(Updated Feb 19, 2020 – after discovering LoopVOC. Scroll down for why this matters.)
Copywriters pay attention to progress in artificial intelligence. There’s an underlying anxiety that AI will learn to write sales copy and poof, there go our livelihoods.
That’s not what I’m worried about.
I’m worried that AI won’t evolve fast enough.
Because writing copy is the easiest part of my job. Figuring out what the copy needs to say is hard.
That’s why I’m not dreading advances in AI – I’m waiting eagerly.
AI will transform the insights we need for copy that converts
If you’re an AI scientist wondering, “Hmm, to what other useful purposes could we apply natural language processing?” – take note.
You may not know this, but there’s a niche specialization called conversion copywriting. It’s marketing, but the word side.
And as conversion copywriters, we’re caught somewhere between craftsmanship and science.
It’s part artisanal, part data analysis, anxious about both.
Someday we’ll look back and laugh at how bespoke it all was.
Maybe not when AI is writing the control-shattering copy, but when we have a more precise science for zeroing in on what will really convert. (Aka, prompt readers of said marketing to take the next most valuable action.)
Not to say that we’re currently guessing.
We have methods. Ways of crafting copy based on actual conversion theories.
But while the numbers are wrangled into Google Analytics, automated… the qualitative data that is the lifeblood of conversion copy?
Those conversion insights come from customer conversations
As copywriters, we collect and analyze voice-of-customer (VoC) through a process so manual, we should post it to Pinterest.
- We troll forums, groups, social posts
- We scan for comments across blog posts
- We pour through chat transcripts, customer emails and survey responses
- Sometimes we even interview customers and then there are the transcripts…
All in the name of finding out what matters to the people who buy.
I’ve spent 40 hours on VoC research for one sales page.
We do this even though it’s crazy…
Even though it takes too long…
Because until there’s a better way to extract from the collective psyche of our audience the insights that matter, all we have is voice-of-customer.
Only, here’s the problem. Customer attitudes and behaviours aren’t static, but most research is point-in-time.
Once we’ve painstakingly, line by line read the VoC from every possible source…
Once we’ve themed it and found the, “Oh, so that’s why they buy” insights…
Once we’ve crafted a sales argument around that research…
What happens next?
That intense, systematic listening to the customer tends to screech to a halt.
Until the next round of copywriting.
See, most companies aren’t systematically listening to voice-of-customer
I get it. For clients, just managing chat and email and social and customer support and surveys are enough.
Let alone going one step further and analyzing VoC to find the red flags and ah-ha moments that are clear signs the copy needs to shift.
Sure, they could put us on retainer to do this manually.
But what if we could pull all of that qual into one place, one tool? Automatically.
What if that tool was built on AI smart enough to analyze the themes and drop audience insights into buckets?
What if you could open that tool and at a glance see what’s going on in the minds of your customers?
With a tool like that, we’d have what we need to keep optimizing copy for conversions. We’d know with fair certainty:
- How the audience sees the problem
- Their barriers to taking action
- Other solutions they’ve tried
- Outcomes they most want
- Triggers that persuade them to take action
How valuable would that be?
If the prospect isn’t lighting you up already, consider this:
Too many companies are sidelined by shifts in the market they didn’t see coming.
By competitors stealing their loyal customers.
By new expectations and alternative solutions.
To be nimble and responsive – not just in copywriting but in innovation and customer experience – we need to always be listening.
Because VoC is the best leading indicator we have of whether your ideal buyers will convert or defect.
Here’s the thing:
AI-powered VoC analysis tools already exist for CX…
There are enterprise AI NLP tools springing up in all directions, telling marketing-relevant stories from Big Data.
Tools like InMoment promise to ‘transform customer data into the insights that create real business impact.’
I’ve spoken with reps from Chattermill and Thematic, both designed for enterprise customer experience programs but essentially exactly what we need.
Only, there’s still a human element involved in training the AI on a case-by-case basis to work within specific contexts… and that’s why these tools (as-is) are only viable for companies willing to spend 4-figures a month.
We need something lightweight, scaled for small businesses and agencies.
And we need the AI to actually understand language better than a three-year-old. (No small task, right?)
Only then can we shortcut the process of gathering and theming data so we can come up with theories of what will convert.
I first landed on the LoopVOC site when fellow conversion copywriter, Andrew Yedlin, wrote this post on VoC for SaaS marketing. Around the same time, someone saw my post here and asked if I’d seen LoopVOC.
By then, my expectations were low. Another demo, another disappointment… or so I thought.
T’was not so!
As it turns out, LoopVOC is a tool specifically designed to solve the high cost of automating VoC insights.
In their own words…
“LoopVOC is a first-of-its-kind Voice of the Customer software platform that provides B2B SaaS companies with a faster and more affordable way to collect, analyze, and respond to customer feedback.
We know that getting to the heart of customer feedback is difficult — traditional methods are slow, expensive, and don’t provide insights quickly enough for companies to respond. By the time companies get the data they need, the market has shifted and it’s too late to act.
With Loop, we’re using text analytics and natural language processing to provide companies with out-of-the-box tools that surface customer insights instantly.”
As Loop’s Madeline Turner says, LoopVOC is “democratizing NLP”. And they’re doing it by 1st serving B2B SaaS companies.
More on that in a moment.
But first, why should conversion rate optimizers care about LoopVOC?
Remember how I said pulling VoC from multiple sources, sorting, theming and seeing trends is time-consuming? LoopVOC does that for you.
It also lets you pull in benchmark competitor data. That means you can compare what people are saying about your solution vs. the other guys.
LoopVOC can do this because they’ve focused on B2B SaaS, within which the topics and themes are standardized: features, pricing, packages, customer support, analytics.
Like we discussed, AI needs to be trained. But with a smaller range of topics, it can get smarter, faster. That makes out-of-the-box possible.
And highly affordable. LoopVOC charges by volume of feedback, with pricing that’s a no-brainer.
For me to manually gather, theme and analyze 1,000 pieces of feedback (the volume included in the Startup plan) would take 1-2 weeks full-time. LoopVOC can do it for about $150.
And unlike a lot of other tools, LoopVOC can handle multiple brands under one account. That means CRO agencies and conversion copywriters can set up one account and partition data for different clients.
The upside for conversion optimizers is enormous.
Analytics, click tracking and heat maps can tell us how visitors engage… but with LoopVOC, we have better shot at understanding why – before it’s too late.
What can a conversion copywriter do with LoopVOC?
So many things. With insights at our fingertips we can…
- Be proactive about optimizations. Instead of waiting for lagging indicators, like conversion metrics, we can track leading indicators as they bubble up in VoC. (Without a Bletchley Park-style manual operation.)
- Truly make data-based decisions. Instead of guessing what’s holding back conversions, we can optimize based on evidence about preferences, beliefs, fears and uncertainties. (And honestly, if this insight isn’t on hand, marketers will almost always rush to guess.)
- Triage optimizations. Instead of debating what optimization tests to run first, you can prioritize your hypotheses. LoopVOC ranks issues by severity.
There’s even a feature in LoopVOC that lets you track the impact of changes on key metrics. Hello, testing.
No doubt, there will be kinks to work out and a long roadmap ahead. LoopVOC is breaking new ground. But they’re focused on the right problem and from the demo, I’m more hopeful than I’ve been in a long time.
The single drawback? LoopVOC is only available for B2B SaaS companies at this stage
Everyone else will have to wait.
If you’re a B2B SaaS company marketer, consider yourself lucky.
And if you want to work with a conversion copywriter who gets VoC and knows how to use it, reach out.