Do you ever wish you could find a spark to ignite your writing?
You’ve read the theory about writing persuasive copy.
But when you sit at your desk, the words don’t come. You feel you can’t do it. You simply can’t write persuasive copy.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Let me tell you a little secret about how I learned to write.
I’ve read piles of books with copywriting tips. Joe Sugarman. Eugene Schwartz. John Caples. Drew Eric Whitman. Robert Collier. And many more. I’ve learned tons from them.
But I’ve learned even more by studying website copy. I dissected the copy and learned why some copy smells fishy, and why some copy enthralls. I learned why some copy bores me and makes me click away, and why other copy pulls me in and seduces me to buy.
Shall we begin?
Good copy starts with understanding how your product or service helps your customers, as Basecamp shows:
Basecamp helps you wrangle people with different roles, responsibilities, and objectives toward a common goal: Finishing a project together.
Click here to join the 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for busy people (it’s free!)
FireBox copywriters have a knack for finding problems you didn’t even know you had, and then offering you the perfect solution:
Keeping warm is no mean feat when the merciless chills of winter start creeping in. You can clutch onto a smelly hot water bottle that’ll be cold in less than an hour; shuffle round in a pair of slippers, layer on a multitude of hats and scarves or just give up and crawl back into bed.
Now a distinctly more toasty solution has popped up – the Toast Heated Pillow. Snuggle and squeeze this super-sized (and very smiley) slice and he’ll keep you nice and cosy for up to 4 hours.
Good writing is simple, but not simplistic.
The website of the UK’s government keeps content to the point, helping readers get answers to their questions quickly:
You don’t pay duty or tax on goods you bring in from the European Union (EU) as long as you:
- transport them yourself
- will use them yourself or give them away as a gift
- have paid duty and tax in the country where you bought them
In order to use MailChimp, you must:
- be at least eighteen (18) years old and able to enter into contracts;
- complete the registration process;
- agree to the Terms; and
- provide true, complete, and up to date contact information.
Evernote‘s copy is also simple, engaging, and focused on the benefits of their products to you as a reader:
Everything in Evernote instantly syncs across any computer or phone you use. Start working on one device and continue on another without ever missing a beat.
6. MAG International
The content of UK-based charity MAG International makes us imagine what it’s like to live in a land contaminated by cluster bombs, land mines, and mortars. A mix of facts and emotion makes their content persuasive:
Imagine if, somewhere outside your front door, there is a powerful explosive weapon waiting patiently for you, or a member of your family, to disturb it.
Because it’s buried, or perhaps hidden from view, avoiding it is a constant game of chance. There could be one of them, there could be 100. You don’t know how many there are and neither does anyone else.
Every day millions of people live with the threat of landmines or other unexploded weapons on their doorstep.
And, each day, nine people are killed or suffer horrific injuries because of landmines or abandoned weapons left behind after war.
7. Innocent Drinks
Good copywriters sell products, but great copywriters turn simple products into an enchanting experience. Note how Innocent Drinks associates a simple drink with a holiday feel. They smartly mix facts and emotion—a persuasive recipe:
There are times when you fancy a bit of extra sparkle with your refreshment. So allow us to introduce innocent bubbles tropical – a delicious, lightly sparkling blend of pure pineapple, orange and grape juice, spring water and absolutely nothing else. It’s a bit like a posh holiday in a can, only without the pesky sand. And with one portion of fruit and only 90 calories per serving, it’s the bubbly way to get one of your 5-a-day.
Don’t want your copy to sound like you’re shoving products down people’s throat?
Try a more conversational tone. The people at Sofa.com sound like people you’d like to meet:
not convinced yet? – oh dear!
You’re a tough nut to crack. Why not come and see us at our showroom in Chelsea or Bath and try one for size?
9. Ann Handley
On a product page you don’t want to sound like a sleazy sales man; and on an About or Speaking page, you don’t want to sound like a hyped up PR person.
Ann Handley strikes exactly the right tone. Here’s one of the reasons why she’s a sought-after speaker:
She’s fun. Your audience won’t be bored. The best testimonial here would be the one from Ann’s then 14-year-old daughter, who said (after listening to her speech): “I thought I’d be bored, but instead I’m ready to go create some content!” Your audience is probably more receptive to Ann’s message than the typical teenager. So there you go.
Weak copy is full of marketing blurb. In contrast, persuasive copy is infectiously passionate. Fiftythree designs and manufactures styluses for iPad. Using short sentences and simple words, they convey their passion:
WE MAKE STUFF.
Beautiful, practical, meaningful stuff.
We make what we love.
We ❤ what we do.
But over the years, we noticed that somehow, along the way, software designed to help us be creative actually made us less creative. We believe the best ideas often emerge from the simplest tools: pencil and paper.
11. Man Crates
Man Crates ships “bragworthy gifts for men.” What I love about their site is that they speak strongly to a clearly defined audience:
You just spent Thanksgiving at your vegan in-laws’ house. You did things you told yourself you never would, things you’ll probably never forget. Maybe for a moment, you were almost fooled by the yeast gravy and tofu turkey. But you survived.
Come back to us. Dial in the Slaughterhouse Crate for an immediate and full recovery of your carnivorous manhood.
Click here to join the 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for busy people (it’s free!)
12. J Peterman
The copywriters at fashion retailer J Peterman are masters at turning simple product descriptions into fascinating stories, making their dresses, and caftans, and coats even more desirable:
Cool breezes off Okawa River. Cherry blossoms glittering.
Naoko and I practice hanami: picnicking under a sakura tree (ancient Japanese custom once reserved for Imperial Court).
She picks up a pink petal, murmuring “Shibui.”
She smiles. “Think beautiful in its simplicity.”
“Like this.” I gesture to her classic, fully buttoned collarless coat.
“No, Peterman.” She stands, unbuttoning. “This celebrates me, the unexpected.”
She opens her soft wool coat to reveal a vibrant leopard print lining.
Dropbox targets a wider audience than ManCrates and J Peterman, but they sound helpful, friendly, and full of empathy:
Even if your computer has a meltdown or your phone goes for a swim, your stuff is always safe in Dropbox and can be restored in a snap. Dropbox is like a time machine that lets you undo mistakes and even undelete files you accidentally trash.
Apple‘s copywriters are marketing poets.
Rhythm, rhyme, and repetition make their copy smooth and persuasive. I’ve learned more from studying their copy than from any copywriting handbook.
Ingenuity makes it thin.
Aluminum makes it strong.
Not just a thinner display.
A better display.
15. Waterfield Bags
Tired of reading corporate mission statements full of gobbledygook? Or what about lists of inflated company values nobody believes in?
Here’s how Waterfield Bags describe their company culture, using concrete details for credibility:
You won’t find corporate intrigue, shareholder revolt, or venture capital drama at our modest headquarters. Instead you will find pot-luck lunches, group outings, and the occasional employee celebration.
Gary Waterfield started the company in 1998 with these principles which still guide us today:
- Make products you can be proud of
- Treat people with respect
- Exercise kindness—we’re all human
Aside from leading the design process, Gary often jumps in to answer customer e-mails, sharpen the leather splitter, or fix the copy machine.
16. Hiut Denim
You won’t find empty phrases on Hiut Denim‘s site either. This Welsh jeans manufacturer writes honest copy full of passion:
Do one thing well
We make jeans. That’s it. Nothing else. No distractions. Nothing to steal our focus. No kidding ourselves that we can be good at everything. No trying to conquer the whole world. We just do our best to conquer our bit of it. So each day we come in and make the best jeans we know how. Use the best quality denims. Cut them with an expert eye. And then let our ‘Grand Masters’ behind the sewing machines do the rest.
There is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from making something well, of such superior quality that you know it is going to stand the test of time. It makes the hard work and the obsessing over each and every detail worth all the effort. That’s our reward. That’s why we stick to just making jeans. Yup, we just make jeans. That’s all folks.
(hat tip to Sonja and Sharon at Valuable Content who drew my attention to this website)
17. Brew Dog
Your voice sets you apart from the competition, and pulls your fans closer to you.
Scottish micro brewery Brew Dog don’t have shareholders, but equity punk investors; and their beers are called Five AM Red Ale, Dead Pony Pale Ale, and This. Is. Lager. Here’s how they describe their first beer Punk IPA:
THE BEER THAT BEGAN A REVOLUTION.
Our scene-stealing flagship is an India Pale Ale that has become a byword for craft beer rebellion; synonymous with the insurgency against mass-produced, lowest common denominator beer. Punk IPA charges the barricades to fly its colours from the ramparts – full-on, full-flavour; at full-throttle.
18. Sketchbook Skool
Sketchbook Skool‘s decision to replace the “ch” in “school” by a “k” was a branding masterstroke. But what I like even more are the infectiously enthusiastic descriptions of fakulty members (with a k of kourse!):
People have been begging Tommy Kane to share his drawing secrets for years. How does he combine intense observation, manic crosshatching, and insane hilarity in every drawing he does? For the first time ever, this legendary New York creative illustrator and art director will reveal the secrets that have made him an internet sensation — here and only here at Sketchbook Skool.
Testimonials are often plonked on pages without any thought. They’re so superficial and sugary they don’t add any credibility. Sean d’Souza at Psychotactics is a master at using testimonials to help overcome specific objections:
Before I purchased The Brain Audit, I thought this is just crazy, I’ve got so much marketing material that I still haven’t implemented.
But right from Sean’s first story and metaphor, I could see this was different. I was hooked.
Unbounce sells landing page software. They use testimonials and case studies for credibility. Note how specific this quote from a case study is:
We were able to test our way from a 5% conversion rate, all the way up to 20%. Without driving any more traffic, our client is getting four times the leads that he was getting before.
21. Tuft & Needle
Great copy goes together with great marketing—with knowing why you’re in business. Mattress manufacturer Tuft & Needle have a good story to tell:
JT had just gotten married and he and his wife set out to buy their first piece of furniture together–a new mattress. The search began at local mattress showrooms; vast fields of mattresses neatly laid out under the buzz of fluorescent lights. Pushy salesmen pushed them to buy a fully loaded, feature-rich memory foam mattress. For $3,300 it should have been the pinnacle of comfort, but it wasn’t. To make matters worse, the return policy rendered it impossible to return. It was like car shopping. Actually it was worse than car shopping.
The truth about writing seductive web copy
Writing good copy doesn’t start with knowing the right words and improving your use of punctuation.
Good copy starts with understanding your customers and knowing why they choose you rather than millions of others.
Find the audience who loves you. Offer a service that delights them.
And then write your copy. Simply explain why your customers fall in love with your service, your product, and you.
Want to improve your writing skills further?
- Discover the Power of the Subtle Nod and other persuasive tricks
- Learn how to cure sentence bloat and avoid irritating your readers
- Receive 16 simple tips to write more seductive content and win more business