Well let’s just dive right in and pick up where we left off in part 1 of this post, the secret to writing persuasive sales copy…
Last time we ended with the age old proverb…
People buy on emotions and then justify the decision with facts.
And more than 20 years of sales experience has taught me it’s true about most people (Probably everyone, but I try to steer clear from making absolute statements about people. Especially when it comes to personality traits).
So most people buy on emotion and justify the decision with logic. And most marketers understand selling on emotion.
But I still see a shit ton of copy out there that neglects the “logic” part…
What’s the secret to writing persuasive sales copy?
Simple enough question… with a simple enough answer…
The Answer : I do not know… and neither does anyone else.
That’s because there is no “secret” to writing persuasive sales copy.
No secret sauce… No magic formula… No ancient writing talisman that gets you a 50% response on every offer…
There’s only fundamental sales principles that can be tweaked and tested to fit different situations.
The truth is, nobody knows what copy will get the best response, before it goes live. The last 100 years of direct response have proven that great looking copy can flop, while mediocre copy, delivered at the right time to the right people, can knock it out of the park.
Now in all fairness, many good books have already been written on the awesome power of selling through the written word. And you don’t need me to write another cookbook just to reheat yesterday’s leftovers.
But my hope for this post is by sharing a small taste of my own personal thought process, it might resonate with a few more people.
And who knows, maybe it’ll even help someone up their game a bit.
What is SEO writing?
Simple definition… SEO writing is content that’s Search Engine Optimized.
Which basically means having the right format, and density of “keywords” or “keyword phrases” in your writing, so the search engines know how to index your pages.
When we get the SEO right, our web pages show up at the top of search results.
And that’s what we want, right?
Well, yes… and no.
Yes, we do want our content to be Search Engine Optimized, so it has the best chance of showing up at the top of search engines.
But the problem starts when we write content with SEO as the main, or only focus. It might get us to the top of the search engines, but here’s the caveat…
Search engines don’t buy anything! People do.
What good is having your content show up near the top of google, if no humans actually want to read it.
Always remember, people use search engines to look for a particular phrase because they want to know more about it, or because they want to buy what you’re selling.
If your content reads like it was written by a robot, for robots, then you can pat yourself on the back for getting to the top of google. And when you’re done patting yourself on the back, you can spend the rest of your day wondering why your bounce rate is north of 98%
That said… There is a balance between SEO content, and HUMAN optimized content.
And that’s what we’re going to look at right now. How SEO copywriting can destroy your content (and possibly ruin your brands reputation at the same time). And what we can do to avoid this mistake, while still ranking in the search engines…
Of course the only way to know for sure if your sales copy is effective is to test it and measure the results.
But there is a way you can pre-test your copy to give you a better than average chance that it’ll be good…
Have people read your copy before you put it out into the world.
In fact, have as many regular / average people as possible read it before you put it out into the world.
If you work at a company, show it to the non-advertising people. Show it to the mail clerk, show it to the maintenance guy, show it to the person who brings you coffee in the morning…
If you don’t work for a big company, then show it to friends, neighbors, or family members. Hell, you can even show it to the mailman if you get the chance.
And here’s the key to this whole process…
There’s an old saying that goes… “The enemy of my enemy, is my friend”.
And when it comes to writing great sales copy this can be a very powerful thing to remember.
When writing copy, if you really want to rally the troops behind your cause, few things sell better than a little outrage at a common enemy.
If you and your target audience share resentment towards the same institution, corporation, or deity, then you’re already on the same side.
And when you’re on the same side, it’s easy to get people to pay attention to you when you speak out against the enemy.
In religion, it’s the devil trying to get your soul…
In finance, it’s the big banks or the government that wants to steal your money…
In the health industry, it’s bogus medical claims from the other guys, or it’s big pharma and the FDA that’s corrupt, and they’re the ones who are keeping you fat and sick…
In many retail sectors it’s the big box stores, or Amazon that’s destroying the livelihood of small business…
By drawing on a common enemy, you create an emotional reaction in your reader. (the most likely emotion is “fear” or “outrage”).
And invoking emotion is the holy grail when it comes to copywriting.
Have you ever wanted to buy something, so you decide to do a little “due diligence” in order to find your best choice? Only to discover that the more you learn – the more confusing it gets to make a decision?
Who knew there were so many different types of earbuds for my mp3 player?
I just wanted a pair that sounds good at a reasonable price. So I headed over to Amazon only to discover 400 pages of earbuds for sale!!!???
Holy crap!!! (I thought this was going to be an easy purchase, but now I don’t know which ones to buy)
Do I want sound dampening? (whatever that means?)
Noise reduction? (No, I want them to make noise. It’s kinda the whole purpose)
Wide ones or skinny ones? Rubber tips or plastic tips? Over the ear or not?
And what the hell are “Airpods”???
Now I’ve got a headache, when all I wanted to do was buy a pair of earbuds for my mp3 player.
Of course, that was Amazon where we expect to find a massive variety of choices for sale.
But there’s a valuable lesson here for all of us smaller marketers…
I was having a chat with a friend of mine (who’s also a writer) and after a little while, the conversation came around to the topic of syntax, and context in writing.
(yeah, I guess that probably makes us a couple of nerds. But this is the kind of stuff we’re interested in. So it’s not that weird for us to talk about advertising and copywriting)
Anyway, I thought I’d share the highlights of our conversation with you.
If you’re interested… then read on.
If you’re not interested… then I guess you can go nerd out somewhere else?
First, let’s start with a quick definition of syntax, just to get the ball rolling…
Basically, “syntax” in writing refers to the order of the words you use.
By using the same words, in a different order, we can completely change the meaning of the message.
Take this next sentence for example (Warning: cheesy example coming up…)
“The dog bit the boy”
Now, let’s change the order of the words…
“The boy bit the dog”
See how that works?
Same words, but the sentence now has a completely different meaning. Especially for the boy (and the dog)
So how can this syntax thing help you with your copywriting?
Let’s say you have a bonus offer with your product, and you want to add a touch of scarcity to your call to action.
The way you word it can have a huge impact on how it’s perceived by your audience.
Take this next example…
If you’ve ever heard a good story, or got caught up in a great movie, then you already know the power that stories have to enchant an audience.
One reason stories captivate us so much is because, as humans, for thousands of years it was the way we taught lessons and communicated ideas from one generation to the next.
So basically humans are hard-wired to tell, and listen to stories. And they’re an essential part of human communication.
Another reason stories work so well is they have the ability to create empathy with the characters. They can stir up our emotions and cause us to create a bond with the main characters and their situation.
As copywriters we can tap into this natural urge for stories and draw customers into our message, and into our brand.
In fact, stories can be one of the most powerful marketing tools we have, because when used properly stories can influence our emotions, behavior, and ultimately our buying decisions.
So the real question is… “How do we use stories to sell our products”?
Storytelling to engage consumers…
One copywriting staple that belongs in almost every offer is the “guarantee” (I say “almost” every offer because some offers, like clearance sales, or going out of business sales, or private sales, might be “as is, as seen, no guarantee” offers)
But for the most part, if you plan on making a lot of sales, a solid guarantee is a must have to relieve the natural skepticism from consumers.
If a company is willing to guarantee their product, then it must be pretty good… right? And if you’re willing to refund my money then there’s no risk to making the purchase.
So a solid guarantee can remove some of the hesitation from the purchasing decision.
Of course, nearly every product has a guarantee or warranty of some kind. But not all guarantees are created equal.
For example, most products will at least have a generic guarantee that looks something like these…
– Try it risk-free for 30 days.
– If you’re not completely satisfied, we’ll give your money back.
– Simply return the product within 90 days for a full refund.
Now technically there’s nothing wrong with any of these guarantees. And while it’s true that all of them make the purchase seem less risky, and might instill a little more confidence in the product, the problem is they all look exactly the same as the guarantee everybody else (aka. your competition) is offering.
I’ve said it 1000 times before and I’ll say it again…
In the past, marketers have tried to hype up and even glamorize their products or services to make them sound more exciting and irresistible.
And technically there’s nothing wrong with that way of thinking, because we all need to make our offer as exciting as possible, so our visitors will want what we’re selling… right?
Unfortunately too many advertisers took the hype too far, and now most consumers have caught on and are becoming immune to all the dubious claims and hyped-up B.S.
I mean let’s face it… Not EVERY product can be the “All New Amazing Solution” to every persons dreams. (no matter how fast, easy, safe, and “scientifically” proven you claim it to be)
Consumers are pretty savvy these days and most of us have grown weary of all the “over the top” claims made by advertisers and promoters.
As a result; Our bullshit detectors have been set to high and we’ve learned to ignore (or just roll our eyes at) the hypey claims coming from the advertising world.
Those types of ads might still make a few sales, mostly because there will always be new people who haven’t seen them yet, but they don’t engender trust among the masses. And they will never give you a reputation for being sincere or trustworthy.
The way to generate trust is not to make outrageous claims that can’t be believed. But instead we need to be authentic with our product. Here’s why…