Every year I call my accountant and every year I expect to hear what I’ve been dreading.
“I’m sorry, but Paul’s retired.”
I’m pretty sure he’s only working because he loves it.
He seems to spend half the year on exotic adventures.
The other half is when I see him. His eyes peek over his glasses. He hunches over an old wooden desk and uses the end of his pencil to stab numbers into a calculator that looks like a 1960s relic.
He asks about my wife, talks about his son, and tips me off about restaurants from his latest travels.
And when we shake hands at the end of each meeting, I wonder whether he’ll still be working next year.
I hope he is.
But one day he’ll go on one of his trips and decide he’s not coming back.
He might have done it already.
Which is how I ended up looking at online accounting software over the last two weeks.
First up was this:
This sub-head does well at establishing credibility and trust. Using an uncommon number (164,000), rather than a ‘neat’ number, helps.
The button copy is also solid (although I’d love to see the results of a split test with copy that removed any of the resistance implied with ‘Buy now’).
But the headline looks like a missed opportunity.
One problem is that it doesn’t appeal to anyone’s desires. Lots of adverbs could have been used instead of ‘beautifully’. Have you ever heard anyone say, “you know what, I really wish I could run my business beautifully”?
As well as not making much sense, doing something ‘beautifully’ is also abstract and impossible to quantify. Who says you’re running your business beautifully? How do you measure that?
And what impact does it have on your bottom line?
Given this is copy for accounting software, readers are sure to be interested in business performance.
So something like ‘efficiently’ might be a better choice. It carries a direct resonance to the accounting service on offer.
But I’d be tempted to test an entirely new headline.
Because if you take the current headline in isolation, you have no idea what the company does – or what benefit it offers. It’s a vague statement that could be used by any number of service providers.
Compare it to this headline from another site, which offers both a clear benefit and reinforces the service.
Underneath the main headline are five benefits, each supported by a feature of the software.
This is copywriting 101, but it’s worth repeating because so many businesses ignore it: benefits are stronger than features.
So this site does a better job in conveying why you should try its software and what you will gain as a result.
Finally, here’s the third page I visited:
The headline and sub-head both look like they’re based on keyword research.
It’s descriptive copy rather than copy that speaks directly to the reader.
And it’s a style that runs throughout.
Here are just a handful of the great features our accounting software has to offer:
Is this sentence stronger if it’s reworked?
Get started now and you’ll enjoy these seven benefits:
By tightening the copy and switching the focus of the personal pronoun (‘our’ in the original version, ‘you’ in the revised version), the reader could be more compelled to sign up.
Disclaimer: All of these pages could have been tested to the extreme and their conversion rates could already be through the roof. I hold my hands up to that.
But they do highlight a few (very) simple copywriting principles that might benefit your own business.
- Use benefits rather than features (and use emotions rather than benefits).
- Put the focus on your reader, not you (personal pronouns).
- Use language that resonates directly with your audience’s interests and concerns.
It’s worth remembering those points when you consider how to improve your own website copy and conversion rates.
In the meantime, I’m getting ready to ring my accountant.
I just hope he’s in the country.