3035 Words | Reading Time: 15 Minutes
What are some quick, easy-to-learn copywriting hacks that will make you look like an expert copywriter? It happens to all of us sometimes… you find yourself staring at a page of lifeless copy, and all you need are a couple of quick writing refreshers to the rescue, to capture and hold your reader’s attention.
Here are 10 quick-to-apply copywriting hacks that you can use to spice up your writing style and become a better copywriter.
- Use Conversational, Everyday Language
- Write Killer Headlines
- Tell a Story But Get To the Point
- Appeal To Emotions
- First Or Last? Order Is Important
- Get Into Your Reader’s Head
- If You Can Rhyme You’ll Win Big Time
- Become Trustworthy
- Benefits and Justification Get People to Buy
- CTAs And The Freedom To Choose
1. Use Conversational, Everyday Language
Imagine your prospect is sitting across the table from you at a coffee shop. The prospect asks, “Why should I buy from you?” You tell them about your product features and benefits and how they should buy from you …and just minutes later, your prospect is sound asleep in their seat.
Have a talk with your prospect.
Now go back to the prospect sitting across from you at the coffee shop, but use everyday, friendlier and relaxed language. You will have industry or business jargon that you’ll need to use to show your expertise in the industry, but talk like you’re having a conversation.
Ask them, what are their hopes? Concerns? Fears? Have this conversation with your prospect, and use that talk to write your copy.
The coffee shop talk:
“Why do you want to change phone companies?”
“I’ve missed some incoming calls and sometimes I can’t get good reception.”
“How long has that been happening?”
“A few weeks now? It’s so frustrating! Customer service doesn’t seem to know what’s wrong.”
Turn that into copy:
Frustrated with your phone service provider? Are you missing important calls? Have you been struggling for weeks to get an answer from customer service? We can help.
Record yourself answering questions.
For this copywriting tip, make a list of the most common questions that your prospects ask. For example, “Why should I buy from you?” and “Do you have a guarantee?”
Then use your mobile phone or another recording device to answer your questions. Hit “record”, and talk like you’re having a face-to-face conversation. Don’t think about sounding like an expert or a copywriter.
When you’re finished, play back the recording and write down what you’ve said.
You don’t need to address all of your prospects, just one ideal one, to have that personal conversation to find out what they want and how you can help them.
2. Write Killer Headlines
Have you read a headline that you just couldn’t believe and you couldn’t resist reading the rest of the copy?
Like the headline that said, “How did Dan Lok end up in a crowd of teenage girls?”
How did that happen? Me, Dan Lok, suddenly get caught up in the middle of a bunch of teens screaming at the top of their lungs?
Or the email headline that read, “I made a mistake.” Yes, people make mistakes. Admitting in print that you made a mistake is hard enough. But when a CEO or a president makes a mistake, people pay attention.
So when I sent out an email with the headline “I made a mistake,” people were curious. What was the mistake? And most importantly, how would my mistake affect them?
These are just some examples of what killer headlines can do.
Write headlines on demand.
The next time a killer headline catches your eye, don’t just read it. Create a folder (electronic or paper, it doesn’t matter), and call it your “Headline Swipe Files”. Swipe here doesn’t refer to swiping right or left on Tinder.
Swipe is a softer way to say “steal”, meaning you’re taking all the examples of awesome headlines and email subject lines that grabbed your attention and save them for future reference.
The next time you’re stuck for ideas, reach into your swipe file for inspiration.
Another resource is this page where you can type in your headline and get feedback about its engagement.
Write headlines that go viral.
Certain types of headlines get shared over and over again on social media. Having a list of types of headlines that go viral is a must-have for the next time you’re short on creativity.
Here are some examples of list post headings, how-to post headings, and email subject lines that went viral:
3. Tell a Story But Get To the Point
Let’s say you’ve captured the attention of your reader with your mind-blowing heading. What’s next?
Often I tell stories to make a point. It’s boring to say, don’t do “x” as a way to start a business. It’s a fact, and facts just tell. Instead, I tell a story to make the same point because stories sell.
For example, I once started an email with:
Well, here’s a story for you.
A while back, a person came up to me after a talk and asked me for advice.
You could tell he was a hard-working man, put a lot of pride in his work ethic, and he put his family first – he wanted to provide.
You are drawn into this story that could be about any working person that you know. The story is easily relatable. Then you add conversation to make even more realistic.
He told me: “Dan, I thought I found a perfect rental property! The building was in good shape, it was in a central location, and the property tax was reasonable too. I thought I was going to make a profit from it. And I was! For the first few months…”
Then his voice slowed down and his face changed.
“Then it didn’t go the way I thought it would. The toilet broke, which seems like a small thing, but I had to pay a few hundred bucks to get it fixed. And then a couple months later, the tenants told me they were moving out. I couldn’t find anyone to replace them for two months – I was losing money then.”
This story was the beginning of my email about getting good advice on finances and starting a business. My email drew readers in with a relatable story, and got to the point about losing money from bad financial advice very quickly.
It’s important to get to the point quickly, otherwise, if your reader doesn’t find what they’re looking for, they will leave.
4. Appeal to Emotions
What has a stronger impact on you? If I asked you, “Having a rough day?” or “Having a bad day?”
“Rough day” probably triggered memories of traffic jams, stressful deadlines, and tense arguments. “Bad day”, in its literal blandness, didn’t trigger the same reaction.
Studies have found that textural adjectives, words like “rough”, activates the brain differently. Words that provoke an emotional reaction, such as metaphors, increase brain activity and memory recall.
So for this copywriting hack, choose words that give your ideas texture. Use words they can feel, like glossy, gritty, thorny, and bone-crunching to bring your copy to life.
The root of all buying decisions are based on one or more emotions. Everyone ultimately buys for emotional reasons and then makes every attempt to justify it with logic.
I’m no exception. I collect Iron Man toys and Batman toys just because of how they make me feel. Some of these toys cost hundreds of dollars.
To entice people to buy for these reasons, you must appeal to emotions. Fear, greed, anger, flattery, exclusiveness, salvation, lust, desire for love. Skillfully touching one or more of those emotions will make your copy compelling and persuasive.
5. First Or Last? Order Is Important
You might disagree with me about this next point. When you write copy, lead with your strongest point. Yes, you are giving away your best idea first, but you also have a better chance of grabbing your reader and holding on.
The first obstacle you have as a copywriter is capturing the reader’s attention. So why not hit them over the proverbial head, make them sit up and take notice, and then get into your next point?
Gently pull your reader along as you establish momentum and keep going in your copy. Gently, because if you force it, it builds resistance. You don’t want a reader that’s absolutely determined not to buy. That’s not what you want.
Watch what’s in the middle.
Remember the last time you heard a list of names at an awards ceremony? It’s easiest to recall the first and last person, but harder to remember all the people who came in the middle.
This is what psychologists call the serial position effect. People are more accurate at recalling what’s at the beginning and end of a series than what is in the middle of the list.
So when you’re writing copy, place your most important ideas at the beginning and the end. For email, the opening and closing lines are most valuable. For bullets and lists, you want to place strongest points where they will be remembered.
P.S. The best is first to come.
P.S., or post script, is the last message your reader will see, which means it will stand out. The P.S. and your CTA can work together to reinforce your message.
Ray Jutkins, a direct mail copywriter, noted that “79% of donors and prospects that open direct mail read the postscript first.”
Never underestimate the power of a strong start and strong finish.
6. Get Into Your Reader’s Head
If you could wiretap the thoughts in your reader’s head, what would you hear?
What makes them happy? What keeps them up at night?
Knowing your audience means understanding as much about them as humanly possible. You need to know them because you need to know what motivates them to “want” to buy. If you don’t know what motivates them, how can you effectively talk to them?
When you can get inside their head, and write using their words, they’ll feel like you’re speaking directly to them.
Imagine if you could start closing deals left and right without resistance, hesitation, or BS objections.
What would your commission checks look like at the end of the month?
What would that do for you and your family?
And what would you be able to do now that you couldn’t do before?
Second person language, “you” speaks to the reader’s hopes and fears, like their worries about not closing a sale, and stirs up the reader’s dreams about what they could do if they had more income.
7. If You Can Rhyme You’ll Win Big Time
The brain works in mysterious ways. The methods we use to figure out what is true and what isn’t, doesn’t always make sense.
We might think of rhymes as fun, but it can also be used to persuade people about the truth. Is it really true when they say, “Birds of a feather flock together?”.
But here are the results of a study that poetic form can change our perception of accuracy. They noticed that rhyme was more likely to be perceived as true.
When they tested the phrase “What sobriety heals, alcohol reveals” versus “What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks”, the rhyming version ranked as more accurate than the non-rhyming version.
So the key takeaway here is, add some rhyme to your copy to make your claims appear more valid.
8. Become Trustworthy
People buy from those they trust. Think about your own purchases. Why did you choose to buy your brand of smartphone? Why did you take financial advice from your advisor?
One of the reasons you thought they were honest and authentic is because they’re open and upfront. If you’re upfront about what your product or service can do, you’ll gain their respect much faster.
For example, in this email, I share with my students the experience of being surrounded by entrepreneurs who were several times more successful than me. I felt uncomfortable and I doubted if I would ever reach their level of success:
Let me tell you… I felt completely out of place.
I was only making $5,000 a month at the time, and was trying to get to $10,000…
But these entrepreneurs were talking about problems that are worth $10,000,000.00.
My problem felt so small compared to theirs. And Ibegan to doubt whether I would ever get to their level.
Maybe you’ve felt this way too… like the success you’re going after is out of reach.
I wanted my students to know… I know how they feel. At one point, I had the same doubts they do about whether I would achieve my dreams.
Dale Carnegie once said, “Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said.”
Our brains operate with this simple rule:
repeated ideas = greater accuracy, more truth
In two separate studies on repeated statements, researchers found that “people consistently rated the repeated statements as more trustworthy in comparison to statements that were not.”
The conclusion to draw from this copywriting hack is, the more we hear something, the more we’ll believe it to be true.
The more we hear something, the more we’ll believe it to be true.
In your copy, the statements you repeat the most are the ones your reader will believe and remember.
9. Benefits and Justification Get People to Buy
As you’re reviewing your copy, you’re noticing that something seems to be missing. To figure out what it is, ask yourself, “So what?”
Read your copy again, this time with the eyes of your audience. You’ve told them that your product will increase the revenue for their business. “So what?” you ask. What is the benefit to them if they have more revenue?
So you write some more copy to answer that question. More revenue could mean more profits, more pay for employees, and more income for the business owner. So what?
What is the benefit of increased income for the business owner? You keep asking the same question, to keep adding more compelling copy. And if asking, “So what?” doesn’t give you a compelling answer… delete the copy.
There’s one more angle to this hack. When you write about the benefits to the customer, don’t bombard them with the features of your product. Focus instead on a different type of benefit.
If the customer buys your product, how will it make their life better? How will it solve their problem? Writing about these types of benefits will boost your conversion rates.
The Xerox Line Study
“Because” is a powerful word, so use it wisely.
The Xerox line study from 1978 was an experiment on the effect of using justification. They studied the reactions of people as people asked to cut in front of them.
When they jumped the line, some didn’t include a reason: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Only 60% agreed to let people cut in.
Others gave a reason for jumping the line. They gave two possible explanations:
“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
A total of 94% agreed to allow them to cut in when they gave a valid excuse, such as being in a rush. And 93% allowed them to cut in even if the reason didn’t provide any useful or new information, such as cutting in to make copies.
“Because” seems to be a word that we react to on autopilot. Include “because” in your copy to remind readers that you have a valid reason for asking them to sign up for a free trial or complete a form.
Watch this video for more psychological tactics you can use to get people to buy.
10. CTAs And The Freedom To Choose
You’re almost done your copywriting masterpiece, whether it’s an email, landing page, or webpage. No matter how well written it is, your efforts will go to waste if you don’t have a clear Call To Action (CTA).
What do you want your customer to do when they finish reading to the end of your copy?
Words like “submit”, “”next” aren’t as powerful as “Enroll in the course now” or “Send me my free copy”. Clear instructions tell your reader exactly what will happen next.
Also, focus on only one CTA. For example, if you’re offering a free trial, don’t try to sell them on a 12-month contract. Just summarize the benefits of the trial.
Maybe “Enroll in the course now” might be too salesy or too strong a request.
A quick hack you can use is to remind readers that they have the freedom to choose, a strategy based in psychology.
“But you are free” (BYAF) reminds the reader they are free to refuse a request. In a study using BYAF in a non-sales context, conversion rates DOUBLED among 22,000 participants.
Here’s one way to apply BYAF when conducting an online survey:
We’d be honored if you would share your insights on our 2015 homeowners survey, but you are free to pass on the opportunity as well.
If you need to breathe a little life into your copy, there are 10 easy-to-learn hacks to make you a better copywriter.
Start by writing in a conversational style and getting into the head of your reader. Appeal to their hopes and dreams, and communicate with them like you’re telling a story.
Write killer headlines to get their attention, and maintain their attention by carefully choosing the order that you’re writing all your important points.
Using rhyme and being authentic will gain your reader’s trust more quickly. To convince them to buy, tell them the benefits they would get from buying from you.
Remember, people buy with emotions and justify with logic. Provide one clear CTA for your reader. What do you want them to do when they are finished reading your copy? And most importantly, remind them – BYAF – free to make their own decisions, free from your powers of persuasion as an expert copywriter.