Voice of the Customer Research: Find Your Copy by Mining Customer Reviews
The best copy never comes from copywriting formulas and persuasion hacks. It comes from customers' own words. Learn how to find the words that your customers want to hear.
Have you ever wondered how great copywriters come up with messages that stick? Do they just guess correctly what to say to appeal to their audience? After all, they must've learned all those fancy copywriting formulas, direct response sales copy techniques, persuasion tactics, psychological tricks…Wait a minute.
Anyone can learn formulas and persuasion techniques. But not everyone can write copy that converts. Those who can, know a little bit more than just formulas. They deeply know their audience.
I keep saying this: Copywriting is much more than just writing. Because words that sell only sell because they are relevant and persuasive to the very specific humans. Copywriting is first and foremost knowing what matters to customers, in their own voice.
In their own voice?
My husband works in the public sector. He keeps listening to all those audiobooks about effective communication while driving. One of the techniques for building rapport that always gets mentioned in those books is mirroring. Let me break it down for you: When you talk like your customers talk, they like you more.
This is because we tend to like people who are similar to us. There is a large body of research that confirms this. When you use your customers' exact language, your copy feels real. And your customers feel like they’re talking with someone who’s like them.
No matter how creative and original you are, your best copy comes from what customers say — not what’s inside your head.
There’s a specific term for discovering customers' words: voice of the customer research. People write entire books about it, but in its simplest form, voice of the customer research comes down to this: listen to what your customers say and use it in your copy.
Books on voice of the customer research
How can you do voice of the customer research?
To know how to do it thoroughly, you should check out an amazing guide by Anna Bolton (I link to it in the description of this video). It's very long but totally worth it. Anna suggests running at least one of the following types of research:
- Comment or review mining
You will find tips, questions, tools, and much more in her guide. So again, do check it out.
Here, in this blog post, I'll only scratch the surface of the voice of customer research just to show you what golden nuggets you can come across if you look at things so obvious and accessible as customer reviews.
If you have a new product that doesn't yet have any reviews, you can still do voice of the customer research. Look for customer reviews in online directories like Clutch (if you work with B2B service-based businesses), Capterra (if you work with software companies), or Amazon (if you work in e-commerce).
Before we start searching for golden nuggets, let's figure out one important thing:
What do you need to know about your reader to create copy that sells?
Ideally, you need answers to these questions (which I copied from the guide I mentioned above):
- What do they think about the problem you solve?
- What alternative solutions are they using/have they used/are they considering?
- What beliefs or past experiences are holding them back?
- What beliefs or past experiences make them more likely to say yes to you?
- What new thing do they need to believe to take the next step?
- What proofs are they likely to find persuasive?
- If they say yes, what’s going to change in their lives?
- Despite all this, what objections might they have?
But because we're only scratching the surface, and not talking to customers directly, it's pretty doubtful that you will find the answers to these questions in customer reviews. But there is something you can find.
You can find phrases that reflect needs or wants, pains, barriers or objections, and values.
Now I’ll show you some examples of phrases that you can find in customer reviews of software development companies and how you can use them in your copy.
All of these examples come from my work at Kaiiax, and you can also find them in the fourth chapter of my book From Reads To Leads.
Phrases that tap into a customer’s needs and wants
We need crazy, clever people who are fond of technology and are capable of handling low-end programming in C.
From this sentence, we clearly see that a client needs developers who work in the C programming language. But the phrase “crazy, clever people who are fond of technology” sheds some light on how to approach our copy and even our website design.
For example, we can use a nerdy voice, include some technical terms in our copy, and express the desire for innovation as our big idea. We can also use the topic of “innovation” as the basis for our blog strategy.
Some examples of copy that might appeal to this client:
- Are you passionate about building the future? If yes, we could be a good match!
- Finding a way to do the impossible is what we do best (while having a little fun along the way).
Phrases that reference a customer’s biggest pains
We were looking for a new development team that was not simply a bunch of code monkeys, which we had encountered already.
A bunch of code monkeys, huh? The pain here is clear — the client doesn’t want to work with people who aren’t involved in product development but simply write code according to precise specifications.
Copy that reflects this pain should convey the idea of creation. For example, instead of “software,” we can use the word “product.” Instead of “user,” we can say “people.” Instead of emphasizing lines of code, we can emphasize the results of our work and the impact they make.
Some examples of copy that might appeal to this client:
- Are you struggling to find a developer who can help you shape your product and not just build whatever they’re told to? If the answer is yes, you’re in the right place.
- Experiences that matter aren’t created by code monkeys. While we do love bananas, we prefer to call ourselves digital artists. We help companies like yours develop digital products that make a difference.
Phrases that key into a customer’s hesitations, barriers, or objections to purchasing
Due to time differences, there were small issues with connectivity and scheduling.
Time differences are a common barrier for entrepreneurs who outsource software development. If your customer is located in San Francisco and you are in Kyiv, the time difference is significant. You can’t do anything about it, and there’s no point in hiding this fact on your website.
On the contrary, you should talk about it to develop trust with your readers. To address this potential obstacle, you should first accept that the time difference is a problem. But then you should respond to that problem to show why it’s really not a problem after all. For example:
Worried about time zone differences? While we’re only 1 to 2 hours ahead of most European countries, there’s a 10-hour difference between Kyiv and the West Coast of North America. If you’re in the Pacific time zone, you’ll probably be sleeping during our work hours.
That’s why daily communication and regular status updates are extremely important in our business culture. We’re also ready to make some compromises with our schedule to have more overlapping work hours.
Phrases that reflect the customer’s values
They’re very European in their approach to setting up their company structure.
This is an interesting phrase. What approach to setting up a company structure is “European”? The word “European” has a positive connotation. It means thorough, quality, professional, impeccable. Just like German cars. The European approach to setting up a company structure is most likely one where everybody is willing to go the extra mile. It’s about getting the job done.
How do you reflect that in your copy? You can convey Europeanness by sounding customer-centric, using a clean and professional website design, creating case studies that display thoroughness, and emphasizing the guiding beliefs and principles that influence your work.
Examples of copy that might appeal to this client:
- Our values are more than words on a page. They’re built into everything we do.
- When you work with us, expect everybody, from our accountant to our engineers, to go the extra mile to get the job done.
VoC research: What to look for
When you do the voice of the customer research, pay special attention to the following things your customers might mention:
- Events that were going on in their lives that motivated them to seek out your solution (When did they realize they needed a product or service like yours?)
- Problems that your product or service resolved for your customers
- Alternative solutions your customers considered before buying from you
- The biggest concerns and hesitations your customers had before deciding to purchase from you
Remember: In copywriting, your job isn’t to put your own words on the page. Your job is to find the words that your customers want to hear.
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If you take voice-of-customer seriously, you'll be miles ahead of the marketing crowd looking for conversion hacks and shortcuts. I hope this blog post has inspired you to do voice of customer research before you sharpen your pencil to do some copywriting.