By Karon Thackston
One statistic shows that over 80% of all buying decisions are emotional. That means your copywriting should be, too. This is something I firmly believe in and have preached for most of my copywriting career. However, all too often, I find people skipping the vital step of making an emotional connection with their customers. That can be a tragic, and costly, mistake.
That’s why I was excited when I had the opportunity to rewrite the homepage copy for a vacation cruise service. While the copy they used previously gave all the details and got them a good number of bookings, it just didn’t have what it takes to make me start daydreaming about my next cruise. It didn’t… but it was about to!
The previous copy on the Cruise Vacation Center home page faced a couple of challenges. (You can view the original copy at this link: http://www.copywritingcourse.com/CruiseVacationCenter-Original.pdf.) The copy was very company-oriented instead of customer-oriented. It talked about who Cruise Vacation Center (CVC) is, why the visitor should buy from them, and some wonderful benefits CVC offers its clients including excellent bargain rates and extra discounts. However, all the verbiage was geared toward the company. The customer was left out.
The home page copy also lacked emotion. It was very matter-of-fact. In addition to making visitors aware of the wonderful prices and deals CVC offered, I wanted to create a vision for the site visitors. I wanted to give them what they needed in order to float off into a daydream about fabulous ports-of-call; warm, gentle breezes; and thrilling adventures.
While I was painting a picture of the vacation of a lifetime, I also had to be sure to include a vital fact. CVC’s business plan was set up to be most affordable for the customer when s/he booked online. Without sounding rude, I had to do everything in my power to get the site visitor to book their cruise vacation while at the site. This was an extremely important issue and a point that needed to be woven throughout the copy.
Lastly, the page had to uphold Cruise Vacation Center’s excellent search engine rankings. They were ranked at the top of several major engines, and the rewritten copy couldn’t jeopardize their positioning.
The first step was, without question, to woo the site visitors with delightful fantasies about their next vacation. My goal was to conjure up all sorts of visions in the minds of Cruise Vacation Center’s visitors. I wanted the visitors to be dreaming of exotic places with lots of fun things to do, interesting sights to see, and 24/7 access to gourmet meals that rival any five-star restaurant. I wanted their blood pressure to drop 10 points just from reading about the onboard staff of hundreds who would pamper them with VIP treatment. After reading this copy, I wanted them ready to leave on vacation today! However, I also had to persuade them to book online rather than calling CVC’s office.
During the rewrite, I had to carefully plan the use of their primary keyphrase, “cruise vacation,” so as not to disrupt their most reliable source of business… the search engines. After all, there is a delicate balance between pleasing the search engines and appealing to site visitors.
If I leaned too much toward the search engine side of the equation, the conversion ratio of the home page would suffer. In other words, Cruise Vacation Center would get lots of visitors, but few of them would book cruises.
If I leaned too much toward the customer side of the equation, CVC’s rankings would plummet, and they would need to find a new way to drive qualified traffic to their site. As is normally the case with SEO copywriting, balance was going to be vital.
It took me a while to get started on this copy. Before I began writing, I wanted to really be in the mood. I played around on the vacation search feature of CVC’s site and read all about some of the places I have always wanted to go. I took my time and let my imagination run wild while reading about the ports-of-call, the activities, and the ship’s amenities.
When people shop for vacations, they are typically interested in what they’ll get first and they worry about the price second. They want to feel and sense the experience of a vacation while reading about it on a website or in a brochure. It sort of falls into the same category as copywriting for brides.
Getting married, for most people anyway, is a limited experience. It’s not something you do every day. While a bride may be working on a budget, she still loves to see the $10,000 Donna Karan gowns and imagine herself in one. The same holds true for those planning a vacation.
You usually only go on one vacation/holiday a year. That’s why we dream. It’s a limited experience. Something we plan for and look forward to for months on end. So, while a vacation planner may not choose to buy the king-sized, master, grand suite, all-inclusive, five-star vacation trip around the world, s/he sure has fun reading about it and imagining it. Why do you think shows like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” are so popular?
Once I’d filled my mind with everything wonderful about cruise vacations, I was ready to tackle the copy.
Keyphrase inclusion was simple on this page. There was just one keyphrase, cruise vacation. I used both the singular and plural forms throughout the text. My challenge with the SEO aspect of the copywriting was to keep the balance.
Normally, when there is just one keyphrase, there is a very high tendency by most people to ram, shove, and squeeze the phrase into every nook and cranny of the copy. I beg you… resist that urge! As you’ll see shortly, SEO copywriting is NOT about forcing keyphrases into every possible slot.
And, of course, there was the matter of letting visitors know that they would get a better bargain and save more on their luxury cruise if they booked online.
Starting at the top, I changed the headline of:
“Planning quality discount cruises for you since 1993!”
“Book Your Exotic Cruise Vacation Online and Get Rock-Bottom Prices to the Hottest Destinations”
Next, I immediately began to entice the visitor with visions of what s/he could expect - from their vacation and from CVC.
Rather than talk about the company directly as the original copy did:
“Dreaming of a cruise but don't want to pay full price? Cruise Vacation Center is one of the nation's largest cruise agencies.”
I started the copy with this:
“Just imagine… you’re walking along the deck of a grand cruise vessel as it gently keeps rhythm with the waves. The sun is on your shoulders and a soothing breeze wafts through your hair.”
I continued to build the new copy with phrases like: “wander your way through the medieval castles,” “stunning gardens of the Mediterranean,” and “oceanfront luau in Hawaii,” while intermixing statements including: “deep discounts,” “book securely online,” and so on.
All the while, I was dropping reminders to book online for the biggest savings and offering explanations about why that would benefit the visitor.
The call-to-action was designed to reinforce the idea that the customer *could* get more vacation choices for their money with CVC.
You can see the end results for yourself at http://www.cruisevacationcenter.com.
It’s fun to see how these makeovers turn out. What did my client have to say? The response was astonishing and immediate. “…Weekend sales tripled! Usually around 10 online books over the weekend. Last weekend had 30! [Also], they re-indexed and the home page moved up [two positions] for ‘cruise vacation.’ It has a great lead-in on the search page, too.”
Man… I just love my job!
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