What if you had endless ideas for your web copy, from your ideal customers, for free?
Web designer cost: $8k
Copywriter cost: $4k
Mining the internet for your target market’s biggest hopes, dreams, frustrations, and objections to purchase?
If you’ve stumbled upon this article chances are you’re hoping to write up a bangin’ website for your SaaS product and have no idea where to start.
Well, when it comes to copywriting we always start (and finish for that matter) with your target market.
I’m going to show you where to look to find basically everything you need to know about them then how to practically apply that to your website copy, I’ve even thrown in a free spreadsheet to help you organize all that sweet, sweet data you’re going to dig up.
The One Thing You Can’t Write Good Copy Without
I’d like to introduce you to a concept us copywriters call “voice of customer data” (VOC for short).
Voice of customer data is fancy-pants-speak for the actual words your customers (or customers to-be) use to describe their pain points, goals, biggest objections to purchase, and pretty much anything else that relates to their life and relationship with your product (or that of a competitor).
And in the age of the overshare, your customers are leaving those juicy tidbits of voice of customer data all over the internet, just waiting for you to discover them and use in your copy!
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, we’ll cover how to apply this data to your copy further down this article, for now let’s back up and discuss where to find that data.
Where to Find the Best VOC Data
The process of mining VOC data can start with your own user base via surveys and customer interviews, which is where I usually start. But bear in mind that people may be filtering how they really feel in these. If you want a totally unfiltered opinion you’ll need to look elsewhere.
But where is elsewhere? Here’s a non-exhaustive list of where you can find amazing VOC data for your website copy. I haven’t included user interviews here because that’s a whole other beast that I’ll write about another day.
- YouTube Comments
- Sales Calls
- Online reviews
Subreddits have helped me a ton when mining for voice of customer data because people are usually posting there to blow off steam or find advice about a specific problem. All you need to do is Google “subreddit” + your topic.
When I wrote the homepage copy for Interpolly, a language learning software, I wanted to see what conversations people were having about other language learning apps.
I quick search on the /languagelearning subreddit for “language learning apps” and it brought up a ton of relevant posts from users either searching for apps (and adding specifics about what they were looking for and why) and reviews of specific apps.
Let’s break down some important points that we can deduct from this amazing post above:
- Fun and gamification is highlighted as a big benefit of duolingo
- “Good repetition system” shows us that users can expect this type of repetition to retain information
- There’s a complaint about lack of technical and grammatical explanations which would improve this user’s experience. My client’s software helps put phrases and words into context with example sentences which helps us stand out
- “You practice phrases that make sense” highlighting one common complaint of the mega-famous Duolingo app (that you’re taught nonsense sentences that you’ll never use)
- “Beautiful design” which reminds me that the homepage should highlight my client’s simple, fresh, and easy-to-navigate interface as UI matters a lot
And that was just a brief overview of one single post.
Don’t sleep on subreddits – there’s gold in there.
Find the YouTube influencers in your market, or just competitors who are producing video content.
Next, do a quick search (Option + F on a Mac and ALT+F on a PC) and type in “?”, “help”, “understand”, “why/how” etc and your browser will highlight those words on the webpage (including the comments section).
This is a great way to mine for relevant questions your audience has to not only help you write your homepage copy, but also develop a ton of content ideas.
Look at the example above – there’s a couple of things that really stand out to me:
- “I was using Duolingo for around 100 days…but I just found myself getting bored with repeating the same stuff again and again….I joke with my Polish girlfriend about how I can’t wait to see a ‘bad fish eating a sandwich‘ which is him making fun of Duolingo’s absurd translations that have no real-world use. It’s gold because we have a specific (and funny) example of what this target market is sick of.
- This could be turned into a subhead or a headline for an ad, website copy, content, or whatever we decide because it’s an “inside joke” the market would get. “Tired of learning phrases like ‘bad fish eating a sandwich’ and want to actually learn real-world French?”
Checking out YouTube also gives you a ton of inspiration for content ideas in your niche as you can see what videos drive the most engagement and what topics your market are interested in.
Image Description: man in an office being handed a phone
If your SaaS company has any enterprise-level plans or is in a B2B space you might leverage sales calls as part of your sales cycle – make sure you record these and generate transcripts for future market research!
Recently I was writing webcopy for a B2B client and found the sales calls recordings and transcripts that they keep to be insanely helpful because it gave me insight into the biggest goals, hesitations, and frustrations of their most “bottom-of-funnel” leads.
Let me give you a concrete example of how I leveraged sales call data for a client’s web copy.
I was writing various web pages for their services’ pages and one thing that kept coming up again and again was that Head’s of Marketing/Sales were getting completely burnt out being caught up in individual contributor tasks, like fixing Salesforce dashboards, rather than focusing on driving their Sales team’s strategy.
I then used that to make that our Salesforce services page speak to that frustration so when someone lands on it they’ll think; “Omg these guys GET IT!”
To record and produce transcripts from your sales calls you can simply record your zoom calls (with the permission of the prospect) then use a free Zoom plugin called Fathom to produce the transcript.
I’ve mentioned subreddits as a great place to find VOC data, but don’t forget about niche and industry specific forums too.
When I was writing for Interpolly I made sure to hop on over to one of the most popular language tutoring platforms, iTalki, because they have an awesome forum.
I did searches for competitor products to see what conversations people were having about them with the goal of highlighting features that Interpolly had which would help differentiate them in this tough market.
Not sure where to find the best industry-specific forums and websites?
There’s an amazing tool called SparkToro which can help you with audience research. You can use it to find your market’s main sources of influence, including niche websites.
Want to find out exactly what people love (and hate) about your competitors? Then it’s time to start making a bank of quotes from online reviews.
As a general rule-of-thumb you want to find out what your market is complaining about with competitors’ products and leverage that to highlight how your product overcomes those limitations.
For example, one big complaint my client’s target market had was that apps like Duolingo had robot voices and didn’t teach you anything you need to actually understand and have conversations with native speakers of the language.
So I made sure to highlight one of the core benefits of my client’s product being that you actually leverage real-world, native content to learn your language.
When checking out reviews here’s a top tip: go directly to the 3 star reviews. These tend to be the most honest and level-headed. Most of the 1 and 2 star reviews are people complaining about the app not working or complaining about price. The 3 star reviews are where you’ll find the most honesty.
3 Great Tools to Help You Uncover & Use Voice-of-Customer Data
- SparkToro: uncover your market’s true sources of influence
- Fathom: free video transcript Zoom add-on
- Otter.ai: paid transcription service for recordings
Free VOC Data Spreadsheet: How to Organize Your Data
I’ve found that keeping track of VOC data can become messy, making it hard to actually use and implement so I created a simple, super organized spreadsheet to keep it all together.
Here’s how to use this template (you can download it below)
Link to Your Customer Interviews And/Or Sales Calls
The first sheet is a place for you to link to the transcripts and recordings of either customer interview market research calls or sales calls. That way you have it all organized in one place and aren’t rifling through your Google Drive to find them.
Add Survey Data
If you run surveys you can populate this sheet with the responses. If you use a tool like TypeForm you can automatically populate this sheet with new survey data.
Add your Quotes as “Copy” formulas
Now my favourite bit!
All those quote you’re gathering up like acorns? It’s time to turn them into usable data that isn’t a big mad brain dump on some Google doc. In this sheet every time you unearth a great quote, categorize it as either a “pain point”, “benefit”, “hook”, “goal”, and “objection”.
Here’s what each one means
- Paint point: a particular struggle your target market is having. Either with trying to achieve their goal or with finding a solution to it
- Benefit: a specific benefit your product (or a competitor’s) has given your customer
- Hook: what your customers say sets you apart from competitors – why did they choose you over the others?
- Goal: what your target market is trying to achieve
- Objection: this comes up a lot in sales calls – what are their hesitations right before buying? What doubts almost stop them from becoming customers?
Add Testimonial Data
We didn’t cover this above, but testimonials also count as VOC data. If you have a lot of testimonials it’s a good practice to start rifling through them and identifying which ones are truly worth going on your site.
I came up with a checklist to identify the best testimonials that are publish-worthy based on elements they should cover.
A great testimonial should:
- Talk about the original pain point or struggle that led them to try your product
- Mention any objections they had or doubts and hesitations before buying
- Highlight what makes your product different
- Speak about what results they got from using your product
Here’s an example from one of my own testimonials:
We don’t have an objection mentioned here, but it is at least implied. After being burned before by other copywriters, it’s natural to assume he was hesitant to invest in someone and trust them with this aspect of his marketing.
Finally, Add your FAQ Section
Even your customer support emails are a great place for VOC data. It can help you write your FAQs and knowledge databases as well as give you endless content ideas.
So the last sheet on your VOC data spreadsheet is a place for your to keep a log of those FAQs and also highlight where those questions sit on your sales funnel (top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel).
Why You can’t Write Website Copy Without VOC Data
I mean you can, but you’re making huge assumptions about what your target market actually cares about and that means you’re also making assumptions about what’ll convince them to trust you enough to become customers.
Taking the time to mine VOC data makes sure that you’re able to properly differentiate your product, can show (not tell) your customers-to-be that you actually understand and empathize with them, and it makes other aspects of your marketing much easier, like content creation.
It also helps you write copy so much faster because you’re literally able to pluck out direct quotes from your customers as use them on your website copy. This might sound like cheating, but it’s the most fool-proof way to ensure that your copy says what your prospects need to hear (because they’ve literally told you themselves).
So make the time to go through this process and get to know your prospects on this new, completely unfiltered level.
What you learn might shock you…