17 Must-Know Copywriting Techniques

copywriting techniques

Whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned copywriter, sharpening your copywriting skills is always a good thing. There are some tricks of the trade that never go out of style, and the following copywriting techniques can help you master effective and memorable copywriting.

1. Tell a Story

Your audience is wired to react to a story. Storytelling provides your readers with a peek into your product and how it can resolve their problem, triggering their imaginations and making the all-important emotional connection.

2. Speak to the Reader

One of the best copywriting techniques you can employ is to make your copy all about your reader. Know your audience, and use a writing style that will appeal to them. Most of all, be generous with the word you.

3. Be Positive

Nobody likes a downer. Use an active and inspiring tone and style. Stay close the reader’s desires and explain the positive benefits of using your product or service.

4. Harness the Power of Repetition

Repetition is a time-tested method of committing information to memory, and repeating key points three times in copy seems to be the sweet spot. However, there is good repetition and there is bad repetition.

Bad Repetition

Bad repetition is when sentences all use the same sentence structure without any justifiable reason.  For example: ‘Apple makes great products. Apple makes laptops.  Apple makes desktops.  Apple makes media players.  Apple makes…’ oh my god stop already!!  This is bad repetition. Simple sentences are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, but this could have been made into a simple sentence such as: Apple makes great laptops, desktops, media players…’ and so on.  Readers see this kind of repetition and it becomes boring incredibly fast.

A good copywriter will never forget that the attention span of their audience may not be as long as they would like it to be.  Here are some solid pieces of advice to live by:

  • Sentence structures should never be repeated, especially one after another, without very good reason.
  • Look at the first word in each paragraph for repetition as well.  Large-scale repetition is just as bad as sentence by sentence repetition.
  • Use tools to find words and phrases that are used too frequently as well, and a thesaurus to fix this particular type of problem.

Good Repetition

Good repetition can work something like this: I love Apple.  Apple Loves me.  Apple gave me a new iSomething-or-other to review.  Apple loves you too…because they didn’t make me sign an NDA!!!’  The repetition is less obvious and it moves the narrative forward in a slightly silly way that also increases the pace initially and then slows it down.  Readers can feel that pacing and are likely to respond accordingly.

This is not the only great example of good repetition.  For example, if one was reviewing the latest iSomething-or-other from Apple and had a constant theme or narrative that was worth following, then returning that narrative time and again is a good idea.  Perhaps the device is an early pre-release prototype or there is some other important caveat worth mentioning, feel free to mention it whenever relevant to other points being made.  Perhaps the item being reviewed does not perform as expected….but that is probably because it is a production model.  It would have been nice to see this feature or that feature…hopefully the production model will have this or that tweak made before it hits the salesroom floors.

This kind of repetition is perfectly acceptable, and even a good idea if one were to go on a diatribe about some critical flaw or exception.  Going off on a somewhat-related tangent can often be a great way to create unique content and thus add some value to a site, but that tangent should be returned to the core issue. Repetition to bring the audience back after a tangent in a manner that feels organic and natural.  The same can be said for pieces that will go off on multiple tangents to explore different ideas and concepts more thoroughly.

Signs of ‘good’ repetition:

  • The repetition is moving the piece forward, perhaps towards a joke or gag.
  • Each sentence is a piece of logic to a larger puzzle.  For example: Adam loves Sue.  Sue loves Joe.  Joe loves Adam…LOVE TRIANGLE!
  • Certain similarities or trends need to be illustrated or exceptions to trends.  For example: Bob went to the convention at 8:15, and was ready to work at 9.  Sue arrived at 8:15 and was ready to work at 9.  Joe arrived at 9 and got fired

5. Use Facts & Stats

Adding some well-researched facts or statistics to an empowering story is basically the recipe for triumph. Along with case studies, research and statistics will help persuade your readers to purchase, or at least to justify their desire. Including these elements into copy will also help support your claims and establish you as trustworthy.

6. Organize Your Content

Another vital copywriting technique is to make your content readable. Readers should be able to ingest key points at a glance. Use bullet points and subheaders to highlight critical information and help your readers locate the information they want.

7. Avoid Long Paragraphs

Novelists can get away with page after page of long, drawn out paragraphs, but you’re not writing a book. Internet readers are scanners. Limit your paragraphs to 3-4 well-structured, succinct sentences.

8. Skip the Showy Writing

Don’t make your readers reach for a dictionary. Even if they still actually own a dictionary, they’ll be put off by unnecessarily wordy writing. Put away your thesaurus and choose words that the average 8th grade student will understand. Know your audience, speak their lingo and present your ideas in layman’s terms.

9. Lean on Copywriting Formulas

From AIDA to to Star-Chain-Hook, copywriting formulas exist to give copywriters a framework on which to build their alluring story. Whether you collect a small arsenal or rely on a single tried-and-true standard, copywriting formulas can help you tick off the critical building blocks of all great copy.

10. Ask “Yes” Questions

Every time you ask your reader a question to which the answer is yes, they are more apt to say yes to your next question. The more often they say yes to your questions, the more likely they are to say yes to your product or service.

11. Sell the Benefits

Never forget that your copy is about your reader, not what you’re selling. While they might appreciate the features you have to offer, consumers are much more interested in how those features will benefit them. Tell your reader what they stand to gain, and mention features only when they support the benefits.

12. Do Long Form Copy Right

Most writers prefer short sweet copy, but long form copy can often prove beneficial. However, in order for your long form copy to be successful you must hold your reader’s attention through to the end. Make sentences short but sweet, break up the content, and create a definable rhythm.

13. Use Power Words

Use power words like proven, now, free, and limited to charge up the impact of your writing. Choose your power words wisely to create a sense of urgency and/or exclusivity and entice readers to continue through to your call to action.

14. Share Reviews & Testimonials

Community proof or social reaction to your product or service can serve to establish you as trustworthy. No matter the industry, customers are more likely to purchase when they are supplied with a positive response from their peers.

15. Offer Incentives

Readers generally have short attention spans, so write copy that offers a reward for continued reading. Then, use incentives to motivate your reader to take action. What will they get? Is it exclusive? When will they get it? Why is it urgent?

16. Appeal to Emotions

If you want your reader to take an action—whether that means clicking, downloading or buying—you’ll have to make them feel something first. People make decisions based on emotion. While you must also back it up with facts and statistics so readers can justify their decisions, your main plea must make an emotional connection to be successful.

17. Focus on Headlines

Whether you opt for simple and straightforward or clever and beguiling, your headline needs to lure readers and entice them to click. There are many ways to write the same headline, so try a few different angles and see which one offers the best hook. Some ideas:

  • Tell a story. Stories have the power to make emotional connections, and if you can introduce a great story in your headline, your readers will click to keep reading.
  • Tell them how to. Promise your readers a useful lesson that will improve their lives.
  • Ask a question. Involve your readers right off the bat by posing a relevant question then promising (and delivering) the answer.

A master copywriter recognizes how to apply each of the copywriting techniques listed above to maximize the overall effect and increase sales. Whether or not you’re a master, following these tips can help you create awesome conversion-friendly copy.

On the flip side, there are a few copywriting myths that you might have fallen prey to. This Writtent blog post dispels a few doozies, and hopefully paves the path for you to be a more confident copywriter.