How To Write Copy That Helps Cut Churn

It’s often overlooked how intertwined copywriting is with the major functions of a SaaS business. This is no exception when it comes to churn.

Scott Hurff

Scott Hurff

It’s often overlooked how intertwined copywriting is with the major functions of a SaaS business. This is no exception when it comes to churn. 

When a customer churns, it means that after paying for your service for a certain amount of time, they have decided that they no longer need it for one reason or another (pro tip: You should be tracking those reasons 😉). That customer has lost the connection between their pain point and the value that your product brings. 

So what does copy have to do with a customer leaving? Think of copy as the voice that speaks to the customer as they use the product. Copy acts as a salesperson, customer success advocate, and a support team member all at the same time. If a customer decides to leave, it’s possible that your copy just isn’t doing its job properly.

“Copy” consists of any digital text that a user or customer would read in regards to your product. Copy spans all channels including social, email, paid ads, website, product, support documents, etc. It’s a huge scope and can be overwhelming to think about which is why copywriting specialists exist. 

For most of us SaaS founders, we are wearing so many hats as we DIY our way through building a company. Copy falls into this category. 

That’s why we made this crash course for you. 

The Copy That Affects Churn

Now for the important part. 

There are five key areas in your SaaS business where copy directly relates to churn. 

Marketing Website: Features & Pricing

This is your first chance to explain to potential customers exactly what your SaaS product does and how it delivers values. If the customer doesn’t fully understand the scope of your product, feature set, pricing, and how it all pertains to their use case, it is possible they cancel before realizing the full value. 

Onboarding

If a customer doesn’t get completely onboarded, their chance of churn skyrockets. Onboarding should clearly walk the customer through what needs to be done to get to that “Aha moment” that delivers value.

Messaging (Chat & Email)

Communicating to users as they travel through the product funnel is critical for retention. Email drip campaigns to users based on their product progress is a very common tactic to use to increase retention. The better the copy, the more effective.

Billing

Communication to customers around payments, subscriptions, and billing is an underused area where copy can be very effective. It’s an area where delighting a customer can go a long way due to the nature of talking about money.

Offboarding

A portion of customers that cancel might not actually be wanting to cancel but you have to get them a reason to stay. Simply displaying a cancel button and letting users cancel leaves a lot of opportunity on the table where copy can actually help save customers. Optimizing your offboarding flow to offer discounts, pauses, customer support, etc., and combining with great copy can greatly decrease your churn rate.

How To Write Better Copy

Know Your Audience

Knowing who’s using your product, how knowledgeable they are about it, and where they are within your customer lifecycle is essential for writing performant interface copy.

That means you need to speak their language. Use jargon with which they’re familiar — words and terminology that are most recognizable. 

But don’t mistake your customers’ jargon for your own. Internal terms—like project nicknames, error codes, acronyms, inside jokes, or even placeholder copy (I’ve seen it happen!)—have no place in your product’s interface. Your job is to make it make sense for your audience, not for you.

Have Empathy

Humans, not computers (yet) are your customers. Good copy anticipates the mindset someone has within a particular flow or on a certain screen. Go out of your way to be helpful and direct. 

Strike the Right Tone

Good interface copywriting isn’t overly technical, vague, or laden with branded or internal buzzwords. It’s helpful and forgiving, and it’s aware of when it’s delivering good or bad news.

Is your product for stockbrokers? Teenage girls? Book authors? Eco-conscious mothers? The tone of your product’s copywriting should be conscious of this. Humor, seriousness, dryness, and other tones each have their place.

The ultimate tone to strike, though, communicates your product’s capability of fulfilling its promise—that it can be relied upon to do the job it said it can do.

Be Context-Aware

Is it a landing page? A signup form? A cancellation flow? The first time a customer sees a screen? Your shipping policy? In response to something on which they explicitly took action?

Good interface copywriting takes into account where a customer is reading. And it helps them to decide which action they should take next, if any. Most of the time an interface is presenting information to a person so they can make a decision. Be as clear as possible about which decision might be best for your customer at this moment.

Effective interface copywriting also takes into account the limitations of the context. For example, if you’re sending information via an old-school text message, you should be courteous and write your message in less than or equal to 160 characters.

The best way I’ve heard the copywriting process described is to act like a newspaper editor. You’re trying to create short, direct, easily absorbed copy that succinctly describes every decision in which a customer might find themselves. The goal is to make those situations effortlessly understandable so your customer knows what to do next without question.

Be Consistent

Humans are creatures of habit and your customers will quickly adapt to the patterns and cadence of your product. That’s why being consistent within your product with labels and commands is essential.

Can you “Log In,” then “Sign Out”? Do you advance by tapping “Continue” or “Next”? Do confirmations come with “OK,” “Okay,” “Submit,” or “Confirm”? Universal commands should be consistent across your product.

And, when possible, buttons should reflect the action they’re per- forming. The best button titles are written with one or two words that describe the result of using the button. “Send Message,” “Take Photo,” “Leave Comment,” and “Not Now” are all much more descriptive than the generic “Submit.”

Implement Your Improved Offboarding Copy With Churnkey

Churnkey offers done-for-you cancellation flows that can easily be embedded into your SaaS product. Our no-code dashboard makes it easy for anyone in the business to design, write, and deploy a cancellation flow and report on its effectiveness over time. Use your newly written copy to encourage cancelling users to instead take a subscription pause, discount, talk with customer support, and more. 

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