How To Create Data-Driven Copy That Converts

Simon JonesConversion Rate Optimisation

Make sure your value proposition and conversion copy is all based on data to get the best results… but how?

Why isn’t data-driven copywriting more of a thing?

If you’re writing site copy to persuade your visitors to enquire/purchase then you really need to understand your customers’ underlying values, motivators, and fears first – and you’re only going to know that with research data…

I find many copywriters focus too much on the top-level tactics of persuasive psychology in their writing such as Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion, and Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising without thinking about the foundations of what the copy really needs to say before applying the subtle persuasion tactics.

Ask yourself, how can you make a certain user behave in the way you want them to when you don’t understand who they are and what drives them?

This article will focus mainly on the foundations that all sales and persuasive copy needs to be built on – what your customers really want and care about. To do that we’ll take a look at how to use MEClab’s Conversion Sequence Heuristic to help turn your qualitative data into actionable quantitative data.


MECLab’s Conversion Sequence Heuristic

Firstly what is the sequence?

C=4M+3V+2(I-F)-2A – But what does it mean?

Its purpose is to tell you not only what you need to focus on when writing copy, but the order and weight you need to structure it.

c= Probability of Conversion

M= Motivation

V=Clarity of the value

I= Incentive



As you can see, motivation holds the largest weight in importance, then values, then incentives, friction, and anxiety.

However, motivation is mostly an external factor and something that is hard to manipulate without long term advertising.  The only way to combat this is to refer to the motivation of the customer when they land on your page.

Key messaging research

To find out your customers’ motivators, values, and anxieties about your product or service you first need to conduct qualitative customer research with methods such as message mining.

What is message mining?

Messaging mining is the process of gathering as many instances of your customer or target customer voicing what they care most about when it comes to your product or service. This can be done by scouring the internet or conducting your own primary research. It gives you the ability to identify key messages you need to address in your copy and helps you “swipe” memorable copy from your customers and target audience.

It’s essential that marketers and copywriters take a step back from the product and instead understand how customers view the product. Often customers are more effective at recognising and explaining the real-world value of your product since they are the ones using it.

Where do you go for this information?

1. Primary research – Open-ended questions in customer surveys and online polls: These are good for identifying pain points, purchase prompts, and anxiety from website visitors and current customers

2. Primary research – 1:1 customer interviews: These are good for understanding your customer’s product story narrative, rich testimonials and emotional hooks.

3. Primary research – Live chat scripts and call transcripts

4. Secondary research – Review sites (Google, TrustPilot, Facebook Reviews)

5. Secondary research – Community forums (Quora, Reddit)

What information are you looking for?

  • How real people describe the product/service
  • the pain points and benefits they talk about
  • Anything they absolutely love
  • Specific things they don’t like about similar products to yours
  • Suspicions or hesitations they have/had

Categorising your information 

You need to categorize each “message” and turn that qualitative data into quantitative data so that we can see a message hierarchy of customer needs to address in our copy. Put all these messages down in a spreadsheet (you’ll likely have hundreds of rows) and assign them a category. After assigning them a category, you will also need to assign a subject theme the message focuses on. The different categories are:


  • Desired outcomes
  • Pain Points & Problems
  • Purchase Prompts


  • Unique Benefits
  • Delightful Features
  • Dealbreaker Needs


  • Uncertainties
  • Objections
  • Perceived Risks

From there you can start creating pivot tables to quantify all your message research into numbers. You’ll be able to see which themes are most common and what about that theme matters to your customers. Is it a value, anxiety, or a fear that they have?

Top tip: Secondary research is great if you’re new to market or don’t have an established customer base yet. It’s easy to do; create a list of keywords, google “[keyword] Reviews” (and also complaints, questions, and comments), check popular sites like Amazon, Trustpilot, Facebook etc., and collect into the message mining spreadsheet after categorising each message as either motivation, value or anxiety.

Once you have as much qualitative data as you can find/extract from your customers, it’s time to start writing copy. Following the heuristic formula C=4M+3V+2(I-F)-2A you can then start and shape your copy in order of priority with the subject/themes you need to address and in which priority. Remember, discuss the main motivation they’re on your site for first, then the values they’re looking for, then any fears and anxieties they have.

Why is this so important?

It helps write copy that is relevant, value-focused. Many consumers are now familiar with key marketing techniques and so giving them an exact solution their needs at a time when they’re searching will be the first thing that captures their attention. It also gives you authentic copy with market-specific terminology as well as the voice of the customer.

Cialdini’s 7 Principles of Persuasion

This is not a new principle for anyone in CRO or copywriting. It’s something that is drummed into us. I won’t go into great detail, but the 7 principles are:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment / consistency
  3. Social Proof
  4. Authority
  5. Liking
  6. Scarcity
  7. Unity

Sound familiar? Of course, they do! They’re the key persuasion techniques for all copywriters.

Once you have the foundations of your sales copy (based on all that rich qualitative research you just conducted), then you can read it through and add layers of persuasion principles on top. Don’t try and shoehorn in loads of techniques and you’ll likely lose focus on the key message you’re wanting to tell.

Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising

Finally, give your copy a last read through with Claude Hopkins’ scientific advertising principles in mind:

  1. Be specific
  2. Offer service – the best copy doesn’t ask you to buy, it offers advantages to the end consumer
  3. Tell the full story
  4. Be a salesperson – how would you say it if you were speaking in a 1:1 sales environment

It’s important that you test your copy to make sure it’s not all about you/company and it does address your customer’s key needs. After reading a section of your copy, ask yourself “so what”, and then “prove it”.

Disclaimer: This is only one way of writing copy, and focuses on the end user’s motivators, values, and anxieties. This does not mean to say that copywriters who use the various psychological tactics and descriptive storytelling techniques to engage an audience are wrong. This way gives you a data-driven approach so you can be more confident that it will convert users without extra trial and error.