education

🤩 Brands and (digital) Products that caught my eye

  • Contra - A community for freelancers and agencies. Love their approach!

  • Tribe - The community platform to rule them all.

  • - An AI writing engine for social content, ads, website copy etc.

📚 Interesting reads

⛑️ Reflections From the Trenches

Four Principles To Get The Most Out Of Your Reading

Following are a four principles that made my reading experience much more enjoyable and rewarding over the years.

1. You are allowed to quit books.

Gosh this was a big one for me. I always had the nagging feeling that when I started a book, I needed to finish it at all cost.

There was a form of guilt involved. But obviously this is nonsense.

Once I realized I can quit bad books, everything changed for me. Putting down a bad book makes space for a new, potentially great book.

Start books quickly but give them up easily. Skim a lot of books. Read a few.

2. There are different depths of reading.

Not everything needs to be read with the same intensity. Some books only deserve a skim, while others deserve your complete attention. How much effort you put in relates to what you’re reading and why you’re reading it.

I won't go into too much detail here, but basically there are four levels of reading.

  1. Reading to Entertain — The level of reading taught in our elementary schools.

  2. Reading to Inform — A superficial read. You skim, dive in and out, and get a feel for the book and get the gist of things.

  3. Reading to Understand— The real workhorse of reading. This is a thorough reading where you chew on things and digest them.

  4. Reading to Master — If you just read one book on a topic odds are you have a lot of blind spots in your knowledge. Synoptical reading is reading a variety of books and articles on the same topic, finding and evaluating the contradictions, and forming an opinion.

3. Choose books that stood the test of time

If you’re like most people, you’ll naturally be interested in new books. This is understandable. New books are full of sex appeal, marketing, and empty promises. While a few new books might prove to be valuable, the vast majority of them will be forgotten in months.

How do we sort the books worth reading from the ones that should be skimmed or ignored all together? Time.

I think this quote from Farnam Street puts it perfectly:

Reading time is limited, it should be directed at knowledge that lasts. The opportunity cost of reading something new is re-reading the best book you’ve ever read.

Read old books. Read the best ones twice.

While this approach seems less sexy than reading the latest best-seller that everyone is talking about, most of those books will fail the test of time.

4. Take better notes

Since I started taking notes and save them in a central place, I remember and actually apply so much more of what I read.

  1. Highlight your favorite passages (Kindle or with a marker in physical books) that are surprising, useful, easily lost or simply inspire you.

  2. At the end of each chapter write a few bullet point summarizing the main point the author made. Use your own words.

  3. After you have finished a book, lay it aside for a couple of weeks.

  4. Go back over your highlights and chapter summaries again. Reading those will feel as if you re-read the whole book again.

  5. Finally, after a second read-through if you have some major insights that you would like to remember forever, summarize them again and put them into what I call an "Idea Library".

That's it. I hope some of those principles speak to you as well and help you make your reading experience even more enjoyable 🤓

That's it for this week.

Talk soon,