4 Dynamite Tips on Writing Copy that Converts

green-typewriter-300x300Every piece of copy should be created with an end goal in mind. Whether that goal is just to keep your audience reading to the next line, to sell a product or service, or even to simply entertain – the words you write must serve a purpose.

And in order for copy to serve a purpose, it must first convert.

But how does one write compelling copy that converts?

How do you grab your readers’ attention from the first sentence, and hold it all the way though until the end?

Understand Your Reader

The first step in writing copy that converts is understanding who you’re writing to. Think of your ideal customer. Is he a teenage boy living at home with his parents? Or a working mom of three? The way in which you write is going to be drastically different based on your answer to that question.

Because if you’re not writing for a specific audience – if, instead, you’re trying to be too broad – you’re not going to reach anyone at all. They’re just going to tune you out because they won’t connect with what you’re saying.

Determine who your audience is, and write for them and them alone.

Use Stories

We’ve already talked about the benefit of using storytelling in copywriting, and the same facts can be applied here too.

We all enjoy stories in some way or another. They connect with us, slowly drawing us in – once we start reading, we keep going because we want to know the ending! (At least I know I do…)

The same holds true for using stories within your copy – people will want to know the ending.

Focus on stories about overcoming adversity and solving problems – because copy that converts solves problems.

And if you’re trying to sell a product or service, tell a story about an individual who used the product to overcome the very problem your readers are looking to solve. Tactfully weave it in throughout the article so readers will want to keep reading to discover the outcome.

Present the Unique Value and Benefits

What makes your product or service unique? Why should your readers choose you over the competition?

These are the kinds of questions that you’ll need to answer in your copy if you want to convert readers into customers.

Some examples of value and benefits:

  • How will this product make life better? Or easier?
  • Reasons why you are better than the competition.
  • How do you stand out from the crowd?
  • How will this product make your reader stand out from the crowd?
  • What’s different about the way you are doing things?
  • Is there something unique or charitable about your company?
  • Is there a difference in cost? If your product or service is more expensive, be sure to explain why.
  • How will this improve life for the families of your readers?

The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. Just be clear on the ‘why’ of what you’re offering and your readers will catch the vision!

Overcome Their Objections and Risk Reversal

What are their objections?

Is it the cost? Explain why you’re worth the higher price point by detailing exactly what you will bring to the table. Make sure your readers understand the value of what you are offering as opposed to your competition.

Is it the time commitment? Explain how this product will make life easier for them or their families in the long run.

The key here is to establish trust. If your readers don’t trust you, no amount of compelling copy will convince them otherwise. Be honest and upfront about everything and don’t sugarcoat. If you’ve really got a good service or product, the value and benefits should speak for themselves and give you enough ammunition to overcome any objectives your readers might have.

And always be thinking about the ‘why’ instead of focusing on the ‘what.’ They probably already know what you’re promoting – you just need to show them why it’s important/necessary/helpful.

I hope these tips were helpful! If you have any questions, or have anything to add, please leave them in the comments below!

How to Use Storytelling to Create Stronger Copy

green-typewriter-300x300Are Storytelling and Copywriting related?

At first glance, it might not seem as though storytelling and copywriting have much in common. I mean, storytelling is all about entertainment, while copywriting is widely used for branding, marketing, and sales.

But, did you know that a lot of famous storytellers got their starts as copywriters? That’s right, authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Sayers, and Joseph Heller all started off their writing careers as copywriters. Not only could they write great novels, but you better believe they found a way to incorporate the art of storytelling into copywriting.

Do you use storytelling and copywriting interchangeably? Here are a few reasons why you should:

Stories are Powerful

Think of the last story you read. Now think of the last blog post you read. Which one is more memorable? I’m going to guess it was the story.

Words are powerful, but words arranged and aligned into stories are even stronger. Why? Because stories have the ability to captivate an audience, pulling readers into a new world and keeping their attention focused on the plot and characters.

Well-told stories have the ability to teach us things, help us grow, expand our minds and increase our understanding of the world around us.

So, with all that being said, why wouldn’t you want to use stories within your sales copy? If you can effectively gain a readers’ attention and keep them focused on the words you are saying, there’s no reason not to at least try it. I’d say the chances are good that you’ll create a memorable piece of content that converts readers into customers in no time.

Grab Your Readers’ Attention

Stories grab the attention of your readers. When they are invested in the outcome of the story you are telling, don’t you think they’ll want to keep on reading straight through until the end?

And when people read a great story on your website, they’ll be more likely to talk about it and share it with their friends. They’ll be more likely to commit to you and your product.

notebook-300x300Uses of Stories in Copy

But how? That’s the golden question. If storytelling doesn’t come naturally to you, here are some easy ideas for incorporating stories seamlessly into your blog posts or articles.

1. Use Case Studies. Have you ever tried something related to your blog post personally or know of someone who did? Great, you can use a case study. Detail exactly what you did (or what your friend did) and take the project all the way through to the results.

By weaving an actual case study into your copy, you’re telling the full story, complete with all of the ups and downs. Use rich details and don’t leave anything out. Readers will want to see how everything turned out, so they’ll be more likely to read to the end of the article. You might even convince them to try it for themselves if you were successful!

2. Examples from Real Life (or Imaginary Life). Have a funny story related to your blog post, or just something that illustrates the point you are trying to make? Take that imagery and turn it into words. Or, you can always just make something up, that works too.

Introduce the story in the hook/lead of your blog post, reference it throughout the body, and then wrap it up in the conclusion. People are going to want to know what happens. They’re going to keep reading. And that’s the whole point of copywriting anyway – to keep people reading further and further down the page.

3. Make Your About Section Work for You. Use your about section to tell your own personal story. Make it real and be sure to reference it often throughout your website in various capacities.

Your goal with this is to show people who you are and how you can help, build and establish trust with them, and then convince them to partner with you through becoming a regular reader/customer/whatever you are going for. Just remember to be authentic and consistent.

4. Incorporate Tone throughout Your Website. Going along with the about section, incorporating a familiar tone throughout all the copy on your site can help establish trust. Why? Because people start to become comfortable with you.

They might not be able to meet you in person, but if they can recognize your writing style and they associate that with quality service/products, they’ll be more likely to trust you in the long run.

Incorporating the Elements

All stories have certain elements within them that make them what they are – stories. Without the essential elements, they wouldn’t be interesting, and no one would read them.

Some important elements to incorporate include:

  • Use a solid hook at the beginning to capture the readers’ attention and keep them reading.
  • Focus on the small details, but make sure the details are researched well so they can go even deeper into the storyline.
  • Utilize plot and make people care about what happens to the characters.
  • Touch on readers’ emotions.
  • Incorporate a beginning, middle and end to the story so readers can easily follow along.

There are so many other ways to incorporate stories and many other methods for doing so, but the most important thing is to have fun with it! If you’re enjoying what you write and you’re telling a story that is both entertaining and relevant, I guarantee you’ll grab your readers’ attention. Give it a try and see how it works for you!

5 Solid Ways to Create Killer Headlines that Actually Work

Headlines are more than just a little important – in fact, they may be the most important part of your blog post altogether.

How is this possible?

Well, according to CopyBlogger, an average of 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. That means that even if you write the best, most interesting article of all time, 8 out of 10 people won’t read it unless you grab their attention with an amazing headline.

The goal of any headline is to move readers along to the bulk of the article, but how do you convince people to keep reading?

There are a LOT of techniques out there, tried and true, but here are 5 of my personal favorite headlines that actually work. Try some of these out on your own blog and see how they work!

Gone-Viral-300x3001. Lists, Lists and More Lists

It’s no accident that many viral articles online are actually just lists. People love lists, plus, it’s easy to make the headline really catchy.

For example, when you choose a headline like “7 Proven Ways to Increase Your Bottom Line Online,” people are going to want to find out more. They will see you as an authority on the subject, since you have proven methods, and the idea of 7 different methods is even more appealing than something vague like, “Different Ways to Increase Your Bottom Line Online.”

2. Use Numbers, Especially Odd Ones

Numbers go hand-in-hand with lists. And for some reason, people are drawn to numbers in headlines, especially odd numbers.

A number will stand out against a sea of text, drawing the readers’ eye and sparking a certain curiosity to see what the rest of the article will entail.

3. The Ever-Popular “How To”

One thing about good titles is that they provide useful information, and what’s more useful than a good “how to” post? Not only are you sparking curiosity, but also sharing details about how to accomplish something that readers are already interested in.

People are always looking for information, but in order to get them past the headline and into the article, your “how to” headline also has to convey the benefits. For example, talking about how to do something better, easier or quicker will resonate well with our fast-moving society. Make sure that they understand the benefits of reading your article from the headline alone.

4. Provide some Shock Value

Have an interesting statistic or quirky fact that’s related to your blog post? Incorporate it into your headline! People are drawn to this sort of thing – they’ll want to know the rest of the story, so they’ll click through and read the blog post.

Don’t go overboard with this, it might make you seem a bit annoying and fake after a while. But when used sparingly, this type of headline can be extremely effective.

5. Offer a Solution or Share a Secret

If someone is online looking for an article, chances are good that they’re looking for a solution to their current problem, whatever that might be. If you can convince them from your headline that you have the solution, they’ll be more likely to read the rest of the article.

Plus, if you have an insider secret or tip of the trade, don’t hesitate to include that in your headline. People like to learn new and valuable information, and if you can provide this, don’t hesitate to do so! For example, if you are writing an article on gardening techniques, you might write something like, “The Secret Strategy for Keeping Your Garden Green.”

There are so many other ways to go about creating killer headlines that actually work, but these should at least get you started. Also, I would highly recommend checking out this amazing Headline Writing resource from CopyBlogger. It’s seriously chock-full of helpful tips and tricks – definitely worth a read.

What about you? Have you tried any of these techniques on your own blogs?

How to Improve Your Search Engine Ranking by Using Cornerstone Content

Throughout our recent series on SEO, we’ve talked about ways to improve your ranking in the search engines for certain keywords, but there’s one strategy we haven’t really touched on yet.

It’s crazy, I know, there are so many options and methods that the whole topic of SEO can seem a bit overwhelming and confusing, but fear not – this is one strategy that will actually make your life a little easier and your website a little more organized.

I’m talking about cornerstone content.

green-typewriter-300x300You may be wondering – what exactly is cornerstone content? Essentially, cornerstone content is an in-depth, super informative, extremely useful piece of mega-content centered on a single keyword or phrase that is very important to your website.

Let me back up a little bit. When you’re in the early process of developing a content marketing plan or SEO strategy for your website, one of the most important things you can do is keyword research. You need to find out which terms and phrases are regularly searched for within your niche or industry, and more importantly, you need to try and rank for those keywords yourself.

For example, let’s say you have a website that is all about baking. And then let’s say you do a bit of keyword research, and you find out that one of the most searched for phrases within the baking industry is “how to bake the perfect cake.” Now in all honesty, there’s probably going to be a lot of competition from other websites to rank for a term like that, but let’s say you decide to go ahead and try to rank it anyway (knowing full well that it will NOT happen overnight – just had to get that out there. Ranking for anything, especially competitive terms, takes time and patience.)

Anyways, so how do you go about ranking for that specific term? By creating informative, useful and in-depth content on the topic, that’s how. But not just any content. Keep in mind here that pages or posts are what cause you to rank – not your website as a whole. Your URL – BakingTips.com maybe in this instance – won’t be what ranks for your keywords; the pages and posts that you create within the website are what will do the ranking. So you need to have different pages targeting different terms. It won’t work to try and cram a dozen keywords onto one page – that will just be confusing and you’ll wind up not ranking for anything. On the other hand, it also won’t help to create 50 blog posts about the same topic or phrase – unless you have one, singular piece of mega-content to link all those posts to. If you don’t, the search engines will see all 50 posts but will have no idea which one to use in the rankings. It’s confusing, and your job is to make things as simple and easy to understand as possible.

And that is where cornerstone content comes into play.

When correctly implemented, cornerstone content serves as a more permanent, in-depth resource within your website for those topics that you deem to be most important.

You’ll want to make this piece of content as awesome as possible, because when you continually link to it from other related posts within your website, the search engines are going to realize that it’s important, causing that page to be the one that ranks for that particular keyword in the search results. Going back to our example, that’s what people are going to see when they search for “how to bake the perfect cake” and wind up on your website – so spend some time on it, and make it shine!

Then, whenever you talk about cake making elsewhere on your website, include a link back to that main piece of cornerstone content on the topic. The more links, the better. And this way, you won’t be trying to rank for the same keyword 50 times – you’ll have one piece of solid content (with lots of links pointed at it) that you can feel proud of; something you actually want people to find, read and see.

You can apply this principle to any topic on any website. Just do your keyword research, figure out the most important terms, and start creating awesome pieces of content. And if you’ve already been blogging for some time, that’s ok – it’s not too late to go back and create cornerstone content out of what you’ve already written. Look for certain keywords that appear frequently throughout your blog posts. Once you’ve found those, think about combining the key elements from the individual blog posts onto one page (one for each keyword). Then, going forward, whenever you blog about that topic again, be sure to link back to your newly created cornerstone content.

One more thing – when you do create your cornerstone content pieces, think about turning those pieces into actual static pages that live within the framework of your website instead of just simply leaving them as blog posts. Pages are easier to find and are also easily navigated to within a click or two from the home page. Consider possibly adding a “Resources” tab to your primary navigation menu, with a drop down menu linking to the various pieces of content. Or you could place links to the content within the main sidebar of your website. Make sure that it’s visible and easily accessible – this will only help your chances of it being read and shared by those who visit your website.

So, in a nutshell, cornerstone content pieces are just really informative articles about topics that are extremely relevant to your niche or industry. They are the pieces of content that will be ranked by the search engines, and the pieces of content that potential readers and clients will most likely stumble across while searching for things they need online. They are the most important pieces of content on your website, and as such should be easily accessible, highly visible and frequently linked to.

Have you tried using cornerstone content within your own website? I’m just starting to implement it here on JSL – I’ll let you know when I start seeing results! As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below!