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5 Subtle Yet Super Powerful Copywriting Tips

mr-miyagi-copywriting-advice-650
Copywriting is a bit like martial arts; you don’t need to take aggressive action to see results. Image source.

Marketing can be like martial arts.

In a fight, you can floor your opponent with brute force.

You can throw a burst of punches and strikes, or grapple until you’re blue in the face. Or you can calmly step back, target one of your opponent’s pressure points, and quickly end the fight with one swift strike.

Marketing your business is the same.

You can grow by taking aggressive action. You can crank out more content, or pay for ads and leads to increase traffic. Or… simply step back and target the “pressure points” in your marketing by finding small tweaks that create big wins.

One of the best ways to get big wins from small tweaks is to focus on converting more prospects into customers by strengthening your copy.

But not all copywriting tweaks are created equal.

You can spend hours tweaking the wrong things and get weak results, so here are five simple but effective ways to ramp up your conversions by cranking up the power of your copy… Mr. Miyagi style.

1. Use open loops to seduce your prospect

Ever had an awesome TV show that you couldn’t stop watching? A series of books that you couldn’t put down?

You have? Congratulations, you’ve experienced the power of open loops (also called the Zeigarnik effect).

Open loops prey on our brain’s natural desire for completion.

You see, the brain enters a state of confusion or tension when it views something as incomplete. The cause could be a story, a question, even a household chore that you forgot to complete — and the only way to overcome that confusion and tension is for your brain to close the open loop.

When it comes to writing copy, an open loop is a part of your sales message that doesn’t tie up immediately.

You can apply open loops to any copy and instantly make it more magnetic.

Here’s an open loop example from the CopyHour landing page.

copywriting-copyhour-landing-page

The writer starts the sales letter with talk of a mysterious little secret that top copywriters used to sharpen their chops, and as a result make bucket loads of cash – instantly making you wonder what this secret is.

But it doesn’t stop there. The sales page goes on to constantly dangle this secret right in front of your face. This strengthens your curiosity and makes you more invested in finding out what the mysterious secret is – increasing the chance of a conversion.

Open loops aren’t hard to implement.

The easiest way to get started is to ask more questions in your copy and vaguely expand on the question, just like the example above. This lack of completion makes your reader feel curious and more invested in your copy.

2. Make your first sentence hypnotic

Your first sentence has to open with a bang.

It has to immediately snag your audience’s attention and drag them into your copy. If your readers don’t make it past the first few sentences, they sure as hell ain’t making it to your call to action.

Shortening your sentences (and your first sentence in particular) is an excellent way to make your copy a little bit more engaging.

The trick is to make sentences so short and easy to read that they instantly suck your reader into your copy. In his book Advertising Secrets Of The Written Word, legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman even said:

My first sentences are so short, they almost aren’t sentences.

Take for example the opening sentence on Chartbeat’s landing page for their study on audience development.

copywriting-chartbeat-audience-development

Have a look at how short and simple the opening is:

It’s not enough to just count clicks and page views anymore.

When someone begins by reading that, they’re naturally inclined to wonder, “What is enough then? What’s wrong with counting clicks and page views? What should I measure?” 

These questions then fuel the reader with enough coals of curiosity to make him want to read on.

Also, shorter sentences look like a piece of cake to read, which increases the chances of someone actually getting through your copy. This is a huge benefit because it’s harder to stop reading copy once you’re already interested and curious.

3. Deploy power verbs for maximum impact

Good copy paints pleasing pictures in the minds of your prospects. It dives into their brains and engages their senses and emotions.

This is where most writers make a fatal mistake. They rely on adjectives and limp words to add flavor to their copy, but as killer copywriter John Carlton said in his book Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets:

Good copy goes light on adjectives. And heavy on action verbs.

The right action verbs give your copy a muscular, grab-you-by-the-throat effect that keeps your reader glued to the screen.

The example below shows the difference between fluffy adjectives and power verbs in creating vivid mental images:

The stomach-turning news was extremely shocking. All of a sudden, he didn’t feel very good. He quickly sat down on the large black sofa and passed out.

After powering up with verbs:

The news hit him like a sharp hook to the stomach. He felt his heart rip, and an ocean of darkness washed through him as he collapsed into the sofa.

Big difference, right?

When it comes to descriptive power and sharp imagery, the second paragraph leaves the first, adjective-infested one coughing in the dust.

Here are some examples of powerfully “verbed-up” sentences from Jon Morrow’s Serious Bloggers Only landing page:

copywriting-jon-morrow-serious-bloggers

Pay attention to some of the verbs he uses:

  • Because they stumbled into popularity
  • They are desperate to seize the opportunity before it slips away from them.
  • If you’re a serious blogger, you’re tired of wading through thousands of articles, reading contradictory advice, and trying to figure out how to piece it all together.

See how alive and vivid the writing becomes with just a few well-placed sharp, powerful verbs?

Keep a thesaurus handy at all times, and be sure to have a swipe file on standby. This will help you inject strong verbs and words into your copy without ripping your hair out in frustration.

4. Adhere to the AIDA formula

When writing copy, it’s easy to find yourself staring at a blank page wondering, “What’s next?”

That’s where the AIDA formula (by copywriter Gary Halbert) comes in handy.

It’s a formula that allows you to consistently create a smooth, strong sales message that latches onto your reader’s attention and keeps them interested.

So what does AIDA stand for?

  • Attention. This is where you snag your prospect’s attention with a benefit-driven headline and introduction to make him want to read on.
  • Interest. This is where you’ll pique the interest of your prospects and nudge them deeper into your copy by describing how your pain solving product/service benefits their lives.
  • Desire. After arousing your prospects interest, here’s where you pump up his desire for what you’re selling. Usually with a bullet point list that describes all the juicy benefits of your product/service.
  • Action. After your reader is blown away with the amazing benefits your product, you then invite him/her to take action. Usually to make an order or fill in a form.

Here’s an example of the AIDA formula in action from the webprofits.com landing page.

Attention

copywriting-webprofits

The headline is curious and grabs the reader’s attention by suggesting that the SEO game has changed.

Interest

Once the page catches the reader’s attention, it cultivates interest with paragraphs which explain how SEO has changed (next to the laptop).

Desire

After that, it arouses the prospect’s desire by describing the benefits of the product.

copywriting-webprofits-benefits

Action

It finally closes with the “Get Free Analysis Now” call to action.

copywriting-webprofits-free-analysis

Following the AIDA formula inserts a smooth compelling flow into your copy and keeps readers glued to your sales message.

5. Harness the power of reframing to shoot up perceived value

A 1999 study by psychologists Davis and Knowles showed the shocking persuasive power of a technique called reframing. In the study, they went door to door and sold note cards for charity.

  • In the first pitch, they said that it was $3 for 8 cards. They made sales at 40% of households.
  • In their second pitch, they told people that it was 300 pennies for 8 cards, which was followed up by, “which is a bargain,” resulting in 80% of the households buying cards.

This tiny change in the pitch had a huge effect on results, but how and why was it so influential?

Here’s what happens:

When people are told the cost of the cards is 300 pennies instead of 3 dollars, their routine thought process is disrupted. Now, while they’re distracted trying to process the odd sounding “300 pennies” and why anyone would use pennies instead of dollars…

They’re immediately told that it’s a “bargain.” And because pennies sound so easy to spend in comparison to hard-earned dollars, they are more likely to accept the suggestion that the cards are a bargain.

This is known as reframing.

Reframing is a wickedly effective technique. It allows you to manipulate the perceived value of a product by making comparisons and shifting the focus of your reader.

Here’s an example of what reframing looks like:

copywriting-reframing-example

You wouldn’t rush to buy something that’s $500 a year right? I mean for most people, it’s a decent amount of change.

How about for $42 a month?

Or $8 (the price two lattes) a day?

Sounds much more appealing doesn’t it?

This landing page reframes the price of a brand new car in terms of two lattes per day ($8), which serves to soften the blow of the price and make the offer more appealing.

Here’s another example from the CopyHour landing page:

copywriting-copyhour-reframing

The landing page reframes the price by comparing the total price of the course to how much it costs per day, instantly reducing the weight of the price in the prospect’s mind.

Crafting seductive landing page copy doesn’t have to be painful

Powerful landing page copy doesn’t have to be painful to create. Pick a couple of strong techniques and tips, focus on the needs of your prospects, and you’ll be fine.

Now it’s your turn. How do you go about cranking up your copy power to increase conversions? What’s the weirdest conversion boost/decline you’ve had with regards to copywriting? I’d love to know!


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About Hassan Ud-deen
Hassan Ud-deen is a freelance blogger and sales page copywriter (who likes to be called “The Wordslinger”). He helps online businesses use content to increase growth and revenue. You can find out more about him on his blog www.f-bombmarketing.com. Shoot him an email if you need help with copywriting, and find him on Twitter here.
  • A really helpful post – thank you Hassan! I’ve had a skim and already have a lot to take away for our copy over at Paddle.com.

    • So glad it helped Fabio

      • hi, Nice tips for everyone who tries to build his career as a copywriter (such as freelancing copywriters on 2Polyglot or online free writers).

    • Nicely Written buddy

  • Excellent post! There are so many juicy nuggets buried throughout this post. I find the open loops ( The Zeigarnik Effect) fascinating and can’t wait to start experimenting. Great stuff Hassan!

    • Thanks Kevin!

      Yup open loops are definitely something else. My addiction to the sons of anarchy series is great proof haha.

  • Awesome article, loved it. The adjective versus verb technique alone is huge. Looking forward to using this advice, great job Hassan!

    • Cheers Chad,

      I saw a huge improvement in my writing when using more verbs. However adjective can be useful when used correctly. Let me know how it goes :)

  • Hey Hassan,

    Nice work on the article. Those examples made each point hit home for me.

    I’m definitely going to try out open loops in my copy.

    • Thanks Micahel, much appreciated.

      Open loops are always fun to try, have fun with them.

  • I agree with Kevin, the The Zeigarnik Effect sounds like a killer tactic. I’ll have to try that one out for size. Way to go Hassan!

  • Great insights Hassan! Your perspective about copywriting is really different. Here 15 more copywriting hacks published by friend Josue Valles, Content marketing expert http://www.simplilearn.com/copywriting-tips-for-landing-page-conversion-article . Pls share me your review

  • Thanks for this. Great stuff. Reading those Gary Halbert newsletters help a lot.

  • Thanks Rich,

    Yeah Gary Halberts newsletters are the ABC’s for any marketer. They’re a must read.

  • Your Point of view about copy writing is truly distinctive. The descriptive word versus verb procedure alone is immense. Anticipating utilizing this exhortation ..!

  • A really interesting and informative post, Hassan! Thank you. This will help me a lot in copywriting for our daily social postings. I’ve read about open loops before… just didn’t know it has a name: Zeigarnik effect. Will definitely keep that in mind. :)

    Tip: Open loops are especially useful in Google+ since you can post long copies but only the first 3 lines can be immediately seen. Pretty neat way to hook the audience, huh?

    • Great information, totaly agree with you Mariel. Since i am new in blog writing business, therefore this article is like a gift for me. A big thanks to the writer.

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  • Awesome post Hassan. Probably my favorite part was the 300 pennies vs $3 story, which illustrates perfectly the concept of reframing.

    Really nice post. Great work.

  • You know, I really hate open loops. I instinctively associate them with low-grade snake-oil type sales pitches, and immediately click away whenever I encounter them.

    Do you think it’s cultural?

  • If your readers don’t make it past the first few sentences, they sure as hell ain’t making it to your call to action.The trick is to make sentences so short and easy to read that they instantly suck your reader into your copy. In his book Advertising Secrets Of The Written Word, legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman even said:

    • post is explained clearly so that we are able to understand it clearly.

  • Hassan – thanks for a great post. So many wonderful tips. I loved the strong example for the power of action words instead of adjectives. Will definitely be keeping that in mind while I write :)

  • Massive one Hassan….Really your 5 Copywriting Tips are excellent. I am very much like to the 2nd step of Copywriting tip.

  • Great insights Hassan! Your perspective about copywriting is really different. Here 15 more copywriting hacks published by friend Josue Valles, Content marketing expert

  • Really Important points. Its very useful for beginners like me in Search engine optimization. That AIDA formula is awsome.I try in my blogs. Thank you for this info.

  • Nice article Clever Tips

  • Woow…Hilarious copy writing tips. I would be like ask you to share more ever excellent tips of copy writing..

  • That was a hughly interesting article. I love the open loop idea. I something that i’ve been doing but not to the extent you just oulined.

  • Lee

    Nice tips for everyone who tries to build his career as a copywriter (such as freelancing copywriters on 2Polyglot or online free writers).

  • hey great stuff regarding copywrite

  • Sterling

    Yuck. I get the idea of reframing but like another poster mentioned about open loops, the reframing immediately strikes me as sleazy and I leave. Or I get irritated at the extra step of figuring out what $0.52/day adds up to for my monthly budget.

    These are probably like exit intent; they can be used well but in most places they aren’t.

  • Great One and Hilarious copy writing tips. I would be like ask you to share more ever excellent tips of copy writing tips,

  • I am regular visitor really interesting and informative posts ! Thank you.

  • Hey Hassan

    Great tips, I’ve been checking out various examples of the reframing technique and have noticed it mostly in service rather than product copy. With products, I saw that the brands actually offer the option to repay in installment, let’s say $8 per day/week. With services it’s usually simply reframing to make it appear cheaper at $8 day/week.

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  • Such a helpful post this is! Being a copywriter working for clients globally, I have had certain confusions regarding the writing style I should maintain. Because every new client who hires me demands various forms of writing. To some extent, I tried reducing this difference level. Still, my clients are always happy about the work I have been submitting. How do you promote yourself in the field of freelance arena? I would strongly appreciate it if you get back to me.

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  • Thank you for This Post. But if your readers don’t make it past the first few sentences, they sure as hell ain’t making it to your call to action.The trick is to make sentences so short and easy to read that they instantly suck your reader into your copy.

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  • Those are really powerful tips! Good thought on using powerful verbs. It really spices the copy up and makes it unique. It also makes it easier to engage with the readers.
    This post contains more copywriting tips you may find useful: http://writtent.com/blog/stuck-writing-35-sure-fire-copywriting-tips-tricks-pros/

  • Well done :) Thank you for sharing such vital tips ;)

    I will add one more- stay organized. Many people claim that work organization might kill their creativity. I don’t agree with them :)

    For my everyday copywriting scheduling I use my kanban board (www.kanbanery.com). It helps me to visualize my workflow and meet deadlines.

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  • Awesome article, loved it. The adjective versus verb technique alone is huge. Looking forward to using this advice, great job Hassan! Answer Key 2016

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  • Thanks Rich,

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  • Awesome article, loved it. The adjective versus verb technique alone is huge. Looking forward to using this advice, great job Hassan!

  • Well done :) Thank you for sharing such vital tips ;)
    I will add one more- stay organized. Many people claim that work organization might kill their creativity. I don’t agree with them :)

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