While it’s true that copywriting is a specialised field, it IS definitely possible for a business owner with no previous knowledge on the subject to learn some great techniques that will favourably impact your website’s (and other marketing channels) sales and marketing efforts (almost) instantly.
I know this post is long but bookmark it now so you can come back later easily. If you use the advice on this page, there’s no reason you can’t dramatically increase your sales.
Part 2 of this post (coming soon) will have a FULL, real example of a sales letter that we use, broken down into steps showing the easiest method I know to create an effective sales letter (hint: it’s not as hard as you think!) In the meantime, understanding and putting into use some of the tips in PART 1 on this page will increase your conversion.
What is Copywriting?
Copywriting is the ability to create a piece of writing that encourages the reader to take action or behave in a particular manner. In this particular instance, we’re talking about having a potential customer take action to become your customer.
Uses for Your New Sales Letter & Copywriting
Your new, persuasive sales letter can be used to turn potential customers into new customers but it can also be used to encourage your existing customers to spend more and become better customers. Remember that the cardinal rule is you must provide VALUE. Your customer will pay more if you are providing 5x or 10x more value to them somehow. I’ll be doing a post on the 80/20 principle soon that goes into more detail on this idea.
You don’t just have to send this sales letter in the mail as was done in ye olde days. This can be used (sometimes in an abbreviated version) wherever a potential customer is seeing your business for the first time. Think your website, business profile on directories like StartLocal and anywhere else it might be seen.
Copywriting is action-oriented writing and it has its roots in psychology.
The Psychology of Words
There have been many studies conducted that point to people responding to certain trigger words and phrases more favorably than others. There’s a direct relationship between trigger words and sales: using persuasive copy has a positive impact on conversions.
The key to writing persuasive copy is to understand how your reader feels. Not how your reader rationally thinks, but how he feels. For most people, making decisions is more of an emotional process than a logical one.
Your customers are looking for solutions that make them feel something, not features that are soulless. If you sell hair care, your customers want to look confident and feel good about themselves. If you sell kayak lessons, you are selling the spirit and thrill of adventure. If you home deliver groceries, you are selling convenience. And so on.
When Apple first launched the iPod, they didn’t talk about its features (storage power, processing capability, size, etc). Instead, they said “1000 songs in your pocket”. Those words helped people imagine owning the product with all the implied benefits. Suddenly, the people buying iPods were not making a rational decision about size (even though logic did play a part), but an emotional decision about the coolness factor of owning the device.
So, how then, can you use words to make your customers feel something?
You can start by identifying what problems your product or service solves. When someone buys your product, how will his or her life get better? How will your product or service make them feel about themselves?
Important note on ethics: It’s up to you as to where you come down on the ethical side of telling the truth in your copywriting. Be exceedingly careful, marketing can be a slippery slope.
My suggestion is to not say anything you can’t back up with proof and always ensure you are providing AMAZING value to your customers.
7 Copywriting Tips you Can Use in your Marketing Today To Increase Your Profits
1. Create a Compelling Teaser: Don’t Give It All Away
If no one’s going to be reading your copy, then why bother, right? People are naturally curious and when you tap into that curiosity, you can get them to read your copy.
Create a teaser with your copy that hints at the answer but doesn’t give it all away. Consider the following sentences:
- How to get more website traffic < too vague
- The #1 method to getting website traffic is to have a blog < too specific, no value in clicking
- 7 reasons how a blog will catapult your website traffic into hyper drive < invokes curiosity
2. Use Irrefutable Forms Of Proof: Facts, Numbers, Statistics, Etc
People love proof. And our brains are psychologically hard wired to accept something mathematically stated as being factual and correct.
Consider the following sentences:
- Our product helps reduce weight and keep it off. It’s suitable for use for any gender and age. < no conviction
- Over 6000 people between the ages of 18-65 used this exact method to reduce weight by over 50% and kept it off for a year < carries conviction of social proof
3. Use Reverse Psychology: The Fear of Missing Out
The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real and documented feeling where people feel anxious at the thought of a missed opportunity. You can use this in your marketing copy to help people feel what it would be like if they weren’t using your product or service.
In a blog post, Marc and Angel wrote and tested two posts. One had a positive slant while the other had a FOMO element:
- Blog Post #1: 30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself
- Blog Post #2: 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself
The second post outperformed the first post by a huge margin because of the words “stop doing to yourself”. People clicked on that headline just to check if they were not doing any of the harmful behaviour described in the post.
4. Use Stories: Take your Readers on a Journey
If you’ve ever seen a TED talk, you know how strongly we all respond to stories. In fact storytelling activates the emotional centres of our brain.
Throughout civilisation, story form has been a powerful medium of expression. When you are stuck trying to describe a seemingly boring product or service, try taking your audience through a journey. It could be the story of how your product came into being, or a story of how someone is using that product in his or her life, etc. Almost everything about your business can be converted into a story.
So the next time you have a boring announcement to make about a product launch or a new speaking gig, consider turning it into a story chronicling how it all came about and made you feel.
You can read more about how to craft a compelling story in my post on storytelling.
5. Cut the Flack: Trim your Words and Edit Fluff
In copywriting, less is more. Try and fit your entire product’s pitch in the length of a tweet – 140 characters. Think about what bare essentials do your customers need to know right away and trim away the rest of the words.
Consider this iconic example from the guru of Usability Design, Jakob Nielsen, on how to write concisely for the web:
Nielsen’s 3 guidelines for writing succinctly for the web are:
- Be succinct: write no more than 50% of the text you would have used in a hardcopy publication
- Write for scannability: don’t require users to read long continuous blocks of text
- Use hypertext to split up long information into multiple pages
6. Use Trigger Words: Substitute Tired, Passive Language with Verbs
There are many lists floating around the web about trigger words – words and phrases that convert better than others. There are also many lists about which words never to use in your copy. Here we’ll cover some of the basic words and phrases to use that have been proven effective over time.
In 1963, David Ogilvy, widely regarding as the father of advertising, came up with a list of 20 of the most persuasive words in advertising. They are:
These are CopyBlogger’s 5 words to always include in your marketing copy:
- You – talk conversationally in second person
Free – use sparingly but effective when used appropriately
- Because – giving a reason why you’re asking people to do something results in better conversions
- Instantly – the power of instant gratification is a powerful one
- New – people love to be the first to own updated, new versions of products
7. Write for your Audience: Use the Words and Expressions They Use
You want your website’s copy to appeal to your readers and build up their trust and confidence in you. One great way of building rapport is to talk like your audience. That means using the same language, slang, tone and formality level that they would use. It also means writing as you would talk to your customers face-to-face.
To get this effect and build up this trust, write your website copy conversationally. Never, ever, talk down to your customers. Find ways to relate to your customers. When you are telling stories about your brand, make your customers a part of the story by including phrases such as “just like you”, or for “folks just like us”.
Anytime you start to build a relationship with your audience is when your readers will feel included in your online community and will listen to you.
Use the above tips when thinking about how you phrase any writing you do for your business. Whether that writing is on your website, a business profile or even on your business card – it’s vital to understand what helps encourage potential buyers to become customers.
If you take away just one key point form this article, let it be this one, said by Joe Sugarman, one of the greatest copywriters of all time:
What is the goal of your copy? To get the first sentence read. Simple.
Part 2 of this post will be coming soon and includes a FULL, real example of how to craft an amazing sales pitch to turn browsers into buyers. It also includes the simple process that anyone can follow to create a great sales letter and it will dramatically increase your results.
As usual, if you have any questions, comments or thoughts (positive or negative!) post them as a comment as I’d love to hear them.