Would you like to write in a way that leaves readers hanging on every word?
Can you imagine, driving twice as many opt-ins with your copy?
Persuasive copywriting is the secret ingredient of great content. It inspires readers to click, subscribe and buy – what every good marketer wants, right?
If there’s a single most important skill in internet marketing, that skill is copywriting. And it’s not rocket science.
If you even use just a few strategies in this post, you will get more clicks, signups, and sales from your copy. We’ll go over the basics briefly and then dive into strategies you can apply, right now.
What is Copywriting?
Copywriting is the process of writing promotional materials for marketing. Things that need copywriting include: brochures, websites, advertisements, billboards, emails & more.
The text written in this process is called copy.
Unlike other forms of writing that are intended to entertain, educate, and inspire, copywriting is intended to get readers to take action. That action can be anything from a purchase, opt-in, subscription, or other engagement.
What Makes Great Sales Copy?
Great sales copy is:
- Easy to read & digest – make your points simple and clear
- Persuasive – you want to inspire readers to take action
- Engaging – great copy is engaging and interesting to read
- Concise – make your point using only the necessary amount of words
- Credible – demonstrating your products benefits, without baseless hype
Persuasive copy creates a sense of trust and authority, and evokes strong emotions like curiosity, anticipation, hopefulness, passion, and joy.
As a copywriter, your job is to write text that inspires people to want to know more, and ultimately buy your product.
How to Approach Writing Persuasive Copy
If you’re new to the concept of copywriting you won’t immediately be writing like a pro, even if you’ve got a background in other types of writing. So give yourself room to grow.
#1 Tailor Your Copywriting to Your Audience
Great copy is laser targeted in on a specific group of people, your target audience. So find out who your target audience is. Learn their language. Understand their needs and problems.
If you’re not sure who your target audience is, you’re gonna need to find that out. A great place to start is with common target markets.
Conventional wisdom says that teens want to look cool, parents care about their kids’ well being and corporate executives care about the bottom line. More target markets include expecting mothers, single fathers, teenagers, outdoorsy folk, and of course entrepreneurs. (Go team!)
Quicksprout’s personal branding guide says there are 3 people that fit into your personal brand’s target audience:
- The person who will pay you
- The person who influences the person who that pays you
- Your supporters
#2 Understand Your Audience’s Awareness Levels
Your audience will approach you at different levels of awareness about your company. You need to know how much your readers know to write persuasive copy for them. Enter AIDA.
There are variations of the sales funnel model, but AIDA is the most popular model in copywriting.
AIDA demonstrates the progression from stranger to buyer.
Awareness – They start out not knowing about you.
Interest – They now know about you, and you’ve piqued their interest.
Desire – Now they’re considering you, and seeing how you compare to the competition.
Action – Finally, you’re ready to close the sale.
Persuasive copywriting requires knowing where in the funnel your readers are. A lot of times you’re writing for people who aren’t familiar with your company.
You can’t just present strangers with a call to action, without taking them through the other stages of the funnel. It won’t work.
On the other hand, if you know your audience is nearing the action stage and you don’t ask them to buy, you’re missing your chance to close the sale.
Are they at the beginning of the funnel? They need to learn about the benefits of your product.
Are they in the middle of the funnel? They need a push with emotion. Tell a story.
Are they at the end of the funnel? Present a strong call to action. It’s closing time.
#3 Have a Single, Specific Goal for Your Copy
It’s important to first decide on a specific, measurable goal for your copywriting. What action do you want your readers to take?
A generic goal would be: “I want to make more money.”
A measurable, specific goal would be “I want to increase signups to my subscription service by offering a free 7-day trial.”
Now that you’ve got a specific goal, you need to outline the exact steps needed to get there.
Some steps you could take in this case would be: have your developers add the free 7-day trial feature, create a landing page that emphasizes your risk-free offer, and sending an email to your mailing list with your offer.
When you’re writing with your goal in mind, you’ll be able to craft stronger messages and put emphasis in the right places.
#4 Have a Single Primary Message
Just like copywriting should have a single goal, you should have a single, core message that supports that objective.
Any other text should be a sub-message of your core message, or supporting the core message in some way.
All of the text should be connected to a core message that is flowing to the CTA which should make peoples’ lives better in some way. The core message is like saying ‘this is how we make your life better’ and the CTA says ‘do this and we’ll make your life better’.
iPad Pro. Anything you can do, you can do better.
The above text was taken from Apple’s website, and it’s stellar copywriting.
They use a turn of phrase to create a strong statement. It’s a unique take on the phrase ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ which is a reference to a well-known song in pop culture.
The message is that, no matter what you use your portables for, the iPad can do it better. They go on to say that the iPad pro is more powerful than most laptops which supports this statement.
They end the sales page with ‘Find the iPad that’s right for you’, offering many technical details along the way. The subtext of this message is that you do important things on your portable device, and an iPad can help you get the job done better.
#5 Treat Your Web Viewers as Information-Hungry, Wild Beasts
User Experience researcher Jakob Nielsen says web users are like wild animals foraging for food. Your users are looking for specific information, and if they can’t easily find it they’ll go elsewhere.
This research provides the concept of an information scent; web users are seeking clues that the information they’re searching for is close. They will keep sniffing the trail and clicking through, if they feel they’re getting close to the juicy information meal.
They must feel progress is happening rapidly though, or they will do a google search and go elsewhere.
This is important to understand, because your viewers won’t read every word on your page in most cases. They’ll be looking for cues that you have what they’re looking for. So make it easy to skim and find important cues in headings and other elements.
#6 Put the most Important Information up top
Copywriting is structured quite differently than other forms of writing. Take essay writing: Explain the topic being discussed, present an overview, discuss and finally present your conclusion.
In essay form, we’re putting the most important information at the very bottom. But if we did that in copywriting, we’ve just ignored the fact that our users are like information-hungry beasts. They’re scouring the web for information and they’ll leave before finding your conclusion if it’s at the bottom.
#7 Write Amazing, Attention Grabbing Headlines
If you use a poor headline, it does not matter how hard you labor over your copy because your copy will not be read. – John Caples
It’s a general consensus in the copywriting community that headlines are all-important. As John Caples says above, if you don’t have a great headline then your copy simply won’t be read.
Great headlines engage readers, inspiring them to read on. Conversely, poor headlines can push readers away, inspiring them to go elsewhere for their needs. You can think of the headline as a door into the beautiful home that is your body copy.
Here’s 5 quick ways to write better headlines:
- Use numbers in your headlines – numbers make things feel important and legitimate. Numbers are attractive and they let readers know exactly what to expect.
- Be unique where possible – things like using an uncommon word and writing in a more personal tone can help conversions. Make sure it fits your core message.
- Be very specific – avoid being vague. Rather than saying ‘Our Hats Bring Peace’, say ‘$5 Donated to Your Cause with Each Purchase’.
- Create a Sense of Urgency – while this isn’t always applicable, it’s a great way to encourage engagements.
- Make each headline useful – headlines should guide the reader. Let them know the benefit of reading on, rather than being clever with useless words.
#8 Create an Irresistible Offer
Another vital part of the copywriting process is crafting the best possible offer you can make. After you’ve written your amazing headlines and persuasive sales copy, you’ll want to come up with an offer that sweetens the deal.
Here are some examples of a offers that encourage readers to take action now:
Free shipping on orders over $25.
Order today and get free shipping.
Free 50 in TV with all purchases over $999
Free installation with purchase
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve added a few extra products to the cart when shopping, simply because I’ll get free shipping.
In some cases it doesn’t cost me extra since I save on shipping, but most of the time I end up spending more than I originally intended to.
#9 Consider Adding a Guarantee
Almost all products have a guarantee – and for good reason – it’s shown to improve conversions. Offering a guarantee increases customer confidence in your offer and trust in your brand.
Money-back guarantees are the most popular, as they remove virtually all risks associated with the sale. It’s also a promise that we’re in this together, since it says we’ll lose money if we break our guarantee’s promise.
Not all businesses need a guarantee. If you’re running a hot-dog stand, it may not be useful. Then again, a well-formed guarantee could still increase the perceived value and lower the perceived risk.
#10 Long form or Short form Copy?
While there’s a long-held debate about which is ‘better’, without question both long and short sales copy can be effective. The question is actually when to use which.
Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad. – Howard Gossage
Only write as much as is needed, and no more. Do you have 10 benefits you want to feature on the page? Write about them. Do you have 2 major benefits, and some minor ones? Write about the important ones, and decide if the minor ones are worth mentioning.
If you want to be sure, write out a long version and a short version, then test it. Either send traffic to each page and see which converts better, or simply read them yourself and pick the best.
Another thing to consider when deciding on copy length is the amount of objections for your product.
Objections are concerns your prospects have that need addressed before they can buy. Common objections include: price is too high, I don’t need a new product, and I don’t know if I can trust you.
There are unique objections in each niche that are product-specific. Get to know what objections your prospects have and be ready to address them.
If there’s several objections, perhaps long-form copy would be a good fit, as you’d have more room to address objections.
So a guideline for this is:
If the product is something that is purchased after much, careful consideration – long form is generally better.
#11 Sell Your Benefits, not Your Features
Features are technical details about your product.
Benefits are the advantages of using your product.
Features appeal to a small, hardcore portion of your audience. Benefits appeal to your whole audience. Both are important, but benefits more so.
In sales, you want your prospects to see themselves using your product. You want them to imagine themselves reaping the benefits. You want them to feel how much easier their life can be with your product.
Emphasizing your benefits connects your product to your readers own life. See the table below.
|Made of leather||Cleans easily; durable|
|Laces||Fits comfortably; ties easily|
|Rubber Soles||Grips firmly|
|Two colors||Goes with any wardrobe|
Notice how the benefits use sensory language. Everything we experience in life comes from our senses so it shouldn’t be surprising that we think in terms of senses.
We say stuff like ‘see what I mean?’, ‘I feel that’, and ‘I hear you’.
Sensory language triggers our senses automatically vs. technical terms that require thinking. Sensory language is easier to read; more importantly, it allows readers to picture themselves using our product.
#12 Using Emotion for More Persuasive Copywriting
When it comes to buying stuff, people are heavily influenced by emotions. We tend to think that we’re more logical than we are. Humans are emotional creatures. We make a decision primarily based on emotion, and rationalize it afterwards.
“But I sell to businesses, not people?!”
No you don’t. You sell to people who happen to work in a business. They’ve got emotions too and your copy should reflect that fact. It’s not enough to create a strong logical case for your product; you must create a strong emotional case as well.
Apple is the quintessential example of this. People will pay more for an Apple computer with worse specs than one from another company.
That’s not very logical. However, they’ve created a very strong emotional (if not cultural) reason for purchasing their products. People line up around the block to get the newest iPhone when one comes out.
The reason? To get the newest iPhone so they don’t look like a chump when all of their friends have one.
This shouldn’t be surprising. Did you see that wonderful copy from their website earlier in the article? They know how to tap into emotions and use them to create stronger messages. You can, and should, do this as well.
Upwork also knows how to create an emotional argument. The above text is what’s shown on their homepage right now. They start with an emotional appeal and follow with a logical reason to use their services.
Is kicking butt a logical reason to use upwork? No, but it sure feels like a good reason to. Who doesn’t want to kick butt?
Persuasive copywriting makes the world go around, pretty much. As you develop a knack for it, you’ll realize that there’s great copy all around you.
It’s not enough to have a great product. It’s not enough to have great body copy. One must do more than simply make a logical case.
Know who you’re writing for, put the benefits of your product on display, and make a strong emotional case. You’ll be better off for it, I promise. Now get out there and write some sexy copy!
What is the sexiest, most persuasive copywriting you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments!