Copywriting, when compared to other forms of writing, is a different kind of animal.
It’s not necessarily about writing well.
It’s about writing persuasively.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class wordsmith or a literary genius.
If you can’t effectively move readers through the proper sequence of steps and ultimately convince them to buy, your conversions are going to suffer.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the world’s greatest writer.
You probably won’t see me publishing a novel anytime soon.
But I’d like to think I’m good at copywriting, which, in its simplest form, is “the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.”
In this post, I’d like to provide you with a straightforward formula you can use to become a highly persuasive copywriter with the end goal of maximizing conversions.
I’ll explain both the basic structure and the specific techniques you need to use to become more persuasive.
Start with a killer value proposition
Research from Nielsen Norman Group found that you have a very small amount of time to grab a visitor’s attention before they leave your page.
In fact, you usually have a max of 20 seconds.
Your first order of business is to make it abundantly clear what your value proposition is.
Now, there are several ways to go about this, but I believe in keeping things simple.
Getting too complex tends to dilute the message and confuse prospects.
What I’ve found to be most effective is keeping my value proposition short, sweet, and clear.
I think the Moz homepage does a really good job at this as well:
Don’t make them guess what you’re offering.
Let them know in a split second what you are offering with your crystal clear value proposition.
To accomplish this, try to condense the essence of your product down to just a few words.
Swiftly move to the benefits
“What’s in it for me?”
That’s what most visitors are thinking after hearing your value proposition.
But here’s the thing.
Most people have a tendency to emphasize features over benefits.
But it should be the other way around.
Just look at this Venn diagram from ABC Copywriting:
Notice that benefits are valued over features.
Of course, you need to explain how your product works. But you can elaborate on that later.
What you want to do first is explain how the product fulfills a need or desire.
In other words, explain how your customers’ lives will be better after they buy your product.
Here’s a great example from Moz:
See how prospects instantly understand the benefits of using Moz?
It will save them time and make things more efficient.
They also don’t have to worry about deciphering complex data because Moz takes care of this for them.
When it comes to describing benefits, there are three main types to cover:
This illustration from ABC Copywriting explains these various types of benefits in more detail.
As they point out, “Benefits need not be unique, but they must be compelling.”
Keep this in mind when deciding on an angle.
I personally find that it’s best to highlight the benefits before getting down to the nuts and bolts of the features.
That way prospects should be more receptive and willing to wade through the details.
But if you go the other way around and cover the features before the benefits, you’re probably going to lose a sizable portion of your leads.
Now explain the features
“What’s in the box?”
That’s what Brad Pitt’s character David Mills wanted to know in the closing scene of the movie Seven.
While the contents of the box were quite grisly (his wife’s severed head), this question demonstrates the importance of promptly telling your leads what they’ll get by making a purchase.
In other words, let them know what’s in the box.
They already know what you’re offering and what the benefits are.
Now it’s time to succinctly break down the features of your product.
Again, I feel like Moz pulls this off flawlessly, so I’ll use this as an example:
I prefer breaking features down into bullet points or concise little sections like Moz does.
“Digestibility” is huge, and you want to present your product’s features in an easy-to-absorb, intuitive way.
You also want to touch on specifics to distinguish your product from competitors and to add a sense of value.
Here’s how I did this with Quick Sprout:
Keep it simple, but include a few key details that explain why your product is the bee’s knees.
By now, your prospects should understand what your product is, how it will benefit them, and what the features are.
Your final task is to tell them what to do next.
In other words, it’s time for your CTA.
You can liken this to battling a boss in the final level of a video game.
It’s arguably the most challenging aspect of the process, but if you’ve done what you were supposed to do in the previous steps, you should see a reasonable conversion rate.
Once again, simplicity reigns supreme, and I see no reason to complicate your CTA.
Here’s how I approach it on Quick Sprout:
And here’s what it looks like on NeilPatel.com:
Notice that it’s very clear what action I want prospects to complete.
As always, I strongly recommend doing at least some basic A/B testing on your CTA to see what works best.
Some specific elements to test include:
- button style
- button color
Being hella persuasive
Okay, now we’ve covered the basic structure of well-crafted copywriting.
The general structure of a landing page should be roughly as follows:
- Value proposition
But how do you ensure you’re hitting all the right notes and being highly persuasive?
Obviously, the value proposition and benefits will offer some motivation, but here are some other things I’ve found to be impactful.
Make your content scannable
I’m not going to launch into a huge sermon about the importance of creating scannable content.
You probably already know people read online content differently than they do offline content.
But if you want to efficiently get prospects from Point A (your value proposition) to Point B (your CTA), it helps to make everything in-between easily scannable.
Luckily, the formula for scannable content is quite easy.
Just include headers, bullet lists, and a considerable amount of white space along the way.
Apple, being the savvy marketers they are, do this perfectly on their MacBook Pro landing page.
Here are a couple of screenshots:
An article on Business 2 Community talks about the three different brains we have:
- the new brain
- the middle brain
- the old brain
According to the article,
the old brain is the part that controls decisions, and it also happens to be the most primitive. In this way, the words you use to market to the old brain will often be the most direct, simple, arresting, visual words you have.
So if there was ever a copywriting hack, it’s using highly persuasive words that make the “old part of the brain light up.”
Here’s a list of those words:
And according to research, the five most persuasive words in the English language are the ones in blue, which are:
Peppering these words throughout your copy in key locations should have a noticeable impact on conversions.
This is my last point, and it’s a biggie.
Incorporating social proof into your copy is the icing on the cake.
This was actually one of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion,
which maintains that people are especially likely to perform certain actions if they can relate to the people who performed the same actions before them.
I’m not going to go into all the gory details of social proof here.
You can learn about it from this Kissmetrics article.
But I will say that testimonials are usually your best bet, pound for pound.
Here’s how I incorporate them into my landing page on NeilPatel.com:
You can also use things like:
- media logos
- subscriber counts
- social connections (your number of followers)
- clients you’ve worked with
Just be practical, and provide whatever type of social proof you think would most persuade your prospects to take action.
The way I look at it, there are two main components of effective copywriting.
The first component involves properly structuring your content so that it’s presented in a logical, sequential manner.
This means explaining your product in a way that makes sense to an average person and systematically covering your value proposition, benefits, features, and CTAs.
The second component is weaving in persuasive elements to quell fears, clear up any misunderstandings, and ultimately motivate prospects to take action.
By appealing to people on these two different levels, you can create very persuasive copy and crush it from a conversions standpoint.
What do you think is the single most important aspect of persuasive copywriting?