One of my clients recently wrote this in response to a question on my questionnaire: 

How did he “quickly and intuitively” know that I was the right copywriter for him? 

It’s not magic. It’s not by accident that he felt that way. 

I strategically wrote my website copy (using the same process I use for all my clients) in order to attract and connect deeply with my target clients. 

And there’s one secret behind it all…

Customer interviews

Keep reading to find out my process for using customer interviews to write copy that makes readers feel like no one has ever understood them this well before. 

 

1. Reach out to 3-5 previous customers who match your target audience

The customers you interview shouldn’t be just anyone. They should be people who are very close to your ideal customer or client. People you loved working with, or people who are exactly who you want to represent your brand. 

If you haven’t had any customers yet, then choose people in your network who represent your target customer (i.e. people you’d like to become customers someday). 

 

2. Conduct & record 30-minute interviews with each customer 

Always record the interviews! Recording allows you to be more present during the interviews so you can ask valuable follow-up and clarifying questions. It also allows you to capture the exact words people use–which will become important in a later step. 

Just make sure to get permission from your interviewee before you start recording.

 

3. Ask these 7 questions every time

I create custom questions for each of my round of interviews for different clients, but I always include these seven questions: 

  • Think back to the moment you first decided to buy/hire __________. Where were you? What was going through your head? 
  • What was going on in your life that led you to seek out someone/something like  __________?
  • What was it about __________ that made you know this was the __________ for you? 
  • Was there any moment of hesitation before you bought/hired ______? What were you worried about?
  • Have you tried anything else to fix this problem before? What did you try?
  • How has your life (or get more specific–e.g. eating habits, love life) changed since you found ______? 
  • How would you describe ________ to a friend who asked you about it? 

The goal with these questions is to get people to articulate their gut-level feelings about a product or service and the problems or desires that led to buying it.

 

4. Probe short or vague responses with follow-up questions

Most people are not used to being interviewed. They may feel uncomfortable or worry that they’re rambling on. So, they’ll instinctively give short, to-the-point answers. 

This is not what you want.

You want those long, rambling answers where your interviewee pauses and looks to the sky as they fumble through something they haven’t ever described before. This is gold! It means they’re sharing something with you that’s right from the heart. 

So if you do get those quick, to-the-point responses, encourage your interviewee to open up more by asking follow-up questions. For example…

  • I noticed you said ______. What did you mean by that? 
  • That’s so interesting. I’d love to learn more about that. Can you elaborate?
  • Take me back to that moment. What exactly was going through your head?

 

5. Get the interviews transcribed and look for patterns

Once you’ve done all the interviews, get them transcribed. I use a transcription service called Scribie

Then, go through the interview and look for patterns in…

  • The content of the answers (Are any answers really similar?)
  • The word choices they use to describe a problem or desire
  • The word choices they use to describe themselves or the brand
  • The word choices they use in general (such as slang)

When you write your copy, you use these patterns to tailor the message to what people are looking for and to tailor the word choices you use to match the word choices your customers use. 

This way, your copy reads as though your customers spoke it into existence! It makes them feel deeply understood, and they may even wonder how you got in their head like that! 

That level of connection is enough to make most people stop their search and buy from you.

 

6. Incorporate “sticky phrases” your customers use

Sticky phrases are those phrases that jump out at you as perfectly describing the brand or being incredibly memorable. 

Often, a customer will say something in an interview that is beautifully and naturally phrased–and it’ll end up in a headline in the copy. 

For example, I used a a sticky phrase that came out in a customer interview for Lena Zaric Jewelry, and it’s on the homepage now:

Can you guess what it is? 

It’s the phrase “a quiet sanctuary.” One of her customers described her jewelry this way, and it was perfect for matching the energy of her pieces!

 

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That’s it! This is my process for using customer interviews to write empathy-driven copy for my clients (and my own business). 

It’s a huge extra step in the copywriting process, but it’s unbelievably worth it.

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