freelance copywriter, writing web content, ghost writer

Your web site is too important to fill it with unfocused sales content that convinces no one to buy or make an inquiry. With these 99 ideas, you will learn how to write compelling content that will turn casual visitors into buyers.

Charles Brown

  1. Before you write a single word on you website, start writing out as many answers as you can think of to the question, “This site is for the person who wants _________?” How many answers? Don’t stop at one page. Your best ideas will probably not come until you have written at least 20 answers. Don’t cheat yourself on this exercise, because almost everything else you do will depend on the number and quality of your ideas.

  2. Now go back over this list and ask “why” your visitors want these things. The “whys” behind your visitors’ wants will be one of your most powerful tools for writing irresistible web content. Again, don’t cheat yourself. Keep writing until you know you have an inside track into the people who visit your site.

  3. Finding out what your visitors want is vital, but finding out why they want these things reveals their innermost motivations. Target these motivations with your web content. When you write “on point” about what motivates your readers, you will never lose their interest or attention.

  4. Emotions will outsell logic 10 to 1. When you know your visitors’ “whys,” you know more than what benefits they want, you know what improvements these benefits will bring about in their lives, businesses and lives. By themselves, benefits tend to be merely logical. The ”whys” you unearth point you in the direction of what emotions to appeal to in support of your benefits.

  5. The appeal is where you get to connect the benefits you offer with what your visitors want. The appeal is the REASON you give a visitor for doing business with you, and it is based on “why” the person wants what she wants. A commonly accepted “short list” of appeals in the field of advertising is: 1) Sex/sex appeal/love/relationships; 2) Greed/ambition; 3) Fear; or 4) Duty/honor/professionalism. ( See Freelance Copywriter Secrets: How to Tap Into Your Readers' Deepest Needs, for a more complete list of appeals). Very often different appeals can be used to promote the same product. Suppose, for example, you are promoting a graduate business school. Such a program could be promoted by appealing to a person’s greed or ambition, but fear could be used in an uncertain job market when job cuts are constantly in the news. And what about love and relationships as an appeal for the person who is motivated to provide for her family? There is also professionalism for the person who wants to be respected in her profession.

  6. A visitor will come your site to find the answer to a question. Think through the process of how people will find your website. Assuming they find you through a search engine, what search terms did these people type into their inquiry? These are the questions they want answered when they visit your site. Now, does your content answer the questions that brought visitors to you? If not they will feel cheated and leave. And never come back. So make sure your content answers those questions.

  7. Imagine you are being interviewed by your visitor. Try to anticipate every possible question your visitor could possibly come up with about your company, product, service, guarantees, etc. These questions may be the initial question that brought them to your website, as mentioned in the previous idea, but they can also be questions that occur to them after they start reading your site. This is an exercise to force you to look at your products, services and company through the eyes of an outsider.

  8. What decisions do you want visitors to make when they read your website? Do you want them to subscribe to your opt in email list? Do you want them to buy your product? Or do you want them to contact you for more information? Plan your entire site, and all of its content, around these decisions you want to direct your visitors toward.

  9. Make sure your keywords are repeated several times on each page of your site. No matter how persuasively you write web content, if people can’t find your site via search engines, your well-written content is wasted.

  10. Make sure your contact information is easy to find. Put it on every page so your visitors won’t have to work hard to find you, because believe me, they won’t. Technically, this is more of a design issue than a content writing concern, but it is too important, and too often neglected to ignore.

  11. Does your site give visitors a REASON to contact you? Don’t fall for the “if you build it they will come” mythology. Your content should make it clear that you can solve a visitor’s problems or help them improve something in his or her life, career, business, relationships, etc. Pack every page with strong benefit statements that show up on your readers’ “what’s in it for me?” radar. Give them strong reasons to contact you. Or they won’t.

  12. Make your site a Mecca for free information on your topic. Visitors will find your website via search engines because of the information you provide. They will also browse through your site, bookmark it so they can come back, and they will do business with you, all because you provided valuable, useful information.

  13. Write the majority of your content in the form of list articles. Lists are hugely popular on the web for several reasons. They are condensed information, readers love the brevity they promise, they scan easily allowing a reader to quickly determine if they contain interesting information, and they have a clean look that is attractive to the eye. The pluses for you are they are sometimes easier to write and they make you focus on the “meat” of your information and keep you from babbling on paper.

  14. Begin most of your list items with strong action verbs, followed by two or three sentences of explanation. When this is not possible, your list items should still contain strong action verbs to convey a sense of forward motion to the visitor.

  15. Another article format that offers the same benefits as a list article is the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) article consisting of questions and answers. You can make up your own questions or use real questions submitted by actual visitors. Making up the questions need not be tricky as long as you can look at your topic from the point of view of a person who is starting from the beginning.

  16. Write out every benefit you can think of for your product or service before you write a single sentence. Fill as many full sized pages as you can (only a wimp would stop before one page is filled up, so keep going). Go back to the first exercise in which you developed as many answers as possible to the question, “this site is for the person who wants _______.”

  17. Did you get stuck before you filled your quota of pages? Then don’t call them “benefits,” call them “solutions” and “opportunities.” “Solutions” or “opportunities” are synonymous with the word “benefits.” So instead of getting stuck in the features vs. benefits loop, it might help you to think of solutions to problems or opportunities to achieve goals, increase business or improve relationships. As long as you understand that a benefit is anything that brings about a desirable change, you should not get stuck.

  18. Keep adding new content. Nothing will choke off your traffic faster than for your visitors to come to the realization that you have nothing new to offer.

  19. Write case histories of your success stories about how your product or service helped a client solve a pressing problem. A case history must have a “plot” that is exactly the same as a fictional story. The client (main character) must WANT something, but OBSTACLES stand in the way. After much struggle, a favorable RESOLUTION is reached. The format is the same you might have used if you have written a resume recently. SITUATION, ACTION, RESULT (SAR), but make sure the ACTION phase involves your product or service.

  20. Testimonials are mini-case histories. When your site can show the visitor glowing testimonials by many of your satisfied customers, your credibility problems vanish. In fact, no matter how good a copywriter you are, nothing you will ever write will be more persuasive than a simple, short bit of praise and thanks from one of the people you have helped. Gather and solicit as many testimonials as you can by initiating contact, follow ups and surveys with your existing customers. When they say something nice about your company, ask if you can use that in one of your ads or on your website.

  21. How do you get great testimonials from your clients? Listen to the customer feedback, do surveys, make telephone calls or just meet people face to face. If they have good things to say, jot down some notes while they talk. You may need to reword their comments slightly (people ramble, fail to talk in complete sentences or wander off the subject sometimes). But don’t reword their statements to the point that you put words in their mouths. Read back the reworded statement back and ask if that is the gist of what the person said.

  22. Find as many ways as possible to open up two-way conversations with your visitors. This is why blogs and forums are so useful. The comments your visitors leave on your blog or forum is money in the bank, if you listen. Each insight you gain into what makes your visitors “tick” that you reflect in your written content maintains you grip on their interest and attention.

  23. How can motivate your visitor to buy NOW? Go back to the first two exercises on this list where you wrote out answers for the questions, “This website is for the person who wants ______?” and “why.” Some of your answers from these lists reflect urgent needs and can be used to prompt a visitor to act now, so be sure to focus on these answers.

  24. What will the person lose if he fails to act now? What is the cost of delaying? Fear of loss is a much stronger motivator than opportunity to gain. For everything you sell, there is a way to re-slant your offer to include the consequences of a failure to act.

  25. Other ways to get your visitors to act now might be to create a deadline when the offer ends, or discounts for a fast response. Another method is to offer free premiums for immediate action.

  26. Always communicate the consequences to the customer of going without your product. Show the cost, damage or loss they incurring right now by going without your product. Few customers knowingly ignore consequences and then deliberately buy an alternative product on the basis of a lower price alone. What is it costing your prospect right now to not be doing business with you each month? What other consequences will occur if she delays taking action right now?

  27. When appropriate, arouse curiosity by dangling benefits and solutions in front of your readers BEFORE you reveal what it is that actually provides these benefits and solutions. I call this the Cart Before The Horse Technique. Here’s an example:
    “Did you know that there is a single food item that costs pennies, tastes delicious and will help you shed about a pound a week if you eat three a day? Did you also know that this food is so full of healthy vitamins and nutrients that it can add years to your life? What is this wonderful food? It is the apple, and if you eat one apple with each meal, you will lose weight quickly and effortlessly.”
    Read more about using curiosity in the previous article Freelance Copywriter Secrets: The Magic Bullet for Powerful Copywriting

  28. The Cart Before The Horse Technique is an irresistible interest grabber because it combines curiosity with powerful self interest benefits. Curiosity alone will not do the job, the clues you lay out before revealing the subject, must all appeal to your visitor’s self interest.

  29. Practice writing Cart Before The Horse copy by revealing one benefit after another, but hold back the crucial identifying piece of information until the end. Start with the six words, “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” to write a rough draft. Then decide which of those six elements will arouse the most curiosity and self interest.

  30. You can also use a string of negatives and warnings just as easily as long as they follow the two rules of the Cart Before The Horse Technique of arousing curiosity and appealing to self interest. Here’s an example:
    Many companies lose thousands, and possibly millions, each year by making one very easily corrected mistake on their websites. This one mistake insures that their sites will miss out on countless dollars in lost sales, prevents them from ever achieving high levels of traffic and almost guarantees that their visitors will buy from someone else.

    And if all this were not bad enough, the cost to fix this single mistake is ridiculously small, and if corrected, almost always produces an immediate surge in new sales.

    What is this mistake? It is the failure to use their sites to capture opt-in subscribers to receive their follow up mail messages.

    Notice that once again the warnings still appeal to your visitor’s self interest.

  31. It’s OK to recycle and re-slant the same benefit into different variations. For example, look at the same benefit as both a positive and a negative. What will the customer gain if she buys this offering, and what will she lose if she continues on without buying it. Rewording the same benefit in both positive and negative forms will give you different slants to appeal to different customers.

  32. People buy for one of two reasons, relief from pain (solution to a problem) or to feel good (an opportunity for gain). While either of these two options can and should be dressed up, don’t lose sight of these basic feelings you are appealing to when you write. Relief from painful feelings or the opportunity to gain good feelings should be at the core of all your writing. Benefits must be emotional statements.

  33. Headlines on the web must do double duty. Whereas the print ad or direct mail piece must have headlines that grab a reader’s interest and pull them into the copy, the online headline must do all that and more. In addition, the online headline must contain searchable keywords so visitors can actually find your site via a search engine. If they never find your website, you can’t sell them. For example, if you will pardon a shameless plug, almost every post I write for my blog, http://dynamiccipywriting.blogspot.com, begins with the words, “Freelance Copywriter Secrets:___” because the keyword I promote is “freelance copywriter.”

  34. As you experiment with various forms of headlines, write out as many headlines as you can think of before you write the body of your article. Legendary copywriter, Ted Nicholas reportedly writes out 30 or more headlines whenever he writes. None of the headlines you write will be wasted. Your good ones can be used as subheadings or first sentences in your paragraphs. But even if most of your headlines are unusable, this exercise helps you clarify all your thoughts and organize all you know about your visitor and the benefits of your product or service.

  35. Mail order advertisers have found that subheadings increase the pulling power of their ads. The same applies to your writing web content. Subheadings give you a second shot at the person who is just glancing over your website.

  36. Another lesson to be learned from the mail order guys is to use as many as three subheadings in the text. Each one can give you additional shots at pulling readers into your content. Follow the same pattern you use for writing the headline itself, each subhead should offer a strong benefit or make an announcement.

  37. Generating leads can be one of the most important reasons to put up your website, And giving free information on your site will increase the number of leads your site can generate. Studies have shown that the number of inquiries you get from your site increases dramatically if you announce the free offer in your headline. Make the free offer the focus of your content, even more than the selling points of your product.

  38. Another way to increase the number of leads generated by your site is to give your free information booklet or ebook an attractive title, such as: “New Beauty Tips For The Professional Woman;” “How To Care For Your New Baby;” or “55 Ideas To Get a Six Figure Job.” Provide even more detail with a description of what is inside the free material, such as a table of contents or a summary. Hint: if you are having a problem making the booklet or ebook attractive, it may because your material is too full of sales talk and contains too little useful information.

  39. Yet another way to increase the number of leads your site generates is to, mention the free offer in the first paragraph, don’t wait until the end and say, “oh by the way.” In other words, the free offer, not even the benefits of your product, is the focal point of your article.

  40. Increase the selling power of your web content by making your writing easier to read. Three ways to do this is to use short paragraphs, short sentences and short words. But contractions, such as “he’ll” or “can’t,” tire the eye, so use them sparingly.

  41. A common mistake salespeople make is failing to ask for the sale. This also happens frequently in web content. Urge your visitor to “act now” or “call today.”

  42. Avoid helping your competitors. Don’t talk about the generic benefits of the type of product or service you sell, talk about the specific benefits of what YOU sell. If you don’t clearly show the differences between you and the competition, your visitor may buy from someone else.

  43. Decades of testing print headlines have all found that the most effective headlines either announce something new, or an appeal to the reader’s self interest. This has not changed with the web. For example, your headlines can be effective if you say, “Announcing a New Breakthrough in Weight Loss,” or “How a Simple Idea Made Me a Millionaire.” For more information, you should read the article, Freelance Copywriter Secrets:_____.

  44. Another headline style that always gets attention is when you tell your visitor to delay taking action. People are so inundated with commercial messages that command us to “act now” that a headline telling us to wait really stands out. Here are some examples that illustrate this point: “Do Not Buy Your Next Car Until You’ve Shopped At Bannerman Ford,” or “Read This Before You Buy Your Next Suit.”

  45. Experiment with giving some of your headlines a news announcement quality. Begin with words like, introducing,” “announcing,” “now,” “new,” or “at last.” Studies have found that announcement headlines pull in just as new business as self-interest headlines.

  46. Target a specific group with some of your headlines. “To the $100,000 executive who wants to make $250,000;” or “Diabetics! Now There is a Less Painful Way to Test You Blood Sugar.” Not only do these headlines attract the attention of the target group, it offers solutions to problems these people feel acutely.

  47. Make your offer personal. Although your visitor is the focus of your web content, use personal pronouns like “I” and “you.” Make the content conversational and informal between you and your visitor.

  48. Asking your visitors questions pulls them into your web content and involves them in the dialogue. Make liberal use of direct questions in your headlines, subheadings and first sentences of your paragraphs.

  49. One headline that works well with the conversational writing style, is a testimonial style headline in which the speaker relates his or her own personal experience with the product or service being offered. An example might be, “How I lost 30 pounds in 30 days” or “I was going broke, so I started reading the Wall Street Journal.”

  50. Another headline that works well with a conversational style offer, is a direct question to the visitor from you. Again, using the personal pronouns “I” and “you,” your headline asks a question to the reader, such as: “Do you want to find a six-figure job in 3 months?”

  51. Add value, don’t discount. In the end, marketers pay a huge cost for offering too many sales and discounts. Adding value typically brings in just as many new customers as a sale, without the loss in revenue. But the best part of adding value is that the cost is usually less to you than the value received is to the customer. For example, a car dealership that gives a free warranty with a new car, pays only a fraction of the price a customer would have to pay if charged full price. To the customer, the warranty may represent a value of $1000, but the dealer’s cost may only be $200.

  52. Here is another great idea you may want to use on your site: Dan Kennedy, in his book, The Ultimate Sales Letter, has a whole chapter devoted to the concept of, “Create a Damaging Admission and Address Flaws Openly. Every company, service or product has its flaws, so Kennedy advises us to put those weaknesses up front and center stage. Nothing builds your credibility faster than admitting flaws. But please note: These flaws have nothing to do with your strongest selling point. If you are selling a sports car that goes from zero to 100 in 3 seconds, no one will really care that you can only fit one grocery bag in the trunk. This flaw does not detract from the car’s main selling points.

  53. So many good things happen when you create a damaging admission that Kennedy recommends trying really hard to come up with a negative just so you can admit it. One good thing is that admitting your product’s flaws builds anticipation for the benefits your product the reader knows must be coming. Your visitor knows you didn’t put up your site just to tell its flaws. They will know that after you get through telling all your product’s negatives, there will some really powerful benefits that they won’t want to miss. The fact that you revealed your product’s own negatives lets the spotlight shine even more brightly on your positives.

  54. But wait, there’s more. Creating a damaging admission also helps you position your product as different from all the rest of your competitors. One of the most successful ad campaigns ever was Avis’ “We Try Harder.” Just by admitting they were not the biggest car rental company, allowed them to position themselves as the company that offered the best service and tried harder.

  55. One reason your site should give away free products and information is to make use of the Law of Reciprocity. In his book, Influence: Science and Practice, Robert Cialdini explains that reciprocity is the social obligation we feel when someone does something for us. When this happens, we are generally inclined to do something good in return. In his book, Cialdini points to several studies, such as one that found that when waiters and waitresses included a candy or mint with their customer’s bill, their tips were much higher than without the gift. Another study was conducted by a professor who sent out Christmas cards to a list of total strangers. The response he received was nothing short of amazing. Many of the people who had never met him sent him cards in return, without even asking who he was.

  56. While the Law of Reciprocity is one reason to give away free information and products, another powerful reason is allow potential clients to view a sample of your work. Many a marketer has gotten rich by giving away free reports, free ebooks, free CDs or any number of other free information packages. The reason is quite down to earth, because they bring in new clients or make sales.

  57. A great Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a must on your website. A USP creates an entirely new category in which you can be the biggest (or better yet, the only) fish in the pond. With a great USP you OWN your own category and no one else can compete against you. You cannot create a USP by claiming to be the “best” or “biggest” of anything, because those adjectives do nothing more than compare you with others in the same category. Create your own category.

  58. Your USP should make a clear promise that you will deliver a benefit. Your benefit statement should promise to solve a vexing problem or bring about a desired change. If your statement does not make a promise, or if it promises something other than a solution or a change; chances are you are talking about a feature instead of a benefit.

  59. A USP does not make a “me-too” promise. At the risk of being redundant, you are trying to create your own category, your own pond. The goal here is not to dive into everyone else’s pond and to out muscle the competition. How is your product or service unique? Not “better,” but unique?

  60. The benefit statement within a USP makes a distinct before vs. after contrast. Does your USP help potential customers to visualize a real change doing business with you can bring about? If the USP does not help your visitor see a clear contrast between where they are now and where your product or service will take them, go back and reexamine the promise your USP makes.

  61. Your USP should talk about your edge, your advantage over the competition. What can you promise that no one else can do? Or, in the alternative, what is no one else talking about? Domino’s was not the first pizza chain to deliver pizzas quickly, but they were the first to make that their claim to fame.

  62. Use your USP to reposition your competition. If your candy is the one that melts in your mouth, not in your hands,” then you have created the belief in people’s minds that every one else’s candy melts in your hands. The classic repositioning USP was the 1970s campaign by 7up that they were the “Uncola.” If you are still having trouble formulating your USP, think about how you want to position your competitors.

  63. Beware of making this all-to-common mistake on your website: Read through any stack of magazines you will quickly find many examples of ads that inform of such things as “our people make the difference,” or “little details make all the difference,” feel the difference,” or even, “the right choice makes all the difference.” These same kinds of statements are echoed throughout the web as well and they are all signs of lazy copywriters who have not taken the effort to think through what makes their product “different.” These differences are the selling points on your website. You must think through these differences and articulate them to your visitors.

  64. The following is just one of the great lessons I learned from reading Jeffrey Fox’s excellent book, How To Become A Marketing Superstar that you must use on your website: Go on a search and destroy mission to eliminate the personal pronouns “I,” “me,” “we,” “us,” or “our” on your website. “We” is about you and your story. “We” is in the first person. “We” is a bad proxy for your brand name or company name. To confound this sin, these same marketers often follow their ”we” with trite clich├ęs like, “We put customers first,” or, “We are committed to excellence.” Your job is to draw the customer into the conversation by focusing on her and her story, her concerns, her headaches, her wants. Your job is to build brand awareness, not “we’ awareness. Never use “we,” “us,” or “our” in the headline. Your web content is not about you, it is not about your success or experience or hard work. It is about the customer and what the product will do for her or him.

    Regardless of what you sell on your website, you are really, at its core, selling a change. Every worthwhile product or service helps bring about a desired change. Here’s a tried and true copywriting technique you might want to use on your website to emphasize such a change. It is called the “Before and After” scenario in which the before scene depicts a person who needs the help. The after scene shows the problem solved, thanks to your product or service. Television commercials and ads frequently make use of the Before and After scenario, it relies on storytelling to communicate your benefits and the changes they bring about.

  65. Strengthen the power of the Before and After scenario by injecting emotions into the problem faced by the person in the before scene. For example, if your business is car financing for people with credit problems, show the embarrassment of a person driving an old, dilapidated car because he cannot get financing for a new car. Remind him of the constant fear of driving a car that could break down on a remote highway late at night. Use this emotion-filled before scene to set up the after scenario in which the same person feels the emotional relief of driving a new car after having been treated with dignity and respect by your lenders.

  66. A twist on the Before-After Scenario is to depict a very negative future scene that could happen if the visitor does not act now. Here’s an example from Dan Kennedy’s book, The Ultimate Sales Letter, in which an ad selling shoes makes use of a negative future scene:

    but if you insist on just wearing any old pair of ordinary shoes, here’s what you have to look forward to in your so-called golden years; fallen arches, intense lower back pain … even pain from just walking around a shopping mall! You’ll be asking your friends to slow down so you can keep up. You’ll be futilely soaking your feet at night like some old fuddy-duddy. You may even need pain pills just to get sleep.

  67. Don’t be afraid to educate your visitors. Show your visitors how to be informed buyers, how to choose the right product for their needs and how to avoid scams. The more you educate, the more you heighten your status as an expert.

  68. Make a clear and definite promise in every article on your website. Yes, these articles are to inform, but you are also need to promote your solutions. Making a promise is a great focusing technique to keep your material from going off on too many tangents. What do you promise? At the risk of repeating myself too often, you promise changes or solutions.

  69. Focus on annoying problems. Clearly show how your product can take the pain away. It is a psychological truth that avoidance of pain is a much more powerful motivator than the promise of gain.

  70. This technique is not optional. Make your website a platform for gathering opt in email subscribers. Repeat after me: the main purpose of your site is to collect a list of opt-in email subscribers who give you permission to send them subsequent messages about new offers and services. These people will only agree to this if you offer value in the form of a free product to sign up for your subscriber list, and your subsequent messages deliver on the promise to be full of useful information.

  71. Sometimes your visitors’ will lack the awareness that they have a need or a problem. Break through this lack of awareness with educational material on your site. But please be careful to make this material interesting. Two ways to make educational material interesting are the “Cart Before the Horse” technique as well as the Before-After Scenario discussed earlier.

  72. Another problem your web content may need to overcome is a visitor’s lack of concern about the problem your product or service solves. Typically this happens when the problem seems too remote. Insurance brokers and financial planners face this challenge every day. After all we all plan to live forever, right? Hey, nobody ever accused us of being realistic. Shake your visitors out of their complacency with actual case histories of people who were not prepared. Here again a story-like format brings this home better than almost any other kind of content writing. Don’t try to convince people with dry numbers and statistics. Instead use a single person to illustrate this need.

  73. One of the problems you will encounter as a result of these 10,000 marketing messages people are exposed to daily, is the assumption your visitor will make that you and your competitors are all the same. Therefore it is essential that you focus on your differences. You cannot do this by claiming better quality. You must find a message that says more that than you are “better” or “bigger.” You want to be the only fish in your own pond, not just another fish in a pond occupied by lots of other competing fish.

  74. Assume your visitors are skeptics. After all, every ad and website they see all claim to be the “best.” How do you overcome these skeptics? Before you write your web content, make a list of every objection a visitor could possibly have to what you offer. Then, when you are convinced you have identified every possible objection anyone could raise, thoroughly answer these challenges head on. If you do this, your visitor will have these objections asked and answered before they even think of them.

  75. Target a specific audience. Despite that legendary salesman who is out there making his living selling refrigerators to Eskimos, you will be far better off targeting a specific group of visitors. Remember the first exercise on this list, where you identified what your visitors want? The answers you came up with are crucial to identifying your target audience. Never lose sight of who your target audience is when you write your web content.

  76. What makes your product better than “Brand X?” Guess what, it probably isn’t better in every detail. Your SUV may have lots of room for your big family, but perhaps it guzzles gas at the rate of $100 per fill up. Your competitor, who manufactures a smaller vehicle that only needs to be refueled every leap year, will brag about its fuel economy. You, on the other hand, will brag about the family vacations, being able to take all the kids to soccer practice, or the comfortable leg room for every passenger. Brag about your strong points and fight your battles only on the playing field of your own choosing.

  77. Take a hard look at the product or service you are selling. What is a buyer of your product’s main concern? Is it price? Selection? Performance? Reliability? How long the product will last? Customer or technical support after the sale? It’s warranty or guarantee? Or how about the seller’s reputation or how quickly it can be delivered? You must know these factors before you write so you can address the ones that apply.

  78. Don’t fall into the “Better Mousetrap” myth. Just because you built your site doesn’t mean people will beat a path to your door. Imagine there is a person out there who has a problem. This person is looking online for a solution. Your service or product is a solution to this very problem. Now how do you lay out a path of breadcrumbs so this person can find you? The quality of the information on your site is your breadcrumb trail. Well-written, free information will earn links from other sites and will be mentioned in blogs (yes, you should encourage these lings and mentions). The web is first and foremost an information resource that bestows success upon those marketers willing to share their knowledge with those who seek it.

  79. When opposing points of view exist to your position, try this technique: Step one begins with the word, “although.” Here you fairly and thoroughly acknowledge the opposite opinion. The second step is, “nevertheless.” Here you state how your position contradicts the first point of view. The third step is, “because.” In this last step, you list your proof and evidence in support of why your “nevertheless” is true.

  80. Could you sell dollar bills for 75 cents? If you can demonstrate a strong return on investment with your web content, you will be doing just that. If your product or service can produce profits many times the amount invested, take pains to make this clear to your visitor. You can also demonstrate return on investment in terms of money your product or service can save. Show how saved money is like money in your visitor’s pocket.

  81. Use “social proof” to outsell your competition. Social proof is a powerful influence tool. All of us have a tendency to determine “correct” behavior by observing what others do. When you see ads that tell how many customers switch to a certain company’s service each day, or when you see a sign that says billions of hamburgers have been sold, or when an ad tells you a certain toothpaste is endorsed by the American Dental Association, you are seeing examples of social proof.

  82. How powerful is social proof? Take canned laughter on TV comedies. No one is fooled by this mechanical-sounding laughter. But studies have shown that audiences laugh longer, more often, and rate jokes as funnier, when accompanied by canned laughter - even though the audiences were fully aware the laughter was recorded. Bartenders and church ushers have also learned to use social proof by “salting” their tip jars and collection plates with a few dollars to stimulate more giving. So be sure to use social proof where every you can on your website.

  83. Justify your price (part one). If you can’t explain why your price is higher than your competitors’ prices, you’re dead in the water. One way to justify your price is to build value by discussing all the work, time and expense it took to develop your offer. For example, “When we set out to develop the Model XYZ, we recruited the top engineering talent from our top six competitors. We offered them each 50% salary increases over their old jobs. Then we provided them with a top staff consisting of young technicians who were all graduates of the top Ivy League schools. Then we spared no expense in equipping each team with the most modern, state of the art laboratories. Finally we set all these wonderful minds loose on solving this problem. After five years of research, costing us tens of millions of dollars, we now present you with the Model XYZ, which has no equal on the market today.”

  84. Justify your price (part two). This is another idea I got straight out of Dan Kennedy’s book, The Ultimate Sales Letter (which, if you don’t yet own a copy, I recommend you buy one today) Compare apples to oranges. Dan uses the example of a high-priced tape series (probably a DVD series now) that cost about twice the per tape cost of competing products. So Dan compared the cost to that of the two-day seminar the tapes recorded. If the customer had attended the seminar at a cost of $195, plus travel and overnight lodging, the cost would have far exceeded the cost of these tapes. Look for ways to use this same, very powerful technique on your site.

  85. Justify your price (part three). Do you remember the old Ginzu Knives commercials? Anyone who was old enough to watch TV in the 70s and 80s saw these ads countless times. These ads introduced the two powerful lines, “now what would you pay?” and “but wait there’s more.” What these folks did was to build the value of each individual part, one at a time, until the value of the parts far exceeded the price of the whole. These were incredible commercials because they would introduce one part at a time, and then ask, “What would you pay for all this? Twenty dollars? Thirty dollars? Fifty dollars? No, the price is a mere $10. But that’s not all. You also get, …..” By the time the viewer was reaching for his telephone, he almost felt guilty for taking advantage of these people who were selling these knives at such a cheap price.

  86. Justify your price (part four). The last way to justify your price is to show a monthly installment. This is an excellent way to make a high-ticket item more affordable to the average consumer. Moreover, many people prefer to think in terms of monthly installments rather than the total price tag.

  87. Need a quick and easy way to research your potential visitors your visitors? If you can identify certain types of magazines that appeal to your target audience, these publications can reveal vast amounts of information on these people. Study the letter from the editor to see what concerns and interests it addresses. Read the ads, especially the classifieds, to see what benefits and needs they target. Pay special attention to the ads that are repeated in issue after issue. If the advertiser pays to repeat the same ad, it must be bringing in money. Ask yourself why? Your answers will help you write your own appeals on your website.

  88. Some of your content may benefit from using a “you and me” writing style. This style sounds friendly, conversational and even chatty because the content is written in the first person, speaking directly to the visitor. The key is to have or create a friendly spokesperson, who talks person to person with your visitor. Your spokesperson takes on the aura of a mentor or a kindly grandparent giving advice. I see this a lot when the spokesperson is speaking for a family-owned business, who cares about quality because their name is on the package. But it can be used to market anything. The feel of these messages is that of doing business with someone you can shake hands with.

  89. Another writing style that might prove useful for your web content is the winners and losers approach. You simply compare two fictional people. One is perceived as a winner, the other a loser. For example, the Wall Street Journal has used this for years in their subscription ads: Two college graduates just entering their careers. Years later, one is stuck in a middle management job, whereas the other is a rising star on the fast track to the top. What was the difference? The successful graduate subscribed to the Wall Street Journal and read it every day. Will this technique work on your site? Probably.

  90. Scarcity is one of the most effective copywriting techniques around. Employ this with “limited time offers,” “supplies are limited,” or “refinance now before rates go back up” offers. Scarcity is a strong motivator to act right away for two reasons. First, because no one wants to lose out on something. And second, because it implies a social proof that many other people have learned how good this product is before you ever heard about it.

  91. Studies have shown that visitors need to hear your sales message as many as seven times before they decide to buy. So, as you write your content, find multiple ways to repeat your sales messages. For example, you can write the same sales message as a straightforward promise, a client testimonial, a before-after scenario, a benefit statement, and a warning statement of what could happen if the visitor chooses not to buy your product, and a summary. The repetition of the selling points in different forms chips away at your visitors’ resistance.

  92. A time-honored persuasion technique is to build a sequence of yeses.” You can apply this by asking rhetorical questions in your content that can only be answered, “yes.” As these “yeses” accumulate, your visitor develops a favorable attitude toward your offer. The momentum then builds toward a favorable decision.

  93. Just as your headline is an enticement for the reader to read your copy, the first paragraph is also an enticement to read the rest if the article. That first paragraph should introduce your visitors to the benefits they will get by reading further. Don’t confuse this with showing the benefits of your product, these are the benefits of just reading further. This is often a good place to use some of the extra headlines you wrote earlier. Think of the first headline as a second, longer headline for the rest of your article.

  94. Your first paragraph of any article should also contain a strong appeal to your visitor’s self interest. Go back to the first exercise and make use of your list of what your visitors want. When you know what visitors want, you know how to appeal to their self interest.

  95. Increase your visitors’ involvement with interactive elements like quizzes and checklists. These interactive elements provide a way for your visitors to diagnose their own needs for your services. This becomes a powerful selling tool because they have reached this opinion on their own. If you say it, your words are suspect. But if they come to the same conclusion on their own, their opinion will be unshakable.

  96. As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons visitors want your product or service is to bring about a change. Illustrate this change process by describing each step from where the visitor is now to the place she wants to be. For example, if you are selling a personal training service, show them what they can expect after three weeks, six weeks and then two months. Allowing them to see the step-by-step process you offer allows your visitors to visualize the change and gives them compelling reasons to contact you.

  97. A strong guarantee can be your strongest selling points. The guarantee will not work unless you convince your visitor that she is being offered a 100% risk free transaction. If your guarantee comes across as watered down or has too many strings attached, you might as well not offer it in the first place. The guarantee is nothing more than a tool to remove all the visitor’s doubt and fear.

  98. Imagine your visitors have a magic wand they can wave over your website to get anything they want. How close can you come to giving them exactly what they want? Write your web content to get as close to their wish fulfillment as you possibly can. You will be surprised at how close to their expectations you can get if you really try. The rewards are great, because they will give their business to whomever comes closest to granting their wish.


freelance copywriter, writing web content

1 comments:

Extremely good stuff. These are the best techniques I know of. And I've learned a few new ones as well.

With reference to comment 33 ie

'For example, if you will pardon a shameless plug, almost every post I write for my blog, http://dynamiccipywriting.blogspot.com, begins with the words, “Freelance Copywriter Secrets:___” because the keyword I promote is “freelance copywriter.”'

I feel you would get my attention more if the words 'Freelance Copywriter Secrets' were placed at the end of the title.

Because this was the part which gets me to look at your article more.

Kind regards Ian Stables

4:20 AM

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