September 8, 2022
Messaging

How to create website messaging that converts

Your website messaging tells readers why they should buy from you over your competitors, carving out your piece of a saturated market. Discover our 8-step messaging framework.

Your website messaging must hook users as soon as they see it. Fail to do so, and you risk wasting capital spent on the content and creative you worked so hard to build.

Brands like Ringy and Omnisend drive conversions because their website messaging resonates. Their messaging is built on a foundation of audience research and tested on customers before large scale roll-outs.

In this article, you’ll learn the eight crucial elements of messaging development to create website copy that captures attention, resonates, and converts.

The role of website messaging in capturing demand

Brands like HubSpot and Salesforce succeeded when markets were difficult to enter. Development costs were higher, and access to finance was harder. However, competition was smaller, allowing them to create their own categories.

Today, the legacy playbook that these brands used to win won’t work. Markets are too crowded.

To outcompete, you must cater to defined audiences and solve specific problems that competitors haven’t touched. Differentiation is key, and your messaging must communicate that.

Strong, differentiated messaging must tell users:

  • Why they should buy from you
  • Why they shouldn’t (not everyone is your customer)
  • How you’ll resolve their challenge

Done right, messaging that ticks these boxes will help you carve out pieces of a saturated marketplace.

It’s a much more effective form of differentiation than relying on the features and benefits of your product. Features might be unique today, but can easily be replicated by competitors

How to develop an effective website messaging strategy

Building a website messaging strategy is crucial to connecting with your audience and bringing clarity to the customer decision-making process. Here’s how to do it.

1. Determine primary motivators through buyer research 

Most website messaging fails to connect due to a lack of qualitative buyer research.

Marketers rely too heavily on fictitious customer personas based on a handful of customers. At worst, they’re based on a list of what you wish your ideal customer looked like.

As Amanda Natividad, VP Marketing at SparkToro puts it:

There’s a misguided focus on demographics, arbitrarily chosen stock photos, and cutesy alliterative names. Your customer’s gender rarely has anything [to] do with their purchase decision, and it doesn’t matter if you name them Marketing Martin or Finance Fiona. 

While these personas might describe what your customers look like, they don’t tell you anything about buying motivations and core challenges.

For instance:

Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne Personas
How likely is it that Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne have similar motivations and preferences?

Move away from demographic-driven customer personas and use buyer intelligence surveys to understand what new customers really think about the problems you solve.

Buyer intelligence surveys combine qualitative and quantitative research to identify and prioritize customer motivations.

For instance, open-ended questions like, “What’s your biggest pain point when it comes to validating your go-to-market strategy?” elicit long-form, qualitative answers. 

We get to dive deep into what customers think about their pain points, rather than using surface-level knowledge:

Wynter Buyer Intelligence Survey results. Examples of an open ended survey question and a scale question
Open-ended survey questions are effective qualitative research tools

Qualitative questions draw out several different answers (which should align with the problems your product solves).

Quantitative questions, such as asking buyers to rank the priority of a given challenge, allow you to determine which problems are of most significance, so you can feature them front and center in your website messaging.

Use buyer intelligence research to move beyond high-level personas, and reveal what motivates your customers to take action.

2. Use voice-of-customer research to uncover gems 

One of the most powerful and simple ways to create effective website messaging is to incorporate the exact words and phrases customers use to describe their problems.

Former FBI lead hostage negotiator Chris Voss uses a similar technique, known as mirroring, to build rapport with hostage-takers and to de-escalate and resolve negotiations:

It's just the simple repetition of one to three words, one two three-ish words. Typically it's the last one to three words of what somebody said. But when you get good at mirroring, you could pick one to three words from anywhere in the conversation. The other person feels listened to. It tends to connect their thoughts in their head. 

We can take a similar approach to messaging development using Voice-of-Customer (VOC) research.
VOC research is the process of understanding customer needs and wants, with a key focus on identifying language (specific phrases that describe buyer challenges and desires) that you can leverage in your messaging.

Take Joel Klettke, founder of Case Study Buddy.

Klettke used VOC research when redesigning the messaging on some of HubSpot’s landing pages, using the following framework to capture and categorize customer responses:

Screenshot of framework to capture and categorize customer responses
Klettke used VOC research to build engaging landing pages

He then used this insight to develop the main value proposition for the HubSpot homepage:

We played with this quote a little, tied it to a need we saw coming up over and over (growth) and used it to inspire our homepage copy.

Take a similar approach during the research stage of website messaging development:

  1. Use qualitative survey questions to capture long-form answers
  2. Categorize answers based on needs, challenges, and product features

This will give you the exact language your audience uses. You’ll access the phrases and words they use to describe their challenges, as well as the true motivations and pain-point behind the challenges themselves.

3. Find your unique selling points through competitive analysis 

Great website messaging highlights your differentiating factor.

However, even leading SaaS brands make the mistake of doing the opposite, resulting in copy that says the same thing as each other:

Screenshot of Different SaaS Sites Homepage
Four email marketing brands with similar phrasing in their homepage copy

If all four of these email marketing platforms help you “grow your business,” what motivates buyers to choose one over the other?
Assuming they share the same features, competition becomes a price-based decision driving a race to the bottom.

Carve out a niche in your category by using competitive analysis to find your most compelling differentiators.

WiderFunnel’s Chris Goward uses a framework that starts with competitors' website messaging analysis. Each competitor is ranked based on their value propositions and what they say makes them different.
Take Goward’s Venn diagram framework and match competitor value propositions against buyer motivation:

A Venn diagram including Points of Parity (POPs), Points of Difference (PODs), and Points of Irrelevance (POIs)
Focus your messaging on your Points of Difference
  1. Points of Parity. These are the shared value propositions that customers care about. It’s likely that this is what your competitors focus on in their messaging.
  2. Points of Irrelevance. These are the value propositions only you offer, but don’t match your customer’s needs. These points aren’t an effective focus point for creating messaging that resonates as your customers won’t care.
  3. Points of Difference. These are the value propositions that customers care about, but that your competitors ignore. This is where you want to play the game and differentiate your messaging strategy.

Run through this process for each of your competitors. Pull together the “Points of Difference” that are common across each analysis.

4. Create a messaging hierarchy that hits home 

Your website must focus on the biggest problem you solve. Tie additional benefits to those challenges as users explore your content and devour your messaging.

Messaging hierarchy is the glue that ties this together. This outlines which elements of your value proposition should take priority over others.

Apple has three core messages, but its primary messaging style, “Confident but Approachable,” takes priority over the other two:

Screenshot of Message Architecture Company Apple
Apple prioritizes the first messaging style—”Confident, but Approachable”

Use two sources of data to define your messaging hierarchy:

  1. Quantitative data from your buyer intelligence surveys.
  2. Points of Difference identified through competitive analysis.

Survey questions such as “How important is it to you to solve X problem?” tell you which buyer challenges are most important to users. Rank challenges based on the priority scores customers give.

Rank your differentiators in this hierarchy. Which unique elements appear most often across your Points of Difference analysis?
For example, your customers’ biggest problem may be speeding up feedback loops in their go-to-market strategy. Which of your highest-ranked value propositions match this challenge?

One of Wynter’s messaging testing service differentiators is delivering results within hours. The primary message here is:

“B2B marketing message testing, delivered within hours, speeding up GTM feedback loops.”

Continue down your list of customer challenges, and pull together a messaging hierarchy of your 3-5 most compelling messages.

5. Segment audiences to deliver messaging that resonates 

It's likely your product serves multiple customer segments. Though there will be overlap in how your product is used, these segments will have different needs, meaning your messaging needs to be dynamic to speak to each audience individually.

To create messaging that resonates with each audience, separate customer research interviews and competitive analysis by segment.

Then, narrow in on the challenge that each audience segment prioritizes most, and build messaging for each.

Take Ringy, a sales CRM with several customer use cases:

Screenshot of Ringy Customer Use Cases
Ringy serves several audience segments

While Ringy’s primary value proposition focuses on automated sales conversations, they address more specific needs on landing pages dedicated to each segment.

On their higher education page, Ringy talks to ease of use for student communication, a key challenge for colleges and universities:

Screenshot of Ringy Homepage for Higher Education Customer
Ringy speaks to their higher education customer base on a specific page

On their agency-focused page, Ringy speaks their customers’ language, weaving in industry terms like “customer acquisition cost” while delivering a crucial value proposition: boosting productivity:

Screenshot of Ringy Homepage for Agency Customer
Ringy’s messaging on their agency page matches the audience

Segment your messaging when highlighting industries and specific use cases. Demonstrate how you alleviate the challenges that matter most to each audience.

6. Engage in semiotic analysis to connect with emotive centers 

The best marketing copywriters understand how to evoke images that motivate action and connect with user desires using semiotic analysis.

Semiotic analysis refers to the study of symbols and signs. That is, what does this image or word signify?

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes how our subconscious interpretations of signs and symbols come from an emotional system (System 1) rather than a rational one (System 2).

Although we might think it’s System 2 that helps us make rational decisions, it’s not so. Emotional System 1 calls the shots here; it’s the source of our beliefs, and it deliberates all rational choices of System 2.
Your feelings and impressions are influenced by the world around you [. . .] and especially by all the non-verbal symbols your brain interprets, packages and creates meaning from.

Using semiotic analysis, we can connect directly with System 1 and inspire subconscious interpretations that tell audiences why they should buy from us.

Each sign has two components:

  1. The signifier is the form a sign takes. In relation to messaging, the signifier is a word or phrase.
  2. The signified is the concept a sign represents.

To conduct a semiotic analysis, start by describing the concepts your messaging must represent. For a digital marketing automation platform, they might be speed, effortlessness, and consistency.

Then, build a list of words and phrases that share similar connotations. These will inform your messaging development.

Omnisend, for instance, uses words like “shortcut,” “growth,” and “automation” to reflect these concepts:

Screenshot of Omnisend Homepage
Omnisend uses carefully selected evocative language

These words should be used with careful consideration. They’re indicators of a concept and describe them in ways that audiences can recognize.

The word “shortcut,” for example, indicates that Omnisend’s automation platform will help speed up the revenue generation process. In this regard, “shortcut” and “automation” share a relationship for communicating what their product does.

Select your words carefully when crafting your messaging. Make sure they back up your claims, not build hyperbole without substance.

7. Test messaging before going live 

They best demand generation practitioners know how critical it is to get feedback from their target audience. They use that feedback to iterate and edit before publishing. In other words, they test before they invest.

Use message testing to answer these questions:

  • How clear is the message we’re communicating?
  • How much do readers care about what we’re communicating?
  • Do readers feel like we understand their challenges?
  • What parts of our messaging are putting customers off?
  • Which parts of our messaging are most compelling?

Then, use this feedback to make adjustments to your website copy.

Take CXL, who used Wynter’s B2B message testing panel to gather insightful customer feedback: 

Screenshot of CXL using Wynter’s B2B message testing panel 
CXL’s message testing with Wynter revealed messaging conflicts

The answers above indicate their messaging conflicts with one another and seem to be targeting two different personas. 

Both customers made it clear that the first message was much more compelling. So, CXL adjusted its approach to speak more to skills and career advancement than the fear of falling behind:

Screenshot of CXL about skills and career advancement
The new CXL messaging is more accurate, thanks to message testing

Before you go live with your new site, conduct message testing like this to identify gaps in your copy, then pivot accordingly.

8. Make testing a continuous practice for optimization

Testing your messaging before you launch is a much faster method for receiving feedback than the typical “test, iterate, repeat” method. That doesn’t mean that testing and editing should be a one-and-done affair.

Competitors will replicate your features and customers’ needs and challenges will change. Your messaging needs to adapt to reflect this.

To optimize the customer experience and boost on-page conversion rates, build a testing schedule and analyze one aspect at a time.

This section of Omnisend’s features page alone provides four opportunities for A/B testing:

  • Page header
  • Body copy
  • CTA
  • Imagery
Screenshot of Omnisend Feature Page
Keep retesting various on-page elements

Use A/B testing to optimize each element, then schedule an annual or bi-annual review of your messaging as a whole, running through the above steps from the top.

Keep your message aligned with your audience 

SaaS, ecommerce, and service businesses face the same challenge: finding the right message that boosts customer engagement and drives conversions.

Use the steps above to craft messaging that connects, but despite the urge to run fast, don’t neglect testing before launching.

Wynter’s message testing service puts your new site in front of a proprietary panel of B2B industry experts, telling you where the holes are in your messaging before you hit publish.

Sign up for free today, and join brands like Unilever and Drift who are optimizing their messaging with Wynter.

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