Studies have shown that 55 percent of all visitors read a blog post only for 15 seconds or less. That means, by the end of this paragraph you have likely already decided whether to keep on reading or not. It is my job to make sure you do.
So, do I still have your attention? Cool, thanks for sticking around.
One of the best tools to keep visitors on your site is to produce intriguing content. That’s why it is important for anyone who runs or markets websites to study copywriting.
Copywriting is the art and science of making words persuasive and effective enough to prompt others to take your desired action. Your skills in this area determine whether or not people will keep reading your content, buy your product or hire you.
I have already talked about this in the past in relation to SEO copywriting. However, in this article, I want to look at it less from a technical point of view and more from the human perspective. In the end, it’s people who click the buy button, not bots.
For that reason, this post will give you some actionable copywriting tips to make your content more effective. The tactics below will help take your writing from mere words on a screen to a tool for selling, converting, and keeping people on your site.
Let’s have at it.
Copywriting Tips to Take Your Content from Zero to Hero
If you’re still reading this, I must be providing valuable content that speaks to what you need.
1. Research Your Butt Off
When I’m talking to people about my work, the comment I hear most often is “writing is so hard, I could never do it.” Yet, many of them are surprised to hear that writing is actually the easy part.
The most difficult (and time-consuming) part is research. Gathering information and structuring it takes time and effort. However, it makes all the difference between thin, forgettable content, and blog posts that get shared hundreds of times and perform well in search engines.
For that reason, one of the most important copywriting tips comes from legendary writer Gary Bencivenga:
It took me a while to realize that the best copywriters are the most tenacious researchers. Like miners, they dig, drill, dynamite, and chip until they have carloads of valuable ore. John Caples advised me once to gather seven times more interesting information than I could possibly use.
I learned that good copywriters get to know so much about the product and the prospect and his or her wants, fears, assumptions, and lingo that the copy soon wants to burst forth as if a dam is breaking. I learned that research is the infallible cure for writer’s block.
2. Use Proven Formulas
Not everyone is a born copywriter. In fact, few people are. Most just have a knack for words and learn how to use them effectively. Luckily, it’s also something that can be taught.
As mentioned, copywriting is not only an art but also a science. As such, it offers existing formulas that you can adopt and use over and over again for your own purpose.
One of the most well-known formulas to structure your copy is using the 4Ps. They stand for:
- Problem — Present a problem that clients are struggling with
- Promise — Point out how your service, product or content can solve that problem for them
- Proof — Provide proof of your ability to eliminate that pain point from their life
- Proposal — Close with a concrete call to action
Makes sense, doesn’t it? And that’s just one formula. There are many more. Plus, they don’t just exist for page copy but also other parts of copywriting. Another example is utilizing Smart Blogger’s headline hacks, which I highly recommend.
3. Appeal to Feeling
Emotions are one of the most powerful ways to move people to take action. In fact, research indicates that, even though we like to think of ourselves as beings of reason, it’s feelings that guide our decisions. As a consequence, if you move others emotionally, you can also move them to take action.
Here’s a prime example:
The doctor cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, but I have bad news.”
He paused, looking down at the floor. He looked back up at her. He started to say something and then stopped, looking back down at the floor.
That’s when Pat began to cry.
Don’t tell me that this doesn’t have you hold your breath in anticipation. It’s the beginning passage of an article written by Jon Morrow that has become one of the most famous posts on the Internet. It has been read by millions of people and earned almost 500 comments. In addition to that, the post is an emotional rollercoaster ride, which is why it has touched so many people.
However, one of the most important copywriting tips is this: When you do appeal to people’s emotions, note that you can rarely force somebody to feel something that isn’t already there. Usually, a feeling can only be stirred if it exists in the first place.
In order to do so, it helps to have a deep understanding of what makes your readers tick, what keeps them up at night, excites them, and gets them motivated. That’s why market research for blogs and websites is so important, as mentioned in the beginning.
4. Pay Attention to Details (And Track Them)
When looking at A/B split testing case studies, it’s always surprising to see how big an effect small changes can have. Change a color or the word on a button and you can have a completely different outcome.
The same is true of copywriting. A study by Carnegie Mellon University showed that changing the phrase “a $5 fee” to “a small $5 fee” increased sign-up rates to a DVD trial program by a full 20 percent.
The lesson: single words can have a big effect. For that reason, you need to not just concentrate on crafting beautiful words but also testing their effectiveness and performance. Thankfully, WordPress offers a number of A/B testing plugins for these purposes.
5. Anticipate and Address Objections
Many people are wary customers, especially online. Privacy is one of the biggest concerns for most people surfing the web. For that reason, it’s important that you work on eliminating factors that make people distrust your website.
The copy on your site is part of that. If you only talk about how great you and your product are, it might make visitors suspicious. When your sales page sounds like a case of “too good to be true,” you will have a hard time convincing them to buy.
To level with your customers and show that you take their concerns seriously, address possible objections directly. That way, you support your own argument by addressing the counterarguments head on.
Doing so takes possible question marks in your clients’ minds and eliminates them. What they are left with is only the positive. In addition to that, talking about your own possible shortcomings avoids looking like you are trying to sweep things under the rug.
6. Choose Verbs over Adjectives
You know how they say actions speak louder than words? I actually encountered a real-life example for that recently. A year ago, my wife was job hunting. Even though her qualifications are really good, in the beginning, she had a hard time hearing back from potential employers.
After being stumped for a while we found the reason: HR departments use software to automatically scan and summarize incoming CVs. Their algorithms look for certain phrases that show what the person has done, not how they describe themselves. In short, it looked for verbs rather than adjectives.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Which of these people would you rather hire?
“I am an experienced, creative and motivated blogging professional with a can-do attitude”
“While running my own startup after university, I taught myself HTML, CSS and how to build websites with WordPress. For the past seven years, I have shared everything I learned as a professional WordPress blogger.”
Even though both describe the same person, number two has a lot more oomph, doesn’t it? The same goes for your copy. The more you can use verbs to describe what you and your product do or have done instead of what you claim to be, the more of an impact you will make.
As for my wife, after changing the language in her CV accordingly, her prospects got much better and she is happy in her new job.
7. Include Power Words
In writing, not all words are created equal. While most of them can relay information and communicate facts, there are words that can do a lot more. Ever found yourself tearing up, feeling super motivated or resolved to change your life because of a blog post? That’s the effect I am talking about.
A good way to make your copy more moving is to use power words. These are words that evoke a lot of emotion and will stir readers at their core. Winston Churchill was a master of using them, as exemplified by his famous speeches:
Luckily, you don’t need to find out which words work well and which don’t. The good people of Smart Blogger have put together a comprehensive list with more than 300 power words that you can start using right away. While you are at it, they also have a list of weak words that achieve the opposite.
8. Use Storytelling
Stories are an intrinsic part of the human psyche. They help us make sense of the world as well as preserve knowledge and pass it on to others. Stories are also entertaining and enthralling, which is why reading is a favorite pastime of millions of people.
For that reason, stories are also a good medium to bring your point across. They allow you to kindle the imagination of your readers and tap into their emotions rather than their rational brain. We already covered earlier why that is a good idea.
For some excellent examples of how to use storytelling in your copywriting, check this article by Enchanting Marketing. Jon Morrow’s article further up is another option as well as this one, where he talks about being in an accident.
Copywriting Tips in a Nutshell…
There’s a difference between merely writing words and writing effectively. Learning to do the latter can be all that stands between the sound of crickets and a high-traffic site. Between abandoned shopping carts and a well-oiled sales machine.
The copywriting tips above are just the beginning of this journey. There is a lot more to learn and discover. Nevertheless, let’s quickly summarize them one more time:
- Invest in proper research
- Take advantage of existing copywriting formulas
- Address readers on an emotional level
- Don’t neglect the details and test your copy
- Address possible objections
- Concentrate on doing over being
- Make use of power words
- Tell a story to be more effective
Aside from that, look who made it to the end of the post. Hope you enjoyed the journey.
What are your favorite copywriting tips? Any questions or comments? Tell us in the comments section below!