Yvette Haughton on Effective Copywriting for Launch, High-Ticket Offers, and More

Yvette Haughton on Effective Copywriting for Launch, High-Ticket Offers, and More
30 May, 2024 • ... • 2921 views
Diana Kussainova
by Diana Kussainova

Copywriting makes your communication with customers possible. And when your audience is familiar with your brand and products, that’s the foundation for your messages. But how can you write compelling and effective copy if you’re only launching a product and can’t rely on reputation?

Selzy asked copywriting expert Yvette Haughton all about pre-launch and launch strategy. We also talked about email marketing copy, conversions, and developing a tone of voice. Read the article to understand how to write texts to connect with your audience and make them want to purchase from your business.

Yvette is your Copy Closer, the Conversion Copywriter and Launch Strategist for services providers, coaches, and consultants. With 6+ years in the copywriting space, and her ECC Blueprint as a guide, she crafts copy that builds brands, brings their messages to life, and converts prospects into clients and customers.

She specializes in sales funnel copywriting to help service providers put their compelling offers online to convert their audience into clients/customers. Her high-converting sales copywriting positions her clients’ offers with compelling marketing messages that get their ideal audience to say, “Heck yes!”

When she’s not writing copy, she’s curled up with a paranormal romance, binging podcasts, or running (ok jog-walking) 5Ks with her brothers.

Yvette Haughton’s profile photo
Source: Yvette Haughton

Professional journey

You’ve been working in copywriting for more than 6 years. How did you start your journey?

I like to say I fell into copywriting and then it became intentional.

My online foray started with content marketing, mostly writing blog posts for a range of business clients. My first client was a home security firm, and I wrote quite a few posts on home and business security devices and tactics. It was fun and started my portfolio for content marketing.

Some of my clients soon started asking me about writing for their websites or landing pages. In doing my research, I realized that writing content was very different from copywriting. (I do spend a lot of time on research. That’s probably a throwback to the years spent researching for my thesis for my unfinished MPhil in History).

So, I enrolled in a variety of courses (free and paid) to better understand copywriting because I didn’t just want to give them content that wouldn’t work. I ended up loving that aspect of writing more than content, even though I wouldn’t call myself a “natural salesperson.” I had to learn how to be an effective salesperson — which I do even better for my clients than myself.

What challenges have you faced over the years? How has your approach evolved?

Since then, I’ve worked on a range of copywriting projects with clients and a few agencies across six continents.

It has not always been easy, especially with living in Jamaica. While our internet access is on par with the rest of the world, as a Small Island Developing State out here in the Caribbean, access to certain tools and financial platforms was limited. However, I found workarounds and ensured that I could deliver my best work to my clients across the world.

The copy I write has also evolved quite a bit over the years. For example, my first-ever copywriting client contacted me last year about updating their website copy. To see what I had written 6 years ago (cringe) to what we crafted now, it’s lightyears apart and shows my journey from new copywriter to expert quite clearly. It also clearly showed the evolution of their business. I guess both of us grew together over the years.

You outline coaches, course creators, consultants, and service providers as your primary clientele. Why did you decide to focus specifically on these professionals?

Most of the clients I’ve worked with fall into one of these categories, so it feels comfortable on some level since I’m used to them. Often, these professional areas overlap. I find that I enjoy working with individuals and I’m more involved with the process. I get to offer more strategy and copywriting expertise and not just execute someone else’s strategy.

My clients, for the most part, are in one of three phases:

  • Phase 1 — they need a compelling online presence to enhance their authority — that’s generally web copy-related.
  • Phase 2 — they want to develop a lead gen funnel and nurture their audience using emails and landing pages.
  • Phase 3 — they have a course, product, or program to sell and need high-converting sales copy — emails, sales pages, and landing pages.

I get to work with them at all levels, and I enjoy showing them the difference quality copy can make when they’re planning their launches. It’s fun (and anxiety-inducing) every time.  

While I have worked with corporate clients, they require a slightly different process since a multitude of people often need to sign off before anything can go live.

Launch strategy

You write copy not only for emails but also for landing pages, websites, etc. What are some of the key qualities of copy for email marketing as opposed to copy for other channels?

There are certain key principles that will apply across all the copy I write, whether for emails or landing pages.

I usually use a copywriting framework (like PAS — Problem-Agitate-Solve, AIDA — Attention-Interest-Desire-Action, or DOS — Desire-Obstacle-Solution) for landing pages and emails. In addition, for all platforms (except a website’s homepage), I like to stick to the rule of one — one big idea to one audience profile for one primary goal/outcome. These form the core of most conversion copywriting principles and apply to all formats of copy.

In terms of differences in the approach to writing copy for emails vs. landing pages, emails are always highly personalized for my type of clients. I normally approach it as a very personal conversation between my clients and their audience. That’s one of the beauties of most email platforms — they allow you to collect first names to make it easy for readers to feel like you’re talking only to them. And I don’t only personalize emails by starting out with “Hi [firstname].” Sometimes, an email doesn’t need a salutation. But you can incorporate the personalization in other ways in the body of the email.

Can you give an example of your approach to email copy for new clients?

My approach to copy for email campaigns for new clients starts with understanding the list dynamics and the goal of the campaign. Each campaign has a specific purpose, whether driving sales or getting sign-ups. Is the list appropriately segmented for the planned campaign? If not, how will that impact the plans going forward? Do we have time to segment and nurture before launch?

If the list is properly segmented, then the types of emails each segment receives may be a little different. For example, in a course launch sequence I recently completed, there was a waitlist built from a downloadable lead magnet. There was also another list based on a free masterclass tied to the launch offer. The initial emails the waitlist got — as well as early access and waitlist-only bonuses — ensured they enjoyed the preferential treatment promised for having joined the waitlist.

The early emails to the masterclass list ensured that the offer was tied into building on what they had learned in the masterclass. Those emails also ensured they felt valued for spending time with the course creator before the launch.

When the campaign was opened to the rest of the list, those initial emails had to provide context for the launch. It also gave them the option of opting out of this particular campaign.

The sales page tied all these elements together into a cohesive whole to sell from the first line to the last based on the stages of awareness from each segment of my client’s list.

You specialize in guiding an audience from prelaunch to paid. What are some of the essential steps of the pre-launch strategy, especially as it relates to email marketing?

The idea behind prelaunch-to-paid is that you want to engage, connect, and convert your audience (my ECC Blueprint). You want to nurture your audience before you start a launch to increase conversions, and after the launch to increase retention or satisfaction rates. You want them sold before the actual selling.

  • To Engage relates to the pre-launch phase, during which you actively nurture your audience and grow your email list of ideal subscribers.
  • You Connect with your audience through the launch emails and sales page.
  • Then, Convert those readers into clients or customers with your sales emails and sales page.

The process then starts over again — but in a different way. Engagement here means ensuring your new clients feel that they have made the right choice by investing in your offer. Again, you do this with the emails you send once the sale is complete or the launch is over.

Your pre-launch period sets the stage for what’s to come. For this process to work, the pre-launch messaging should focus on the problems you solve, the value you offer, and who you serve. You’ll offer valuable information and showcase who you are and why you do what you do. This allows you to launch after first priming your audience.

An essential part of that positioning process is lead generation and email nurturing. While you should constantly work on growing your email list, you will be actively trying to increase your list size with qualified leads during the pre-launch phase.

You may also find that research during the pre-launch phase is helpful. In fact, if you have the time and budget, definitely invest in interviews and surveys of your audience and customers, as well as competitor analysis. It doesn’t even have to be your audience/customers if you haven’t grown one yet — a look-alike one will work just as well to get you started.

The type of launch you want to do will determine the types and numbers of emails in your launch plan. Once you determine how you’ll launch — free download, live webinar, video sales letter — then you can start with priming your audience. This is the pre-launch phase and is just as important as the rest.

You’ll want to start building a waitlist of interested people, which can be tied to your lead magnet or just interested persons from your audience. This allows you to send targeted and personalized emails based on where they are in the buying process.

What are the next steps, after the pre-launch stage?

It’s launch time. You set your offer live and ensure that the appropriate emails are scheduled for the respective segments of your email list. In this phase, your emails and sales page will be doing the heavy lifting.

For some launches, there is often a trigger event like a live webinar, a launch party, or a workshop. The type of event depends on how it will support your offer. 

Another essential step in a live launch is analyzing results as you make your way through the launch. Investing in an email service provider that lets you schedule your email campaigns makes this process work more smoothly. But you may not always set it and forget like with an evergreen funnel. If it’s a new or live launch, you may need to tweak your emails or add new ones based on how the launch progresses.

And finally, you need to do your research post-launch. Run a survey to your list to find out why they did or didn’t buy. This lets you understand some of the key factors to include in your next launch or what you need to cover to put this offer on an evergreen funnel.

What are your favorite effective strategies for writing email copy that convinces subscribers to buy from a business that has only recently launched?

You can’t go wrong with using any one of my three favorite copywriting frameworks in a storytelling format to engage and connect with your audience. So, when working with new businesses, my strategy includes focusing on establishing trust and demonstrating the value of the company (though they are not mutually exclusive).

Like I shared before, you’ll want to have some level of research and since your business is new, you can do a look-alike audience. Seeing what they like and dislike about your competitors allows you to frame your copy and emails in a way that can showcase why you are the ideal option.

Once you have that information to start, you can:

  • Draft a compelling welcome email sequence tied to a relevant lead magnet based on your audience research. This automated email sequence should engage and connect with your new subscribers to make conversions seamless.
  • Share your why, the problems you solve, and what that means for your audience, especially what’s in it for them.
  • Share credibility markers to gain trust in the brand. This can include social proof — people with good things to say about what you’re offering. In the initial stages, it doesn’t have to be testimonials from clients/customers. It could be people you’ve worked with in other capacities who are willing to share about you being an ideal option. Industry affiliations, relevant experience, and your credentials are all acceptable credibility markers when you’re just starting out.
  • Stay focused on the company’s brand identity in how it’s presented in emails and align it with the overall brand.

Tell us about a launch copywriting strategy you are proud of. What was the process like?

One of my long-term service providers/coaching clients was preparing to launch a new offer. Normally, she invites me in to do the launch and sales emails when she’s ready to launch.

She invited me in earlier, so we had time to plan a pre-launch phase which I believe made a significant difference in her conversion numbers. We started nurturing her email list months beforehand through her newsletter, addressing some of their pain points and what she had in the pipeline. We also incorporated a list-building strategy with a free download and then the pre-launch trigger event — a masterclass.

This multi-tiered approach was reflected in the email sequences we did as we had time to plan, write, and schedule emails for different segments.

The offer was also among her highest-priced at this point, so the pre-launch strategy was necessary. We worked on the sales page copy to incorporate everything I mentioned above and more to illustrate to her long-term followers to accept her offer at the newer (higher) price point. We also added relevant bonuses that supported the main offer, not just added items to bulk up the price point.

Overall, the planned pre-launch process improved numbers for the masterclass attendance, and ultimately, sales for the new offer. We will be doing a post-launch debrief to see what worked and what didn’t so we can evergreen the offer in the future.

This project reinforced the need for a properly planned pre-launch period and not just a launch trigger event like a masterclass.

Writing about high-ticket offers and conversion obstacles

What’s your approach to sales pages and conversion-oriented copy for high-ticket offers? What are the specifics for this niche?

Long-form sales pages are a must for high-ticket offers. This allows you to foster a deeper level of trust and proof, both of which are critical to delivering conversion-focused copy. Here are a few key aspects of my approach when writing for this type of offer.

✔ Research

You have to understand that personas don’t make decisions. It’s people who need to get a job done.

I cannot write sales page copy without information that’ll help it connect with the target audience. I need to know their pain points, aspirations, and the type of language they use to describe both. What stage of awareness will your readers be in? How will you move them from one stage to the next?

This process allows me to pick out sticky messaging that I can incorporate in the sales page copy (and emails).

✔ Attention-grabbing headlines, sub-heads, crossheads

Writing copy for a sales page generally means you’re writing for different types of readers and decision-makers. You have the skimmers and quick decision-makers who you need to grab with headlines and subheads as they scroll the page.

The details are for the avid readers and slow decision-makers who need more information and time to decide on your offer. That means they’ll read the in-depth info that follows each headline.

When I write a sales page, each aspect of the structure helps to tell the story. The readers naturally keep reading, going down the page to the next section and nodding along until they get to the yes.

✔ Credibility markers

These items are essential for displaying authority for the person making the offer. To do this, I normally incorporate relevant testimonials throughout the body of the copy where each supports an argument. (I don’t have only one testimonial section.) I’ll also add relevant case studies and past results depending on the data available for the offer or past experiences of my client.

✔ An irresistible guarantee

High-ticket offers without a guarantee are setting themselves up for failure. How the guarantee is written determines how well your audience will trust you to deliver what is promised.  

✔ Objection busters

Throughout the copy, and especially in the FAQs section, we need to handle the objections we would have seen in the research data. How you handle the objections can add to the irresistibility of the offer.

After all, our audience isn’t one-dimensional. So, my goal is to deliver copy that convinces with emotion and justifies with logic as I help readers make the best decision for them at that time in their lives.

This post on optimizing your sales page to increase conversions further details 7 of the key areas to focus on to improve conversions.

What do you think are the most common challenges businesses have when it comes to conversions?

Not having an engaged email list for when they’re ready to launch

Many business owners only think about the email list or building their list when they have something to sell. They fail to realize that they need to constantly add to and nurture the list. To show up out of the woodwork only when you have something to sell will not endear you to subscribers and will lead to higher-than-average unsubscribe rates.

Keep working on the list number AND nurturing the ones you have. That’ll ensure they know who you are and what they can expect from you when you’re ready to launch.

Failure to understand the importance of research

You can’t understand your target audience without research. Even if your audience profile hasn’t changed, you still need to do some research because market conditions change. You have to find out what is going on in their lives now and how you can help them with where they are in their struggles.

Without the proper research, messaging will fall flat, and campaigns will fail to convert to sales or sign-ups.

Tone of voice and other aspects of copywriting

What do you think makes a copy connect with the audience on an emotional level? How do you make a copy personal while also keeping it effective?

Storytelling and authenticity. These are two essential requirements for doing copy that connect while staying personal.

When someone reads your copy, you don’t want the response to be, I don’t feel you or me in it. They want to see who is asking them to hand over their credit card or email address. They want to know that you understand them. Using a storytelling format in your copy while remaining true to yourself helps you deliver sticky messaging that resonates with them emotionally.

How do you adapt to a company’s tone of voice guidelines in your copy?

If they already have one in place, I study it. Then, I look at how they communicate with their audience and how the audience interacts with them. The brand may not speak the exact same way on all channels. So, I have to understand how they want to sound on the web versus in emails versus their social media platforms. For example, some brands are more relaxed than others. They also use specific terms and words versus others. I look at how they structure their sentences: some prefer more formal writing; others want it short and to the point.

I then incorporate what I’ve learned in what I say, the words I use, and how I say it. I avoid phrases/phrasing that they wouldn’t use, and while I’ll incorporate voice of customer (VOC) data, I’ll choose the ones that reflect the brand’s tone of voice.

What do you do if a company doesn’t have any tone of voice guidelines to follow?

Create one, if possible. It’s the perfect opportunity to help them define their brand voice and create guidelines to help them maintain consistency in messaging. It’s normally a part of my website copywriting process if they don’t have one in place.

Based on my intake questionnaire, interviews with the owner(s), and client and competitor research, I’m able to compile a Brand Messaging, Voice, Tone, and Style Guide. Once done, they have a document to reference or share with new team members that covers the following:

  • Who they are.
  • What they do.
  • Who they talk to.
  • Who they’re up against.
  • How they speak.
  • What they have to say.

With such a comprehensive document, some of my past clients have even picked out content to use as is on their websites or promotional material.

However, where I’m not required to prepare a brand voice and tone guideline, the client’s detailed responses to my copy questionnaire and their VOC data help me deliver a consistent voice when I write the emails and sales pages.

AI tools for copywriting and other work

Do you use AI tools in your work? If so, how and which ones?

Most people assume AI tools for a copywriter would be limited to ones that help them write. But for me, in terms of non-traditional AI tools, my favorite one is Krisp. I initially got it for its AI-powered noise cancellation capabilities so that my clients and I can have conversations online without background noise interruptions (working remotely and all). But it has since evolved with meeting recording and transcription services that allow me to keep track of my calls and prepare meeting notes. 

Krisp website’s homepage with the heading “Your AI-powered assistant for meetings and calls”

I also have a VPN service because, being based in Jamaica, I’m not always able to access certain websites for research or work purposes, even some of my clients.

They and a few other tools in my tech stack also allow me to work anywhere when I travel. This ensures my travels won’t affect the quality of the service I offer my clients, so, that’s a bonus.

In terms of writing tools, my main ones are ChatGPT, Hemingway App, and Grammarly. My first foray with ChatGPT was trying to use it to compare my client’s website copy with his competitors. And let me tell you, that AI provided information that was nowhere on my client’s website about services he did not provide. But since then, I’ve learned what it’s good at and how best to use it. You know, garbage in, garbage out.

I currently use ChatGPT for basic research, analyzing voice of customer data that I collect, and planning. I definitely have to follow that up with editing in the awesome to not only make the copy sound human, but also improve conversions. I also use it for initial research and drafting for my personal content marketing.

The Hemingway App ensures I stay within the reading level that best suits my clients’ target audience. Grammarly is not so much for editing copy — we throw out a lot of grammar rules in copy to improve conversion elements. It’s mainly for my content and my predilection for sometimes missing my articles.

What do you think about AI and copywriting in general?

While I was pursuing my MPhil thesis, one of my all-time favorite historians and authors, Barry Higman visited my university. While in a discussion with him, I was complaining about the many revisions I had to do. He pointed out that when he was a student, he did not have the luxuries of having a computer with our modern software access. If he made an error while typing out his thesis or research, he had to redo the page. Imagine redoing complete sections or revising paragraphs with a typewriter. (Actually, I don’t want to imagine it. Sounds painful.) Now, I had the option to “copy and paste”, to make immediate changes, and send to print.

Similarly, my history supervisor, Veront Stachel, pointed out that he had to analyze his data using a large computer that took up half a wall and took forever and a day to produce results. I was plugging my research into SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) on my laptop and spitting out results in real time!

Those conversations reminded me that I should make the most of the tools available to support my work. So, I believe that AI and copywriting can and should work together.

I’m not like some people who assume that AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard can replace a conversion copywriter. These apps aren’t strategy developers. (That’s why you see so many people online selling prompts — it really isn’t that easy to get quality output.)

AI for copywriting (and even content) still relies on input from a strategist who understands how they work and what can be achieved with them. And while they can help with the initial spit drafts, they cannot refine to a final version without the input of a professional copywriter. As I needed to develop the parameters for what to analyze and input in SPSS, I have to do the same with the new AI tools. It can help with some level of analysis, but you can’t rely on it for strategy and data collection, even testing — some things will always need a human touch.

When you have new tools, it’s best to learn how they work and if or how you can incorporate them to help you improve your processes and deliverables.

Email marketing advice and brands to follow

What brands or companies do you think nail their email marketing, both in their strategy and copywriting?

It would seem weird if a copywriting brand didn’t do well with its email marketing. But Copyhackers definitely nails email in both strategy and copywriting. I should know given that I’ve forked out $1,000s for several of their courses/programs based on the emails (and sales pages) they send.

They prove that long-form copy isn’t dead, it works in emails, and if you give people something to read that they want to read, they will. As Howard Gossage wrote, “people read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” So, people will read your email, even when they know you are planning to sell them something. When done right.

It’s also good to know that no one is infallible. A couple of times, they’ve messed up the segmenting/tagging. But their response has been a masterclass in handling their email list and audience. So, it reminds me and my clients that you won’t always get it right, but when you have the right audience on your list, they’ll forgive you for it.

An email from Copyhackers with advice on email marketing copy like subject lines, preheaders, etc.
Source: Yvette Haughton

A personal brand I like, Amy Posner, has recently rebranded from a copywriting coach to a coach for freelancers. Her copy since has really resonated with me as a freelancer and not just a copywriter. So, it shows that she has dialed into the psyche of her target audience, and her emails reflect that.

An email from Amy Posner explaining what it means to treat content as marketing
Source: Yvette Haughton

RYZE is a product-based brand and I love the conversational-style of the emails. It’s not just “here’s a discount, buy now” which is common with many product-based brands. You can see them incorporating copy elements into the templates they use. So, using an email template doesn’t mean you have to forgo adding conversion copy principles in your emails. And their strategy and copy showcase that.

An email from RYZE with an employee’s routine of using the brand’s products
Source: Yvette Haughton

What’s one thing every email marketer or newsletter author should or should not do?

The essential must-do is to understand and apply the power of one.

Even where your audience might have dissimilarities, focus your writing on one goal, one CTA, one job for each sentence/paragraph. It makes it easier to write and connect with your audience.  

Don’t try to throw everything and the kitchen sink into an email. That’s why email sequences work. You get to focus on one main idea for each email so that you don’t lose your audience to too many options.

30 May, 2024
Article by
Diana Kussainova
Writer, editor, and a nomad. Creating structured, approachable texts and helping others make their copies clearer. Learning and growing along the way. Interested in digital communications, UX writing, design. Can be spotted either in a bookshop, a local coffee place, or at Sephora. Otherwise probably traveling. Or moving yet again.
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