Think of the term “copywriting” as an all-encompassing word often used to describe everything from blogging, to creating sales copy. Although accurate in the fact that’s all a part of that umbrella term, it’s not fair to assume that all copywriters do the same thing for a living.
More often than not, those who work on social media and blogs are web content copywriters, exclusively. That means those who work on SEO, stick to link building and keyword research. Even technical writers, known for crafting in-depth industry guides and white papers, are considered their own branch of copywriting.
But although their lines of work may differ greatly, they all share one common characteristic: their copy absolutely needs to be persuasive. If it isn’t, it will miss the mark, fail to perform, and perhaps even alienate the core audience, essentially bringing business endeavors to a halt.
So, in this guide, we’re going to discuss the inner workings of high converting copywriting, elaborating on what it takes to create quality copy, how to best utilize it, and why. Grab your notebooks and pens, and let’s get started.
What Is Conversion Copywriting?
Regardless of what type of copywriting you’re doing, the objective is to elicit an action. That’s the singular focus.
For example, when a freelancer blogs, they’re looking to showcase insider knowledge in the hopes of attracting new clients. They want the readers to work with them, ideally.
And when a sales copywriter creates something, say a post, they’re hoping people will buy the product, or subscribe to a service, much like the advertising copywriter writes commercials with the same intention.
But that CTA doesn’t always have to involve monetary value. Sometimes, the action can be as simple as pressing a button to obtain a free lead magnet, or sharing something on social media, or even signing up for a newsletter.
Sure, at the end of the day, every single one of these actions gets people to become a part of a marketing funnel, but it doesn’t always revolve around money, per se. Some entrepreneurs just want more of a readership, a larger audience, to prove they are industry leaders and strong competition.
So, in the spirit of eliciting an action, copywriters will often utilize many different tactics. For example…
They’ll write persuasive emails.
Write sales copy.
Work on conversion rate optimization.
And work in tandem with valuable marketing connections, such as consultants.
In doing so, they will build a path toward action completion. Every single document, post, and jingle will come together to form a persuasive marketing cloud, of sorts, that entices people to perform the call to action, or CTA.
Of course, this only works when the pieces of the puzzle are top-quality. If they miss the mark, they will fail to come together, and the overall brand messaging will come off muddled and inexperienced―two things you absolutely do not want your business to be associated with.
The best way to avoid that worst case scenario is to ensure your copy meets certain standards. And these special characteristics are things that should be ticked off regardless of what type of copywriter you are, or are employing.
It’s all the same across the board.
By far the most important box the copy needs to tick off is relatability, which is the act of finding common ground with your audience.
A good example of this would be video game kahuna, Nintendo, which started out as a card company back in 1889 in Kyoto, Japan. These playing cards grew so popular that the brand still manufactures them, and even organizes its own tournament called the “Nintendo Cup.”
But of course, they went on to do more than just manufacture cards. Nintendo is known as one of the world’s largest video game companies for a reason: it expanded from old timey games, to electronic ones, offering people franchises such as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, and Pokémon, which holds the title as the most popular and lucrative franchise, globally.
But they haven’t risen to the top without their share of tough decision making. When it comes to their brand, Nintendo sticks to tried and true methods, even if it means stepping on some toes.
For years, the company had been playing around with portable consoles, all the rage in Asia. But in the United States, that’s just not a popular thing to do. Most gamers opt for PC, or console gaming, preferring to stay home and enjoy some relaxation, rather than take their expensive purchase to the streets.
Well, after a lot of trial and error, the company finally found their relatability in 2017, with the Nintendo Switch. It’s onbrand, with quirky color design, and easy usability, making it very child-friendly in terms of learning curves. It’s packed with plenty of silly games, which the company is known for, but it also offers a decent selection of more hardcore games for anyone looking for a bit of a different experience.
And the best part? It’s easily convertible between a portable console, and an at-home one, featuring a stand that facilitates it. Simply grab and go, if you’re open to the idea of portability, or leave it docked for a more traditional American experience.
Note, a few things here:
They stayed on brand with design.
They stayed true to their company goal of making portable gaming more accessible to Americans.
They catered to their core audience with the game selections skewing toward the silly, party games that Nintendo is known for.
But they also added more serious single-player options to meet the demands of the players who tend to prefer traditional, at-home consoles.
And they left the option to the players to either grab the device and go, or leave it docked.
In other words, the Nintendo Switch ended up being the perfect answer to both what the company wanted, as well as what the players wanted, all without sacrificing the freedom of choice.
And their copy? Nintendo Switch’s ad copy clearly makes this all known. Copywriters understood the only way to push a portable product into the hands of American gamers was to let them know they had choices.
Lines like “My way to play” and “Designed to fit your life, transforming from home console to portable system in a snap,” make it clear that this is a gaming innovation unlike any other.
They even took it upon themselves to use American sayings, and transform them into stellar advertising, as you can see below:
Of course, having a few snappy lines, and appropriate music is only part of a bigger picture. At the end of the day, nothing you present the world is going to have an impact unless you provide proof that what you’re pushing is effective.
For a lot of businesses, this means validating the value of your solution (product/service) with real customers.
For example, those in the tech sector will often do this to prove their software is up to par. Obviously with things like this, you can’t showcase a physical product that proves itself. It takes a trial, a free trial, to get people to see what it can do, what its limitations are, and how effective it can be when it comes to specific situations.
In other cases, it takes confirmation that your product/service actually solves a problem. Those with weight loss programs use this method of proving themselves, offering their product for a certain window of time, and then using the results as a part of their marketing.
For example, if someone sells at home fitness equipment and dieting instructions, they could even offer the product line to a loved one in exchange for a testimonial. And if the weight loss is significant enough, professional photography and video content could go a long way in terms of advertising the product.
See? Networking really does pay off after all. The more people you know, the more you can ask for help with your marketing and business goals.
By this point, you’re on brand, you relate to your core audience and related audiences, and you even managed to get proof…
Well, here’s a pretty easy copywriting tactic to add to the mix: empathy.
That’s right, the act of caring about who you’re talking to, and what their problems are, is a business go-to tactic.
Let’s imagine someone is selling athletic shoes. They probably play sports, they have experience being on teams, and wearing uncomfortable shoes.
Well, imagine that in their experience, they felt that the shoes were holding them back. It always affected them, detracted from their overall performance, and made them feel like they were falling behind the pack.
Suddenly, this morphed into a business idea, they took up the entrepreneurial mantle, and began designing and selling far more comfortable, and superior athletic shoes.
This person could now share their story with the world, tell the people who are still struggling with ill-fitting shoes, and then offer them a heart-felt solution not just as an attempt to sell a product, but because it’s genuinely problem solving.
This person could get great joy out of helping others, because they know what being in those shoes feels like. Literally.
Tricks of the Trade
Now that you have a better idea of what conversion copywriting is, and the three pillars that it absolutely needs to check off, it’s time to dive into tricks.
Consider these tricks to be less about gimmicks, and more about understanding what to highlight when marketing a product or service. The clearer the appropriate message is conveyed, the better the sales are going to be. The higher the conversion rate, and engagement on social media.
You might even get some influencers to notice you.
But more importantly, the better the branding. Everyone will completely understand the company vision, its values, its standard. And the target audience will be reflected in that.
So, what are some of these amazing tricks you should implement in all of your copy?
Snappy Titles & Valuable Copy
There’s nothing worse than clicking on an article that seems boring at first glance, only to find that it was actually the most informative and useful thing you’ve read in the last five years, at least.
Because it goes to show that some of the best posts out there aren’t craftily titled. In fact, you might be inclined to say that the opposite is true―after all, everyone associates clickbait with low quality copywriting, and exceptional title wording.
And people are becoming jaded. If you notice most comment sections for articles like that these days, they’re getting called out for things like poor sentence structure, useless information, and unsavory marketing stereotypes.
So, if you take anything from this trick lesson, let it be this: you absolutely need to have the best of both worlds. Your title needs to be catchy, snappy, and intriguing, but your post itself needs to be able to deliver. If it’s not actionable, useful, or informative, it’s not worth publishing. There is an oversaturation of low quality posts online already as it is, and it’s making readers understandably upset.
Here are some title ideas that do well:
11 Things to…
What ___ Don’t Want You to Know
The Insider Secret…
The Most Effective…
What Never to…
The Truth About…
The Amazing ____ Trick to____…
WARNING - Avoid Making This Common Mistake...
Side note here: the same rule applies to things like landing pages. Snappy titles and informative, high-value content are the ticket to getting people to click that CTA button. This rule applies to everything copy related, from books to blog posts, landing pages and beyond.
Think back to the last few commercials you watched on TV, or even on YouTube. It’s highly likely that the benefits of the products and services they were selling took front and center.
If you can’t remember, just take a look at this:
Something to mention here, this isn’t a commercial with a ton of wording and text that highlights each individual benefit of an Apple product. This is a scripted, written commercial with a relatable real-world example of what many people go through everyday. And as such, Apple took it upon itself to showcase their products within that context.
It goes without saying, the result is perfection.
You can see the benefits for yourself, and imagine being in the actors’ shoes, because you’ve likely been there before.
And most importantly, you see the ins and outs of the products, what they can do, where they can be used, and how it makes crunch time that much easier.
It even answered the topic of “what happens when your children mess with your iPad?” Simple: they scribble, you hit the undo button, and you’re done, all without sweating profusely. The hardest part is taking the iPad out of their hands.
In other words, Apple listed their product benefits, without taking a traditional approach. They magnified an example instead, and it worked to their advantage.
Let’s look at another example, this time taking a more traditional approach:
Notice, Nikon took on a very mundane way of listing benefits. The ad is short, concise, and clearly explains new additions to their cameras, and what that means for the photographer. The benefits are clearly laid out and explained throughout the video from the very beginning.
It didn’t use an example to convey their points, no actors were paid in the making of this ad, but when you stop to consider how informative it is, you can’t help but appreciate it for what it is.
Plus, this is one of many Nikon commercials, many of which take on different vibes altogether. Some focus on professional photographers, and why they use Nikon, while other ads focus on individual design elements that go into the cameras, showcased with the use of amazing cinematography and special effects.
In other words, good copy will tell people why your products/services matter, but exceptional copy will find a way to convey that message in a brand new way. It could be with the use of video, or graphic design, or even a blog post… But the way in which you approach each avenue is what ultimately makes a difference.
Here are some extra tips:
Rather than be very on-the-nose about your messaging, try your hand at combining your list of benefits with a real-life example, or testimonial. This will in turn make you more relatable, since you’ve chosen a more human-focused path of marketing.
The benefits needs to be more than surface level, unless that is what your target audience cares to see. For example, clothing brands sell images, they sell style and therefore an overall vibe that the target audience wants to convey to the world at large. But businesses who create electronics are often solving work-related, usability, and even quality of life issues.
Whatever your message, and whatever your product or service, it needs to be easy. After all, when people have an issue to solve, they want to find a quick, painless resolution to it, if at all possible. Dirty home? There’s an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner that will handle things while you do something else. Disorganized at work? There’s Trello, which lets you organize tasks, delegate to team members, and set deadlines.
Don’t be afraid to use tools like Google Analytics and A/B testing to see if what you’re doing is really making a difference. It’s better to check and be disappointed momentarily, than to continue wasting time on efforts that are going to waste.
Consider this an extra extra tip: one of the biggest benefits you can offer people is a sale. We’re talking discounts and free shipping. It’s a nice thing to do, it shows appreciation, but also there’s many ways to go about it. For instance, you could use a chatbot to offer discount codes to people who have customer service issues.
Using Emotions & Curiosity
Of course, listing benefits isn’t enough to entice people to subscribe, click, buy, or sign up for anything. If it was, no company would struggle or be forced to close its doors.
Listing benefits is the easy part.
In order to really make a dent, copywriting needs to appeal emotionally, and spark curiosity. It needs to convey a feeling of understanding the audience, while also enticing them to want to learn more about a potential solution.
For instance, we all know that sustainability, and ethical food choices have blown up in recent years, especially in America. Facing natural threats, and the depletion of many resources, has pushed forward a sense that we should all know where our food comes from.
And now, this overall sense of responsibility has tied into many industries. Fitness gurus promote the lifestyle as a way to get trim, or stay in shape, while vegans use it as a way to explain their aversion to things like dairy, meat, and all other animal products. But health food brands and grocery stores are also taking it upon themselves to promote the sense of responsibility by actively using smart copy in their ads.
Take a look at this one from Whole Foods, known for their vast array of (overpriced) health food items, spanning from the vegan, to the ethical meat-eating:
With the use of only 3 words, they’ve managed to convey a message that sparks interest (curiosity) and emotion.
Well, for one thing, there’s a man petting a chicken in the image, which in turn makes it real. Too many times advertisers focus on the chicken after it’s cooked, but Whole Foods is taking the step to remind us that there is a real-life animal on the other end of this food chain process.
And yes, this may be an image, but it’s a part of the copywriting process. When an ad is created every aspect of it works together to play off of the copy itself.
Speaking of which, the words “know your chicken” are very open-ended. It could mean to get to know a chicken, to be reminded that there is a living creature involved. Or it could mean to know where the chicken is sourced from.
At which point, most people would wonder why that matters. Curiosity would set in, along with some compassion for the poor, doomed chicken.
Will it keep us from eating it? Probably not, because food chains are a natural part of life, but the fact that we can be more respectful about the food sourcing, cooking, and eating process, is something many would find great comfort in.
Maybe that explains why they have a fully-fleshed out blog, chock full of informative posts, ready to educate readers on the ins and outs of healthy food choices.
And they’re not the only ones. Here’s an ad by Panera Bread:
In only five words, Panera has told the world that their food is all-natural, sustainable, ethical, good for humans, good for the planet, and that as a company, they believe all food should be this way.
This makes it clear what they believe as a business, what their overall mission is, and what their values are, which in turn makes it possible for people to connect with the brand on an emotional and curiosity level.
For example, someone who has taken it upon themselves to adopt an ethical lifestyle, may appreciate this advertising. They may feel emotionally and intellectually understood by this brand, which is promoting a clean alternative to takeout.
Meanwhile, someone who is new to the whole thing may find this curious. “What does it mean ‘food as it should be’? Why should food be this way? What does Panera stand for now, and how does that impact me?”
But Panera doesn’t stop there. The brand has dedicated an entire section of their website to educating people about their mission, and explaining why it’s important. Paired along with their ads, this is the perfect combination of copy that allows more people to become informed, and interested.
So, what do both of these brands, and the rest of the brands pushing sustainable, clean eating, have in common? They understand their target audience, and they entice people with the prospect of learning more about something they may not fully understand. Using the right combination of words, images, and accompanying blog posts, they can better convey their brand identity and mission, which in turn appeals emotionally and sparks conversation.
Obviously, this is a replicable formula. It applies to any industry, whether you’re just starting out as a business, or whether you’ve been going since the late 1800s. Stripping it to its bare bones, it goes something like this:
Find your overall mission.
Write this mission in its purest, simplest form (slogan).
Create relatable images that visually convey these special words.
And then outline all the major points that directly tie into that slogan.
Create posts, books, video content, etc. Work on lead generation that further answers these questions and educates your audience.
Ensure you’re not only answering their questions in an attempt to inform them, but to inspire them to make much-needed changes. This is the solution to their problem. Why suffer longer? This is a perfect opportunity to add in emotional appeal and empathy.
Highlight benefits, and if possible, get real life customers to explain why they love your products and services as well.
Ensure your copy ticks off all the boxes: that it’s relatable, filled with proof, and empathetic of your audience.
Trigger Words & Questions
Because we aim to provide the most thorough and detailed guide possible, let’s discuss some trigger words and questions. Consider these go-to’s for when you’re trying to hook an audience with emotions or curiosity.
Note, the words are polarizing, beginning on the positive spectrum, and quickly morphing into something darker. This is intentional, as no two brands are alike. The words which you use will largely depend on your brand, your message, and your audience, so choose wisely.
A hairdresser will want to select positive wording, perhaps reinforcing a sense of self, of identity, or even unique beauty. However, someone using scare tactics to promote healthy lifestyles will use phrases like “crippling anxiety can be beat,” and “the 10 disturbing facts about junk food you didn’t know.”
These words will appeal to people on an emotional level, making them feel something upon reading, if they’re impactful enough. But they also help to drum up curiosity.
When you’re looking to do just that, remember what makes you unique. How do you stand out from the competition? The answer to that may just be what you can play up in your copy to promote interest in your brand.
Here’s something that every single business benefits from: establishing authority. This is done by listing facts, publishing your proven-results, regularly publishing educational content, and leading the charge through relevant events, talks, and even PR appearances.
But by far one of the most critical ways to do it is with copy. Lines like “75% of brands saw an increase in conversions during Q1 of 2019,” let people know that you mean business. You can not only meet goals, and grow, but also do it in a reliable fashion.
Of course, the lines you use within your copy will depend on what it is you’re selling. For example, a fashion brand with establish authority by using lines that convey unique styling, proof of quality, and the irresistible fact that they are beloved and worn by industry icons.
Whatever approach you take, whatever lines you choose to use, they should play up the other aspects of top notch conversion copywriting. Use a relatable tone, and provide proof that what you’re claiming is true. Don’t be afraid to show empathy, and appeal to emotions, especially if you have a story that further proves you know what you’re talking about.
Because after all, that’s what people want. They want to know what they can count on you to deliver on those promises.
Hopefully, now you’ve come to realize that there are many sides to copywriting. No two writers are the same, but they all work with one solid mission in mind: to make things as persuasive as possible.
And that’s only successfully done when the right boxes are ticked, the best tricks are implemented, and the authority is defined.
If you’re struggling to make your copy shine, don’t hesitate to hire a copywriter, or better yet, ask a digital marketing consultant. They’re usually well-connected, and have go-to writers in mind for client projects.
What was the one lesson in this guide that really spoke to you, and why?
Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing from you all!