— COPYWRITING TRAINING RESOURCE —

5 Highly-Effective "Visual Copywriting" Techniques That'll Dramatically Improve Your Conversions

Have you ever struggled to make your copy stand out?

  • You’ve tried your hardest, but no matter what you do, you get the same result.
  • Your copy doesn’t resonate with your audience.
  • It isn’t memorable.

That problem is more common than you might think. If you copy and paste something you’ve done before or worse, something someone else has done your copy will be bland. 

Unfortunately, if your copy isn’t interesting, your audience will forget about you in seconds. 

That “amnesia” means your company will always look unfamiliar to customers.

It’ll end up being like 50 First Dates, only instead it’s 50 First Touchpoints. If your customer has left your copy and found it again 50 times, you’re not converting. 

In this post, we’ll talk about using visual copywriting to make your business memorable. Memorable copy is engaging copy, and engaging copy gets conversions. 

Here’s how you can write compelling copy with ease every time.

 

What’s Visual Copy?

5 Highly-Effective

Visual copy is copy that tells a story and draws your audience into the moment with you. This kind of copy uses vivid, descriptive language to give your audience a clear picture. It’s usually written in single lines to give it a more paced, narrative feeling. 

Visual copy is powerful because people live off stories. 

Think about it.

You might have a favorite place or object that you like because you have a good story to tell about it. You have strong emotions tied to the specific place or object connected with the story. And that’s exactly why visual copy is so powerful and compelling. 

The stories you tell with visual copy are a direct route to connecting with your audience’s emotions. We try to look at things through an objective lens, but we can’t ignore emotions when making a decision. 

When making decisions, we only have so much rational “power” to use in one day. After making many decisions, our rational brain’s “battery” runs low, and we go with whatever feels best. 

In our modern lives, we’re bombarded by choices demanding that rational battery power.

“Should I wear this or that to look more impressive at my meeting?” “Should I eat fast food because it’s quick or take the time to make myself something healthy?” “Which project needs my attention right this moment?”

Some days it feels like you drain your battery before noon. Your audience has those days, too. 

When your audience is out of rational battery-power, your logical approach falls flat. And if you lay out all the facts in black and white, but people still feel suspicious, your conversions suffer. 

The good news about visual copy is that it allows you to appeal to both emotion and logic. This means you can reach your audience no matter how much battery they have when they read your copy. 

If they have a lot of rational battery left, they can see the logical reasons to love your brand.

If their workday is over and they’re out of battery power, they can feel good about the story you tell. 

This engagement with your audience at any point in their day is great for you. It means conversions because your brand is memorable and persuasive with a positive image. Your readers will understand you regardless of how “powered-up” they feel.

Now that you know what visual copy is, let’s look at some tips for how to write good visual copy.

 

Visual Copy Tip #1: Use Power Verbs

5 Highly-Effective

Verbs, as you know from elementary school, are action words. Power verbs are verbs that are active and descriptive. Here’s what I mean:

“I devoured a banana before I rushed to a meeting this morning.”

You get a clear picture of what my morning was like, right? You know that I was in a hurry, and busy. Compare that to something like:

“I ate a banana and then I went to a meeting this morning.”

Do you get that same clear picture? No.

You only have the bare-bones idea. What I ate and where I went. You don’t know how I ate it or whether I had time before my meeting to do other things. 

When writing visual copy, those things are important to know. They give your audience a vivid experience of feeling “right there” with you.

“But, Daniel, couldn’t I use adverbs?” Good question. The short answer is, “No.” 

First of all, adverbs take up more space. Usually, when you’re writing your copy you have a character limit of some kind. And you always want to be concise and to the point so your readers don’t get bored. 

Second, adverbs aren’t as strong as power verbs. Think of  “I quickly ate a banana” vs “I devoured a banana”. The second gives a more concise and clear picture.

If I wanted to give the same idea without a power verb, I would have to say something like, “I quickly, hungrily, and recklessly ate a banana.” And even that packs much less of a punch than “devoured”.

Third, power verbs are a novelty.

Plain old verbs get used all the time, whenever you speak. Power verbs take more thought, so you don’t use them unless you’re speaking with conviction. A word that’s a little less common will stand out. 

When you use power verbs, your audience gets a sense of ownership. Since they feel “right there”, they feel your product is missing from their life and not a bonus. 

Learn about effective copywriting strategies here.

Visual Copy Tip #2: Be Descriptive

5 Highly-Effective

Speaking of your audience feeling “right there”, they’ll never feel that way if you aren’t descriptive. Power verbs are one way to be descriptive, but adjectives are important, too.

Descriptive words can be slipperier than a banana peel on a waxed floor, though. They can be helpful, or they can make your copy worse than it was, to begin with. 

First, let’s talk about how descriptors can make your copy worse. There are two main ways - overusing adverbs and making lists of adjectives. 

We talked a bit about adverbs in the last section, and there isn’t much more to say here. Using an adverb and a power verb is redundant instead of descriptive.

For instance, “I quickly rushed to a meeting.” You already know that “rushed” contains “quickly” in the meaning, so the adverb is redundant. 

Sometimes, though, a power verb won’t do. You can use adverbs then but do so with caution.

Make sure an adverb adds meaning before you use one. Hemingway is a tool that highlights every adverb you use, to make sure your copy isn’t littered with them. 

Descriptors can also hurt when you make lists of adjectives instead of incorporating them. 

For instance, imagine I told you about a “yellow, smooth, sweet, delicious, healthy, convenient banana.” You might scratch your head a bit. It sounds like I’m exaggerating. 

It also doesn’t give you a chance to visualize all the benefits I’m highlighting.

Your attention is too focused on retaining the different words so you can make sense of the sentence. If I asked you how I described bananas in that example, you might not be able to tell me all the adjectives I used.

Instead, you want to pick one or two benefits to highlight. Make sure the reader can visualize those benefits. Good visual copy would look something like this:

“It’s the first of January, and this is the year. 

You’re definitely going to stick to your no-sugar resolution this time.  

But…

You got up 30 seconds ago, and you’re already mourning your favorite cereal.

The sugar cravings are kicking in stronger than you expected. 

But you can’t cave already!

Luckily, you’ve already gotten bananas. 

You devour one as you leave for work, and your sugar craving is already fading. 

Whew. Resolution saved.”

In that copy, I focused on the sweetness of bananas, and you can almost taste it. If I asked you about the bananas in that example, you could remember how I described them. 

Make your descriptive words work for you instead of against you and you can be sure they pack a punch. Your audience can see your product’s benefits almost as if you handed it to them.

 

Visual Copy Tip #3: Pick Your Emotion

5 Highly-Effective

There’s another tip that you can see in my last example. That’s appealing (a-peeling?) to emotion. I appealed to a painful emotion the feeling of failure and showed how bananas would solve that problem. 

Even though you’re appealing to emotion in visual copy, that doesn’t mean you should try to appeal to every emotion. Like with adjectives, pick one emotion and put your energy into clearly communicating that. 

Here are 7 basic emotions that you can use as an outline when writing your visual copy:

  1. Caring
  2. Novelty
  3. Exclusivity
  4. Greed
  5. Reassurance
  6. Urgency
  7. Pain

And here are some brief examples of what picking each of them would look like:

  1. You want to give your kids the best life possible. Bananas are a great way to start.
  2. Bananas have the latest in biodegradable snack-carrying technology.
  3. The secret snack for a better 2021 -- bananas.
  4. Bananas can save you up to $50 a month on snacks.
  5. Bananas have been proven by science to give you a clean burst of energy.
  6. The last bananas we had in stock sold out in only four days. 
  7. People who choose salty snacks over fruit have a higher risk of heart disease.

You can see how listed off like this, they don’t make coherent sense. But if you wrote seven lines on one emotion, you could make your audience empathize with it. 

There are two ways to go about appealing to these emotions. You can either emphasize an emotion or present the opposite emotion and give a solution. 

For example, you know that your audience already cares about their loved ones. You can magnify that feeling in your copy by writing about how they care for their loved ones.

“You want your pets to eat as well as you” or “Spending time with your family is important to you,” for example. 

You can also contrast that feeling of caring against a feeling of indifference. For instance,

“We know you don’t want what’s easy, you want what’s best.

Imagine if what was easy could be what’s best.

If you could give your family a snack that gives you peace of mind, no matter where you are.

Bananas are the best choice for your family’s health.

They’re low in fat and high in energy.

And the cherry on top of this banana split? 

They’re easy to grab and bring on the go.” 

In this example, you contrast “easy” with “best” but then show how bananas fulfill both. You’re using the feeling of care while speaking to the pain that a more complicated snack would remedy. 

Learn the 18 easy ways to trigger emotions on your copy in this article.

 

Visual Copy Tip #4: Use A Framework

5 Highly-Effective

A story is the best way to reach your customers, but no one wants to sit at a blank screen waiting to feel inspired. It’s draining, it’s frustrating, and it can make you want to give up on visual copywriting. 

Never fear, frameworks are here. Using a framework allows you to write a compelling story into your copy and keeps you from getting stuck. A common and powerful framework for copywriting is “The Crossroads Formula”.

The Crossroads Formula is a combination of two other frameworks -- The Hero’s Journey and The Buyer’s Journey. 

The Hero’s Journey is a story framework you’re already familiar with. It’s everywhere from Cinderella to the latest Marvel movie. It has 12 steps: 

  1. Status Quo
    • The opening of the hero’s story. Everything is normal, but not quite right. Something’s holding our hero back, or there’s a clear improvement to be made. Example: Bilbo’s party in The Fellowship of the Ring.
  2. Call to Adventure
    • The hero receives an invitation or has a desire for something better. Example: Cinderella learns everyone is invited to the ball.
  3. Assistance
    • The hero gets some help for their journey. This might be a mentor or a treasure map -- anything that makes the journey clearer. Example: Tony Stark helps Peter Parker upgrade his Spiderman suit.
  4. Departure
    • The hero sets out on their journey, and things go well for them. Example: Martin and Dory head to Sydney to find Nemo.
  5. Trials
    • Now our hero starts to face opposition and difficulty. This could be from something human, natural, or supernatural. Example: Scar telling Simba Mufasa’s death was his fault.
  6. Approach
    • As the trials become more difficult and the “big baddy” lurks ahead, the hero starts to experience doubts and worries. Example: The Avengers learn why SHIELD wants the Tesseract
  7. Crisis
    • It looks like things can’t get any worse, but they do. The hero hits his rock bottom. Example: Luke learns Darth Vader is his father and loses his hand. (Oops, spoiler alert!)
  8. Treasure
    • Our hero finds an object, an idea, or a person that can turn everything around and save the day. Example: Lex figures out how to reboot Jurassic Park’s power system to call for help.
  9. Result
    • Using his newfound treasure, the hero leaps into action. The thing they left on their journey for is finally within reach. Example: Marty McFly recalibrates the DeLorean to warn Doc.
  10. The Return
    • The hero comes back to their world better than they left it. They’re grateful for the adventure and the lessons they learned. Example: Harry Potter leaves Hogwarts for the summer.
  11. New Life
    • With their fresh perspective, the hero sees new doors open for them. Example: Aladdin marrying Princess Jasmine.
  12. Resolution
    • The hero is free to live the life they chose and share their wisdom. Example: Ariel receives her father’s blessing to live on land. 

The Buyer’s Journey is popular in marketing and has 4 stages: 

  1. Know
    • Your customer is aware you exist. They know what problems you can solve for them. 
  2. Like
    • They see why you’re different from anyone else who solves this problem
  3. Trust
    • They know you’re a good fit for the problem they have, and you can deliver the result they’re looking for. 
  4. Delight 
    • Your customer is reminded of the value you add to their lives even after the purchase

The Crossroads Formula combines the Hero’s and Buyer’s Journey to make your buyer feel like the hero of their own story. 

Often when writing copy, you’ll want to pose as the hero and the customer as a sort of “damsel in distress.” Your copy can give the message, “I’m the one to fix all your problems. Trust me and you don’t have to worry about anything else.”

Asking for that kind of trust can make people feel nervous. Why should they let you fix all their problems? Why should they trust you at all? What do you get out of this?

Posing as a supporting character and the customer as the hero is a more powerful message.

When you use a framework like The Crossroads Formula, you inspire organic trust. Your copy is giving the message, “I know you’re already trying to fix your problems. Here’s how I can help.”

You’re encouraging your reader to take control and making them feel powerful and special. And what should they do with this newfound control and power? Put it to use deciding to buy from you, of course! 

Your readers won’t have that suspicious feeling anymore. Your writing will show them that you already trust them to make good choices (they’re the “hero”, after all). That leads them to trust you, too.

Higher trust and confidence lead to higher conversions and a better customer relationship. 

 

Visual Copy Tip #5: Write A Story, Not A Novel

5 Highly-Effective

Visual copy should be powerful and brief. You’re trying to tell a story, but your audience doesn’t want to read a book when they open your email newsletter. 

When writing, try cutting the number of words from your first draft in half. Then cut them in half again. The shortest draft won’t always be the best, but that’s ok.

The point of doing this is to take an objective look at your copy. How many of those words do you need

Let’s use one of our examples above to show you how this would work. Here’s the original piece:

“It’s the first of January, and this is the year. 

You’re definitely going to stick to your no-sugar resolution this time.  

But…

You got up 30 seconds ago, and you’re already mourning your favorite cereal.

The sugar cravings are kicking in stronger than you expected. 

But you can’t cave already!

Luckily, you’ve already gotten bananas. 

You devour one as you leave for work, and your sugar craving is already fading. 

Whew. Resolution saved.”

Ok, that’s 71 words. So let’s cut that in half. What if we wrote:

“It’s the first of January.

You’re going to keep your resolution to cut out sugar.

But…

You’re already craving something sweet.

Should you give in to a donut?

No. Instead, you devour a banana.

Resolution saved.”

That’s 31 words. Awesome. Let’s go again.

“It’s January 1st.

You’re keeping your resolutions.

But you miss donuts.

Luckily, a sweet banana awaits.

Resolution saved.”

Alright, so that’s 18 words, not quite half. But cutting down from 71 to only 18 gives the skeleton of your copy. You could then publish as-is if you feel like you nailed it, or build it back out. 

You might feel like it’s taking ages to get a good piece of visual copy to be powerful but still succinct. This is normal. Most people aren’t used to selecting every word, so it takes practice. 

You might find that it takes you longer to write something short than it does to write a long-form piece of copy. That time will be well worth it. 

When you keep your copy short and powerful, you’ll secure your audience’s attention.

Longer copy is more likely to lose people along the way, and they won’t get to your Call To Action. Short copy that packs a punch keeps people hooked to the end, then clicking your CTA for more. 

Learn more about storytelling for your copy in this guide.

 

Using Your Copy To Tell A Story

5 Highly-Effective

Visual copy may seem overwhelming at first, but the truth is that you’ve always been a visual copywriter.

Think of that time you told your friends a story about your favorite dish at that restaurant you love. That kind of descriptive, enticing language is a prime example of visual copywriting. 

Good visual copywriting gives your audience a story they can relate to. That story should be powerful, descriptive, emotion-driven, and brief. A familiar plot gives readers something they know. 

It might sound like a lot but, remember, you already know how to do this. You’ve been telling stories for your entire life. All you need to do is practice making it work for you. How?

Well, it’s easier than you might think. After all, no one can help themselves from getting drawn into a good story. That’s hardwired into humanity.

It’s why people film unusual occurrences to share online. It’s why you sometimes start a conversation with, “I couldn’t help but overhear…” It’s why visual copywriting is a surefire way to improve your conversions. 

Visual copywriting will make your business memorable. Your audience will think of you as someone relatable, trustworthy, and interesting. The stories about your business and audience are the most powerful weapons in your arsenal.

Don’t be afraid to use them.

Want higher conversions on your landing pages, sales letters, emails, or ads? It might be time for you to work with an expert copywriter. I’ve driven tens of millions of dollars in revenue for hundreds of clients over the past 10 years — including some of the largest B2B companies and digital brands in America.

Using my words, I’ll tap into your prospects’ deepest desires, deploy my menagerie of psychological sales triggers, and prime them for the sale. The result? More wins for your business and more revenue and profits in your pocket. Sound interesting to you? Click HERE to learn more about my copywriting work and see if we’re a good match.

More Copywriting Tutorials

About Daniel Doan

Daniel "Banana" Doan is a direct-response copywriter with over a decade of expertise writing words that bridge the gap between what you want to say and what your customers want to read.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DANIEL'S HIDDEN POTASSIUM POWER

Looking for more copywriting tutorials?

Copyright © 2010 - 2021 Doan Consulting LLC | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions

lockcross