You don’t need to be a copywriter to write persuasively, and you don’t need years of experience or training (although it helps). Here’s your crash course on how to be a persuasive writer.
This is the final part of our 3-part series on How to be a Persuasive Writer (Without Studying Copywriting For 10 Years).
Authentic Marketer is a reader-supported publication. To receive new updates and support my work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.
In this part we cover:
Five copywriting techniques that master writers use to hook their readers and get them to buy.
Super specific headlinesHook them with strong leads (use mini-stories)Use short and simple wordsAIDA (Attention, interest, desire, and action)Use FOMO
Class is now in session!
Do you wish to double your conversions with a single, easy trick that will take you only 15 minutes to learn?
Yeah, me too. Now I can’t give you any guarantees, but if you implement some of the techniques below, you’ll likely see improvements in your marketing.
You’re already sold on the notion that copywriting is an essential skill for any small business, right? After all, it’s how you convey your message to potential customers and persuade them to buy what you’re selling.
But copywriting can be tricky – it’s not easy to write in a way that is both persuasive and interesting. That’s why copywriters have their own secrets that they don’t want the average person to know.
Fortunately for you, I’m not one of those copywriters, and I’m ready to spill the beans to help you boost your sales.
Ready? Let’s do it!
Technique #1: Super-specific headlines
Which of these headlines is more likely to hook you in?
“How to improve your copywriting skills”
“The one copywriting technique that helped me make $10,000 in one month”
The answer is obvious – the second headline is much more likely to get your attention. And that’s because it’s super specific.
An effective headline is enticing enough to stop someone from scrolling past it or stopping what they’re doing and then encourages them to continue reading the next sentence you’ve written.
Here’s another example:
OK headline: “How to make a chocolate cake“Better headline: “How to make a delectable chocolate cake with only three ingredients (no baking required)“
As you can see, being specific in your headlines makes a big difference.
Great headlines can be used for many types of content.
Take a look at how Youtuber Ali Abdaal uses catchy headlines for his video titles. The following is a screenshot of his most popular videos. Can you see which ones are using super-specific headlines?
Tip: If you’re ever in need of inspiration for content or headline ideas, go over to your fave Youtuber’s channel. Click on videos, then sort by most popular.
Write down all the video titles that stick out to you. Pay attention to why they grab your attention and use them to inspire your own headlines.
Another thing that you can do with your headline is to call out your target audience. Just like how Durex did with this hilarious ad (that went viral online):
Now before we proceed to the next technique, I want to introduce you to the concept of the copywriting “Slippery Slide.” I first heard of this from Brian Dean of Backlinko.com.
As legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman put it: “The sole purpose of copy is to get people to read the next sentence.”
You can think of copy as a “slippery slide” that moves the reader from Point A (the beginning or the Headline) to Point B (the body copy) to Point C (the end).
You want the reader to move smoothly from one sentence to the next until they reach the call to action at the end, without getting stuck or losing interest.
(Image source: Copywriting: The Definitive Guide by Backlinko.com)
So how do you do that? Use the next four techniques, that’s how.
Let’s continue on…
Technique #2: Hook them with strong leads (and mini-stories)
Now that you’ve got your reader curious with your compelling headline, your next job is to keep their attention with your lead.
The lead is the first paragraph of your copy. It’s typically the first 4-6 lines. And it’s important to ensure that your lead is strong enough to hook the reader in and get them to keep reading.
The “hook” refers to the element of your lead that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading. For this reason, your first sentence is usually used for the hook.
Take a look at this ad that I saw on Linkedin this week:
That first sentence isn’t very compelling, is it?
Now I’m no cyber security expert, but a quick Google search revealed that the average cost of a data breach for small businesses in 2019 was $200,000.
So what if that first sentence simply started with this statistic?
“The average cost of a data breach for small businesses in 2019 was $200,000. Prefer not to have to pay that? Grab our free checklist and follow it.”
See how much more powerful that is?
(So whoever’s paying to run those ads on Linkedin might want to hire another copywriter. Oh hey, if you happen to be reading this, I’m available *wink*).
It doesn’t matter how good your content is if your hook is bad.
This is true for
social media postsemailsarticlessales pagesvideosany other content you’ll create
A good hook:
Connects with the readerEvokes a strong emotionMakes the reader curious enough to want to read more (and if you’re really good, enough to say, “ok I’m ready for you to convince me that this thing is worth my $$”)
Four ways to craft compelling hooks:
Use a number or statisticState a controversial opinionOpen with a vulnerable statementAsk a thought-provoking question
Use a number or statistic
Well, you’ve already seen this in action with the above example I gave.
If you’re going to use numbers or statistics in your copy, put them right up front:
• $200,000 data breaches happen every day
• 70% of small businesses will fail within their first year
Here’s a weight-loss ad from Jenny Craig. Can you see how many numbers are in the headline? Two. (writing “One” instead of “1” and then the number “40 lbs” is a visual technique deliberately designed to make the second number stand out more).
This ad is for people who have been struggling to lose weight for years. Do you think it would grab your attention if you were in that situation? I bet it would!
State a controversial opinion
Who doesn’t love a bit of controversy? Which of these headlines is more engaging?
• “Why breakfast is the most important meal of the day”
• “Why you should skip breakfast if you want to lose weight”
The second one, right?
People are curious by nature, and when they see a headline that goes against what they believe, they can’t help but click to find out more.
Wes Kao masterfully uses a controversial statement in this Linkedin post:
The key here is to ensure that your controversial opinion is backed up by evidence.
Which is something Wes addresses in the 3rd and 4th paragraphs.
(btw, how’s this for a great example of an effective headline + hook + lead?)
Open with a vulnerable statement
Here’s a Linkedin post that I wrote for a client a while ago that did quite well in terms of organic reach.
It worked because it shares a vulnerable personal story (on a platform where 99% of the time, people put on their “professional” masks and pretend like we’re not all humans behind the screens).
The second sentence creates curiosity – “what? why’d you quit, Paul?”
Ask a thought-provoking question
This is probably my fave one because when we’re asked a relevant question, our brain can’t help but answer it.
And when we answer, we’re now engaged and curious to learn more.
Here’s an example of another post that I pulled from Linkedin.
Now let’s assume for a moment that you’re responsible for managing corporate partnerships at your company. How does the first sentence make you feel?
I don’t know about you, but it didn’t particularly engage me at all. I mightn’t have bothered to read the rest of the post and would have likely skipped the embedded PDF too.
So here’s how I’d recommend this person tweak the copy:
How’s this one feel to you? Would you keep reading and downloading the embedded PDF guide?
All I did was turn the first sentence into a question and then told you what to expect from the rest of the post.
My buddy and virtual CFO Michael Wark used this technique effectively with this Linkedin post. (nice one, Mike!)
Start with a mini-story
Tell the reader a short story, one that only takes up 2 to 4 lines. Tell a story that helps them to connect with you on an emotional level and makes them more likely to continue reading.
Ideally, your mini-story is related to the problem or desire of your target audience and the end product or service that you’re promoting.
Take a look at how Taki Moore masterfully weaves in a client’s mini-story in this FB post:
Technique #3: Use short and simple words
When I’m called in to assist subject matter experts and specialists with their material or to produce content on their behalf, I’ll search for any complex words (industry jargon) and replace them with straightforward language.
Complex: “I was involved in the strategy ideation”
Simple: “I came up with the idea for the plan.”
It’s not that using big words is wrong. It’s that oftentimes you run the risk of sounding like you’re trying to show off or that you’re in some way superior to your readers.
Copywriters know that using short and simple words is more effective than using big, fancy words.
Keep it simple, so your readers can understand and connect with what you’re saying.
Technique #4: AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action)
AIDA is a popular framework that copywriters use to structure their content. It’s effective because it takes the reader on a journey from attention to interest to desire to action.
You can use it for sales pages, blog posts, emails, or even social media posts.
Here’s how it works:
– Attention: Get the reader’s attention with a strong headline and lead.
– Interest: Keep the reader interested by sharing information about your product or service.
– Desire: Create a desire for your product or service by showing the reader how it will benefit them.
– Action: Tell the reader what they need to do next to get your product or service (e.g., click here, call this number, etc.).
Here’s an example of AIDA in action. (I made up a fictional bookkeeping course for comedians to illustrate this)
Here’s how you’d use AIDA on a web page (this works for landing pages, sales pages, social media posts, and emails too).
And here’s a real-life example of a landing page where AIDA was used:
Technique #5: Use FOMO
FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.” And it’s a powerful psychological trigger that you can use in your copywriting to persuade people to take action.
You can use FOMO in your copywriting by creating a sense of urgency and scarcity. For example, if you’re running a limited-time offer, make sure to mention it in your copy, so people don’t miss out.
Here’s a real example of FOMO being used in an email that I received in my inbox today:
Caution: Only use FOMO if your offer is truly time-sensitive and valuable to your reader. Otherwise, you risk coming across as manipulative or salesy.
The Power Move: Combining them all together
So what happens when you stack a few or all of these techniques together?
You get copy that’s hard to resist.
Just take a look at these real-life examples: (can you see how they all use some form of AIDA?)
So there you have it! You’ve just learned five copywriting techniques that master writers use to hook their readers and get them to buy.
Now, of course, there are other copywriting techniques and advanced strategies that I could get into, but I’ll save those for upcoming editions of this newsletter.
If you just use these five copywriting techniques in your writing, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a persuasive writer.
Now there’s only one way to get good at using these techniques, and that’s by writing (a LOT), so get to it!
PS – And if you need some help, I offer copywriting reviews, done-for-you copywriting, and coaching services for small businesses. Feel free to reply to this email or book a 15-min chat.
PPS – Did you get value from this newsletter? If yes, then please:
Forward it to someone else who might find it useful too. Consider supporting my work and becoming a paid subscriber.Respond to the poll below by clicking on one of the options and letting me know how I’m doing.
What’s new this week
1/ My new website hit 50K+ views last month. Read more about it here.
2/ I’m now an approved affiliate for Automation Agency. If you know any coaches, consultants, or service providers who want help to build sales funnels and manage their marketing automation on an ongoing basis then I recommend their work.
3/ After creating awesome images for my business for years (like the infographics you see in my newsletters), my wife Cindy is now offering a blog post image design service on Fiverr! For only $15, she’ll design 5 custom images that will grab attention and make people want to read your blog posts.
It Will Come
An unconventional newsletter about blockchain, communities & one-person businesses. Tapping into ancestral wisdom.