Table of Contents
Being a great copywriter is almost like having a secret superpower. As a copywriter, you will be tasked with filling pages with content designed to describe products and services and convince the reader to buy or at least sign up for more information.
If you become good at this, you’ll have the ability to sway the hearts and minds of your visitors and get them to think exactly what you want them to think. The web design is what attracts people to your page, and marketing is what helps them find it in the first place. But it’s the copywriting that will convince them to act once they get there. It is the final and most crucial piece of the puzzle.
Think of a great copywriter as a salesman, mixed with some hypnotist. You’ll have the ability to sway opinions and trigger almost any action that you require for your business. Like Kaa from The Jungle Book… Even if that means selling snow to an Inuit! (Remember though: with great power, comes great responsibility!)
If you are currently struggling to get the kind of sales you want or if your visitors are leaving your pages almost as soon as they arrive, your copywriting might be what’s letting you down. A grammar or spelling mistake can be enough to completely undermine any trust that your visitors might have had in your business, while bland or dull copy will motivate them to leave without taking any action.
Even if your copy is passable and you’re getting respectable 2% conversion rates, swapping this out for expertly written copy can be enough to increase your conversions to 10, 20 or 30%… and to create long-time fans and subscribers in the process.
This guide will show you how to do exactly that and much more. You will not only learn the basics of good writing but also learn the specific methods you need to employ if you’re going to become an above-average copywriter for the web. You’ll learn how to quickly and effectively convey important information, you’ll learn how to ensure people keep reading and don’t leave your page and you’ll learn how to make someone want a product or service and feel as though they absolutely must act on that desire right away.
So without further ado, let’s get into it!
Before we get into the specific side of trying to sell to your audience or get them to want your product, it makes sense to start by looking at writing more generally and at what is required for your content to be considered well written.
Writing is art, and as always, art is challenging to define and to judge. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.
Perhaps, the best way to judge a piece of writing is to look at it in the context of what it is trying to achieve. What is the goal of the writing and how well does it complete that goal? Because ultimately, nothing else matters.
If your goal is to spin a good yarn and entertain an audience, then good writing is writing that achieves that. If your goal is to convey a specific piece of information, then readers should come away now knowing what you wanted them to know.
So the first thing to ask when looking at your existing copy and trying to judge its quality is:
“Does it achieve the desired objective?”
Good writing has a specific goal, and it sets out to accomplish that goal.
The next question you need to ask on top of this is how efficiently it does this. If your objective is to teach someone what the word ‘battery’ means, you could publish a dictionary to your blog, and that would effectively achieve the target. But it wouldn’t be very efficient, would it?
Think of your words as being finite, or of each word as having a cost. Your objective is to increase your ROI and to conserve those precious resources. So if you can say the same thing with fewer words, you can often improve your writing by cutting out the excess.
So maybe you have the following sentence:
“The very best type of writing is writing that is concise and succinct.”
We could improve it a lot by saying:
“The best writing is concise and succinct.”
The above sentence conveys the same information but does so in a much more efficient and succinct manner. This, in turn, means that it’s quicker for the reader to absorb that information, and it means they’re getting more reward with less effort. It also allows you to get to the point before the reader leaves the page!
The next best way to assess a piece of writing or copy then is to ask:
“Does it achieve the objective efficiently?”
Don’t beat around the bush with long, inflated sentences, and don’t try to make yourself sound clever by including lots of long words for the sake of it. Good writing doesn’t mean showing off; it means getting to the point in a way that is generous and considerate towards the reader.
But before you get too carried away and start deleting every other word on your page, keep in mind that sometimes those surplus words aren’t entirely as extraneous as you might think.
Because great writing says more than it appears to on the surface. A bigger vocabulary allows you to avoid repetition and to create sentences that roll pleasingly off the tongue. It allows you to say precisely what you mean and to simultaneously convey the emotion and emphasis you require.
We said earlier:
“The best writing is concise and succinct.”
Which already has a slightly different meaning than it would have done if we had just said:
“The best writing is concise.”
This now appears to imply that you should just abbreviate your content until it’s as short as possible!
We can also subtly change the meaning of the sentence in various other ways:
“Beautiful writing is concise and succinct.” “Efficient writing is succinct and concise.”
“To make your writing effective, ensure it doesn’t spend too long getting to the point.”
This will become especially important when we start trying to sell things. And to demonstrate just how important, consider a famous psychology study. In the study, psychologists questioned juries while discussing a court case regarding a traffic accident.
50% of the time the psychologist would ask:
“How fast do you think the car was going when it bumped into the other car?”
The other 50% they asked:
“How fast do you think the car was going when it smashed into the other car?”
And depending on how the question was worded, the participants would actually answer differently. Those who were told the car ‘bumped’ would estimate that the car was moving much more slowly than those who were told the car ‘smashed’. This was despite both groups seeing the exact same video and being given all the same information otherwise.
So a subtle change in your language can be enough to not only change someone’s opinion but even to change their memories!
This is why it’s so important to carefully choose words that will convey the correct emotion and tone.
When assessing your content, now ask:
“Is the precise use of vocabulary congruent with the meaning and goal?”
The precise choice of language is also essential because it can communicate with other unconscious things too. In particular, your choice of language tells the reader something about you.
Whenever you speak, you reveal things about you, and a discerning reader will pick up on this. If your tone is friendly, chatty, and casual, you will come across as being all those things, and they might assume you are younger or just a more lighthearted individual.
Conversely, if you write in a very dense manner, filled with technical terms and jargon and not much humor, then you might come across as being more professional and business-like.
It defines the tone and the style of your writing, and this is why it’s so important.
Once again, you need to ensure that your choice of style is in keeping with the broader objectives of your writing. If you have a personal brand and you’re trying to build an audience based on trust, then a friendlier and chatty style will be appropriate.
On the other hand, if you’re a B2B organization and you are trying to sell something costly and technical, your writing style should come across as professional and more detached to convey your ability to be professional. Using more jargon at this point is also acceptable, as you can presume, the reader has a basic understanding of the subject, and this allows you to display your knowledge and expertise.
“Do the style and tone match the nature of the topic?”
Finally, think as well about the way your writing flows and how readable it is. This often comes down to your grammar and the way that you structure your sentences.
If you follow the tips in this chapter so far, then you should find that your writing naturally flows better than it might have done previously. Being more efficient with your content, for instance, will help it to read more easily, to begin with.
Likewise, using a more conversational tone and style befitting the web will also help.
But some of this is hard to quantify. When I went for an interview at a local magazine, I was asked to complete a few basic exercises so that they could see if I had ‘the voice’. By that, they were asking whether my writing was naturally engaging, exciting, and easy to read.
Perhaps, the best way for you to try and accomplish this is to imagine yourself speaking to the reader. Try to write the same way that you would talk, so that your choices of words are the same, and the structure of your sentences is the same.
And to make sure your tone and style are correct, imagine that the person who is listening to your talk is the target audience of your content. So if you’re pitching a B2B service, imagine that you’re speaking on the phone with a prospective client. And if you’re writing blog content about working out, imagine that you’re talking to your friend who has been asking you how to get into shape. This way, you’ll find that your writing naturally adopts the right tone, style, and structure to meet your goals.
As you’re reading this guide, there’s a good chance that you will have come across a couple of errors.
This is completely normal and acceptable. Unfortunately, it merely comes with the territory when you’re dealing with large amounts of content. Even some best-selling fiction books will have a few typos in them!
So don’t worry if one or two wrong spellings or poor examples of grammar slip through the net, or you’ll drive yourself mad!
But what you do need to ensure is that you reduce these errors as far as possible in the time you have and that you ensure that your grammar is correct for the most part.
Because if you think back to typos and errors you might have found in fiction, you might remember that it can completely take you out of the story and makes you realize that you’re just reading a book. It’s like you’ve been in a trance, and as soon as you find that error, it completely breaks the illusion.
Something we want to avoid when we’re writing a sales pitch or adding a description to a website. We need to make the reader feel fascinated all the way through if we’re going to convince them of our point of view.
So how do we go about eliminating mistakes as far as possible?
The first thing you need to do is to research grammar rules and make sure you’re as familiar with them as possible. Learn where and when to use commas, learn how to use brackets, and learn how to use apostrophes. While you might think you understand how to use this punctuation, if you have never received any formal instruction, then you may, in fact, be getting it wrong. There are lots of common little mistakes you see cropping up even in some quite high-quality content.
For example, when using an apostrophe to demonstrate possession, it looks like this:
However, when you use it on a word that ends in ‘s’, it should look like so:
This is something you often see companies getting wrong, and it’s hard to take them seriously when they appear not to know how to use an apostrophe! Is this a business you want representing you?
Another common grammatical mistake is using ‘fewer’ versus ‘less’. The following sentence is incorrect:
“There were less people at the stadium than I expected.”
Why? Because you use ‘less’ to describe the amount of a substance, whereas you use ‘fewer’ to specify a quantity. So there are fewer people, but there is less water.
Another common mistake is using the plural first person. This sentence is wrong:
“James and me went shopping earlier.”
It should in fact read:
“James and I went shopping earlier.”
If you get stuck, then the best way to identify whether or not you have used the right structure is to try removing the other person. You say ‘I went shopping’ and not ‘Me went shopping’. Also, bear in mind that it is generally considered polite to put the other person first.
Now, I could fill an entire guide with these kinds of examples, so I’m not going to go into that in-depth here. The point to take away is that there are lots of little rules that you need to consider. If you haven’t been taught the correct use, chances are you may be misusing them. So if there’s any doubt in your mind, do the research!
99% of people might not notice the difference. But it’s the very most significant clients that will find these grammatical errors jarring, and that can end up costing you a lot of money.
No Right Answer
But what about cases where there is no right answer?
Or what about cases where you are appealing to audiences in different parts of the world?
For example, should you treat a business name as a plural or a singular? Consider the following sentence:
“Microsoft are gearing up for their big launch today.”
“Microsoft is gearing up for its big launch today!”
If you’re reading this in the US, chances are that the first option will sound a lot more natural to you and the second line will feel jarring. But actually, this is the opposite way around in the UK.
And even in the US, there is an argument for sometimes treating a company as a plural. For example, if you were talking about something the company did recently, then you might say:
“Microsoft is gearing up for its big launch today. They’re about to announce a new piece of software…”
As opposed to:
“Microsoft is gearing up for its big launch today. It is about to announce a new piece software…”
In this case, saying ‘it’ doesn’t quite sound right.
So there’s actually no right or wrong way to treat this problem, and instead, you need to use your own judgment.
Another example is the use of commas. Here is one sentence that uses commas the way that is generally regarded as correct at least in traditional school systems:
“Bring your hat, shoes, scarf and coat.”
But many people would instead write:
“Bring your hat, shoes, scarf, and coat.”
The latter use of the comma is what is known as the ‘Oxford comma’, and it is generally becoming more and more widely used.
I found this fun example as to why on the web:
“I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.”
In this situation, you can read this in one of two ways. Either you love both your parents and Humpty Dumpty and Lady Gaga, or you love your parents… who are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty!
Using the Oxford comma eliminates this issue, like so:
“I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty.”
Again, this is at your discretion. So how do you decide?
The decision should come down to one simple thing:
Which option best serves the purpose of your content and provides the best clarity?
Don’t worry about what’s ‘right’ or what’s ‘wrong’. Focus instead on the end result: communicating clearly with your reader. In most cases, that means you’ll want to use the Oxford comma.
Likewise, when wondering whether you should include a comma after an interjection, ask yourself if it adds to the flow of the text or detracts from it. Again, this is the only factor that should really matter.
One more rule to follow though is this: always remain consistent. If you run a website or blog, make sure that you set out your own ‘editorial guidelines’ and share these with your contributors as well. If you keep switching from one style to another, then you can
end up confusing the readers, and it will look like you made a mistake. If you stay consistent, then it will look as though you have decided on how your content should appear, and you’re sticking with it.
The latter is clearly preferable!
Now you know how to write in a way that will be free from grammatical errors as far as possible, all that’s left is to try and remove the errors that you don’t notice. Like I mentioned at the start of this chapter, it’s not possible to catch every single mistake – but it is a good idea to try and remove as many as possible.
The first and most obvious tip then is to use Word’s spell check and grammar check options. Look out for underlinings and right-click on the words to get suggestions.
Another tip is to try reading your content out loud. It makes it much easier to notice where there are mistakes, and it will also help to improve the flow and pace of your writing. Remember, we’re aiming to write as we would talk, and reading aloud ensures that we are meeting this goal.
Finally, get someone else to proofread your work. Proofreading your work is never going to be as effective because you’re ‘too close’ to the project. If you must mark your writing, try to take a break from it and come back to it later with fresh eyes.
At this point, you should now have a good idea of how to write well. Some of this will come with practice, but if you keep the tips we’ve covered in mind, your writing should already be more engaging and interesting for the reader.
Now we can dive into the good stuff: understanding the psychology of our readers to try and persuade them to buy from us, sign up to our newsletter or bookmark our page.
And the first challenge you’re going to face in this capacity is just getting them to read what you’ve written. A lot of people are going to land on your pages every day, and unfortunately, most of them will leave within a few seconds of getting there. The average time that someone spends on any website is actually under a minute, and most of us can attest to this if we reflect on our browsing behavior.
The fact of the matter is that we’re always in a rush, we’re desensitized to all the adverts we see, and we’ve become accustomed to getting the information we’re looking for in a short amount of time.
If someone loads up your page, and they come across a thick wall of text explaining the importance of synergy in a connected business, you’ll lose them in seconds. You need to be faster and more engaging than that!
The first thing you need to do to ensure your copy grabs and holds attention is to format it correctly. No matter how good you are at writing, a humongous paragraph of small text is never going to be read by anyone who lands on your page.
Instead, then you need to break up your content with lots of short paragraphs and you need to use headings, bullets and anything else you can to space out the information. Likewise, the font itself should be large and readable, and you should use big enough line spacing to make sure that it doesn’t look cramped or crowded on the page.
Another tip is to think about where on the page your text is going to be and how the eye will be led to it. A good web design should merge with useful content to make sure that the reader’s attention is directed in the right way and not distracted away.
And there are lots of subtle cues that contribute to this. As a rule, we tend to absorb information from top-to-bottom and left-to-right. This means that the information we want visitors to read should start at the top left of the page (or thereabouts). At the same time though, we also tend to look at the largest, boldest, and most colorful object on any page first. This element creates maximum contrast.
Thus, you’ll often see magazines use large, bold, and colored letters at the start of articles:
Skiing is a hobby that can be incredibly fun but also somewhat dangerous…
That big ‘S’ says ‘start here’ and helps draw the eye to the beginning of the text.
Subtle cues can even come from the images on your page. Ask whether your image could be interpreted unconsciously as an arrow to draw the eye. For example, if there’s a picture of a person on your page, then chances are that your visitors will automatically look in the direction that the person is facing. Needless to say, people on your page should always look at the text!
With your text set up to grab as much attention as possible, the next thing you need to do is to try and ensure your text is gripping and that it compels the reader to keep reading. The idea is that your writing should have an almost addictive quality – so that even as the reader tells themselves they should be doing something else, they will struggle to tear their eyes away from the page.
How can we possibly accomplish that?
One tip that is very useful for starters is to use a narrative structure to try and grab attention.
It is an incredibly effective method to bring people in and to get them emotionally invested in what you’re saying. Why? Because we have evolved over thousands of years to pay close attention to stories. We think of stories as being relevant to us, and we can place ourselves in the shoes of the people we are reading about. They naturally make use of our in-built empathy and understanding of others, and this gives them an even stronger ability to influence us and change our thoughts.
What’s more, we find it very difficult to turn away from a story because we want to find out what will happen next. If you’ve ever sat up all night watching poorly made TV, then you’ll know this well!
‘I knew it was rubbish, but I still wanted to find out what happened!’
You’ll often see this strategy being used in sales pages that are trying to sell ‘make money schemes’ or fitness ebooks. They might go something like this:
I find it hard to believe now but I was once REALLY tight for money.
I mean, I once had water on my cereal last year because I had no milk and couldn’t afford to buy any more…
…which wasn’t even as bad as the time I ate cold broccoli for lunch because it was the only thing in my fridge!
Today things are a LOT better. As in, writing this from my private yacht better… But the way I got here?
Well, it wasn’t quite your normal rags-to-riches story, put it that way!
Using this technique, the content immediately grabs attention because it’s using the first person, and it sounds open and honest (of course, most of these things are a load of nonsense!). We read the first sentence or two to hear what the person has to say for themselves, and because each paragraph is so short, we find ourselves continually moving down to the next line and scrolling the page as we do.
Many people will be able to relate to the story, and when we hear there was a ‘way out’, we’re intrigued. The fact that the way out wasn’t ‘normal’ only makes it more intriguing.
And before you know it, you find that you’re continuously scrolling down and becoming more and more invested in what the person has to say!
Some people will react differently. They’ll see this text and think, ‘I’ve seen that before, how manipulative!’. But you know what: often these people will also read the text partly to see how annoying it is… and they can still end up getting roped into the narrative!
Create a story that instantly grabs attention and then try to make every line or short paragraph into a ‘mini-cliffhanger’. Ideally, the reader should feel wholly compelled to keep moving onto the next line, and they may well not be able to stop until they get to the end!
Something else you’ll often find used in these long sales pages is the rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is a question aimed at the reader not to get a response but to serve several useful purposes as a result.
For starters, using questions creates a small amount of suspense while also breaking up the text.
By getting the reader to second-guess what the solution will be and making them wait for a beat before finding out. (See what I did there?)
At the same time, the rhetorical question also serves the purpose of making the reader think for a moment, and in doing that, it causes them to engage more with the text.
Finally, the rhetorical question works because it feels as though the writer is talking to you. This again makes you sit up and take notice, similar to when a teacher would say a pupil’s name because they weren’t listening.
Thus you see examples like:
Are you sick and tired of being overweight?
Don’t you just hate it when you have to wait ten minutes for your computer to load?
Also, very important is to try and make your text skim-friendly wherever possible. It means that your reader should be able to quickly skim over everything you’ve written and still come away with a complete picture of what you’ve said.
And this is why you so often see underlining, bold, and italics in the middle of a sales pitch. Of course, this is also done for emphasis, but mainly the reason is that it lets people quickly seek out critical pieces of information.
Likewise, you should think about skim readers when you write your headings. The objective is to write headings that are so detailed that they can explain the key points of your text on their own.
A heading might be:
Yes, That’s Right! This Really is a FREE and Easy Tool for Organizing Your Contacts. Download Right Now With NO CATCH!
Further down, you might see:
By Letting You See How Your Contacts Are Connected Through Social Media, This Management Tool Gives You UNPRECEDENTED INSIGHT. That Means ROI, ROI, ROI for Your Business
Underneath those headings, you can then explain everything in much more detail – but this way, someone will be able to skim their eye over all the text and still know whether what you’re offering is something they might be interested in.
Something else you can do in copywriting to make sure that you have the attention of your readers is to leverage their curiosity. In other words, you make your content into a mystery or a puzzle and you tease what you’re going to write about so that they feel compelled to find out more.
The place you find this most often is on social media in the form of ‘clickbait’. These are articles that have been given titles that are designed 100% to try and pique the curiosity of the reader and get them to click (despite the quality of the actual article).
An example of a clickbait title might be:
“This normal looking woman and her child sat next to a man and his dog on the bus. What happened next will shock you!”
Another example is:
“10 Proven But Surprising Weird Tricks to Help You Build More Muscle. Number 7 Has Changed My Life!”
In the first example, a lot of people are going to find themselves wondering what could happen in this normal-sounding situation that would be so shocking! In the second example, the readers will wonder what’s so special about number 7 and why these are ‘weird tricks’.
Now, I’m not saying by any means that you should use clickbait titles. This is essentially spam, and the web is gradually becoming desensitized to this sort of thing.
However, it is useful to note that curiosity can play a significant role in getting attention, and you can work this into your content in other ways. For instance, hint at some useful information at the start of your text and to deliver on that promise further down.
Of course, not all of these methods are going to be useful in every context. If you run a serious B2B organization offering specific services, then you might find that these strategies are a little too desperate and a bit too spammy. Big organizations will prefer a much more moderate approach to sales and a far less familiar turn of phrase.
Remember: you need to match the tone and style of your text to the tone and style of your audience and niche.
The examples we addressed in the previous chapter are mainly aimed at selling directly to customers who are looking for a way to make more money, or to lose weight.
But if you’re a more traditional business then, how do you go about grabbing attention quickly and keeping people on your page?
The answer is simple: get straight to the point.
You can try using a structure that is popular among businesses for persuasive writing and sales. It’s called AIDA.
AIDA stands for Awareness Interest Desire Action
In other words, you’re going to assume that your audience doesn’t know who you are or what you’re selling, and thus, your first objective is to explain that. Only then do you make them interested by explaining in more depth, and then try to get them to want whatever it is you’re offering.
A while ago, I worked with an EPOS company. That’s ‘electronic point of sale’, which essentially means they were selling software for till machines and chip and pin devices to other businesses.
They hired me to help them improve their conversions on their website and to get them more exposure and leads. And when I saw their current website at the time, I knew I had my work cut out for me!
When you landed on the page, you were greeted with an out of date blog talking about some Christmas promotion. It was right at the bottom of the page. At the top was a large slider that showed a signpost saying ‘Success’ and a picture of a man looking out of a high rise building.
There were tabs along the top, but the only content read something about ‘helping businesses to deliver on their promises with better connectivity and smartphone integration’.
Imagine you’re a small business landing on this page for the first time. Are you enchanted? Do you want to keep reading to find out more? Or are you immediately exhausted at the clichés and confused as to what’s on offer?
Now imagine an alternative option where the blog is hidden, the sliders are relevant images, and the text reads:
[BUSINESS NAME] supplies EPOS solutions for small businesses. We design cutting edge software for your system so that you can serve customers more efficiently and increase your turnover. Mobile app and e-commerce integration can help modernize your restaurant, hotel, or high-street store and impress your clientele.
Click here to read more…
Now the visitors immediately know what is being sold, who it is being aimed at, and why they should care! If the visitor has a till system and is in the market to improve it, they know they should click to read more!
So far, we’ve effectively gained the attention of our readers and gotten them interested. What’s next is that we need to start building that desire and getting them to want what we have to offer.
And this is where the concept of the ‘value proposition’ becomes very important. So what does this phrase mean?
Basically, value propositions describe the inherent value that comes from a specific product or service. It’s what makes your product more than the sum of its parts so that the value is greater than the amount you spent to make it.
A good, old saying that describes this concept well is:
“You don’t sell hats, you sell warm heads.”
In other words, you aren’t just selling a piece of wool. You’re asking for money in exchange for a promise that you’ll help to keep the customer warm when they’re out watching the fireworks or when they’re commuting home in the rain.
Likewise, if you have written a fitness ebook, then the ‘value’ has nothing to do with the number of words or beautiful pictures. Instead, the value comes from what that book can do for the reader. In this case, you are offering to make the reader more confident, stronger, healthier, fitter, and more attractive to the opposite sex. Now you’re selling a dream.
So how might you pitch this? Generally, it starts by describing the dream and the value and getting the reader to visualize it and want it.
Imagine what it would be like to feel nothing but confidence when you take off your top. Imagine walking down the beach and knowing that people are turning their heads because your abs look like something from a Men’s Health cover…
And imagine being able to wake up first thing in the morning feeling energetic and ready to take on the day…
What you’re doing now is to sell the ‘dream’ that your product offers, and this is a great way to ensure your readers start to get more excited about it and get the urge to click that buy button…
Another way you can create the desire for your product is to encourage your readers to imagine what it would physically be like to own it. You can notice this if you ever watch an Apple or Microsoft representative talking about a new program – they will tend to talk often about the way the product feels and use words like ‘touch’ and ‘premium’. These things make you imagine holding the product, which in turn makes you want it more.
Another smart way to get people to want your product, even more, is to use social influence. In other words, people want what everyone else has, and if they can see that lots of people are using your product, that will make them want it more.
This is something a lot of door-to-door salespeople will use. They’ll often reference ‘Jill down the road’ who just got her new Sky Broadband and is enjoying the fastest speeds in the area! Try creating a sense of buzz and excitement around your product to make it appear ‘in demand’.
And this is where that crucial last step – Action – comes in.
Now your audience knows what your product or service is all about, they understand the value you’re offering, and they are visualizing what life would be like if they had it.
The next step is to get them to act right now to buy the product.
The ‘right now’ part of that sentence is vital by the way. In other words, it’s not enough to encourage your buyers to want the product – you have to get them to act right then and there on the spot to part with their cash.
This is important because most purchases are based on impulse and emotion, rather than reason and logic. We click ‘buy’ because we badly want something, and we feel anxious that we might miss out if we wait. Often though, had we gone away to think about it, we would find that we didn’t need it at all.
Your objective then is to make sure that your readers don’t have time to go away to think. So you need to get them to act fast just when they are at a fever pitch, and they want your product.
And there are a few ways you can go about doing this…
One of the easiest ways to make sure that people act quickly when they see your product is to make them believe that they’ll risk missing out by waiting. And a common way to do that is to imply that you have limited supply. This is called ‘scarcity’ and it works particularly well because it has the secondary effect of making the product seem more desirable – it’s ‘limited edition’ and it’s something that not everyone can have (we always want what we can’t have!).
Of course, when you use scarcity, you also limit the number of items you can sell. For this reason, there are other ways around the problem that let you kill both birds with one stone. The most obvious option? Have a limited-time bonus or discount.
This way, the thought process of your audience will be something like: “I know I want this, but if I buy it now, I get more for my money!”.
You can also use language carefully to create further urgency and scarcity. Use phrases like ‘act now’, ‘hurry while stocks last’ or ‘click to buy’ can all help you to encourage a snap judgment, as can more subtly creating a sense of urgency through your vocabulary.
At the same time, as making the reader want to buy quickly, you can also approach this from the other side of the equation by thinking about what might be preventing them
from buying. This could be a lack of trust or the effort involved in making the transaction.
We can address that first issue with our copy in many ways. One is to address the readers’ concerns directly (this isn’t just another one of those ‘scams’), while another is to use social proof or statistics. You can also introduce guarantees, or talk about how your product is an investment – all of which will help make buying your product less of a risky proposition so that they’re more inclined to go ahead and click ‘buy’ on impulse. Trust is also something you can build up over time by repeatedly providing value and useful information in blog posts and articles.
As you can see, language and writing can be incredibly powerful when it comes to creating a relationship with your audience, keeping them on your page, building trust, and making sales.
There is a learning curve, though. Don’t expect to get it right on day one – keep practicing and keep developing those skills.
And to recap, good writing for your website should…
- Have a clear and defined purpose
- Achieve that goal in the most efficient manner possible
- Fit the style and tone of the industry and goals
- Engage the reader and draw them in
- Get quickly to the point
- Sell the value proposition
- Create a sense of desire
- Build trust
- Push for the close
Once you learn to do all these things repeatedly, you’ll find that you can sell almost any product or service (yes, you can sell that “pen” to the Wolf of Wall Street too!). Eventually, it will all click into place and you’ll ‘crack the code’. Now you have the power to capture the hearts and minds of the internet… the only remaining question is what you are going to do about it.