Copywriters have to be good at more than just writing.
It's not enough to be able to write well, you need to incorporate the right copywriting techniques, proven to convert. Otherwise, you're putting your message out there in a clear, stylized way...
But there's no real urgency. There's no salesmanship.
And that's not copywriting.
A careful balance of the two is needed — something usually acquired over time, with tons of practice. However, knowledge is power, as they say. Just being informed gives you the edge needed to start making a serious, notable change.
In this post, we're going over precisely those tactics, the ones you shouldn't ignore if you can help it. And you'll learn how to copyedit and tweak your copywriting for dramatically higher conversions.
Use these, and your writing will vastly improve in a short timespan, converting better, and showing you a glimpse of what could happen if you set your mind to mastering the science of copywriting yourself.
Did you know engaging copy converts better?
It might seem obvious, but when copy is engaging, it comes across more genuine, more human. It's not sales pitchy, so people are more inclined to read it until the end, assuming it's relevant and value-driven.
The best way to get started is to imagine you're having a conversation with someone in particular, perhaps a buyer persona. It makes it easier for you, the writer, to just talk to one person who embodies your core audience.
It helps you sound natural as if you're writing in your speaking tone.
Here are some extra tips to help with this:
This isn't to say that your mind comes up with a perfect sentence right away. But rather, our gut feelings on a topic tend to be the most genuine. Rather than carefully calculated sentences, you naturally use everyday language.
Of course, you should always edit your work afterwards, but starting with a very "gut-inspired" piece of writing will make it that much more convincing.
Anything that diverges from generic language is great, and it just so happens that most of us have a natural attitude of some kind that does exactly that.
Maybe you do that by adding some humor or using "slangy" or "casual" wording, but everyone has their own attitude so do whatever works.
Alternatively, you could try and put on a specific persona of sorts and use their attitude instead.
Like maybe your entire blog consists of upbeat, helpful articles (and plenty of bloggers and content creators have used that type of persona before), so you use wording that someone who is actually like that would use, like popular slang, exclamation marks, and silly jokes.
Whether you bring your natural attitude or an artificial one, both are more interesting than a purely calculated, bland piece of copy.
Not only does specific information sound more authentic, but it also keeps our attention more effectively (which you obviously need if you want your CTA to work). People don't care that your business will "change their life". They want to know how the business will change their life.
As an example, instead of providing a generic "this business is incredible for you", give information about what the business will do that is so incredible for them.
Maybe you'll save them enough money to pay for their children's college tuition, or you'll simplify the cleaning and laundry process, making it less of a hassle each week. It could be anything that helps make people's lives easier.
When it presents value upfront, in a specific way, people notice. And the more people jump on the bandwagon, the more word of mouth spreads.
The general point of benefits over features is applicable to every form of copywriting, so don't forget it!
Do you ever wonder why Amazon's customer service is so lenient to its customers? Even though they suffer a not-insignificant number of losses due to either customer service fraud or open-box returns, they still maintain their same degree of leniency...
Well, since every customer service experience is dealt with by an actual person, there's a degree of personal connection there.
Personal connections are almost always positive, and the more successful stories customers float around, the better the overall brand perception is. In case you haven't caught on yet, word of mouth can make or break a business, especially in this digitally connected world.
So although Amazon loses a significant amount of money through their customer service, they also gain an equal or greater amount of money through loyal customers and new customers that the loyal customers convert.
Amazon isn't exactly "down-to-earth" or "personal" but having elements of that in their copy makes them effective as a brand. Their "niceness" is what puts them ahead of the game.
Let's shift gears for a second. Maybe you talk about life experiences in your copy and personally respond to the comments or emails on the topic. This immediately sets you apart as someone willing to directly engage with the community.
Someone who genuinely wants to talk to customers, not just take their money. This is good press, as those customers will turn right around and share their positive experiences with anyone who will listen.
Basically, if your business is known for a certain attribute, the copy will inherit that attribute even if it isn't directly embedded in it. And if your business isn't known for a certain attribute, copy can change that.
The Humble Bundle is a fairly good example of this. A lot of people couldn't care less about a gaming or software bundle, but every bundle is attached to a charity that you can choose to donate 100% of the purchase to if you desired.
Humble Bundle actively partners with up and coming developers, and the heavy discounts inspire even people who don't care to spend. After all, if you're going to donate to charity, why not get some free games, books, or software in the process?
It's a win-win, and everyone loves low prices so the good press keeps them going even at the minimal margins on each individual bundle purchase.
Controversy can sometimes scare people away, but holding an unpopular viewpoint might just draw people in.
You see, we're kind of in this weird spot due to the internet, where everyone is starting to take on someone else's voice, looks, life... everything. Originality isn't exactly common anymore.
So, if you have something unpopular to say... it might actually make you stand out in a positive way.
Now, being a contrarian for the sake of being different isn't the objective here. It truly needs to be a matter of honestly believing something controversial. Something you can latch onto, explain, and go into detail on. There's no faking that well, it's easy to spot a liar.
Maybe you'll get some new readers that share your views, or maybe you won't. Regardless, oftentimes if you truly believe in an "unpopular" belief, you might find that you're just saying what lots of people want to say but are too afraid or indifferent to do so.
Also, even among the people who are opposed to your viewpoint, they might respect you simply for your independent thinking, and as long as they can separate the writing from the writer, they won't be turned away from the rest of your copy.
Everyone tends to focus on fiction writers, but technically, all writers have to get their hands dirty. Every writer needs to reach deep within themselves to uncover emotion, excitement, honesty, and most of all, creativity.
And that's no exception for copywriters. It's what helps you stand out from the crowd. It's the best way to ensure the survivability of your business.
But...what do I mean by creative?
Well, generally this involves combining your own personal style (and ONLY your style), but then getting a second opinion from elsewhere afterwards...
Ok, so maybe you can copy them a little because after all, there might be good ideas. But in general, it tends to be obvious when someone is trying to copy someone else.
In general, try and implement your own ideas. They might end up being similar to competitors, but trust me when I say that your readers can tell the difference between a coincidence and intentional copying.
Plus, again, unique copy tends to be more interesting since it breaks the mold.
Also, on a slightly unrelated note, relentless copying can be bad for your mood. It can make you feel like a fraud if all of your best work comes from just copying someone more successful than you.
Feelings like that are sure to bring down the quality of your work, whether you realize it or not.
"Taking a walk" is the most generic break you can have, but there is definitely some merit to breaks. Beyond simply letting you rest, you'll find that other media sources or activities you do on a break can cause an idea to hatch in your head.
Like maybe that movie you watch gives you an idea for a persona to use in your writing, or you see something while you're out walking that you could use as an anecdote in your copy.
Plus, beyond just giving you ideas, breaks can solve your problems. Our brains naturally start to solve puzzles when we're not actively solving them ourselves, and even though it's subconscious, eventually you'll have a conscious realization once your brain figures it out.
That's why we have "ah-ha" moments.
So if you don't know how to do something, or how to improve something, just take a break. The issue might just solve itself!
The best writers know that sometimes breaking writing conventions can make the end product better. Sometimes purposefully mismatching styles or breaking conventions can draw people further into your copy and hold their interest for longer.
My favorite example of this is using sentence fragments. Smaller sentences are simply easier to read.
And they can be used for emphasis if used selectively.
And as you just read, one-sentence paragraphs are similarly easy to parse so don't be afraid to use those either.
If you want to really give things a boost of relevance and effectiveness, try using conjunctions too. They can be used anywhere in the sentence, but the beginning seems to give it an added kick.
Your copy doesn't have to follow all of the writing rules as long as it gets its point across. And if breaking those rules gets the point across more effectively, go for it! That's the name of the game with copywriting — a lot of unlearning things traditional writing taught us.
The same thing can apply to a style change. Don't overdo it, since it'll just come off as bad writing, but if something calls for a style change, go for it!
Like maybe one of your sentences can be used for a tonal shift, and that tonal shift is accompanied by a change in writing. Maybe you go from proper writing to something with lots of typos and upper-case letters to appear "angry" or something.
As long as there's a reason to switch your writing style, there's a good chance it's worth doing. Shifts like that keep people on their tiptoes.
A big part of being a writer is knowing how to research. On one hand, you need to research your topic, interview people, get answers to burning questions...
And on the other hand, you need to convey all of your findings in a clear, concise way.
So, what does this mean for copywriters exactly? Simple: it means you should always look beyond yourself in your writing.
For example, suppose you're writing a landing page. It's all about your offer, and how much it can change people's lives. You focus on its features and benefits, pair it with screenshots of the product, and slap on a CTA at the very end. Sounds good, right?
Well, what about researching your customers? What are they saying about it all across the internet? Any testimonials you can use? Is anyone other than you vouching for your offer?
Adding in their words, their opinions will elevate your copy, taking it from self-centered, to customer-centric.
Nothing gets people going like a competition, so why not compete with yourself? If you're always striving to make something better than last time, you'll always improve.
Not only does it serve as great motivation, but your audience will certainly notice the gradual increase in quality over time as well.
How can you do this? Well, it's a bit hard to objectively call one piece of copy better than another, so using metrics like likes/follows/comments or the opinion of a trusted friend can serve as a starting point.
Keep a list of those metrics and how each compares, and see if you can beat the last one each time!
The "you" from a few days ago is less experienced than you are now. You don't want to lose to a clearly inferior writer, do you?
This applies to both the writing itself and the writing process. People love confidence, so confident wording is much more likely to incite action than "wishy-washy" wording. Just compare these two sentences:
If our business interests you, maybe you should contact us?
If you've gotten this far, we know you care, so contact us now at XXX-XXX-XXXX!
The second sentence is saying generally the same thing as the first, but the sheer confidence it oozes definitely makes taking action more appealing. There's nothing wrong with the first sentence, but it makes you sound like a nice old grandma who wants to stay in touch.
So I'll go over a few ways to make your writing sound more confident...
But what do I mean by confidence in the writing process? Well...
This point refers to a few different things.
First, getting your point across in fewer words can be more effective. It just sounds more sensical. It just works.
Of course, don't make every sentence like that or you'll desensitize your readers to actual emphasis, but the occasional short sentence is a huge power move.
Also, using powerful words will be more effective too.
I can't list off every example, but here are some well-known ones:
Generally, you can pull out a thesaurus and pick something a lot more powerful (but not hard to understand, don't use biblioklept instead of book thief, peristeronic instead of pigeon-like, or discombobulated instead of confused for example...)
Sometimes people will criticize you. And oftentimes the criticism is irrelevant...
But on the off chance that the criticism is legitimate and useful, you should be at least listening to every opinion.
It takes a lot of willpower to admit that you're the one in the wrong, but it's a very important thing to do. Plus oftentimes you'll earn respect from these people for taking their criticisms to heart.
So at the very least, listen to every opinion and at least figure out if it makes sense. If it does, consider if it is correct or not. If it is, muster up the willpower to take action and correct your shortcomings.
On the other hand, if the criticism is just silly or wrong, point it out and just keep on doing what you're doing. Sometimes people like to criticize you just to get on your nerves, so don't let that affect you.
If you let it get under your skin, your writing is going to suffer in one way or another.
If you want someone to do something, let them know! If you keep people guessing about what your intentions are, or keep dragging things on for too long, you're going to lose them.
Maybe they'll get frustrated and go look for another source. Or maybe they're interested but can't find out how to learn more.
Also, sometimes the easiest way to improve a call-to-action is to simply format it differently. Bold text stands out, as well as italicized text, so if you think it would help, try it!
Here are some examples of effective calls-to-action (versus weaker ones)
Our product is good for X, so if you like the sound of it, contact us!
Did our product interest you? Have you ever found yourself needing something for X? Call us now at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email us at [email protected]!
(Contact info hidden at the bottom of the page with no mention in the content)
(Contact info mentioned in the content itself, and made obvious through formatting and word choice)
(No call-to-action, just product details)
(Actually having a call-to-action)
Either way, don't be afraid of being direct with your audience. If the call-to-action turns someone away, they weren't interested in your product to begin with, so you have nothing to lose.
Crafting copy is a tough job, but hopefully, these tips and tactics help ease the process, even if just a bit. You won't write perfect copy from the get-go. Your experience will grow over time, and so will the quality of your work.
Of course, you can also speed up the process somewhat by hiring a marketing consultant to critique you. Having a professional tell you exactly what needs to be changed or added can make the learning process a whole lot faster and easier.
But anyone who tries for long enough can eventually get to their "ideal" copywriting level, it just takes a lot of dedication.
If you know that copywriting is for you, don't give up! Take your time and get some help if needed, but don't quit or you'll never get to the level you want to be at.
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