So you have to hook them straight from your headline.
More than that, the headline has to have a purpose. I’ve lost count of the amount of headlines that are witty or play on words—“It’s all about that [product]” or something like that—that don’t actually achieve anything. They don’t convey a message or give anyone a practical reason to click. Your headline has to have a purpose, and it has to achieve it.
Some quick headline tips:
Ditch the esoteric. Focus on practical, quantifiable benefits they will get. For example: How To Teach Yourself SEO. Even before you click, you know exactly what you’re getting.
Make it unique. The Casper ads are probably the most unique I’ve ever seen, and that lets them stand out.
Focus on what they want. Take How to be Unforgettable from SmartBlogger. Instead of focusing on the content he wants to talk about, he takes a deep, innate desire in most creatives—to be unforgettable—and focuses on it.
The Benefits vs. Features Debate It’s one of the oldest pieces of copywriting advice you’ll hear, and it’s true.
Nobody cares about what your product does. They care about what’s in it for them.
Only, some people actually do care about features.
I find this a lot when the product is very technical. For example: laptops. 8 GB of ram is an impressive spec. But if you turn that into a benefit—something like, “So fast you’ll never face lags again”—it’s no longer as impressive. What does that mean? How do you quantify such a speed?
The problem is this: for people familiar with the spec, the spec already tells them the benefit.
But if you just state the benefit, the benefit doesn’t tell them the spec.
And they want to see the spec.
So where do you draw the line? How do you decide when to focus on the spec or the benefit?
The easy answer is don’t. Do both. Write the spec and the benefit. For example:
“It’s got 8 GB of ram, which means it’s so fast you’ll never face lags again.”
For the technical minded, they have the spec, and for the benefit minded, they have the benefit.
This goes back to the part about headlines—people’s interest is limited. If you want them to sit through your writing and take the action you want them to, you need to make it as free of distractions as possible.
In other words, make your copy as engaging and easy to read as possible.
Here are some tried and tested copywriting tactics to keep your copy engaging:
If it’s a blog post, start with an intro. Make it interesting. It could be a personal anecdote or just an observation. (Just don’t go on a tangent about something unrelated. Make sure you’re not filling up your page with meaningless filler.) An example of a post with a phenomenal intro is Jon Morrow’s On Dying, Mothers and Fighting for Your Ideas
Keep the tone light and breezy. Here’s part of a Facebook ad I stumbled across recently. See how he uses a fun tone to make the copy flow?
Use short sentences and paragraphs to keep it flowing.
Use subsections and headers to make it skimmable.
Keep it tight. Don’t split off into multiple unnecessary tangents. I recently stumbled across Eddie Shleyner’s VeryGoodCopy, and he’s excellent at that. Here’s just one example.
When in doubt, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Cut out all the unnecessary flak and just keep it short.
Back Up Your Buzzwords
In copywriting, words have power. They mean something tangible; something emotive. And when you apply them to a product, that product is defined by that word.
Buzzwords, by contrast, are difficult to define. They could really be applied to anything. Unless you can back them up, they’re meaningless.
Beautiful is almost impossible to define. It’s in the eye of the beholder. It can be applied to almost anything, and is therefore practically meaningless.
Quality. It’s easy to claim that something is quality made. How do you define quality, exactly?
The same goes for Professional, Durable, and Reliable
That doesn’t mean you should avoid buzzwords all together. People respond to buzzwords because they mean something. Everybody wants a product that is professional, durable and reliable.
Rather than avoid buzzwords, back them up.
It’s OK to claim that something is quality-built. But you need to prove it, too. Talk about how it was designed. Was it built with expensive materials? Was it designed by renowned professionals?
Most of the time (and yes, there’s an emphasis on “most”), people’s decisions are affected by emotions.
Doubt. Guilt. Excitement. Generosity. Love. All of them are powerful factors that drive people’s decisions.
A copywriter knows this, and uses it to his or her advantage.
For example, take this old ad from Seamless.
There’s little logical argument here. Instead, the ad draws on the primary emotion that makes people order in—laziness—and draws it out.
But, like everything discussed here, there are exceptions. Not every product is bought emotionally. Laptops, for example. Most people who buy a laptop buy one because they need one. It’s very difficult to convince someone who has a working laptop to buy one when they don’t need it.