Authors note: Throughout my teachings I use the terms “client” and “customer” interchangeably. I also use the pronouns “he” and “she” interchangeably, and also the words “product” and “service”. So whichever word I write on the page just know it represents both.
In this session we’re going to talk about keeping your audience engaged with your copy.
And a lot of it has to do with the structure and flow of our copy, and how it relates to the readability of our writing.
We all know the importance of an attention-grabbing headline, and we understand that it needs to call out our ideal audience and pull them into our copy.
Now we’re going to look at how to keep things flowing beyond the headline so our writing not only communicates with ease, but so each element of our copy keeps the reader engaged right through to the conclusion.
First, let’s start with some guidelines. And then we’ll go deeper into each one…
Rule #1 – Stay focused on your audience
First and foremost, always focus on the reader and what’s in it for them.
If you want your reader to stay engaged with your copy, then we need to make sure they know exactly why they should care. And one thing that nearly everyone cares about is… themselves.
In sales copy make a big bold promise early on (with your headline and your lede) that tells the reader what’s in it for them and why they should care. Then make sure you give them a reason to stay with you.
And the best reason is because they feel they’re getting something in exchange for their time, and money.
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to make sure your copy is focusing on the reader, is a simple method I have my students do when they evaluate copy. The only criteria for this skill is you must be able to count.
I can almost hear you asking… “what does counting have to do with writing persuasive copy”?
Well, you’re about to find out…
Go take a look at your sales letter, or advertisement, or your website copy.
Now, without reading into the message, just count the number of times you see the words “me, I, we, us, our” or any other word relating to you and your company.
Then count the number of times you see the words “you” or “yours”, or any words that relate to your audience.
Now here comes the tricky math part…
If the words relating to your audience don’t show up at least twice as many times as the words relating to you, then you’ve got it backwards my friend, and we need to fix it.
Hey, I’m not trying to embarrass you. This is one of the most common and basic mistakes I see in many sales messages I’ve been asked to review or re-write for a client. (And I’ve reviewed hundreds of pieces of copy over the years).
If it doesn’t apply to you and your copy, then congratulations you’re off to a great start
If it does apply to you, then hopefully after today it never will again.
You see, the problem is most business owners (and sadly, many advertising agencies) write ads from the company’s point of view. Starting with the attitude – “What can we say to impress everyone with how great we are?”
And the copy ends up sounding something like … “we provide quality… we’ve been in business for years… our product and service is great… our customers love us… etc. etc.”
Copy like that is ego driven, and it gets a predictable response from most of your audience. And that response is… “Who Cares?”
Because your customers are reading your ad from their own point of view. And they have only one question in mind… “How is this going to benefit me?”
So we need to take all of those features (the ones you’re so proud of) and turn them into benefits for your audience.
This means every time we refer to ourselves in our copy, we need to try and figure out how to turn it around and make it about our reader. Sometimes it’s not possible without the copy sounding awkward. But most of the time it’s not only possible, it also powers up the persuasive action of the copy.
One of the quickest ways to do this is to simply say “which means” at the end of every feature you mention.
After each feature packed sentence you write, think… “which means _________ for you” ( fill in the blank with the actual benefit to your target audience)
When you use this simple exercise, it’ll help you write your copy in a more client centric, and benefit driven manner…
… Which means you’ll be able to connect better with your audience…
… Which means more people will trust that you care, and that you are here to help them fulfill their needs…
… Which means they’ll be more likely to do business with you…
… Which means a lot more conversions, and more revenue for you and your business.
Do you see what I did there? I used “which means _______” and took it multiple levels deep until I started turning it into a solid benefit… for you!
To tighten it up a bit I might go with…
“When you use this simple exercise, it’ll help you write your copy in a more client centric and benefit driven manner. This will help you get a lot more conversions, and more revenue for you and your business.”
Of course this exercise won’t give you polished sales copy all by itself, and I’m not recommending you just repeat the words “which means” after every sentence in your actual copy (or it could start to sound redundant and boring).
But thinking this way, will help get you moving in the right direction (a client oriented, benefit driven direction).
To show you how we can change it up a bit by using different variations (instead of always just saying “which means” every time) Here’s a couple examples for you to ponder…
- “Our 25 years in business means we’re not some fly-by-night company. Which means you can trust that we’ll be here when you need us”
- “Our company uses 100% ECO friendly power in our manufacturing plant. That’s why you can feel good knowing your purchase is helping protect the environment”
- “Our financial newsletter is backed by over 100 years of combined financial expertise. So you can trust that you’ll get only solid financial advice in each and every issue”
Do you see how we’re turning features into benefits by using the “which means” method?
OK, this brings us to the end of Rule #1 – Staying focused on your audience…
The biggest idea that I hope you get from this concept is to always think about what’s in it for your reader, because I guarantee that’s what your reader is thinking about. And unless you plan on buying 100% of your own products, then we need to think about those customers and what we can do for them.
Now let’s move on to Rule #2 – Staying focused on one main idea…
This is another key concept, that when done right can add clarity and congruency to your message. This will help you keep people engaged with your copy from start to finish, and will make it more likely that they’ll take the action you want them to take.
This is going to be a short lesson because it’s a straight forward concept that you either understand, or you don’t…
Rule #2 – Staying focused on one main idea
The best copy should have only one (1) main idea. And one (1) main purpose.
Whether it’s sales copy or content writing, we want to be very specific about our core idea.
There’s enough confusion and information clutter in this world, and your reader can find misdirection and inconguency anywhere (and everywhere). We want to be a beacon of clarity for our dear reader.
There’s a reason why she started reading your copy in the first place, and once you bring her in, this is not the time to shift her focus by talking about something different. Because if you do, you can easily break the trance of focus, and leave the door wide open for any distraction that wants to steal your readers attention away.
The point is to stay on focus and keep your reader moving in one particular direction throughout your copy.
So don’t ramble off into multiple directions in a single piece of copy.
…If you’re selling life insurance, don’t write about the outfit you wore to a party last night. (Even if you think that talking about personal stuff is building rapport with your audience, more times than not your reader will start thinking “what does this have to do with anything?”)…
… If you’re selling furniture, don’t talk about life insurance (unless you can somehow tie it into how your furniture is heirloom quality, and it will be worthy of passing down to future generations someday)…
Now if you have multiple ideas that simply need to be added to the same page (although I still must caution against it), then that’s where the use of section breaks and subheadings can help. Just make sure that every section is always relevant to the one main point of the entire piece.
But honestly, if you have more than one big idea for your copy, it’s almost always better to just create separate offers that you can split test against each other. Because after many hundreds of split tests I’ve found that when we stick to one main point, and one main focus, our readers engagement and our response rates go up significantly.
How do we know when we have just one main idea for our piece?
The simplest way is to summarize your entire page into just a sentence or two. If you can do this, then you’ve primarily focused on one main idea.
For example: This page contains around 1600 words. And a quick summary of the main idea is “How to keep your audience engaged with your copy”.
With this focus, even though we have a couple different sub-topics, they all relate to the one core purpose.
And even if I appear to stray slightly from the main topic (in order to offer proof, or segue into another benefit), I can always bring it back around to the one main idea.
Having only one main idea per piece of copy helps provide clarity of message in your copy, for your readers. And in a world full of confusion, a little clarity can be a welcome gift.
If you can’t sum it up within a few sentences then your main idea may still be a little fuzzy and unfocused.
OK, I said this was going to be a short lesson because it’s a straight forward concept that you either understand, or you don’t. And I always try to stay true to my word, so we’ll end this lesson here.
I do have one more important lesson to add to this article, Rule #3 – Making it easy to absorb your message, but this post is already starting to get a bit long. So I’m going to turn rule #3 into its own separate post.
So mark this lesson complete, and by the time you get to the next page – Keeping Your Audience Engaged – Part 2 – I should be just about finished typing it up for you…
See you there…
All the best,
- Part 2 – The secret to writing persuasive sales copy - April 30, 2020
- The Secret To Writing Persuasive Sales Copy - April 19, 2020
- Here’s Why SEO Writing Can Destroy Your Content (and what you can do to make it better) - March 29, 2020