3 Copywriting Tips to Engage Readers and Keep Them Returning for More

Nabil Alhusail
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What’s the most important currency in the world in 2020? Once you figure it out, you will discover why these copywriting tips are so powerful.

You might think it’s gold, oil, or even uranium because wars were fought for these resources, but none of these are the answer. It's not natural resources and it cannot be acquired by force. If you accumulate enough of this currency, you can charge $500K to give a presentation, or even charge millions of dollars for a few months of work.

Did you guess what the currency is?

It’s attention.

"The scarcest resource of the 21st century is human attention." - Les Hinton, ex CEO of the Dow Jones

It’s no longer enough to put out great content, you have to bring attention to it. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple and many others have a high value in the market because of the attention they have.

A great mistake many brands make is wasting the reader's attention with bad copywriting. To guard against this mistake I’ll go in depth on 3 copywriting tips to ensure you get the most out of your readers’ attention.

These copywriting tips apply to any type of sales copy, as well as articles, sales pages, or writing the script for a video post.

Copywriting Tip #1 - Don’t Splatter You Reader’s Brain

The first of these copywriting tips has to do with keeping your reader’s head together. Let me explain.

It’s tempting to showcase your product or service’s many features and how it will benefit the reader. I’m sure you’re proud of the features and how you beat the competitors on most aspects. But are you overwhelming the audience?

Let’s assume your product or service has 10 features, and you've worked out 30 benefits for your buyer.

As amazing as that sounds, if you start listing them all to your reader, the end result will always be the same: No sale! Let me tell you why.

Let's look at the facts:

  1. The average attention span as of 2015 is 8 seconds (less than a gold fish).

  2. People best remember the beginning and end of a list (Primacy Effect, and Recency Effect).

So, if you list all 30 benefits, the best case scenario is the reader will remember the first and last few benefits. And if you're lucky, the reader will remember a few others that grabbed their attention.

In the worst case, you’ll confuse the reader! You'll cause them to say "I need to do more research," and they will start searching for your competitors to better understand your product’s position.

A Confused Mind Always Says, "No"

The good news is there’s a better way. Using this method will enable you to list more benefits in a way that will add to the reader’s confidence and excitement.

In fact, your reader may forget the benefits with time, but that’s okay, because they will remember your product or service as the best in its position. And when they do, you'll have a reputation they won’t forget.

I’ll explain the step-by-step formula in a bit; but first, let me show you an example.

Let’s say I have a smartphone company named Pigeon, and I’m advertising my newest smartphone, P-20, which is a regular Android phone that’s more durable.

Sales Copy Targeting Travelling Businessman

What would happen if your phone died on your business trip? Would your business deal fall through? Introducing the P-20. It flies like a pigeon and lands safely, never drowns, never breaks. It can withstand the heat of the desert, and the cold of mountain tops. And if you need service, the replacement flies to you overnight. It’s built of the same fiberglass grade used in top luxury cars, so the body can withstand a car crash, yet remain light as a feather. The screen is coated with graphene which is a wonder material that won the Nobel prize in 2010. So you will never be embarrassed in front of your business partners by a cracked screen. Now you may think, what happens if it dies for any reason? We got you covered. We have partners in strategic locations and can send a replacement overnight in over 100 countries, and under 3 days for any other country. And if you order in the next 24 hours, we’ll include the P-10, which is a classically styled phone that syncs with your contact list, and its battery lasts a week. So you can get back to business within 30 minutes while your new P-20 flies overnight to your doorstep.

Here are a few questions to test the ad:

  • What is P-20 best known for?

  • What benefits do you remember?

  • If you business suddenly required a lot of travel, would you remember the P-20?

Here’s the blueprint:

Applying the first of these copywriting tips is easy. All you have to do is follow this simple blueprint.

Step 1 - Pick One Idea

Imagine your reader to be a really busy person, with a whole bunch of stuff going on in his or her life. And you have enough space on the page to fit one idea only.

Instead of giving the reader 3 pages of benefits, let them pick which of the benefits fits best with their needs.

You do the heavy lifting for them, and pick one idea that you want the reader to associate with your product.

Step 2 - Examine the Benefits from Your Idea’s Perspective

Examine the list of benefits you have from the perspective of this idea. To clarify, describe the benefits in a way that reinforces the idea.

Step 3 - Write Your Sales Copy

Write the copy in a way to reinforce this one idea in the mind of the reader. Remember, your goal is to associate your product or service with this one idea.

If you want to write about a different set of features, give it its own sales page. So, for one target group, the P-20 might be the best phone for business, for another it may be the best phone for extreme sports.

And if you must talk about something that doesn’t belong to the idea, add it as a "P.S." or "downplay it".

The key is to make sure you don't confuse or overwhelm the prospect.

Copywriting Tip #2 - Sliding Down Is Easier than Climbing Up

To get the readers to remember our one idea, there’s an important step they need to do first. Can you guess what it is?

The second of these copywriting tips is about getting traffic, and I'm not talking about more readers. In the book The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman says, "If a shopping center increases its traffic, the stores sales increase as well."

For a copywriter, you get “traffic” for your sales copy not by simply showing it to the reader, but by getting them to read through the sales letter.

Joe further explains the concept of building a slippery slide. Here are a few examples of its power:

  • Can you sell a single style of sunglasses to people using only a sales page? Joe sold 10 million pairs.

  • Can you write a full page sales message about a thermostat, and get a scientist who is extremely busy and have absolutely no need or interest in thermostats to read the entire sales page? Then put more time to complain about it?

Joe did that as well, along with many legendary feats by building slippery slides.

What Is a Slippery Slide?

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” - Tom Fishburne, founder of Marketoonist and TED Speaker

Imagine a slide that’s sitting in the middle of a beautiful park, and it’s decorated in the most exciting way. While you climb the steps of the slide, you don’t even notice the effort because you’re distracted by the beautiful scenery.

Then you find yourself at the top of the slide. What do you do now? You can go back down, but why not try it? Just a small push for curiosity's sake. That’s when you find the surprise: the sides and rails of the slide are coated with oil. It’s slippery and the only way out is down; you can’t exit until you've gone all the way down.

Dare I ask you, what would your readers do if they're still feeling the excitement of sliding down and you make them a risk-free offer?

To understand what I mean, try reading this ad by Joseph Sugarman. I dare you to stop in the middle. If you managed to stop in the middle, pat yourself on the back. You’re amazing. If not, don’t fret, this is an example of an effective slippery slide.

Which brings us to the next of these copywriting tips. I’ll show you how to build a slide.

How To Build a Slippery Slide

Prepare the Environment

Make sure the page where you display your sales copy is comfortable for your readers to read with no distractions. The color and font size and style should be easy to read. If you need a reference, look to the top digital publishing houses for examples of type styles.

Remember, the purpose of your sales copy is to sell, not to make an artistic statement to the world.

Entice the Reader

“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy, but only 2 out 10 will read the rest.” - Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger

You should not take the reader’s attention for granted. In fact, assume that each reader will reach your page, then prepare to leave. But what can we do to stop them?

The big attractions we can use for the sales copy at this stage are the title, a picture and its caption, and the subtitle. Your goal is to grab the reader's attention and not let go.

You can use curiosity, pain, fear, greed, anger, or the strongest emotion according to Sugarman. Your responsibility here is to get the reader to read the first paragraph. The goal is to make them keep reading, and the key is to show it’s worth their time. Then your new goal is to get the reader to read the next paragraph. And then the next, and so on until your reader gets comfortable and starts down the slide.

You can imagine the first few sentences as the steps up the slide. Everything you put here should be easy, and pull the reader up. It's not difficult to climb stairs if the reader is curious about the next few steps, or afraid of the place where they were before.

To help keep the reader engaged, put a few subheaders to break the wall of text into easy-to-read chunks. To establish yourself as an authority on the topic, predict the reader’s questions or objections, and answer them.

Now you may be thinking, how would guessing the reader's questions establish me as an authority? The answer is simple. When you guess what’s on their mind before they even ask, then they know:

  1. You care enough to consider what they think and feel.

  2. Since you know so much about the topic and what they’re going through, you must have the answer.

But, how can you guess their questions and objections? Allow me to explain with an example.

If I’m talking to a doctor about an operation and she says, “This new type of operation has minimum side effects," what do you think my next question will be? You'll want to know about the side effects.

Don't look into a crystal ball to guess what's on the other person's mind, or conducting expensive and time consuming test sessions. You can guide them to the next question in your sales copy by clearly stating the questions and answering them.

Copywriting Tip #3 - Don’t Be Lost in the Noise

“I put zero weight into anyone’s opinion about me because I know exactly who I am. Can you say the same?” - Gary Vaynerchuk

A lot of people are stuck with trying to please everyone. You may be thinking, “What’s wrong with that?”

Nothing. I can stand firm and say if you’re a people pleaser you’re likely to suppress your convictions and let a topic you disagree with slide. You don’t want to be rude to the other person.

Having said that, it’s not your fault if you try to please everyone. You probably got it from your parents, teachers, or friends, when they were teaching you to “be nice” to others. Being nice is not a problem, but being a people pleaser is a totally different story.

It’s easy for our brains to get the two concepts mixed up, and that’s the problem. The difference is when you're being nice, you choose the right words that fit the situation.

Being a people pleaser means you're keeping quiet about what you know is true, or even outright lying to make the other person feel better.

Avoid Turning into a Zombie

Let me illustrate it with an example. I want you to imagine the most interesting person you know, then remember his or her behavior and reactions.

Now imagine if this person suppressed his or her quirks, and instead was always concerned with being correct and replying in a safe way. What impression would you have?

Having and displaying our own beliefs regardless of what others feel defines us as humans.

But in marketing, if you’re always using safe answers, people will forget about you soon after they leave your site, or close your video. But, if you state your convictions and risk angering some people, you will have a different result.

Becoming a Magnetic Pole

When you state your convictions, you will be attracting fans and repelling haters. Your greatest fans will consume every article, video and product you put out.

You'll be saying what’s on their mind, and what they want to say but can’t because of some self-limiting beliefs.

Are you a fan of somebody who’s saying something that you agree with?

Being that Kind of Hero to Others

Why is it called being a hero? Because on the other side of the coin, haters will disagree with your statements and will be talking against you in the comments, and they will unfollow you. Be prepared to see this kind of response, without taking it to heart.

Haters love to express themselves, and that actually has another positive side to it. It creates free marketing, and as the haters share your content, you’re bound to find some supporters in their communities too.

Another benefit of saying the hard things is you’ll reduce the number of those undecided people. Those who come to your website, subscribe to your newsletter and follow you, then never open anything you send. Don’t you wish they’d just be clear about what they want?

Summary

And there you have it, an in-depth view of 3 copywriting tips to engage readers and keep them returning for more. Remember to:

  1. Grab the reader's attention

  2. Present one idea to the reader and only show the benefits that serve this idea

  3. Build slippery slides

  4. State your true beliefs

Remember, these copywriting tips work equally well for your articles, blog posts, videos, and sales copy.

Just as you wouldn’t ride in a plane with an inexperienced pilot, you don’t want to leave your conversion rates to novice copywriters. Your sales might crash land. If you would like some help with your sales copy, schedule a call with one of our professional advisors to see how we can increase your reader engagement.

Nabil Alhusail

<span id="docs-internal-guid-a8a9ee93-7fff-c5d2-bcb7-7db44d5271ab"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nabil Alhusail is a certified copywriter in copywriters.com. He has over a decade of experience in various software engineering and e-commerce roles in the corporate world. He’s also passionate about automation, AI and chatbots. Nabil is now dedicating his time to serving his clients and partners to improve the results of all  revenue generation activities</span></span>

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