Ben: This interview is with Rishi Rawat, founder of Frictionless Commerce and one of the leading thinkers and writers in product page copywriting. Rishi brings a unique and compelling perspective on how to write product pages that are more like the single-page magazine ads of old. He kindly shared more about his views below.
What is the biggest mistake founders make on their mono-product pages?
The biggest mistake I see founders making with product pages is overlooking the value of their journey. As a founder myself, I understand the curse of knowledge. We spend years prototyping, manufacturing, and experimenting with different components and materials. However, some founders tend to downplay this journey when presenting their product.
In my opinion, it’s crucial to emphasize the journey because it adds significant value.
Let’s consider a unique niche concern like excessive arm sweating. There’s a specific cream designed to reduce palm sweat, and for someone like me, it’s a highly personal and important purchase. Even though it may cost $20, the product addresses a deeply rooted problem for the consumer.
It’s essential to remember that customers often passively seek solutions or become frustrated by a problem for years before taking action. As brands, we shouldn’t underestimate the journey and assume customers are aware of their needs. Even if your product is a simple and affordable cream that prevents palm sweating, it holds immense significance for those who have longed for a solution.
If you could pick one thing that they need to get right about the product page, what would that be?
If there’s one thing I would emphasize about the product page, it’s the importance of capturing the visitor’s attention in the limited time you have. Recognizing that most visitors will likely never return, you need to understand the significance of that initial interaction.
Two key data points guide my approach: most visitors spend around 2.5 minutes on the website, and it’s unlikely to make a sale within that timeframe.
With this in mind, I prioritize the top half of the page, particularly the headlines and the opening of my story. My primary goal is to prevent immediate rejection and engage the visitor to spend more time.
Analytics reveal a positive correlation between time on site and the probability of conversions. Just like in a retail store, where a customer spending 25 minutes is more likely to make a purchase than someone who spends only seven minutes, extending the visitor’s time on the website increases the likelihood of conversion.
How do you get visitors to spend more time on the product page?
To extend the time visitors spend on the product page, my approach as a copywriter is structured around creating a strong opening and crafting a compelling story arc. The goal is to engage the visitors by reflecting their beliefs, challenging them when necessary, and demonstrating expertise.
I aim to provide them with a reason to continue listening to what I have to say, enticing them to stick around for more than the average two and a half minutes.
While the average time spent on the page is 2.5 minutes, I know that if I can get them to stay for 4 or 5 minutes, the probability of a purchase increases significantly, about five times higher.
Instead of solely focusing on quick conversions, I believe in taking a longer view. By getting visitors genuinely engaged and tapping into their dwell time, we can achieve exponential growth in their interest and likelihood to make a purchase.
👉 In terms of content distribution, I emphasize dedicating 4x more energy to the opening 30% of the description compared to the rest.
Typically, we tend to allocate equal attention to the opening, middle, and closing sections. But, by prioritizing the opening and then dividing the remaining time for the rest of the content, we can optimize engagement and drive better results.
How do make sure that you don’t get a large drop-off from new visitors?
To prevent scaring off or causing a large drop-off at the beginning, I focus on understanding shopper behavior and crafting a strategy based on it.
Typically, shoppers search for solutions related to their needs and open multiple tabs with search results.
They quickly evaluate each option and close tabs that don’t match their intent or meet their preferences. To address this competition for their attention, I make sure to address it directly in the opening. I highlight that there are many alternatives available and then proceed to explain how our product is different. By doing so, I aim to address their objections upfront and keep them engaged from the start.
Consumers often think that all alternatives are equally good, and they tend to dismiss the ones they personally don’t like. However, the reality is that these alternatives are not all the same. By showcasing our unique qualities in the opening, we compel the consumer to stay longer and learn how we stand apart from the competition.
Unfortunately, many brands fail to address this distinction. As a result, the crucial question of how we differ from other solutions remains unanswered. Unlike those brands, I understand that these other solutions are vying for your attention, and I want to make it clear how we provide a valuable and distinct offering.
How do you apply segmentation to your copywriting?
Actually, there are four distinct consumer groups:
- Believers: They make up a significant portion of website conversions (around 98%). These customers readily trust and buy from the website.
- Cynics: Highly skeptical individuals who tend to challenge everything presented to them. Convincing them to purchase can be challenging.
- Skeptics: Less cynical than cynics but still skeptical. They require more evidence and research before making a purchase decision.
- Healthy Skeptics: This group is crucial and represents around 16% of the audience. They recognize their problem, are willing to pay for a solution, value expertise, but need more convincing.
In copywriting, I prioritize focusing on healthy skeptics and avoid spending time on cynics and skeptics.
Recognizing that around 80% of website visitors may never make a purchase, I triple down on appealing to the healthy skeptics, as they present a higher chance of conversion compared to the other groups.
Believers are already buying, and trying to convert cynics and skeptics might not yield significant results. Thus, targeting the healthy skeptics becomes the most fruitful strategy for increasing conversions.
Are you really ‘ignoring’ 80% of the market?
So essentially I’m fully acknowledging upfront that this strategy that I’m describing is not a one size fits all. It only works on 60% of people out there, but it works really, really well in that group.
I would say two things.
- Even Nike.com, after having spent billions of dollars building its brand, cannot convert 80% of the people that come to its website. I doubt it if you can, too.
- While approximately 16% might not seem like a beautiful number in terms of how big it is, if your conversion rate is 4%, it’s still 4x higher than what you’re converting right now.
That’s a pretty big audience to go after.
How do you increase the engagement readers have with a product page?
In order to engage and captivate the audience with the product, our copywriting approach includes a specific and important technique: demonstration of expertise.
Our brains are naturally drawn to solutions where people have invested significant time in solving the problem. Demonstrating expertise becomes a powerful way to showcase this, as it serves as a shortcut for the brain to trust and pay attention.
There are two components to our demonstration of expertise:
- Proving credentials: While showcasing credentials can be beneficial, it’s crucial to avoid sounding arrogant. To create a more relatable connection, we add vulnerability statements, acknowledging past mistakes and challenges.
- Pratfall effect: This principle involves acknowledging the journey of solving the problem, including the mistakes made along the way. The combination of demonstrating expertise and admitting imperfections makes the sales pitch more attractive to the consumer.
Overall, the key technique that drives engagement is the art of demonstrating expertise with authenticity and vulnerability.
By revealing our journey, including the challenges and errors, we become more relatable and trustworthy to the consumer. This combination of demonstrating expertise and embracing vulnerability makes the sales pitch significantly more appealing to the visitor.
Case Study: How would you develop the copy for a children’s education product? E.g. A home drone kit selling for $300.
When approaching the product page for the hypothetical $300 Engineering kit targeted at parents, I’d begin by acknowledging the competition. I’d open four tabs with competitor websites and ask the founder why a visitor should spend even 10 more seconds on their page. Understanding the unique selling points, like the three exclusive features, would be crucial.
To prevent immediate rejection, my headline might highlight the differentiation. E.g. Other kits lack these 3 essential features. Discover why they matter.
Next, I’d delve into the founder’s qualifications, research, and development process. Learning about their journey, the tried kits, and the lessons from failed prototypes would be invaluable in crafting a compelling sales pitch that showcases their expertise. The idea is to instill confidence in potential customers and demonstrate why this kit stands out as the best choice.
By addressing competition, emphasizing unique features, and showcasing expertise, the product page can be significantly improved to increase conversions from its current half a percent rate.
Are there specific elements you’re trying to hit in your copy?
When creating product pitches, we follow a proprietary formula, which includes a checklist of specific elements to hit. One essential technique we utilize is visualization.
For instance, in the engineering kit copy, we talk about how parents want to give their kids an advantage that continues to pay dividends in the future. To make this statement more tangible and impactful, we create a visual narrative. An example could be presenting a graph that illustrates the power of compounding. On the X-axis, we show years 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, while on the Y-axis, we demonstrate the compounding nature of acquiring these skills.
By pairing a written statement about the long-term benefits of learning and investing in these tools with a visual graph, we make the message more concrete and easier for the audience to grasp. This approach helps in conveying the exponential nature of compounding, which many people may not fully understand otherwise.
Where can people go to learn more or connect with you?
If you want to learn more and connect with me, you can find me on Twitter. My handle is @BetterRetail. I’m also quite active on LinkedIn. You can search for my name, Rishi Rawat, and connect with me there. I regularly post updates and content on both platforms, so feel free to reach out and connect