Copywriting is a challenging, interesting art form: You often have limited space in which to sell something big. You have to instantly hook the reader’s attention and tap into one of their deep-seated needs and desires. And you have to capture the brand’s core promise and voice at the same time. That’s a tall order.
Unfortunately, increasingly savvy customers are able to see through copywriting’s winning formulas. They’re shying away from copy that seems too sales-y or persuasive. They want authentic, organic content, and that means that the rules have changed.
As a copywriter, how can you ensure that your words are compelling? While the new approach favors great content over formulaic constructions, there are still a few key words that can get you results. Here’s why.
If you’ve ever seen an ad that talked about its target personas in third-person, you’ve probably noticed how boring and impersonal that can be. By keeping the focus on the reader, you can make a stronger connection.
In fact, a lot of copywriters are discovering that a conversational approach works better than what we might call a descriptive approach. This goes along with inbound marketing, a departure from traditional “interruptive” marketing in which advertisers intruded upon their audience’s day with demands that they buy. The idea is to draw the reader in rather than shoving yourself onto them. Use second person in your copywriting to help achieve this effect.
These days, most consumers are very risk-averse. They’ve all been burned at some point by a scammer — or a company that didn’t live up to its promise. That means that psychologically, readers are more likely to take action if they get a sense that their risk is minimized.
Using words such as “safe,” “risk-free,” “certified,” and other descriptions can help boost your reader’s confidence in what you’re offering. If you’re using a conversational approach, it’s also effective to acknowledge the reader’s problem or concern, then explain how you’ll address it.
Today’s consumers relish innovation and novelty, so playing upon that is an effective way to sell your product or service. No one wants to purchase something that’s old-hat or regurgitated. Anything you can do to tap into this desire something new and modern can boost your copy’s impact.
Other variations on this theme include “handcrafted,” “new,” “lush,” “exciting” and so on. Don’t be pretentious: phrases such as “state-of-the-art” or “top-of-the-line” are overused and insincere. Express to your reader how your company is doing things differently than all your competitors and play that up in your diction.
If there’s one thing that’s true about most people, it’s that everyone has a fear of missing out (FOMO). They like to be included and special, so copy that suggests that they might not be able to take part in something that is highly effective.
Use words and phrases such as “luxury,” “limited time,” and “select” to build a sense of urgency in your reader. By portraying your product or service as something that only a select few can obtain, you can psychologically push them toward taking action.
Something about the word “discover” makes it perform very well. Perhaps it’s that it’s more exciting than “learn” or “see.” Perhaps it’s that it taps into our sense of curiosity and wonder. Either way, asking readers to “discover” something is a great way to get them to engage with your content.
Any action-oriented word works well in this context. Rather than asking readers to “learn,” “know,” “do,” or “check out,” invite them to “begin,” “enroll,” “unpack,” “challenge,” and so on. Give them a way to envision what will happen if they take action.
Words have power. Don’t waste it on weak words or clichéd phrases. Those communicate to your reader that you don’t have anything special or unique to offer. Keep it conversational and relevant to their interests: Imagine that by writing the copy, you’re trying to help a friend solve their problem. Ultimately, that’s what marketing is: convincing people that you alone can help them achieve what they want to achieve. With careful, compelling copy, this changes from a difficult task into an easy one.