July 14, 2024

Web copy: 100 artful ways to convert online prospects to online customers


Need, want or desire? Savvy digital marketers know the difference – and use it as a competitive advantage

True or false: Web copy that focuses on customer need and product benefit is your best bet for getting a response and driving conversions?

If you said ‘true,’ congratulations. You are half right.

It’s true, Web copy that converts starts with a laser focus on your customer’s need. Customers do want the physical satisfaction, which they hope to get from the specific benefits of your product or service. But if you want to build an unshakeable relationship with them – and an affinity for your brand – your best bet is to tap into their desire for emotional satisfaction.

Emotional satisfaction makes the world turn, and the cash register ring. Let’s look at a hypothetical example.

Imagine walking into Starbucks one morning and bumping into an old acquaintance.

“Hey, Ray! How have you been?” you ask.

Flipping his keys in his hand, he beams. “I just picked up my new car,” replies Ray. He nods toward the window at a shiny red sports car parked outside.

“Ooh, very nice,” you say. “What made you pick that model?”

“Well, let me tell you,” he begins. “It has state-of-the-art computer tech in the dashboard. It gets great gas mileage. The engine is designed with best-in-class German engineering. Consumer Reports rated it a top value for 2014. And I got a great deal on it!”

Those are all rational, logical reasons that don’t tell you the whole story.

What Ray won’t tell you are his real reasons for buying this car:

  • Like how he feels when he’s behind the wheel
  • How it makes him feel young and virile again
  • How he likes being the envy of his buddies and coworkers
  • And his desire to impress women with his success

This illustrates an important dynamic in the psychology of buying and selling. People make buying decisions for emotional reasons and justify them with logical reasons. To persuade online prospects to become customers, your Web copy has to create an emotional experience they cannot resist.

That means understanding the wants and desires behind their needs.


Establishing customer need is the tip of the iceberg. It is identifying prospects – suspects at this point – who have a functional need for your product or service. Speaking to their need alone is rarely enough to motivate action at this point. There is not enough emotional juice.

When you get down to the level of ‘wants’ you start to get those juices flowing. That’s when marketing content draws attention to the tangible benefits your prospect will realize when they buy. But it is when you get to the base of this hierarchy of motivations that the emotional electricity happens.

Fuel their desire and you create an emotional experience. Emotional satisfaction from the experience creates customers from prospects. How do you trigger mad desire with your Web copy?

Web copy that sparks desire

You can learn a lot about writing copy that gets a response from direct marketing copywriters. They live or die on their ability to drive measurable results. Because they measure, we have a record of what works. Dick Hodgson is one direct marketing legend who recorded many of the best practices for motivating people to respond. His books – most of which are out of print – have priceless pearls of wisdom for online copywriting.

One of them is The Greatest Direct Mail Sales Letters of All Time. In it, he poured over thousands of the most effective direct mail letters ever written and classified the motivators used to get industry-best results. Then he ranked them all until he settled on the top 100.

The final list is a great resource for writing content for the Web. Why?

Your Web page, your email marketing content, your paid ad all have a lot in common with an old-school direct mail sales letter. they are direct, person-to-person communications whose primary objective is to get people to respond. They need emotional triggers to do that.

The triggers for emotional satisfaction are universal. They will work for motivating action from online prospects too. Use them as a source of inspiration for getting inside the head and heart of your prospect and crafting a message that sparks desire for your product.


Emotional satisfaction = Web copy that converts

Direct mail sales letters – the great ones – are some of the most artful examples of written persuasion you can find to inspire your Web copy. They pluck the strings of need, want and desire in the way most relevant to the audience. In the process, they succeed in getting readers to respond and in converting them to customers. These triggers will do the same for your online copy.

Need help with publishing content that converts prospects to customers? Let’s talk! Contact me to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.


Speak Your Mind