Copywriting VS. Conversion Rate Optimization (And no… they aren’t the same thing…)

Conversion rate optimization & copywriting are NOT the same thing.

If you thought they were, then you best bust out your pen and paper because you are gonna want to start taking notes.

Copywriting Isn’t All That Great

Let me throw some ancient wisdom your way.

Ed Mayer said that marketing is basically this:

40% The List

40% The Offer

20% The Copywriting

“Wow,” you might say, “20% of success online is copywriting? Shoot, I better spend ALL FREAKIN’ DAY learning how to be a master copywriter then!”

At which point, I will hurl my busted toaster across the room in hopes that it will catch fire and blow us both into another dimension.


Look at those numbers again.

Copywriting is only HALF as effective in changing your bottom line results as tweaking your offer OR tweaking your list is.

Let me put it another way:

If you want to increase results, start with your offer first.

Or your list.

If you absolutely MUST touch the copywriting, then realize that for every hour you spend tweaking the words, you are only being HALF AS EFFECTIVE as you could be.

Opportunity cost, sweetheart.

You Have An Addiction Problem

Chances are some little red lights and sirens are going off somewhere in your gut.

“But Mike! I just picked up this product that says…”


You picked up a product. Created by a copywriter like me. With the intention of making money off of you.

And I bet that product claimed instant, overnight increases in wealth.

“Increase profits WITHOUT increasing traffic!”

“Wow, what a promise! You mean, I get to keep sending sucky traffic to my sucky offer and your course is gonna make me rich?”

The problem with courses that focus on the copywriting is that they can actually back up those claims…

You send poor traffic to good copy, you might actually get results…

But we are talking about the difference between putting a hook in the water with a skinny little worm vs. corralling the fish into a net and using a shotgun to get dinner. (Too graphic? Sorry about that… my family is a bunch of rednecks… it bleeds into my psyche every once in a while…)

One is obviously more effective than the other in getting the job done. In getting results.

And it isn’t copywriting.

Your problem, like most entrepreneurs, is that you are addicted to the quick fix.

It’s easier to fix a headline than to radically alter the contents of your product or completely change the way you provide your service.

It’s fun to see conversions jump from 9.45% to 10.25% and say, “I’m a genius! We’re gonna be rich.”

The problem is, if you had changed your offer to match the needs of the market, you could be converting at 15.23%. But you won’t because you are addicted to the quick fix.

(Trust me… I am just as addicted. These numbers I just shared aren’t made up… they are from a recent campaign of mine… luckily, I wised up and changed the nature of the offer instead of stalking off thinking I was a genius for increasing conversions by a measly less-than-one-percent).

Conversion Rate Optimization Is Like A 12 Gauge Shotgun

People ridicule “The Shotgun Approach”.

And so do I.

But honestly, I think we just need to rename the damn process of throwing things on the wall and hoping they stick to the “Idiots approach” because shotguns kick ass.

If someone walked into my house uninvited at 2am, and I was half naked and groggy from staying up too late watching Youtube videos of sea kayakers trekking through the Alaskan wilderness, the ONLY approach I would take would be one involving a shotgun. Preferably in my hand, cocked and loaded with poisonous explosive shells that also have heat seeking missiles attached (do they even make those? If they don’t, I call dibs on the idea).

The point is, big changes to conversion rates don’t happen with fundamentally small tweaks.

Changing a headline might get a bigger response.

But changing the price will overheat your servers.

Adding more bullets might create more interest.

But changing the offer from “212 Blog Post Ideas” to “Create A 6 Figure Passion Blog In 6 Months” will melt your buyers minds into submission. It will plump up your bank account too.

Slapping on a stronger Call To Action will increase conversions slightly.

Having hyped up your email list weeks in advance of launching your next product will make whatever mistakes your copy does have… negligible.

And this is why CRO trumps copywriting.

This is why ONLY looking to copywriting to solve your conversion issues is a crime against humanity.

There isn’t a writer in this world who could do enough damage on the front end that couldn’t be OUT DONE by simply buying a solo ad from a better email list. Or tweaking your targeting with FB ads. Or changing the price of your offer. Or changing the nature of the offer entirely.

CRO is like bringing a shotgun to a knife fight.

CRO Will Make All Your Dreams Come True

That’s not even hype.

When you learn how to optimize entire funnels for better conversions, there is nothing left to master.

You own the world.

When you know how to manipulate that other 80% of what makes something sell (online or off), you become a god amongst men.

So, where do you begin to learn this stuff?

Here are some resources for you:

Beginners Guide To Conversion Rate Optimization 

What $252,000 Worth Of Conversion Rate Optimization Taught Me

Awesome MozBlog Posts About Conversion Rate Optimization

Best Practices in Conversion Rate Optimization Debunked

So Does This Mean I Shouldn’t Hire You To Write My Copy?


If anything, you should be outsourcing your sales copy to someone who can squeeze the maximum amount of performance out of that measly 20%.

Hire a copywriter to give you the time to test and tweak the other 80%. The important stuff.

Shoot, hire a copywriter to help you develop your product better – I have written for hundreds of products in the past few months. It is very obvious to me which ones sell, and which ones are doomed to fail, no matter how hard I write.

And I’m not the only copywriter who has insights like that.

The point is, don’t hire a copywriter to work miracles.

Don’t expect them to be able to carry your entire company to victory when they only have 20% leverage to work with.

Don’t show up with a garbage product, a terrible list and expect the copy to carry the product to victory.

Truth: In order to sell crap products, you have to lie in your copy. And most copywriters don’t want to piss off the FTC, so we try and avoid products that require us to lie.

Now get to work on that other 80% and send me a thank you email when you finally hit that conversion goal you’ve been hoping for!